Martin, Lesley Schwartz. Make the Grade: Everything You Need to Study Better, Stress Less and Succeed in School.
9 July 2013, Zest Books
Copy provided by the publisher
We used to teach study skills in middle school, before standardized testing took such a stranglehold on our day. It is all too easy to forget that study skills are just that-- skills. They must be taught, practiced, and reinforced before students really have a grasp of them. When I had my 75 student study hall last year, I had to tell students that really, they had to read their text books chapters. And reread their notes. That they DID need to take in class! This book would be good to go over with children at home, since there is no time in the day for this kind of instruction in the class room, and handing it to a child in study hall probably wouldn't be that effective. Still, for parents, this would be a good resource to help teach these skills.
Gibbs, Stuart. Spy Camp.
2 April 2013, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Looking forward to a summer at home after his event filled year in Spy School, Ben is dismayed to find that he only gets a weekend at home, and must go to a wilderness survival camp for the summer, along with his classmates. Also dismaying is a note from SPYDER. The group eventually demands that he join them or die, and they send Murray Hill, who is supposed to be incarcerated, to encourage him. Ben's a good guy, though, and doesn't even consider it. Things quickly go south when he is at camp, but he has the help of the brilliant and talented (not to mention pretty) Erica Hale. Her father, Alex, is assigned to keep Ben safe; it's just too bad that Erica is more equipped to deal with the situation than the acclaimed spy! When the bus they are on gets highjacked by SPYDER, Ben, Erica and Alex escape into the wilderness and decide to figure out whether Murray is really in the juvenile detention center. That's just their first mistake-- SPYDER is four or five steps ahead of them at every turn, and it's clear that they are not really after Ben. The romp continues with lots of twists and turns, as well as a stint in a Civil War reenactment. The group manages to save the day... for now.
Strengths: The first book has been popular in my library-- the covers are spot on for middle school. This book had all of the action and adventure of the first, awesome twists, and was somehow more believable than the first. A touch of goofiness, a hint of romance, but really good spy details. Enjoyed this very much, especially Erica's character.
Weaknesses: Found it slightly hard to believe that SPYDER had such a jump on Erica, and would have liked a tiny bit more of Ben's family, but this was good stuff.
It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts.
It's also Nonfiction Monday, with the Round Up this week at Prose and Kahn.