Saturday, March 26, 2022

Miss Quinces and Oh My Gods II

Fajardo, Kat. Miss Quinces
April 5th 2022 by Graphix
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

**Spoiler alert**

Sue (Suyapa) is involved in a graphic novel club that she has told her mother is a study group, and she's devastated that she won't be able to join them at camp. Her overprotective mother won't allow it, and the family is going to visit family in Honduras for a month. Since Sue needs to have a produce a graphic novel that is a travelogue for her club, she feels that this trip is far too boring to provide good material, although her sister points out that maybe the trip is boring because Sue holes up inside and reads manga the entire time. When the family arrives at the grandmother's house, they find that she is ill and very weak. Sue also finds out that her mother is planning a quinces celebration for her, which she does NOT want. She objects to the pink dress, high heels, public dancing, and many other aspects of the celebration, and agrees only when her grandmother wants her to have it AND her mother agrees to her demand that she be allowed to go to camp with her friends. Her mother, because of everything that is going on, forgets to sign Sue up, and she is very angry. Preparations are made anway, but the celebration is canceled when the grandmother passes away. Because her grandmother wanted her to have the celebration, Sue decides to go forward with it, but demands that it be on her terms. The aunts help design a new dress in her favorite color, Sue designs her own favors, and the ceremonies go forward. Sue even has a decent time dancing, and improves her relationship with her sister. The family returns to the US, and Sue goes back to school with her graphic novel group, pleased with the project she was able to do. 
Strengths: The illustrations reminded me strongly of Katy Farina's entires in the Babysitters' Club graphic novel series, so this would be immediately popular. The color palette, despite Sue's love of black, is bright and cheery. I liked the Latine (the author's term) representation, and the discussion of the quinces celebration. Books where teens go to another country to visit family are always interesting to me, and since I have a friend from Honduras, I found this doubly interesting. The family interactions are realistic, and the grandmother's death is treated in a life affirming way. T
Weaknesses: The moral of this story seemed to be that if you complain to your parents enough, they will do what you want. Sue is unkind to her parents, demanding, and not willing to compromise much, even though her mother is dealing with the loss of her mother. As a reward, she gets her way about almost everything concerning the celebration; her father even buys her combat boots instead of heels. This may be a generational difference, but I was deeply disturbed by this, since I see this sort of behavior in my students all too often. Young readers will not mind this, but as a parent, I would have definitely handled Sue in a completely different way, which made this book hard for me to enjoy personally. 
What I really think: I will probably buy this, because I would like to have graphic novels with difference cultural representations, but it will be hard for me to recommend. 

Cooke, Stephanie, Fitzpatrick, Insha and Moon, Juliana Moon (Illustrations).
Oh My Gods! The Forgotten Maze (OMGs #2)
April 5th 2022 by Etch/Clarion Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Karen and her friends at Mt. Olympus Junior High are back, and are super excited to start a newspaper. Karen is still settling in with her father, Zeus, and often likes to play an online game with her friends back home. She thinks she could write a column about gaming, and introduces her new friends to the one she likes. There is an odd player who crashes their game and doesn't play fairly, but they aren't able to block him. When they investigate, the IP address is at their school, in the basement. Years ago, the basement was used for training but now is somewhere students never go. When the group investigates, they get involved in a real life game. Herms brother Jeff is missing, but the teachers don't do anything, so Karen and her friends are looking for him while trying to make their own way out of the basement so that they can get their newspaper out. Will they manage to survive and solve the mysteries?
Strengths: I am a huge fan of any book that can cleverly incorporate Greek and Roman mythology, and this does a good job of giving young gods distinct and updated personalities. Zeus is such a great character, and he talks to Karen the same way I talk to students; I wish we had seen more of him! The school newspaper process is not overly detailed-- we see the planning and then the final product. The main focus of this book is the video game type adventure. Given the popularity of the Tor Minecraft novels, I can see this being a big hit. 
Weaknesses: You can tell that the students at my school have relaxed the dress code too far; after months of seeing them in nothing but hoodies and pajama pants, the characters in this book all looked like they were dressed like teachers... twenty years ago! Few females have bangs anymore, but most of the characters did. Don't know that this will matter to young readers, but there's always something about graphic novels that distracts me. At least this time it wasn't their noses. 
What I really think: I am debating purchase, since the first volume hasn't circulated well. Will my video game fans read the first book, even if it doesn't have anything to do with video games? That said, video game fans will love the gaming details, which are similar to Hansan's A Video Game Ate My Homework

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