Monday, April 27, 2015

MMGM- Drive Me Crazy

Congratulations to Maria Selke for winning the Gabby Duran Prize package!

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.

Drive Me CrazyMcVoy, Terra Elan. Drive Me Crazy.
April 28th 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Cassie and Lana are coerced into going on a road trip with their grandparents-- Cassie's Grandma Tess and Lana's Grandpa Howe have gotten married and want to take the girls, who seemed to hit it off at the wedding, on their honeymoon. Lana's pretty cool with the idea-- she misses her grandmother, but likes Tess and is glad her grandfather is happy. Lana is less excited, since she had a lot planned with her friends, whom she texts incessantly. There are tons of cool things that the group has planned, and the girls have a room of their own in nice hotels, but Lana is still bummed, especially when she finds out that her crush might like her and gets her phone number from her friends! Before long, though, Grandma Tess takes her phone away so she can be in the moment and with the people in the car, and Cassie is sure she will surely perish without the constant communication. Lana has reason to be unhappy as well, since her mother is sick and she is sure that her parents have sent her off because her mother is dying. Tess and Howe, seemingly enjoying dealing with two difficult teenagers, decide to travel from California to Maine to see the cabin that Howe used to own. The girls have no choice but to go along.
Strengths: This had many things going for it. The trip is fascinating, and it was fun to see the quirky places Grandma Tess wanted to visit. Everyone is supportive of the girls, and even the issue with Lana's mother is resolved in a productive and yet realistic way. Cassie is a brat, but gets better, and both girls have problems that are not overly traumatic, but which are hugely problematic when one is 12. Extra bonus points for working in technology in a very realistic way.
Weaknesses: Stretches the bounds of reality-- I really had to suspend disbelief that the grandparents would take the girls along on their honeymoon. That's probably because I am a lot closer to the grandparents' ages than the girls', and I would like my OWN adventure, thank you very much!
What I really think: Fabulous book that will sell itself. Great literature? Maybe not, but balances fun with a bit of an issue very well. Other authors take note: THIS is the sort of book I need!

22749726Frydenborg, Kay. Chocolate: Sweet Science & Dark Secrets of the World's Favorite Treat 
April 7th 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
E ARC from

At 272 pages, this has more information about chocolate than anyone could ever want! I liked that this started out with an event with which I was unfamiliar-- a campaign by children to keep chocolate bars from rising in price from 5 to 8 cents back in the 1940s. From there, the entire sociopolitical, economic and philosophical history of chocolate is delineated. This makes it great for reference for a report, but unwieldy for pleasure reading.

There are a decent amount of pictures, plenty of science facts about chocolate, and is clearly well-researched. Even little known facts, like Hershey's town in Cuba, are covered.

One of the state standards for writing for my students is that they learn to narrow down their topic. While I enjoyed this, I couldn't help but think that it would have been a better book for the target demographic if the author had decided on a more focused bit of information to present.


  1. Our 6th graders do African crop research every year, chocolate (cacao) is always a popular choice, that chocolate book is a nice addition.

  2. It was not their honeymoon, but I went on such a trip with a best friend & her parents right before college, so much older. It was a grand trip through all the northwest, places I'd never seen before. Of course, no tech then, had to call home collect! I think some of my students would enjoy this book. And-interesting to hear about the book, Chocolate. It might fit with some of the other nf books out? Thanks, Karen.

  3. Anonymous12:00 PM EDT

    Someone should put out an edible book. Books about food always make me hungry!

  4. I know about half a dozen 6th. graders who will LOVE Drive Me Crazy - thanks for the review!

  5. I can see how Drive Me Crazy is one of those books that readers will devour and tell other readers about. From your review about Chocolate, I think I need to get my hands on it and see for myself. These days I find older readers use online resources more than paper ones, so it has to be pretty spectacular!

  6. Drive Me Crazy has an intriguing premise. It's nice when issues are balanced with fun. And Chocolate sounds intriguing as well. I think narrowing down a topic is problematic for a lot of writers, especially if they've enjoyed their research.

  7. Road trip books are fun. I'll watch for this one. I adore chocolate, but maybe even I wouldn't want nearly 300 pages about it. ;)

  8. Thanks for telling us about Drive Me Crazy. We will definitely share this title with middle school teachers

  9. I just had a student write an article on chocolate being endangered, so I think she'd really like the Chocolate book. Thank you for sharing!

    Happy reading this week!

  10. I liked Drive Me Crazy very much, more than I thought I would. Chocolate is great as well. Thanks for your reviews.

  11. A book about chocolate - I'm in! :) Drive Me Crazy sounds like it would have been perfect for our reading theme. :)