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Posts Tagged «brothers and sisters»

I’ll Give You The Sun

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

sunby Jandy Nelson, 371 pages, Grades 8 and up

Noah and Jude are twins. In the old days when things were going well and they were a happy family, Noah and Jude were really close, but now they have grown apart, and Jude is wondering if she even knows her brother anymore.  Their story is told in the twins’ voices. Jude narrates her chapters from her 16-year-old self’s point of view, looking back on their childhood and events going on right now. Noah’s pages are narrated from his 13-year-old self’s point of view before their family experienced tragedy, before everything changed. Their stories come together in the end, but can they recover from this heartbreak, heal their family, and reconnect with one another?

If you enjoy books about siblings you might also enjoy: Speed of Life, by Carol Weston, Drums Girls and Dangerous Pie, by Jordan Sonnenblick.  Another great book about family problems is: Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor.

The Thing About Luck

Monday, April 16th, 2018

8559036by Cynthia Kadohata, 269 pages, Grades 6-8

Summer’s family has had a lot of bad luck recently. Her parents were just called back to Japan to help with some elderly relatives which means she and her brother have to help extra hard with the  harvest. Summer also just about died from malaria which makes her especially worried about mosquitos Her grandparents, whose occupation is to travel with migrant harvesters, are getting a little old for such back-breaking work. Summer has to help her grandmother with preparing meals for the team of harvesters as they travel farm to farm. Her grandfather drives one of the combines that cuts the wheat, and everyone is working fast and hard to get the wheat in before the dreaded rain comes. Summer is just wishing for a bit of good luck to come their way. Her family has had enough bad luck, that’s for sure, but the thing about luck is, you never know what kind you’re going to get.

If you enjoy realistic fiction books about families you might also like: The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, by Pablo Cartaya, Family Game Night, by Mary Lambert, or  Deliver Us From Normal, by Kate Klise.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Monday, April 16th, 2018

51YD0qrSr6L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_by Becky Albertalli, Grades 8 and up

Simon has a secret crush; it is so secret he can’t even share it with his amazing friends his super supportive family or his adoring little sister. He can’t share it because no one knows what he knows about himself, no one, even all his super supportive family and friends, no one but Blue. He met Blue online and they write each other every day. Blue is living a secret life too, so on top of being cool and liking the same kinds of music and enjoying talking about the same topics, Blue also gets Simon’s predicament. Simon is so worried about losing the only person that really understands him fully that he puts his other friendships at risk to protect his connection to Blue. But who is Blue, really? They only have ever emailed. What if he is not really who Simon imagines? What if it is all fake? What if he is making some of the biggest mistakes of his life?

If you enjoy books about first love or the balancing act of friendship and romance you might also like: My Basmati Bat Mitzva, by Paula J. Freedman, One Man Guy, by Michael Barakiva, or To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han.

Refugee

Monday, November 27th, 2017

51pelgst+7L._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_by Alan Gratz, 338 pages, Grades 6-8

Three stories, three different times, all refugees escaping a beloved home where it has become too dangerous to continue to live. Josef’s family is escaping Nazi Germany in 1939, Isabel and her family are braving an escape from communist Cuba in 1994, and in 2015 Mahmoud and his family are desperately running from the violent war in Syria that continues today. Each family encounters a series of unbelievable challenges and dangers that threaten their lives, their sanity and their faith in humanity itself. Josef and his mother board the crowded ship, the St. Louis, with his father who is suffering delusions and severe anxiety after spending some time in a concentration camp. Isabel’s sea journey is in a makeshift boat built by a neighbor; her pregnant mother courageously comes along despite the fact that she is almost due to give birth. Mahmoud’s family endures abuse, and even imprisonment and beating as they try to make their way north to Germany. Each story alternates, but you can choose to read each story chronologically following the narrator if you prefer.

If you enjoy harrowing stories of historical fiction you might also enjoy: A Night Divided, by Jennifer Nielsen, Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys, Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson, or Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan.

Family Game Night

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

family game nightby Mary E. Lambert, 245 pages, Grades 6 and up

Annabelle has a ritual. She enters her room and walks from corner to corner to corner to make sure that nothing is out of place and nothing has been added to her belongings. Annabelle’s mother is a hoarder which means she loves to keep everything and is always looking for more places to put her treasures since the entire house is filled top to bottom with the million things: newspapers piled as high as the ceiling, empty cracker boxes, sheets and pillows and other bedding. This clutter causes everyone in the family a lot of stress; Annabelle mostly wants to escape it and tries to spend as much time at her friends’ houses as she can. This escape strategy is almost allowing her to live a “normal” life, but then her grandma arrives and tries to bring order back into their lives. Everyone knows that sometimes when you really want to get something clean it has to get a lot messier first; the question is can Annabelle survive the chaos?

