Anderson, Jeff. Zack Delacruz: Just My Luck
October 4th 2016 by Sterling Children's Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Zack's luck doesn't hold for long after he saves the day in Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth. There is an attractive new girl at school, but Zack manages to get his khakis caught on a cafeteria bench... on a day where his too small Thomas the Tank Engine Underoos were the only clean underwear he had. This opens him up to a lot of ridicule, and it doesn't make matters any better when he accidentally hits Abhi really hard in a game of dodgeball in gym class. His friend Janie suggests that they visit the botanica, where she knows (thanks to an aunt) just what magical remedies he needs to win the heart of the new student. Unfortunately, the cologne he wears is a bit too much, leading to the other students calling him SMELLacruz. Zack's bad luck continues all the way up to the school Fiesta-val, when everything goes awry. Luckily, he's able to finally get a quiet moment alone with Abhi, apologize to her, and find out a little bit more about her.
Strengths: Janie gets much better treatment in this book, and I really liked the way that Zack's parents were portrayed; supportive, but dealing with some issues of shared custody and a fairly recent divorce. While this has some over-the-top slapstick moments, it's an amusing romp, and I enjoyed it. I think my students who like Charlie Joe Jackson and other humorous novels will, too.
Weaknesses: While I really liked the San Antonio setting, I could have used a little more information about some things, because they were not familiar. I had to look up "cascarones" for example, and still don't quite understand the appeal. I suppose if I were to write a book set in Ohio, I might fail to explain some things that make sense here but don't other places (Skyline Chili, anyone? The butter sculptures at the fair?)
What I really think: Looking forward to reading more books by this author.
Harrington, Karen. Mayday
May 24th 2016 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Public Library Copy
Wayne has a lot of problems. His parents are divorced and his dad is remarried... and also a doofus. Coming back from his uncle's funeral after his uncle dies fighting in Iraq, Wayne and his mother are in a plane crash. They survive, but are badly injured. Wayne can't talk because his vocal cords are too swollen. His grandfather, an ex-military man, moves in to help. Wayne ends up in therapy, and goes to a private school, but still hangs out a bit with former schoolmates, including a girl he has a crush on, but getting back to his old life is difficult. He dad continues to be a giant doofus, his grandfather is supportive, and his mother does her best. Things improve, but then the grandfather is diagnosed with cancer. And dies.
Strengths: Once I picked this up a second time and forced myself to read this, it wasn't too bad. Wayne is quirky, but likeable, and his grandfather is great. I appreciated the fact that the mother was dating a really nice guy whom Wayne liked. Wayne's middle school romance was also nicely done, as was his recovery.
Weaknesses: So much sad everywhere.
What I really think: If the grandfather hadn't gotten ill, I probably would have bought this for my library.