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Posts Tagged «friendship»

Noteworthy

Monday, November 27th, 2017

31447601by Riley Redgate, 384 pages, Grades 7 and up

Jordan Sun’s parents are losing their patience. Even though Jordan has a partial scholarship to the prestigious Performance Arts high school she attends, her parents still have to work overtime to make ends meet, and once again Jordan did not get a lead role in the musical! Is it really worth all their hard earned money to send her to this school if she doesn’t get parts that will get her noticed for college scholarships? Jordan is worried that her parents will bring her home, so she comes up with a scheme to cross-dress and try out for a boys a cappella group called The Sharps. When Jordan transforms herself into Julian she is just looking to get some experience for her college application, but it turns out to be more than she bargained for. Becoming Julian has her considering what it means to be seen as a particular gender in American society; it also has her thinking about the sometimes fluid nature of sexuality. To complicate the whole situation love and friendship sneak up on her and have her doubting her own notions of loyalty, truth and what being a true friend really means.

If you like stories that take place in boarding schools you might also enjoy: The Education of Hailey Kendrick, by Ellen Cook, Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell, or Heist Society, by Ally Carter.

Salt to the Sea

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

51p7+rEf+TL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_by Ruta Sepetys, 391 pages, Grades 8 and up

CYRM MOMINEE

Joana, Emilia and Florian are all escaping the Russian invasion of east Prussia toward the end of World War 2. Each refugee narrates their own story and the stories weave together as their lives intertwine on their journey toward the sea. They are all hoping to secure passage on the ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff, which will take them away from the Russians, but the ship is not the safe refuge they thought it would be.

 

If you like reading sad stories or stories about war you might also like Sepetys’ book Between Shades of Gray, or Private Peaceful, by Michael Morpurgo, or Invasion, by Walter Dean Myers.  This book also reminds me of another written for adults and told in multiple points of view called All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

Speed of Life

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

speed of lifeby Carol Weston, 329 pages, Grades 7 and up

Sofia’s mom died almost a year ago, but it is still hurts. Everyone would expect losing a parent to hurt for a long time, but Sofia also feels like this event has re-written her whole identity. She is “the girl whose mom died” to everyone around her and that makes it even harder to move through the world. She finally finds some help when she writes to the Fifteen Magazine advice column “Dear Kate” and gets an immediate answer. Sofia really values Kate’s advice and the anonymity makes it easy for her to bare her soul, but then one day she finds her sitting at her kitchen table and finds out she’s dating her dad!

If you like realistic fiction about coming-of-age, or family issues, you might also like: Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom, by Susin Nielsen-Ferlund, or Family Game Night, by Mary E. Lambert.

Forget Me Not

Monday, August 28th, 2017

61U2MLqKgTL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_by Ellie Terry, 330 pages, Grades 6 and up

Calliope June has an egg carton where she keeps a special rock from each place she has lived since her father died. Her mother is determined to find a new husband, and when things don’t work out she moves to a new town for a fresh start. This is especially hard on Calli who has a hard time fitting in in school. She has Tourette syndrome which means sometimes her face twitches or she keeps tapping her head because something itches there and she cannot make it stop. She knows she cannot control her tics so she wears clothes that are too big and very loose hoping that no one will notice, but instead of helping her fit in the other kids think she is strange and are not sure what to make of her. Her mom told her not to tell anyone about her Tourettes “…because it is a very misunderstood disorder. If people know, they’ll treat you differently,” so she keeps her struggles secret. On her first day in the apartment a boy named Jinsong introduces himself. He is the student body president at her new school and seems really nice, maybe this new start will be better than the others after all.

If you enjoy realistic fiction about school or struggling to fit in, you might also like: Anything But Typical, by Raleigh Baskin, Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper, or Counting By 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan.

Zeroes

Friday, January 27th, 2017

24885636by Scott Westerfeld, 546 pages, Grades 8 and up.

Scam has an amazing ability to convince people by using a special power he calls his “voice.” The voice knows things and is wise and wily beyond what most adults are capable of let alone a teenager. Crash can bring down technology, Glorious Leader can unite a crowd behind his idea, Anon can disappear from people’s consciousness, and Flicker can see the world through other people’s eyes. These teens had banded together to make up a sort-of superhero club called the Zeroes until the day Scam’s voice got out of control and disrespected every one of his friends. Trying to manage on his own his voice gets him in trouble, of course. Will the team let go of the past and step up to save him?

If you enjoyed other series by Scott Westerfeld like Uglies, and Leviathan then Zeroes should appeal.  If you enjoy books about teens with special gifts or powers you might also enjoy Graceling, by  Kristin Cashore.

Drama

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

13436373by Raina Telgemeier, 233 pages, Graphic Novel for Grades 6 and up

Callie loves being on the stage crew of the drama productions at her school. Her head is always full of a million creative ideas, but lately her head has been full of thoughts about the handsome older brother of her friend and fellow stage crew member, Matt. Callie is looking forward to this year’s production which is new kids, crushes, heartbreak, true friendship and, as usual, a lot of drama.
If you enjoy Raina Telgemeier you might also like her Graphic Biography called Smile.  If you enjoy graphic fiction like this one you might also like: Rollergirl, by Victoria Jaieson, or Awkward, by Svetlana Chmakova.

The Infinite In Between

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

23870836by Carolyn Mackler, 462 pages, Grades 7 and up

On the first day of high school, freshmen are put into orientation groups. Each group is tasked with doing a collaborative project together so they bond with one another, and this group decides to write letters to their future selves. Then they decide to hide the letters until graduation when they will find each other and read them aloud. Each of the students in this group have their own path through high school; some of their stories overlap but some of the group never cross paths again until graduation. Some stories are full of heartache, some are frustrating and some joyful; just like a real high school experience most stories are full of a little of everything. Getting the group together after graduation might be more challenging than they ever could have suspected as naive freshmen, and it might not be possible to revisit the letters after all.  Time will tell.
If you enjoy books about high school kids you might also like I’ll Give You The Sun, by Jandy Nelson, or The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green, or Every Day, by David Levithan

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.

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.

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.

The Hired Girl

Friday, January 29th, 2016

25163300

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.

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.

Paper Hearts

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Paper-Hearts-Meg-Wiviottby Meg Wiviott, 332 pages, Grades 7 and up

Zlata and Fania are both imprisoned in Auschwitz during World War 2. Each girl has come from a loving family and each has been through a lot even before arriving at the death camp.  Some of their family are dead, some remain a mystery, but hope is a dangerous thing in a death camp. Hope might keep you alive, but maybe it could be your weakness, and there is no room for weakness. Zlata and Fania’s story was based on a lot of real true accounts of Auschwitz. In fact, the real paper heart is on display in the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre in Canada.

If you are interested in stories of the holocaust you might also enjoy: Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein, The Devil’s Arithmetic, by Jane Yolen, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne, or Berlin Boxing Club, by Riob Sharenow.

Doll Bones

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Black_doll1by Holly Black, 244 pages, Grades 6 and up

CYRM NOMINEE 2015

Zach, Poppy and Alice have known each other a long time. They created a game together and they continue to add to its imaginative story every time they get together, each one taking on the point of view of a particular character. There is one character they never allow in the game, the queen. This china doll stays locked in Poppy’s family cabinet; she is too powerful and too frightening to bring out. One day Zach refuses to join Poppy and Alice in the game, so Poppy decides to release the queen to lure him back, but the nightmares that follow are more than she bargained for! Zach, Poppy and Alice are soon propelled into a frightening adventure to try to put the doll bones to rest and stop her from haunting their dreams.

If you like scary adventure books, you might also enjoy The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, The Long Lankin, Lindsey Barraclough, or Cirque du Freak series, by Darren Shan.

Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

hold tightby Laura Rose Wagner, 263 pages, Grades 8 and up

One moment, Magdalie is living an ordinary life in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; she goes to school, spends time with her best friend and cousin Nadine, and helps her auntie with chores around the house. The next moment her world is turned upside down; she has no home, no school, no family and maybe no best friend. When the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010 it caused devastation throughout the region. Magdalie survives the quake but is challenged with surviving the new chaotic world.  How can she embrace her future now that everything is different?

P.S. The author is a former student of Piedmont Middle School

If you enjoy books about persevering after a disaster, you might also enjoy: The Red Pencil, by Pinkney, or Mockingbird, by Erksine.

Darius & Twig

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

dariusby Walter Dean Myers, 201 pages, Grades 6 and up

Darius and Twig are best friends. Twig is a runner; he is so good that he just might get a scholarship right out of Harlem. Darius wants this for his friend more than anything. Darius is a writer, but he can’t imagine how that will help him make a better life for himself. Their lives are not easy.  Bullies, gangs, dirty sports dealings and abusive relatives make navigating their Harlem neighborhood a challenge; good thing they have each other.

