Over this long weekend, I had a chance to read a few of the current and upcoming Golden Sower nominees. Mainly they were adventure stories, which isn't always my preferred genre, but they were really good. Highly recommend!
Terror at Bottle Creek by Watt Key
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
***This is a nominee for the 2017-18 Golden Sowers Novels list. ***
I did NOT expect to like this book as much as I did. It was fast paced, adrenaline pumping, and all too realistic. At one point, I had to quit reading and tell my husband this book seemed like my worst real life nightmare. And then I immediately began reading again.
Cort has always lived along the river. Hurricanes are nothing new, but this one feels different. His dad is worried about checking on his estranged wife and doesn't seem to be preparing as much as usual. In the end, Cort is left with Liza and Francie, his neighbors, to ride out the storm. And after Francie runs off, they have to try to survive overnight in the wilderness during the storm.
Highly recommend. I can't wait to book talk this one next week with my students.
Ruby Lee and Me by Shannon Hitchcock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
***This book is a nominee for the 2017-18 Golden Sowers Chapter Book list.***
Sarah Beth Willis is having the worst summer of her life. Her younger sister was hit by a car and Sarah is convinced its her fault. She was the one who was supposed to be watching Robin and now they don't know if Robin will make it, let alone ever walk or jump or play again. Besides that, this is the last summer before Sarah has to start at a new school, and this is the first year the colored children will be in her class. Her best friend (when she spends summers at her grandparents) has always been Ruby Lee, so she should be excited they can finally be in school together, but everyone from their grandmas to their mommas tell them they shouldn't be school-friends. Because it would just be too hard. Integration isn't going to come easy for Shady Creek.
Through all of this Sarah Beth has to finally learn what it means to grow up and make decisions based on what is right, not what is easy.
So, for the review:
I read this because it was up for the Golden Sower award. The intended grade level is probably 3-6. I thought it felt a bit forced/stilted at times, and after reading the author's note, I'm sure it is because the author was writing based on her own experiences. While that is fine (and this is an admirable topic to undertake) the writing of one's own encounters with integration means that there is no magic or spark since the author didn't take any liberties. This leads to a somewhat dry retelling of events. I would recommend this for purchase if a library is participating in the Golden Sowers or if there is a deficit in materials related to this subject matter. If there is already a robust collection of diverse materials, this is probably a skip for me.
Desert Dark by Sonja Stone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was actually a pretty good book and if this was my preferred genre/style of story, I probably would have given it a 5. As it was, I started it late one Friday afternoon and had it finished by the next Saturday after lunch. The story sucked me in and kept my interest with some twists and turns, and credible red herrings.
Nadia, 16, has been recruited to the Desert Academy, an ultra-exclusive training center and boarding school that preps students to become part of the CIAs Black Ops unit. Their training is absolutely confidential, from their families to the rest of the country. No one knows what goes on there. For good reason. But now there is a suspected double agent in their midst and everyone assumes it is Nadia. Will she be able to prove her innocence and find the real double agent in time?
This was a fast paced mystery/adventure story that students will enjoy. I would recommend it for grades 7 and up. There is some kissing, but no sexual or graphic language. Highly recommend.