Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street

Rocklin, Joanne. One Day and One Amazing Morning On Orange Street.

Nominated for the Cybils by Katie Ahearn

Orange Street was so named because years ago the site was an orange grove, but now it is a small housing development with a variety of people living there. Only one tree remains in a vacant lot, and it is in danger of being cut down. Mrs. Snoops (aka Ethel Finneymaker) is an older woman who has lived there since childhood but who is sinking into dementia. Ali is a young girl interested in the history of the neighborhood who is struggling with her brother Edgar's illness, which requires him to have Manny, a nanny. Leandra is upset that her parents are having another baby, even though it means that her grandparents have moved in with the family. Robert, a budding magician, likes Ali. Everyone in the neighborhood is upset when a mysterious stranger, who turns out to have grown up in the neighborhood and is behind the threats to the tree. The story takes place during a little over a day, and is told from alternating viewpoints of everyone in the neighborhood, including the tree, a dog, and a cat.
Strengths: I liked that the children all got to hang out and have adventures, digging things up in the vacant lot. Readers who enjoyed It Happened on Fox Street will enjoy another strong neighborhood.

Weaknesses: While this is very well written and intriguing, the plot is weak compared to the character development. Nothing major happens, which is always a big complaint in middle school. Adults will love this one.

Rud, Jeff. Paralyzed.

Reggie is hit by another player in a football game but manages to make his interception, but afterwards the player who hit him, Nate, does not get up off the field. He ends up in the hospital paralyzed because he hit Reggie with his helmet, not an approved move. Reggie feels bad and wonders if he did anything to contribute to the injury. When he goes to the hospital to check on Nate, Nate's mother screams at him that it is his fault and he shouldn't come back. Reggie starts to be overly cautious on the field, and the decision is made to have him go to counseling and sit out a few games, but this coincides with a newspaper report that he has been suspended, as well as a school hearing about the accident. Will Nate get better? Will Reggie be able to play again without fear of hurting someone.

Strengths: Rud does an excellent job with giving not only good play-by-plays but discussing sports psychology on a level that middle school students can understand. I have just the student waiting for this one!

Weaknesses: I wish that Rud would write longer books that are not hi/lo. The prose is overly simple in some instances, but the stories are so good!

Bossley, Michele Martin. Kicker.

Izzy and Julia spend a lot of time in the town park playing soccer, but after they receive threats and the park is closed due to vandalism and possible chemical contamination, the girls are suspicious. They start an investigation into the woman who donated the land to the park, as well as her descendants, one of who is trying to buy the land back. They uncover a link to a famous Canadian robbery, and start to think that there might be treasure buried at the park. This, however, does not solve the mystery of the threatening texts and notes that are undermining their playing, so they have to solve that as well.

Strengths: Another excellent Orca title, and I love how it also incorporates a mystery. I have had a lot of girls asking for soccer books, so I have been trying to add a number to the collection.

Weaknesses: Again, the more simple language occasionally sounds clunkier than I would like.

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