English, Karen. Don't Feed the Geckos (Carver Chronicles #3)
December 1st 2015 by Clarion Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Carlos is very interested in insects and small animals, and enjoys having his own room where he can keep his pets, do his homework, and get away from his younger sister Issy. When his cousin, Bernardo, moves in with his family while his mother prepares to move to Carlos' town, it's hard to get used to Bernardo snoring, his sloppy habits, and his tendency to flaunt rules that Carlos is trying very hard to obey. Carlos likes his teacher, Ms. Shelby-Ortiz, and notices that Bernardo doesn't try very hard with his school work, although he is a much better soccer player than Carlos. When Bernardo starts acting out, Carlos is both worried and angry. It's one thing for Bernardo to steal pieces from the class puzzle that is almost finished, but when he interferes with Carlos' geckos, something must be done.
Strengths: The other two books in this series have been very useful for my struggling 6th grade readers. I like how Carlos isn't really all that interested in school, but he tries to do a good job. When Bernardo does things like take toaster tarts from home without asking, Carlos is tempted to do the same, and angry when Bernardo eats all of them and puts back the empty box. This series is a must have for elementary libraries, because is covers the real concerns that younger students have with behavioral issues. For middle school, the large text, simple vocabulary, and inclusion of pictures makes these books instructive for slightly older students as well.
Weaknesses: Bernardo is not really sympathetic at all. We find out at the end of the book that his father has passed away, and this is why he is acting out, but he is pretty bratty!
What I really think: Depending on the reading levels of my population this year, I may buy this one.