 

If you like stories about friends supporting each other you might also enjoy: The London Eye Mystery, by Dowd, or Bluefish, by Schmatz, or Lions of Little Rock, by Levine.

Proxy

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

proxyby Alex London, 379 pages, Grades 8 and up

Syd is a proxy which is basically a futuristic whipping boy. Any time his patron makes a mistake or does something illegal he gets punished. The punishment is brutal; Guardians use a nerve weapon that causes pain throughout your body. In this future society patrons have all the wealth and power and the poor often have to go into debt to survive thus becoming proxies. Some proxies have decent patrons; they are mostly law abiding citizens, but Syd’s patron is prone to getting himself in trouble and Syd has suffered the consequences his entire life. When one of his patron’s antics adds years to Syd’s debt, he decides he has to escape, but he is only one guy against an entire world.

 

If you enjoy dystopian adventures, you might also like: Hunger Games, by Collins, Shipbreaker, by Bacigalupi, Mazerunner, by Dashner, or The Testing, by Charbonneau.

The Clockwork Scarab

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

17084242by Colleen Gleason, 350 pages, Grades 7 and up

 

Sherlock Holmes’ niece, Mina and Bram Stoker’s (author of the novel Dracula) sister Evaline are cajoled into allying to uncover the mystery behind the death of young upper-class ladies in London.  Mina is a methodical detective, brilliant like her uncle, and calculating. Evaline comes from a family of vampire slayers; she is a tenacious fighter trained in various martial arts as well as an expert wielder of weaponry. The two have distinctly different approaches to crime fighting and have some trouble understanding each other, but they may come to find out that each one has something to offer that the other one desperately needs because this is a case of a lifetime.

 

If you like good detective stories or take-offs on Sherlock Holmes mysteries you might also like: Death Cloud, by Andy Lane, The Screaming Staircase or The Whispering Skull, by Jonathan Stroud.

Fish in a Tree

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

fish in a tree - final coverby Lynda Mullaly Hunt, 276 pages, Grades 6

 

Ally has a lot of ideas; she loves to draw and loves to create stories in her mind, but she cannot put her stories into words on paper. Because of her struggle with words she finds herself in embarrassing situations at school. Sometimes her mistakes make other people laugh and rather than admitting she really doesn’t understand, she pretends that she makes mistakes on purpose; she plays the class clown. This is how she makes it to middle school before anyone knows she has dyslexia, a learning difference that makes reading very challenging. Being the class clown has helped her escape embarrassment, but when you pretend to be someone you’re not it is hard to make real friends. This might be the year Ally decides to be strong and finally be herself.

 

If you enjoy books about kids overcoming obstacles at school, you might also enjoy: Anything But Typical, by Nora Raleigh Baskin,  Counting By Sevens, by Holly Goldberg Sloan, or Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, by Jack Gantos.

Rain, Reign

Monday, April 13th, 2015

20575434by Ann Martin, 222 pages, Grades 6 and up

 

Rose loves homonyms; she is obsessed with them, in fact. When she finds a new set of homonyms she adds it to her list written all by hand; her father doesn’t think they need computers at home. Sometimes when she finds a new set it is so exciting that her aide has to help her calm down outside the classroom, and sometimes other kids in her class don’t understand her because of this.  Some bad things that have happened to Rose are: her mother left, her father spends a lot of time at the neighborhood bar, and she is not allowed to ride the school bus anymore. The best thing that happened to Rose is that her dad gave her a dog. He found her one day after a big rainstorm and brought her home to Rose; she called her Rain. Rose wondered why anyone would let such a good dog go wandering around without a collar; her dad tells her whoever owner her before must not have cared very much. When Rain goes missing from their house, Rose understands that sometimes even dogs who are loved can get out without a collar and lose their way; it doesn’t mean the owner doesn’t care. Rose knows she cares about Rain more than anything, but it will take more than that to get her back.

 

If you like books about dogs and their owners you might also like: Because of Winn Dixie, by Kate di Camillo, A Dog For Life, by L.S. Matthews, or Cracker, by Cynthia Kadohata.

I Kill The Mockingbird

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

51oaVjNtcUL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_by Paul Acampora, 163 pages, Grades 6-7

 

Lucy loves reading, so when her English teacher assigns To Kill A Mockingbird as summer reading she is looking forward to it. Other students are not as enthusiastic, so Lucy and her friends concoct a scheme to get people talking and wondering about the book. Her group makes all of the copies of To Kill a Mockingbird “disappear” from every bookstore, and library, and in their place the group leaves a flyer that says: I kill the Mockingbird. Suddenly social media and the local TV news has picked up the story and their small time prank turns into something much larger than they imagined; will their idea really get people interested in reading To Kill a Mockingbird like they are hoping?

 

If you like stories about friends working together you might also like The Misfits, by James Howe,  Every Soul a Star, by Wendy Mass, or Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett

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.

Brown Girl Dreaming

Friday, January 9th, 2015

 

ypl_woodson_Brown_Girl_Dreamingby Jacqueline Woodson, 336 pages, Grades 4-7

 

Jacqueline grew up in the 1960s living some of the time at her grandparents’ home in the south and later with her mother in New York City. Historic accounts of the civil rights movement run through her stories as these events impact her and her siblings’ lives. Jacqueline’s childhood is not easy; her mother leaves her father when she is still the baby of the family, living in the south makes her acutely aware of the racial divide in this country, and following her genius sister just a year behind in school makes her feel like a disappointment sometimes, but Jacqueline and her siblings are surrounded by people who love them and this lifts her spirit and warms her heart.  Jacqueline’s favorite gift growing up is a notebook, but it takes her some time to understand that writing will really be her occupation; people in those days thought of writing as a hobby. Jacqueline Woodson is an acclaimed author today, and this is her memoir in verse.

 

If you enjoy reading memoirs about the civil rights movement you might also like: Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, by Phillip M. Hoose, or  Warriors Don’t Cry: a Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High School, by Melba Beals.

 

A Time to Dance

Friday, January 9th, 2015

timetodanceby Padma Venkatraman, 305 pages, Grades 6 and up

 

To Veda, dancing is like breathing; it is a natural and necessary part of life. She is highly competitive and the star pupil of her Bharatanatyam dance school until the accident. When Veda loses part of her leg she has to learn to redefine what she knows about dancing, and what she thinks she understands about life itself.

 

If you like books about athletes overcoming adversity you might also enjoy: Running Dream, by Wendelin Van Draanen, Curveball:The Year I Lost My Grip, by Jordan Sonnenblick, and One Handed Catch, by M.J. Auch

 

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

Monday, November 24th, 2014

opheliaby Karen Foxlee, 228 pages, Grades 5-7

 

While wandering around alone, Ophelia hears something beyond a locked door in a remote room of the castle museum.  When she looks in the keyhole she sees there is a boy within. The boy is personable but sad; his purpose, he says, was to save the world, but he has not been able to accomplish it locked away as he is. Ophelia decides to help him and must overcome a series of harrowing adventures within the castle museum to do so. All the while her father and sister seem to be losing themselves to the museum’s caretaker who gives Ophelia the shivers. Suddenly the race to save the boy becomes a race to save her family as well. Can Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy destroy evil in time?

 

If you enjoy magical fantasies with a bit of creep-factor you might also like The Graveyard Book or The Ocean at the End of the Lane, both by Neil Gaiman, or for something even more creepy try Sabriel, by Garth Nix.

 

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

 

Countdown

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

countdownby Deborah Wiles, 377 pages, Grade 6 and up

 

Franny is in crisis. Her best friend since forever is ignoring her, her big sister and confident has disappeared, her dad is called to the base more and more often, her mom seems perpetually angry, and her grandpa is crazy and embarrassing. What else could go wrong? If you know anything about U.S. history in 1962 you would know that Franny is about to be living during one of the scariest times in the U.S.: The Cuban Missile Crisis.  In the middle of all her personal chaos, the world around her seems to be in disarray as well. People are building bomb shelters, schools are doing duck-and-cover drills every day, and everyone is hoping President Kennedy can keep the country from going to war, or worse, being bombed by the Russians in their own homes!

 

If you enjoy historical fiction of the 1960s, you might also like the next book by Deborah Wiles called Revolution or One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia, or The Lions of Little Rock, by Kristin Levine.

 

 

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

 

One Man Guy

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

onemanguyby Michael Barakiva, 255 pages, Grades 6-10

 

Alex Khederian’s parents lied to him. They promised him he could go to tennis camp and instead he is going to summer school! This seems bad enough, but then his best friend and constant confident, Becky, decides to kiss him. Because he is not attracted to her, the whole thing goes badly; Alex unintentionally hurts Becky’s feelings. Has he lost his best friend too? Things are adding up to the worst summer ever when Alex meets a boy named Josh in his summer school class. Josh and Alex are very different in many ways; Josh is an expert about cool places in the city and Alex is a specialist of everything Armenian (having grown up in a very proud Armenian family). The boys relationship turns into something more than friendship.  Now, Alex needs a friend to talk to more than ever; he knows Becky could help him explain his relationship with Josh to his seemingly old-world parents, but will she ever forgive him for rejecting her?