If you like books about family challenges, you might also like: Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, or Nest, by Esther Erlich, or Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan.

The Nest

Monday, September 25th, 2017

nestby Kenneth Oppel, 244 pages, Grades 7 and up

Wasps – yes the flying insects – keep talking to Steve in his dreams which makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep. His baby brother is very sick and so sleep does not come easy to anyone in the family, and because everyone is so preoccupied Steve is reluctant to tell anyone about the creepy nightmares. The dreams feel so real that Steve begins to wonder if the wasps building a nest outside his window have somehow found a way to speak to him while he is sleeping. At first the wasps whisper messages that make Steve think they are his friends, but when their messages become more threatening he is filled with terror and the lines between dreams and reality begin to disappear.

 

If you enjoy creepy horror stories, you might also like: Coraline or The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. If you enjoy books about families struggling with health issues you might also try: A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, Nest, by Esther Ehrlich, or Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie, by Jordan Sonnenblick

As Brave As You

Monday, August 28th, 2017

26875552by Jason Reynolds, 410 pages, Grades 6 and up

Genie wants to know things, and when he doesn’t know something he can tend to worry about it. He absolutely loves Google because he can ask it all the things he is curious about and he usually gets an answer, but this summer he and his brother are staying with their grandparents where there is no internet. He went from Brooklyn to rural Virginia where everything is a mystery and he doesn’t even have Google! Genie is not having any trouble keeping busy, though. He has personal mysteries to investigate – he keeps track of questions in his notebook , a new landscape to navigate, and, of course, chores, like scooping poop and taking care of birds – things you don’t have to do growing up in the city.

If you enjoy books about summertime or visiting grandparents you might also like: A Long Way From Chicago, by Richard Peck, or Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos, or Watsons Go To Birmingham, by Christopher Paul Curtis.

The Leaving

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

by Tara Altebrando,   pages, Grades 8 and up

leavingEleven years ago Avery’s brother and 5 other 5-year-olds went missing after their first day of kindergarten. Today five of them mysteriously returned, but Max still has not come home. Stranger still, all the returned teenagers don’t remember anything of the last 11 years of their lives. They all have particular talents and skills and have basic knowledge as though someone has been educating them consistently. They pass aptitude tests, one can draw, one knows how to use a camera, a couple can drive, but none remember how they learned these things. This mystery and the fact that Max has not returned has left the whole town suspended in a state of relief – because some children have returned – and tension – because no one knows where they have been, what has gone on for 11 years. Many wonder who these children have become, but Avery mostly wants to know what has become of her brother, Max.

If you enjoy suspenseful stories and don’t mind them a little creepy you might also like: Break My Heart 1,000 Times, by Daniel Waters, Ink and Ashes, by Valynne E. Maetani, or The Reader, by Traci Chee.

The Sun Is Also a Star

Friday, January 27th, 2017

28763485by Yoon, 348 pages, Grades 8 and up

Natasha, Daniel and the Universe all come together to tell this story. Natasha is having a bad day; her parents brought her to the United States from Jamaica when she was just 8. They immigrated illegally and now it looks like they are being deported. The thing is, Natasha can’t remember anything but being American, and she has goals and aspirations that she has worked hard to put in place here in the U.S. She didn’t choose to move without the proper authority, and she has no idea what being Jamaican even looks like. Daniel has always been the good son; his brother is the trouble-maker. His family appreciates the fact that he studies hard and follows the rules, but his family also has plans for his future that don’t fit with Daniel’s own dreams for himself. How can he reconcile these two sides of himself: the good kid and the passionate artist?  He is a poet and a dreamer; Natasha is a scientist and a realist. It would seem like their two life paths are too separate to ever intersect, but the Universe has another plan in mind.

 

If you enjoy realistic fiction books about teens you might also like The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, or I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson, or Every Day, by David Levithan.

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere

Monday, November 14th, 2016

51azmwdlx8l-_sy344_bo1204203200_by Julie T. Lamans, 321 pages, Grades 6 and up

CYRM NOMINEE 2016

Armani was so excited about celebrating her birthday with her friends and family. First the storm keeps her friends away and cancels her party, then the storm forces them into the attic and onto the roof. Hurricane Katrina turns her world is turned upside down and inside out. Houses are filled with water, cars are upside down on top of roofs, people are being pulled away by the water and heat. Armani is forced to grow up a lot more quickly than she imagined, and she wonders how she and her family and friends will make it through.

