Patterson, James. Fang.
While Max and her flock are in Africa helping out with the Coalition to Stop the Madness, Angel tells Max that Fang will soon die. When the group meets the strange new bird kid Dylan and the even stranger Dr. Gunther-Hagen, Max starts to fear that this may be true. Dylan has been engineered to be her perfect mate, and the doctor is continuing his experiments by trying to mutate the flock even further. Erasers attack, lots of flying is necessary, and there is a devastating ending that is then fixed. Angel, the next book, comes out February 11.
Strengths: Fast-paced, with lots of action, this is easier to read than Witch and Wizard.
Weaknesses: The students like these, but I'm just not getting them. Why do the dogs get married? Is the plot really advancing? On the upside, these are much easier to get through than Brian Jacques; on the downside, I wish that they were better written. These books aren't going to hurt children, but they won't really help them understand good literature, either.
The Newbery Awards will be announced later today. My best guess: Kathi Appelt's Keeper or Erskine's Mockingbird, because I disliked them the most, and the Newbery committee usually picks things that I disliked so much that I won't even buy them. Except for The Graveyard Book.
And a sad note. Dick King-Smith, who published many funny books for younger readers (including the novel on which the movie Babe was based) has passed away at the age of 88.