Krawitz, Susan. Viva, Rose!
March 30th 2017 by Holiday House
ARC provided by publisher at ALA
Rose is growing up in El Paso, Texas in the 1920s. Her parents immigrated from Poland, and Rose's brother Abraham is working in New York City with other relatives. When Rose sees a newspaper in the general store, however, she sees her brother in a picture... with the infamous outlaw, Pancho Villa! She is appalled, and asks her teacher (who is romantically involved with her brother) what is going on. The teacher seems to know a little bit, but before Rose can work matters out, she is captured by outlaws and taken into the desert where she meets the revolutionary himself. Her brother is around, but going by the name of Solomon, and currently is on a mission away from the camp. Rose is taken in and made a playmate to the bratty Dorotea, the orphaned charge of Villa. Rose (who, according to her mother, is practically old enough to get married at the age of 13) chafes at being captive and just wants to find her brother and make him come back home. In the meantime, however, she has a great adventure in the US Southwest at a time when adventure was hard to come by for young girls.
Strengths: First of all, this is a great cover. Holiday House has struggled with some really awful covers, so I'm glad that the last few things I've read from them have much better ones. This covers an interesting yet unknown to me era of history. I honestly didn't know Villa's floruit and went into this thinking it was set in the 1860s. The car and airplane showing up alerted me to my error. While this was certainly informative, I think the thing I liked the most was the depiction of immigrants from the Old Country who moved beyond New York! This story moved along quickly, and Rose was definitely feisty and likable.
Weaknesses: I cannot get my students to read books set in the West. I have some good ones, but they just aren't interested. No idea why.
What I really think: I am debating purchase. I think it will be a hard sell, but I would very much like my readers to pick it up.
Thebo, Mimi. Dreaming the Bear
April 10th 2017 by Wendy Lamb Books
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Darcy isn't happy with her parents. They have dragged her away from her nice English town and stranded her out in the wilderness near Yellowstone Park so her mother can study bears. Darcy is recovering from pneumonia and is very weak. She's supposed to go hiking outside to build up her strength, but not get wet. At one point, she finds an injured bear in a cave and starts to feed the bear, who becomes very close to her. There is a horrible blizzard while her mother is away doing work, and Darcy, her father, her brother Jem and Jem's cute friend Tony hunker down in the cabin for almost a week while the mother flies back to England to visit, since she can't get home. Eventually, the bear becomes ill, Darcy is found out, and things get ugly.
Strengths: I loved the descriptions of being snowed in and of living in a desolate area. No internet! Modern children would be very confused!
Weaknesses: This had a rather disjointed style, and I was confused by the bits with the bear sometimes.
What I really think: Had its moments, but I will probably pass. A bit too British for my readers, and I got tired of hearing about Darcy's health.