Saturday, October 20, 2018

Cartoon Saturday and The Perfect Secret

Schulz, Charles. Snoopy: Boogie Down
October 16th 2018 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by publisher

Snoopy and his friends are back in this collection of classic comic strips from 1978. (There is a lovely frame of Snoopy's nemesis, the cat, swiping the year into the roof of his dog house!) Even though the vast majority of the strips are timeless and universal, we do get occasional glimpses of forty-year-old pop culture, with mentions of Farrah Fawcett-Majors, UFOs, reading the TV Guide, and Snoopy disco dancing! Rendered in full color, the strips exhibit the clean, clear lines of Schulz's simple yet emotive illustrations. It's hard to believe that Schulz has been gone for nearly twenty years, but his comics are just as amusing as they always were!

Kalickey, Ann. My Life in Smiley: I Got This
October 16th 2018 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by the publisher

Max is back after My Life in Smiley, and continuing his exuberant life in middle school in France. It's August, so for summer break he and his sister travel to Brittany to stay with their grandparents for a bit before starting the school year. Max's schedule is very full and includes German and English classes, and the copy of his schedule listed was very interesting-- all classes don't meet every day, and there's an hour and a half for lunch, much different from the 25 minutes US students get. He hangs out with his friends, schemes to get presents, fights with his sister, and pursues his crush, Nais. This is a notebook novel, with hand drawn style font and lots of pictures. Perfect for fans of Lyttle Lies, Big Nate, Tom Gates, and Planet Tad.
Buyea, Rob. The Perfect Secret
October 9th 2018 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
E ARC from

In this sequel to The Perfect Score, we revisit the classmates who were involved in Ms. Woods' project to visit the senior center as they start seventh grade. Their teachers are all okay, and they do get to continue to visit the center. Other things, however, have changed. Trevor's parents have kicked his abusive brother Brian out of the house, which makes things better even though his mother misses his brother and there are still some problems with him. Randi's mother is much calmer about her gymnastics, and the two get along much better, although Randi finds out a secret when she attends a camp. Natalie is trying to get Ms. Woods and Ms. Magenta to talk to each other, but since no one will tell her why they have been estranged, it is difficult. She is also helping Gavin's mother learn to read. Scott, whose grandfather is in the senior center, becomes the stat man on the football team, but some of the other players, as well as the coaches, are jerks about it. Trevor still plays football and is very focused on it, but he starts understanding the appeal of graphic novels that Ms. Woods, who is volunteering at the local library, sends his way. When Gavin is injured at school and his mother is involved in an auto accident, many of the secrets that all of our characters are keeping lead to some problems that are difficult to overcome, but with the support of their class, the students work through them.
Strengths: This addresses several issues of current concern in an age appropriate way. Immigration problems, problems with siblings and parents, getting along with high achieving parents, and finding community service that is productive and enjoyable are threaded through this book. Buyea is good at making the characters distinctive so they can be told apart, and I know that teachers often like to use his books as an example of voice.
Weaknesses: I'm not a fan personally of multiperspective books, since each chapter change tends to take me out of the plot for a bit. I would love to see Buyea mix it up a bit and get away from the multiple character, entire year formula he has used in the past.
What I really think: I got the first book in this series late in the year, so I may wait to see how it circulates before purchasing the sequel.

Ms. Yingling

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