Friday, March 16, 2018

The Science of Breakable Things

29414515Keller, Tae. The Science of Breakable Things
March 6th 2018 by Random House
ARC provided by publisher through Follett's First Look Program

Natalie is dealing with a lot-- her best friend, Mikayla, no longer talks to her; she likes her teacher Mr. Neely but is occasionally overwhelmed by his enthusiasm; and her mother is so depressed that she doesn't get out of bed most days. Natalie knows this is because her mother was fired from her job at the university botany department by Mikayla's mother, but she wishes that she had her "old" mother back. When Mr. Neely suggests that she enter the Egg Drop competition for her science inquiry project, Natalie doesn't really want to, but thinks that she could use the prize money to cheer her mother up by taking her to Mexico to see the rare Cobalt Blue orchid that she was studying. Natalie works with her best friend, Twig, whose mother was a super model and doesn't always see eye to eye with her daughter, and eventually the two work with Dari, a fairly new student as well. Dari is very smart, but is having trouble making friends. The group tries many different ways to cushion their eggs for the drop (my favorite is using marshmallows and chocolate for the S'megg! If only they had incorporated a graham cracker box!). They sneak into the school to practice dropping the egg from a height, and their stealth tactics come in handy later in the book. Natalie's father is a therapist who makes Natalie see Dr. Doris to talk, and eventually things come to a head and her mother also must be brought into the conversation.
Strengths: The situation with Mikayla is SO true to life. Very strange things happen with middle school friendships, and the reasons aren't always clear. There is a good mix of home and school life that I wish I would see in more books. Natalie's ethnic heritage is interesting-- her father is half Italian and half Korean (but not being interested in anything Korean), and her mother is described as having blonde hair. There's a lot of support for Natalie all around, even though it isn't always effective. There are enough other things going on in the story to make the book interesting. Love the cover.
Weaknesses: I have come to the conclusion that I am the only person involved in #MGLit who is tired of all of the depressing stories. Everyone else (including Kate DiCamillo and Matt de la Pena) and is coming out with articles about why Sad Is Good. Fine. It must some horrible, Trump-induced Zeitgeist. I don't get it, but I have given up complaining. All I know is that sad books make me sad, and I don't need any help in that direction. I think a much better plan, when bad things happen, is to ignore them and move on. NO ONE agrees.
What I really think: I will probably purchase. The cover is appealing, the length is right, and it's less depressing than a lot of books.

TWO-WEEK BLOG TOUR (March 5th – 16th)
Week One:
·         3/5/18: Mommy Ramblings
·         3/6/18: The OWL
·         3/7/18: Bumbles and Fairy Tales
·         3/8/18: Cracking the Cover
·         3/9/18: The Book Reaper
Week Two:
·         3/12/18: Fiktshun
·         3/13/18: Word Spelunking
·         3/14/18: The Lovely Books Blog
·         3/15/18: Oh, For the Hook of a Book
·         3/16/18: Ms. Yingling Reads

Ms. Yingling

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Stick Dog Crashes a Party

34848489Watson, Tom. Stick Dog Crashed a Party
March 6th 2018 by HarperCollins
Purchased Copy

Stick Dog and his friends are hungry. After a hilarious episode with a ketchup packet, they decide to go and get pizza at Pizza Palace. When they arrive there, they see a car with two humans and two cats who look vaguely family. It's Stick Cat, Stripes' soul mate! The humans are picking up a pizza and are in town for their wedding. The dogs make plans for getting themselves invited, but since it is at a park, that's easy. Karen still chases her tail a lot, but in between there are a lot of plans the dogs need to make. Stick Cat watches from afar, and aids the dogs in any way he can. When the humans are distracted from the food by fireworks, the dogs dig in, gorging themselves on mashed potatoes and ribs. The other dogs manage to get cake, but Stick Dog is busy arranging things and doesn't get any. Luckily, Stick Cat sees his plight and rolls the top layer of the cake down the hill for the hungry dogs.
Strengths: Stick Dog is the consummate professional.  Watson's career as a political speech writer is definitely evident in this installment-- the verbal machinations through which Stick Cat goes to not insult his friends are hysterical. He is the only one with any strategic acumen, and the dogs would all clearly starve without him. I had forgotten the intersection with Stick Cat; I'm not as big a fan of those, as Edith the cat is not very pleasant. These are so clever and make me laugh so much! Investing in a PermaBound set in the fall, since the paper over board covers wear horribly.
Weaknesses: Edith is not a pleasant character. So spoiled and nasty. Why would stick cat be friends with her? Of course, their humans are together, so it's unavoidable. I sort of hoped that Stick Cat would run away and join Stick Dog's pack.
What I really think: Every middle school librarian should go out and read one of these books RIGHT NOW. You will not be disappointed. Sylvie approves of these books!