Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus

Bowling, Dusti. Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus
September 17th 2019 by Sterling Children's Books
E ARC provided by Edleweiss Plus

Aven is back after Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, and high school is a frightening prospect. Three thousand students, most of who  won't understand that her lack of arms isn't something they don't need to mention to her. It's even worse that Connor has moved across town to live with his father, but at least she has Zion. Josephine is in a nursing home, and Henry is rapidly failing, but Trilby is still working at her parents' smoothie shop at the wild west theme park, Stagecoach Pass, that Aven's parents run. Aven still plays guitar and is training to ride a horse and jump with it, but high school brings new challenges. One of them is Joshua, who is on the football team with Zion's brother Lando, and seems to be flirting with Aven. This is both exciting and frightening, and Aven is not alone in thinking "why would he be interested in me?" Zion thinks she's imagining things, and an unpleasant incident occurs that proves them both wrong and leaves Aven's self esteem in the gutter. She doesn't want to tell anyone, takes nearly a week off school, begs to be homeschooled like Trilby, but eventually goes back determined to make her mark on high school. It helps that Zion's family is going to Comic Con; Aven enthusiastically gets into it, even if her costume of Armless Tiger Man (who was armless, yes, but also a Nazi) is ill-conceived. Aven starts to investigate punk rock music at Trilby's suggestion, even though the two don't spend a lot of time together, even though Trilby and Zion are a bit interested in each other. As Henry's condition worsens, Aven tries to find out more about this past to see if he has family who can help him.
Strengths: It was great to follow a character from middle school to high school. I wish there were a lot more books where this happened. My students want to read about older students, but they don't really want to read YA. This was perfect. I enjoyed the first book, and it was fun to catch up on all the small things in Aven's life, like her riding, Stagecoach Pass, friendship with Connor and Zion, etc. Of course, the brilliant parts of this book are the depictions-in-passing of Aven answering her phone with her toes and doing other small tasks most of us take for granted. While her lack of arms is certainly something major, this book isn't about that. It's about... life. The other fantastic scene was where Aven goes to Joshua's football coach and rats him out. The growing relationship with Lando is sweet.
Weaknesses: Aven has a blog, and I'm pretty sure that very few high school freshman do that. Instagram, perhaps, a SnapChat streak, definitely, but blogging is a dying format!
What I really think:  The first book has done well in my library, so I will definitely purchase.

Brallier, Max. The Last Kids on Earth and the Midnight Blade #5
September 17th 2019 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Copy provided by the Publisher

There will be hot competition for this new title in my library! Have to admit, I'm a little curious to see how this would be adapted into a television series, but I don't have Netflix. Also, this is described as Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets The Walking Dead, which my students love. Neither is really my cup of brains.

From the author's web site:
"Surviving their first winter after the Monster Apocalypse was no easy feat, yet Jack and his buddies waste no time springing to action against some of the nastiest, most evil monsters around. When Jack discovers his Louisville Slicer has new, otherworldly powers, he's thrown into epic training to find out what kind of destruction the blade can wield. But between fighting off zombies, fleeing from strange, glowy Vine-Thingies erupting from the ground, and squeezing in a video game session or two, there's barely time left to figure out what's wrong with their buddy, Dirk, who's been acting weird any time he's around the undead. When an unexpected villain appears, can Jack and his friends save themselves--and the rest of the world--from cosmic domination?"

Funny how little things can unbalance our whole week. I'm dealing with both a new phone and a new e reader, and it's not going well. Being a digital immigrant is usually not a huge problem-- I'm the school tech liaison-- but the smart phone drains the battery on things I don't want, and is harder to text on. The slider dumb phone was everything I wanted, and could be dropped on the ground without shattering, but NO ONE supports them or offers them any more. 

Luckily, clothing does not require a network. If I want to wear something from the 1980s, and I can find it at the thrift store, I can wear it. Maybe this is why I take such comfort in clothing!

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