Eyre, Lindsay. The Mean Girl Meltdown
August 25th 2015 by Arthur A. Levine Books
ARC from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.
When Sylvie's baseball team loses the championship, she plays mean, older girl Jamie, who faked Sylvie out by calling a time out and then tagging her. Undaunted, when a boy comes and talks to her 4th grade class about hockey, Sylvie really wants to play, since her father played hockey when he was younger. She tries to talk her friend Miranda Tan into joining, but Miranda prefers science and is reluctant. Georgie isn't wild about playing, either, but his abuela wants him to play, and his father agrees to coach. Their friend Josh also joins... and so does Jamie! Sylvie has a lot of trouble getting the hang of the game, and Jamie is mean about it. There are also a lot of pranks that target Sylvie-- someone unscrews her water bottle lid, puts mayonnaise in her hand lotion, and locks her in a bathroom. She's sure it is Jamie, and vows to get even, but the coach gets fed up with all of the pranks and threatens to stop the season if they continue. Will ill-timed retribution end Sylvie's hockey career before it even begins?
Strengths: Sylvie's family was the best part of this. She has younger twin brothers who are always doing the strangest things. My favorite quote (from E ARC) was the father saying "Stop dropping dental floss in the waffle batter. It won't make them minty!" The mother was also supportive, and even though the father has a new job and is very busy, he comes to Sylvie's practice when they are announcing the captains, so he can be with her whatever the result. The multiculturalism is nice, and is shown in the illustrations. Miranda is a science geek, which verges on stereotypical, but Max, an African American boy is as well. It's hard to find books with girls in sports, so this was a funny, fantastic read.
Weaknesses: A few things happened without explanation and were a bit jarring-- Sylvie's mother has a baby and then it's not much of a concern. The motivation for the pranks is a bit weak.
What I really think: Even though this is for younger readers, I may have to buy it, if only for the line about the dental floss, and the whole scene with the waffles, actually! Very fun.
St. Anthony, Jane. Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart
September 1st 2015 by Univ Of Minnesota Press
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Isabelle and her mother move from Milwaukee to Minneapolis after her father's death. Her mother has a job teaching, and Isabelle goes to a Catholic school with feisty nuns and the world's ugliest uniform. The elderly neighbor ladies, Flora and Dora, take a shine to Isabelle and share their chicken soup and their sad past with her. Isabelle manages to make friends and slowly comes to terms with her father's death and her new life, even after tragedy befalls one of the elderly ladies.
Strengths: The 1960s setting in this is good-- there are enough things like records and Alvin and the Chipmunks and whatnot, and the neighborhood feeling was strong. Stylistically, this had a very 1960s feel to it, even if it had a very long 1970s title!
Weaknesses: Nothing happens. There's not even much plot.
What I really think: Too slow and sad for my readers. Like the cover.