Friday, February 04, 2022

Roosevelt Banks and the Attic of Doom, Snow Struck

Calkhoven, Laurie. Roosevelt Banks and the Attic of Doom 
February 1st 2022 by Red Chair Press, One Elm Books
Copy provided by the publisher

In this sequel to Roosevelt Banks, Good Kid in Training, we find Roosevelt excited about the upcoming SUMMER OF DAD after his fourth grade year. His parents are both college professors, but while his mother is teaching summer school, his younger sister Kennedy will be in day care, and he will have his father all to himself. Of course, these plans fall through when his parents announce that there is another baby on the way, and the father will be renovating the attic for a room for Roosevelt. This is a bad thing, because the attic is haunted, so Roosevelt and his friends have a number of plans to change the course of this home improvement. Josh is busy with sports, and Tommy has a part in a play, but Eddie is around to help Roosevelt take care of Mrs. C's rabbits... and get into trouble. Tommy's older twin brothers also have some ideas for making sure that the attic bedroom doesn't happen. Will Roosevelt be able to spend some time with his father,  make his peace with the upcoming sibling, and manage to NOT cause as many problems and get in as much trouble as he did in the first book? 
Strengths: I really enjoy Calkhoven's work, and her Boys of War and G.I. Dogs series have been hugely popular in my library. She has an excellent feel for what details young readers enjoy. There are lots of realistic summer plans, but also some fun ones that don't seem very likely. It's important that details about how elementary students are cared for over the summer are realistic-- I'm actually surprised we don't see more books set in summer child care programs.  The concern about the new baby, and Roosevelt's struggle with being a big brother are good to see. Bonus points for having two upbeat, patient, and functioning parents! The illustrations and large text will definitely draw readers in. 
Weaknesses: Would fourth graders really be worried about ghosts? That's not my regular demographic.
What I really think: This fills a gap in realistic fiction series about well meaning but misguided young people, and would be great to hand to fans of like McDonalds's Stink Moody, Look's Alvin Ho, Khan's Zayd Saleem, Harley's Charlie Bumpers or the Cleary classic Henry Huggins. It's just a bit young for my students, who would never openly believe that their attic was haunted, so I will send this over to an elementary school, where I'm sure it will see a lot of use. 

Courage, Nick. Snow Struck. 
January 25th 2022 by Delacorte Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Elizabeth and Matty have had a hard time of it; their house was badly damaged by a storm, and their family has been living in a hotel while it is beign repaired. For a Christmas treat, they are sent to spend time with their cousin Ashley in New York City. Ashley's parents are divorcing, but still live near each other, but it's still a difficult dynamic. Elizabeth is looking forward to snow, but when the children arrive in New York, it's 80 degrees. Matty, who has been extra anxious ever since the storm at home, is worried about the weather. When a cold front rapidly approaches the city, he warns his sister that they should stay put, but his worries are ignored. We also see a couple of other perspectives-- a fishing boat in Eternity Fjord, Greenland that is experiencing the effects of climate change, and Joy, who works in emergency response for the National Climatic Research Center in Washington, D.C., and would like to get back to visit family in NYC. The children are at an art gallery with Ashley's dad over forty blocks from the aunt's apartment when the storm hits, and it's a strenuous journey to get back across the rapidly snow covered city. They face another challenge once they are safely home-- there's a blackout, although they still have a gas stove that works, and Ashley's dog, Fang, has slipped his harness and is out in the horrible weather. The children go out on various occasions to try to find him, and get to experience a New York that few ever get to see, complete with rats and deer on the move outside of their usual environs. At the same time, the ship is heading towards New York, as is Joy, and all of these different threads mange to be woven together during a crucial moment in the process of finding Fang. (Spoiler: Fang is okay in the end! Whew!)
Strengths: Elizabeth and Matty are not used to snow, but I loved that Matty, being anxious, was super prepared in his choice of gear, and Elizabeth regretted some of her choices. Those choices can be a matter of life and death in a winter survival situation. I liked that there were a lot of details about the snow, ice, traffic conditions, and what the subways and buildings were like. This reminded me a little of Moskin's 1978 The Day of the Blizzard, which also involved winter survival in a city. I was a little sad when the trio returned home from the art gallery, but going back out after Fang was a good adventure, and taking a short breather was good. The information about tracking storms and the National Climatic Research Center from Joy's point of view gave a larger perspective on the weather event, and the scenes with the research ship in the Arctic were important background for the climate change themes. This was fast-paced, had a good message along with the adventure, and (most importantly), Fang was found and was okay. It's always important that dogs survive, especially the cute, fluffy ones!
Weaknesses: It took me a bit to get into the story, since it started with an arctic fox, but I really have to admire how Courage brought together all of the plots. 
What I really think: Storm Blown hasn't circulated as well as I would have liked, but part of that might be due to the fact that I got a copy of this book right before the pandemic started in 2020. Winter survival is generally more popular than hurricane stories, so I will definitely purchase. And NOT just because I'm a sucker for a good snowstorm book ever since Haywood's Snowboand with Betsy! I have two copies of Northrops' Trapped that are in tatters because they've been read so much... and they're over ten years old. Wow. Seems like just yesterday that I read that one!

Ms. Yingling

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