Monday, May 22, 2017

MMGM- Restart and I Am Fartacus

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.

Mr. Korman was gracious enough to do this interview for School Library Journal with me. Can cross that off my bucket list now!

32819894Korman, Gordon. Restart
May 30th 2017 by Scholastic Press
Copy provided by publisher at ALA

Chase has fallen off the roof of his house and can't remember anything. Not his mother, not his best friends, and not his school. The concussion he has sustained keeps him out of playing football, which makes his father (a former jock himself) unhappy. Chase doesn't mind. His friends Bear and Ambrose aren't the nicest guys-- the three have done something Chase does not remember that has led them to be sentenced to do community service at a retirement facility. The "new" Chase doesn't mind, and enjoys talking to the residents, especially Mr. Solway, a decorated Korean war veteran. Chase is also enjoying working on the school video year book with Brendan. He notices that most of the people he runs into, including his young step sister, Helene, seem afraid of him, but he doesn't remember why. He slowly learns the truth, but realizes that he never wants to go back to being the "old" Chase.
Strengths: This is a bit of a departure for Korman. If you had given it to me blind, I would have assumed it was Sonnenblick. It's very beautifully done, and even though I normally am not a fan of books with bullying, this really worked. Even the video year book and the video competition seemed plausible. That's what it is. Korman excels at putting characters in unlikely situations, and aside from the amnesia itself, this book is completely plausible. Really great story. This would make a fantastic class novel or literature circle book. I'm not generally a fan of everyone reading the same book, but this would lead to lots of good discussions.
Weaknesses: This took me a while to get into, which is unusual. I think it was the disjointed feeling that Chase was experiencing-- I felt disjointed, too!
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. I'm also really excited that many of Korman's backlist titles are being released with new covers. Need to refresh your copy of Born to Rock? Now's the time!

25528831Maciejewski, Mark. I Am Fartacus
April 18th 2017 by Aladdin
ARC provided by publisher, along with really cool socks!

Maciek Trzebiatowski (that's Maw-check Chub-a-tess-key for those of you who didn't grow up near Youngstown, Ohio!) has some issues. His family runs a dry cleaning business and think it builds character for him to sort clothes from funeral homes. He lost his hair in a freak accident. His once friend, Archer, has become much cooler than Chub and now gives him a hard time. Luckily, Chub has a good friend, Moby, who has access to better video games and a very cool grandfather. He also has an ally in Shelby, even though he doesn't like her all that much. The three associates decide to make sure that Archer does not become class president, so they do their best to take down his campaign. "The Arch" is more evil than one would expect a clean-cut jock to be, and despite their best efforts, Archer wins the election and starts to use his power for evil. Chub is good at getting the dirt on everyone, including the principal. Will it be enough to keep Alanmoore safe for democracy?
Strengths: There is a subgenre of comic crime that involves a lot of middle school custodians and principals. Think The Great Greene Heist, The Fourth Stall, and I Am A Genius of Unspeakable Evil. I don't quite get these, but my readers love them. What impressed me were the laugh-out-loud funny lines and the general understanding of what the middle school mind finds amusing. I have to see how many times I can work the sentence "I would rather fill my pants with ferrets than spend the summer picking potatoes in Poland." That, my friends, is great writing!
Weaknesses: I was willing to suspend disbelief for many things, but when the plot devolved into gambling and impersonation, I had a hard time believing the book.
What I really think: I love the MAX imprint and can't wait to read more of these! This isn't a perfect book, but I will expect great things from Mr. Maciejewski! (That's "Maw-chee-es-key".)

This was originally entitled Chub and the Cadre of Evil, which I think is a MUCH better title, even if your average 12-year-old doesn't know how to pronounce "cadre".
  Ms. Yingling


  1. Gordon Korman has always been a favorite of mine. Glad to see this new one and that he continues to churn out interesting situations with equally interesting characters.

  2. Enjoyed both reviews. "Restart" sounds like an intriguing read. The writing sounds strong in "I Am Fartacus."

  3. Hmm. Ironically this gives me pause since Sonnenblick isn't very popular at my library. Kids really loved Slacker last year though. What I really want is reprints of the MacDonald Hall books and my all-time favorite, I want to go home.

    1. How can that be? He's HUGELY popular in my library, with just about all my readers. The first chapter in Notes from the Midnight Driver is about the funniest thing I've ever read! Zen and the Art of Faking It, with its basketball tie-in, does really well, too!

    2. I don't know! I...had to weed Drums Girls and Dangerous Pie b/c it hadn't circ'd in over five years! I think I just have very few to no boys who read realistic fiction, however funny. Or they pick it up at school maybe?

  4. I've enjoyed other Gordon Korman books, so thanks for the review of this new book, Karen. I'm not sure the other book is one I would enjoy, but I'll save it for when my granddaughters get a little older. Thanks!