Sunday, May 09, 2021

Home Sweet Forever Home, Summer Lifeguards

Alpine, Rachele and Sonda, Addy Rivera (illus.). Home Sweet Forever Home
May 4th 2021 by Aladdin
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Lauren loves dogs, but her stepfather is allergic to them, so she can't one of her own. Luckily, her friends Ruby (who wants to be a reporter), Emelyn (the fashionable one) and Myka (who has a large family and likes sports) all agree to volunteer at a local rescue facility. Mr. Turner, who is in charge, is glad to have them read to the dogs to help socialize them and get the adjusted to being with people, but he also has the girls wash bowls, clean cages, and do other less glamorous jobs. Lauren notices that the dog to whom she reads, Rhett, is not getting adopted because he is older, and she comes up with an idea to help. After her step brother tells her that she is too young to really help the world (the girls are in the third grade), she decides to put together an event at her Uncle Patrick's cupcake shop to have people meet the dogs, eat cupcakes, and hopefully adopt a pet. Nothing goes smoothly, and the friends end up having an all day baking session at Lauren's home, but in the end, many of the pets do get adopted, and the shelter also has more people volunteer to help. At the end of the book, there are a quantity of two page biographies of a wide range of "invincible girls" who have done work with animals. 
Strengths: Lauren is a very energetic character who does not let other people get in the way of getting things done! She and her friends take their task seriously, even trying to get their teacher to adopt a pet (in a really charming scene where the teacher thinks they are trying to set her up with a boyfriend!). I love the energy, and the fact that they don't shy away from working hard. Lauren's family, with her stepfather and stepbrother, seemed nicely realistic. Her uncle who owns the cupcake shop is gay, and the friends have diverse backgrounds. I really liked the short biographies, and am looking forward to the next book of the four book series, which  brings in art. Fans of Coco Simon's different series will like the Invincible Girls and their club.
Weaknesses: Having just adopted an older dog, I love the message, but think that the shelter probably would have a much more stringent application process, and there might be health concerns about home baked cupcakes. Being an adult really takes the fun out of things, doesn't it?
What I really think: I will pass on purchase for middle school, but would definitely purchase for elementary school libraries. This would have been one of my favorites had I read it in early elementary school. 

Doyle, Elizabeth Carey. Summer Lifeguards (Summer Lifeguards #1)
May 4th 2021 by Sourcebooks Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Jenna is completely devoted to doing well on the swim team, since she sees it as her ticket to either the Olympics or the US Naval Academy. Her family farms. Selena wants to be an actress, so wants to try out for the school play, and does a lot on social media to further her brand. Her Ecuadorean parents are the caretakers of a large estate on Cape Cod. Ziggy's family is very into living off the grid, and Piper lives with her mom and grandmother, and helps run the family horse farm. All four are friends, and are very concerned when a huge storm is supposed to hit the Cape. While Ziggy's mom thinks all of the warnings are a fake government conspiracy, the other families take it seriously. Jenna is distraught that her parents won't let her go to a swim meet that has not been canceled because of the storm, even though her arch rival, Franny, is going to be there. Once the storm ramps up, and people are evacuated to the local middle school, there is plenty to occupy the girls. Piper's family has a lot to do because of the livestock, and because the daughter of a rich couple who have a nearby summer home has run away from her boarding school, and they are trying to keep her safe. The girls help out at the school, and are inspired by seeing the local student lifeguards who are helping, and make plans of their own! While their town is hit hard by the storm, the fact that people banded together kept the problems to a minimum.
Strengths: This is a great description of what it is like to have to endure a hurricane along the sea coast! All of the details about preparations and evacuation are great. The characters seem representative of the diversity of the population in Cape Cod, and they all have their own interests and family situations. I especially liked Piper's family farm, and the descriptions of the fancy summer homes. These would be fantastic books to read by a boring suburban Midwest pool in the summer!
Weaknesses: As with any book with multiple characters (Frederick's Mother-Daughter Book Club, Buyea's Because of Mr. Terupt), I had trouble keeping everyone straight at the beginning, but the subsequent volumes should concentrate more on one character. 
What I really think: There should be more books about surviving natural disasters, like My Life as a Meme's great depiction of California fires or Bishop's 14 Hollow Road's coverage of a tornado. Definitely buying the entire series! It's a great escapist read to the beach along the East Coast, which in Ohio is impossibly exotic. I love that the girls will be working as life guards and look forward to all of the adventures and drama!


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