Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Newspaper Club (#1)

Vrabel, Beth. The Newspaper Club (#1)
March 10th 2020 by Running Press Kids
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Nellie Murrow has moved from the big city to a small town since her mother was downsized from her newspaper job and her father is working in Asia. Her mother's best friend, Ms. Kim-Franklin, lives there, and Nellie is supposed to be friends with her daughter, Min, who is a year younger, given to wearing a lot of ruffles, and rather annoying. She meets another new neighbor, Thom, who lives nearby with his mothers, and soon decides that she needs to start a newspaper club? Why? She has ink in her blood, due to her parents' connections, and after a visit to the local newsroom on a day where they are laying off a lot of staff, she feels that someone needs to investigate the attacks happening at a local park. She and her friends are the only ones available. Nellie gets to know her friends and her new town in the process, and slowly comes to terms with why she and her mother have really moved to Bear Creek.
Strengths: I love Vrabel's writing, and this had a retro feel I loved, because Nellie and her friends are DOING things, and not just playing video games all day. Nellie's anxiety about moving to a new place was not crippling, and she even managed to make peace with Min. The Paula Franco illustrations are a nice touch. I also appreciated championing the importance of local news reporting; I grew up with the Youngstown Vindicator, and also spent time in Detroit (home of the News and Free Press), so know how very important newspapers are. I not only subscribe to the Columbus Dispatch, but gave my daughter a subscription as well. I read the paper every day, so Vrabel's note at the back about being a reporter was very interesting.
Weaknesses: This fell more on the elementary side of Vrabel's writing for me, with Pack of Dorks, instead of on the older side, with The Humiliations of Pipi McGeeCaleb and Kit, a Blind Guide to Normal, and Bringing Me Back
What I really think: I'm debating. My students have no interest in the newspaper (I've tried, believe me!), and this was on the younger side. I would definitely buy this for an elementary library and will look forward to the other books in the series.

Chiang, Slyv and Choi, Connie (illus.) Rising Star (Cross Ups #3)
October 8th 2019 by Annick Press

Library copy

If you don't have Tournament Trouble and Anyone's Game in your middle school or elementary library, you really need to look into them. They are great stories about kids who play video games more or less professionally, which is every eleven year olds' dream, I think. I read this one quickly because I had to check it out to a student who had been haunting the library catalog for its arrival! I love that the dad was willing to take them to the video game conference, and that Jaden was struggling with his skills in a new game. I could have done without the class election, but that's just because we don't have those at my school, so my students are always a bit confused about books that include them. Definitely a fun series for video game enthusiasts!

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