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Archive for April, 2016

Roller Girl

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

51VWEvDVrkL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Graphic Novel by Victoria Jamieson, 240 pages, Grades 6 and up

Astrid’s mom takes her and her best friend, Nicole, to see the Roller Derby and Astrid is instantly hooked! She has it all planned out: Nicole and she will go to derby camp in the summer and become the best jammers in the club, but life has a way of not always turning out the way you think. Next thing you know Astrid is signed up for the camp alone, can hardly skate to save her life, and has to walk a long way to get home every day by herself in the hot sun. The whole thing is a lot more work than she had bargained for, but she is tough and soon learns that in life just like in roller derby you have to learn to be strong and pick yourself up when you find you have been knocked down.

If you enjoy graphic fiction, you might also like: Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, by Deutsch, or Drama, by Raina Telgemeier.

The Boy in the Black Suit

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

21490991by Jason Reynolds, 255 pages, Grades 7 and up

Matt’s mom just passed away; it is a difficult time. His dad is struggling so much that he cannot offer Matt any support. Mr. Ray offers him a job at the funeral home, but he is sure this is the last thing he wants to do. The $15 an hour is hard to pass up, though, and soon enough he is wearing a suit to school so he is ready for work at the funeral home right after. One day while helping out, Matt finds himself sitting at the back of the room during someone’s funeral. Somehow listening to the people share what they loved about the person who had died, and what they will miss and how they experience grief, helps Matt process his own grief. He begins to make a habit of secretly listening to other people’s memorials and this is how he meets Lovey. She has had a hard go of it herself, but her positive nature inspires Matt and helps him heal.

If you like books about overcoming adversity, you might also like: Guitar Boy, by Mary Jane Auch, Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, Ghetto Cowboy, by Greg Neri.

Carry On

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

51aT-+HwVqL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_by Rainbow Rowell, 522 pages, Grades 8 and up

Simon’s roommate, Baz, is probably a vampire, but Simon figures if he had wanted to bite him he has had plenty of opportunities to do it, so Simon probably doesn’t need have anything to worry about. He is more concerned about being able to use his wand; he is supposedly the most powerful magician in centuries, but he can’t even manage the simplest spells, so he is sure they have somehow made a terrible mistake and he will be found out as a fraud at any moment. To make matters worse there is a darkness that is spreading across England and sucking up all the magic in its path called the Mysterious Hum Drum. Simon feels like he is cursed or something because the Hum Drum seems to find Simon wherever he is. Turns out Simon has a lot to worry about in addition to the vampire roommate and the Hum Drum and being terrible at magic he also worries he’s not a very good boyfriend, and that he will most certainly disappoint the Mage who has made his education possible. Luckily he has Agatha to confide in; she is a formidable magician and a solid friend too, but even though she has Simon’s back he is not sure he will be able to survive this year at the Watford School of Magicks.

If you enjoy this book, you might also like Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell.

If you enjoy edgy books about magic and supernatural creatures you might also like: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish McBride.

Fuzzy Mud

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

61NMkpecIoL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_by Louis Sachar, 181 pages, Grades 6 and up

Tamaya and Marshall have been walking to and from school together since they were in elementary school even though they are two years apart. This year Marshall is having some trouble with a bully in his grade, and Tamaya is feeling for him. One day Marshall takes a strange route home to avoid the bully, Chad, and they find some strange mud in the woods. They think it looks weird but figure mud is mud until Tamaya’s skin starts burning and tingling where she touched it. What is this fuzzy mud? Is Tamaya allergic? Is it contagious? It turns out it is something a lot more sinister than poison oak or stinging nettle and now the whole town, or maybe the whole world might be at risk.

If you like stories about biotechnology or genetic science, you might also enjoy: Eve and Adam, by Michael Grant, Double Identity, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, or even Leviathan, a steam-punk historical fantasy, by Scott Westerfeld or Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton.

Dream On, Amber

Monday, April 18th, 2016

25965546by Emma Shevah, 266 pages, Grades 6 and up

Amber’s mom is Italian and her father is Japanese, but she lives in England with her grandmother, mom and little sister. This year she is about to start middle school in a new neighborhood which gets her contemplating her identity. She looks Japanese, but her father hasn’t been in contact since she was a little kid so she doesn’t really feel connected to that part of her heritage. She is not the only thinking about their dad, her little sister is convinced she can get him to come to her birthday party and Amber feels like she needs to help set her sister straight; their dad is not coming home for that or anything else anytime soon.

If you like epistolary novels (novels written like journals or a series of documents) you might also enjoy: Absolutely Normal Chaos, by Sharon Creech, or Regarding the Fountains, by Kate Klise.  If you enjoy books about identity, you might also enjoy My Basmati Bat Mitzva, by Paula Freedman, or Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor.

A Year Without Mom

Monday, April 18th, 2016

without momGraphic Novel by Dasha Tolstikova, 167 pages, Grades 6 and up

Dasha’s mom is moving to the United States for one year and leaving her behind in Russia with her grandparents. Dasha is plenty responsible and independent and she gets along fine with her grandma and grandpa but there are some things 12 year olds just can’t discuss with their grandparents. Dasha’s year is full of hard decisions and some heartache and Dasha has to brave it all on her own.

If you enjoy graphic novels you might also like:  The Memory Bank, by Coman & Shepperson, or Little White Duck, by Liu and Martinez.

Echo

Monday, April 18th, 2016

echoby Pam Munoz Ryan, 585 pages, Grades 6-8

Echo is a book of connected stories all following a particular musical instrument through time. The first takes place in Germany at the beginning of World War 2, 1933. Friedrich’s family is worried he might be noticed and persecuted by the Nazi’s because he is such an unique child. Even though they are unable to disentangle Friedrich’s sister from the Nazi youth, they know they must escape what Germany is becoming. The next story takes place in 1935 in an orphanage in Pennsylvania; Mike and his brother Frankie are hoping to get adopted, but are planning a daring escape in the event that they don’t get adopted before its time to send the older brother to an institution for teens that would separate the boys. The final story takes place in California in 1942; Ivy Maria’s family are farmers.  A neighboring family has asked them to oversee their farm in trade for partial ownership. Their neighbors are Japanese and have been forced to move to internment camps after Pearl Harbor was attacked and leave their farm unattended. Ivy’s father wants to help, and sees it could be a good opportunity for his family, but there are some who would like to ransack the Yamamoto’s house while they are away. Will the family be safe there? All the stories are folded together in the last section’s satisfying conclusion; it is a long read, but such a hard one to put down once you have started.

If you enjoy historical fiction books you might also like: Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan, Jefferson’s Sons, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, or Rodzina, by Karen Cushman.