Friday, April 18, 2014

Guy Friday- Middle Grade Celebrities

18085461Baron, Jeff. Sean Rosen is Not For Sale
March 18th 2014 by Greenwillow Books 
E ARC from

Sean still desperately wants to have his movie idea produced by Hollywood, and while he made great strides in the first book, I Represent Sean Rosen, he still  can't get any of the studios to promise that he can be the screen writer, because he's only 13. But his podcasts are drawing lots of attention, and his fictional agent, Dan Welch, keeps getting e mails from other agents interested in representing them. Sean has set off a bidding war, but he still has problems at home. He encourages his parents to go on a second honeymoon, and spends a couple of days with his grandmother in Florida. Middle school has its ups and downs, with Brianna, a fledgling band called Taxudermee, and a 7th grade wilderness field trip, where Sean gets an unexpected visitor. The ending is a cliff hanger (the kind that left me repeatedly pushing the "next page" button on my Nook, because there HAD to be more), so we'll see what high jinks Sean gets up to next.
Strengths: Middle school students enjoy funny, realistic fiction that stretches the bounds of credulity, and this is certainly that sort of book. The intricacies of Hollywood transactions in presented well, and Sean's friends are all interesting characters. The covers are appealing; just the right touch of cartoon for middle school.
Weaknesses: This seemed really slow paced to me, and could have been funnier. A few high speed chases involving the dog and doughnuts would have improved this for me.

17720974 Federle, Tim. Five, Six, Seven, Nate!
January 21st 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

In this sequel to Better Nate Than Ever, Nate finds himself living with his aunt in New York City, where he has a job as an understudy/chorus member in a Broadway production of E.T. He misses his friend Libby from home, if not his parents, and is anxious about how well he will do.  He is bothered by Jordan Rylance, who is from his hometown of Pittsburgh and has the starring role of Elliot, but he quickly learns that things are not always as they appear in Jordan's world. Nate makes friends with an older actress who is cast as E.T., and she helps him with understudying the role of Elliot while the two bond over mani-pedis. There are a few mishaps that make Nate think he may get fired, and a mysterious secret admirer, but when Jordan is unable to go on, the entire production may be in jeopardy. Will Nate be able to save the day?
Strengths: Mr. Federle's experiences on Broadway bring a real immediacy to all of the details about being in a professional production in New York City. This is also one of the few novels I have seen that show age appropriate emotions and actions for a  middle school student coming to the realization that he is gay. There is a kiss, and some discussion about the emotions, but this is not accompanied by details that are generally present in coming out stories for older students and is thus refreshing and welcome.
Weaknesses: Books set on Broadway are resounding flops in my library-- anything to do with theater productions gathers dust on the shelves. I didn't buy the first book because of this, but felt that I should be aware of what these were about. Our public library has a copy, and most of my students have cards there, so I can recommend this if a student ever show interest in any of the topics contained within this book.

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