I have a growing number of struggling readers in my middle school, so I read a lot of leveled and beginning chapter books for Young Adult Books Central. Since many of the books are paperback, I generally give them to teachers instead of putting them in the library, but there are a few that make it into the collection.
Elliott, Rebecca. Eva and the New Owl (Owl Diaries #4)
May 10th 2016 by Scholastic Inc.
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central
Eva is very excited about the new owl, Hailey, at her school. She tries very hard to be nice, making a map of the area and a necklace for Hailey, but feels rejected when Hailey doesn't immediately wear the necklace or accept her invitations. While spending so much time thinking about the new student, Eva neglects her best friend Lucy, and the two fall out. With the help of her older brother, as well as Mrs. Featherbottom, her teacher, Eva finds a way to make up with Eva, and soon all three owlets are friends.
The artwork in this book is absolutely adorable, and there are lots of small pictures of Eva's school mates, her own artwork, lists she makes, etc. The colors are bold and trendy, and the collage style owls deserve to be hung on walls as decorations!
I appreciated the fact that while Eva considers one of her classmates, Sue, a "Meany McMeanerson", she acknowledges that some days Sue is nice, and most of the characters are very polite and kind to each other. Most of the drama is a result of misunderstanding instead of actual meanness.
While this is an early chapter book that fans of Ivy and Bean and Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie will gladly pick up, the length (80 pages) and variety of text types (speech bubbles, lists, etc.) make this a challenging read for second graders who will be so engrossed in the story of friend drama that they will gladly keep straight all of the cute characters. Expect readers of book one (Eva's Treetop Festival) to want to read the entire series!
Camper, Cathy and Raul the Third. Lowriders to the Center of the Earth
July 5th 2016 by Chronicle Books
Copy provided by the publisher
This is everything one could want in a graphic novel: fantastic art (done with one of those blue and white three color pens that I coveted when young), goofy characters and plot, multicultural elements including the use of footnoted Spanish. But ultimately, it's not something I liked. Will my students? Absolutely. We're going to file this under Things I Don't Understand, along with low boots with skirts, Hamilton, and cauliflower.
From Goodreads: The lovable trio from the acclaimed Lowriders in Space are back! Lupe Impala, Elirio Malaria, and El Chavo Octopus are living their dream at last. They're the proud owners of their very own garage. But when their beloved cat Genie goes missing, they need to do everything they can to find him. Little do they know the trail will lead them to the realm of Mictlantecuhtli, the Aztec god of the Underworld, who is keeping Genie prisoner! With cool Spanish phrases on every page, a glossary of terms, and an action-packed plot that sneaks in science as well as Aztec lore,Lowriders to the Center of the Earth is a linguistic and visual delight. ¡Que suave!