 

If you like books about identity, you may also enjoy Every Day, by David Levithan, or Totally Joe, by James Howe, or The Fault in our Stars, by John Green.

 

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

Code Name Verity

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

codenameverity__spanby Elizabeth Wein, 343 pages, Grades 8 and up / YA

 

During World War II the allied military employed women pilots to ferry planes and a few passengers between their airfields in the allied territories. Maddie is one of these brave civilian pilots. Her best friend is Julia Beaufort-Stewart; Julia says she is a wireless operator, but she is really a spy. Julia and Maddie end up in enemy territory in war time and they may not be able to make it out alive; the Nazi’s did not show mercy for anyone, women included, especially spies. The story is told from the two women’s points of view, but Julia is being forced by the Nazis to write a “confession.” Are they getting the real truth out of Julia or is she a good spy to the end?

 

Warning: This book has a YA sticker because of violence. The story takes place in wartime and some descriptions may be disturbing.

 

If you enjoy books about courage in times of war, you might also enjoy: Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein, or the books Fallen Angels and Invasion by Walter Dean Myers.

 

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

Rose Under Fire

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

roseby Elizabeth Wein, 343 pages, Grades 8 and up / YA

 

A companion book to Code Name Verity; this main character is pilot alongside Maddie from the previous story, but this story is all about Rose.  She a female pilot ferrying planes during World War 2 when she is captured and sent to a concentration camp. There she faces terrible indignity and unbelievable hardship; her friendship with others and indomitable spirit are put to the test in one of the worst concentration camps of WWII.

 

Warning: This book has a YA sticker because of violence. The story takes place in wartime and some descriptions may be disturbing.

 

If you enjoy books about courage in times of war, you might also enjoy: Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, or the books Fallen Angels and Invasion by Walter Dean Myers.

 

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

 
 

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.

 

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

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

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

 

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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Serafina’s Promise

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

book.Serafinas-Promiseby Ann E. Burg, 295 pages, Grades 7-9

Serafina lives in Haiti with her family, her father, mother, and grandmother. She helps her mother, who is pregnant again, do chores around the house and helps her grandmother work in the garden, but what she really hopes to become is a doctor. School costs money in Haiti, though, so she has to think of a way to earn money and convince her parents to manage without her and let her go to school. Serafina is optimistic and strong, but she is going to need her strength for more than making a little extra money because a flood and an earthquake change the family’s landscape. Serafina has to find a way to keep her dream alive despite the devastation and hardship around her.

If you enjoy novels in verse you might also like Looking For Me, by Betsy R. Rosenthal, Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse, or All the Broken Pieces, also by Ann E. Burg.

 

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Bluefish

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

bluefishby Pat Schmatz, 226 pages, Grades 7-9

CYRM NOMINEE 2015

Travis’ parents died, his dog went missing, and his Grandpa just made him move from the house in the country he loved. Now he is starting at a new school and it is hard to find where he belongs. When Velveeta befriends him he is not clear what he has done to deserve it, but she explains that she observed a small act of kindness his first morning in the hallway that convinced her to like him. She is a talker and he is a listener, so it is a good match. The trouble begins when they are assigned to work on a project together. It is not that Travis doesn’t want to do a good job, he just never learned to read, and feels like it is too late to get help or admit it; he always figures out a way to slip by, and no one at home is really keeping track. This Velveeta, though, is hard to shake, and though he wants to just push her away it does feel good to have a friend.

If you enjoy realistic fiction about kids with difficult family situations you might also enjoy Guitar Boy, by M.J. Auch, Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, or Scrawl, by Mark Shulman.

 

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

 

Invasion

Monday, March 31st, 2014

invasionby Walter Dean Myers, 212 pages, Grades 8 and up

It is springtime in 1944. Josiah, Marcus and countless other young men are trained and waiting. They practice getting in and out of boats over and over never knowing when their commanders call them if it is this time it will be the real thing. In a way, they are all sort of hoping the next time they get woken up to do the drill will actually be the real invasion. They all know their instructions backwards and forwards, but even that could not prepare them for what they encounter on the beach at Normandy; no one could prepare for the kind of devastation and terror that occurred on what came to be known as D-day during World War II.

If you enjoy war stories you might like other books by Walter Dean Myers, especially:  Fallen Angels, and Sunrise Over Fallujah.

 

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

 

Ghost Hawk

Monday, March 31st, 2014

ghost hawkby Susan Cooper, 328 pages, Grades 6-9

CYRM NOMINEE 2015

It is time for Little Hawk to transition from a boy to a man so he must venture out into the wilderness and survive for a few months bringing along only his tomahawk, bow and arrow, and a knife. This harrowing survival story is only the beginning. When Little Hawk returns to his village ready to rest and visit with his family he finds his village empty; plague has taken everyone but his grandmother. Little Hawk’s life is an inspiration to a young white boy named John Wakely who suffers challenges of his own; his life would not follow the path it does without the influence of Little Hawk, and Little Hawk’s life is forever changed as well. Even though this is fiction, the story includes a historical timeline of the true events at the end of the book.

If you enjoy historical fiction that takes place in early American history you might also like: Sofia’s War, by Avi, or Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson.

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

Picture Me Gone

Monday, March 31st, 2014

picture me goneby Meg Rosoff, 239 pages, Grades 7 and up

Mila is one of those intuitive people; she can read people. She lives happily and uneventfully with her parents in London until her father’s old friend, Matthew, goes missing.  Mila and her dad, Gil, go to the United States to solve the mystery of Gil’s missing friend. It turns out Mila is not only helping her dad solve the puzzle of the moment, but also uncovering the details of an older mystery besides. Mila discovers no one is just good, or evil; people and relationships are complex and life can sometimes be pretty messy.

If you enjoy realistic fiction you might also like: Guitar Boy by M.J. Auch or Deliver Us From Normal, by Kate Klise. If you are interested in the complexity of life you might also enjoy: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman, or Dirty Little Secrets, by C. J. Omololu.

 

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

Hattie Big Sky

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Hattie Big Sky cover 2by Kirby Larson, 289 pages, Grades6-8

* STUDENT REVIEW*

It’s 1918 and, sixteen year old Hattie Inez Brooks, has just gotten a letter that her mom’s brother, Chester, has died and is leaving his claim (a piece of land) for Hattie. Hattie no longer wants to be Hattie Here-and-There so she gets up and leaves Iowa for Montana. When Hattie gets to Montana she has to brave hard weather, a cantankerous cow, old horse, chickens, and try her hand at the cookstove. Also Hattie meets her new neighbors Perilee, Karl, Chase, Mattie, and Fern that turn out to be the best neighbors ever!

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If you enjoy historical fiction about strong young women you might also like: Our Only May Amelia, by Jennifer L. Holm, or Moon Over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool.

 

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

Ocean at the End of the Lane

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

ocean-at-end-of-lane-gaimanby Neil Gaiman, 250 pages, written for adults

When he returns to the lane where he grew up he recalls his childhood and the time he spent with the family at the end of the lane. As a boy his life was full of magic and danger, and adventures he barely survived; recalling those days explain why he feels the need to return to the ocean at the end of the lane. This is a modern fairy tale, and a magical adventure spun carefully to draw you in and keep you on the edge of your seat.

This is a hard book to compare to any others, but if you enjoy fantasy, you might also like Incarceron, by Catherine, Sabriel by Garth Nix, or Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke.

 

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

 

The Lions of Little Rock

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

by Kristin Levine, 298 pages, Grades 6-8

lions of little rockMarlee is growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas the year after the famous Little Rock Nine integration. In the aftermath of that difficult year, the town is pushing back against the federal integration order, and the schools that are refusing to integrate are shut down.  Marlee is in middle school and has her own personal struggles. She is great with math, but speaking aloud is a real struggle, in fact to many she appears completely mute. This year there is a new girl in her class and when they are partnered up for a project Marlee finds herself able to talk to Liz; they become close friends. Liz is smart and confident and enjoys Marlee’s company as well. Unfortunately, Liz has a secret. A secret so big that she cannot even tell Marlee no matter how much she wants to trust her; a secret so big that it might endanger both girls lives.

If you enjoy reading historical fiction about the civil rights era in the United States, you might also enjoy: The Watson’s Go To Birmingham, by Christopher Paul Curtis, or One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia

 

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

 

Twerp

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

twerpby Mark Goldblatt,  275 pages,  Grades 6-8

As punishment for bullying Danly Dimmel, Julian Twerski is forced to write an explanation for his English teacher. Julian’s “explanation” meanders describing a series of funny and embarrassing events Julian and his friends get themselves into. Somehow Lonnie convinces Julian to write a love letter to the girl Lonnie likes, but when Julian delivers the note, she believes Julian is the real “secret admirer.” Another time, when Julian trades partners on the field trip to help out a friend from his block, he gets attacked by a kid who thinks he is trying to steal the girl he likes. Julian’s obliviousness makes each of the situations funnier and each of his mistakes are highlighted by his older sister’s explanations. Even though some of these situations are humiliating, Julian learns a lot and is grown up enough by the end of his writing-detention to come up with a way to pay for what he had done to Danly, and become a better person for it.

