As I clean up my reading piles from last year, I'll be tossing out a bunch of mini-reviews so that I can remember these books in years to come. For example, here are some more Reading My Library picks, back from the L-M shelves:
Alvin Ho, Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters, by Lenore Look, followed the same pattern as the earlier books about Alvin, but less time was spent at school and more time with his loving and tolerant family. I found some of the tall tales too tall for my taste (Alvin and his toddler sister really rig a trap that leaves his father dangling head-down from a tree?), but over all it was a funny story about a timid boy.
I grabbed Starfields as soon as I read the blurb on the back, and it had several things going for it. First, the author, Carolyn Marsden, had the same name as another author that I like (John Marsden), and second, it's set in Mexico, making it eligible for my Global Reading challenge as well.
Unfortunately, I felt that it didn't really work on its own respect. The three strands didn't really come together -- the daughter of white scientists studying frog extinctions, the Mayan girl secure in her culture, and the mystical long-ago Mayan seer who magically communicates with the modern Mayan girl. It's wasn't hard to read, but I never felt a real connection with the kids, and I wasn't sure why the scientist's daughter was in the story at all.
I scored a jackpot with Wendy Mass's 11 Birthdays. It was a fresh voice, although I occasionally wished the book were narrated by the boy, since he was a lot more active and creative, leaving the girl to follow in his footsteps. But all was forgiven when my niece sounded interested in the story, and then she READ the book, and has requested the sequels (which I have duly ordered from the library. Go Mass!
The next shelf was entirely filled with Megan McDonald's books about Judy Moody and her brother Stink. Since I'll be doing one of Stink's books with my elementary school book club, I grabbed one of those and had a fairly good time. Stink is a little too precious for my taste, a smart kid who doesn't resent his big sister's teasing nearly enough, but I like his general competence and ability to clean.