Rock, Nora. Fly Away.
Marnie is asked to be a flyer on her competitive cheerleading team after one of her teammates is injured. Matters become even more complicated when Marnie's boyfriend of two years is cold and distant, and the other girls on the team doubt Marnie's ability. Marnie's best friend (and team captain) Arielle is also acting strangely, and when the team travels to Toronto for a competition, Arielle disappears, leaving the team shaken and unable to compete effectively. Marnie knows something is up, so delves into Arielle's art interests and realizes that she has run away and is most likely with a creepy art "benefactor" who is passing Arielle's work off as his own. Can Marnie make things right for herself, her team and her friend?
Strengths: For a hi/lo book, this is very complex, and the writing is smooth. I will definitely be able to circulate this frequently. The cheerleading details are good as well.
Weaknesses: The book ended very abruptly, as if the author hit a page limit and just quit writing.
Robins, Eleanor. The Library Book Mystery.
Lin is working on a science project on an unusual topic. The public library doesn't have any books, and the teacher is not letting the students do internet research, so when she finds a book in the school library, she is very relieved. After working on the project in class, the book goes missing, and she suspects that Chandra has taken it. Her friend Willow, who volunteers in the public library, helps Lin locate the book-- Chandra has said that the book is somewhere they won't look for it, and (highlight to see text if you don't mind spoiling the surprise) the book has been put back on the shelf without having been checked in! Definitely has happened!
Strengths: This is part of the Carter High series by Saddleback and is a very low lever reader. This will be good for my struggling 8th graders who need a short mystery book.
Weaknesses: I don't remember the writing being so choppy in other books in this series, but this was painful. As if low level readers can't handle commas. For anything. Ever. (page 15: "Lin would have to find a book at the school library. Or she would have to write about something else. And she didn't want to do that." So many sentences started with "and" and clearly should have had commas. I'm sure there was some reason for doing this, but I don't think it was necessary.