June 3rd 2014 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
E ARC from Netgalley.com
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Ana is looking forward to the end of the school year but struggling to deal with the departure of her best friend Liv to New Zealand. Her twin brother Daz is nothing but annoying, although his best friend Kevin has been oddly helpful lately, and Ana is not sure how she feels about that. Ana’s parents both work at the zoo, so Ana is used to hanging out there and enjoys it, but she doesn’t enjoy the fact that it makes her the butt of jokes that the popular girls, especially Ashley, tell. She has a bit of a crush on the very cute Zach, and is getting to know a girl in her art class. The big news is that Ana’s celebrity grandfather has come in to town and is going to food her mother’s carnivore project, so the family is moving into a research hut in the zoo. Ana turns out to have a talent for talking about the animals, and her grandfather wants her to give a presentation, but she’s nervous and doesn’t want people to be looking at her. Also, Liv is no longer reliable at answering e mail or being available for chats. Does that mean their friendship is over? What will summer look like if all these stresses (including not understanding the math for the final) get to be too much for Ana? Luckily, book two is in the works!
Strengths: For some reason, this was hard to pick up, but I was immediately drawn in by Ana’s voice when I did. There are a LOT of students in middle school interested in zoology (as well as marine biology, which is just weird here in central Ohio!), and Ana’s crush, fights with other girls, and embarrassment about her family are perfect depictions of how middle school feels. Very strong debut novel.
Weaknesses: Published in paperback. Boo! I almost though that Ana’s treatment of both Ashley and Zack at the end of the book was overly mean, and then I realized that 1.) they had it coming and 2.) it was satisfying even for ME to see karma bite them in their butts, so I decided it was perfect.
March 4th 2014 by Aladdin
Eight year old Mandy is going about her regularly scheduled life when classmate Natalie starts to get a lot of attention for her broken arm. Mandy’s friend Anya is made Natalie’s helper, so Mandy is bound and determined that she can solidify her relationship with Anya and her popularity in class by breaking her arm, which she attempts unsuccessfully to do.
Strengths: This has a lot of illustrations which are very attractive. Unfortunately, the cover made me think that this was a middle school book, and when the first chapter centered around Mandy eating the points off an entire pizza, I was confused! This would be a good series for elementary students, but is really more concerned with topics of first to fourth grade interest.
Weaknesses: What eight year old dresses this fashionably?