Saturday, May 06, 2017


Once again, I find myself saying "Must read ALL of the realistic middle grade fiction printed every year" but wishing that I didn't feel this compulsion. I have two reasons for doing this-- if I think there is the most remote chance that a book will be nominated for the Cybils awards, I'll read it. Also, I read everything before I purchase it for my school library. How else would I know if it were good?

So in one weekend, I read a pile of books that included a dead mother, a dead father, dead brothers (2) and, my favorite, two girls from different time periods, one with parents who die in a tragic fire, and the other with a dead father and a mother too depressed to take care of her.

Really? REALLY?? Luckily, Chris Grabenstein has Beach Party Surf Monkey coming out, so I didn't become COMPLETELY depressed. ARGH! Also, these covers are not particularly good.

Stevenson, Nanci Turner. Georgia Rules
May 2nd 2017 by HarperCollins
ARC from publisher at ALA

Magnolia lives in Georgia with her mother and step father Peter until Peter realizes he is gay and wants to live with a man. Magnolia's father lived in Maine struggling with PTSD until his untimely death in a car accident, and left Maggie his farm. Her mother decides to go live there for a year, and then sell the place. Maggie isn't thrilled with leaving all of her friends, but comes to enjoy the farm and the community, especially a neighboring family headed by Sue and Kori, who run the local store and have a large, diverse family. Unfortunately, one of the daughters is gravely injured falling off a pony, but the community supports them, and Maggie's mother reluctantly agrees to stay in the nurturing community.
Strengths: Maggie's emotions concerning moving are very realistic, and Sue and Kori's family is a lot of fun before the accident.
Weaknesses: This could have been a really interesting family adventure novel if there hadn't been so much sad. Perfectly well written.
What I really think: I didn't buy this author's Swing Sideways, and I won't be buying this one, either.

31931967Gale, Emily. The Other Side of Summer
May 30th 2017 by HarperCollins
ARC from publisher at ALA

Summer's brother Floyd is killed in a bombing in London, so her father decides to move the family (including sister Wren) to Australia. When the family is ready to fly out, the girls find out that their mother is staying in Cornwall with their grandmother. Once they get settled in Australia, Summer meets an odd boy named Gabe who appears to her in dreams. Is Gabe real? What is his connection to Floyd? Will figuring out what happened to him help Summer deal with her grief? And will her mother ever pull herself together?
Strengths: I liked the Australian setting.
Weaknesses: Sad and a bit confusing. I don't want to give away too much, but the entire plot with Gabe seemed... unlikely.
What I really think: No. Just no.

32470614Magnin, Joyce. Jelly Bean Summer
May 2nd 2017 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ARC from publisher at ALA


Joyce's brother is MIA during the Vietnam war, and her family is taking it hard. Her older sister Elaine is annoying, and in order to escape her as well as her guinea pig, Jelly Bean, Joyce moves to the roof of their building. She sees Brian on another roof, and when the two meet, she finds out that his brother was killed in Vietnam, and Brian is trying to restore his brother's truck to take to his aunt's, where his father is sending him to live because caring for Brian is too difficult, since his mother is dead. The two try to earn money to fix the truck, and have a variety of schemes going, and the book is fairly upbeat and amusing until Joyce doesn't latch a gate and Jelly Bean is killed in a gruesome fashion by a neighborhood dog. At least Joyce's brother makes it home. There was one historical anomaly as well.
Strengths: This was a good story about one girl navigating her way through life during the Vietnam era, and readers would understand her difficulties with her family. The parents were sad, but managed to get through their days, as did the girls.
Weaknesses: The death of the guinea pig just pushed this right over the edge for me.
What I really think:  I would have bought this if it hadn't been for the guinea pig incident.

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. Jelly Bean Summer looks really good! Have you read Ashes to Asheville? I finished it today and liked it a lot.