Greenwald, Tommy. Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Making Money
August 26th 2014 by Roaring Brook Press
Charlie (with the help of his friend Katie) writes about his attempts to make money, initially so he can buy the latest hot gadget-- a Botman. He attempts to run a dog walking business, which ends poorly, and goes to his father's law office, which at least does not end with his mother having to get gopher pee removed from the seats of the car. When his friend Jake has a bar mitzvah and Zoe is there, his focus in fund raising changes-- he wants to be able to go visit her when she moves to Ohio, because she mentions that she might want to kiss Charlie. Charlie comes up with the marvelous idea that he will throw his own coming of age celebration, based on an Ethiopian tradition of jumping over a cow. As with all things Charlie, things work well... until they don't.
Strengths: This is my favorite book in the series so far. Somehow, the unlikely plot really works well, and Charlie's adventures are hysterical. The relationship between middle school boys and girls is brilliantly portrayed, and there are just enough pictures in the book that reluctant readers can be tricked into thinking this is a notebook novel.
Weaknesses: The copies I ordered came in that horrible paper-over-board binding. Drat! I don't know if that's just Baker and Taylor, but I would much prefer the dust jacketed version, which hold up much better in my library.
McDonough, Yona Zeldis. Little Author in the Big Woods: A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder
September 16th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
This short (152 pages, with notes) biography is a great overview of the author's life, and does a good job of addressing, in a simple way, some of the slight differences between what she actually did and how she chose to write about it. Even the rumors about Rose Wilder Lane's role in the books publication is briefly addressed. This is one author who has really fallen out of favor in my school, and since she was a favorite of mine, this is really a surprise. Maybe this book will entice readers to pick up the series. My one pet peeve about any biography is a lack of actual photographs when they exist-- the illustrations by Jennifer Thermes are eerily evocative of Garth Williams' work, but photos would have been much better. I know there is probably a permission/cost issue, but the book would have been so much better with them.
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. It's also Nonfiction Monday