Eyre, Lindsay. The Spelling Bee Scuffle (Sylvie Scruggs#3)
April 26th 2016 by Arthur A. Levine Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Sylvie and her friends are horrified to learn that the fifth graders' baseball field is being removed so that there can be a playground for kindergartners, and the fifth graders want to take over Sylvie's baseball field! In order to put Jamie off, Sylvie proposes a contest-- whichever grade wins the upcoming school spelling bee will have full control of the remaining field. Sylive is sure that Miranda will be able to win, but when Josh does instead, everyone is worried. It doesn't help that Josh is out sick for a week with a bad case of the flu. Sylvie is beside herself with worry, and when the new boy Daniel, offers to give her a spelling list in exchange for "being his girlfriend", she reluctantly agrees. Daniel doesn't play baseball much because he has a "robotic leg" which the other students tease him about; he lost the leg to cancer AND his family moved, so he's not having the best year! Sylvie realizes that Josh has studied a lot for the spelling bee, and when he is given a word that was on Daniel's list, she is struck by her conscience and lets the secret out. The spelling bee is a tie, Sylvie gets in trouble for her bad decisions, and the two grades have to work out a plan for the baseball field.
Strengths: I really admire several things about Eyre's work-- she writes about small but important concerns elementary students have, she works in diverse characters in a natural way, and Sylvie's family is supportive and humorous. These are essential for elementary libraries in the way that Cleary's Ramona or Haywood's Betsy books were thirty years ago.
Weaknesses: Not fond of Jamie's group being called "munions" (minions?) or the use of the phrase "smirkety smirk", but other than that, nothing I can really explain!
What I really think: The first two books in this series do MUCH better than I thought they would. This wasn't as brilliant as Mean Girl Meltdown, but I will add it to my collection for readers who like the series.