Monday, May 07, 2012

Middle Grade Monday-- Crush

Paulsen, Gary. Crush.
Publication date 8 May 2012. E ARC from
Kevin has decided that it's not enough to just have a crush on the beautiful Tina. He is going to do some serious research and figure out how he can ask her out and get her to say yes. He sets up a romantic dinner for his parents and observes them from a closet-- and sees the cat sit on the pasta and then set the table on fire. He asks his sister's friends to give him advice, and they tell him he dresses like he just came from the scene of a natural disaster. He successfully sets up his brother and his hockey team with girls who also ice skate. He "observes" his best friend JonPaul (who really deserves a book of his own; I love his laconic personality!) on a date with Sam and is befuddled by how boring it is. (After doing homework for 47 minutes and working on some beaded necklaces, they fall asleep. "JonPaul's idea of dating was a whole lot like Markie's preschool's idea of quite time, only without the duck mats and blankies." Page 60) Finally, at an anniversary party where Kevin sees all the people he has fixed up, he finally gets to talk to Tina, who has wondered why he has been so preoccupied and has been ignoring her!
Strengths: Ah, Mr. Paulsen. Please continue to write these charming books for a very long time, and keep the same small format and great covers. The two copies each of Liar, Liar and Flat Broke that I never make it back to the shelf. (And yes, if you haven't read them, you need to!) If I had to buy birthday presents for a 12 year old boy, I'd get the whole set in hardcover.
Weaknesses: Not quite as many nose snorting laughs as Mudshark, but still very funny.

Swan, William. Fast Finish.
Noah is excited when he is approached by the coach of the Viking Track Club. He loves to run, and it helps him deal with both the bullies at school and the still too recent death of his father. While he has the support of his hardworking mother and uncle, and enjoys being on Coach Judge's team, he still has trouble focusing on running sprints. When he runs a longer race and talks to Coach Buchan, who knew his dad, he starts to connect a bit more to the sport, but when Coach Buchan ends up having a very serious health issue, he is scared. Watching his father go downhill was bad enough, and Noah doesn't think he can deal with it again. How can he concentrate on running when so many things are going on in his life?
Strengths: Lots of good descriptions of running, and Noah's character is sympathetic and real.
Weaknesses: This started out with bullying, so I thought that would be this was the direction it would take. Also, Canadian running is set up differently, so US students might struggle with the idea of running clubs separate from schools.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Whitney Messenger, and is at her blog, Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe.


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