Friday, July 01, 2011

Guy Friday--The Detention Club

Yoo, David. The Detention Club.
Peter and Drew are excited about starting middle school. Their fifth grade year ended on an up note, with them emerging as the premier Collectors of Stuff, and since they have spent their summer amassing an enormous amount of mica, they know their popularity will be solid. However, everyone else has grown and matured over the summer, and Peter and Drew are now seen as goofy. There is also the threat of the Sweet brothers. When Peter gets himself sent to detention for one of his increasingly bad ideas, he makes some new allies and starts investigating a rash of threats occurring at school for which he is a prime suspect due to his goofiness. He is also involved in the gifted program's invention convention, and all of these events proceed delightfully to the surprising ending.

Strengths: This was a really good, solid, middle grade humorous book for boys. Reader's of Yee's Warp Speed will find the slightly off-center protagonist to be pitch perfect. I think that most 6th graders start middle school thinking they are cool and perfect, only to discover that no one really is in middle school. Since I have had some bad experiences with Yoo's young adult novels (Girls for Breakfast was one I bought without reading it, only to have some things in it brought to my attention by an embarrassed student-- the book was immediately deaccessioned and sent to the high school!) this was a huge relief! I hope that Yoo writes some more for this age group. Others have taken issue with the cover, but I like it.
Weaknesses: The ending was a little too... pat? Not quite predictable, but somehow an off note.

Gleitzman, Morris. Then.
Sequel to Once, which I somehow missed. After living in an orphanage, ten-year-old Felix rescues a young girl, Zelda, whose parents were Nazis killed by the Polish Resistance. The two jump from a train taking them to a concentration camp and survive, although a companion does not. They approach a town where an the Jewish children in an orphanage have all been killed, are almost taken by a farmer, but fall into the hands of Genia, who doesn't like Jews but hates Nazis worse. She takes care of them, despite the constant danger of being found out. Felix makes an ally in a Nazi youth boy with whom he shares a love of books, but in the end, this is not enough to keep his new "family" safe.

Strengths: This reads quickly, and is full of realistic detail about what it would have been like to survive and escape being in a concentration camp, which many children did. I will definitely have to look at a copy of Once, and will probably buy both.
Weaknesses: Occasionally, there is anachronistic dialogue that was jarring. Zelda says "You're not the boss of me!" to Genia. This doesn't ruin the book, but this bothered me in a historical novel.

Smith, Ann Warren. The Turkey Monster Thanksgiving.
E-ARC received from NetGalley. Published Septemeber 1, 2011.
Katie is okay with the fact that her mother has run off to Nashville to be a singing start while she, her father, and her three-year-old brother make a new family for themselves. When Claire, whose mother died of cancer, starts talking about how families without mothers should act, this upsets Katie. Claire and her father are planning a huge Thanksgiving dinner so "people don't feel sorry for them", and soon Katie wants to do the same thing, although she enjoys having her Thanksgiving pizza in her pajamas. When she invites her teacher, a little by accident, she must make and carry out plans for a dinner that has all of the traditional elements.

Strengths: This was a delightful book centering around one family's strengths and weaknesses. I would have adored all of the planning when I was in third or fourth grade, and there always seems to be a need for holiday books. I wouldn't mind reading about Katie's Christmas.
Weaknesses: Like Eggs Over Evie (which has a cover by the same illustrator, Tuesday Mourning), this seems young for my group, but the other one has actually circulated well. Since I didn't see an actual physical copy of this, I'm curious what it looks like. A possible purchase for my library.

1 comment:

  1. The Detention Club sounds the perfect book for my nephew who is about to go to middle school and may be a little more like the protagonist than he realizes.
    I read Once and I am looking forward to Then. Thanks for your review of these books. I particularly like the phrase "anachronistic dialogue." It is something I am finding more and more in historical fiction.