Monday, April 17, 2017
MMGM- Soccer and Pioneering!
It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.
Montalbo, Andrea. Out of Bounds (Soccer Sisters #1)
April 4th 2017 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Makena plays on a travel soccer team with her best friend, Val. Coach Lily pushes the girls to be their best, but they sometimes struggle on the field. When one of the girls has to miss a lot of games because she also dances, the coach invites a new girl, Skylar, to play on the team. Skylar is a loose cannon- she plays dirty on the field and has no respect for rules off of it, either. Still, she is an interesting character, and Makena finds herself drawn to Skylar and her dare devil ways. When the team travels, Skylar gets into trouble at the hotels, and when they are at home, Skylar coerces Makena into going to New York City with her, and getting into other trouble. Makena soon realizes that while Skylar is exciting, her antics don't help the team or Makena herself. Eventually, Skylar leaves the team, and Makena is glad to not have to deal with her.
Strengths: There's a TON of soccer in this book, which is something many of my students ask for. I have never seen a soccer game, so a lot of it went over my head, but I did like the coach and the way most of the girls knew how to be good sports. I also enjoyed Makena's family-- even though her parents are very busy, they were supportive, and the inclusion of Makena's grandfather living with the family because of health problems added a realistic dimension to this. I hope that this is a LONG series!
Weaknesses: In paperback! Drat! Also, when I saw the cover of this, I thought it was another installment of the Alex Morgan series. The cover illustrations are different but rather similar.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing if I can get this in a prebind!
Coats, J. Anderson. The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming
28th 2017 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Public Library Copy.
Jane lives in Massachusetts with her young stepmother and stepbrother after her father is killed in the Civil War. She hasn't been able to go to school because she must watch Jer while her stepmother works in the mills. When a Mr. Mercer offers passage to Seattle Washington for orphan girls and young widows, the group undergoes the arduous journey to get there. A highlight for Jane is being asked to help a teacher with her younger students. Seattle is not the bustling town filled with eligible bachelors, but is a muddy frontier town filled with rough and tumble men who rarely bathe. Jane enjoys making friends and trying to earn money to keep her family in the hotel, but her stepmother grasps the reality of their situation and marries Charlie Wright, who is very kind to the children. He lives in an isolated cabin, but everyone makes the best of the situation. Jane learns a lot about how to live in the wilderness, helping Mr. W. with trapping and building things. He realizes that she is lonely in the woods, and helps her make a canoe so that she can travel to town to visit her friends and even go to school there. Jane realizes that while Washington isn't exactly what she thought it would be, it has provided her with friends, a livelihood, and most importantly, a family.
Strengths: This was well written and moved very quickly. Jane is an endearing character who faces her rough circumstances with optimism. I loved that she desperately wanted an education-- how many of my students would canoe through the rain in order to learn? This is perfect for readers who like Larson's Hattie Big Sky, Dagg's Sweet Home Alaska, or the (now highly controversial) Little House on the Prairie books.
Weaknesses: I am not qualified to judge if Lawrence and his family are an accurate portrayal of Native Americans at that time. I think it is a useful and sympathetic portrait, and the author notes state that she consulted the chair of the Duwamish tribe for details.
What I really think: My students are very reluctant to pick up historical fiction even though I am constantly suggesting it. This one may be a slow circulator, but I enjoyed it enough to purchase it.