Thursday, May 09, 2019

Just South of Home

Strong, Karen. Just South of Home
May 7th 2019 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Sarah is thrilled that she and her brother Ellis are going to be allowed to stay home by themselves over the summer, rather than spend time with their uptight and controlling grandmother, Mrs. Greene. Sarah loves space, and has a research project planned, while the younger Ellis plans on constructing model cars. When their cousin Janie's mother wants to go to Hollywood and leave Janie with Sarah's family, Sarah struggles to make the best of the situation, especially since she and her only friend, Jovita, have fallen out. Janie is angry about being left by her mother in a small town Warrnesville, but Sarah tries to show her around. They are both particularly intrigued by Mrs. Whitney, who has a souvenir shop in the Town Square and is trying to revive interest in local history. Leaving Ellis with a neighbor, the girls, along with neighbor Jasper, travel to the nearby ruins of Creek Church. They start finding out that the church's history is intertwined with the Civil Rights movement, and realize that Mrs. Whitney is right about their being "haints" in the area. They have awaken one, a small boy named Abner, and try to figure out what needs to be done to put him to rest. The town, and especially Mrs. Greene, doesn't wish to discuss the troubled racial past of the area, but Sarah knows that it is important to understand the past in order to make peace with it.
Strengths: There are not enough books about children being allowed to be at home while their parents work during the summer, and Sarah's set up is well described. The cousins' relationship is absolutely realistic, and I enjoyed the fact that they both really tried to get along, even though they had different interests. The history, and the tie-in with the family, is interesting and timely. I even liked Mrs. Greene, despite her faults. She meant well. The cover is fantastic.
Weaknesses: This would have had more emotional impact without the "haints"; it makes the murder of Abner somehow less real. While my students like mysteries, ghost mysteries are probably their least favorite.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing for fans of Johson's The Parker Inheritance and Vaught's Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry.

Hurford, Molly. Shred Girls: Lindsay's Joyride
Published May 7th 2019 by Rodale Kids
Copy provided by the publisher

From Goodreads (as I am a bit behind and this was out this week!):

"It's time to ride and save the day!

Lindsay can't wait to spend her summer break reading comics and watching superhero movies--until she finds out she'll be moving in with her weird older cousin Phoebe instead. And Phoebe has big plans for Lindsay: a BMX class at her bike park with cool-girl Jen and perfectionist Ali.

Lindsay's summer of learning awesome BMX tricks with new friends and a new bike turns out to be more epic than any comic book--and it's all leading up to a jumping competition.

But some of the biker boys don't think girls should be allowed to compete in BMX. Now it's up to Lindsay, Jen, and Ali to win the competition and prove that anyone can be great at BMX.
Ms. Yingling

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