Shull, Megan. Bounce
September 6th 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books
ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central
Frannie has horrifically condescending parents who decide that they need to spend three days on a vacation by themselves without Frannie or her older brother and sister... during Christmas. Frannie is disappointed, and feels that 7th grade is not too old to want to celebrate the holiday with her family. She knows that her older sister, Carmen, is just about as negative as her mother, and her older brother Teddy is too busy with his own life to pay attention to her. Sure enough, the two throw a huge party and are upset with Frannie when she shows her face. She wishes that she had a different life... and the next morning she wakes up as another person! As Dakota, she gets to spend Christmas in a cozy cabin with an adorable little sister, delicious food, and horses! At the end of the day, though, she is transported into another body, this time the pop singing sensation Jasmine, whose mother is (if it's possible) even worse than Frannie's own. At least as Jasmine, she can spend Christmas being adored by fans as well as chill assistant Dani. Her next stop is on a houseboat traveling around the world with a cuddly father and younger brother Max. It's an idyllic existence, especially when cute Liam is around. When she turns into Graciella Fabiani, she is plunged into a family tragedy, and realizes that her own life doesn't have quite the level of sadness in it that some people's lives do. This is also true when she returns to her own neighborhood as a girl she knows, Josie. Teddy and Carmen let the party gets out of hand, and hire Josie's mother to help them clean the house. Josie and her mother are living in a decrepit hotel and trying to survive, so they are glad of the work. Josie is sick, and Carmen is actually nice to her, telling her to take a nice long shower, giving her clothes, and making sure she has food. Teddy even gives her all of the housekeeping money, which is enough for her and her mother to move into an apartment. Frannie returns to her life knowing that it's not perfect, but it is the one she has to live.
I appreciated that there wasn't any big event that led to Frannie being able to change bodies, she just did, and when she figured out where she was, her reactions were realistically handled. The premise of living out Christmas days from different perspectives was an interesting one.
Frannie is a bit of a whiny character at first, mainly because her mother is incredibly unsupportive. While her mother doesn't change, Frannie does, and this will hopefully make her able to survive some very unpleasant high school years. The other families are mostly diverse and interesting, and middle school readers will enjoy viewing the lives of a variety of characters briefly. There is a lot of information in Graciella's story about living through a funeral that will be of particular interest.
Readers of Margolis' If I Were You, Rodgers' Freaky Friday, and Standiford's Switched at Birthday will enjoy this fantastical tale of putting yourself in someone else's shoes... or cowboy boots!
I don't think I have EVER read a book with such a horrifically inappropriate mother. Wow.
Kerr, Philip. The Most Frightening Story Ever Told
September 6th 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Billy Shivers is recuperating from a bad car accident, and his family doesn't have a lot of money. He loves to read, and spends a fair amount of time in the public library, but there are a limited amount of the ghost books that he loves to read. When he finds The Haunted House of Books, he tries to ingratiate himself to the difficult owner, Mr. Rapscallion, so that he can read books in the store. He manages to come to an agreement with the owner, but business is bad, and the two try to come up with ways to save the store. After attending a convention of booksellers and trying to find a ghost in a hotel with the aid of a young ghost hunter, they meet a descendant of Mary Wollenstonecraft who claims she has a story that is so scary that the first time it was read, it resulted in the deaths of several of the listener. Mr. Rapscallion decides to give a reading, attended only by five lucky children. These children can only enter if they purchase a book from the shop, but the contest is so popular that the entire bookstore is cleaned out. Billy ends up being one of the participants. Will he be able to listen to the entire story? And will the book store be able to continue.
Strengths: I love this author's The Children of the Lamp series as well as his Winter Horses. He has an appealing writing style, and there was a great twist at the end. This would be a good choice for elementary readers who like scary stories.
Weaknesses: This is not scary enough for my readers. There is a very, very specific type of book that they find scary. Think R.L. Stine, with heads rolling, blood, people being killed. Or do we just think they're dead. This reminded me a little of Nance's Daemon Hall, which circulates mainly because the cover is really great. This cover... too elementary. This could have been a good scary book with a couple of changes, but the weird names pulled me out of any fear I might have had. (Fedora Dirtbag? Who lives in a "trailer home... with a cigarette in her lipsticked mouth and curlers in her bottle-blond hair". Ouch. ) There is also a description of someone as "Oriental-looking". This helps my point that people my age were at some point told that this was the polite term, but it IS NOT now, and shouldn't be used.)
What I really think: This is just not quite right for my students, so I will pass.