Monday, November 17, 2014

MMGM- At Your Service

18104774Malone, Jen. At Your Service.
August 26th 2014 by Simon & Schuster/ Aladdin M!X
Copy from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.

Chloe loves living in the St. Michele hotel in New York City, where her father is the concierge. She also likes helping out, and is made a junior concierge by the owner, Mr. Buttercup, so that she can help with the younger guests. She manages to make even the brattiest children happy by scheduling things like practice sessions with the Rockettes for them. When King Robert of Somerstein and his three children stay at the hotel, Chloe is put in charge of their itinery, and accompanied by bodyguards, the royals (along with Chloe's friend Paisley) set off to see the sights. Prince Alex turns out not only to be cute, but also very nice; Princess Sophie seems stuck up at first, but warms to the adventure; but Princess Ingrid, the youngest, decides to run off from the group to investigate all of the penny smashing machines in the city. Chloe doesn't want to tell her father, thinking she will get in trouble, so the children band together to find Ingrid but not alarm anyone back at the hotel. Adventures ensue, there are some nice romantic moments, and everyone is okay in the end.
Strengths: This is a fantastic middle grade adventure. I love that Chloe is empowered to deal with other concierges and businesses in the city, and given opportunities to see New York, but always under some kind of supervision. I think this is probably the sort of book that my readers enjoy the most-- ordinary children who DO something.
Weaknesses: M!X publishes most of their books only in e book and paperback format, which doesn't work well for a school library!

The best thing about this book is that it's HAPPY. There are just not enough happy books for middle grade readers this year. The Cybils nomination list (my own choice included) is enough to drive adults to antidepressants. One 8th grader finished up a book the other day, returned it, and said, in all seriousness "Ms. Yingling, I know you don't hug people, but that book was so sad that I REALLY NEED A HUG!" So I hugged her and gave her a book with pictures of the 100 cutest cats, as well as Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.

So hear this, middle grade writers: We need happier books. I know they are harder to write. I know that humor doesn't feel as literary. But looking back at my past week of reading, there's been mental depression, economic depression, suicide, genocide, fantasy kingdoms going belly up, and dead or dysfunctional parents in nearly every single book. Gah! I really can't take any more sad books, and my students are getting weary of them as well.

Leave the title of the happiest book you can think of in the comments. Please!


It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers

17 comments:

Paige Y. said...

These titles are old, but they are the happiest books I can think of:

Gone Away Lake and Return to Gone Away by Elizabeth Enright

The Trolley Car Family by Elizabeth Clymer

Jennifer Schultz said...

Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood. I haven't read the next two books, though, but it's pretty fantastic and fun.

Dena BatchofBooks said...

I really liked this book too. It was a clean, age appropriate read with an upbeat feeling to it.

As far as happy books, one of the series I love is the Tuesdays in the Castle series by Jessica Day George. Even though it's fantasy and has some bigger issues, the series is very cheerful and puts an emphasis on family and lasting friendships.

Dena BatchofBooks said...

I forgot to mention Janette Rallison (CJ Hill) and her My Fair Godmother series, are very happy. Her books usually make me laugh until I cry. Most of her books are intended for young adults, but they are squeaky clean and could be read by middle grade kids too.

Greg Pattridge said...

Certain books explore themes that are great therapy for readers experiencing the same thing, but I too get a bit weary of the constant turmoil. I prefer to laugh and wake up with a smile on my face. Thankfully, I've got a lot of happy up my writing sleeve.

Sue Heavenrich said...

Looks like a fun book, but I'd want it in dead-tree format (to pass around). My happy book: Stuart Little. Also Pippi Longstocking.

janet smart said...

I agree with you about there being too many sad and serious books for kids. I like reading fun books and I am sure kids do, too. At the library where I live they put the Newberry winners in with the other books. They say if they put them in their own separate place, they don't get checked out. This should tell you something. Some fun MG books that I’ve read lately are the Hank Zipzer books.

Rosi said...

I like happy books too. I loved this one. Surviving the Applewhites and Applewhites at Wit's End by Stephanie Tolan are pretty happy, funny middle-grade books.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

All Four Stars felt like a pretty happy book compared to a lot of other MG I've read lately. And yay for At Your Service! I just won a copy from Rosi Hollinbeck. Can't wait to read it.

Kellee Moye (@kelleemoye) said...

Roald Dahl books are my happy books! Even though many of them have some unhappy characters, they end up making you laugh in the end.

Happy reading this week! :)

Gail Gauthier said...

The preponderance of "unhappy" books for young readers has been an issue for years. The book "Lizard Motel" deals with it in a memoirish way. It wasn't embraced by the children's lit world when it came out.

Lisa Robles said...

Well said!!

Lisa
LisaTeachR'sClassroom

Ricki Ginsberg at Unleashing Readers said...

SORTA LIKE A ROCKSTAR isn't necessarily happy, but it truly shows that we all must be happy, despite setbacks. I loved it, and it always comes to my mind as a happy book. My students are always requesting happy books! I am with you all!

Kate Hannigan said...

I have to admit that I am stumped! Happy books? There is so much tension in today's stories, my kids often stop reading certain books because they can't take it anymore. So it's hard to think of books that were just plain happy reads, not since the Junie B. days! I will keep thinking! Maybe you need to write a Top 10 post!

Freya Hooper said...

I loved your comments on happy books. Whenever I tell my oldest son I am reading a potential award winner his first question is "single mom or single dad?" The sad part is that it is almost always one or the other.

Kate Hannigan said...

Okay, I've got one! Jenni Holm's latest, THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH. Funny, nothing too heavy. I enjoyed it, and so did my 10-year-old son.

Myra Garces Bacsal said...

I laughed out loud when you mentioned needing antidepressants after reading a lot of middle grade novels. Yes, we do need uplifting inspiring HAPPY books! :)

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