Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Best Friend Plan and Wild Bird

Calmenson, Stephanie and Cole, Joanna.
The Best Friend Plan: The Adventures of Allie and Amy 1
January 21st 2020 by Aladdin
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Allie and Amy live in an apartment building in the city, and when summer vacation starts, they are ready to spend every moment together, working on their list of things to do. When Allie finds out she is going to go to Camp Merry Moose but Amy is not, the two do everything on their list in one day. They frequently run into Marvin, a boy from their class, and also visit Madame Lulu to get their fortunes told. Luckily, a place opens up in the camp for Amy, too, and when the friends get on the bus to go to camp, they find out that Marvin is going as well, and Madame Lulu is a counselor. They make a list of things they want to do at camp, and have a great time there.
Strengths: Like Simon and Schuster's M!X and MAX! imprints, this QUIX book has a fun, fast paced story, appealing characters, and simple plot. Allie and Amy don't have to deal with tragedies or family drama; they just get to be average kids in a fairly privileged world. This is perfect for beginning readers who are ready for a slightly longer book.
Weaknesses: Too young for my demographic.
What I really think: This seemed really familiar; it was published in a different version in 1995 called The Gator Girls, and I am almost positive my daughters had a copy! This imprint is bringing back a few titles from that era, including Robert Quackenbush's Miss Mallard mysteries. I won't purchase, but these are great titles for elementary libraries.

Van Draanen, Wendelin. Wild Bird
September 5th 2017 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Public library copy

Wren had a difficult time when her family moved from the city to the suburbs. A really difficult time. She couldn't make friends, and when she makes friends with the spoiled, louche Meadow, her life slowly spirals out of control. She smokes pot and shoplifts, but then she gets involved with the rakish Nico and gets involved in even more sordid activities. Finally, he supportive if busy family have enough and send her to a wilderness survival camp meant to help troubled youth get in touch with the issues that made them run off the rails. In typical fashion, Wren at first balks at the idea, but realizes that her relative comfort in the dessert depends on listening to the counselors and learning skills that will make her time there less painful. In doing so, she comes to realize that the way she conducted her life wasn't making her happy. Told in flashbacks interspersed with Wren's time in the dessert, we see both how Wren's life got off track, and how she got it back on track.
Strengths: This was so well done! I don't know how I missed it. Wren didn't come across as a brat, even though she certainly acted that way, and the transition from home life to the dessert made sense. I appreciated that her activities that got her in troubled were circumspect enough that I can include this in a middle school collection. None of what she does seems like a good idea! This is a great choice for middle school readers who want to read about a life that is really worse than theirs!
Weaknesses: Nothing really surprising in the way the story unfolds.
What I really think: April Henry's 2006 Shock Point, Strasser's 2007 Boot Camp or Schrefer's 2009 The School for Dangerous Girls.

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