Weston, Carol. Ava and Pip
March 4th 2014
by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Ava and Pip have parents who are obsessed with word play, and frequently talk about palindromes, homonymns and alliteration around the dinner table. Ava keeps a journal, because she would like to be a writer. She is funny and outgoing, but Ava is shy to the point of social paralization, and this is a huge concern to the parents. When Pip throws a birthday party and no one shows up because a new girl in school schedules a party for the same day, Ava uses the girl's name, Bea, in a story she writes for a contest about a "Queen Bee" who is mean to other students. The problem? Bea is actually a very nice girl whose parents run a bookstore. Bea has also entered the contest, and when Ava receives an honorable mention, everyone finds out about the story. Bea confronts Ava, but in a very productive way. When seh finds out that Ava's reason for writing the story was Pip's shyness, Bea visits and gives Pip suggestions to overcome her social anxiety. They work, but Ava has social anxiety of her own to deal with-- she getsin trouble in school for writing the story, and even Bea's mother complains about it. Bea's tips give Pip a lot of confidence, enough so that she ends up asking her crush, Bea's brother Ben, to a school dance. Everything works out in the end, and Ava is even able to convince her parents to worry less about Pip and pay a little attention to her.
Strengths: Language arts teachers will like this for the life lessons as well as the abundant word play. There is a whole list of the palindromes used in the back of the book. Weird Al Yankovic's "Bob" would be a good sound track for this. The characters are well developed, and it's nice to see Bea as an involved classmate and not just a bully.
Weaknesses: While this has middle school students in it (Pip is in 7th grade, Ava in 6th, Bea in 8th, I think.), Ava's concerns seem a bit young for my readers. I can see this being a bit more popular in the elementary school. I found the inclusion of all the word play to be rather annoying, since it often diverted the plot. I also was not fond of Ava, who seemed annoyingly precocious to me.
Katie at Storytime Secrets, Dena at Batch of Books, and Deb A. Marshall liked this much better than I did.
Losure, Mary. Backwards Moon
1 August 2014, Holiday House
Got quite a lot of ARCs from Baker and Taylor that didn't quite suit what I need.I always feel bad if I don't review them; the biggest problem were that many were more suited to 3rd-5th grades and didn't seem like they would make the jump to middle school readers. Some books do, but not all. That's one reason that middle grade is such a tricky designation.
This had a decidedly Ruth Chew feel to it, right down to the cover. I was glad to get a copy, since I liked this author's The Fairy Ring, but I just don't have readers for it. Perhaps in an elementary library with a lot of readers who like magic stories.