If you would like to read more about Hurricane Katrina you might like: Zane and the Hurricane, by W.R. Philbrick, or Zeitoun a biography by David Eggers.

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.

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.

Sparkers

Friday, January 9th, 2015

A1zxt5y5zxLby Eleanor Glewwe, 323 pages, Grades 5-8

 

Marah is on a race against time to find a cure for the dreaded Dark Eyes Disease; her brother and best friend are already sick. Unfortunately, Marah is a Sparker, the lowest class in her society, and even though she is extremely smart she will never be allowed to study or become as successful as anyone in the magician class. A chance encounter with a magician girl ends up providing her a partner in her quest for a cure; the little magician girl’s older brother is on a mission to find a cure as well. The two unlikely allies find themselves up against government officials, family members, the difficult translation of ancient texts and the general lack of information of their society’s past as they struggle for an answer. Will they make it in time to save the people they love?

 

If you like fantasy books that feel a little like historical fiction you might also enjoy: Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, or Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman.

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.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

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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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

ToAllTheBoysI_veLovedBefore_FinalCoverby Jenny Han, 255 pages, Grades 7-12

Lara Jean and her sisters call themselves the Song Girls after their mother’s last name. When their mother dies that special bond and their loving daddy helps them keep them all close, but it is her big sister Margot that takes over all the big family responsibilities and the mommy role especially for their younger sister, Kitty. When Margot leaves for college Lara Jean finds herself stepping into some pretty big shoes; she is having a hard time measuring up. Lara Jean has never really had a boyfriend, but she has fallen in love before and she keeps a secret box of love letters written to her former crushes. In the midst of juggling school, finding her way socially, and all the new jobs she is taking over from Margot, somehow her secret letters are winding up in the hands of the boys she wrote them to! How did this happen? Could anything be more embarrassing? How can she recover from this, and keep things at home going in Margot’s absence?

If you enjoy realistic fiction about fitting in at school you might also like: The Misfits, Totally Joe, or Addie on the Inside by James Howe. If you like teen romance stories you might also like The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

One Came Home

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Amysbookby Amy Timberlake, 257 pages, Grades 6-8

Georgie does not believe her sister, Agatha, is dead even when the sheriff shows her family a body wearing the dress her mother made for Agatha. Georgie and her sister don’t always see things the same way: Georgie is planning to take over the family store, and Agatha wants to go to college even though that is unusual for women in 1871, but Georgie knows her sister is too strong willed and smart to end up dead. The facts are that her sister did run off and no one has heard from her, the body has bright red hair just like Agatha’s, Georgie’s mother believes it is her daughter and proceeds to grieve and bury her accordingly, but Georgie is so convinced that cannot be her sister that she decides to investigate Agatha’s disappearance to see if she can scare up the truth and hopefully bring her sister home.

If you like historical fiction taking place in this time period you might also enjoy Lily, by Cindy Bonner, or Sunshine Rider: the First Vegetarian Western, by Ric Lynden Hardman.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

The Bad Beginning

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

badbeginningby Lemony Snicket, 162 pages, Grades 6-8

*Student Review*

If you enjoy reading books with happy endings, or happy beginnings, or even a few happy bits in the middle, this is not the book for you. I'm sure there are plenty of books out there about cheerful little elves surrounded by unicorns and rainbows that you could read. This book, however, I am sad to report, is a very unpleasant story wrought with misfortune and despair, a word here meaning "extreme sadness" or "depression". This book details the struggles of the Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, an inventor, a reader, and a biter. We follow them on their journey through many unfortunate events as they try to escape Count Olaf's devious, a word here meaning "mischievous" or "evil", schemes. In this book, you will encounter a repulsive villain, a disastrous fire, spaghetti, itchy clothes, a troupe of actors, and a plot to steal a fortune.

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket is one of my favorite books, and the Series of Unfortunate Events series gets better and better as you read on. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good, quick, read. Lemony Snicket never ceases to amaze, and this book is the start of an amazing series.

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Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Apollo’s Outcasts

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

ApolllosOutcastsby Allen Steele,  311 pages,  Grades 7 and up

Jamey was born on the moon; his bones did not develop to support his weight in earth’s gravity so since he came home to earth as a toddler he has not been able to walk without assistive technology.  Life is not always easy for Jamey, his two sisters and their dad coping without their mother who died on the moon when Jamey was just a baby, but the family is hanging in there sticking together, until they day they have to make their escape.  One early morning before the sun has risen, Jamey’s sister wakes him and tells him to pack an overnight bag, and do it fast!  The family piles into their SUV and speeds through the dark military patrolled streets to the launching pad on the outskirts of town.  The next thing Jamey knows he is on a space shuttle with a bunch of other teens headed for the moon and one sister and his father are being left behind where the danger or world wide war looks inevitable.

