Monday, September 30, 2013

Shorter Musings: MG Realistic

Sometimes I read a book, and I even enjoy it, but I don't have much to say about it. I jot down a few thoughts and then I move on. When these start to pile up, I put them together in one post.

Here are some Realistic MG books I have read recently with my thoughts.

33 Minutes by Todd Hasak-Lowry
 Todd Hasak-Lowy gets middle school for sure. His descriptions of the school and Sam's response to it were hilarious and true. He also got the MG boy voice down perfect. Maybe a little too perfect for me to love the book. It is very stream of conscious with Sam changing subject and going into flashbacks with little to no warning then zooming back again. Reading it reminded me of listening to my daughter or one of my students with this type of personality tell a story. After a while you just have to say, "Please stop so I can give my brain a rest and you can breathe. Thanks." It's an entertaining story though and I think kids will enjoy it for sure. (I was amused by the wise and understanding art teacher. Why in books is it always the art teacher?)

Hound Dog True by Linda Urban 
This is a quick, sweet, warm-hearted read. Mattie's voice is so engrossing that even though this is a quiet book without a lot of action the reader stays engaged in the story, interesting in what is happening. This is a wonderful book for seeing what the inner workings of other people's minds might be like, the secrets they guard, and the struggles they have. Even when they seem inconsequential to us, they may mean a major obstacle to someone else. I also thoroughly enjoyed the characterization of all the adults in the novel. Definitely my favorite of Urban's books.

Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin Dionne
I usually enjoy Erin Dionne's books more than I did this one. I think my disappointment was magnified because I had my hopes rather high for this one and was mostly unimpressed. I can see kids loving it though. It has that sort of kid adventure movie feel to it. Kids versus the mobsters, and the kids actually have a chance of winning. The danger never materializes quite like it would in reality. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I could have liked Moxie herself, but I was rolling my eyes by the end of the first chapter. I'm so tired of main characters who are supposed to be unique and special because they like older music and buy vintage clothes. This is so overused that there is nothing unique or special about these characters. It feels like slapping a vintage t-shirt on a character and giving her a playlist her parents would have listened to are acceptable replacements for actual character development. I do like that she was a Math lover though. 

One Plus One Equals Blue by M.J. Auch
For the most part this is a fairly typical MG realistic fiction. Anyone who reads often from the genre will recognize all the plot elements and characters. There will be no surprises. That is not to say this isn't a lovely book and a good read. It's just not breaking any new ground nor is it written in a way that will make you take a second look. One new and interesting thing about it is that the two main characters have synesthesia, which is an interesting condition most people probably know nothing of.  

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