Salom, Susie. Kyle Finds Her Way
October 11th 2016 by Arthur A. Levine Books
ARC from Young Adult Books Central
Kyle has a rocky start to her 7th grade year when she punches a kid in the stomach in gym during tai chi. Ino was taking the hearing aid from a new girl, so he gets two weeks of garbage duty as punishment, and Kyle is remanded to the teacher in charge of the NAVS team, which competes to solve a problem. Kyle is okay with this, especially since cute new English boy, Reed, is part of the group. However, she has a lot of trouble telling the truth to her parents about things. They ground her, but she wants to go to a NAVS planning session, so she lies to her. They catch her. She gets on the wrong bus on purpose, insults her mother's cooking, and generally acts in an untrustworthy manner. She is also having trouble with her two best friends for various reasons. She continues to take part in the NAVS team even though her parents have told her she can't. Eventually, they find out, and Kyle has to decide what her values are, and how she can win back her parents' trust.
Strengths: There were a lot of good, realistic moments in this. Kyle's family is strong-- her family eats (salt free-- how I understand that!) dinner together most nights and she is close to her twin brother who is in a lower grade because of a possible developmental delay. Kyle's impulse control and poor choices are very typical. The cover is attractive, and the story is generally upbeat. I liked that Kyle was involved in activities.
Weaknesses: I didn't like Kyle. She was one of those annoying students who will eventually turn out fine but drive one crazy. I found it hard to believe that she would have been allowed to wear her beloved blue fedora to school, or that the principal would have "punished" her for assaulting another student by making her do an activity.
What I really think: Despite my own personal objections, I think this is a book that will circulate well with my readers who like stories that involve middle school drama. It will be especially useful during Guys Read Pink month, since it has a nice ensemble cast and is not overly "girly". Will purchase.
Berenstain, Mike. The Berenstain Bears Around the World
September 6th 2016 by HarperCollins
Public library copy
I have a huge soft spot for the bears since the first book I ever read independently was The Berenstain Bears' Picnic, but I've never liked the rest of the books very much. My girls, however, adored them, so I got to read a vast number of these preachy tomes.
This was a nice change, with the bears whisking around the world in Dr. Bear's Anywhere Anytime Machine. There is very brief information about different countries, and I can see this being a starting place for young readers to begin exploring different parts of the world. There's not really a plot, and the reading level seems higher than beginning (words like Switzerland, chocolate and onion aren't exactly easy), but this would definitely have been one I would have bought for my children, and would be a good addition to an elementary library, especially since it's available in a dust jacketed hard cover.