If you enjoy science fiction war stories you might also enjoy Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, or Legend, by Marie Lu.  Or, if you like stories about kids moving to a new home, you might also like Deliver Us From Normal, by Kate Klise.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Hero On A Bicycle

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

hero on a bikeby Shirley Hughes,   213 pages,  Grades 6-8

Paolo lives with his sister and parents in a village outside of Florence, Italy during the second world war.  The city is occupied with Nazi soldiers, and the Partisans (Italians organizing on the side of the allies) roam the hills in hiding waiting for the allied war to come to Italy.  Paolo’s family has always been considered good citizens even though his mother is English, but when Paolo’s father disappears and is suspected of joining the Partisans many of their friends are not allowed to spend time with them. Between this, the curfew, the rations and all the other wartime constraints that Paolo feels cooped up and wants something exciting to do; he begins to sneak out of the house at night on his bicycle to ride into Florence. Soon enough Paolo does not need to go looking for adventure and he realizes boredom was just the calm before the storm.

 

The author, Shirley Hughes, is British and grew up in Liverpool, but she spent time living in Florence and was inspired by the stories of a family she came to know who had helped escaped Allied soldiers get protection from the Partisans. This is a link to her website: http://www.heroonabicycle.co.uk/p/author.html

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

Hunger Games

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

by Suzanne Collins, 374 pages, Grades 8 and up.

Student review!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is set in the post-apacolyptic society of Panem. The society is split into 12 districts controlled by the richest and most powerful place: The Capitol. The Capitol holds an annual “Hunger Games” in order to keep the districts from rebelling. The games are a fight to the death; two people from each district, a boy and a girl, are chosen from each district and placed in an arena to fight.  The show is projected to all of Panem.  The twelfth district is a very poor district that provides coal for the capitol; families there struggle to survive as it is.  This is where Katniss and Primrose Everdeen live with their mother.  Katniss hunts forages for food illegally just to keep from her family from starving. When the annual draw of names comes around ensions are high within the district, and Katniss is nervous because Prim has to put her name in for the first time.  As a massive crowd gathers around to watch the “reaping,” everyone wonders who will have to fight in the Hunger Games this year.

Next in the series: Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

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My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

mantepieceby Annabel Pitcher, 211 pages, Grades 7-10

Jamie is an optimistic soul whose life is crumbling around him.  Five years ago one of his twin sisters was killed in a terrorist attack in London.  Her ashes are a constant reminder of the family’s loss.  Jamie was only five when this happened, so he has no real memories of this sister alive and does not understand the reason the urn is such a central part of their current lives. Their father gives the urn offerings of food, and they string up a stocking for it at Christmas time.  

Jamie and his other sister, Jas, are trying to get by on their own as each of their parents falls into despair.  Their mother abandons them, and their father moves them to the country to try to start again, but can’t pull himself together to get to work, or even to put the beer down, get off the couch and take care of his children.  

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is a harrowing story of a troubled family trying to move forward in the wake of great disaster, but it is also the story of personal courage, friendship, and love that breaks all the rules and helps us carry on.

If you enjoy sad stories you might also like:  See You at Harry’s, by Jo Knowles, or Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine.  

If you appreciate books whose main characters have a challenging parental situation, you might also like Guitar Boy, by M.C. Auchs, or Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

See You At Harry’s

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

seeyouhby Johanna Knowles, 310 pages, Grades 6-9

Fern’s father owns a diner called Harry’s and he is always coming up with publicity schemes that he hopes will bring in more customers.  In this family you never know what kind of crazy t-shirt you’ll have to pose in to advertise the restaurant.  

The only one who is ever enthusiastic about these nutty ideas is Fern’s little brother, Charlie, who is only 3 years old.  Her teenaged older siblings are even more disgusted than Fern is with their dad’s TV ads and trucks plastered with family photos inviting you to come down to Harry’s.  

Life is pretty busy with both parents working at the restaurant, and four kids to keep track of, but even though the older kids often feel neglected and taken for granted, everyone seems to love one another. One day a tragic event changes their lives forever; can their love weather such a brutal storm?

If  you enjoy sad stories you might also like Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine, or My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, by Annabel Pitchner.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Things a Brother Knows

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

brother knowsby Dana Reinhardt     242 pages     Grades 7 and up

CYRM NOMINEE 2012

Student Review

Levi Katznelson’s older brother, Boaz, has just returned from three years in the marines, years that were very difficult for Levi and his family. The whole town is excited he’s back. Everyone is calling Boaz a hero. But Boaz has changed since the last time Levi saw him. He stays shut in his room and refuses to open up to Levi. Unfortunately, Levi’s attempts to get Boaz back to his old self are shut down by Boaz’s unwillingness. When Levi discovers that Boaz is planning on leaving again, on a trip that will last all summer, he decides to go with him.

