Whitman, Emily. Wildwing
Recommended by Charlotte at Charlotte's Library
In 1913, Addy goes into service with Mr. Greenwood, a solitary and sad man who lost his infant son in the woods years ago. Addy would rather be in school, but the job is not a difficult one, and Mr. Greenwood encourages her reading. Addy finds an odd elevator in the house that turns out to be a time travel machine, and when her mother wants to remove her from her job, she takes off in the machine for the middle ages for two weeks. Right away, she is mistaken for Lady Matilda, the lone survivor of a bad shipwreck. She is taken to Sir Hugh's castle to await his arrival and their marriage, but in the meantime falls in love with a young falcon keeper, Will. There is trouble in the kingdom, and the safety of the people may depend on her marrying Hugh, even though this isn't really what she wants. How will this all work out? I won't spoil the surprise.
Strengths: This was a light, fun, time travel book, and I agree completely with Charlotte that it portrays a middle ages that never was. Still, Addy is a fun character, and the romp in time will be popular with girls who want a fantasy romance.
Weaknesses: Not even kidding, on page 46 I could tell what the surprise ending would be. My older daughter did pick it up, and she hasn't read anything but Madame Bovary for a while. (Seriously, high school English teachers? Madame Bovary?)
Maldonado, Torrey. Secret Saturdays.
Justin and Sean have been friends for a long time, which is a good thing, because Sean is the best disser in school, and therefor very cool. Both boys have difficult family lives in Brooklyn's Red Hook housing projects, but make the best of their situation by rapping and hanging out. When Sean's behavior becomes erratic, Justin suspects that it is someone tied to his father, who supposedly lives in Puerto Rico but who is actually in jail.
Strengths: Many of my students are interested in reading about students who are living in inner city neighborhoods, so they will definitely pick this story up. I appreciated that it was set in a rough neighborhood and yet did not resort to "gritty, realistic" language!
Weaknesses: I just couldn't get into this one, and couldn't pinpoint why. The dialect? Some repetition in the descriptions of daily life? Wanted to like, but didn't. Will still buy because I think interest will be high.
Also could not get into Scott's The Candidates, although I usually like evil boarding school stories, or Karma Bites, which looked similar to Mlynowski's Bras and Broomsticks series.