Tuesday, February 04, 2020

All the Pieces Fit (HILO #6) and True to Your Selfie

Winick, Judd. All the Pieces Fit (HILO #6)
February 4th 2020 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Copy provided by the publisher

We find our heroes engaged in an epic battle with Razorwark, who has been joined by Hilo's sister Izzy. Secret agents have converged on the Lim house, and things are happening fast. Ms. Lim finds out that her son D.J. is on another planet with Hilo, who is a robot, and she's not happy, but is willing to help take on the forces of evil. Talking to Dr. Bloodmoon, Hilo is assured that Izzy is doing what she thinks is right, but still knows he needs to help her. Back on Earth, the kids foil the agents by creating, among other things, a hurricane of hamsters, and manage to rout them, only to be besieged by robots that Razorwark wants to send through a portal to his planet to kill all the people, feeling this is appropriate revenge for their actions of deactivating all the robots. There's lots of fighting, and lots of philosophical soul searching about what it means to be friends, to feel emotions, and to do the right thing even if some of the results are bad. We are told repeatedly that despite her actions, Izzy is making "all the pieces fit", and even though she does and it seems like Hilo's tale is told, there is a book seven on the horizon! (Gina- The Girl Who Broke the World, 2021)
Strengths: Hurricanes of hamsters, magic wands, isolation bubbles over cities-- all great speculative fiction. The illustrations are bright and bold, the text-to-picture ratio perfect for the target demographic, and the story fast-paced and exciting. This is a series that straddles the Pilkey Line nicely; even my 8th graders pick it up sometimes.
Weaknesses: Pretty sure all of the philosophy about Hilo's empatis goes right over my students' heads, but it is a brilliant addition in that adults will groove on it.
What I really think: Six books is more than enough; these are great, but the paper-over-board format leads the first one to disintegrate by the time book 6 is published. Probably should have gotten these in a prebind. I have a student who wanted the copy immediately after I got it, and the wait list at the library was 10 people long!

McCafferty, Megan. True to Your Selfie
February 4th 2020 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Morgan and Ella are seventh graders you have a Photobomb account that has 10,000 followers. Ella is well-to-do (her father is a congressman and they live in a large house), but Morgan's family struggles. Her father was never really part of the picture, and her mother is going back to school. Her older sister is off at college, although very supportive of Morgan. Along with another classmate, Maddy, the girls make video covers of popular songs, with Morgan playing ukelele, and spend a lot of time documenting everything they do, from getting coffee to hanging out at the pool. Ella is VERY concerned about their "brand", and gives Morgan a lot of clothes so that she is always picture perfect for "the socials". The girls also have elementary school students who are their "fans". School is not all that important to Ella, since she is sure she will realize her dream of "global platform domination" and pursue a career as a media influencer. Morgan isn't as on board. She doesn't want to worry about manicures that will just get messed up playing the ukelele. She is a C student, but doesn't have a lot of time to study since she has to spend time with Morgan staging their life. When Morgan does fencing in gym, she has a real talent for it and enjoys it, but Ella gives it a thumbs down as not an appropriate activity. Ella is also very nasty to Morgan's former best friend, and Morgan misses her. Eventually, Morgan must go against Ella's wishes after a new girl moves to school and Ella ramps up her plans, knowingly sabotaging Morgan's. Will Morgan be able to find life after social media?
Strengths: This is perfect, if only as a historic artifact! There are a lot of students who follow internet "celebrities" or who make attempts at posting their own content. The wish fulfillment of this is spot on, and readers will love imagining that they, too, can have this many followers, even as they understand that Ella's single minded pursuit of fame isn't healthy. I love the inclusion of fencing, and how hard Morgan's mother works.
Weaknesses: This actually covers a lot of very serious issues students today face, but the cover makes it look like just a silly book. Also, I have 356 blog followers after almost 14 years. Clearly, I need to learn ukelele!
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, although the cover makes me cringe.

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