MacDonald, Maryann. Odette's Secrets.
26 February 2013, Bloomsbury USA
Copy provided by Raab Associates
Odette and her parents live in Paris, and don't really think much about their Polish/Jewish heritage until Paris is invaded. Odette's father goes off to fight in the war but is soon captured, and the kindly land lady, Madame Marie, and her husband, Henri, make sure that Odette and her mother have enough food. The mother works for the Resistance for a while, and sends Odette to the country to live with the Raffins for a while. Odette enjoys the country, and doesn't mind learning to be "Christian". Eventually, her mother joins her, and the two wait out the war in a small village. Going back to Paris after the war is difficult, but Madame Marie has kept their apartment for them, and they are slowly able to rebuild their lives. Based on the true story of Odette Meyers.
Strengths: This is a gentler Holocaust book for more sensitive students-- there are some scary moments, but not as much of the sheer brutality found in other books. If you have entire classes who are assigned to read books set during this period, this is an excellent choice to have on hand for students who do not want to read more harrowing tales set in concentration camps. I love the cover. The concerns of a child in this situation are realistically portrayed, and the book is well researched.
Weaknesses: I started reading this in E ARC format, and didn't realize until I got the actual book that it was in verse. Students won't mind, because it makes the book shorter, but the format did not add anything to the narrative.
Benway, Robin. Also Known As.
13 February 2013, Bloomsbury
Maggie has traveled the globe with her parents, spies who work for the Collective, an shadowy organization that works hard at making sure that things... go right. Not much more is said. Maggie is a fantastic safe cracker, so has helped out wherever they are, most recently Iceland, but the family gets a new assignment which involves Maggie in a much bigger role than safe cracking. The family moves to Manhattan, and Maggie is enrolled in high school for the first time. Her job? To get to know Jesse Oliver, the son of publishers Armand Oliver, who may be working on an article that will blow the lid off the collective... and also Maggie's life. High school is harder than safe cracking, but with the help of her new friend, Roux, as well as long time family friend and forger Angelo, Maggie manages to survive high school, get Jesse interested in her, and keep her family's cover from being completely blown.
Strengths: Just the thing for readers who are anxiously awaiting the next Gallagher Girls book. Like Annabel Monaghan's A Girl Named Digit, there's a great mix of New York City setting, romance, and spy action and adventure. Such, such fun! Glad to see there will be a sequel to this one, as well as a sequel to Monaghan's book, Double Digit, in the fall of 2013. Spies!!!
Weaknesses: I was a little disappointed in her spying abilities, but I guess she is just a teenager. Of course, the fact that she is a teenager is the real weakness-- I want a book from her mother's perspective. I could be a spy. No one would suspect me!