Altbacker, EJ. Shark Wars: Exile
ARC received from publisher; release date June 11, 2011
Gray, an overly large reef shark, is kicked out for endangering his shiver (group) by leaving his territory. He and friend Barkley go off and run afoul of the Goblin shiver, then join up with Finn, Snork and a few others to form Rogue shiver, which makes Goblin mad. Soon, however, the Rogues are forced to join forces with Goblin, learn about the great tuna run and meet the mythical Takiza. Gray would like to reunite with his mother, but finds that part of his problem is that he's not really a reef shark but a megalodon.
Strengths: Lots of action, territorial disputes, and fighting. The back cover says this is like Warriors meets Star Wars; the Warriors part is definitely true. This, however, is much easier to follow, as well as a little funnier. This has a sequel coming out in the fall.
Weaknesses: The humor might not hit Warriors die-hards the right way. They take the cats' territorial wars VERY seriously.
Resau, Laura and Farinango, Maria Virginia. The Queen of Water.
Based on Farinango's experiences growing up in Ecuador, this is a sad tale of a young girl from an Indian family who is sold to a dentist and school teacher so that she can watch their child. The mother is abusive, and the father, while kinder, develops an unhealthy interest in the girl as she gets older. This was a fascinating look at how people live in other countries. Not only is daily life vividly portrayed, but the idea that a seven-year-old child would be left in charge of an infant will intrigue American readers. Because the girl is bright and motivated, she learns to read, studies all of the school curriculum, and manages to get into a school so that she can have a better future than child care or returning to her impoverished family.
Strengths: Vivid descriptions and sometimes harrowing situations took me right into this world. I love books that take me somewhere else and give me an insight into lives that are not like mine.
Weaknesses: While appropriate for middle school (the employer's interest never gets too graphic), this might be too long and too introspective for most of my students. I'd definitely buy this for a high school collection. I'll try it with Picky Reader, who loves problem novels.