Wednesday, January 16, 2013

World Wednesday

First Daughter: My Extreme American Makeover: My Extreme American Makeover Perkins, Mitali. First Daughter:My Extreme American Makeover
14 June 2007, Dutton Juvenile

Sparrow (aka Sameera) was adopted at the age of three from Pakistan by politically active parents. Her father is now running for president, hoping to get his party's nomination. There is a lot of concern that Sparrow isn't "American" enough, or fashionable enough, to help sway votes. She is reinvented as "Sammy", made over to be more attractive, and given a custom blog aimed at tweens, even though she is 16. She is uncomfortable with these changes, but understands that even her mother has had to undergo "improvements". When it's clear that she will no longer be able to enjoy quiet times with her family on her grandparents' Ohio farm, she tries to embrace politics herself, connecting with students in Washington who are part of the Southeast Asian Republican group. She has her own private blog, but when the group wants to help the campaign by using Sparrow's writing, she has to decide what will help her father the most.
Strengths: This was a great book for middle school students. Deviller's Liberty Porter series is a tiny bit young, but Sparrow's experiences will be interesting to students who wonder what it would be like to be in the public spotlight. Certainly Sparrow's ethnic identity plays a large part in the book, but I think that readers will pick it up for lots of reasons.I do not know how I missed this one!
Weaknesses: Confusing start. I thought I had gotten a second book in a series, because I wasn't understanding Sparrow's involvement with a rowing team. There IS a second book--
First Daughter: White House Rules (January 24th 2008, Dutton Juvenile)

 Thanks for joining us for World Wednesday. If you have a post about a middle grade book set in another part of the world or with great multicultural characters, please leave your link in the comments!

GingersnapGiff, Patricia Reilly. Gingersnap.
8 January 2013, Wendy Lamb Books

Orphaned Jayna is in a difficult position when her older brother and guardian, Rob, is sent to fight in World War II. She's fortunate that their landlady, Celine, is willing to take her in, because Jayna has spent some time in foster care. Jayna isn't happy, though, and knows that having her is a hardship for Celine. Before he left, Rob gave her a cookbook he found that lead him to believe that they may have a grandmother in Brooklyn who is running a bakery. Armed with this book and a little money, Jayna takes off for the city with her turtle, Theresa, goaded on by a ghostly voice. She finds the bakery, Gingersnap, and meets the woman whom she thinks is her grandmother. She begs to be allowed to stay, and finds out some information about her family while she waits to find out the fate of Rob, who is reported missing in action.
Strengths: This certainly shows how different a place the world was 70 years ago! I enjoyed this glimpse into what life was like when the author was a girl.
Weaknesses: I love books set during this time period, but my students want books that are about fighting, NOT about the homefront. If I can't circulate Lowry's excellent Autumn Street, I don't have high hopes for this book.


  1. Love Patricia Reilly Giff...this time period gets me, too!

  2. Thanks for the insight on what kind of WW2 books your students like. I tend to stick to the home front rather than the front lines because I am interested in the impact the war had on the home front.

    I am always ambivalent about fighting books since I am a pacifist. I would have thought girls would be interested in Gingersnap, which I have out from the library right now.

    I will have to keep what you say in mind when I chose the books I use.

  3. Sounds like a very interesting read! Thanks for posting.

    Nicole Weaver
    Award-winning author

  4. The other Presidential daughter series I can think of is Ellen Emerson White's The President's Daughter. The first two book should be good for middle school, although the third and fourth take a hard turn to YA.

    I hadn't realize the girl in Perkin's book was adopted; it's on my to-read list but I haven't gotten there yet. I'll move it up a bit.

  5. First Daughter sounds like a great book with complex themes. Are you familiar with Donna Gephardt's book for middle-grade: as if being 12 3/4 isn't bad enough, my mother is running for president! ? It also deals with issues of being in the spotlight. The daughter's needs clash with her mother's and create conflict. The book won the Sid Fleischman Humor Award.

  6. I guess the second book title for First Daughter gives away who wins the election! Sounds interesting though, how even a child has to be made more "American" (not like Pakistani Americans are less American.)