Hannan, Peter. Petlandia.
April 28th 2015 by Scholastic Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Madame Wigglesworth is fed up with her people after they have the audacity to bring home Grub, a dog, and rub his belly as if it were sacred. After he gets a better Halloween costume than she does, she forms a plan-- the humans must go. With the help of Honeybaked Hamster and Clowny the fish, the humans' bed is pushed out into the yard, and the doors locked against them. All goes well until a vote ends in GRUB being the president. This clearly won't wrok, so Madame brings rats up from the basement to count toward the vote. During her reign, she insists on being waited on hand and paw, so Grub retaliates by bringing in some frogs. This struggle goes back and forth (as no humans appear, and the house gets messier and messier!), and eventually the insect population, especially termites, exceeds the "pet" population.
Strengths: While students will be attracted by the pictures and the goofy pets, I thought this had some interesting messages about power, and had an almost folk tale feel to the story. If all notebook novels made me laugh this much, I wouldn't mind some students being so addicted to them.
Weaknesses: I'm betting on a paper-over-board binding. Sigh. Maybe I'll be wrong, but with the wear these books get, I wish there were old fashioned Gibraltar Bound bindings.
What I really think: I've been looking for notebook novels for my struggling readers, and this is perfect. At 144 pages, with a lot of pictures, this will never be on the shelf and is actually much funnier than something like Hissy Fitz. Madame Wigglesworth is a hoot!
I've always felt conflicted about my "books for boys" focus. I do believe that it is harder to find books for boys-- not as many are written and published. I'm expecting a shipment from Half Price Books of books to pass out to children after all the library books are due, and out of six huge boxes, my bet is that no more than three will be about football or basketball. The vast majority will have pretty girls in ballgowns on the cover.
We are currently doing a Princess in Black promotion where we are trying to fill up the circulation card with ALL BOYS. The girls are welcome to read the book, of course, but we want to mail the card to Shannon Hale to show her that we don't agree that only middle school girls should be invited to here her speak. If I can get 8th grade boys to check out Princess in Black and admit that it's amusing, I will have no trouble getting everyone in the school to read the following:
Jamieson, Victoria. Roller Girl.
March 10th 2015 by Dial Books
In this graphic novel, Astrid and Nicole have been best friends for years, but after Astrid becomes enamored of roller derby and signs up for a summer program, the troubles that the two have had get bigger. Astrid lies to her mother that Nicole is also in the program, choosing to walk home a good distance than admit Nicole's mother can't pick her up. Learning to skate is difficult, and hard work, but Astrid idolizes Rainbow Bite of the Rose City Rollers, so hangs in there and puts in the hard work. She makes new friends, dies her hair, and eventually comes clean to her mother and makes her peace with Nicole.
Strengths: Since students will read books about extreme dental trauma or bratty siblings on a boring car trip if done in this format, this is a no brainer. Sports, friend drama, independence-- all things students like. Wanting to do something that turns out to require a lot of hard work, and a child who is willing to put in that hard work-- something I like! We need more books about students with particular interests and passions. Decent dust jacketed binding as well. It's like Christmas! Buying two copies.
Weaknesses: There were a couple of scenes, like the hair dying, that dragged a bit, but in general this was well plotted, had characters that grew during the book, and rang true.
What I really think: Liked this much better than a lot of graphic novels, although anything that encourages students to dye their hair and glamorizes tattoos is never going to be my personal favorite!