Monday, May 28, 2018

MMGM- Postcards from Venice

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Always in the Middle and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

36373439Romito, Dee. Postcards from Venice
May 29th 2018 by Aladdin
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Skyler has always wanted to go to Venice, and she gets her wish when her workaholic mother gets assigned to spend the summer in the Venice office of the food company for which she works... and may get to stay on for the whole year! Since her dad is staying behind in New York, Skyler  needs something to do, so her mother arranges for an internship. At first, Skyler almost ends up in accounting, but when she meets cute Austalian boy Logan, he suggests she work on the social media internship with him. Skyler must critically assess her experiences in her new city, take pictures, and write pieces for the company blog. This is not really Skyler's forte, but she does her best, even when fellow intern Zara (whose parents travel a lot, so Zara speaks multiple languages and is more world savvy... and weary!) sabotages her efforts and routinely gets her in trouble. While it's fun to hang out with Marissa, who is overseeing the interns, and with Logan, who is a lot of fun, Skyler wishes her mother didn't have to work such long hours. There are all sorts of adventures to be hand in Venice, and Skyler makes the best of them, although she also spends a lot of time working on her writing. Marissa makes a lot of good suggestions, and Skyler improves a lot, but in the end, the work is very stressful. If she and her mother end up staying for the year, will Skyler even want to continue on with the company?
Strengths: I have read a LOT of travel books, and the best thing about this was that Skyler really WANTS to be in Venice. All too many books concentrate on home homesick the character is or how much they don't like being in some fabulous, far away place, so that was really refreshing! She had a good background knowledge and enthusiasm for being where she was. It was also nice that her mother was around but busy... I think this happens much more in the real world than dead parents do. I was also very pleased that Skyler was writing even though it wasn't easy for her, and she tried really hard. The drama with Zara and slight romance/friendship with Logan were both great.
Weaknesses: I'm a great believer in handing all books to all children, but let's look at this realistically-- if Logan and Skyler were shown on the cover with notebooks and cameras in hand, walking around Venice, this would be a whole lot easier to hand to boys. It's one thing to be idealistic and tweet about how books don't have gender, but that is not going to change the way that actual boys and girls look at actual books.
What I really think: Love, love, love this story and will definitely purchase, but it will circulate predominately to girls, no matter how hard I try. Interestingly, few of the books about traveling have boys as the main characters. Hmmm.

Killion, Ann. Champions of Women's Soccer
May 1st 2018 by Philomel Books
Copy provided by publisher

Killion, Ann. Champions of Men's Soccer
May 1st 2018 by Philomel Books
Copy provided by publisher

36025289When it comes to biographies, my rule of thumb (instituted after weeding a 1986 biography of Michael Jackson shortly before his death) is that the subject needs to have passed away or be past his or her floruit. While the subjects in these corporate biographies are living, some are no longer playing soccer, so they seem like a good investment.

Both of these books give a good overview of the history of modern soccer, and cover the players who were most popular. Starting with Mia Hamm (born 1972) for the women and Pele (born 1940) for the men, these books cover soccer luminaries, many of whom even I have heard! I thought these went in chronological order of the careers, but they do so only roughly, Most of the biographies give a date of birth, but not all, and talk a little about the subjects introduction to soccer, a brief description of family life, career progression and highlights, and information about what else the person has done.

At the end of the books, there are a few interesting compilations, such as the Top Ten Events , Top Ten Biggest Upsets, and brief bios of rising stars. There are also black and white pictures of a few notable moments, and a well done index.

The thing that I liked most about these books was the format. The book is the size of an average middle grade novel, the covers are bright and full of action, and the print is a comfortable reading size. This is huge, especially for readers who would rather be out playing soccer rather than reading about it! The short entries make this easy to browse or skim, but also lend themselves to rereading about favorite players.

All in all, well done volumes that will see a lot of circulation for a longer than usual time period, given the emphasis on the history and development of the game. An essential purchase for middle school libraries with a student population interested in soccer.


  1. Thanks for sharing the champions of soccer book. I will have to add The Champions of Woman's Soccer to my blog, Sporty Girl Books.

  2. The Postcards from Venice book looks good, but I have to agree about the cover. I'm always intrigued by the decisions that go into such things. There are ways to thread the needle, and I do think boys will read books with girl MCs, but the cover sets a tone. The book I reviewed today, Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue, has a girl as the main protagonist, but the cover focuses on the ships and the adventure feel, and would be much easier for a boy to pick up, even though there is a picture of a girl on the cover. I think your suggestion of having both Logan and Skyler on the cover would make it more generally palatable to boys. Oh well.

  3. Love your description of Postcards from Venice - loved hearing that the main character is so adventurous!

  4. The cover really does set the tone with children. At that age, kids are looking for characters they will connect with. So it takes more work to get interest. I'm going to have to take a look at the Champions of Soccer books. Thanks for sharing!