Yee, Lisa. Wonder Woman at Super Hero High
March 1st 2016 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Copy received from publisher (Allison Judd)
From her comfortable home on Paradise Island, Wonder Woman longs to attend the prestigious Super Hero High, especially after she sees the recruitment video. Despite her mother Hippolyta's objections, Wonder Woman heads off to her new school, delighted that she will be able to bring good to the wider world. She meets a wide array of super heroes as well as future super villains. She has to take classes in flying, using weapons, and fashion design, the latter with the DC character Crazy Quilt. She makes good friends with her roommate Harley, a budding reporter, as well as Bumblebee, Hawkeye and Katana, but has problems with Star Sapphire and a few others. When she gets notes suggesting that she leave the academy, Wonder Woman starts to wonder if the student she replaced, Mandy Bowin, might be behind the threats. When she is chosen to be part of the Superhero Triathlon team, Wonder Woman finally gets a chance to prove herself.
Even though Wonder Woman is my favorite comic book character, I don't know much about the rest of the DC universe. There seem to be a lot of characters represented in the school, some of which are rather obscure. Yee is either a huge fan or has done a lot of research into the characters. Even the principal, Amanda Waller, is based on a top ranked government agent who runs a group of supervillians. Comic fans will find much to like in this novel about how hard it is to fit in and stand out in a high school, even when you are Wonder Woman. This looks to be a series, as Super Girl is introduced as a new student in the last chapter.
This doesn't read like Yee's other work to me, and I wonder how much of the content of this book was laid out for her. Warp Speed clearly shows her interest in various aspects of Star Trek fandom, and there are a lot of good things in this book, but Wonder Woman felt like a bit of an air head to me, which was disappointing. I'm also a little confused about why she had to have the nickname of "Wondy"-- wouldn't she have just asked to be called Diana Prince? Steve Trevor also shows up as a rather geeky guy working in his family's restaurant.
There has been a renewed interest in all things super hero in my library, though, so I'll definitely have students who want to read this.
Simpson, Dana. Unicorn vs. Goblin: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure.
February 23rd 2016 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by the publisher
Phoebe and Marigold are back, with a variety of adventures that will appeal to children and adults alike (I actually didn't mind the foreward from Cory Doctorow and his daughter, because every word he said was true!). They are off to summer music camp, where Phoebe makes a rather odd friend, torture Dakota with her magical hairstyle, buy school supplies, drink coffee, and have a few go rounds with goblins, all while using plenty of sparkles.
Strengths: Any book where a unicorn sings the blues is okay by me. Very, very funny (admittedly, I had my hesitations about a unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils), and well worth picking up.
Weaknesses: Paper binding, no AR test-- those are just school problems. These would make great gifts for children, and I'm sure they would get read a lot.
What I really think: This had more episodes that felt like story arcs-- when is the notebook novel of Phoebe coming out? In hard cover. Because I want that RIGHT NOW.
Thompson, Dan. Li'l Rip Haywire: Escape From Camp Cooties
March 1st 2016 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by the publisher
Rip's father is a "soldier of fortune"-- he travels the globe hunting for treasure. Rip and his dog TNT usually go with him, but are sent for the summer to a girl's summer camp that has been fortified so that it's a challenge for him to escape. There are overly motherly counselors, a variety of campers, and some trouble. Rip has frequent flashbacks to his adventuring days and his conflicts with the Doofus brothers, but in the end, settles in to camp and makes some friends. This is heavily illustrated with Dick Tracey style retro line drawings.
Strengths: My students read Patterson's Treasure Hunters, and this has the same sort of goofy vibe. Anything that is a notebook novel circulates in my library, even Stan and the Toilet Monster, so this will do fine. The retro illustrations are a nice touch.
Weaknesses: Sorry, couldn't get past the repeated incorrect uses of "soldier of fortune" or the vaguely sexist tone with which Rip treated the summer camp (A cabin with pink flowers on it? Really? Is this, in fact, 1940?). A soldier of fortune is not a good thing to be. It is a mercenary soldier who fights for whomever pays him, instead of for a cause in which he believes. It has a definite perjorative sense, and doesn't mean a fortune hunter. Just could not get into the book after that.
What I really think: Have a copy, will put it in the library, and it will get used until it falls apart. Will I be happy about it? No, but then Wimpy Kid books make me want to cry as well. Seriously. How many times does anyone need to read The Last Straw?