Jeremy is used to running odd errands for Professor Twichett, but when the odd scientist leaves a cryptic note and an evil looking jackelope in Jeremy's care, he's not quite sure what to do. When men in suits start stalking him, pretending that the professor has inherited money, Jeremy suspects that something is up. He consults Agatha, his neighbor and one time assistant to the professor, and finds out that the jackalope was sort of her idea. She thinks it would be a great idea to use the jackelope for her science fair project, but there isn't any time-- when the men in suits close in, the two go on the run with the jackelope in a bright pink Dora the Explorer suitcase! For what evil purposes do the men want the jackelope-- and who else is out to get them?
Strengths: Any book that includes a whiskey swilling monster with razor sharp antlers and men in suits chasing down children who have access to their own credit card will certainly intrigue a large number of middle school readers.
Weaknesses: The jackelope wasn't evil enough. It spent most of it's time sitting quietly in different bags while being carted around. I would rather have had Jeremy tame the jackelope, after it terrorizes a bunch of people and eats a car or something.
Katz, Alan. Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking.
Illustrated by Edward Koren.
Hooray! Methadone for Shel Silverstein addicts! This collection of poems was really great-- they are funny, they rhyme and have meter, and they are on topics that children will find appealing. I can see this working with elementary students, but also middle school. Not bitter or introspective enough for high school, however (see below!). I'm not a huge fan of Koren's illustrations, but they do go with the poems nicely. My only complaint is that not a lot of them are forty words long, which if what I often need when students are required to memorize a poem. Definite purchase!
Handler, Daniel. Why We Broke Up.
From the Publisher: "Sixteen-year-old Min Green writes a letter to Ed Slaterton in which she breaks up with him, documenting their relationship and how items in the accompanying box, from bottle caps to a cookbook, foretell the end."
Just in case you thought this title by the author otherwise known as Lemony Snicket might be good for a middle school library... meh. For high school, yes. It would be awesome. But middle schoolers, in general, have a much lighter and faster paced approach to romance. This is rather bitter and ponderous. The best part about it were the blurbs on the back cover from authors telling how their hearts were broken.