Thursday, May 10, 2018

Maggie & Abby's Neverending Pillow Fort, Cody and the Heart of a Champion

35604275Taylor, Will. Maggie & Abby's Neverending Pillow Fort
April 3rd 2018 by HarperCollins
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Maggie has had a long and lonely summer before sixth grade with her best friend and neighbor, Abby, away at camp. Her mother, a children's oncologist, is constantly at work, so Maggie has taken over the living room with a huge pillow fort, mainly because it irritates her mom. When Abby comes home, she is taller and enthralled with camp, but grudgingly agrees to play in the fort and even build her own. To Maggie's surprise, she is able to travel right into Abby's fort by magic. The girls aren't quite sure how it all works, but are soon brought up to speed by the North American Founding and Allied Forts Alliance, a network of pillow forts all over continent. Soon, they even connect with Maggie's uncle who is studying whales in a remote Alaskan location, and go to visit him frequently. Unfortunately, NAFAFA isn't pleased with the new network of forts that Maggie has put together, and demand that she do a good deed or suffer the destruction of her fort. Abby wants to buckle under and do what they say, but Maggie isn't convinced. When a chance visit with her uncle finds that he has been gravely injured, Maggie feels compelled to bring Abby's brothers as well as her mother into the secret in order to save him. 
Strengths: The world building in this was innovative and really phenomenal. Who hasn't built a pillow fort ans secretly hoped to travel through it? NAFAFA had its own rules and intrigue, as well as storied history and political machinations. The middle grade friend drama was also true to life. Maggie's overworked but well meaning mother was interesting, as was Abby's supportive father who was starting to date another man, and her twin brothers. The long distance travel to Alaska added a nice element of adventure and suspense.
Weaknesses: NAFAFA got a tiny bit silly, with the silver sunglasses and the one megalomaniac member.
What I really think: I'm just not sure how this would do with my students. May talk to some of the sixth graders about it. A definite purchase for elementary schools where magical realism is popular.

Springstubb, Tricia. Cody and the Heart of a Champion(#4)
April 10th 2018 by Candlewick Press
E ARC from

Spring is on its way, and Cody is all set to make the season exciting. Warmer days mean her favorite spring jacket, even if it is too small, and flip flops, even though her mother tries to take them away! Her friend Pearl is playing soccer, and wants Cody to play as well. Cody's not thrilled with the idea, although she does want to be close to her friend, especially when she sees Pearl being friends with the other girls. Spencer's mother is expecting, and the family is looking for their own home... but Spencer fails to tell Cody this. Wyatt, her brother, is spending more and more time with his girlfriend, and is changing some things about himself, which Cody doesn't like, even if it IS only wearing collared shirts. Change is always difficult, but Cody has a strong base of support. An awesome new reversible spring jacket helps as well!
Strengths: Springstubb does a fantastic job of identifying things that are difficult for elementary school students, but which adults may have forgotten. Yes, we know that friends moving away if difficult, but it's easy to forget the pain of having to give up that favorite piece of clothing. The accompanying illustrations are charming and make it easy to hand this to children who only want to read graphic novels.
Weaknesses: As Cody gets older, we don't see as much of her family. This is realistic, but I do so enjoy them!
What I really think: A must purchase for elementary schools, and a very successful title for struggling 6th graders at my school. Perfect for those of us who were Carolyn Haywood Betsy fans to give as gifts to young readers.

1 comment:

  1. I was curious about Maggie & Abby's Neverending Pillow Fort, thank you for your thoughts.