These were all perfectly fine books, just not what I was looking for to give to my students.
Grimes, Nikki. Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel.
Dyamonde is unhappy that she and her mother had to move away from her old school and her friends when her parents divorce, especially since she no longer has her own bedroom. She is doing okay in school until Free shows up and is cranky all the time. Dyamonde finds out that Free also had to move because his father lost his job, but she convinces him that he should make the best of the situation, and the two become friends.
What I Wanted: A more upbeat realistic fiction book than Bronx Masquerade by this author about an African American main character.
Why it didn't work for me: A very good book, but for the I Can Read Crowd.
Positive Review at The Happy Nappy Book Seller.
Farrar, Josh. Rules to Rock By.
Annabelle, age 12, is upset because her indie rocker parents have moved her from New York to Rhode Island, away from her grandmother and her rock band, Egg Mountain, so that they can work on their own record. Fitting in to her new middle school is hard, and putting together another rock band is even harder. With the help of an understanding English teacher who encourages her to keep writing song lyric, Annabelle starts to think the move might not be totally tragic.
What I Wanted: Honestly, a book for boys. They are usually the ones who want books about rock bands.
Why This Didn't Work For Me: This was very heavy on cultural references that will become quickly dated, and Annabelle whined just a bit much for me. Just not a boy book.
Positive reviews at Story Snoops, All Consuming Books, Mary Brebner (in comment in All Consuming), Girlie Action. (Aha!)
Couvillon, Jacques. The Chicken Dance.
Stanley "Don" has a tough life on his family's chicken farm in the 1970s. His mother is unhappy being away from the city, his older sister died when he was a baby and his parents still favor her, and his parents fight frequently. To cope, he starts to take an interest in the family chickens, but this leads to a revelation about his family situation.
What I Wanted: A funny book for boys.
Why it didn't work for me: The quirky/Southern thing is a killer for me, and a mention of menstruation at the beginning of chapter three really was unnecessary. Loved the cover, liked the idea, but it would be a hard sell. I did keep reading to find out the mystery.
Positive reviews at Another Book Read, The Bookbag, Bookwitch, Sarah's Book Review, Teen Reads
Campbell, Chelsea. The Rise of Renegade X.
Damien Locke is the son of the Mistress of Mayhem, and when he has his 16th birthday and his burgeoning villainous powers are supposed to manifest themselves in his thumbprint turning to a "v", he is surprised to see that he instead gets an "x", which means that his absent father must be a super HERO. Indeed, this is the case, and after some investigation, he finds that his mother had a liaison with The Crimson Flash. Damien goes to live with the Flash's family, and his father hopes that by exposing him to heroes he will turn that way, but instead Damien is bound to stay true to his villainous heritage.
What I Wanted: Michael Carrol's Quantum Prophecy (more serious) series or Boniface's The Hero Revealed (funnier).
Why This Didn't Work For Me: This is definitely more of a high school book, with snarky humor and a lot of mentions of sex and some drinking. I was given a copy of this by my very generous former principal, but I think I may send it to the high school, where it would be widely read, since the action is fast-paced and the fantasy world well-developed.
Positive reviews at:The Book Cellar, Frenetic Reader, Janicu's Reviews, Karin's Book Nook,
Why I Feel Especially Bad About Not Wanting This in My Library: Ms. Campbell is a fellow Latin and Ancient Greek major, so I read the book hoping for some correct Latin to be flung about! And she's even a fellow knitter. I do wish her all the success in the world, but still feel the content is more appropriate to high school. Drat.
de Quidt, Jeremy. The Toymaker.
Disclaimer: I only read about 50 pages of this. Mathias is working with a traveling circus, where all of the people seem to be fairly mean. Even his grandfather, Gustav the conjuror, abuses him. Then Gustav dies, Mathias is taken by Lieter, and things become even more grim. I did not make it far enough to find out about the toymaker who invents a knife so sharp and slim that it can take the heart out of a bird without the bird knowing, and insert the heart into a toy.
What I Wanted: Something a little grim, but a bit amusing, like Mass' The Candymakers (with less repetition).
Why This Didn't Work For Me: This was just so unrelentingly sad, and not in a Snicketesque kind of way. Children who pick up books about toy makers are probably expecting something happier.
Positive reviews at: Fantasy Book Critic, Searching for a Good Book, Graeme's Fantasy Book Review, Vulpes Libres,