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Archive for October, 2014

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

My Basmati Bat Mitzvahby Paula J. Freedman, 236 pages, Grades 6-7

Tara’s mother is from India but converted to Judaism when she married Tara’s father. They are one big culturally mixed happy family and Tara has always felt comfortable with her mixed heritage, but now that she is preparing for her Bat Mitzvah she is thinking a lot about her Indian grandparents and hoping that taking this step does not mean that she is denying the Indian part of her identity. How can she commit to Judaism without somehow denouncing all that is Hindu? Of course, Tara is also an adolescent dealing with all the awkward and challenging social situations of middle school: friends, boys, Hebrew study, robotics club and school work. How will she find time to make sense of who she really is when she is just trying to cope with the everyday crises of middle school existence?

If you enjoy stories about identity, you might also like: Running Dream, by Wendelin Van Draanen, Curveball: the Year I Lost My Grip, by Jordan Sonnenblick, or Totally Joe, by James Howe.

 

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The Whispering Skull

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

skullby Jonathan Stroud, 435 pages, Grades 6-8

Lockwood and Co. face new ghosts and other mysteries in this sequel to The Screaming Staircase. You can read these mysteries in any order, but should know the main premise: Lockwood and Co. is a team of three paranormal investigators. The world since the Problem began is a dangerous place to roam around at night. Ghosts are everywhere and those who cannot see them or hear them are in danger of terrifying haunting, injury or even death from “ghost touch.” No adults can see the ghosts so children and young adults are relied upon to put these roaming souls to rest so that people can live in peace. Lockwood and Co. is a small team of teens competing for jobs with giant investigative firms in London; George is their researcher, Anthony Lockwood has great sight, and Lucy is gifted at hearing the dead. In fact, she is starting to wonder if this “gift” of hers might be driving her mad when an ancient skull starts talking directly to her; can she trust the ghost or is he trying to trick her into becoming just like him?

The first book in this series is The Screaming Staircase, also by Stroud and a fantastic read as well. If you like creepy ghost stories you might also enjoy Break My Heart 1000 Times, by Daniel Waters.

 

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Always Emily

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

Always Emily - FINAL Cover with Blurbby Michaela MacColl, 282 pages, Grades 7 and up

Emily and Charlotte Bronte are unusual women for their time: they are educated and head-strong and they love writing above most other things. Charlotte is a planner; she is at school and hopes to bring Emily along knowing that when their father eventually dies they will have to take care of themselves. Emily is more passionate and would prefer to spend her time wandering the moors at home than stuck in a classroom no matter the consequences. After Emily’s behavior gets her kicked out and Charlotte fired the sisters find themselves at the center of a mystery involving a lady held captive, a young man spying on a neighboring household, and a secret men’s organization that their brother, Branwell, has gotten himself mixed up in.

If you enjoy Victorian mysteries you might also enjoy: The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud or mysteries about Sherlock Holmes’ sister by Nancy Springer, or mysteries about the young Sherlock Holmes starting with the first book called Death Cloud, by Andy Lane.

 

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Love Letters to the Dead

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

love lettersby Ava Dellairra, 327 pages, Grades 7-10

Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, Amy Winehouse. What do all of these people have in common? They are all dead, just like Laurel’s sister, May. When Laurel’s English teacher asks the class to write a letter to a dead person as an assignment she has no idea what it is going to do to the new student in her class.  Laurel writes her first letter to Kurt Cobain and then she writes to all the dead famous people that her sister admired, but these letters cannot be her assignment; she cannot bring herself to turn them in. She just writes and writes and writes; somehow writing keeps her feeling close to her sister even though her sister is so very far away from here.

It is hard to lose someone you care about. Some other books exploring this topic are: Frannie in Pieces, by Delia Ephron, Mick Hart Was Here, Barbara Park, Sun and Spoon, by Kevin Henkes, and My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, by Annabel Pitcher.

 

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The Geography of You and Me

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

the-geography-of-you-and-me-by-jennifer-e-smithby Jennifer Smith, 337 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Being caught in an elevator during a blackout seems like everyone’s worst nightmare, and, in fact, it was not a picnic for Lucy and Owen either. On the other hand, sometimes harrowing experiences like these can bring people together. Lucy and Owen are soul-mates, but their paths are not meant converge at this point in time; at this moment their paths are actually moving in opposite directions, but their hearts don’t know it. Lucy and Owen find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another right at the moment that their families are each leaving New York, Lucy’s for Europe and Owen’s for somewhere out west in the U.S. Will their heart’ desire or their geography win; can you really fall in love when you are so far apart?

