Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Lost Boys

31145003Rosenblatt, Darcey. Lost Boys
August 22nd 2017 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Iran in 1982 was a difficult place to be. Reza loves Stevie Wonder music, but it is forbidden, and his mother is spouting her adherence to whatever the Ayatollah has decreed even though it cost Reza his father. Luckily, his uncle Habib understands, but he is active in the resistance and doesn't last long. Reza's best friend Ebi believes in supporting the cause, and Reza finally gives in to joining the army. Many of the boys (who are about 12) believe that if they dies in support of the cause it will be an honorable death and they will go to heaven and be given virgins (which is a deeply disturbing thought if ever there was one-- this article was helpful in illuminating the myth behind it), but Reza quickly finds that the boys are all expendable. After being gravely injured, he is separated from Ebi but ends up in a decent prison camp where the boys are taught by Irish Aid worker, Miles. Miles is very supportive, and even lets Reza play his guitar. Eventually, Miles is asked to leave the country, and Reza realizes that he and the other boys are never going to get to go home. Even though Ebi shows up at the camp, Reza has to make some bold decisions about his future.
Strengths: I thought this offered a good depiction of how even members of the same family can react differently to a sociopolitical environment. Reza feels his mother (whose father was a holy man) loves her god more than she loves him. Ebi's family is more progressive, and angry at his more conservative views. Reza just cannot think that his love of music is sinful, and while he loves his country, he doesn't like the divisions. This seemed very well researched, and offers a glimpse into a very interesting but treacherous time. Modern readers will draw many parallels between Iran in 1982 and current political situations.
Weaknesses: This is not an #ownvoices book. This does not bother me, since I think writers should be able to research and write sympathetic books about other people, but some people will be bothered by this.
What I really think: This is an essential purchase for all middle school libraries. The cover is great, and all manner of readers will be drawn to Reza's story of music, adventure, and personal journey.

7234718Barnett, Mac. The Case of the Mistake Identity (Brixton Brothers #1)
October 6th 2009 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Library copy

I am REALLY late to the game on this series, but thanks to Iron Guy Carl, I now have the series for my library!

Steve Brixton loves the old series of Bailey Brothers mysteries, especially the spy handbook, and has all of their escapades practically memorized. When he has a school project on American quilts, he goes to the public library to check out a book to help with his research, gets mistaken for a detective, and is plunged into a world of mystery and intrigue in order to find the McGuffin quilt. Sadly, the tips from the Bailey brothers don't always help, and Steve, along with his friend Dana, finds the investigating to be hard going. Adults don't believe him, he's wanted by the government, and he's not getting any sleep. Even when he triumphantly solves the mystery, he's stuck with a two million dollar fine for damaging the library book on quilts. Fortunately, he can work this off by continuing his investigations.
Strengths: Despite the lackluster review (second week of school; oddly quiet, but worried about getting research classes lined up, and rather tired!), this was quite fun. It's a great length (178 pages), has some illustrations by Adam Rex, and neatly turns classic child detective mysteries on their ears. Betsy Bird has a fantastic review of it on Goodreads. The librarians are great spies, and all of the odd plot devices are convincingly done, if a bit far fetched. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
Weaknesses: Not wild about the covers, so these will take some hand selling.
What I really think: Don't know how I missed these, but glad to have them now!
Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for mentioning me, Ms. Yingling! You'll really enjoy them. PS--the other three aren't as over-the-top as the first one but all of them are good, good, good.