Kowitt, Holly. The Loser List. (Scholastic)
When Danny runs afoul of class bully Chantal, he imperils his social standing, and that of his friend Jasper's, because she posts their names on the "loser list"... on the girls' bathroom wall. In a comedy of errors to remove it, Danny ends up in detention and starts running with low life Axl and his friends. At first, this improves Danny's image, which is all important in his quest to get Asia to like him, but when Axl steals a valuable comic strip from a store that Danny frequents, things get even worse. How can he and Jasper make things right AND not be considered losers?
Strengths: Another in a line of Wimpy Kid- type books, with illustrations and hand-written font. The story is a good one that really didn't need this artifice to attract readers.
Weaknesses: Bullying, incompetent teachers, graffiti on the walls-- it all makes for some fun stories, but it isn't the reality at my school. We have a really strict punishment for bullies at my school-- we bore them to death with lectures about bullying. I had this problem with The Fourth Stall, as well. Now if I could just remember who had the post on guys liking to razz each other, and how literature cleans this up too much.
Paulsen, Gary. Liar, Liar: the theory, practice, and destructive properties of deception.
Wow. Here I was hating on Gary Paulsen (The Island, The Crossing, Dancing Carl-- yick!) when he comes out with THIS, as well as the sequel, Flat Broke, coming out on 7/12/11. Kevin loves to lie, and it makes his life easier until he tells his social studies partner that he can't help with a project because of his illness, "relapsing-remitting inflammobetigoitis". He also manages to get his brother and sister in trouble, lies to a huge number of teachers at school to get out of classes to be closer to Tina, the object of his affection, and causes problems between his parents. In the end, he tries to change his ways, and finds out how difficult it is to undo a lie.
Strengths: Funny, funny writing. GREAT turns of phrase. I laughed out loud, and when I told Teen Daughter that I was reading Paulsen, she just didn't believe me. Kevin is a great character, who is flawed but well-meaning, and the situations are realistic but humorous. Covers are fabulous; bright, graphic, catchy.
Weaknesses: Will admit that some of the situations struck me as being not quite right. The teachers believed his that he was helping with the newspaper, etc.? He babysits with an attitude toward children like that? Why WOULD Tina find him attractive. But the very thing that keeps me a bit uncomfortable is probably what students will like the most. There's some inherent boy thing that I am not getting, that the boys will!
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.
There is a free download of the first half of this book available; I think mine was through Amazon. Have only read that much. This comes out 6/27/11.
Rafe and his friends decide that in order to get through their horrible middle school (which is dumb, boring and has way too many rules), by devising a game that assigns points to each of the rules that they break. The result is a funny, sometimes gross novel that boys will love and bothered me in the same way that the above novels did. Still, I have been asking for this type of novel, so I can't complain too much. Well, I will just a little: why is more skateboarding not involved in these? I do love the collection of covers-- they will look great on display in the fall when they are new and shiny!