Thursday, December 02, 2021

Shirley and Jamila's Big Fall

Goerz, Gillian. Shirley and Jamila's Big Fall (Shirley & Jamila #2) 
November 9th 2021 by Dial Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Shirley and Jamila are back, and starting school. Jamila gets involved in basketball and makes friends with Seena, whose family background is also Pakistani. Shirley gets a case to help defend Avery against Chuck, the school bully who buys and sells secrets. Knowing his own power, Chuck refuses to cooperate with Shirley and hand over whatever incriminating evidence he has against Avery. This motivates Shirley to take on a new identity and befriend Chuck's sister. She gains information about Chuck and the family home, and eventually plans to break into the house while the parents are gone and the children are occupied in other parts of the house. She and Jamila do this, and have taken incriminating papers from Chuck's safe (which they have cracked), but Chuck comes back unexpectedly. They have to hide in the curtains, and are surprised when Chuck has another visitor who is trying to get information back as well. Will Shirley and Jamila be able to stay friends and help neutralize Chuck as a threat to their school. 
Strengths: Goerz's illustrations are quite possibly the most beautiful ones I have seen in graphic novels. Her street scenes could be framed and hung over couches. Her treatment of light is spectacular. I enjoyed Shirley and Jamila's unlikely friendship, and think the way that they navigate being more than summer friends is realistically done. Judging from the number of middle grade books that have tween power brokers who wield power and have money making enterprises, this is a popular story line.
Weaknesses: Straight up breaking and entering. Criminal trespassing and theft. Wow. As an adult, this bothered me in the same way that Bard's Trespassers did. I just couldn't believe a 6th graders would have a safe and be demanding $400 from a fellow student. Will actual twelve year old readers have this reaction? Absolutely not, but it still bothers me. 
What I really think: I may wait to see what Shirley and Jamila's winter adventure brings before purchasing this one. 

Already have had students asking for this one. Had seventh grade classes in, and they are still checking out the same graphic novels again and again and not reading anything new. Might as well keep Bingo Brown if this is the way things are going. 

Just not having a good week. 
 Ms. Yingling

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