This young adult novel by Dana Reinhardt is not too long, but delivers a powerful message. It is a book is for people who are comfortable with adult humour and, at times, emotional situations. Narrated by Levi, a high schooler who has lived in his older brother’s shadow all his life, the story frequently reflects back to before Boaz left for the army when he was a high school star.  The best kind of novel is the kind that makes you reflect back, and thats exactly what Reinhardt has done. Through her writing you can feel the emotions of Levi whom, even though he is physically back, tries to bring his older brother home. AH

If you enjoy books that have to do with family in the army and finding yourself you might also like: Greetings from Planet Earth, by Barbara Kerley and Dogtag Summer, by Elizabeth Partridge.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Middle of Nowhere

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Middle-of-Nowhere-cover-81-140x206by Caroline Anderson, 214 pages, Grades 5-8

Curtis has been a foster kid before the last time his mother disappeared.  That time he was only six, the same age Artie is now, and his foster brother was a bully who made his life miserable.  

That is why this time when his mom doesn’t come home Curtis takes care of things himself.  He is convinced if they let someone know she is missing, they will be separated and sent to terrible foster families.  It seems possible Curtis might manage it when Mom is only gone for a few days, but as those days stretch into weeks and weeks into months, it is too much for a 12-year-old boy to handle.  

Luckily when a neighbor lady asks Curtis for a hand, they realize they can help each other and the boys manage a little longer on their own, but Mrs. Burt decides they all need a summer vacation, so she takes them to “the middle of nowhere” and Curtis starts to worry he will never see his mother again. 

If you enjoy books about kids trying to make the best of a bad situation, you might also like:  Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, or Guitar Boy, by M.J. Auch.

 

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A World Away

Monday, September 17th, 2012

world awayby Nancy Grossman, 394 pages, Grades 7 and up

Eliza has lived her whole life sheltered from modern technology, and she has also lived a life free of modern problems like materialism, consumerism and deceit.  Eliza and her family are Amish and she has never left the Amish community where they do not have telephones, movie theatres, or shopping malls.  They do not listen to music, and the girls do not wear pants.  

Once in their lives Amish adolescents are offered an opportunity to see what it is like to live among “the English” – as they call people living outside the Amish community. During this important year, called Rumspringa, Amish teens are allowed to explore the world outside and decide which life they prefer.  Once they promise themselves to the Amish, they cannot leave without shame, so the decision is made very thoughtfully.  

A World Away is the story of Eliza’s Rumspringa year.  The magic of technology in all its forms is exciting, but there are things about her home she misses terribly.  Which life will she choose?

If you enjoy reading about adolescents challenged to make difficult decisions, you might also like reading:  The Year of Impossible Goodbyes, by Sook Nyul Chol, or Small Acts of Amazing Courage, by Gloria Whelan.

 

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Jefferson’s Sons

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Jeffersons-Sons-Coverby Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, 360 pages, Grades 6-9

History shows that Thomas Jefferson had a second family with one of the women enslaved on his plantation.  Sally Hemings was the mother of four of Thomas Jefferson’s children:  Beverly, Harriet, Madison and Eston.  
Bradley’s work of historical fiction uses the president’s sons, Beverly, Madison and Eston, as narrators.  Each eleven year old boy tells his part of the story, so the novel, in three parts, is an adolescent’s point of view.
There are many things that happen on the plantation that are scary and frustrating for the enslaved people who live there; almost nothing is in their control. It is clear that Jefferson’s children are given special privileges for enslaved people: music lessons, work in the house instead of in the field, etc, but, in the end, they are still trapped and controlled by their white master.  The children are never allowed to refer to Jefferson as daddy or papa, but he has promised each of them freedom when they come of age.  Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings hope that those children who are light complected can pass into white society and improve their situations.  This would mean never seeing their mother again; whites and blacks did not freely associate in those days. And what about the children who cannot pass for white?  Will Jefferson’s sons find freedom and find better lives off the plantation?
If you enjoy historical fiction books about people struggling for justice you might also enjoy Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan, or Homeless Bird, by Gloria Whelan.

