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March’s mini-review round up!

Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere
Pub. Date: March 14, 2017
Source: e-ARC via edelweiss (Thank you, HarperCollins!)
Summary: When Olga crosses paths with a weird creature and becomes the first kid to discover the species olgamus ridiculus, she is ecstatic! What does an olgamus eat? How does it poop? Why does its burp sound like the word rubber? With her trusty observation notebook and the help of a librarian, a shopkeeper, and some friends, Olga sets out to do science—learning the facts about her smelly, almost-furry pal and searching for him when he goes missing. The scientific method is the best way to discover anything!
Genre: Middle Grade, ComicsOlga is a ten-year-old who loves animals! Her ultimate dream is to be a scientist – and not just any scientist, but an animal scientist. So when she comes across a strange creature in a garbage can she sets about conducting experiments to find out just what on earth this smelly thing is.

Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries are sure to feel right at home here. This one is DEFINITELY a story younger readers will appreciate – as an adult who reads Middle Grade, the constant poop jokes (the creature has rainbow poop!!!) felt hokey, like the book was trying too hard to be zany and wacky. Actual ten-year-olds, however, will be all over this. There were genuinely funny moments, but a few things felt strange to me. Two neighbors, the Mean Girls of Olga’s neighborhood, are obsessed with a Kpop star. This was awesome since I’m a HUGE fan of Kpop and Asian dramas, but it is popular with kids? I had the same question when Olga mentioned her Michael Jackson poster. I’m not sure children today would be familiar enough with his music to have posters hanging in their bedrooms! Overall, however, this book is sure to find many readers!

The Heartbeat of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
Pub. Date: March 14, 2017
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Delacorte Books!)
Summary: Wing Jones, like everyone else in her town, has worshipped her older brother, Marcus, for as long as she can remember. Good-looking, popular, and the star of the football team, Marcus is everything his sister is not, and Wing is all too aware of this.

Until the night when everything changes. Marcus, drunk at the wheel after a party, kills two people and barely survives himself. With Marcus now in a coma, Wing is crushed, confused, and angry—could Marcus, the golden boy, really have done something so irresponsible, so reckless? She is tormented at school for Marcus’s mistake, haunted at home by her mother’s and grandmothers’ grief. To make matters worse, the bank is threatening to repossess her family’s house because all their money is going to pay her brother’s mounting medical bills.

Every night, unable to sleep, Wing finds herself sneaking out to go to the school’s empty track. With the breeze in her hair and her feet pounding the dirt for hours and hours, she can imagine she is keeping Marcus’s heart beating. If she runs hard enough, maybe he’ll wake up. Maybe she’ll free her family.
Genre: Contemporary, Sports

I was so excited about this book, looking forward to it to the point I included it in my list of 2017 novels I needed to get my hands on. Unfortunately, when I did, I realized my expectations were just too high.

The Heartbeat of Wing Jones is simply okay. For a novel built on a horrible tragedy – Wing’s older/football star brother Marcus drunkenly drives home from a party one night, killing two people and seriously injuring a third – I would have expected the novel to actually focus on the accident and fallout. In a way it does, but for the majority of the novel, Marcus is in a coma in a hospital where Wing refuses to visit. Practically overnight the school’s golden boy has been branded a murderer, and Wing says she’s brutally tormented and bullied because of it, but apart from dirty looks and one girl who calls her a freak, the students essentially pretend she doesn’t exist or don’t even notice her.

There’s an oddly supernatural element where Wing is visited multiple times by both a dragon and a lioness and this is never fully explained. I get that this is somehow related to her ethnicity (half Chinese, half Ghanaian) and I’m not even going to touch the diversity aspect. Wing and the sole LGBT character were both defined by what they were, rather than who they were and I couldn’t help but feel that side of their characters were tacked on in an attempt to say “Hey look! There’s a POC character AND a lesbian! HOW DIVERSE!”

Sadly this wasn’t the book I had been hoping for. However, if you’re looking for a book about a girl who runs and crushes on her brother’s best friend, this is definitely the read for you.

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