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Archive for January, 2016

The Hired Girl

Friday, January 29th, 2016

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by Laura Amy Schlitz, 387 pages, Grades 6-8

CYRM NOMINEE 2017

Joan is basically treated like a house slave by her brothers and her father. She cleans, cooks and tends to their animals all day everyday for not a penny. When her mother was alive her father at least allowed the egg money to be hers, but Joan is only 14 and her father cannot see why she would need money of her own. Joan doesn’t really need the money, what she really wants is books to read. She has read the three she owns over and over. One day her teacher comes by to see why she no longer attends school. When she sees her father will not be persuaded to send her back she tries to lend Joan a book or two, but Joan’s father does not allow; he says reading will make her lazy. Next, Joan tries to demand the egg money without success, and then she decides to go on strike to show her father how hard she works and that they really need her. This plan backfires because instead of learning to appreciate her more, her father burns her books to teach her a lesson; the only thing in her life that bring her joy are gone. That is the last straw; Joan decides to run away and try to become a hired girl in Baltimore. Hired girls make as much as $6.00 a week and certainly she can work as hard as any city girl!
If you enjoy historical fiction with female protagonists you might also enjoy: Oh Pioneers, by Willa Cather, Lyddie, by Katherine Patterson, or , Uprising, by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

The Thing About Jellyfish

Friday, January 29th, 2016

24396876by Ali Benjamin, 343 pages, Grades 6-8

You know that moment when you and the best friend you have had all the way through elementary school just don’t seem to be seeing eye to eye anymore? This had just happened to Suzy at the end of the school year last June. Suzy was fed up with Franny and her clique and they had not seen each other all summer. Sometimes friends just grow apart, sometimes friends just need a little break; Suzy knew that. But then her mother got the phone call; Franny drowned. Her best friend was dead, really dead. And, now Suzy cannot understand how this can be true; Franny knows how to swim after all. Suzy is convinced it must have been some kind of freak Jellyfish sting accident, and she is determined to prove it.

If you enjoy sad books that are also about friendship you might also enjoy: Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan, Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine, or Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

Orbiting Jupiter

Friday, January 29th, 2016

41uZrunxtKL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_by Gary Schmidt, 183 pages, Grades 7 and up

CYRM NOMINEE – 2017

Everyone at Jack’s school thinks his new foster brother, Joseph, is trouble. They say he got kicked out of his last school for beating up a teacher. They also say he is angry, mean and prone to violence, but Jack sees him differently. At Jack’s family farm Joseph has to help with all the chores since he is a new member of the household. Joseph doesn’t know much, but he seems to be trying and he never gives up or complains. Jack is patient with Joseph and eventually Joseph opens up and shares his secret; he is a father, and all he can think about is getting back to see his baby, Jupiter.

If you like books about kids persevering despite challenging family situations you might also enjoy: Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor,Guitar Boy, by Mary Jane Auch, or Hold Fast, by Blue Balliet.

All The Light We Cannot See

Friday, January 29th, 2016

51MfO0a70ZL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_by Anthony Doerr, pages, adult fiction

In Paris a little girl named Marie Laure becomes blind, and her father creates a miniature city for her, a replica of their neighborhood, so that she can learn to navigate their neighborhood even without sight. In this way her father keeps her safe so he can continue to go to work at the Museum of Natural History, but when the Nazis occupy Paris, Marie Laure’s father decides someone blind might not be safe and he takes her to the sea to live with her great-uncle. Her father is building her a new miniature that represents the town by the sea when he is captured and taken away.

In Germany Werner is growing up in an orphanage. Life is not easy, but he and his sister manage and at least they have one another. Werner soon discovers that he enjoys taking things apart; one of the first things he dissembled and rebuilt was a radio. As it turns out, Werner has a special talent for radios and is soon fixing things at the orphanage, in fact, he is so good that the Hitler Youth hear about him. Werner is not really old enough to join, but they want him so much that they add a couple of years to his age so that they can recruit him. Werner is happy to be appreciated, but finds himself working among some of the most despicable people in the Nazi army, luckily he keeps his sister in his heart writing her as often as he can; this may be what keeps him human in the midst of the terrible violence of World War II.

This novel is told by these two narrators whose stories alternate and eventually collide in a nail biting conclusion.

If you enjoy historical fiction about World War 2, you might also like: Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, Invasion, by Walter Dean Myers, or Hero on a Bicycle, by Shirley Hughes.

The Paper Cowboy

Friday, January 29th, 2016

20821303by Kristin Levine, 341 pages, Grades 6 and up

At school Tommy is a smart and popular kid that gets away with a lot; he is handsome and charming and these qualities seem to allow him to get forgiven more often than held responsible for his misbehavior. At home, though, it is a different story. Anytime his mother experiences stress or embarrassment, she takes it out on Tommy, and viciously. Tommy’s dad has a lot of other things to worry about, and it seems like Tommy just keeps making bad choices and deserves the trouble he is in. It is the 1950s and no one really knows how to talk about domestic abuse. In addition to Tommy’s home stress, the community is up in arms over potential communists living among them; the country is following Senator McCarthy’s lead as he persecutes and bullies anyone he thinks is a communist sympathizer. In the midst of this tension Tommy’s older sister, the one person he can rely on in his family, ends up in the hospital, and her jobs including: delivering newspapers, bathing the baby, playing with the toddler, burning the trash, and on and on, fall to Tommy. Life is tough, but luckily so is Tommy.

If you enjoy historical fiction you might also like: Twerp, by Mark Goldblat, Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos, or Under the Blood Red Sun, by Graham Sallisbury.

Nest

Monday, January 11th, 2016

20170580by Esther Ehrlich, 329 pages, Grades 6 and up

Naomi, or Chirp as everyone calls her, is living a life full of dancing and laughter with her sister and parents in Cape Cod around 1970. Chirp’s mom has always seemed happy and unflappable until one day she comes down with a mysterious illness. Chirp’s mom is a dancer so when the illness makes movement and even everyday things difficult and unpredictable her mom becomes very depressed. Chirp and her sister take on more and more responsibilities to keep their lives going as their mom sinks into deeper and deeper sadness. Luckily Chirp has a good friend, a real friend, Joey. Joey has troubles of his own so he can relate to Chirp’s personal struggles. Sometimes helping someone else up when you are down yourself brings you personal strength you never knew you had.

If you enjoy realistic fiction about kids overcoming adversity, you might also enjoy: Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine, Counting By Sevens, by Holly Goldberg Sloan, or Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper.