Saturday, July 25, 2020

Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer

Goerz, Gillian. Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer
July 14th 2020 by Dial Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In this full color graphic novel, Jamila Waheed has moved to a new neighborhood with her family, including two older, and very busy brothers. Her mother is working from home and not content to have Jamila lounge around the house all summer, but she also doesn't want her to walk alone to the basketball court five blocks away, so she wants to sign her up for a science camp. When Jamila is at a garage sale, she meets the quirky Shirley Bones, who has an uncanny, Sherlock Holmes-style knack for knowing things about those around her. Shirley is trying to avoid going to ballet camp, and manages to get the mothers together to agree that the girls can stay home, and go to each other's houses and the basketball court if they follow the rules and check in. This freedom encourages the girls to get along even though they don't have a lot in common. When Shirley is approached by Oliver and Vee, who have relied on Shirley's detecting skills before. They want her to help find a backpack that they took to the pool with their gecko in it that has been stolen. Even though the pool is out of the boundary the girls are allowed, they try to solve the mystery. At first, they think a girl named Kumi might have taken it, but she leads them to someone else. There is a shadowy figure in the neighborhood who is stealing things, but how can Shirley use her knowledge to help this person, retrieve the stolen goods, and perhaps make some more friends?
Strengths: The illustration style is quite nice, and a bit different from the usual graphic novel. I especially loved the background setting of the diverse Toronto neighborhood. The depiction of Shirley was well handled-- she's quirky, which causes her problems, but helps her in the end. The explanation of her mother's view of her social skills was perceptive and yet productive. Jamila's relationship with her older brother, plus he love of basketball, was a great addition. Tweens want so badly to be allowed freedom, and there aren't a lot of middle grade books that address the finer points of becoming independent. The mystery of the backpack is more sophisticated than the average "neighborhood dogs are missing" case, and Shirley's empathy with the thief was refreshing. One of the better graphic novels I have read lately.
Weaknesses: Shirley wears a cotton dress with a collar, knee socks, and brown leather"school" shoes, looking like she just stepped out of a Henry Reed novel. Several of the other characters wear dresses as well. This just seemed unrealistic to me. I don't even know if you could buy a dress like Shirley's for a tween girl.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing for fans of graphic novels like Brosgol's Be Prepared and Bard's recent Trespassers (May 5th 2020 by Graphix).

Tessier, Greg and Amandine. Chloe #5: A Love for Carnival 
Published 21 July 2020 by Papercutz
E ARC provided by Netgalley

I wasn't a huge fan of this French series, but the fifth book is a little better. Chloe spends more time with her family and involved in community activities than worrying about her clothes and boys. There is even an interesting chapter where a group of English students come to Chloe's school for a week, and Chloe struggles to communicate with the girl staying with her family.

These, as predicted, have been hugely popular with my students, especially my English language learners.

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