Friday, August 28, 2020

Roosevelt Banks and Mya Tibbs

Calkhoven, Laurie. Roosevelt Banks: Good-Kid-in-Training
Paperback September 1, 2020.
(Originally published January 1st 2020 by One ELM Books)
Copy provided by the publisher

Roosevelt is super excited to hang out with his friends, Josh and Tommy, especially since they are planning a really cool bike trip with their fathers to the state park where they will roast marshmallows and have a great time. They are both building up their endurance by biking all the time. The problem? Roosevelt has wrecked his own bike by sending it down a hill with two melons wearing bike helmets strapped to it, as part of his science fair experiment. While his parents are pleased that he was so dedicated to his project, they are displeased with his general bad behavior in school and refuse to get him a new bicycle. They say that they may consider it if his behavior improves, but Roosevelt's impetuus nature makes this difficult. It doesn't help that he is having trouble with his friend Eddie, and Josh and Tommy are spending more time together without him. Will Roosevelt be able to keep his friends, earn a new bike, and go on the much anticipated camping trip?
Strengths: This was a great beginning chapter book with much the same feel as Carolyn Haywood's Little Eddie (1947) or Cleary's Henry Huggins (1950). Roosevelt is a well meaning child who wants to get along with his friends, but gets involved in interesting scrapes. The accompanying pictures add a lot of charm to this, and also shows some diversity that older books don't show. (Josh is Asian American and Tommy is African American.) My favorite part was when Roosevelt's parents take him around to garage sales for his new bike. Definitely a good solution.
Weaknesses: Tommy lies for Roosevelt so that he doesn't get in trouble with the principal, which is endearing but not my favorite thing. I'm a fan of the more moralistic tales of earlier kid lit!
What I really think: This is a bit young for middle school but an excellent addition to elementary collections where characters like Stink Moody are popular.

Allen, Crystal. Mya in the Middle (The Magnificent Mya Tibbs #3)
October 16th 2018 by Balzer + Bray
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Mya's exploits at school continue when her fourth grade class participates in an economics unit. The children get $25 from their parents, and their teacher gives them $10,000 in play money to use to start their own business. Some of the children want to do party planning, sell items, or have service businesses, but Mya doesn't know what to do, even after consulting with her older brother, Nugget, who did the project in the past. Eventually, she and her friend Connie decide to write a newspaper, the Texas Taradiddle (after the tall tales Mya enjoys telling). To earn money, they sell advertising in the paper, but when Connie tells her classmates that they will get a paper for free the very next day, Mya panics. She consults her family, and is eventually allowed to use the home computer, printer, and paper, but must pay her father most of the start up cash. The paper is a hit at school, and the girls decide they can charge 25 cents per copy to help with future expenses, but there are other problems in Mya's life. Her mother is overwhelmed by Mya's new baby sister, Macey, and her father, who runs the local feed store, is very worried about the price of corn and how it will affect his business. Mya is irritated that her mother doesn't pay attention to her, that her father calls Macey by HER nickname, and that Nugget is asked to help with the business and she is not. She is devastated that her parents don't even read her newspaper. There are problems at school, as well; the fair for the businesses has to be cancelled because the school exterminator is coming, and this affects the birthday party that Naomi is supposed to throw for twins Skye and Starr. Mya even goes to the principal to see if the events can somehow continue, and manages to get permission, but things must happen on a tight deadline. Can Mya make her family understand how distressing it is to be ignored "in the middle" and make things right at school as well?

Mya's concerns are valid ones for her age group; much younger siblings can put a stress on family relationships for young readers. Family financial problems can also cause distress, and it's hard for children to understand what is going on. Nugget is a great character; since he is older, he is more understanding about the family circumstances and willing to help out, and it shows a lot of maturity to also help Mya understand as well. I would love to see  more depictions of supportive sibling relationships.

The school project is an interesting one, and mirrors the JA Biz Town that my daughter did. It would not be an easy project, but as we saw in The Wall of Fame Game, Mya's school is very demanding! School and class relationships are very important in elementary school, and I loved that Mya's teacher and principal listened to her and even took her input.

Readers who like to see characters who accomplish things will enjoy Mya's attempts to control her world. Mya could easily be friends with Joahannes' Beatrice Zinker, Frazier's Cleo Edison Oliver, Simon's Cupcake Diaries crew, Torres' Griselda, or Conford's Jenny Archer.
Ms. Yingling

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