Saturday, May 07, 2022

Smaller Sister and The Daily Bark: The Dinosaur Discovery

Willis, Maggie Edkins. Smaller Sister
May 3rd 2022 by Roaring Brook Press
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Lucy and Olivia used to be close, since they are not far apart in age, but as they enter middle school, Olivia starts to distance herself from her younger sister. The family has moved, and both girls have had trouble finding a new friend group. Olivia is suddenly interested in clothes, make up, and boys, and has no patience with Lucy's desire to play games. When Lucy hears whispered conversations between her parents, she finds out that her sister has an eating disorder. Since Lucy has been made fun of for being heavier that some of the other girls, Lucy starts to wonder if her own self worth is tied to her weight, and begins some restrictive practices of her own. Olivia's depression and disordered eating continue to worsen, and Lucy is very concerned for her sister. The parents have Olivia in therapy, but don't seem to be able to connect emotionally to either of their daughters in any meaningful way. For example, the parents surprise Lucy with two weeks at theater camp, even though she has no interest in theater and is apprehensive about being away from home. Luckily, she makes friends at camp, and starts to believe that there might be girls back home who might accept her for who she is. Slowly, she develops her own style, learns to deal more effectively with her concept of body image, makes a few friends, and comes to terms with her sister and their difficult relationship. 
Strengths: Readers will either immediately side with Lucy, and her enthusiastic embrace of her own identity which quickly turns to doubt, or with Olivia, who is just miserable and wants her sister to leave her alone. I don't have a sister, but know that while many women are glad for this relationship when they are older, the tween and teen years can cause a lot of problems with siblings. This is a realistic portrayal of two girls who are facing mental health obstacles. While the parents are in the picture and purport to be supportive, they somehow don't provide all of the help that either girl needs. I know that books about anorexia are consistently popular with my readers, and this is the first time I have seen one in graphic novel format. 
Weaknesses: I would have liked a little bit more factual information about anorexia for readers who might not know much about it. 
What I really think: Not my cup of tea, but I can see this being popular with fans of Telgemaier and Libenson and graphic novel authors who write about dysfunctional families and individuals. 

James, Laura and Alder, Charlie. The Daily Bark: The Dinosaur Discovery
May 3rd 2022 by Bloomsbury Children's Books
E ARC Provided by Edelweiss Plus

In this sequel to The Puppy Problem, Bob is back reporting for The Daily Bark. Since he's the travel reporter, he is at the train station when a stunning new dog is afraid to jump down from the train. He helps her, and finds out that her name is Diamond, and she has gone to live with Mr. Marcus at his Curiosity Shop as a requirement for him buying items in an estate. He doesn't like dogs, but Diamond is an instant celebrity. When Bob sees other dogs giving her gifts, he decides that he should as well. He's recently unearthed some spectacular bones under the park bandstand when he was chasing a mouse, so gives her one of these. Of course, the enormous bones turn out to be from a dinosaur, and when Mr. Marcus finds out, he wants to try to sell them. The other dogs on the newspaper rally to thwart these endeavors, and end up sending Mr. Marcus out of town when he falls onto a soft shipment of grain on a moving train! Diamond ends up with the new owner of the Curiosity Shop, and exciting times are once again had by the dogs in Puddle.
Strengths: The illustrations in this are so enticing, and make me want to pack up and move to a small town in England and run an antique store, like Marcia Lois Riddington at Smoking Monkey Antiques. Sigh. The colors are gorgeous, and the dogs are imminently appealing. The story centers the dogs in a fun way, and they get the better of the humans.
Weaknesses: Stretched credulity a bit with Mr. Marcus never coming back to his shop, but that's what sometimes happens if you choose to be mean to dogs in children's books! 
What I really think: I liked the first book a little better, but this is a tremendously fun series, and I would definitely buy it for an elementary school library. I was trying to resist reading Applegate's Doggo and Pupper, but with Alder's fantastic illustrations, I'm may not be able to!

1 comment:

  1. The Daily Bark sounds fun for kids, but I like the rules of a dog world worked out well, and this sounds a bit confused - why does Diamond have to be sent to a complete stranger's home if she is capable of running a shop? Also dogs aren't mean, I'd have thought their loving natures would have changed Mr Marcus not (potentially) send him to his death? Maybe I am taking this too seriously! :)