Thursday, July 06, 2017

Super Girls

31374648McMullen, Beth. Mrs. Smith's Spy School For Girls
Expected publication: July 4th 2017
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Abigail has lead an odd and nomadic life with her mother, Jennifer. She thinks they have always gotten along, but her mother suddenly decides to send her off to boarding school because she needs more structure in her life. Abigail proves her mother correct when she uses sheets to escape from her dorm room, and ends up in the headmistresses' office. This doesn't end well, and she has her room moved to the fourth floor. She also finds out that Mrs. Smith's School for Children is actually a cover for a spy training operation, and her mother was friends with Mrs. Smith. Children are, of course, frequently used in spy operations, so when Mrs. Smith thinks that they can run Jennifer to ground by using Abigail as bait, she has older, successful child spy Veronica train her for a couple of nights, and then they ship her off to San Francisco under the guise of attending a family wedding. Nothing goes right on the trip, but luckily Toby, another student, is keeping tabs on Abigail. When she returns to the school, she lets her friends Charlotte and Izumi in on her secret, and the girls, along with Toby, take off to New York City to try to find Jennifer. Secrets are revealed, and the stage is set for more adventures.
Strengths: If you can't keep Carter's Gallagher Girls series on the shelf, take a look at this one. It has all of the spy school story essentials-- a boarding school, spy gadgets, a mission that can only be completed by children. There's a tiny bit of romance, some intrigue, and lots of travel and chases.
Weaknesses: I didn't care for Abigail, and there was a lot of incompetent spying going on. Abigail wasn't really trained properly, and she has no innate spy abilities, so she went from one bad situation to another. The Gallagher Girls are fun because the are smart, well trained, and successful spies.
What I really think: I love spy stories, but this one wasn't my favorite. Debating.

32673424Yee, Lisa. Katana at Super Hero High (DC Super Hero Girls Adventure Collection #4)
July 4th 2017 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Copy provided by the publisher

Katana hasn't shown up prominently in the other three books in this series, but when she is late getting back from picking up BatGirl's cake, everyone starts to worry. Katana has entered a secret passage under the school because she heard voices calling to her, and is caught in a tidal wave of swords! Luckily, Miss Martian locates her, and her friends snap her out of her trance, and no one is injured. The swords are stowed away safely, and everyone gets back to their school day. The latest project is all about ancestry, and this is very timely for Katana. Her grandmother was a super hero samurai, which was very unusual for a woman. Unfortunately, her grandmother disappeared and is presumed dead. Katana starts to investigate her own background, and odd things continue to happen. Sand crabs appear around the school, and seem to want to communicate with her. There are mystical haiku poems that seem to indicate that Katana needs to harness the power of the swords. Most worrying, a super villain named Dragon King is on the loose and seems to be targeting Katana. With the help of her super friends, can Katana figure out the mystery of her grandmother and subdue the Dragon King?

Like the previous books in this series (involving Wonder Woman, Super Girl and Bat Girl), Katana's story works in a distractingly large number of DC characters. I'm starting to get to know a few of them (like Big Barda and Carzy Quilt), but fans of actual DC comics who are already familiar with the characters will definitely enjoy the appearances of even obscure characters. including Granny Goodness, who was the librarian at Super Hero High before she caused problems!

Yee seems to have hit her stride in this fourth volume, though. I liked how Katana's school work aligned nicely with her super hero mission and led to a better understanding of her own powers and motivations. Her mythology is more clearly delineated than the other characters, and I thought it was especially clever to have her solve a mystery involving her grandmother.

There are a growing number of books where girls have amazing powers, such as the new McMullen, Beth. Mrs. Smith's Spy School For Girls releasing at the same time as Katana. Older titles include Hale's Playing with Fire (School for S.P.I.E.S., #1), Salane's Lawless, and  Hale's Dangerous. If Wonder Woman was a big hit in your house but you're a bit tired of untying children from the Golden Lasso, by all means take a look at this series and introduce some other female super heroes into the mix.

Ms. Yingling

No comments:

Post a Comment