Wednesday, June 21, 2017

#WNDB Wednesday- Superstar

22670994Davis, Mandy. Superstar
June 20th 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Lester's father was an astronaut who was killed during a mission, so he has been raised and home schooled by his mother. When his mother gets a job at the local public library, Lester is thrilled because he loves to spend time there, but she tells him that instead, he will have to go to school. Lester has a lot of trouble with this-- he gets hungry and is not allowed a snack, he can't study what he wants when he wants to, noises overwhelm him, and the other children, picking up on his odd behavior, are mean to him. There is one girl, Abby Chin, who is friendly to him and tries to help him navigate the difficult waters of fifth grade. Abby had won the science fair the year before, and Lester is very excited about the fair, especially when his mother finally gives him permission to do a flight themed project instead of one on plants. When a new girl arrives and Abby starts to hang out with her, Lester's behavior becomes more erratic. Luckily, the school tests him and finally delivers a diagnosis so that Lester can get the help and support that he needs.
Strengths: This had a very authentic voice, and Lester's behaviors are ones that I see all of the time at school from our children in the autism spectrum unit. The story moved along nicely, and the characters were all realistic and engaging. I particularly liked how the classroom teacher wasn't thrilled to have Lester, but made sure that he got the attention he needed. Actually, the reactions of the staff were all spot on. They were surprised at first, but once they realized what was going on with Lester, started the process of getting him help.
Weaknesses: It seemed unlikely that Lester's mother would not have figured out that he was on the autism spectrum before he started school. Fifteen years ago, I could see this being the case, but today children are usually diagnosed at much younger ages.
What I really think: This will be good to use with Baskin's Anything but Typical and other titles with characters who are on the autism spectrum.

32319718Bishop, Jenn. 14 Hollow Road
June 13th 2017 by Alfred A. Knopf
Public library copy

Maddie wants the sixth grade formal to be the beginning of the new-and-improved Maddie, but instead her crush, Avery, asks another girl to dance. Even worse, after the lights go out in the gym, the students find out that a tornado has hit their Massachusetts community. Both Maddie and Avery's houses are uninhabitable, and Maddie's dog, Hank, is missing. Luckily, very kind neighbors let Maddie's family stay with them, but Avery's family is there, too. It's awkward to be living so close to her crush, but Maddie gets to know Avery a little better. Even though her family is working hard to restore their former life, there's still middle school drama to be had. Maddie does realize she is lucky, especially when Avery's family may have to move to another town because their insurance didn't cover tornadoes. The summer before seventh grade ends up being transformative for Maddie, but not in the way that she would have imagined!
Strengths: This had a great middle grade voice and will be perfect for my young readers who want friend drama, family drama, and a little bit of romance. This is the kind of trauma my readers want-- something bad but not too bad. Something they could imagine happening to them so that they can be glad it DIDN'T happen to them. Tornadoes do wipe places out-- here in Ohio, we have the memory of Xenia in 1974, the May 1985 tornado that struck from Newton Falls, Ohio to Sharon, PA, and several towns in Iowa. This was quick, well paced, just loved it.
Weaknesses: A little too much friend drama for me; not enough for my 6th graders, probably!
What I really think: This was so much more appealing than The Distance To Home. I hope Bishop continues to write slightly more upbeat books like this one! Maybe if there is an author event in Cincinnati, I can visit with her! Ooh. And Andrew Speno. Have to keep my eyes open!

  Ms. Yingling

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