24 June 2013, HarperCollins
Copy received from Regal Literary
Zachary is thrilled to finally be able to attend the Starbounders academy, and is quick to make friends, but also quick to get into trouble. When he, Kaylee, and alien Ryic run afoul of Loren, they find themselves on clean up duty while their classmates go on their first field trip. Things get worse when they are inadvertently kidnapped by Skold, an alien in a humanoid carapace who sells space ships, most of which he has stolen. Skold's not a completely bad guy, and helps the kids when they uncover a plot to destroy Indigo 8-- after all, that would negatively impact his business! It turns out that someone was assigned to kill the three friends, and also a hacker names Quee, whom the children locate in order to try to figure out why. They uncover a bigger plot than they could ever imagine, but do manage to save the day.
Strengths: This is the kind of science fiction I like. Space travel, evil aliens, and adventure, rather than futuristic dystopias. I especially liked that life on Earth was still like it is currently, and that most people didn't know about all the intergalactic intrigue. There were fun gadgets and tools, interesting alien life forms, and, of course, children saving the day. The writing was funny and clever as well. Good stuff, and I wouldn't be surprised if there is a series.
Weaknesses: I was leery of reading this, since I was not a fan of The Familiars by these authors. Of course, that had talking animals in it, which I hardly ever like! This was a huge improvement.
Kulling, Monica. Making Contact: Marconi Goes Wireless
24 September 2013, Tundra Books
Copy received from publisher.
Like the other books in this series, this is a picture book biography with just the right balance of information. It covers enough about Marconi's family and childhood that I was interested in seeing how he turned out as an adult, but didn't linger on it. The basics of the wireless telegraph are explained enough so that I could understand the innovation, and I especially liked the bit at the end about how wireless telegraph was the way that help was summoned to the Titanic. I loved biographies as a child, but never read any picture book ones. This would have been an enormous hit for me as a child! I will see if our science teachers can use this as a Common Core nonfiction piece for their sound waves unit. The only weakness if the pictures-- I preferred the David Parkins illustrations.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday, with the Round Up this week at Stacking Books.
Don't forget to nominate books for the Cybils awards starting 1 October! That's tomorrow!