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The Amelia Six by Kristin L. Gray
Claws for Concern by Miranda James
A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette and Joell Jacob
Death by Vanilla Latte by Alex Erickson
Descender, Volume 4: Orbital Mechanics by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen
Every Missing Piece by Melanie Conklin
The Future is Blue by Catherynne M. Valente
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The Grim Reader by Kate Carlisle
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Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena
In the Shadow of the Glacier by Vicki Delany
In West Mills by De'Shawn Charles Winslow
Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe by Sarah Mlynowski
Lu by Jason Reynolds
A Match Made in Heaven by Trina Robbins and Xian Nu Studio
The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott
Nightschool: The Weirn Books Collector's Edition, Volume 1 by Svetlana Chmakova
No Grater Danger by Victoria Hamilton and Emily Woo Zeller
The Not So Boring Letters of Private Nobody by Matthew Landis
Once Upon an Eid edited by S.K. Ali
The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The Power of Her Pen by Lesa Cline-Ransome and John Parra
Property of the Rebel Librarian by Allison Varnes
Roll with It by Jamie Sumner
Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru
Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright
This Is New York by Miroslav Sasek
Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James
Uzumaki by Junji Ito
Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin

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The Not So Boring Letters of Private Nobody: 07/12/20

The Not So Boring Letters of Private Nobody

The Not So Boring Letters of Private Nobody by Matthew Landis opens with Oliver Prichard in school having his plans for his history project dashed to pieces. Oliver is obsessed with the Civil War and wants to profile one of the famous generals. Instead, he's been partnered with the least enthusiastic student in the classroom and their group has been assigned a private who died long before even getting to the battlefront.

I am rather split minded about this book. The protagonist comes across as toxic and rude. He's not an interestingly flawed character or a villain with a compelling backstory. He's just extremely selfish, extremely focused, and privileged enough to expect to get his way. That he doesn't get his way on this assignment is probably a rare even in his short fictional life.

But the private he and his partner are assigned is actually interesting. Both his part in the war (even with it cut short) and the methods used to learn about his life and death.

I've read plenty of other middle grade books that include a family tree project but these are usually set against a larger plot where the protagonist comes from a crunchy family situation or an unusual family. In these cases the family tree is a plot device to reveal all the protagonist's secrets at school and to make their home life even more uncomfortable.

The private that Oliver and Ella are assigned isn't part of either of their trees but researching him requires the same sorts of tools they would use (beyond family knowledge and family documentation) to research their family trees.

The bulk of the book is actually focused on their research methods. I can't think of any other book that builds a story out of genealogical research tools.

Three stars

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