15 April 2014, Amulet Books
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Remy loves spending her summers at Seagate, but now that her grandmother has passed away, the house just isn't the same. Even her grandmother's dog, Danish, is no longer living, so all of her old haunts seem sad and empty. Things are even odd with her best friends Micayla and Bennett. Bennett is being all disgusting and boylike, wanting to spend time with Calvin instead of the girls, but even so, Remy is starting to look at him with twitterpated feelings. Micayla is going to be living on the island year round, and Remy resents that she is making other friends. Remy isn't too thrilled to be hanging out with Calvin's sister Claire, who is clothes obsessed, whereas 11 year old Remy just wants to enjoy summer. Remy starts to have quite a dog walking business, and this makes the summer more bearable. Not only does she get to know the owners and get back to ordinary life at Seagate, but the dogs help her through her other problems. Just realized that this is supposed to be the first book in a series. Awesome!
Strengths: I particularly like that Greenwald always gives her characters a unique interest, and Remy's somewhat reluctant dog business is fun. The interaction between the characters is very true-to-life for middle school, from the different levels of maturity to the small conflicts that seem very large at the time.
Weaknesses:There are quite a number of books where people spend the entire summer somewhere, and it just doesn't seem realistic to me. Also, I really disliked how Micayla's name was spelled. Michaela, Mikayla, okay. Micayla, not so much. Small quibble for a fun book.
Goldsmith, Connie. Bombs Over Bikini: The World's First Nuclear Disaster.
April 1st 2014 by Twenty-First Century Books (CT)
E ARC from Netgalley.com
This was a good overview of the effect of US nuclear testing in the Pacific on the native people there in the wake of the WWII bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It covers why testing was done, why this location was picked, how the residents were encouraged to leave "temporarily" and relocated by our governmnet, how the testing was conducted, and the the awful, awful aftermath of it. Well illustrated and laid out, this is a great introduction to a very ill-conceived idea. Like the book For the Good of Mankind, this made me wonder what on earth scientists were thinking. Yes, they wanted to investigate the effects of radiation on living beings, but smearing pigs with sunscreen or putting them in Navy uniforms? This did lead me to ask why people today can live in Nagasaki and Hiroshima while they can't live in Chernobyl-- the short answer is that there was a much smaller amount of nuclear fuel in the bombs, and a huge amount of nuclear fuel at Chernobyl. At 88 pages, with it's clear writing and thoughtful layout, this is a good addition to my collection of books about WWII.
Mitchell, Don. The Freedom Summer Murders
April 29th 2014 by Scholastic Press
E ARC from Netgalley.
On the other hand, this book weighs in at 256 ages and had an enormous amount of information. This is not an era covered in our history classes, and I don't think that students would tackle this for pleasure reading.
This was well researched, laid out, and written, but for my demographic it is just too long and complex. Drat. (See brief rant about nonfiction on 3/17/14.)
Rubin, Susan Goldman. Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi
March 14th 2014 by Holiday House
At 120 pages, this moved along at a much brisker pace, with compelling stories from a variety of people along with an overview of the events of the summer. The inclusion of primary source material, photographs, and fantastic period drawings by Tracy Sugarman gives this a lot of punch, and the research is phenomenal. The appendices, bibliography and additional material make this one that a few students will read for pleasure, and many more will find invaluable for research. This covered not only the Freedom Summer murders, but a lot of interesting information on the efforts to get people signed up to vote, the Freedom Schools, and the training for students from the North who traveled South to help with these efforts.