Thursday, June 21, 2018

Everything I Know About You

27242453Dee, Barbara. Everything I Know About You
June 19th 2018 by Aladdin
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Tally isn't particularly thrilled about the class trip to Washington, D.C., but the thought of being with best friends Sonnet and Spider makes it somewhat better. When head teacher chaperone Ms. Jordan makes her room with the popular Ava, and even worse, puts Spider with Marco, who had bullied him the previous year, Tally is not pleased. When the group finally gets to the patriotic themed hotel, Sonnet ends up with Haley, and Tally gets along better than she expected with Ava. She does notice, however, that Ava eats very little, and spends all of the free time in the hotel working out in the gym. Ava's mother, Mrs. Seeley, is along as one of the chaperones, and Tally witnesses some of the mother-daughter interactions that indicate that Ava's home life is not all that pleasant. Sonnet seems to be enjoying herself with Haley, and Spider and Marco are getting along extremely well, to the point where Spider accuses Tally of always having to protect him. Feeling left out, Tally makes the poor choice to dye her hair with products purchased at the hotel gift shop, and the result is less than attractive. Tally makes many interesting choices about personal adornment to show that she doesn't care what others think, but this makes her self conscious. Ava and her mother end up being very supportive, but Ava does not react well to Tally's concern about her eating habits. There's lots of drama, lots of sights to see, and a lot to be learned about how people who normally don't interact can get to know and care about each other when normal circumstances change.
Strengths: Always glad to see a book about a trip to D.C. instead of another class election, and this does a good job of including details about the sites AND the attendant drama that frequently occurs. Eating disorder books are always interesting to students, and seeing Ava through Tally's eyes is a good change from the first person narratives I've seen in the past. Also good is the portrayal of Tally's friendships, and how they change when the students are away from their normal routines. All in all, an engaging and timely book that should be included in all middle school collections. Dee has an excellent eye for timely problems that lack adequate literary representation, which is a skill every bit as important as her ability to tell a good story.
Weaknesses: There were some details of the trip that were very unlike the D.C. trip at our school-- a chaperone would never be able to go off alone with just two students, there is a LOT more free time than we give kids (seriously, the bus rolls out at 7 a.m. and we get back at 11 p.m., which leaves no time for movie watching or random hair dying!), and Ava is not old enough to use the exercise facilities in most hotels. Those are small quibbles, but I might say something to the readers in my school who pick up the book before going on our D.C. trip. Tally was not a likable character to me, but she wasn't so horrible that it interfered with my enjoyment of the story.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing to have on hand with Carlson's Faded Denim, Barson's 45 Pounds More or Less, Lytton's Jane in Bloom, Anderson's Wintergirls, Padian's Jersey Tomatoes are the Best, Porter's Dance of Sisters, Maschari's Things That Surprise You, Knowle's Still a Work in Progress, and the ur-anorexia novel, Levenkron's The Best Little Girl in the World.

Weyn, Suzanne. Snapstreak
February 6th 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Public library copy

Vee is going to have to move to a town about ten miles away from where she is currently living with her father, and she'll have to leave her friends Megan and Lulu and finish 8th grade in another school. In order to ease her transition, she makes contact with a popular girl at her new school, Gwynneth, and starts a Snapstreak with her. A local news channel starts a contest at the same time-- two students from different schools with the longest Snapstreak will win concert tickets to a popular boy band. Despite getting her phone taken away and other difficulties, Vee keeps up the streak until she gets a concussion while playing lacrosse and can't use technology. Lulu and Megan step in to complete it, but have agendas of their own. Gwynneth isn't exactly who she says she is, and Vee hasn't been completely honest as well, but things work out.
Strengths: I really want to buy this for the librarian who will replace me in twenty years so that there is something historical from the 2010s in the collection. Technology changes so quickly (Anyone for Pfeffer's Rewind to Yesterday? I have a copy!), and in five years' time no one will know what Snapchat is.
Weaknesses:  The cartoon cover makes this look much younger-- in the book, the girls are in 8th grade, and the Snapchat pictures (actual photographs) make them look much younger. Bit of a cognitive disconnect, there.
What I really think: I'm debating purchase. May wait until end of year to see what the budget looks like.
Ms. Yingling

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