Saturday, November 05, 2016

Big Nate, Trouble, and Mischief

28954365Peirce, Lincoln. Big Nate: Revenge of the Cream Puffs
September 6th 2016 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy Provided by the Publisher

This collection of comic strips from around 2012 does include a lot of baseball, and Nate's adventures with his team. There are plenty of other things going on, though, and we see many of our old favorites. Nate is his usual impulsive, enthusiastic self, whether he is writing a romance novel or shopping for clothing. While I prefer the notebook novels that include Nate, my students adore comics. These are a must have for middle school libraries; luckily, Follett offers them in a prebind or they would be quickly reduced to piles of paper.

28446325Davies, Jacqueline. Nothing But Trouble
November 1st 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Maggie lives with her mother and grandfather in his house in Odawahaka. Maggie's father, who studied at MIT, died before she was born, and her mother is so busy that Maggie is left to her own devices, taking apart vacuum cleaners and selling her grandfather's collection of vintage auto parts online. When Lena moves to town, the two immediately connect, and Maggie starts sharing her father's philosophy of "hacking" with Lena, and getting her help in setting up elaborate pranks at their school, which is going to be closed at the end of the year. When the "mouse" pranks take off, the girls enter the mouse as a candidate for class president. Will the girls be able to pull off the ultimate prank of having an imaginary character win?

Packed with interesting characters, such as Mrs. Dornbusch, who is in her last year of teaching and doesn't care about anything, an the perfect Kayla who was once friends with Maggie but is now her nemesis, Nothing But Trouble manages to put a new spin on the idea of class elections, and set the story in a dying community that is open to a little bit of excitement. 

Maggie's pranks follow the very strict rules that her father left in a notebook-- nothing can be damaged, the site has to be left in a better state than it was found, and no one can be hurt. It seems a bit unlikely that she would be able to do all of the things she does in real life, but I appreciated the fact that she had a significant source of income-- selling her grandfather's car parts-- to use to bankroll the projects. 

Teachers will appreciate the math and science connections scattered throughout the book and explained with notes at the end. Readers who enjoyed books with girls interested in math and science, such as The Short Seller, Calpurnia Tate, or A Girl Named Ratchet will enjoy Maggie's experiments, and readers who liked this author's The Lemonade War will be glad to see a story with new characters and a new setting. 

But will I buy a copy? Probably not. I wanted to slap Maggie, am tired of books with class elections, and don't think that this provides a good example of student behavior. I'm afraid that Davies is one of those authors that just doesn't do well in my library.

23719405Nannestad, Katrina. When Mischief Came to Town.
January 5th 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers 
Nominated for the Cybils Award by Emily@LiteraryHoots

When Inge Marie's mother dies in Copenhagen in 1911, she is sent to a small Danish town to live with her grandmother. Her grandmother is stern and dresses in black, but has twinkly black eyes and a pillow like middle. Her home is small, but she does what she can to accomodate Inge Marie and feed her good country food. Inge Marie goes to school, gets into scrapes, and eventually befriends Karl, who has lost his family as well. Her grandmother takes him in for a bit, but he is eventually adopted by two ladies and so has his own family. 
Strengths: This is a fun, classic historical tale of a young girl in a new situation. The grief for her mother isn't overwhelming. Enough details of life in a certain time and place to make it intriguing. I would have adored this as a 3rd-5th grader. 
Weaknesses: Rather slow and gentle. 
What I really think: Great cover, but this would be like Bo at Iditarod Creek or Adventures with Waffles, and it would just sit on the shelves. 

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