Sunday, April 27, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

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17910079Lubar, David. Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies: And Other Warped and Creepy Tales
April 22nd 2014 by Starscape
E ARC from

This seventh collection of tales from Lubar will delight elementary school students, so it is a must purchase for elementary libraries. These don't do quite as well in the middle school, which is a shame. In this collection, I thought that M.U.B. a story all in dialog about a monster under the bed, would be good to study in class. Lubar also includes a story in second person, set up sort of like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book, which is clever. There's always one point in the year when students come in asking for something for class written in second person, and since Bright Lights, Big City isn't really appropriate, I should buy this! I liked how Lubar adds notes at the end of the book addressing what inspired him to write the stories. This was especially helpful in the case of Being Green, which at first glance looks to be a polemic against reusable water bottles but wasn't meant that way.

I'm not a big fan of short stories, but I am a huge fan of Lubar's. I just wish he would write more upper middle grade books like Sleeping Freshman Never Lie. Maybe he and Jordan Sonnenblick should hang out together more, as long as it didn't end with Sonnenblick writing more Dodger and Me books!

18209329Hurwitz, Michele Weber. The Summer I Saved the World... in 65 Days.
April 8th 2014 by Wendy Lamb Books
ARC from Baker and Taylor

Nina is not feeling particularly good about the summer. Her grandmother has been gone for a year, her parents are hardly ever home and working when they are, her brother is getting into trouble, and her best friend Jorie is changing. When Nina sees her neighbor Mrs. Chung upset because she can't plant flowers for the summer because of her cast, Nina gets up out of her hammock and decides to do a good deed every day for someone on her cul de sac. She cleans up the yard of the Cantaloni family, leaves backed goods for the lonely Mr. Dumbrowski, tries to be nice to the nosey and paranoid Mrs. Millman, and takes care of Eli's brother Thomas. Jorie also lives on the cul de sac and is bound and determined that Eli will ask her to Homecoming once they start high school in the fall, but Eli is an old friend of Nina's, and the two reconnect. Doing all of the nice things for people makes Nina feel closer to her grandmother, and makes her neighborhood a better place to be. It might even be the thing that brings her fractured family back together again.
Strengths: This author's Calli Be Gold got a lot of love in 2011, and this is another good, realistic novel about every day life. There's the touch of romance, some teen angsty problems, and is pitch perfect for girls on the cusp between middle school and high school. It also made me want to go do random acts of kindness. Definitely ordering.
Weaknesses:  The family dysfunction was a bit much. The brother didn't need to have gotten into trouble in high school; the parents failing to parent on top of the grandmother's death was more than enough. The grief felt slightly over done as well, but I suppose some people do take deaths harder than others.

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday at Anastasia Suen's blog.


  1. I work with many reluctant readers who will not be reluctant anymore with the Wireless Weinies premise. Lubar sounds like a great storyteller.
    The Summer I Saved The World... has received an enthusiastic thumbs up from my niece. Thanks for featuring both.

  2. Dave Lubar is going to be at Books & Company at The Green in Beavercreek at 7:00 on Wednesday.


  3. Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies sounds like something my MG-aged sons would love. I've also heard great things about The Summer I Saved the World. I especially appreciate that you point out the weaknesses as well as the strengths.

  4. Dave Lubar's books are always fun. The Summer I Saved the World sounds great. I will definitely be checking it out. Thanks for the heads up.

  5. Interesting about the over the topness when it comes to dysfunction in YA lit - I wish this didn't happen, and that some authors stick to one or two issues and just develop them better.