Another book about a kid doing detention is called Scrawl by Mark Shulman, and book about being an upstander is called The Misfits, by  James Howe.

 

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

The Boy on the Porch

Monday, March 10th, 2014

boy on the porchby Sharon Creech, 151 pages, Grade 6

John and Marta wake up one day to find a boy asleep on their porch. There is also a note that reads: Be back when we can, so John and Marta take care of the boy. It is not easy for them because they have never had children and this boy does not speak at all, so understanding his needs and how to help him is challenging. The boy on the porch teaches John and Marta a lot as well, and their lives are never the same again.

If you like stories about unusual family situations you might also enjoy: Deliver Us from Normal, by Kate Klise, or Guitar Boy, by M.J. Auch.

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

The Testing

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

testingby Joelle Charbonneau, 344 pages, Grades 7 and up

Sixteen-year-old Cia is graduating.  She has lived her whole life in the Lakes Colony, but her greatest hope is to be chosen to go to The Testing.  No one from her region has been chosen for this honor for years; it is a mystery why her colony has been neglected. Are their schools not preparing them appropriately, or is there something more mysterious afoot.  The testing itself, while prestigious, is also a harsh and dangerous way to select the most brave and bright of the country’s young people to be placed in job training programs; some students will stop at nothing to be selected.  Will Cia’s preparation and drive be enough to carry her safely through?

If you enjoy dystopias and don’t mind violence then you might also like The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, or Divergent, by Veronica Roth, or Insignia, by S.J. Kincaid

 

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

The League

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

the leagueby Thatcher Heldring, 219 pages, Grades 6-9

* STUDENT REVIEW *

Wyatt Parker is tired of being picked on by all the bullies in his school. His brother, Aaron, tells him about a secret football league called the League of Pain. He decides to play football to toughen himself up. The only problem with this is that he had promised his good friend Francis that he would go to golf camp. Now he has to decide which is better, going to golf camp where his dad excpects him to be, or figuring out a way to skip golf and play football with the older kids. Which will he choose?

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If you like sports books try these authors: Mike Lupica, Carl Deuker, Thomas H, Dygard, or Dan Gutman.

 

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

Counting By 7s

Monday, December 16th, 2013

counting by 7sby Holly Goldberg Sloan, 380 pages, Grades 6 and up

Willow Chance is a genius.  She meets a girl from Vietnam and spends the next 7 days studying Vietnamese.  She learns 85 phrases in addition to a number of verbs and their conjugations. Besides languages Willow also enjoys studying medical conditions and plants, but she has at twelve she has already had a pretty hard life.  She has been orphaned,  adopted, she has had problems in school – she has trouble making small talk and therefore making friends, and she is just about to start a new school which promises to be a challenge. That seems like enough, but besides all that her adoptive parents who love her and she loves so much suddenly die in a car accident. Willow, who likes to know how everything is going to work, finds herself in a place completely out of her control; it is the first time in her life that even counting by 7s has not helped her feel better.

If you enjoy books about kids in unusual circumstances you might also like:  Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine, or Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, or Guitar Boy, by M.J. Auch.

 

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

 

WARP: The Reluctant Assassin

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Cover-WARP-Book-1-The-Reluctant-Assassinby Eoin Colfer, 341 pages, Grades 7 and up

The author of the Artemis Fowl book has created another sci fi page-turner.  Agent Savano (Chevy), a disgraced teenage FBI agent has been removed from her post and sent to a remote station in England where she cannot cause any more trouble.  Her current job consists of “watching the pod;” the FBI is using boredom to punish her.  Meanwhile 100 years before, in Victorian England an assassin’s apprentice (Riley) is getting a lesson from his terrible Master (Garrick) when something very strange happens.  Their victim pulls little Riley and himself through a wormhole to the 21st century right into the pod Agent Savano has been required to watch. It would seem that Riley has finally escaped his miserable fate and his evil master, but the thing about Garrick is that “he is the devil himself” and there is no stopping him, not even 100 years of time.

If you enjoy adventure stories with smart kid characters you might also like Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer as well, or The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart.  If you like science fiction you might also like Planet Thieves, by Dan Krokos, or Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

 

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Apothecary

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

apothecaryby Maile Meloy,  353 pages,  Grades 6-8

Janie’s parents are film-makers from Los Angeles, but in 1952 when fear of communism has Hollywood under the microscope, Janie’s family jumps at the chance to work in London, England. They trade luxury for safety, or so they think.

Benjamin, the apothecary’s son, is in school with Janie, thinks what his father does is pretty boring; he’d rather be a spy than learn how to brew cures, but his father will never understand.

While Janie helps Benjamin spy on a someone Benjamin suspects of working for the Russian government, they discover that Benjamin’s dad is a lot more than a dispenser of medicine. He is about to confront his father when the apothecary goes missing.  Now it is up to Janie and Benjamin to find his father and protect the magical book that apothecaries have been hiding for generations; suddenly, his father’s job doesn’t seem so boring after all.

If you enjoy stories about mystery and adventure you might also enjoy The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart, The London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd, or The Unknowns, by Benedict Carey.

 

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

Liar & Spy

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

liar&spyby Rebecca Stead, 180 pages, Grades 6-8

Georges and his mom and dad have just downsized and are moving out of a house and into an apartment. He has been navigating bullying and his parents’ extra time working and away from home so when an opportunity to respond to a handwritten flyer for a spy club presents itself, his father encourages him to check it out.  Safer is a homeschooled kid living in the apartment complex and he allows Georges to help him spy on Mr. X, who he believes is a murderer. A new friend and the distraction of spying on Mr. X might be just what Georges needs to help him through this difficult time, but there is more than one mystery that needs unraveling in Georges’ life.  Who will turn out to be the liar and who the spy in the end?

If you enjoy this book, you might like others by Rebecca Stead like:  When You Reach Me (Newbery award winner 2010), and First Light.

 

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

 

Eve & Adam

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate, 291 pages, Grades 7 and up

eve&adamOne of Eve’s first memories after the accident is her mother’s voice insisting that her daughter needs more professional care and would be moving to The Lab immediately.  Typical mom, pushing people around and believing she always could do everything better. I guess she might have been right this time because Eve is recovering incredibly quickly considering the seriousness of her injuries, but recovery is still pretty boring for a teenager.  In an effort to keep Eve busy, her mother decides to let her test out her new genetics computer program, and Eve is playing in her free time creating a human from scratch – a human she believes is virtual. When Eve discovers another teen at the lab, a live-in assistant working for her mother, he tells her things that have her questioning a lot of things she has believed her whole life. What is really going on in the family lab? Why is Eve’s recovery so miraculous? Who, or what, is Adam and are there others like him?

 

If you enjoy science fiction stories about genetics you might also enjoy Double Identity, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, or When We Wake, by Karen Healey.

 

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

Outcasts United

Friday, March 29th, 2013

by Warren St. John, 226 pages, Grades 7 and up

This is a book of many true stories beginning with Luma Mufleh.  She is a Jordanian exchange student and avid soccer player, who decided to remain in the United States after completing her education at Smith University in Massachusetts.  She made her way to the suburbs of Atlanta Georgia and stumbled upon a very interesting city called Clarkston.  

The U.S. government had been relocating refugees since the 1980s and this little town had become extremely cosmopolitan.  People fleeing wars in their homelands of Bosnia, Afghanistan, Liberia, Ethiopia and many other countries all ended up thrown together in the town of Clarkston.  Mufleh was drawn to the place when she noticed their grocery store carried food she missed from home, but the thing that really grabbed her attention was the groups of young boys playing soccer on every available field she saw.  All of them were playing in bare feet, but they showed more passion for the game than any of the kids she was coaching in the suburbs.  She decided to bring a soccer program to Clarkston.  Mufleh coaches three teams of boys called the Fugees; this book is a collection of their stories and the teams’ stories.  

To watch a video about the team go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ItUYQhQ_CHg#!

 

 

The Great Unexpected

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

great unexpectedby Sharon Creech, 226 pages, Grades 6-7

Naomi and Lizzie are two orphan girls living in a small American town with many albeit distant connections to Ireland.  One day boy called Finn falls out of a tree practically onto Naomi’s head, and this begins the magical mystery.  Who is “this Finn boy” and who is the Dingle Dangle man who has been seen around town, and what do they have to do with the orphan girls?   The girls’ story is told alternating with a tale of others who live across the ocean in the old country, and, of course, they are somehow all connected.  

