Saturday, October 08, 2016

Mighty Jack and The Great Shelby Holmes

25648247Hatke, Ben. Mighty Jack. 
September 6th 2016 by First Second
Public library copy

Jack's family is struggling financially, so jack is frequently in charge of watching his sister, Maddy, who is on the autism spectrum and doesn't talk. While at a flea market with their mother, the children come across a creepy vendor who talks them into trading their mother's car for a box of seeds. When Maddy says he should, Jack is so shocked that he does, even though he gets in big trouble. The two plant the seeds, which sprout into a fantastical garden. With the help of new friend, Lilly, they tend the garden. Maddy gets hurt, so Jack rips everything out, only to find that Lilly has started a garden of her own, so their adventures can continue. 
Strengths: This is a good example of a better graphic novel-- neither part of a churned out series or patently weird, like the Glorkian Warrior books. Good story, decent illustrations, and 10-12 point font. This would have been my Cybils nomination if Charlotte hadn't beaten me to it!
Weaknesses: Has that typical graphic novel smell, which I dislike intensely. At $20 for a hardcover, this is a big investment into a book that will last three years, tops. (Remember, I have a few books from 1969 that are still holding together. Are they read much? No. So I guess it's worth it.)
What I really think: It's not that I don't like graphic novels-- they just irritate me. They smell, they are expensive, they are constantly falling apart. Add those things to the fact that children tend to check them out and return them two periods later... I just doubt that my particular students actually read the words. Still, I'll buy this one, since it is vastly better than many titles. 

Eulberg, Elizabeth. The Great Shelby Holmes
28260589September 6th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

When Watson's mother, a doctor, gets out of the military and divorces his father, she takes a position in New York City. THe two move into a brownstone, where he meets Shelby, a girl his age who has unusual powers of deduction. Her family indulges her desire to solve neighborhood mysteries, and soon Watson is dragged into one with her. Neighborhood dogs are going missing before a big dog show, but Shelby has the skills to get them back. 
Strengths: I very much enjoyed the NYC setting of this book, and Watson was a fabulous character. 
Weaknesses: There is nothing really fresh about this book. There are so many middle grade mysteries about stolen pets, and the reworking of Sherlock Holmes-type characters is definitely getting old.
What I really think: My students are craving more murder mysteries than kidnapped pet ones, so I may skip this one.  

31119953Have to say that the US cover is FAR better than the UK one!

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