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Monday, 10/10 | Novel Novice
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Wednesday, 10/12 | Middle Grade Mafioso
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Friday, 10/14 | Stories & Sweeties
Stokes, Jonathan. Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas.
October 11th 2016 by Philomel Books
ARC provided by the publisher
When Addison's aunt and uncle, both respected curators at the New York Museum of Archaeology, are kidnapped by the evil Russian Professor Ragar, Addison knows that he must save them. Ragar wants the Incan key that he has because it leads to an ancient treasure, and Addison figures that he can find the treasure while saving his aunt and uncle. He assembles his team (his sister Molly and friends Raj and Eddie), books a flight to Colombia, and sets off to save the day. When the group lands in Colombia, they manage to make it to the small town where they think they will find the second key, and make the acquaintance of Guadalupe... who steals Addison's wallet! Later, she joins forces with them when they help her elude the police. In an adventure that takes them into Ecuador, deep into the jungle, to the wedding of a crime lord's daughter, and inside an Ecuardorian jail, Addison and his team manage to avoid going to school. But will they be able to locate the treasure and save his aunt and uncle, all while wearing their crisp school uniforms?
Strengths: I was not surprised to find that Mr. Stokes is a screenwriter; writers with this background are very good at making sure that books move along quickly. Even when Addison and Molly are coming home from school at the beginning of the book, they do it with panache. The information about the legendary Incan treasure and all of the travel details seem well researched. Lots of action, children saving he day, AND the promise of further adventures in China in the next book.
Weaknesses: I found that Addison's affectations (the crisp school uniform, drinking Arnold Palmers, singing an Astaire/Sinatra tune at a wedding) made the book seem much less realistic to me. Middle grade readers won't think that; they will just be slightly confused.
What I really think: Setting aside my personal objections, I think this will be a good fit for readers who like adventure books like Horowitz's Stormbreaker. Has a bit of a National Treasure feel to it as well. Since the 6th grade curriculum includes info on the Ancient Incas, this might be a bigger winner with my students than I suspect. I'm inclined to categorize this as realistic, if far-fetched, fiction.
Lawson, Jessica. Waiting for Augusta.
May 10th 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Public Library Copy
Ben's father has passed away, leaving his family in financial distress in a small Alabama town in the early 1970s. His mother is trying to make ends meets by selling barbecued pork dinners from their house, since their restaurant was repossessed. Ben is convinced that his father would have wanted his ashes scattered on a major golf course in Augusta, Georgia, and even hears the ashes talking to him, so he takes off (with the ashes in a backpack) to do this. He meets Noni, who is running away from problems of her own, and the two make their weary way to the golf course where Ben has one final teary heart to heart with his father's ashes.
Strengths: There aren't a lot of books that involve golf or the 1970s.
Weaknesses: The ashes of the father talking was rather odd.
What I Really Think: This didn't feel very 1970s, and I doubt that Ben would have had a back pack available to him. The first time I saw back packs in general use was the early 1980s. He would have had a book bag or possibly a tote bag. Probably would have carried a suitcase. Admittedly, I was stuck on that tiny facet, but I can't think of a student who would be asking for a book like this. The cover seems at odds with the content, which would make it even harder to place with a reader.