Sunday, October 21, 2018

Apple Pie Promises

Homzie, Hillary. Apple Pie Promises
October 2nd 2018 by Sky Pony Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Lily loves to bake, especially with her mother, to whom she has been close after her parents' divorce. When her mother suddenly gets a fellowship to study in Morocco because another participant couldn't go, Lily is very proud of her mother, but doesn't really want to have to live with her father and his "new and improved"family. Kimberly is okay, and her daughter Hannah is a year older and goes to the same school. The girls usually get along okay, but because her father's video business is finally taking off, he has his equipment in the spare room, so the girls have to share. Hannah is horribly messy, and Lily is not. Lily tries to remain positive, but when Hannah finds out about Lily's crush and threatens to tell everyone about it, Lily starts stooping to pranks. It doesn't help that Hannah is the head of the haunted house committee for the fall festival, and Lily doesn't always agree with her approached. Lily wants to bake an apple pie for the festival, but her father is too busy to take her apple picking, and it's hard for her mother to find time and band width to Skype. The family is looking for a new house, and as the pranks escalate, Lily and Hannah both become increasingly unhappy. Can the step sisters work things out?
Strengths: Interesting descriptions of life in Seattle, decent baking information, and a very good plot involving school mates who have to learn to live together as sisters. I have seen this with my students, and always marvel at how this would work. This series always has a nice romance, and lots of friend drama besides. I can't wait to put up a display of the books, since the covers all look so delicious!
Weaknesses: I wasn't a fan of the pranks, and they seemed out of character for Lily. Also, the secret to good pie is in the CRUST, and Lily spends most of her time worrying about the filling. (Pie baking is one of my skills.)
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. The Swirl novels and the Scholastic Wish novels have done very well in my school library.

Hale, Shannon. The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare (#6).
September 25th 2018 by Candlewick Press
E ARC from

Princess Magnolia is all set to share her poster on the growth of seeds into plants and the local science fair, even getting coverage for the monsters so they don't disturb her! She meets up with many of her friends, who all have submitted projects of their own. When one volcano project seems to be harboring a monster in its goo, the princess heads under a table, suits up, and the Princess in Black is ready to fight. She's met by the Princess in Blankets, and the two have quite a fight with the monster. They decide to take it back to the field to send it to be with the other monsters, so have to carry it on the train, which requires the help of other princesses as well. Eventually, the monster is dispatched, the science fair is won (not by Magnolia, who is a good sport about it), and three new monster fighting princesses are minted.
Strengths: Unlike some series that tend to flag as they go on, Princess in Black keeps getting better. Each book shows some character development and some strengthening of her community. Including science experiments in this one is especially welcome. I'm just sad that these were not around when my own daughters were in the target demographic!
Weaknesses: Princess Sneezewort's costume needed some work. Kids probably find it funny, but I was somewhat disappointed!
What I really think: I purchase all of these and check them out a LOT to my struggling readers, especially the boys, since Ms. Hale has had such ridiculous backlash against boys and princesses. With the first book, we only checked it out to boys until the first circulation card was filled up, just to prove a point.

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