The Great Unexpected reads like a modern Irish fairy tale; if you enjoy fairy tales, or realistic fantasy you might also like:  A Dog For Life, by L.S. Matthews or My Name is Mina and I Love the Night, by David Almond.

 

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

A Mango Shaped Space

Friday, December 14th, 2012

mangoby Wendy Mass, 270 pages, Grades 5-8

Mia has been seeing colors for as long as she can remember, but she hasn’t told anyone about it since fourth grade when she tried to explain that numbers and letters come in certain colors.  The entire class burst into laughter; this was not only humiliating, it also made Mia feel like a freak.  Until then, she thought everyone saw colors the way she did.  She even named her grey and white cat Mango after the color he leaves in the air when he moves.  Finally, she is diagnosed with synesthesia, a condition that affects many people, and she begins to explore her identity trying to connect with others like her.

It is a relief for Mia to find people who see the world the way she does, but unfortunately this self-discovery alienates her from her friends and family just when she really needs them most.

If you enjoy reading about people who see the world differently, you might also like Anything But Typical, by Raleigh Baskin, Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper, Kissing Doorknobs, by  Terry Spencer Hesser or Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, by Jack Gantos.

 

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

Pathfinder

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

pathfinderby Orson Scott Card,  662 pages, Grades 7 and up

Rigg is a pathfinder; he sees the paths of all living creatures.  To him these paths look like signature brush strokes left on the ground where people walked, and these paths stretch back through time for thousands of years.  His father has helped him cultivate this unique ability his whole life; his father also made sure he was skilled in logic and reasoning.  Rigg cannot see a use for some of his education; he and his father are hunters and trappers in the forest after all, when will he ever need to know the language of the nobility?  

When Rigg’s father dies in an accident on one of their hunting trips, his life suddenly changes.  Rigg’s past is not as simple as he believed, in fact the world itself might not be what everyone thinks.  Rigg and a friend from the village find themselves on a journey full of danger and mystery where time does not always behave the way we are accustomed.

If you enjoy science fiction stories about other worlds or alternate realities you will also enjoy the Ender's Game series by Orson Scott Card.  You might also like Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher, or Insignia, by S.J. Kincaid.

 

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

My Name is Mina

Monday, September 24th, 2012

minaby David Almond, 300 pages, Grades 6-8

Mina lives with her mother and she loves sitting in the tree in her front yard.  The view from her tree is “extra-ordinary”!  Sometimes there are baby birds and other beautiful and amazing things she can see from the tree, but most of all, Mina loves the night.  

Even though Mina bubbles with optimism and joy, her life has not been easy.  Her grandfather who used to send her treasures from his travels has given her his last gift, she has a lot of trouble fitting in at school; finding friends and living up to teachers’ expectations, and she misses her dear dad who died.  Mina is trying to figure out how to be herself and still find a place in the world around her; luckily her surroundings are brimming with surprising possibilities.

If you like books about young people who have trouble fitting in, you might also enjoy Deliver Us From Normal, by Kate Klise, or  Anything but Typical, by Nora Raleigh Baskin, or Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli.

This is the companion book to Skellig, by David Almond, if you are home you can watch this youtube book trailer about Skellig.

 

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

Wonder

Monday, September 17th, 2012

121009_DX_WonderBook.jpg.CROP.article250-mediumby R.J. Palacio, 315 pages, Grades 5-8

CYRM NOMINEE 2014

Going to a new school is always hard, especially if you have to be the new kid in a middle school, but for Augie it is even more difficult than that.  August has never attended school before; he has been home-schooled because he could not attend consistently since he was busy having so many surgeries.  

He had to have surgeries because he was born with several different facial malformations.  His face does not look like everyone else’s; he is used to being around people who know him and love him, but to suddenly find himself in a school with a bunch of adolescents he doesn’t know is pretty scary.  He is not sure if he will find a place to fit in, and if everyone will get to know who he is beyond his outward appearance.  

Who is the real Augie and can he manage to get known for something other than his unusual face?

If you enjoy reading books about kids who overcome obstacles, you might also enjoy Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erksine,  Anything But Typical, by Nora Raleigh Baskin, or Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper.

 

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

Ghost Knight

Monday, September 17th, 2012

ghostknightby Cornelia Funke, 330 pages, Grades 6-8

Jon’s mother sends him to a boarding school just because Jon doesn’t think her new boyfriend, The Beard, is a good addition to the family.  His sisters think The Beard is wonderful, so they get to stay, but Jon’s being kicked out and sent away; fine, who needs them anyway.  

The Popplewell boarding house will be Jon’s new home and Stu and Angus are his new roommates; they seem nice enough, but the ghosts that corner Jon on the way home from class are another matter entirely.  He does not know Stu and Angus well enough to tell them he might be seeing things, and he is not sure who to ask about these frightening apparitions.  Can they really do him harm?  Is there anyone to help Jon, sad and far from home?

If you enjoy ghost stories that are not that scary, and even a little funny, you might also like The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, or Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley.

 

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

Beautiful Creatures

Monday, September 17th, 2012

beautiful creaturesby Kami Garcia, 563 pages, Grades 7 and up

CYRM NOMINEE 2012

Everything always stays the same in Gaitlin County, so when new girl – and not just any new girl, but someone really dark and different – comes to school, Ethan notices.  Of course, there is also the fact that she has been in his dreams all summer, and that he can hear her voice in his head, even when they are not in the same room.  

Turns out the new girl, Lena, is not just different, she is a caster; people in her family all have extraordinary talents like the ability to change the weather, or spy on people through the eyes of your dog.  In the south, the worlds of darkness and light have always lived closely together, but it is not something the good people of Gaitlin County talk about aloud.  Until the day that one of their people (Ethan) befriends one of the people of the night (Lena).  These two worlds are about to collide and Ethan and Lena are right in the middle of it.

 

If you enjoy stories about other worlds, or enchanted love stories or ghost stories, you might also like Everlost, by Neal Shusterman, or Beastly, by Alex Flinn, or A Greyhound of a Girl, by Roddy Doyle.

 

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

Insignia

Monday, September 17th, 2012

insigniaby S.J. Kincaid, 446 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Literally, Tom’s world is pretty small; it amounts to him and his dad moving casino to casino trying to win enough to make ends meet.  Virtually, though, Tom has a larger life.  He is an expert gamer, so good, in fact, that the folks at the Pentagonal Spire – future earth’s version of the current Pentagon, national military headquarters –  are seeking out his expertise.  

He has always wanted to be somebody, or at least something more than a street urchin conning people to earn a place to sleep and eat, so when the Spire offers him a place in their Academy he is eager to join.  His dad would not approve, but this time his dad’s lack of parenting skills make it easy for Tom to make his own decisions and he takes it upon himself to join the Academy.  

In this future, all war is fought virtually by teenagers; the actual battles occur remotely on other planets, so no one gets hurt.  Of course, there is more going on than meets the eye.  Tom will have to figure how who the good guys really are, who he should trust, and how he can use his skills to help himself and protect everyone in the world besides.  

If you like dystopian science fiction you might also enjoy:  Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card, or Divergent, by Veronica Roth.

 

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

 

Curveball: the Year I Lost My Grip

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

curveballby Jordan Sonnenblick, 285 pages, Grades 7-9

 
Peter and his best friend are the dynamic duo on the baseball field until Peter severely injures his elbow at the end of eighth grade.  Peter begins high school trying to figure out who he is, if  he is no longer a pitcher, and how he can fit in. On top of that something strange is happening to his grandfather, who is his best friend, and he can’t talk to his parents about it.  Luckily his photography teacher partners him with a cute girl who is actually pretty hilarious, so maybe he won’t have to figure it all out on his own.
 
If you enjoy books about personal struggle and identity you might also enjoy Running Dream, by Wendelin Van Draanen, The Cardturner, by Louis Sacher, Scrawl, by Mark Shulman, or Okay for Now, by Gary D. Schmidt
 

Elsewhere

Monday, August 13th, 2012

elsewhereby Gabrielle Zevin, 276 pages, Grades 7-10

 
Lizzie’s end begins on a boat on its way to Elsewhere, but Lizzie doesn’t understand how she got there or where she is going.  The last thing she remembers was her bike ride to the mall; she was supposed to meet Zooey to pick out prom dresses.  This must be a dream:  a boat full of old people, no one almost 16 like Lizzie, and a rock star who says that he is dead.  But Lizzie can’t wake up.  Elsewhere is a backwards world of young grandparents, tattoos that grow brighter and disappear instead of fading, auto accidents that do not cause pain, and pets who communicate with people.  Why does Lizzie find herself in Elsewhere and how can she get back home?  Will she get her driver’s license as planned? Will prom happen without her?
 
