Saturday, April 21, 2012

Oh, to be in England.

Roy, Jennifer. Cordially Uninvited.
Claire is very excited that she gets to go to her cousin Belle's wedding... and even more excited because her cousin is marrying the future king of England and she gets to be a junior bridesmaid. She's kept the secret for the longest time while the two were dating, but the connection is leaked to the press and the paparazzi arrive at her house, so she and her mother go over earlier. While she is very glad to see her cousin, she is also interested in one of the young boys who is also going to be in the wedding. She is less than thrilled with Pandora, who is also a junior bridesmaid but for some reason thinks that she is fated to marry the prince and who tries to sabotage the wedding! There's a lot of London sight seeing, meeting of royals, and a budding romance for eleven year old Claire.
Strengths: This was very cleverly done. The royals are not really named, and described in vague ways that make them align a little with Prince Elizabeth, etc., but not so much that it will cause the book to be dated. The London descriptions are wonderful, and the rivalry with Pandora fun. The depiction of Belle as a loving cousin and commoner trying very hard to fit in are nice touches. Enjoyed tremendously.
Weaknesses: This would have been much more successful if the girls had been much older. I can't really buy romance books with eleven year olds as main characters. The Pandora story line especially was hard to swallow. Had the girls been about 17, it could still have been a book that middle school students liked (they like reading about older girls, anyway), and would have seemed more plausible to me.
Churchyard, Kathleen. Bye For Now. (A Wishers Story)
Robin is fed up with her life-- she bonks heads with her younger sister and gives herself a black eye right before a big swim meet, doesn't do well, and then finds out she has head lice, so her birthday party is canceled. Blowing out the candles, she wishing she were someone else, and soon finds herself in England as Fiona Walker. Fiona is gorgeous, has quirky, artsy parents, and is starring in a professional stage production of Peter Pan. Sure, it's hard to figure out what's going on at school, Fiona's sister Jolene is really mean, and she finds herself missing her family. She turns to the computer to solve her problems, communicating with her brother's girlfriend Alia and finding out that she is a Wisher-- and eleven year old girl who has switched bodies. This apparently happens all the time. An India girl named Neera is in Robin's body, and Fiona is in the body of a Japanese gir, Naomi Nagata. Through a Facebook group, all of the Wishers try to coordinate how they can get back home, but once they realize that their twelfth birthday will mean the end of the ability to change, and since Naomi's birthday is very soon, they have to figure out a way to switch back. Will Robin be able to make it in time, or will she have to be Fiona forever?
Strengths: Lots of good details on British language and habits, and an interesting take on wanting to switch lives. Will buy this one to fill the need for books with magical realism, since there is also a little romance.
Weaknesses: Marginal cover, and again, I wish the main character were about 13, in order to make the romance seem more realistic. I personally dislike the use of texting and the reliance on Facebook, since that will date the story, but girls now will like it. I also was slightly confused by the large number of Wishers and found myself doubting that they would really be able to return to the right body!

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