Watson, Tom. Stick Dog Dreams of Ice Cream
May 19th 2015 by HarperCollins
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Also reviewed at Young Adult Books Central
Stick Dog and his friends are so hot, and desperately want some fresh water. They go in search of some, and count on Poo Poo's sense of smell to help them find it. They come across children playing in a lawn sprinkler, and have a humorous tussle with it. What really intrigues them, however, are the sweet, sticky puddles that they find on the pavement after a music playing truck visits a neighborhood and people get things from a man in the truck. Since dogs can read (I knew this!), the dogs know that this is ice cream, and they decide it will make them cool and give them refreshment. They stalk the truck and plan a very brilliant heist. Other titles include Stick Dog, Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog, and Stick Dog Chases a Pizza. I am hoping that the final book in the series will involve the dogs going for Chinese food and being adopted by loving families!
Strengths: I do believe that these are becoming increasingly clever. While the dogs have had strategy in the past, this really goes above and beyond. They do, of course, get momentarily distracted by squirrels, but who doesn't?
Weaknesses: I worried that Karen's favorite ice cream flavor was light brown. Is that chocolate? And is ice cream okay for dog's to eat? They make disgusting dog ice cream, so perhaps eating that much ice cream might not be good for dogs. Not that I've ever tasted the disgusting dog ice cream...
What I really think: These are growing on me. I just want better bindings.
Grabenstein, Chris. I Totally Funniest.
January 26th 2015 by Little, Brown and Company
Jamie Grimm is back (I Funny, I Even Funnier) and dreading the finals for the Planet's Funniest Kid Comic competition. He's worried he'll choke and not be able to say anything. He's worried that his bully cousin will do something to him. He's worried that the competitors will blow him away. When the competition is postponed, he has two more weeks to worry, and THEN a big storm hits the east coast and destroys his home as well as his uncle's restaurant. The good news is that the award has been increased to a million dollars, and that would certainly come in handy. He has some misunderstandings with his friends, and people keep saying that he is only getting the sympathy votes because he is in a wheelchair. Can Jamie overcome all of these obstacles and rock the competition?
Strengths: Middle grade readers love jokes, and they love pictures in books, so this will be very popular. Jamie's struggles with his disability, and other's perception of it, are not usually addressed with such frankness. The inside information about talk shows and reality competitions will appeal to readers interested in celebrity culture.
Weaknesses: I think that these are depressing. Jamie's cousin Steve is such a stereotypical bully that it's ridiculous. All the descriptions of Jamie's stage fright get wearing, and the jokes are not very funny.
What I Really Think: This isn't like giving cotton candy to kids for breakfast; it's sort of like Froot Loops or Lucky Charms. Which I was never allowed to have as a child, although we frequently had Apple Jacks, which are really no better.