Sunday, May 13, 2018

Rosetown and Marge in Charge

Rylant, Cynthia. Rosetown.
May 8th 2018 by Beach Lane Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Flora Smallwood lives in Rosetown, Indiana in 1972. Her mother works at a vintage bookstore, a Wing and a Chair, and her father is a newspaper reporter. Life is very slow paced and mild, although there are some sad things-- her parents are separated, her dog has recently died, and the ripples of the Vietnam war are still being felt. She has a good friend, Vanessa, and another friend, Yury, whose father is a local doctor from the Ukraine. Flora and Yury are training his new dog, and there is a cat at the bookstore. Flora takes piano lessons at Three Part Harmony, hangs out with her friends at the Peaceable Buns Bakery, and participates in Scrabble Club at Moonwalk Toys. Her fourth grade teacher, Mr. Cooper, encourages the students to read the encyclopedia (a 1962 edition), and to write. He even encourages Flora to write stories to submit to the brand new Cricket magazine. Even though things aren't perfect, the adults in Flora's life care very much about her, and make sure that she is happy and safe.
Strengths: This was a very calm, soothing book that might be just what scared fourth graders might need right now. Very classic feel, and a great choice for readers who can't handle any drama.
Weaknesses: A bit too quiet and young for my students, and there was a historical error that I may be the only person to catch-- Mr. Cooper gives Flora a Cricket magazine in April of 1973, but publication didn't begin until September of 1973. I know because I still own the magazine 45 years after my father gave it to me. What is accurate is how influential this magazine was!
What I really think: I don't think that anywhere as idyllic as Rosetown ever existed, but I certainly want to move there and be the middle school librarian! I won't buy this book for my library because it is a bit too young and slow moving for my readers, but I did enjoy it.

35396547Fisher, Isla. Marge in Charge and the Stolen Treasure
May 8th 2018 by HarperCollins
ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central

Jemima and her little brother Jakey are being bedeviled by their baby cousin, Zara. Their Aunt Sally claims that her "baby-waby" is "easy-breezy", but from the devastation that is wrought on their toys and other possessions, the children know that this is not the case. They hope that their babysitter (and former duchess!) Marge will be able to use her skills to tame the baby, but Zara proves challenging even for a seasoned veteran of child care. Marge does maintain that babies are basically pirates, and since Jakey loves anything piratical, this ruse works for a while, and Jemima even answers a pirate Code Brown (changing a dirty diaper). Since the weather is nice, Marge readies her charges for a trip to the local pool, and Zara has some trouble remembering to keep her swim diaper on. More antics ensure when Uncle Desmond is getting married to Annie Alligator (Jakey thinks her teeth look pointy) and Jemima serves as ring bearer.  Of course, the rings go missing, and Zara is suspect, since she has been so difficult for so long. Even with an incident with paint on Annie's wedding gown, the ceremony goes off without too many hitches, and the children decide that dealing with Zara is another of Marge's skills.

This beginning level, illustrated novel shows a particularly British view of child care, complete with very difficult children and a babysitter who would give Mary Poppins a bit of competition in the area of carpet bags. Marge has no magical powers, but she seems to understand what children like to do, and she is very attentive and active in her dealings with the children. It's good to see an adult interacting with children in a positive way, and not being distracted by a cell phone! Young readers will wish that their own parents would play pirates as much is Marge is willing to.

Zara seems to be particularly precocious for a child who can barely walk, but children who must suffer through a younger brother or sister who gets into their things and ruins them will understand Jemima and Jakey's pain. Hopefully, the baby in their own life will seem mild in comparison!

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Nanny Piggins, Monster Nanny and Mr. Gedrick are all fictional care providers that have many things in common with Marge-- you can almost seeing the group of them hanging out, having a bit of tea, and talking about the antics to which their charges get!

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