Baddiel, David. The Parent Agency
May 3rd 2016 by HarperCollins
ARC from Young Adult Books Central
Barry is tired of his parents. They are weird and boring and won't throw him the kind of James Bond birthday party he wants. His twin sisters are annoying as well. When he is approached by The Parent Agency to pick new parents after trying five different sets of them, he jumps on the opportunity. Using his list of things wrong with his parents, he asks for parents that are wealthy, famous, like him best, and basically are NOTHING like his boring parents. He has several birthday parties thrown for him, with various stages of success. His wealthy parents are also criminals, the famous parents are even more annoying, and in general, life is not an improvement even with amazing opportunities and material advantages.
This has a very British, classic feel to it, and is definitely a goofy book. All of the parents, even Barry's own, are over the top in whatever their defining quality is. While Barry is demanding and judgmental of his own parents at first, he does learn a lot from being with different families, and it comes as no surprise when he starts to appreciate his own. The journey, however, is the amusing part of this. Parents who would allow a child to stick his head under a chocolate fountain, let him eat all of the candy that he wanted, or write and sing a song about the child on national television seem like a good idea... at the time!
While this is not a notebook novel, there are enough funny illustrations to intrigue readers of Big Nate and Wimpy Kid, and elementary aged readers who have ever been annoyed with their own parents (and this has to be almost all of them) will appreciate Barry's struggles with trying to get his own way.
A little too British for my students, but if Roald Dahl is popular in your library.
Freeman, Martha. Strudel's Forever Home
April 1st 2016 by Holiday House
From Strudel's point of view, we see how his adjustment goes when he is adopted by Jake. Jake has read the book Chief, Fog of the Old West to Strudel, and Strudel decides he must protect Jake, especially since Jake's mother's boyfriend, Arnie, is not nice.
Holiday House is to be commended on the cover, which is WAY better than their usual attempts, but this book would probably work better at an elementary library. Something about either hearing the story for the dog's point of view, or having the dog be influenced by the book, made this unsuccessful for me.
Clifton, Lutricia. Seeking Cassandra.
April 18th 2016 by Holiday House
This had some nice multicultural connections (being set in the Southwest), and had some STEM tie ins with the wildlife in the area, but was a bit slow, and Cassie whined a bit more than I like. Also, the usual Holiday House cover treatment does the book no favors. If your readers liked Freaky Fast Frankie Joe or Immortal Max, definitely purchase, but I think I'll pass for now.
When work takes Cassie's mom abroad, Cassie is stuck living with her dad in his Winnebago in Palo Duro Canyon State Park for the summer. She loves her dad, but hes different since the divorce, and, for that matter, so is she. Shes gotten used to a different lifestyle thats not exactly compatible with the rougher living in the Canyon, where her dad is a handyman. She misses the conveniences of city living, and shes not too sure about the kids here. They seem awkward. Uncool. And, in the case of mysterious X, possibly dangerous.