Giff, Patricia Reilly. Hunter Moran Saves the Universe.
August 2012, Holiday House
Hunter is glad that it is summer vacation, even though his home is crowded with five brothers and sisters as well as his disorganized mother and father. On the very first day of vacation, while he and his twin, Zach, are trying to hide from their annoying little brother Steadman, he intercepts a phone call that he believes to indicate that someone is going to blow up the town, perhaps during Tinwitty Night, an odd celebration that includes his mother judging a soup competition. He and Zack investigate matters further and decide that it is Dr. Diglio, a nearby dentist, who is trying to destroy the town. The more they investigate, the more they uncover "evidence" that leads to this. When they try to stop the suspected bomb from going off, they end up getting into more trouble than would have existed if they hadn't meddled.
Strengths: This might be a good summer read for a younger elementary school student. This is the target demographic for many of Giff's works.
Weaknesses: I could tell right away what the intercepted call was about, so the whole plot seemed artificial to me, although younger students might not have that problem. I also had little patience with the level of disorganization in the Moran household, and the close knit community and ability for children to run around town getting into trouble during summer vacation made this seem like a book written back in the 1960s.
Peirce, Lincoln. Big Nate Out Loud.
26 April 2011, Andrews McMeel
Don't get your hopes up; this isn't a notebook novel like some of the recent Big Nate books; it's a collection of comic strips. Still, Nate is such an irrepressible middle schooler that I think I will go buy a copy and put it in the Graphic Novel section. It will get checked out twice a day, but it was really funny. I especially liked the story arc about Nate's dad training to run a 10K! It was nice that this was the same size as the novels, but don't be surprised when it doesn't have as much text.