If you like teenage love stories you might also enjoy: This is What Happy Looks Like also by Jennifer Smith, anything by Sarah Dessen especially The Truth About Forever, or To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han.

 

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

51xgGEKd6oL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_by Ransom Riggs, 382 pages, Grades 8 and up.

CYRM NOMINEE 2015

Jacob’s grandfather has been through a lot; he survived war and the holocaust, he raised and supported a family, but now he seems to be losing his mind just a little which is making Jacob very sad. Jacob loves his grandfather and especially loved all the stories he told, fanciful stories full of magical children with peculiar abilities. One child has bees living in his stomach, another has to wear shoes with weights because otherwise she will spontaneously float up to the ceiling, and another is completely invisible. Of course, as he grew older, the stories seemed silly to him, but when his grandfather tells him to go find Miss Peregrine Jacob begins to believe there might have been more truth to his grandpa’s stories than he thought possible.

If you enjoy fantasy books with unusual characters you might also like: Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, or Eragon, by Christopher Paolini.

 

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A Dark Inheritance

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

dark inheritanceby Chris d’Lacey, 291 pages, Grades 6-8

On the way to school one morning Michael is looking out the car window and worrying about his father, who has been missing for some time. The traffic is stopped and Michael notices a dog off leash running around very close to the edge of a cliff; before he knows it he is saving the dog. The strange thing is, no one remembers him running out of the car or anything really before he is there with the scared pup. He is a bit of a hero which would have been life changing for some, but other things about his life changed in that instant as well and Michael knows there is something weird or supernatural going. Amadeus Kimt understands something extraordinary happened that day as well; in fact, he finds Michael and offers to help find his father too if he does Klimt a favor first, but is Kimt someone he can trust?

If you enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle or Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer then A Dark Inhertance should be a good fit as well.

 

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Since You’ve Been Gone

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

since goneby Morgan Matson, 449 pages, Grades 7 and up

Emily is quiet, but being friends with Sloane has been her ticket to popularity even though she has remained a wall-flower. When Sloane and her family go missing without a word, Emily is left to figure out how to enjoy her life this summer and find out how to have a life without Sloane around to help.

If you enjoy books about teen friendship, you might also like: The Running Dream, by Wendelin Van Draanen, or Bluefish, by Pat Schmatz, or The Lions of Little Rock, by Kristen Levine.

 

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The Invention of Wings

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

web1_Invention-of-Wingsby Sue Monk Kidd, 373 pages, Adult audience

Sarah, the daughter of a plantation owner and slave master, is unusual for her time and place. She believes the African Americans enslaved on her father’s plantation are people and should not be owned. Unfortunately the rest of her family does not feel the same way she does, in fact, her mother is determined to bring her around to the “correct” way of thinking and presents her with the “gift” of an enslaved girl she calls Hettie on her birthday. Sarah tries not to accept the gift without success.

Hettie is a slave name, but Handfull is what her people call her. Handfull’s mother is the cook for Sarah’s family and lives in the house as well. Handfull worries about her mother because, in Handfull’s opinion, she takes too many risks; these risks have ended in terrible physical abuse and Handfull can’t take seeing her mother suffer like that. Sarah learns Handfull’s real name and wants to teach her how to read; Handfull’s mother encourages this seeing that the benefits of knowledge outweigh the risks of getting caught. For enslaved people punishments are so violent and grave it is hard to imagine how anyone can be so brave; these women know that being enslaved in body and mind is far worse than any physical abuse that might befall them. Freedom is the goal at any cost.

If you enjoy historical fiction about American History you might also enjoy: Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson, or The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis, or Uprising, by Margaret Peterson Haddix

 

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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

The_Sweetness_at_the_Bottom_of_the_Pieby Alan Bradley, 385 pages, Adult audience

Flavia de Luce is a spunky 11 year old with a chemistry lab of her own. She lives with her father and sisters, in a large home in the English countryside in the 1950s. Most girls at that time, including Flavia’s sisters Ophelia and Daphne, are interested in dressing up and doing their hair, but Flavia is passionate about researching the nature of various poisons (in fact, she has been known to try out a few of her concoctions on her annoying sisters from time to time) and solving mysteries. When a dead bird with a postage stamp in its beak shows up on their front porch, Flavia decides to investigate. Working on her own might prove too dangerous even for the intrepid and intelligent Flavia de Luce.

If you enjoy historical fiction with strong female characters, you might also enjoy The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, or Deadly, by Julie Chibbaro.

 

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