Hennessey, M.G. The Other Boy
September 20th 2016 by HarperCollins
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Shane likes to do all the "typical" boy things-- play baseball, hang out with his best bud Josh, and play video games. The only difference is that Shane was born in a female body, but has always felt like a boy. His mother is very understanding, and has had him in therapy. They are also contemplating starting hormonal transitioning procedures, but Shane's father, who lives some distance away, hasn't come to terms with losing his daughter yet. No one at Shane's school knows about his past, but when a particularly mean boy on his baseball team finds out, he makes Shane's life very difficult. Luckily, the people who matter most support Shane and get him the help he needs to work through a number of difficult issues.
Strengths: After Gino's George and Polonsky's Gracefully Grayson, I have been waiting for a book about the topic of a transgendered individual moving from being female to being male. Girard's Girl Mans Up was too young adult, and Gephart's Lily and Dunkin covers several different topics (but is also top notch) but this is a good middle grade book to have on the topic. Shane's school and home are very supportive, his best friend comes through in the end, but he does have very realistic difficulties. I just wish the cover were a little more appealing.
Weaknesses: Having worked really hard my whole life to believe that men and women can be whatever kind of people they want and fill any job they want, the whole issue of transgender makes me think that our society has really, really failed in our idea of gender roles. Certainly, transgender individuals should be supported, but the fact that some people feel that they were born the wrong gender says very bad things about how we define gender in our culture to me.
What I really think: Definitely will purchase.
Lopez, Diana. Nothing Up My Sleeve.
April 19th 2016 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Bonus points for a multicultural cast and diverse family situations, but when reading this 400 page book, I realized I have no interest in magic whatsoever. It's not a topic that my students ask for, although when Neil Patrick Harris' children's book about magic comes out in 2017. For now, I'll stick to Dorko the Magnificent, (which doesn't circulate) and see if there is more interest later. I liked this and it was well-written and interesting, but I don't have readers for it.
From Goodreads.com: "Sixth graders Dominic, Loop, and Z stumble upon a new magic
shop in town and can't wait to spend their summer mastering
cool tricks to gain access to the Vault, a key holders-only back
room bound to hold all kinds of secrets. And once they get
in, they set their sights even higher: a huge competition at the
end of the summer. They work on their card tricks, sleights,
and vanishing acts, trying to come up with the most awesome
routines possible....Problem is, the trip is expensive, and it's
money that each guy's family just doesn't have.
To make things worse, the shop-owners' daughter, Ariel (who
just so happens to be last year's competition winner), will do
anything to make sure the boys don't come out on top. Even pit
them against one another. Will they make it to the competition?
And if so, at what cost?"
Paulsen, Gary. Fishbone's Song
September 27th 2016 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
I've been a HUGE fan of recent Gary Paulsen books that are hysterically funny. His Liar, Liar series and Mudshark were laugh-out loud, thigh-slapping riots, and even his memoir, This Side of Wild, was filled with lots of humorous moments. These books have all been very popular with my students, but Paulsen's older titles like The Monument, The Cook Camp and Mr. Tucket have fallen out of favor. I was hoping that Fishbone's Song would be a funny dog book, but it's not. It's a very Southern feeling, lyrical novel filled with phrases like "First story I heard I was a baby still in birth blood in a wooden beer crate down where the creek crossed under the county firebreak trail." (E ARC, page 15). This phrase is repeated at least once, and there is lots of mention of 'shine and other folksy, home spun sorts of things like eating frog legs.
If this sort of book goes over well in your library, definitely purchase. I think I'll use the money for another copy of This Side of Wild.
"An orphan reflects on the lessons he was taught by the wise old man who raised him in this lyrical novel that reads like poetry from three-time Newbery Honor–winning author Gary Paulsen.
Deep in the woods, in a rustic cabin, lives an old man and the boy he’s raised as his own. This sage old man has taught the boy the power of nature and how to live in it, and more importantly, to respect it. In Fishbone’s Song, this boy reminisces about the magic of the man who raised him and the tales that he used to tell—all true, but different each time."