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Friday, October 23, 2009

Bobby vs. Girls and Umbrella Summer

Here are a couple of middle-grade Cybils nominees! (They're getting mini-reviews because I didn't sit down and review them right away and didn't take enough notes to have a whole lot to say about them. I enjoyed both books and think they'll both find a wide audience on elementary school and public library shelves.)

(These are 2009 Cybils nominees and this review reflects only my personal opinion of the books, not necessarily the opinion of the panel!)

Bobby Versus Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee, illustrated by Dan Santat. Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary. Arthur A. Levine Books, September 2009. Copy purchased.

Bobby Ellis-Chan and Holly Harper have been secret best friends since they were little kids. Why secret best friends? Because at their school, boys and girls do NOT hang out together. It's never been a problem for them, but lately Holly's been acting weird. She's been acting like... well, like a girl. And it's kind of driving Bobby crazy. Still, he never meant to start a battle of the sexes... it just kind of happened. And now Bobby's got to figure out how to make it right.

I really enjoyed this funny, realistic book. I think it'll appeal to fans of Andrew Clements and other school stories. I liked that supporting characters are diverse and well-developed. The writing was excellent in that it disappeared and I felt like I could see the story unfolding before my eyes. This'll definitely be popular on your middle grade shelves.

Read more reviews at The Reading Zone, Kids Lit, 100 Scope Notes, Fuse #8, and Shelf Elf.

Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff. Upper Elementary. HarperCollins, June 2009. Copy from the Louisville Free Public Library (because libraries are awesome).

Helmet? Check.

Knee pads? Check.

Elbow pads? Check.

Ace bandages (to prevent sprains)? Check.

Band-aids (covering scratches to prevent infection and eventual amputation)? Check.

Annie's ready to bike to the store. To buy some vitamins. Vitamins are very important to maintaining your health. And where last year she might have jumped on her bike and whizzed down the hill to the store, she decides she'd better walk her bike down the steep parts. It's better to be careful, right?

Ever since her brother Jared suddenly died, Annie's been living under a self-imposed protective umbrella. She constantly worries about potential threats to her health. After all, no one knew about Jared's rare heart problem before it killed him. But when a new neighbor moves in, Annie will begin to realize that if you live your life under an umbrella, you never get to feel the sun on your face.

Underneath her hypochondriac tendencies, Annie's just a girl on summer vacation. She's a girl struggling to deal with the unexpected death of her older brother. It's a loss that has thrown her entire family into turmoil. Author Lisa Graff deals with this turmoil realistically and with a lot of heart. The book reminded me most of the second Moxy Maxwell book - a spunky, likeable (and imperfect) protagonist and a plot that delves into the serious side of things.

Plus, what an incredibly cute book cover! I want an umbrella like that!

Read more reviews at Becky's Book Reviews, Literate Lives, and A Year of Reading.

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