Other books for those who enjoy alternate realities and after-death possibilities include Everlost, by Neal Shusterman, or The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
 

Out of My Mind

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

OutOfMyMindby Sharon Draper, 295 pages, Grades 5-8

CYRM NOMINEE 2012

Melody has an amazing memory for detail; she is extremely observant and intelligent.  The only problem is, no one around her can tell how much she understands because her cerebral palsy makes it almost impossible for her to communicate.  Her parents believe she is smart and her caretakers can see she has a good brain, in fact, one of her caretakers comes up with a system that helps Melody communicate simple things, but Melody craves so much more. All of her ideas, thoughts, jokes and insights are trapped inside her.  How can she get the recognition she deserves for her brilliant mind if no one can really tell what is going on in there?

If you enjoy books about kids who overcome adversity you might also enjoy Anything But Typical, by Nora Raleigh Baskin, or Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor.

 

After Ever After

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

after-ever-afterby Jordan Sonnenblick, 260 pages, Grades 6-9

Jeff is a cancer survivor.  When he was five he was diagnosed with Leukemia, but he has been cancer free for years now.  Still, the has to deal with repercussions from the experience. He has a bit of a limp, but that just means he bikes instead of going out for track, and it doesn’t keep Lindsey from thinking he’s cute, so that’s not a big deal.  He also finds math challenging because one of the cancer drugs messed with that part of his brain, but he is not too worried about that either until the state institute an exit exam for the eighth grade.  Normally, this is something that his big brother Steven could have helped Jeff figure out, but he was off finding himself drumming his way through Africa.  Jeff doesn’t want to worry his mom; he feels like she has worried enough about him.  He also doesn’t want to upset his accountant dad who cannot understand why Jeff doesn’t get math the way he does, so he decides to keep them both in the dark.  Luckily his best friend Tad, a cancer survivor himself with after effects of his own, agrees to tutor him in math.  In exchange, Jeff promises that he will help Tad build the strength to walk across the stage at their graduation; Tad uses a wheelchair because his cancer treatment affected the strength in his legs.  Naturally, nothing is as simple or straightforward as it seems, which anyone who has had to battle cancer at five should have realized.

After Ever After is a companion book to Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie.  Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie is told from Jeff’s brother’s point of view when he is first diagnosed with cancer as a little kid.  

If you enjoy books about overcoming adversity, and challenge you might also enjoy:  Running Dream, by Wendelin Van Draanen, or Waiting For Normal, by Leslie Connor.

The Absolute Value of Mike

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

absoluteby Kathryn Erskine, 247 pages, Grades 6-9

Mike is not into math, in fact it is his very worst subject even though his dad is practically a math genius.  Mike cannot get his dad to understand that, but Mike’s dad is pretty tuned out when it comes to his son.  It is not a big surprise when he decides to send Mike off to some long lost relative instead of taking him along to an engineering conference in Europe over the summer.

Mike winds up in a crazy town with his great Aunt Moo who has no Internet, a cell phone that she cannot work which is lost somewhere in her purse anyhow, and a car named Tyrone that she drives like a maniac.  When he arrives the whole town is on a mission to raise money to help adopt a little boy from Romania: a shy gorgeous singer named Gladys, some guys who make Porch Pals, Moo and her famous vinegar, and homeless guy named Past are all trying to raise $40,000.  Mike’s great uncle, Poppy, is supposed to be helping too, but he just sits on his recliner and eats Spam sandwiches watching a blank TV screen.  Somehow Mike finds himself leading this crazy team of fundrasisers.  Wait, won’t there be math involved here?

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

If you like books with quirky characters you might also enjoy: Grounded by Kate Klise, Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos, or Deliver Us From Normal, by Kate Klise.

Every Soul A Star

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Every_Soul_a_Star_book_coverby Wendy Mass, 322 pages, Grades 5-9

CYRM NOMINEE 2011

Student Review

Three lives are about to be changed forever.  Thousands of people gather on a tiny isolated campground to watch something unforgettable: a total eclipse of the sun.
Ally’s family has owned Moon Shadow Campground ever since she was born. She likes simple things like stargazing and comet hunting. And she refuses to imagine it any other way.
Bree is popular, gorgeous and is perfectly happy until her parents ruin everything. She can’t imaging herself camping or hiking. For Bree, fun means putting on makeup, checking out the latest fashions, modeling and being popular – the exact opposite of her parents. What is Bree trying to hide?
Jack is overweight, and a lost cause in school. He is used to sitting alone in his treehouse reading or drawing aliens. When his science teacher offers him a deal that gets him out of summer school,  Jack finds himself in a place he would have never even dreamed of. MC

 

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

If you enjoy books about groups of friends you might also like:  The View From Saturday by E.L. Koningsburg, The Misfits, by James Howe, or The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart.

 

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 Education of Hailey Kendrick

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Hailey Final Coverby Eileen Cook 256 pages     grades 7 and up

Hailey Kendrick got the whole school on probation; no one can leave campus because of her.  She has gone from popular to outcast in one night.

Hailey attends a fancy boarding, so fancy, in fact, children of movie stars, and teen stars themselves, are her classmates.  She has no money worries, obviously, she is popular and is dating one of the most handsome guys in the school.  Her life seemed pretty perfect until she got everyone on probation.

What is going on?  Has Hailey lost her mind, or was there something already boiling beneath the surface that just had to burst free?  And, how is she going to manage life when everyone she knows has dumped her?

Other fun realistic fiction with teen girl central characters are: Heist Society, by  Ally Carter, Rules of the Road, by Joan Bauer, and a fantasy with a teen girl central character is Matched, by Ally Condie.

 

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

mysterious howlingThe Mysterious Howling (Book 1)

by Maryrose Wood

The book begins with Penelope Lumley, a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, on a train headed to her first job.  Miss Lumley is a teacher and governess; she is especially excited (and nervous) about this first job at Ashton Place.  Her interview with the lady of the house goes quite well and she is hired on the spot, even though they were often interrupted by some mysterious howling from outside. The noise, she is surprised to find out, was being made by the children she has been hired to teach.  It turns out the master of the house had found these children while hunting and until now they had literally been raised by wolves.  Many would run away from such a daunting task, but Miss Lumley is not only optimistic, she is determined to do a good job for these “three waifs;”  their predicaments are often funny, and their story is sweetly told.

Incorrigible-210x300The Hidden Gallery (Book 2)

by Maryrose Wood

This sequel is even more exciting than the first book.  Miss Lumley suggests that she might take the children, who had been raised by wolves until Miss Lumley arrived, to London to visit Miss Mortimer, her former headmistress from the Swanburne Academy.  Lady Constance, who has been terribly bored and out-of-sorts because the house at Ashton Place has still not been completely repaired after the children destroyed it while chasing a squirrel in the previous story, is delighted and decides to move the entire household to London for a spell.  A number of suspicious adventures follow, and Miss Lumley and the children narrowly escape danger while trying to unravel the mystery of the children’s condition and other strange goings on about London.
Another difficult-to-put-down sequel is sure to follow.

 


The Running Dream

Friday, March 25th, 2011

running dreamby Wendelin Van Draanen,  336 pages,  Grades 7 and up“‘Fifty-five flat!’ Kyro shouts, ‘Fifty-five flat!’

CYRM NOMINEE 2013

It’s a new personal best for me.
A new record for the league.” (11)

At sixteen Jessica is on top of her game, about to take league, maybe even go to state, when the track team’s bus is hit by an out-of-control car.  One of the team loses her life, and Jessica’s right leg is crushed.

Jessica is a runner; running is not just something she likes to do, it is woven into her identity, so the accident takes more than her leg, it makes her question who she is.

Personal strength, friendship, family, and courage pull Jessica forward on her journey to discover who she is and who she can become.  It is as inspirational a journey as the many true journeys of people in similar situations.

The following is a link to a TED talk with Aimee Mullens, also a runner, called “Aimee Mullans and Her 12 Pair of Legs.” http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/aimee_mullins_prosthetic_aesthetics.html

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.

The Unknowns

Monday, February 7th, 2011

unknownsby Benedict Carey,    259 pages,   Grades 6-8

Until now living in Folsom Adjacent, a trailer park bordering the Folsom Power Plant on a circular island, has been pretty boring. In fact, Diaphanta, a.k.a. Lady Di, and Tamir al-Khwarizmi, a.ka. Tom Jones, had nothing to do but work on trying to pass math and stay out of the way of the bullies until people in their community start to disappear.The Crotona police don’t seem to be doing anything, so when their friend and math tutor vanishes from her trailer leaving behind a clue Lady Di and Tom Jones decide to see if they can solve the puzzle and save their teacher.Di and Tom, and eventually a few other allies, follow a series of math clues through the tunnels under Adjacent and battle adolescent and grown-up bullies trying to save their friend and the dirty little town that is their home.

This book will satisfy fans of Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer, Trenton Lee Stewart’s Mysterious Benedict Society, or anyone who enjoys puzzling out math problems from different points of view.

