Diamond, Jill. Lou Lou and Pea and the Mural Mystery
October 18th 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Lou Lou and Pea live in an urban neighborhood called El Corazon, and they are able to go places on their own, especially after school is out and before their parents get home. They frequent the cupcake store, and also a candle store where the proprietor, Elmira, always seem to know just which candle will help with their problems. Lots of problems are popping up-- Pea's cousin has her quinceanera dress ruined by grape juice and ink, Lou Lou's prize plant is killed, a prized necklace goes missing, and even the adults are affected. The girls blame a new boy, Jeremy, and try to spy on him, especially after Elmira's store is robbed and she isn't able to go on a candle cruise. In the end, the culprit is found in an unusual place.
Strengths: I loved the walkable, interesting, multicultural neighborhood and the fact that the girls were able to go out in it alone. It was nice that they both had their own interests. Combine this with supportive families and a mystery that is more serious than it appears, and this is a great purchase for elementary schools. A second book is in the works.
Weaknesses: I was surprised at the culprit and the fairly evil intentions that person had. It was somehow shocking, given the light tone of the book.
What I really think: This seemed somehow too young for my students. Debating.
Haynes, Richard. Slingshot and Burp
August 2nd 2016 by Candlewick Press
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central
Slingshot and Burp live next door to each other in a rural, Southwestern area. Not only are they friends, but double cousins. They are given a lot of freedom to roam about the country side on their bicycles (which they pretend are horses, Thunder and Lightning), shoot things with their slingshots, and sleep out under the stars. The smallest occurrence can change into a big adventure with their active imaginations. When their sisters take over their "bunk house" and decorate it in pink, they must mount a counter attack. When a "ghost cat", and later, a "wild coyote" wanders into their path, they have fun hunting down the creatures. The lack of visible parents, along with cowboy dialect, gives Slingshot and Burp's adventures a ring of authenticity, even though the reader knows that the coyote is really a neighbor's dog that the sisters are grooming.
This is an excellent choice for beginning readers. At just over 100 pages, it is well illustrated and not terribly long. The fact that the main characters have such imaginative skills is impressive, and their freedom is something that many young readers will not have experienced. The Southwestern setting seems exotic to someone who doesn't live there, and the description of the landscape and the variety of deadly creatures (scorpions!) that live there will deliver a mild thrill.
Readers who enjoy books like McDonald's Stink, Yee's Bobby the Brave, and Park's Junie B. Jones should take a look at this new title, which is almost sure to become a series featuring a variety of rough 'n tumble adventures.