Sunday, September 09, 2018

Judy Moody and Zach King

McDonald, Megan. Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party (#14)
September 11th 2018 by Candlewick Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

When Judy is assigned to do a family tree for a school project, her grandmother tells her that she has English blood, so Judy is sure she is related to the queen herself. In typical Judy fashion, she decides to have a royal tea party to share this fact, and can't wait to present all of her information to her class. Of course, Jessica "Fink" Finch has a similar English connection, but she's done her homework a bit more thoroughly, so not only does Judy's presentation look suspect, but it looks like the two girls might be distantly related. When no one shows up for her tea party, Judy has to reconsider her royal past and think about what her friends might like to do.
Strengths: I was a fan of the first book, Judy Moody was in a Mood, and think that Judy is a more likable character than Junie B. Jones for early elementary school. My own daughters would have loved these. This is a must purchase for libraries where these are popular.
Weaknesses: This is some pretty intense British fandom, although there is a nice glossary of terms. Might be a bit challenging for those who don't have background information. Also, it seems odd that teachers would still be assigning family trees. Most students are lucky to know their grandparents these days, so it's a risky proposition to assign something like this to a whole class.
What I really think: I did have some students reading these, but they are very young for middle school, so I will pass on this one and stick to just books one through five.

King, Zach. Zach King: The Magical Mix-Up (#2)
Published May 1st 2018 by HarperCollins
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Now that Zach has lost his magical powers (he could travel from place to place through magical ball caps), he is trying to figure out how to proceed through life in middle school. He has a big crush on Rachel, and wants to take her to the school dance, but he is beat to the punch by exotic exchange student Hogan, who does at least share some of Rachel's sports interests. When Zach tries to make his move at the dance to improve his position, things go badly wrong and he and friend Aaron get kicked out. Realizing that he has the residual power to use the magical objects of other members in his family, he borrows a device to copy his father's watch, which turns back time, and returns to the dance multiple times to try to reverse the damage. Instead, he makes things worse. Can he mange to correct his path before the watch disappears? And is the fact that he still has some magic a hopeful sign?

While this is not technically a notebook novel, it does have the very heavy, glossy paper of a graphic novel, and has pages interspersed throughout with full color illustrations and the occasional comic strip sequence. The text is a good size, and the pages have a lot of white space. This might be why my reluctant readers were so keen for me to get the next book in the series!

I appreciated that the story did have a brief plot, and was solidly middle grade. There are not enough funny books for middle school age boys that also have a light, age appropriate romance. I love that Rachel is interested in all manner of sports and is a very adventurous character, and Zach's attempts at impressing her are definitely true to life. Hogan is not a very nice character, and has some evil plans up his sleeve, but he's not irredeemable. I would love to see Aaron more fully fleshed out as a sidekick, but he serves his purpose well, along with his media loving cat. Zach's family, although they don't appear often, are delightful as well.

I've never head of Mr. King and his YouTube videos, but apparently the target demographic has. Zach doesn't do a lot of magic in this book, aside from turning back time, but I imagine he will get his powers back in subsequent volumes, which will be fun to read!

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