Wildwood

Friday, January 6th, 2012

wildwoodby Colin Meloy, 545 pages, Grades 4-7

CYRM NOMINEE 2015

Student Review

        Prue McKeel’s life is ordinary until a murder of crows kidnaps her baby brother Mac. They take him into a place called “Impassable Wilderness.” This place is a big green area labeled “I.W” on every map of Portland, Oregon. Prue and her friend Curtis have to venture into this wilderness from which no one has ever returned alive. They travel through forests finding not only warring creatures,  and menacing figures, but friendship, as they struggle for the freedom from this wilderness. Prue and Curtis uncover a whole new secret world hidden within the trees; a wilderness called Wildwood. From talking coyotes and birds to bandit camps and an evil governess, Wildwood is packed with mysteries. Can they save Prue’s brother and get out alive? You’ll have to find out.  MC

Click here to see if it’s available for check out.

 

The Memory Bank

Friday, May 27th, 2011

memory_bankby Carolyn Coman 263 pages  Grades 6-8

Hope watches her sister get smaller and smaller as her parents drive their car away.  “Forget her!” they tell Hope, but she loves Honey, how can her parents abandon her on the side of the road. The Memory Bank is told in two ways from two points of view.  Honey is quickly picked up and handed a lollipop by a smiling lady and a bunch of laughing kids; her story is told in pictures, while Hope’s is described in words.

 

Hope cannot forget her sister, of course, and ends up being investigated by the World Wide Memory Bank for delinquent memory creation; instead of creating new memories, all Hope can do is think about her sister.  Maybe the bank will hold the key to finding her.

The authors  flash back and forth between these two adventures until they come together for a smashing finish.

Click here to see if it’s available for check out.

If you like graphic novels you might also enjoy: Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, by Barry Deutsch, or The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures, by  Brian Selznick

 

Guitar Boy

Friday, May 13th, 2011
guitar boyby M. J. Auch      260 pages        Grades 6-9
Travis is out on the street.  His father, at his wits end after his mother’s accident, lost his temper and kicked him out of the house with nothing but the clothes on his back and his mom’s old guitar. Not only does Travis have to worry about how to survive on the street,  he is also worried about the rest of his family. His younger sister had to give up going to school to take care of their three younger siblings; the three little ones are missing their mom, and don’t really understand what has happened to her; his father is so distraught he has lost one job and cannot find another; his mother, rather than being helped to recover, has been housed in a convalescent home with a lot of people not expected to get any better.

Travis has his hands full, and his pockets empty. Guitar Boy is a different kind of survival story.

Other stories about difficult family situations are Bloomability, by Sharon Creech, and If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period, by Gennifer Choldenko.

 

Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom

Monday, February 7th, 2011

george clooneyBy Susin Nielsen,  229 pages,  Grades 6-8

Violet is having a hard year.She almost poisons her step-sisters (unintentionally, of course), she breaks a classmate’s nose (less than unintentionally), she crashes into a movie star’s car (honestly by mistake), only to name a few of the mishaps of her seventh grade year.Really, Violet is only tying to make it through middle school, survive visits with her dad and Jennica (her dad’s new wife, who is fake in more ways than one), and make sure her mom doesn’t fall for the wrong guy again, but somehow nothing seems to go as planned.If only she could get George Clooney to write her back, she is sure he will love her mom and make her real sister’s and her life much better.

If you enjoy realistic fiction with a bit of humor like Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison, orAbsolutely Normal Chaos, by Sharon Creech, then Dear George Clooney… might be for you.

Mockingbird

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

mockingbird-by-kathyrn-erskine-book-cover-1By Kathryn Erskine, 235 pages, Grade 6-8

Caitlin and her father are feeling broken after tragedy strikes their family a second time.  Caitlin’s mother died of cancer three years before and now her brother, Devon, is dead after a violent incident at school.   On “the day their lives fell apart”, as Caitlin calls it, Devon’s door was slammed shut and Caitlin doesn’t feel like she can open it.  She misses her brother, and his  room and all it holds especially a special place next to his bed where she used go for comfort.  It was Devon who used to help her cope with the worlds of the town, the classroom and the playground.   He  always said Caitlin was brave; he even liked to call her Scout after the character in To Kill a Mockingbird.  Now that Caitlin’s dad spends a lot of time crying  and Caitlin, who has Asperger’s syndrome, has to be especially brave.  She would like to help her family put the pieces back together, but she is not sure how to do that.  After talking to the school counselor one day, she decides what they need is  “closure” and she is on a mission to get it.  But, first she has to find out what it is and how you get a hold of  it.

For other stories about how families find closure try Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park, or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.

Crunch

Monday, October 11th, 2010

crunch-leslie-connor-book-cover-artby Leslie Connor, 330 pages – Grades 5-8

A sudden oil crisis leaves Dewey and his older sister to run the family’s bike shop and care for their younger siblings while their parents are stranded up north.  The crunch has made the bike shop incredibly busy, and to make matters worse, a thief is stealing precious precious parts, but Dewey has a plan to identify the culprit.

