Sunday, August 26, 2018

Brewster Triplets #4, Ivy and Bean #11

36127472Ziegler, Jennifer. Revenge of the Teacher's Pets
June 26th 2018 by Scholastic Press

Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Darby, Dawn, and Delaney are determined that seventh grade is going to be AWESOME. However, when they get their schedules, they find that not only are they not in classes together, the only class they do have together is not color guard but cheer squad. Unfortunately, this is Delaney's fault-- she signed them up when she thought she was signing up for corn dogs. The triplets plead their case to their long suffering principal, Mr. Plunkett. He tells them that he was behind their separate schedules, and while he would gladly change them to color guard, the class is full. The girls start the school year trying to deal with their separate schedules, and also with their older sister's impending wedding, which she seems reluctant to have their help with, and with putting together their own rooms in their dad's new place. Darby struggles with the participation component of her class, although she makes a sympathetic friend in Wanda, who likes photography. The girls decide to try to embrace cheer squad by cheering for teams that don't often get this service, like cross country and chess. Not surprisingly, the girls quickly find out the reasons that cheer sticks mainly to football and basketball! In the end, the girls find that they are able to have their own interests, and even separate rooms, and still remain close as siblings and triplets.

The Brewster Triplets series is filled with fun, sometimes silly situations, but also addresses real concerns that many students have-- carving out an identity in school, finding new friends, trying different activities, and struggling with all that academic subjects ask of students. Each girl has a different style of coping with these challenges, with gives readers some ideas for how to deal with these issues when they arise in their own lives.

The divorced parents are realistically portrayed, figuring out some of the details of living apart while setting a good example of getting along with each other. In fact, the triplets have a lot of supportive adults in their lives, including older sister Lily and an aunt, but also their poor principal (who is very understand of their "crises"!), their teachers, and coaches.

Didn't we all secretly want to be part of a group of multiples when we were in middle school? I know I desperately wished to be a twin! Readers who like fun, realistic fiction with challenging but not overly sad problems can add this series to their reading list along with Devillier's and Roy's Trading Faces, Payton's It Takes Two, and the books of Margolis, Santopolo and Birdsall.

Barrows, Annie and Blackall, Sophie.
One Big Happy Family (Ivy and Bean #11)
August 28th 2018 by Chronicle Books LLC
Copy provided by the publisher

Ivy is told by classmate Vanessa that only children are spoiled, and takes it to heart. She doesn't want to be spoiled, so she takes steps so that she isn't. First, she has the great idea to give away her clothes and favorite headbands to her classmates, but her teacher, Ms. Aruba-Tate is NOT pleased with that idea and makes her take everything back. The girls try to bring Ivy's doll Zellaphine to life ala Frankenstein's monster by attaching her to eletricity, and when that doesn't work, they go to a park near their home to pray to the gods to deliver a baby brother or sister to Ivy. Their prayers are answered, although not in the way they imagined. Jean and Jean's baby, Kalia, is a good stand in for a while, and even though Ivy is covered in sticky baby goo, she doesn't feel less spoiled. She tries several other ways to prove to Vanessa that just because she is an only child, she doesn't have to be spoiled, and eventually gets her classmate to see her way.
Strengths:These books are a fun size, with a good mix of pictures and text, and bright and attractive covers. Series are great for emergent readers because they can finish the books fairly quickly and know exactly what to read next. Sibling relationships are important at any age, and there aren't many books that talk about being an only child, so this is a nice change. I would definitely purchase this for early elementary school readers.
Weaknesses: Bean is a sort of Junie B. Jones character-- not necessarily very pleasant. But then, I am an OLDER sister!
What I really think: I have some of these books for my struggling readers (we have a "quick picks" shelf that I recommend to many different students), but this particular volume would do better in elementary school. Middle school students are not too concerned about being spoiled; being popular, not fighting with friends, and potential romances are a little more the speed even for 6th graders.

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