Greenwald, Lisa. Sweet Treats and Secret Crushes.
Olivia, Georgia and Kate are excited about having a rare snow day in New York City, but upset that it occurs on Valentine's Day. Now they will never know if their crushes would have brought them Valentines! They spend their day making fortune cookie's at Georgia's parents' restaurant on the ground floor of their building, and get to know their neighbors by delivering the treats. The friends have their problems; Olivia's obsession with a boy irritates the other two, Kate is starting to become too trendy and popular, and Georgia has kept her crush secret from the other two. As the day wears on, tempers flare a bit, but in the end, everything works out.
Strengths: This is very realistic in its portrayal of middle school drama, and the city setting will seem exotic to my suburban students. Very, very fun, and the cover is sparkly! My copy of My Life in Pink in Green will soon be in tatters! Can't wait to see what this author puts out next.
Weaknesses: I did want to slap Olivia, and perhaps even her crush "PBJ", but since her friends do, too, it's okay!
Dunkle, Clare. The House of Dead Maids.
Nominated for the Cybils by Kristen Harvey
Tabby is sent from the orphanage to work in the creepy Seldom House on the Yorkshire Moors. She's not quite sure of her role, even when she is introduced to her charge, the "heathen git" boy who is apparently the master of the place. When the ghost of a dead maid starts stalking her and the boy, an evil plot to keep the luck of the estate is uncovered, and Tabby and the boy are both in danger. The boy turns out to be Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, and his experiences in this book are what doom him in that story.
Strengths: Very creepy and scary. The description of the ghost and the legions of dead maids were very chilling.
Weaknesses: I'm trying to determine if children will read this without knowing anything at all about Wuthering Heights. My readers of scary stories seem to fall on the weaker end of the reading spectrum, and the book is rather short for Bronte fans. The mix is a bit odd.