Connections:  Check out the author’s website.  If you like mysteries with an environmental theme, try reading Gloria Shurzynski’s National Park series.

The Alchemyst

Friday, September 24th, 2010

the-alchemyst-book-coverBy Michael Scott – p. 375  – Grade 6-9 – fantasy

Michael Scott is a professor of mythology and was inspired by the TRUE  story of Nicholas Flamel.  He was actually a real person!  He was born in Paris on September 28, 1330, and buried 1418, but the tomb is empty! Thus begins the myth, or history, of the alchemyst, Nicholas Flamel, immortal and still alive in today?

The Alchemyst begins in modern day New York City; teenage twins Sophie and Josh have moved there  for the summer.   The brother works in a bookstore  for Nick Flemming (name sound familiar?) and the sister works at a cafe across the street.  Right away the bookstore is blown up by mud people and a menacing character named Dr. John Dee.  When Dee and his muddy henchmen storm into the bookstore, Josh is watching from a hiding place.  Dee grabs Flamel’s wife, Perry, and almost makes off with the most powerful book of magic, but Josh manages to grab a few key pages before he and Mr. Flemming have to escape the explosion.   Flamel believes Josh and Sophie might be the twins of the prophecy, so he wants to keep them close in the hopes of finding his precious wife and the stopping Dee from destroying the world as we know it.   From the moment the bookstore explodes Josh and Sophie are on a roller coaster adventure, full of magical, mythical creatures and frightening beasts.  Sequels The Magician and The Sorceress continue the perilous adventure.

Connections:  Other adventure fantasies The Lightning Thief series, by Rick Riordan, Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling, The Alchemist’s Cat, by Robin Jarvis

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

calpurniaby Jacqueline Kelly   p. 340  Grades 5-8

All twelve-year old Calpurnia Tate wants is to become a scientist.  She’s spent the long hot summer of 1899 in the small town of Fentress, Texas,  as an amateur naturalist recording her observations of and questions about nature in a notebook–questions such as, ” Why don’t caterpillars have eyelids?”  She finally thinks her parents understand her and acknowledge her dream when she begins to unwrap her birthday present from them.  It’s a book, and the first word of the title is Science. Unfortunately, the whole title is The Science of Housewifery!

Calpurnia is the only daughter in a family of seven children.  She has no interest in the traditional home arts a young girl at the turn of the century should be learning to make a good wife.  Instead, she develops a close relationship with her reclusive grandfather, who encourages her to use the scientific method in her quest for answers about the natural world and his own quest for a new species.

This is a very entertaining read with an intelligent, spunky protagonist, family humor, sibling rivalry, and good science.  Let’s hope for a sequel.

Connections:  Each chapter of this novel begins with a quote from Darwin’s Origin of Species, so you may also want to read Charles Darwin : Naturalist by Margaret J. Anderson or Darwin’s Ghost: the Origin of Species updated by Steve Jones.  Other good novels dealing with the theory of evolution are The True Adventures of Charley Darwin by Carolyn Meyer and Monkey Town by Ronald Kidd.

Imperfections

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

imperfection_by_lynda_durrantBy Lynda Durrant   p. 171   Grades 5-8

What is perfection?  When Rosemary Elizabeth arrives at the Shaker community of Pleasant Hill, she has plenty of delicious food to eat, spotlessly clean, white clothes to wear and beautiful surroundings.  She also gets to leave her drunk, abusive father and knows that her younger brother and sister are safe, too.  But, can Rosemary Elizabeth live up to the Shaker ideal of perfection with all of the rules about eating, sleeping, dressing, working, praying and talking?  Even if she can, does she want to?

Connections – Other stories that depict the impact of the Civil War on the youth is Red Moon at Sharpsburg by Rosemary Wells and The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick.

Wild Girl

Monday, January 18th, 2010

wild girlBy Patricia Reilly Giff, 147 pages.  Grades 4-7

Who is Wild Girl?  Is she the skittish filly from South Carolina or Lidie, the twelve year-old girl from Brazil.  After being raised by her aunt and uncle for the past five years, Lidie moves  to New York to join her father and brother, who train race horses for a living.  Her dad and brother are expecting the pink and Disney loving seven year-old that they remember from back home in Brazil, and Lidie is having a hard time showing them the strong, capable young woman that she has become.  While Lidie struggles with her new life in a new home, new country, new school and new language, the filly is also having a hard time getting comfortable in her new home.

