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.
Kelsey, Annie. Pippa Morgan's Diary
December 1st 2015 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Ten-year-old Pippa is distraught when her best friend moves to Scotland, and tries very hard to make new friends at school. She thinks that Catie looks like an appealing friend, so she lies and tells her that she has tried out for the Voice Factor television show. Catie does become her friend, and the two hang out at Catie's lovely, well-maintained house, but Pippa is worried about her lie being discovered, especially when Catie signs her up for a school talent show. Will Catie still talk to Pippa when she discovers the truth?
Strengths: This has a much more positive message than The Dork Diaries, and is more visually appealing than The Popularity Papers. It's British, but not overwhelmingly so, and the words are nice and big. It has pictures and is easy to read.
Weaknesses: It's a tiny bit young, but my students who ONLY want to read The Dork Diaries would do much better with this. I'd be interested to see if the entire four book series comes to this side of the pond. It has a lot of promise.
What I really think: This is available in hardcover, which is great, but I may wait to order a copy until I see if it will have an Accelerated Reader test. Sigh.
O'Shaughnessy, Tam. Sally Ride: A Photobiography of America's Pioneering Woman in Space
October 6th 2015 by Roaring Brook Press
Copy Provided by the Publisher for the Cybils Awards
Using a plethora of family photographs, long time friend and life partner O'Shaunghnessy has created an engaging tribute to a pioneering scientist and advocate for scientific education for girls. I don't know that I have ever seen so many pictures, letters, and scrapbook items from all phases of someone's life used. It helped to put Ride's life in perspective, and was just so interesting! When I read biographies (and I am a huge fan of them), I always wish that certain events were shown in the accompanying photos, but so few rarely are. The focus of this was well done-- while activities such as Ride's tennis playing are discussed (and accompanied by a picture of her with Billie Jean King! Wow!), all facets of Ride's life are tied to her eventual career as an astronaut and science educator. Because the author had known Ride since they were both 12, this was a very complete and sympathetic portrait of her life. I especially appreciated that two sensitive areas-- Ride's sexual orientation and her death from pancreatic cancer-- are addressed in an age appropriate and matter-of-fact way. The end of the book includes a time line, as well as a description of the major "characters" in Ride's life.
The photographs really do add a tremendous amount to this biography-- Ride's enthusiasm in any activity looks so contagious, and this book made me feel almost as if I had met her. My only complaint is that the writing is somewhat wooden-- I wonder if O'Shaughnessy is more used to writing for adults, and thus tried to write in a more simple way for younger readers.
And I'm sure everyone has seen this already, but this was a nice way to start the morning: