Webb, Sarah. Dancing Days (Ask Amy Green #4)
27 August 2013, Candlewick.
Amy and her best friend Mills are thrilled when Mills' sister Claire, who is starring in a Hungarian ballet company's production of Romeo and Juliet, comes back to Dublin. They do worry about how thin and upset she looks, and Amy (in true Agony Aunt fashion) finds her diary on a flash drive and starts to read it. It turns out that the ballet school is tougher than Claire thought it would be, and some of the girls are being very mean. Amy decides to go back to keeping a diary herself, and makes some notes about family situations and vents a bit about how Mills is treating her... and of course Mills reads it and won't talk to Amy anymore. With her aunt Clover, who is a teen reporter for Goss magazine, Amy goes to Budapest to interview Claire, and is able to help her out with some of the issues she is facing. Amy has her issues at home, too-- her young twin siblings are demanding, and her father is having difficulties with his new family as well.
Strengths: This series goes over well with girls who want a taste of life in Ireland. It has appealing characters (Clover is outrageously fun), just enough drama, but realistic situations with family and boys. It's fun to visit with Amy from time to time.
Weaknesses: It's hard to believe that Amy's family lets her go to Budapest with her young aunt-- here in the states, though, it would be roughly equivalent to sending girls from Ohio to Chicago, which doesn't seem as bad.
Farrant, Natasha. After Iris.
11 July 2013, Dial
I really wanted to like this one, but there was so much going on that I couldn't get a good feel for Iris and her feelings in the aftermath of her sister's death. With her parents both off at work and the family in the care of a "nanny" named Zoran, it didn't seem realistic to me. It would probably appeal to fans of Hilary McKay's Saffy's Angel, so definitely take a look if that series is popular in your library.
From Goodreads.com " Blue
Gadsby’s twin sister, Iris, died three years ago and her family has
never been the same. Her histrionic older sister, Flora, changes her
hair color daily; her younger siblings, Jasmine and Twig, are completely
obsessed with their pet rats; and both of her parents spend weeks away
from home–and each other. Enter Zoran the Bosnian male au pair and Joss
the troublemaking boy next door, and life for the Gadsby family takes a
turn for the even more chaotic. Blue poignantly captures her family’s
trials and tribulations from fragmented to fully dysfunctional to
ultimately reunited, in a sequence of film transcripts and diary entries
that will make you cry, laugh, and give thanks for the gift of
With the charm of The Penderwicks and the poignancy of When You Reach Me, Natasha Farrant's After Iris is a story that will stay with readers long after the last page. "