Krishnaswami, Uma. The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.
Dini and Maddie are huge fans of Bollywood Star Dolly Singh and are looking forward to going to dance camp in order to learn to dance like her, but their plans are scuttled when Dini's mother gets a job in a small Indian village, running a medical clinic. The family moves quickly, and Dini has a hard time adjusting to her new life. It helps that she makes a friend of Priya, the niece of a tea plantation owner, and finds out that Dolly is somewhere in the village! Dini attempts to find the actress, and uncovers a mystery involving her retirement from film! Can she, and the cast of international but interconnected characters, make everything right and convince Dolly to go back into films?
Strengths: This was a fun book, and Dini's machinations are amusing. The depictions of life in an Indian town are very interesting; who knew that monkeys could get into one's water tank? I have a copy of Naming Maya in my library, and I always like to recommend that one.
Weaknesses: Things coalesce with too much way too much coincidence-- the mail sorter who delivers Dini's first letter to Dolly ends up honeymooning in the small village?-- but I guess that mirrors the plot devices of Bollywood films. This might be slightly young for my students, but I have such a weakness for books set in India!
Landy, Derek. Dark Days. (Book 4)
Valkyrie is determined to get Skullguddery's skull back from the Sanctuary, believing it will open the portal and she will be able to rescue him from the Faceless Ones. In the meantime, various evil characters are trying to raise zombie armies and thwart the side of good. It's kind of hard to tell which that is-- Valkyrie wants to be a necromancer, which would seem evil. It's been a while since I read the other books, but a student came to me and begged me to pick up this UK edition at Half Price Books-- he'll be elated that I have it but crushed that Mortal Coil is not available anywhere.
Have a bit of a headache from shelf reading (only got through the D's, but was also putting numbers on books in series, as well as dunning children for overdues), so we'll go with the publisher's description, but the reason the children like these is that there are a huge variety of monsters, lots of action, adventure and fighting, a sense of humor, and a vague sense of who is good and who is evil. If I can find the next book, I'll buy it. ($18.95 at Book Depository: ouch!)
From HarperCollins UK: "Skulduggery Pleasant is gone, sucked into a parallel dimension overrun by the Faceless Ones. If his bones haven’t already been turned to dust, chances are he’s insane, driven out of his mind by the horror of the ancient gods. There is no official, Sanctuary-approved rescue mission. There is no official plan to save him. But Valkyrie's never had much time for plans. The problem is, even if she can get Skulduggery back, there might not be much left for him to return to. There’s a gang of villains bent on destroying the Sanctuary, there are some very powerful people who want Valkyrie dead, and as if all that wasn’t enough it looks very likely that a sorcerer named Darquesse is going to kill the world and everyone on it. Skulduggery is gone. All our hopes rest with Valkyrie. The world’s weight is on her shoulders, and its fate is in her hands. These are dark days indeed."