Weissman, Elissa Brent. Nerd Camp 2.0
May 6th 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
ARC from Blue Slip Media
Zack and Gabe have come to enjoy each others' company, and Gabe even helps Zack convince his mom that he should spend 6 weeks at camp. When wildfires in the area where both Camp Seneca and the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment damage Camp Seneca, all of its campers are put up by SCGE. Gabe is a little leery-- he still thinks Zack is cool and wants to impress him, and worries that this will interfere with his nerdy fun. Zack is also leery, because he really likes his new stepbrother and is uncomfortable when his new camp mates make fun of the nerds. The more sporty Camp Seneca campers overrun the area, are mean to the SCGE kids, and even steal a large amount of element trading cards, so the SCGE kids decide to fight back. They are geeky and proud, encouraged by C2 to "Do the nerdiest things you can, and don't back down... This is our place, and this is our time. Let's use our brains!" (page 190). When Zack hears Gabe saving mean things about him, he's angry and sad, but Gabe is just reacting to some of the things Zack has done. Will the boys, and the two camps, be able to work out their differences?
Strengths: I really liked Zack and Gabe's relationship, and this was a fairly good camp story. There was a little bit of romance, and after the first book, it was good to see Zack and Gabe together. Nerd Camp was shortlisted for the 2012 Cybils Award.
Weaknesses: Weissman espouses a very different variety of nerdom than my children and I have experienced. I can't see Gabe being quite so stereotypically nerdy, and I can't see the two groups of students being so hostile to each other. I think social acceptance of nerds is quite different now-- being smart is kind of cool, and just another way that people are, which made this book seem a bit... 1984. (Think Revenge of the Nerds.)
Bradley, John Ed. Call Me By My Name
May 6th 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Rodney plays just about every sport growing up in the south in the 1960s. He repeatedly comes across Tater Henry, a boy who tries to play baseball in the white park in 1965 and is chased off. The two are friendly enough, and when the black school is closed and all of the students sent to Rodney's high school, he's glad to finally be able to be on a team with Tater. Things don't go smoothly, even as the 1970s approach, and black players are given less prominent spots on the team, even though the coach isn't wild about the idea. Eventually, Tater becomes a quarterback and is even being considered by LSU. Rodney is trying to overcome the prejudice exhibited by his father, but it's hard even for him when Tater and Rodney's twin sister, Angie, are romantically linked.
Strengths: Since most of the Civil Rights books I've come across are from the point of view of white girls, this was refreshing. The nuances of the prejudice are fantastic. Rodney feels he shouldn't care about Angie and Tater, since Tater is his best friend, but he is still bothered by the racial issue. Rodney's mother protects Tater on a couple of occasions, and views him as another young boy who needs protection, but realizes that he can't really hang out at the house when Rodney's father is there. But even Rodney's father is trying to change, even though he's not entirely sure it's the right thing to do. The football details are good. Highly readable book. More adult sports writers need to turn their hand to middle grade books.
Weaknesses: A little too much detail about Angie's womanhood, and her relationship with Tater. Not anything instructive, but there is an uncomfortable scene where she and Tater have leeches on them, she has blood running down her thighs, and Rodney has his suspicions that something has happened. (Which later Angie says did not.) Also, the ending and epilogue are super sad.
Deaths: Tater's father, by suicide; Tater's twin sister Rosalie, at birth; Rodney's mother, of old age in epilogue. *Spoiler alert* (highlight to read): Tater, of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, during pivotal football game. I knew the moment Tater was introduced at the first baseball tryouts that he would die. Just did.
And anyone who would like to is welcome to use these in their own libraries!
You know it's going to be a long day when you paperclip two related pieces of paper and put them in your briefcase and FEEL ACCOMPLISHED. Seriously. I had both pieces of paper, I found a clip, and I put them in a noncluttered pocket of case.
We had testing this week, and I accomplished a lot, mostly thanks to the nightmares about inventory. Got textbook inventory as done as possible, and cleaned out the book room and the language arts/math office so that they are beautiful and even smell better. Also got library organized, did an E Book sheet for next week, added books to database. Ready to do library inventory starting, oh, 13 May.
Next week is the worst week of the year. All books are due on Friday, 9 May. This is how I will feel for the next three weeks.It gets progressively worse.