22 April 2013

Review: April Selections for the Scholastic Mother-Daughter Book Club

Remember when I introduced you to the Scholastic Mother Daughter Book Club for middle readers? I'm committed to featuring or reviewing all the books selected for this club because I think Scholastic has picked winning titles that have broad appeal.

Don't forget that the Scholastic book club site includes more information about the books, recipes, reading guides, and contests. The resources are perfect for book clubs, teachers, homeschoolers, and any one who wants to get more out of reading books with middle grade readers.

Although this month's selections share some elements, they will appeal to different types of young readers. The first is a fun mystery and the second is a thriller/spy novel turned on its head. But each one stars an appealing young teen who is observant and likes to solve puzzles. Both books are also the first installment of a series.

Jane B. Mason and Sara Hines Stephens's Play Dead introduces us to Cassie Sullivan, twelve-year-old daughter of the town's police chief. Cassie definitely takes after her mother because she just can't help trying to solve whatever case her mom talks about at the dinner table.

Cassie isn't alone, though, she has her trusty ex-K-9 dog, Dodge, who also loves to sniff out clues. The pair is inseparable, and Dodge's police training comes in handy when Cassie begins to figure out what happened to the man who went missing, leaving behind his mansion and estate.

The story is told both from Cassie's point of view and from Dodge's. The dog's chapters are especially fun because he is sometimes distracted by food smells and has an ongoing dislike of the family cat. There is plenty of action, and kids will easily fall for the mystery-solving duo.

Besides solving crimes, Cassie is a normal young teen. She has friends, goes to school, and has chores at home. She also helps out at the local animal rescue shelter, and we learn a little bit about how to care for abandoned pets. We also get to know the Cassie's sister, brother, and dad.

Young readers will find a lot to talk about after reading Play Dead. The main topics will likely revolve around dogs and pets, friendships, and family as well as how Cassie and Dodge solve the mystery. The recipe at the Scholastic book club site is particularly appropriate because one of Cassie's friends loves to bake treats, especially ones with pecans.

The second selection is Jeffrey Salane's Lawless, featuring twelve-year-old M Freeman. Although M (not a nickname) has been home-schooled by tutors all of her life, her mother suggests that it's time for the girl to go to school with other kids, and the school she has picked is the one M's late-father attended.

Within twenty-four hours after her interview, M realizes that Lawless is no ordinary school. It's really a training institution for learning to spy and pull off heists and thefts! Not only does M discover that her exceptional observational skills are perfect for her new life path but she learns that her parents are also involved in the criminal world.

This is an action-packed story that will capture teens' attention. Besides trying to pull off her initiation mission, M must adjust to being in school with other kids and making new friends. She also discovers that the school has enemies and that her dad's death may not have been accidental.

Book clubs will want to explore a variety of topics after reading Lawless, such as right from wrong, paying attention to minute details, different types of private schools, family, friendships, and adventure. The recipe at the Scholastic book club site is great way to get a boost of energy after a long day of spying or before doing homework.

This post will be linked to Kid Konnection, hosted by Julie at Booking Mama.

Buy Play Dead at an Indie or at a bookstore near you (link leads to an affiliate program).
Scholastic Press, 2013; ISBN-13: 9780545436243
Buy Lawless at an Indie or at a bookstore near you (link leads to an affiliate program).
Scholastic Press, 2013; ISBN-13: 9780545450294
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


bermudaonion 4/22/13, 7:44 AM  

They both look good to me - I love books with strong female characters.

Daryl 4/22/13, 7:51 AM  

both of these sound like good reads .. and i know just the kids for them, thanks!

rhapsodyinbooks 4/22/13, 8:10 AM  

The first one sounds great to me but as for the second, for some reason I have a "thing" against books that use initials for characters!

Belle Wong 4/22/13, 12:22 PM  

Both these sound great to me. My library doesn't have the first, but I just put a hold on Lawless!

Zibilee 4/22/13, 12:59 PM  

Both of these look really good, but I am partial to Play Dead because I love animals, and I think young ones reading this book would get a chance to talk about their experiences with their pets. But then again, Lawless sounds thrilling as well. Great choices to select from!

Julie P. 4/25/13, 9:03 PM  

These look really cute and I can certainly see our girls discussing these books if they were just a few years younger.

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