Saturday, August 26, 2017

Blended Families

Selfors, Suzanne. Wedgie and Gizmo
August 22nd 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books
ARC from the author and reviewed at Young Adult Books Central

Wedgie is a corgi who belongs to Jasmine, Jackson and their mother, who has just married Elliot's dad. Since Elliot is the faithful servant of Gizmo, a guinea pig with delusions of grandeur, not only do the families need to learn to live together, the pets do, too. Everything is cool with Wedgie-- he thinks the "furry potato" smells good and is interesting. Gizmo is less than thrilled with matters. He home was destroyed in the move, and he is temporarily housed in a Barbie Dream House, which is NOT properly equipped for his plans for world domination. Also, Jasmine likes to put him in sparkly tutus. After a week in her room, even his poop has sparkles in it! Both animals get into a variety of scrapes. Gizmo eats too much cereal and has to go to the vet. He also tries to lure Wedgie into the Pool of a Thousand Pees to neutralize him, and attempts to mail Jasmine's abuela, who is from Peru, back home because he is afraid she will want to EAT him. Wedgie tries to endear himself to Elliot as well as the elderly dog next door. When Gizmo decides to run away because of his alleged poor treatment, the family worries about him. Is Wedgie really a super hero who can save the day?

This is a great family oriented story for younger middle grade readers who like books with some illustrations in them. Rissi's Anna, Banana, Tan's Cilla Lee-Jenkins and Sheth's The No-Dogs-Allowed Rule all have similar family issues but supportive families. Elliot is sad that his friends are not nearby, especially when his birthday appproaches, but the younger Jasmine and Jackson are pleased with the new people and places in their lives.

The stars, of course, are the effervescent Wedgie who loves his super hero cape and always tries to save the day, and the plotting evil genius Gizmo. Gizmo embraces my own philosophy-- every day needs an Evil Plan. The illustrations be Barbara Fisinger capture Wedgie's ebullience as well as Gizmo's disdain for it, and add a lot to the charm of the book.

Having had both a dog who would be thrilled if I had a Biju Ting Ting Scalp Massager to use on her butt and a dwarf hamster who managed to break out of his HabitTrail and narrowly escape a harrowing death, I know that the characters of both animals are very realistic. For the best reading experience, grab a bag of cheese puffs and your favorite fuzzy creature and crawl into your nest to read the amusing adventures of a super pet combo.

Hutton, Clare. Emma Moves In (Like Sisters #1)

August 29th 2017 by Scholastic Paperbacks
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Emma and her parents live in Seattle and only get back east to visit her mother's family twice a year. A week at Christmas and a week in the summer is not enough time for Emma to spend with her twin cousins and best friends, Zoe and Natalia, so when her grandmother falls and breaks a hip at her majestic old house, Emma is thrilled to learn that her family will be relocating there to start a bed and breakfast business at the house. It's still not easy to leave everything in Seattle, and sleeping on her cousins' bedroom floor while the house is being renovated isn't fun. Starting middle school in a new town is a bit daunting, especially since all of her clothes are packed away, but with the help of her cousins, she manages to make a decent start. She is surprised that her cousins don't hang out together at school, and even more surprised when one of their friends is really mean to her. Emma is also worried about her grandmother, who is slowly recovering but worried about the house being renovated. When Emma's father doesn't move from Seattle for a long time, she worries that it isn't because a replacement for him can't be found. Emma has always wanted to live near her family, but things aren't exactly working out the way she imagined.
Strengths: I loved the strong family environment, especially the TWO grandmothers living with the family. Zoe and Natalia's abuelita was a nurse, and has been caring for the other grandmother, who was a teacher, but is being really overprotective. I also thought it was realistic that the cousins were harder to get along with for more than a week. There's a little bit of diversity. Mostly, just a very fun story abut family!
Weaknesses: Paperback only. Like Scholastic's Candy Apple books, this might be worth investigating in a prebind. A great choice for students at book fairs, certainly!
What I really think: This would have been exactly the book I would have loved in 6th grade! I feel a little conflicted about the whole American Girl experience, but this book doesn't have dolls associated with it. The connection is mainly a marketing ploy, I imagine!

Ms. Yingling

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