Monday, November 19, 2012

Middle Grade Monday-- School Stories for Girls

Ellie McDoodle: Most Valuable Player
Barshaw, Ruth McNally. Ellie McDoodle: Most Valuable Player
28 February 28th 2012,Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Nominated for the Cybils by Jean Reidy.

Ellie's life is very busy. Her father is the coach of her soccer team, she has Journey of the Mind meetings, and it's spirit week at her school. But things don't go all that well. Even though her father is the coach, she has to practice really hard, and she's not very good at soccer. The Journey team involves lots of different activities, and the competition is a little scary. School is fun, but there is always some kind of drama going on. Luckily, Ellie keeps herself straight in her journal, complete with drawings, and has a very supportive family.
Strengths: This is a notebook novel, and anything like that is super popular right now. A lot of younger girls play soccer, so that could be a big draw as well. Ellie is more likable than Greg Heffley!
Weaknesses: This book was heavy on lists, instructions, explanations of activities, etc. that slowed down the narrative pace.

On a personal level, I found it hard to believe that Ellie's family would eat breakfast together AND play Balloon Bobble or Simon Says while eating... on a Wednesday morning. Good for them, but... wow! I haven't seen my children at breakfast since my freshman was in kindergarten, and only then because I woke her up at 5:45 a.m. to braid her hair! Our mornings went fairly smoothly, but people were really sleepy!

Stealing PopularTrueit, Trudi. Stealing Popular
4 September 2012, Simon and Schuster Mix
Nominated for the Cybils by B. Stolzen

Coco has finally been in one school long enough to make friends, Fawn and Adair. When Fawn gets kicked out of her own locker by one of the school somebody "royalty", Dijon, Coco decides that enough is enough, and starts to try to claw her way into some semblance of popularity. She does this by helping Adair try out for cheerleading, and then rigging the voting so Adair and three "sortabodies" make the squad. She also nominates Renata for the fall court, and then gives her a makeover so she has a better chance. Other deviousness, including hiding stinky stuff in Dijon's locker and tricking girls who follow her daily makeup tip into wearing Firefly glow-in-the-dark lip gloss work to a certain extent at increasing Coco's popularity while bringing down the social significance of Dijon and her cronies, Venice, Truffle, and Evian. When a theft occurs and a "sortabody" is blamed, will all of her plans come crashing down?
Strengths: The Mix paperbacks are always popular, and books about girl drama are huge, especially with 6th grade girls.
Weaknesses: Coco never gets into trouble for her crimes, and doesn't seem to feel too bad about them, even when Dijon goes out of her way to be nice to her. All the girls are mean, so it's hard to take sides. I don't know of any middle schools that have a fall queen, or any that hold to having only thin cheerleaders any more, but it is possible.

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts. Both sites have lots of links to reviews about books that are great for the 4th through 8th grader. It's also Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week at Perogies and Gyoza.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:49 AM EST

    When I first saw somethign like Ellie McDoodle, I thought, Oh, they're just capitalizing/copying Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I mean, hey, more power to authors in any form, but that was my judgement. Then I saw a few more of these types of books and you call it a "notebook novel." Has Jeff Kinney inspired a new "genre"? Obviously, there were notebook type novels previously, he didn't invent them. I was just wondering if people are pitching them now as a genre, like comic books.