Thursday, May 07, 2020

Julieta and the Diamond Enigma and Tornado Brain

Armendariz, Luisana Duarte. Julieta and the Diamond Enigma 
May 5th 2020 by Tu Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Julieta lives an interesting life; her parents both work for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and she has traveled a bit. When her father is required to go to the Louvre and do some work on pieces for an exhibit that is being sent to the US, Julieta is thrilled to go. Her only disappointment is that her mother won't be able to go, because she is heavily pregnant. Once in Paris, Julieta gets to see a lot of sights with Monique, and even gets to hold the Regent Diamond. When the appointed handler goes missing, the job of transporting the very expensive piece falls to Julieta's father. Unfortunately, when the two stop by the museum to check on things, they come across someone stealing the diamond. At first, her father is suspected, but Julieta manages to collect some clues that are helpful to the investigation. Will she and her father be able to make it home in time for her brother's birth? And will the thieves be brought to justice?
Strengths: I'm a big fan of books that give good descriptions of different places in the world, and Julieta's experiences in Paris were a fascinating bit of travel! I also really appreciated that there were notes about the Spanish and French that were spoken in the book at the beginning, and notes about the art and the Regent Diamond at the end of the book. That is VERY helpful. While this isn't a murder mystery, it at least involves a stolen diamond, and Julieta helps with solving it in a realistic way. Her father's job insecurity added a nice touch; it can't be easy working in the art world!
Weaknesses: Julieta is described as being nine; she acts much older most of the time, but I wish she had been older. The mystery could have been better developed, but the big draw of this was the travel!
What I really think: I will definitely try to purchase this title for fans of Runholdt's Kari and Lucas Mysteries, Shepherd's The Gemini Mysteries, and Beil's The Red Blazer Girls.

Patrick, Cat. Tornado Brain
May 5th 2020 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Frankie is very different from her twin, Tess. She is on the autism spectrum and has ADHD. She tries to moderate her behavior, because her mother has made a deal with her that she won't have to take medication if she can, but it's hard. She's bothered by scratchy clothing, distracted by noises, and has a hard time reading her friends. Tess, on the other hand, is popular at school. They had a friend in common, Colette, but Frankie overhead her saying mean things about her to another friend, so has distanced herself. At the end of 7th grade, Colette goes missing. The girls are stunned and upset, but Frankie is determined to find out what happened. She realizes that a page was missing from a joint journal the three kept that the police found in Colette's locker, and thinks that Colette was trying to complete a list of "dares or scares" that the girls had created earlier. When videos show up on their joint account, Frankie is sure that they were taken the night before she disappeared, even though no one believes her. She starts to locate all of the places where the videos were taken, and has an idea of where Colette might be. In the meantime, she has to deal with her sister, the friend drama in the seventh grade, and her own neurodiverse issues.
Strengths: It's always good to see characters that might diverge from the norm a bit, especially when they are in a story that is not about their abilities! The fact that Frankie is a twin is great as well-- just about all middle school students secretly wish they had a twin! The mystery of Colette's disappearance, while very sad, was also compelling and realistic. This reminded me of Lee Weatherly's 2004 Missing Abby, which I still have because it was so good.
Weaknesses: This was both a strength AND a weakness-- This was written in a way that got me right inside Frankie's brain. It was an uncomfortable place to be, but reading books like this helps me to be empathetic with students who might approach the world from a different perspective than mine.
What I really think: I'm not wild about the cover, so this might need to be hand sold, but the combination of mystery and friend drama will make this a popular title once students discover it. The fact that the main character is neuroatypical is just a bonus!

Ms. Yingling

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