Monday, June 01, 2020

MMGM- The Dream Weavers

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 

Alegre, Raina Luz. The Dream Weavers
May 26th 2020 by Simon & Schuster Children's
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Zoey and her older brother José have moved from place to place with their father after the death of their mother, but her father is never happy anywhere for long. When they move in with their grandfather, Poppy, on the Jersey Shore, Zoey isn't overly thrilled, but she is glad to be living in her mother's old bedroom and hanging out with Poppy at his bowling alley, Gonzo's. The lanes have become a bit decrepit since the death of her abuela, but when Zoey gets to know Isa and Lacey, who are on a bowling team, she starts to see the potential in the family business. The girls, along with two boys, hope to win a local tournament, but when one of the boys is injured, they ask Zoey to step in. Gonzo's isn't as nice as the other lanes in town, but it is less crowded, and Zoey feels that if she can help fix the place up, Poppy won't want to sell to the evil developed, Mr. Silos. Zoey is already dealing with the fact that José is going to Florida for college in the fall, and her father is living in New York City, where he has a job selling motorcycles with an old friend. She wants to stay in one place, and since she has made friends and is invested in the bowling alley, she hopes that her father won't decide to uproot her. She manages to help get the lanes cleaned up, helps Poppy arrange with a nearby restaurant to have food brought in, and even gets the tournament to be held at Gonzo's, but when a storm damages the neighborhood, she fears that Poppy will give up and sell the business. Will she be able to defy her father's wishes and stay where she is most comfortable? And will her grandfather's business survive?
Strengths: This book made me so happy! First, there was the bowling and the bowling alley. Poppy's handling of the business seems very realistic, and I'm sure that such a property would be targeted by developers. I loved the way Zoey and her friends helped spruce it up, but the best part was what Poppy ended up doing at the end. Perfect! José was a great older brother, the father and Poppy didn't get along for very good reasons, and the portrayal of grief was just right. Isa and Lacey were great fun, and I loved that the girls became friends, bonding over a shared interest in bowling despite their differences. This had everything I want in a middle grade book; children who have interests and DO things, friend and family drama, an unusual and intriguing setting, and a nice cultural connection, with Poppy's Cuban background.
Weaknesses: It seems to be a trend to work scenes about girls getting their period for the first time into middle grade novels; I've seen this a lot lately. It's fine, but most of these scenes are much more dramatic and traumatic than real life, and I'm conflicted about this. I don't want readers to worry about this more than they already might. I could also have done without quite as much discussion about clothing and shopping, but that's more just a me thing.
What I really think: Aside from Allen's 2011 How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized TrophySheinmel's 2017 Designed by Lucy (The Kindness Club #2) and Gephart's 2018 In Your Shoes, are there any other middle grade books that involve bowling (Aside from installments of Arnie the Doughnut and Phoebe and Her Unicorn)? I read this just after I went bowling with the 7th and 8th grade students who made Renaissance, and I was a bit sad at how little they knew about bowling. Maybe this will help create a resurgence. Definitely purchasing and recommending to everyone!

Thompson, Alexandra. A Family for Louie
June 1st 2020 by G. P. Putnam's Sons
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

I don't read a lot of picture books, but I do read them to my dog Sylvie. This one looked just too adorable to pass up, especially when we were all experiencing Extreme Social Distancing back in March. (Will we ever get to leave the house again? We will hope by the time of publication that we can!)

Louie is a French bulldog who has very good taste in food, and has a system worked out where he gets his meals from chefs all over town. He even has a system worked out for bathing, and has an under ground lair where he can read and sleep at night. However, he is lonely, and longs for a family of his own. He starts to look at the families he sees out and about, but is not compatible with many of them; either they eat food he doesn't like, have cats, or are too active. One day, he meets a little girl whose mother has opened a cupcake shop. She seems like a good fit, and the two get to know each other. Will her mother agree to let the girl keep Louie?
Strengths: This is a picture book that I would not mind reading twenty times a day, which is always a good criterion for picture books to meet. (Looking at you, Daisy Lee Ate the T.V., which I can still quote 25 years after my daughter was obsessed with it!) The pictures have a very pleasant gray and pink color palette, and the illustrations have a modern sensibility with a tiny hint of 1960s influence. There is even a shout out to Hopper's Nighhawks! The message is a solid one; you need to find people who understand and appreciate the same things that you do. This would be great in an elementary or public library.
Weaknesses: Louie curls up at night with a cup of cocoa, which is probably something dogs should not have. Sylvie would argue that it's fine for dogs to drink tea, but I would disagree!
What I really think: This is so darn cute. I may have to buy a copy for myself, not that I need any picture books! Maybe I'll have to buy some copies for my friends who are becoming grandparents.
Ms. Yingling


  1. The Dream Weavers sounds like a really compelling novel with a lot of interesting aspects! A Family for Louie sounds incredibly sweet as well, and I love its cover! Thanks for the great reviews!

  2. Bowling is so much fun. It would be nice if another generation discovered it through this book. The books sounds great. I read a lot of picture books and I love French bulldogs, so I will have to give A Family for Louie a try. Thanks for your reviews.

  3. Bowling? I'm in all the way. No gutter balls in your review either. Thanks for introducing me to this story and for featuring on MMGM.