Connections:  For other stories sharing the immigrant experience, try reading Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan,  Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate, or Nory Ryan’s Song also by Giff.  For other horse stories, try reading Paint the Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan, The Georges and the Jewels by Jane Smiley, or Season of Ponies by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

The London Eye Mystery

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

londoneyeby Siobhan Dowd,  p. 323  Grades 5-8

Ted loves the weather, listening to forecasts and tracking changes, but he wasn’t sure that he was going to like having his aunt (called Hurricane Glo by his father) and his cousin come for a visit.When Ted’s cousin, Salim, disappeared from the ferris wheel-like London Eye, Ted initially came up with 8 theories about what could have happened to him, including the more mundane, we missed him getting out, to the outrageous possibilities of a time-warp or Salim spontaneously combusting (Ted’s favorite).Salim’s mother and Ted’s parents are frantic with worry, and don’t listen to Ted’s ideas about where he could have gone.His older sister, Kat, does listen, and together they try to use the available clues (pictures in Salim’s camera and a souvenir photo) to solve the mystery.

Connections:  Other books that have characters with Asperger’s syndrome or Autism include:  Rules by Cynthia Lord, The Very ordered existence of Merilee Marvelous by Suzanne Crowley, and Al Capone does my shirts by Gennifer Choldenko.

Savvy

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

savvyby Ingrid Law, p. 342  Grades: 5-7

Change can be scary, but as Mississippi Beaumont (aka Mib) approaches her thirteenth birthday, she can’t wait to see what special savvy (magic power) she will possess.Her oldest brother Rocket’s electric savvy keeps the car going and the lights on, but blows light bulbs and causes blackouts when he can’t scumble (control it).Her other brother Fish’s savvy caused a hurricane on his 13th birthday that forced the whole family to move to the Kansas/Nebraska border from their coastal home in Mississippi to avoid large bodies of water.The other changes that come with turning 13 (changing feelings, friends, fashion, etc.) prove to be more challenging for Mib.When her father ends up in the hospital after a car accident, Mib is determined to get to him and prove that her savvy will save the day.

Connections:  Other books with seemingly normal kids having magical talents or in magical situations include:  The Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, The Anybodies by N.E. Bode, Five Children and It by E. Nesbit, and Half Magic by Edward Eager

Thirteenth Child

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Thirteenth-Childby Patricia C. Wrede, p. 344 – Grades 6 & Up

Eff and her twin brother Lan live in a magical, alternative version of the the western frontier.  Eff is born the thirteenth child, a position that is thought to bring bad luck to the family, while her brother is lucky 14 and the 7th son of the 7th son, a position that brings extraordinary magical power.  The family moves from the civilized and secure east  to the western frontier where a magical border keeps dangerous creatures like the dreaded steam dragons away from the settlements.  Despite her difficulties learning and controlling magic, Eff’s teacher Miss Ochiba teaches her not only Avrupan magic but also the Hijero-Cathayan and Aphrikan styles.  An expedition to the settlements outside the Great Barrier Magic tests her magical skills.

Connection:  For another story that brings a magical alternative to a historical setting, try reading The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer.

Rules

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Rulesby Cynthia Lord, p. 200 – Grades 4-7

Twelve-year-old Catherine’s brother (David) has autism and regularly does things that embarrass her, so she creates more and more rules for him to live by.  She also fiercely defends David from bullies like Ryan who lives on their street.  During the summer Catherine goes to her brother’s speech therapy appointments and meets Jason, a boy with cerebral palsy who uses a book of words and pictures to communicate.  Catherine’s friendship with Jason grows as she adds new (hip) words and pictures to his book.  A new girl, Kristi, moves in next-door, opening up the possibility of a new special friendship, but Catherine is not sure whether or not to trust her new friend when Kristi shows an interest in the bully, Ryan.

Connection:  The main character in Gennifer Choldenko’s novel Al Capone Does My Shirts also has a sibling with autism. — CRW

Peace, Locomotion

Monday, April 27th, 2009

peace locomotionby Jacqueline Woodson, p. 136 – Grades 4-7

In this companion to Locomotion, Lonnie Collins Motion (aka Locomotion) helps his sister Lili remember life before their separate foster care placements by sending her letters filled with memories of the past triggered by his day to day experiences.  Both Locomotion and Lili are happy with their foster care families, but miss their parents and being together.  The letters start to focus on the importance of peace and the realities of war as Locomotion becomes more aware of his foster brother who is in the army.

Connection:  This quick read might appeal to those who like Shooting the Moon by O’Rourke.  –CRW

Highlight:  Watch this great interview (from Reading Rockets) with Jacqueline Woodson talking about her life and her books.