AUGUST

White House (I. Q series) by Roland Smith
This is fast moving, smart and fun to read. A bit like the Alex Ryder series but for slightly younger readers, the plot involves two kids who work with some outside-the-box old spies to foil serious threats to American security. In this one their (clueless but only because they are being shielded) parents are performing at the White House and Q and Angela are trying to discover who the mole inside the staff might be. Great read. 4th+

Never Say Die by Will Hobbs
Hobbs knows his wilderness. Nick is invited on a rafting trip with his half brother, a National Geographic photographer. Serious disasters ensue that keep this story seriously hair-raising. Underlying it all is the threat of a "grolar bear" attack-half grizzly, half polar bear, totally crazy. My only complaint was the heavy handed anit-global warming messages. The story could have carried that without long explanations from one character to another. Very good. 5th+ (lots of natural gore)

Adaptation by Malinda Lo
I'm torn. This is a well written and creative. Plane crashes suddenly occur because of crazy bird attacks. The country verges on chaos. Reese and David are just trying to get home and are in a horrific car crash. Waking up a month later something is very very strange. Pretty good science fiction with aliens ensue. But there's just a bit much explicit bisexual passion in this one. Just over the top for a middle school I think. Too bad. Pass it on to high school.

Spy Camp by Stuart Gibbs
Great balance between silly fun and scary adventure. "I had gone to bed with a baseball bat under my sheets; it was one of the few weapons that I completely qualified to use--and the only one I was sure I wouldn't accidentally impale myself on or shoot myself with while I slept." Ben is pretty conflicted over his spy abilities. It seems he's usually just bait. This gets into serious national security by the end with a riproaring explosive finale. Comparable to IQ Independence Hall by Roland Smith. Excellent. 4th+

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett by Tom Angleberger
Not sure what number this is. Seems like more text and a more complicated plot. This is not simplistic. The theme here is that all of the "peripheral" subjects are cut in order to study for state tests. And students are subjected to FunTime videos and worksheets that are killing them. This quote got to me. "School is whatever adults say it is. If they say it's boring worksheets, then it's boring worksheets. So why bother? Why even waste the time signing your name?" I liked this one. 4th+

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett by Tom Ankelberger
The next step in the adventures at McQuarrie Middle School. This time all electives and field trips have been cancelled and FunTime! videos have replaced them. Test scores have put the school on watch. FunTime--not so much fun. A wonderful look at tests from student perspectives. 4th+ Very very good.

Junonia by Kevin Henkes
Very quiet story about a regular vacation on a Florida beach, except that too much has changed for poor Alice who liked things the way they were. Instead, a new neighbor shows up who upsets the apple cart. OK.

Partials by Dan Wells
First in a dystopia series about the almost-end of the world. In an effort to fight the Chinese Isolation War, the US had developed modified DNA soldiers who were super soldiers but only partially human. Slavery followed because humans felt the partials were only machines. Then a horrible virus wipes out most of the human race. The remaining humans are in a camp on Long Island, but no babies survive. This is unusually thoughtful about government, power, purpose, and freedom while moving at breakneck speed. I enjoyed it. YA for violence and baby-factory issues.