Holm, Jennifer L. and Holm, Matthew. Squish: Super Amoeba
Squish is an amoeba. His school principal is a cross-eyed planaria. His friend Pod is another amoeba who is not particularly nice to him, and his friend Peggy is a ridiculously clueless and perky paramecium. When the three get in trouble at school and end up in detention, Peggy makes the bully Lynwood angry, and he intends to eat her. Squish, who follows the comic adventures of Super Amoeba, knows that he should protect Peggy and stand up for what is right, but it's very hard to do.
Strengths: This would have been great for my own children when they were just starting to read. If I Can Read Books had a graphic novel division, this would be one of the entries.
Weaknesses: I adore Holm, but this and Babymouse seem too young for middle schooler. I liked Boston Jane and The Creek so much that I would selfishly prefer that Holm go back to writing middle grade fiction.
Callaghan, Cindy. Just Add Magic.
Kelly loves to cook. While cleaning out an attic, she and her friends find an old encyclopedia with odd recipes pasted in the pages. The recipes all call for odd spices and have notes indicating that ingesting the products can have magical results. Kelly gathers several of her friends, and they try their hand at getting back at people via the magic, even though they have been warned that there will be consequences. Once they start to see this, they try to balance things out by doing good deeds, and eventually Kelly realizes that using the magic to win the chili competition with her mother would be wrong. Did one of the recipes make her crush like her? And how did the magic recipes end up in her hands anway?
Strengths: This combines cooking, which is a very hot topic right now, with magic. I've had a lot of girls asking for books with magic this year, and for some reason, they don't necessarily want a fantasy book. This will be perfect.
Weaknesses: I was somewhat annoyed by the repetition of some phrases (recipedia) and by Kelly herself, as well as with the somewhat didactic ending. I am going to chalk this one up to the fact that I didn't get home until after 9 pm, and it's been a long week. I do think my readers will like this one, and the Mix books are always popular.