Since the poetry books in my library are mainly 30 years old and falling apart, I've been trying to purchase some things that are a bit fresher. Three of them are Kristine O'Connell George's Swimming Upstream: Middle School Poems, which was good but had too young a cover, and Gary Soto's Fearless Fernie and Worlds Apart. Both of these were fine, although I liked the second, because the poems are about traveling around the world. All of these are good additions, but I'm such a poetry snob that I can't comment further. The only three living poets I like are Timothy Steele, Helen Frost, and Naomi Shahib Nye. I know it doesn't have to rhyme and have meter, but if it doesn't, it's really not poetry to me.
I Love Gordon Korman's books, but Swindle (which I did buy) was not one of my favorites. Having listened to a presentation by the fabulous Mike Sullivan at OELMA last week, at least I know why-- it's a plot driven book, and girls are more interested in character development. Zoobreak is similar-- Savannah's pet monkey is stolen by an evil floating zoo, and Griffin and his friends band together to concoct a plan to break in and steal the monkey back. Fast-paced and a little goofy, with over-the-top bad guys.
Sara Zarr's Sweethearts is a big favorite among the girls in my library, but Once Was Lost was somehow unremittingly, drably sad. Maybe I'll buy it come February, when everyone demands constantly depressing books. Sam's mother is in a rehab facility for alcoholism, her father is distant and wrapped up in the church where he is pastor, and a friend of Sam's goes missing and the entire small town is involved in the search for her. All of these things lead Sam to question her life and her faith. There was a happy ending, and it was middle school appropriate.
I include the cover of Megan McDonald's Rule of Three (The Sisters Club) because it is another great cupcake cover. The book itself is too young for my group, and I couldn't buy into the premise that one of the sisters was obsessed with the book Little Women. In seven years at the middle school, I have had all of three girls read this book. Certainly, I adored all of the Alcott books (except for Under the Lilacs, which I never did finish), but they seem to have become literary cod-liver oil. No one likes them, but they read them because they are "good for you".