Saturday, April 11, 2020

Nat Enough and My Life as a Coder (My Life #9)

Scrivan, Maria. Nat Enough
April 7th 2020 by Graphix
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Natalie is starting middle school, but over the summer her best friend Lily has moved across town and befriended a much cooler girl and is being downright mean, calling Natalie a nerd. When we see flashbacks of Natalie's memories, we know that Lily has always been a bit this way, and wasn't a great friend to begin with. Still, it's hard to start a new year without a friend, and luckily she meets Zoe after an accident in gym that sends her to the nurse with a minor wound. There are a variety of typical middle school dramas-- working in science on a frog dissection with a know-it-all girl, but the frogs are made of gelatin and end up in a food fight, crushing on a boy in her Advanced Learning Program, being self conscious about being in the school play and writing for a contest. All along, Natalie doubts herself and her talents, hoping that Lily will become her friend again. She even makes some attempts at being "cooler", but they don't work well. Finally, Natalie realizes that she can't put her life on hold while waiting for Lily's approval, and finds her own friend group, activities, and maybe even a romantic interest.
Strengths: This will be hugely popular with my readers who like Raina Telgemeier's angsty graphic novels. The Follett Bound Glued copies are $17.51 and the hard covers are $21.34, but those will fall apart in three minutes flat. Buy two of the Follett Bound if you can afford it. My favorite use of this book will be to hand to to boys during "Boys Read Pink Month" in February. This had a somewhat innovative format, and the cat and dog chapter dividers were clever.
Weaknesses: This is a fairly standard story, and Natalie's mood is more worrisome than amusing. Thank goodness she has Zoe, who seems like a more likable and interesting character. I'd love a book about her, or even Flo.
What I really think: Will definitely purchase.

The girl with hair in her face? Flo? That's kind of a tame version of the student I was in middle school. Flo does things like "I wrote a haiku about belly button lint" and wears a tutu from a fun run to school every day, and thinks that being weird is more fun. I didn't need anyone to tell be "You be you"-- I just did it anyway and had no idea that I wasn't cool. Someone should have told me to tone things down a bit and try to fit in more-- I might have been able to get a job somewhere other than a middle school and talk to people more effectively. I always cringe a bit when I read stories like this for personal reasons. Do I ever tell STUDENTS that they are not enough? No. I refrain from all personal observations and advice because I can't tell what current correct thought is on how anyone should behave. But my own weird? It's hard to tamp down, and had I learned how to do it in middle school, life would have been a lot easier.

Note to self: No one is amused by my attempts to write my tech tickets in haiku. Stop it.

Tashjian, Janet. My Life as a Coder (My Life #9)
April 7th 2020 by Henry Holt & Company
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Derek is excited to take a mini course at his school, and he and his friends are all set to sign up for a comedy workshop. When his parents give him a computer with no applications, however, he has to sign up for a coding workshop in order for his new computer to do anything. He is soon learning all sorts of useful information about creating programming, but he is also thrust into a competitive mode by Machiko, who is a much better coder than he is, but also a little bit mean. He is also dealing with his friend Carly's increasingly worrisome bad mood. Derek is afraid that she is dealing with some depression in the wake of the California fires they experienced in My Life as a Meme, and finds some interesting ways of helping her, including having her meet some mini horses that his mother is taking care of. When Machiko's plans turn more evil than he likes, Derek has to find a way to outsmart her.
Strengths: This is a great series for reluctant readers, and I love that they included Derek doing a wide variety of activities. He is much like Big Nate in that he always means well, but sometimes his plans don't work out quite the way he wants. He has a good friend group, and Carly's depression was worked into the story in a realistic way. There is actually a LOT of good coding information in this, and I certainly would love to see more books with students making apps and doing coding instead of being involved in activities that might not get them jobs when they grow up!
Weaknesses: I wish that Derek's coding class hadn't just been a club taught by a cafeteria lady (although it was fun to see another facet of that character), but then I wish that schools in the US had actual coding classes instead of expecting librarians to teach them at lunch. This is an important skill! There should be as many computing classes as there are math classes!
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, but need to wait until this is available in a Follett Bound, since the publisher's paper over board covers just don't hold up.
Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. We have the My Life book arriving this weekend. I've read them all aloud to my daughter and have been really impressed by them. My original intent was to read one with her and then have her read them on her own, but they turn out to be good for sparking discussion.

    As for tamping down your weird, I'm glad you ended up where you did, writing about books the way that you do. I think we would have been friends :-)