Sunday, June 12, 2022

Out of Range, Rosie and the Pre-Loved Dress

Lang, Heidi. Out of Range
June 7th 2022 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Ollie, Emma, and Abby are sisters who are close in age, but do not get along well. Abby is the oldest, and in order to fit in after the family has moved has joined the cross country team even though she hates running. What she does like is Dustin, one of the members of the team who takes an interest in her when she says she wants to improve her skills. Because she's spending time trying to get Dustin to be interested in her, she often cancels plans with Emma. Emma struggles with a lot of anxiety, and even though she is a good singer, has had enough trauma surrounding public performance to dissuade her from going out for plays. Ollie is the youngest, and is tired of watching both of her sisters grow away from her. Flipping back and forth between the girls' experience on a disciplinary walk after they pull a prank at the wilderness camp their parents made them attend as punishment for OTHER meanness to each other, we see the girls struggle when they get separated from the counselour, and in between those experiences, see what happened at home to get them sent to camp in the first place. Ollie and Emma try to band together to scare Dustin away from Abby; at one point, they "redecorate" her room with all of their stuffed animals so she looks juvenile, and Abby retaliates by ripping the heads off of the stuffed animals. Abby has a friend at school who pulls a prank on Emma so that her singing gets on the announcements, which doesn't help her anxiety. In the wilderness, the three struggle with typical survival issues like food, cold, and having to cross water, as well as an encounter with both a cougar and a bear. Even after almost losing both sisters, Abby struggles to remain grateful that they are alive, and their survival is compromised by their inability to get along. Will they be able to make some peace with each other and manage to get out of the forest alive?
Strengths: This was a solid adventure survival tale that will go over well with readers who enjoyed Behrens' Alone in the Woods or Lambert's Distress Signal. There's also a ton of sister drama that bleeds into friend drama. Abby's longing for a friend group, and her crush on Dustin, will resonate with younger readers. Ollie's growing distance from her older sisters will be all too familiar to many girls who are the youngest in the family. Emma's constant anxiety is echoed in many of my students right now, making this a timely mix of emotional and physical survival. 
Weaknesses: While I definitely see how flashbacks can be used to good advantage, I'm not a fan of them because I have so many students who return books that they claim are hard to follow because of this literary device. 
What I really think: I would have liked this more if Abby had enjoyed cross country a little bit more; most teams are good ways to make friends. As an adult who has dealt with a lot of complaining, bickering children this year, I found myself rooting just a little bit for the cougar and the bear, but young readers will approach this from a completely different angle and enjoy the story without wishing to kill off all of the sisters! I am impressed that Ms. Lang now gets along with her sister Kati Bartkowski well enough to write books with her, if this is at all based on her personal experience growing up!

Hatch, Leann. Rosie and the Pre-Loved Dress 
June 14th 2022 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
E ARC Provided by Edelweiss Plus

When Rosie and her mother are dropping off donations at their local thrift store, Rosie finds a yellow dress with rhinestones on it that she really loves. Her mother buys it, and Rosie wears it as often as she can. It has a name on the tag-- Mila. Rosie thinks about what Mila must have been like, and imagines the adventures she must have had in the dress. Rosie has a lot of adventures of her own, and when the dress becomes too small, she tries to repurpose it. Finally, she realizes that it is time to pass the dress on to another owner, and returns to the thrift store where she donates the dress but finds a new-to-her purse that she really loves. 
Strengths: I'm a huge fan of thrift stores, so got all of my children's clothing there. To this day, Picky Reader likes to snag the running shoes I've "preworn" because she doesn't like the way new shoes feel! While it was very common for her friends to buy things at the thrift store (or get hand-me-downs), there is still a bit of a stigma attached to secondhand clothing that I'm glad to see dispelled. I like Rosie's musings about the previous owners, and it felt very familiar to have her write her own name on the tag before sending the dress back to the thrift store. It's hard to part with favorite items of clothing even when they  might be getting another chance at adventure. This would have been in frequent rotation in my home. The illustration colors and styles are very 2020, so if this becomes a favorite from a public library, make sure you buy your own copy. You'll be grateful in twenty years when your child is trying desperately to locate the book. 
Weaknesses: Rosie finds the dress on the rack next to a wool sweater and a flannel shirt? Must be a fairly disorganized thrift store! The ones I frequent divide their vast stock into categories, so Rosie's dress would be on a rack with other girls' dresses, maybe even arranged by size! Thank you, Ohio Thrift and Village Discount! 
What I really think: This was a cute, fun story that I may just have to buy for myself. I love the message that thrift store clothes are "pre-loved" and would definitely purchase this for an elementary school library.

 Ms. Yingling


  1. I love the idea of a pre-owned dress! (And yes, I'm a thrifter, too!)

  2. Anonymous8:59 PM EDT

    If you like Rosie and the Pre-Loved Dress, you might also like Red Shoes by Karen English!