Leviathan

Monday, February 7th, 2011

leviathan2By Scott Westerfeld, 44o pages,  Grades 7 and up

Westerfeld has created an alternative history of  World War I and filled it with Clanker and Darwinist war machines.The Clankers use mechanical transports that remind readers of the Empire’s AT-AT walkers in Star Wars while the Darwinists use flying machines that live, breathe and eat.In fact, one of their greatest living machines called Leviathan is really an entire ecosystem; whale DNA, bat, and bird all mixed together to create a huge flying zeppelin manned by the military.Daryn, a girl disguised as a young soldier, joins the Darwinist army and is aboard the Leviathan when the war begins.Alek, the Austrian prince, escapes his country after his parents’ assassination in a Clanker contraption.A near fatal crash, and a famous scientist seeking to save her precious cargo bring Daryn and Alek’s worlds and missions together in the chaos of the beginning of an alternate first World War.

This book’s sequel Behemouth has recently arrived and promises to be another thrilling adventure.  Another exciting adventure including a zeppelin and an alternative past is called: Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel.Oppel’s story is less of war and more like an adventure on the high seas with pirates and mysterious creatures.

Closed for the Season

Monday, January 17th, 2011

closed for the seasonMary Downing Hahn, 182 pages  Grades 5-8

Logan is unhappy to have to move to a new city.  He knows his family’s new house is a fixer-upper, but he isn’t prepared for the wreck they find or the annoying kid next door.  Logan also finds that his parents were hiding the fact that the previous owner died in the house.  It turns out that his parents weren’t informed of the whole story…  Her murder remains a mystery and it seems that the answer might be found in the creepy, over-grown, abandoned amusement park nearby.

Check out the author’s video trailer – Closed for the Season

Connections:  For other recent, creepy tales by the same author, try reading All the Lovely Bad Ones, Deep and Dark and Dangerous, and The Old Willis Place.  Other favorite scary, mystery writers include: Lois Duncan, Joan Lowry Nixon and Barbara Brooks Wallace.

The Danger Box

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

danger boxBy Blue Balliett, 306 pages  mystery for Grades 5-8

Zoomy is legally blind, but he can see things if he holds them close up.  He loves to read  and play games on the computer, and he also loves to investigate and collect things.

He arrived on his grandparents’ front step when he was a newborn baby.  They love him and take him in;  they know their son, Zoomy’s father, can’t take care of a baby, because he is running wild; an alcoholic who is always in a lot of trouble with the law.

Zoomy’s life is going along just fine until the summer his dad shows up in a stolen truck and dumps a stolen box in their garage.  His father’s mysterious  appearance is the beginning of Zoomy’s life spiraling out of control.  First, his grandparents let him investigate the contents of the stolen box, then his dangerous dad threatens Zoomy while he is alone at the library,  then his grandparents are visited by a mysterious stranger, and finally there is a big fire at his grandparents’ shop that doesn’t seem like an accident.

What will happen to Zoomy? Could it all come down to the contents of the stolen box?

If you enjoy this book you might also like:  A Dog for Life, by L.S. Matthews, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon, or  The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly.

Exodus

Monday, October 25th, 2010

exodus-julie-bertagna-book-cover-artBy Julie Bertagna, 345 pages  Grades 7 and up

Sometime in the not-to-distant future, the world as we know it has mostly drowned under the rising ocean from the melting ice caps.  Fifteen year-old Mara’s island home is just about to disappear under the waves when her vision of sky cities prompts the village to sail off on dangerous seas in search of a safe haven.  When they reach the high-tech city, they find that they and the thousands of other refugees aren’t welcome.  Instead, they must fight for their lives and for scraps from the city in the sky.

Connections:  For another story of a society threatened by global warming, try reading First Light by Rebecca Stead or read the sequel to Exodus called Zenith.  To read about the author’s inspiration for the story, check out her website.

Salt

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

salt-maurice-gee-book-cover-artBy Maurice Gee, 252 pages  Grades 7-10

When Hari’s father is captured by soldiers from the Company and sent to Deep Salt as punishment, Hari vows to save him even though no one ever returns from these dangerous mines.  Simultaneously, Pearl, the daughter in a high-ranking Company family escapes her arranged marriage by fleeing with her maid, Tealeaf, a mystical Dweller.  Both Hari and Pearl have the ability to communicate telepathically, and they work together to try and save Hari’s father and their world from the dangerous weapon found in the mine.

Connections:  Another fantasy title where the main character is helped by her ability to communicate with animals is Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.  For other mature titles where male and female characters fight to save their community from evil, try reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

Fat Cat

Friday, April 30th, 2010

fat catby Robin Brande   p. 327   Young adult

No exploding volcanoes for seventeen-year-old Cat (Catherine) Locke’s science fair project!  Instead, the smart, competitive overweight teen makes herself the guinea pig for her project.  Her goal is to live for seven months as a Homo erectus, an early prehistoric human, which means no technology (cars, cell phones, computers except for school work) and no processed foods including sugar.  Cat is determined to win the science fair, mostly to get revenge on her former best friend and rival Matt McKinney, whom she believes betrayed her most terribly in seventh grade.  All the walking and healthy eating causes her to lose weight and feel better, and after her best friend Amanda takes her shopping for stylish clothes, Cat starts drawing a lot of male attention.  This young adult novel is filled with funny, clever teen conversation and portrays friendship at its best.

Connections:  These young adult novels also deal with weight and weighty issues:  Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen, Life in the Fat Lane by Cherie Bennett, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher and Dough Boy by Peter Marino.

Totally Joe

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

totallyjoeBy James Howe, 189 pages  Grades 6-8

<!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–>“Being who you are isn’t a choice.”Although he had always lived this life lesson, it wasn’t until his favorite aunt gave him a button printed with these words that thirteen, year-old Joe really thought about what it meant for him, as a gay 7th grader, as well as for his schoolmates.Joe’s family and friends have always encouraged him to be himself (including dressing-up in dresses, playing with Barbies and cooking in an Easy-Bake oven) and he has always embraced his originality even when it led to teasing. Through an alphabiography project for his teacher, Joe shares his growing awareness of himself and his friends.

Connection:  Joe and the other characters were first introduced in Howe’s novel, The Misfits.  For other stories where characters share their life experiences through school writing assignments, try reading Love That Dog or Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech, Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge, or Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls.

Pop

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

pop-gordon-korman-book-cover-artby Gordon Korman  p. 260  Grades:  6-9

Pop!  That’s the feeling and imagined sound that comes from taking the hit in tackle football and that sixteen-year old Marcus has come to love.  Before this summer, Marcus had always held back as quarterback, fearful of being injured.  New in town and hanging out in the park to practice his football maneuvers, he meets Charlie, an eccentric older man who challenges Marcus and teaches him to play rough and tumble football fearlessly.  Disappointed that Troy Popovich gets to start as quarterback, Marcus takes on his role as lineman with a vengeance, winning him not only the acceptance of his teammates but also Troy’s former girlfriend.  The tension grows between Marcus and Troy when Marcus learns that Charlie is Troy’s father and discovers the reason behind Charlie’s increasingly odd behavior.  Korman delivers lots of football action as well as a thoughful story.

Connections:  Here are some other good football novels for teens:  Crackback by John Coy, Necessary Roughness by Marie Lee, and Gym Candy by Carl Deuker.  Matt Christopher writes football stories for younger readers.

The Potato Chip Puzzles

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

potatochippuzzlesby Eric Berlin   p. 227  Grades 6-8

Want a puzzling puzzler?!  Seventh grader Winston Breen and his two best friends enter a contest at the local pototo chip factory to win $50,000 for their school.  All they have to do is be first to solve all six puzzles which take them and their obnoxious chaperone all over town and beyond.  The biggest puzzle, however, turns out to be figuring out who is cheating.  Someone has been sabotaging some of the teams by causing flat tires, locking people in bathrooms, and stopping the ferris wheel.  The reader is expected to solve puzzles as well as solve the mystery.

Connections:  Another Winston Breen title is The Puzzling World of Winston BreenThe Westing Game by Ellen Raskin and Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet are other good puzzle mysteries.

Operation Redwood

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

operation redwoodBy S. Terrell French, 353 pages.  Grades 5-7

While forced to stay with his wealthy, manners-obsessed aunt and uncle so  his mother can photograph temples in China, twelve year-old Julian Carter-Li discovers emails describing his uncle’s plan to level an old growth redwood forest and the even more horrifying plan to ship Julian off to math camp for the summer.  With the help of his buddy Danny and a new email buddy, Julian creates Operation Redwood in the hopes of foiling both plans.

Connections:  For other eco-minded adventure stories, try reading Gloria Skurzynski’s National Park Mystery series or Hoot or Flush by Carl Hiaasen.

Cricket Man

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

cricket manby Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.  p. 196  Grade:  Young Adult

During the summer before eighth grade, Kenny Sykes has begun each morning rescuing the hundreds of crickets that keep jumping into his backyard swimming pool.  As an inside joke with his little brother, Kenny assumes the super-hero identity Cricket Man and creates a t-shirt that he wears to school concealed under his regular shirt.  The rest of his time he spends skateboarding or spying on and trying to get the attention of his beautiful sixteen-year-old neighbor, Jodie Poindexter.  When Jodie appears to have fallen into a deep depression, it’s Cricket Man to the rescue.

