Jennings, Patrick. Invasion of the Dog Nappers
24 April 2012, EgmontUSA
Logan is on the bus to school when he sees a dog just vanish! He is absolutely sure that space aliens are responsible, and when his friend Kian's mother's dog also disappears, he resolves to find out what is going on. He forms the Intergalactic Canine Rescue Unit and starts to investigate. Suspicious people, like the strange bearded man with an accent, are all under his magnifying glass, even when they turn out to be perfectly harmless Greek immigrants with sons his own age! Soon, however, Logan finds a creepy man in a wheelchair, who turns out to be... an alien! Logan finds himself floating with all of the dogs that have been kidnapped, and in the custody of a dolphin-like alien creature whose job it is to collect dogs to take back to the home planet. Logan manages to convince the aliens that they should return the much loved family pets they have stolen and instead go to animal shelters and take all of THOSE dogs back to their planet. The aliens agree, and Logan is able to return the pets to their grateful owners.
Strengths: This is a fast-paced, easy read that would be an excellent choice for first or second graders who are strong readers but are tired of Magic Treehouse type books.
Weaknesses: This was too young and goofy for my middle school students
McKissack, Patricia, Frederick and Pat. The Visitors (Clone Codes #3)
1 February 2012, Scholastic Press
Marcus, the son of the director of the space program and an ardent believer in the Wholer movement, and Leanna, a clone who was illegally raised as human, are back for a third installment. Leanna is recuperating from having been kidnapped by the evil Chancellor Graham's forces, who tried to turn her into a purple clone, and her mother and Dr. Ayala are still in prison. With the help of Rizin, they hope to be able to get the two free and also fight against the chancellor and his killer bots, who have some support becomes he claims that cyborgs and clones are dragging down advancements in space exploration. They have the help of RUBy, a rock-like, Cystalline creature who is not the ship but controls the ship, and communicates via computer. However, RUBy must return to her own planet in time to complete the ritual of splitting. The Crystallines are even more discriminated against than clones and cyborgs because people do not have any idea that they are anything more than rocks. When Leanna's mother and Dr. Ayala are brought before the World Supreme Court to decide if their raising of Leanna as a human was illegal, RUBy comes along. The court needs to decide once and for all if the chancellor is right and can continue to descriminate against clones and cyborgs, and the existance of the Crystallines will help sway their opinion-- but in what direction?
Strengths: Leanna and Marcus are both interesting characters, and the futuristic elements are not all grim-- there is a lot of fun space travel and technology. All three books are short, and excellent for science fiction assignments!
Weaknesses: Still a tiny bit heavy on the civil rights parallels, but in this book this theme does not interfere with the pacing or character development as much as it did in previous books.