Sunday, April 29, 2018

Positively Izzy

35887167Libenson, Terri. Positively Izzy
May 1st 2018 by Balzer + Bray
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Izzy prefers drawing to doing her school work. Her single mother works long hours at the hospital, so Izzy and her sisters Dani and Ash have to pick up a lot of slack at home. Izzy is excited about doing the play at school, but when she blows a test because she doesn't do the review notes, her mother tells her she can't be in it. Bri, on the other hand, really likes school and studies hard. Her mother is the drama teacher, and keeps trying to get Bri to do the play. When another student gets sick, Bri ends up practicing with Dev for the play, although she is freaked out about the idea. Izzy's sister Ash comes up with a plan for her sister to sneak out of the house on the night of the play. There's some friend drama, some more drama with the play, and some much needed family understanding that comes after all of the drama.
Strengths: My students really like Invisible Emmy, so I know this one will be popular. The text-to-picture ratio is good for middle school, the content a bit more appropriate and informative for 6th graders than Babymouse, and the "I Was So Embarassed" factor tremendously appealing to readers. I've had a lot of 6th graders this year who will ONLY read books with pictures... but since they often bring the book back after 20 minutes, I doubt they are actually reading. Books of this length take them a couple days, so I feel a little more confident that they are looking beyond the pictures.
Weaknesses: If students are actually reading graphic novels and notebook novels, that's great. I know that I personally struggle with decoding pictures, which is one reason I'm apparently the only school librarian in the universe who is not a fan of picture books. Pictures just clutter up the page and make it harder for me to read! I find it hard to keep the characters straight in these books for some reason, and really rely on the text more than the pictures. If students struggle with text, the pictures can be helpful. It's often hard to tell which students need what kind of book, so I try not to assume that all emerging readers (Jacqueline Woodson says we shouldn't label them "struggling") benefit from these books.
What I really think: Personally, I don't like this kind of book. See above. They aren't very interesting to me because they lack narrative details that I want. But I buy them because I know my readers do like them. I'm just never going to be one of the librarians who are all "Rah! Rah! Graphic novels!" Besides, students have to have something to rebel against, right?

Also, while I do have "struggling readers" and talk about them in my blog, I never use that term in front of any of the actual students. I do have a "quick pick" shelf for readers who want the feeling of accomplishment one gets from finishing a book, but they want that feeling after one day. I pitch these books to all manner of students, but the ones who are truly struggling know that the "quick picks" section is where they will find books that are comfortable for them to read.

32333296Vivian, Siobhan. Stay Sweet
April 24th 2018 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Public library copy

Amelia is thrilled that she is Head Girl at the Meade Creamery ice cream stand, after working there for several years. The founder, Molly Meade, only hired girls, and started the stand during WWII when her fiance was off fighting. It's a local tradition, but when Amelia finds that Molly has passed away in the stand, she fears for the summer. It turns out that Molly has a great nephew whose wealthy parents are letting him run the business for the summer. Grady's cute, but doesn't understand what the business means to Amelia. The two work together to find the recipe for the ice cream and keep things running, but the business isn't making the profit that Grady's parents want to see. Through letters of Molly's, as well as a visit from her best friend, Tiggy, Amelia finds out some secrets about Molly, has a nice summer romance with Grady, falls out with her best friend Cate, and finds a new direction for her life.
Strengths: Fun summer story with a girl with a mission. Big fan of the pink polos, personally. Molly was an intriguing character, even though she was gone, and the story twist for her is one I can only imagine was all too common during WWII, but was fun to see portrayed. The friend drama with Cate was good, and there were waffle cones!
Weaknesses: There is one unnecessary f-bomb buried deep in the book, and the letters in cursive didn't hold my interest-- I can't imagine what readers who can't read cursive will think of them. I also wasn't a big fan of Grady, although he treated Amelia well.
What I really think: May purchase. Loved the whole girl power, woman run business aspect of this, as well as the historical twists. It will hold up for a long time, and my readers who can make it through 350+ pages of tiny print can handle the f-bomb.

1 comment:

  1. While I do like picture books, I agree with you about having a hard time decoding pictures in narrative stories, and finding that they clutter up the story. I personally have a hard time reading graphic novels, though I sometimes do it because my daughter asks me to. She LOVES them, though. She generally reads once or more slowly, and then once she knows the story she will re-read by skimming the pictures. Whatever works, I say. I am going to get her the Izzy book for the summer...