Monday, May 04, 2015
MMGM- The Worst Class Trip EVER
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.
Barry, Dave. The Worst Class Trip EVER.
May 5th 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Wyatt and his friend Matt sometimes get into trouble, but not the kind of trouble they manage to find when their 8th grade class travels from Miami to Washington, D.C. on a field trip. The two think that the men sitting behind them in the airplane are terrorists because of comments they make and the fact that one of them doesn't want to relinquish his backpack. The two get into a kerfluffle with the men on the airplane that almost makes their chaperon, Mr. Barto, want to send them back... but nothing really happened, and it's too much trouble to send them. The boys realize, however, that the men know their names AND the name of the tour bus they are on, and since Matt has taken something that turns out to be a radar jammer out of their backpack, they are definitely chasing the boys. They find them, and when the jammer is in the possession of Suzana, the cute girl whom Wyatt likes who is in the room next door, the men take Matt with them. Realizing that his disappearance might set off alarms in the chaperons, Wyatt and Suzana use realistic ruses to cover up his absence. Eventually, they track down Matt's location using the GPS finder on his cell phone and manage to get him out-- only to have another classmate, Cameron, taken hostage. More trouble with Mr. Barto ensues, but the high jinks and sightseeing continue. Eventually, the group realizes that the men they are tracking might actually be the good guys, and Wyatt and his friends have to save the day in a hysterically funny way, since they messed up the good guys' plans.
Strengths: While school elections, dances, bullying and newspapers are WAY overdone in middle grade lit, field trip books are not. This is beyond brilliant, and shows that Barry has either been a chaperon on such a trip or grilled some chaperon mercilessly to get him information. I love Suzana as much as Wyatt does because she "is basically a Navy SEAL disguised as a hot eighth-grade girl". I would LOVE to read more about Wyatt in another book!
Weaknesses: Wyatt points out on too many occasions that his mother is very loud because she is Cuban. While it's nice that Wyatt is half Cuban, this seems to be an overuse of stereotype and made me uncomfortable.
What I really think: If Dave Barry would promise to devote his entire life to writing middle grade fiction, he could come and live in my spare room, and I would bring him meals and do his laundry so he could write ALL THE TIME. The man is brilliant. This book restored my faith in middle grade fiction. I am buying a copy for everyone I know, especially the 8th grade social studies teachers at my school.
Atkinson, Rick. Battle of the Bulge
5 May 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Do you have boys who frequent your library who are keenly interested in WWII? There are fewer now than there were, but it is still a topic that inspires a level of fanaticism other topics do not. Our school curriculum no longer covers this era, but the books still circulate well. This new book is a youth oriented reworking of part of this author's Guns at Last Light, just as the companion volume, D-Day, is.
This is a tremendous resource for readers with an avid interest. Key players are explained, and their motivations examined in minute detail. Military maneuvers are given the same treatment. Plentiful pictures add tremendously to the text. This would be a great starting place for a WWII based History Day project, and is a very readable nonfiction book for those interested in the topic.
That said, it was WAY too much information for me; I have to admit that I skimmed a great deal!