Nina has never thought of herself as biracial-- her parents have always encouraged her to think of herself as Nina. When her parents divorce, and her father starts to embrace some slightly militant black ideas while researching a book he is writing on slavery, Nina is confused. Does her father love HER less because she is half white? While racial incidents keep occurring in her California city, Nina tries to figure out where she is in the big picture and gets some help from reading her
father's book about an ancestor who was a slave.
Strengths: I like that Nina originally did not consider her race to be important, but circumstances cause her to examine it. Aside from race, the problems with her family make this story interesting.
Weaknesses: The chapters of her father's book interrupted the present day narrative and made the book a bit lengthy. I see why their inclusion was important, but it did slow the book down for me.
Landalf, Helen. Flyaway.
Stevie is used to her flighty mother taking off and not worrying about happens to Stevie. She can take care of herself. But when her mother runs off with a new boyfriend and Stevie is left alone for several days, she enlists the help of her Aunt Mindy, who cares too much about what Stevie does. When her mother seems to be sinking further and further into meth addiction, Stevie starts to realize that her aunt is trying to help, and that she will need to get organized and turn her life around. She makes a start at this by volunteering at a local bird sanctuary, where she is intrigued by a boy who works there, but when her mother goes into rehab, Stevie misses her and wants her back at any cost.
Strengths: Very interesting portrayal of an older teen who is dealing with a parent who is incapable of caring for her because of an addiction. Stevie flirts with the idea of drinking and doing drugs herself, but is able to understand the devastating toll they have had on her mother. The supportive aunt is a great character. Picky Reader will adore this. The cover is great, too.
Weaknesses: Stevie makes some bad choices, so this would not be a book for younger students, but it is just right for my 8th graders.
Butler, Dori Hillestad.The Case of the Lost Boy.
This is the first in a series of five books. From the publisher: "King’s family is missing, and he’s been put in the P-O-U-N-D. Why doesn’t his beloved human, Kayla, come to get him?When King is adopted by Connor and his mom, things get more confusing. The new family calls him Buddy!Then Connor disappears! Buddy (aka King) has some big problems to solve."
I have several students who are very interested in books about dogs, and mysteries are always popular, but this is too young. If I had seen the book in person instead of reading an E-ARC, I would have known that this was more appropriate for grades K-3. My children would have loved it in the first grade.