Warren, Andrea. Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London.
E-ARC provided by Net Galley. Publication date 9/26/11
Part biography, part history book, this title is a great description of Dickens' life set against the reality of his times. We don't only find out that Dickens had to work in a blacking factory after his father was thrown into debtors' prison, we learn more about the plight of children who had to work, the difficulties families had staying out of debt, and the societal influences that both caused and tried to remedy these problems. Dickens' works, and the reasons behind them, are explained, as are the implications that his novels had on society during his time. Other benefactors of the poor, and their relationship to Dickens, are explored. This was a good sized (144 pages), well-illustrated discussion of a particular moment in history from the point of view of one individual greatly affected by it.
Strengths: Perfect for high school students who have to read Dickens. Factual without being boring, this provides a lot of insight into why Dickens wrote what he did.
Weaknesses: A bit too in-depth for middle school, but I would definitely get this for a high school collection.
Greenberg, Jerry. Sorry I Pooped in Your Shoe.(and other heartwarming letters from doggie).
E-Arc from Net Galley. Publication date 10/11/11
I need to go back and reread this for suitability for middle school. I was laughing too hard that first time I read it to make sure it didn't have inappropriate things in it. Since this was an E-Arc, the pictures weren't in color, but they were awfully cute. This is a series of short "notes" accompanied by pictures of adorable dogs-- why dogs are not that loud compared to people, why they don't need baths, why they need to chew things up.
Strengths: This would be fun to hand to students who need something to flip through just for the day; it's a quick read.
Weaknesses: Again, need to make sure it's appropriate for middle school.
Calonita, Jen. Reality Check.
Charlie is discovered by a reality television show executive and recruited to have her own show with her three friends. At first, this is an exciting prospect, but reality slowly encroaches. Social-climbing Brooke gets caught up with a popular girl who tries to highjack the show; Charlie's crush doesn't want to appear on air and so can't date her; the producers of the show lie to the girls to make things more exciting. Friendships are tested, and Charlie finds that fame and fortune aren't the most necessary things in life.
Strengths: Like Calonita's Hollywood Life series, this is readable with likable characters and gives a lot of detail about what it would be like to be in the public eye.
Weaknesses: A little predictable, and the cover may date quickly with the Bratz-like dolls.