Saturday, September 12, 2020

Shelly Struggles to Shine (The Derby Daredevils #2)

Rosewater, Kit and Escabasse, Sophie (illus.) Shelly Struggles to Shine (The Derby Daredevils #2)
September 15th 2020 by Amulet Books
E ARC provided by Netgalley

After putting together a roller derby team in Kenzie Kickstarts a Team, we see how the girls are doing. Kenzie is still great at planning what the team is doing, Bree is fast, Jules is good on defense, as is Tomoko, and Shelly starts to wonder what her essential role on the team is. When another group of teams is scheduled to be in Austin, the Derby Daredevils are excited to skate against some new groups, and throw themselves into practice. Shelly gets it in her head that the girls could benefit from new costumes, so starts to design and create things like bubble skates (bubble wrap wrapped around regular skates) for her team members, based on their personalities or skills. She is hoping that she can win Star Skater at the event, so her teammates will feel she is contributing. Her designs don't go over well with her teammates, who are a bit annoyed with them, and when there are wardrobe malfunctions on the rink, Shelly is blamed. How can she prove her worth to her team?
Strengths: This had lots of good description of the sport, a group of diverse characters (both in different ethnicities, and Shelly's crush on Bree), and a lot of realistic interactions among friends. From what I understand, fifth grade can be brutal, with lots of friend drama, fears about middle school, and negotiations with parents about freedoms. It was also good to see Shelly go back and forth between her mother and father; there's not enough of that in middle grade literature, and it certainly is the situation for many of my students. The illustrations add another level of fun to this.
Weaknesses: Like the first book, this seems a bit young. The characters are in fifth grade, and there's a big difference between the concerns of elementary school and middle school.
What I really think: I really liked the sports descriptions in this, but I'm not sure I need a series of books on roller derby. With the current situation, I am worried about budget cuts. I've placed this on my "list to purchase if I have enough money".

Gardner, P.J. Horace and Bunwinkle
September 15th 2020 by Balzer + Bray
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Horace is a fussy Boston Terrier who is not happy when his owner, Eleanor, buys a farm and moves him there. Things get even worse when she adopts a sister for him, and it ends up being a very vivacious pig, Bunwinkle. The pig is determined to win over her fussy brother, and the two eventually bond over a pet detective television show. They find they must work together and use the information gained from this program to solve a mystery about missing animals.
Strengths: Well, I had to read this, because my daughter's name is Eleanor and she has always loved pigs! I thought this was treated with the animal's best interests at heart; it was interesting to see that Horace has problems with obsessive licking that occasionally callfor the "cone of shame", ointment, and close observation. Bunwinkle is the runt of the litter but will grow bigger, and Eleanor knows that. It's okay, because the farm has plenty of room. I always enjoy books set on working farms, and this had a classic feel to it. The illustrations are particularly charming; look at the eyes on those two! Throw in a detective story, and you've got one fun book!
Weaknesses: The fact that Eleanor is an adult makes this more of an elementary book; a middle grade book would have a tween caring for the pets.
What I really think: I won't purchase, but this is a great choice for younger readers who love animals, want to learn about farm life, and like a good mystery like Quackenbush's Miss Mallard Mysteries.

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