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OK, this year Ms. Travis is going to try really hard to read ALL the books on Sunshine State even though it's not going to be easy because she's also reading ALL the books on Sunshine State Grades 6 - 8 plus of course the books for her own grown up book club and then, for dessert, all those yummy new picture books. Here's what she sees it:
Absolutely Almost: Realistic. Lisa Graff gets inside the head of a very ordinary, not very smart ten year old boy and makes him very lovable and interesting. The plot? Meh. If you don't HAVE to read all the Sunshine States, read her Lost in the Sun instead, about a boy with anger issues. That's really outside the box.
All Four Stars: Realistic. I loved the idea of a sixth grade master chef. But the arc of this plot was just messy. Starts out great when she sets her kitchen on fire but from there... parents unreasonable, three best friends (guy and girl), evil classroom bully, lots of missteps, and no real cooking at all.
Circus Mirandus: Fantasy on the weird side. I gave it one of the only negative reviews on Amazon. Maybe because I don't like circuses. I didn't quite get it.
***Dinosaur Boy: HiLARious science fiction. Even if you don't like sci fi, the matter of fact humor of this situation -- our hero is a semi-dinosaur. Because of a lab mix-up, he has some stegosaurus genes mashed up with his. He's had to convert to eating a lot of salads, and the other kids tease him by playing ring toss on his spikes. Note: I've bought the sequel because I loved the first so much.
Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile. Realistic. Sort of. Skip this one if you can. There's just nothing to like. The young hero has a photographic memory and the ability to draw anything he has seen. Sure. I still don't see why the NYPD need him to help them break a case. They keep telling him not to interfere, he's just a 'camera' for them. So why don't they use a camera? They've been invented.
**Fish in a Tree: This year's Wonder readalike. Ally has a very bad case of dyslexia instead of crippling ugliness. Very likable, nice, interesting friends, an insightful class teacher, and of course, the classroom bully, Mean Girl. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
Freaky Fast Frankie Joe by Lutricia Clifton. Realistic. Despite the painfully corny title, this book is aces with me. The plot is simple and hardworking: Frankie's mom has just been jailed for a 'mix-up' and he has to go live with a father and four half brothers he's never met. There are no villains in this book, even the flaky mom, just a lot of very believable people getting on each other's nerves. Highly recommended. Looking forward to her next book.
Gabby Duran and the Unsittables: Light hearted sci fi. Author Elise Allen's dialog is spot on, has tons of action in this light quick read. The characters for me were a bit stereotyped and the action just too wild.
**Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord. Realistic. A welcome relief! Well written w. threads about dementia, LOONS (really?), and photography tying together beautifully.
*Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures. Fantasy on the realistic side -- Pip's world is just like ours except with magical creatures (sometimes endangered) as well. Very funny, lots of action, great characters --loved it.
Prairie Evers: Realistic. A little too realistic for my tastes. I like a little adventure in my realism. It's a nice book, like a door opening on a pleasant other world, but not a very exciting other world.
Serafina's Promise: Written in very readable blank verse, this short book takes place in Haiti. Starvation, earthquakes, and sickness are all faced down by a hardworking, cheerful Serafina and her loving family. This is an important book.
The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett & Jory John. Humor. What a relief this book was! After so many lightweight OCD books of this type, spawned by Captain Underpants and continued by Wimpy Kid, what a relief to find one so well told. The threads here are simple: Miles and Niles are prankster who find each other, make a reluctant bargain, and go on to make prankster history.
Worm Whisperer by Betty Hicks. Realistic. Ellis Coffey is a nature lover with a few problems -- his dad needs back surgery and his mother lost her job, so he has to do A LOT of chores. He keeps at it though, and the ending is a pleasant, if slightly unexpected, pay off.