Connections:  These novels for young adults also focus on special and unusual friendships:  Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes; The Wild Kid; Stoner and Spaz and Define Normal.

Dairy Queen

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Diary-Queenby Catherine Gilbert Murdock.  p.  274  Grades 7-8

What a summer!  Fifteen-year-old D.J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, works dawn to dusk on her family’s dairy farm after her father has hip surgery.  Life is pretty dismal until the coach from her high school’s rival team asks D.J to coach his budding quarterback, the gorgeous Brian Nelson.  While training and doing farm chores, the two teenagers become friends, but things get complicated when D.J. tries out for her high school’s football team.

Connections:  The sequel is Off SeasonRunning Loose by Chris Crutcher is another football romance.

Adam Canfield Watch Your Back

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

adam canfieldby Michael Winerip.  p. 329  Grades 6-8

Adam Canfield is literally shoveling in the money on a Snow Day by clearing his neighbors’ walks–when older bullies pull up in a van and mug him.  Not only is he a victim of a crime, but he also becomes the embarrassing focus of a media campaign by The Slash to stop bullying.  This sequel to Adam Canfield of the Slash is as good as its predecessor.  While Jennifer and the other Slash staff take on bullies, saving a tree, and discrimination, Adam launches an undercover operation to expose the fact that parents are doing their kids’ science fair projects.

Connections:  If you enjoy the Adam Canfield books, try these other novels based on school newspapers:  The Landry News by Andrew Clements and Thou Shalt Not Dump the Skater Dude and Other Commandments I Have Broken by Rosemary Graham.  The Watergate Scandal in American History by David K. Fremon describes how Washington Post investigative journalists broke the Watergate case.

The Unnameables

Friday, November 13th, 2009

unnameablesby Ellen Booraem.  p. 318  Grades 6-9

In a world where things and places are simply named for what they are and people are named for what they do, how would you expect a boy named Medford Runyuin to fit in?  He doesn’t.  Instead the people of Island are wary of him and the children teasingly call him Raggedy or Plank Baby because of his messy look and his arrival on the island tied to a plank when he was a baby.  To make matters worse, Medford has a secret that he is trying keep hidden from the people of Island, and the mysterious arrival of the stinky Goatman is likely to blow his cover, literally.

For other stories of characters fighting the unfair rules/laws of their world, try reading The Giver by Lois Lowry, Maximum Ride:  The Angel Experiment by James Patterson, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Among the Hidden or Running out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix

To learn the story around the creation of the crazy character the Goatman, check out the author’s website http://www.ellenbooraem.com/evolution.html

The Entertainer and the Dybbuk

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

enterainerby Sid Fleischman, p. 180  Grades 6-9

The Great Freddie is a washed-up ventriloquist (he can’t speak without moving his lips) living in Europe following WWII until one night in Vienna, Austria he opens the closet in his hotel room and finds a dybbuk or Jewish spirit of a boy (Avrom Amos Poliakov) killed by Nazi soldiers during the war.To repay a debt he owes the boy for an incident that happened during the war, Freddie allows Avrom to possess his body and speak through him for the purpose of tracking down the boy’s killer and becoming a bar mitzvah.In the process, Avrom turns The Great Freddie’s ventriloquism act into a smash success and finds a platform for speaking out about the atrocities against Jews by the Nazis during the war, but Freddie finds himself in some awkward situations with his girlfriend.

Connections:  Some other great fiction titles that illustrate the treatment of Jews during World War II try reading Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen, or Hitler’s Canary by Sandy Toksvig.  Check out this video interview with the author.

One-Handed Catch

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

one-handed-catch-mary-jane-auch-paperback-cover-artby M. J. Auch  p. 246  Grades: 5-8

The summer before sixth grade,  Norm loses his left hand when it gets caught in a meat grinder.  Poor kid!  His mom’s not cutting him any slack, and his dreams of making the baseball team seem hopeless–until he hears about a one-handed major league baseball player and a customer gives him a right-handed baseball mitt.  Now it’s up to Norm.

Connections:  Here’s some other great baseball fiction:  Hang Tough Paul Mather by Alfred Slote;  Some Kind of Pride by Maria Testa; Choosing Up Sides by John Ritter; High Heat by Carl Deuker; and Hard Ball byWill Weaver.  Browse 796.357 for baseball nonfiction and search baseball biography in the catalog for famous players.

Child of Dandelions

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

child of dandelionsby Shenaaz Nanji, p. 210  Grades: 7-10

What do you do when your whole world seems to be falling down around you?  Do you deny that it is happening?  In 1972, when President Idi Amin of Uganda gave all foreign Indians 90 days to leave the country, fifteen year-old Sabine didn’t think that included her family, as they were all Ugandan citizens.  When her uncle disappears mysteriously, she convinces herself that he will turn up soon.  When her best friend, Zena turns against her, Sabine hopes she will come around eventually.  But, when the soldiers come looking for her father . . .

Connections:  Some other stories that deal with conflict between different groups within one country include Girl of Kosovo by Alice Mead, Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata, or Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

The Underneath

Monday, July 20th, 2009

The Underneath by Kathi Appeltby Kathi Appelt    p. 313    Grades 6-8

This amazing book has it all–chills, thrills, tears, fears; strangers and dangers; monsters and heroes; prehistoric and modern times; dogs and cats, love and hate; cruelty and compassion; animals and humans; magic and realism, shape-shifters and kittens; revenge and redemption; loneliness and friendship.  This strange and magical story begins in a Texas bayou  when a calico cat about to have kittens hears the lonely howls of a chained up dog.  She and her kittens take up residence with him underneath the shack where the hound’s cruel master, Gar Face, has chained him.  They are safe until one of the kittens ventures out from the underneath and is caught by Gar-Face.

Connections:  If you like sad animal stories, try these titles: Old Yeller by Fred Gipson, Sounder by William Armstrong, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.  The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien, and Watership Down by Richard Adams are other wonderful fantasies where animals form communities to help each other.

Word Nerd

Monday, July 20th, 2009

word-nerdby Susin Nielsen.  p. 248   Grades:  7-8

What do a 7th grade misfit with a severe peanut allergy and a twenty-five-year-old ex-convict, former drug addict have in common?  SCRABBLE!!!  After Ambrose nearly dies when three bullies slip a peanut into his sandwich, his overly protective mother removes Ambrose from school and has him do a correspondence course from home.  While she is at work, Ambrose secretly forges a friendship with his landlords’ son, Cosmos, who has just gotten out of prison. He cons Cosmos into taking him to the West Side Scrabble Club.  While Ambrose becomes hooked on Scrabble competition, Cosmos becomes hooked on beautiful Amanda, who runs the club.  This moving book is filled with lots of humor, word play, interesting characters and even danger.

Connection:  Other good reads with clever, outsider characters are Schooled by Gordon Korman, the Shredderman series by Wendelin Van Draanen, Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick, and Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of the Tree by Lauren Tarshis.

Antsy Does Time

Monday, June 15th, 2009

antsy does timeBy Neal Shusterman, p. 247 – Grades 6-9. 

If you enjoyed meeting Antsy (Anthony Bonano) in the Schwa Was Here, you’ll love encountering him again in this humorous teen novel in which he gives Gunnar Umlaut a month of his life.  When classmate Gunnar tells Antsy that he only has six months to live, Antsy draws up a contract giving Gunnar a month of his life, which earns him the attention and a kiss from Gunnar’s gorgeous older sister.  Soon other kids and even the principal want to donate months of their lives to Gunnar.  Time passes, and Gunnar isn’t showing symptoms.  What’s up?

 

Connection:  Other humorous novels where schemes get out of hand are The Schwa Was Here by Neal Schusterman, The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian, and Peeled by Joan Bauer.

The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Best bad luckby Kristin Levine, p. 264 – Grades 6-9

While many of the townspeople in early 20th century Moundville, Alabama were shocked at the arrival of the new African-American postmaster, twelve-year old Dit was disappointed when he realized the postmaster’s child, Emma, was a girl rather than the playmate he had been hoping for.  Adventuresome Dit is sure that he will never enjoy spending time with bookish, refined Emma, but he grudgingly shows her around and eventually the two end up finding common ground in the digging of a fort in Dit’s favorite hill mound.  With the start of school in the fall, Dit comes to more fully understand the realities of the Jim Crow laws as Emma is forced to go to a different school and his buddies tease him about their friendship.  Racial tensions in the town really erupt when the the town’s African American barber is charged with a crime against the overtly racist sheriff, and as witnesses to the crime, Dit and Emma can’t help but get involved.

Connection:  For another story about a friendship challenged by racism, read Tony Johnston’s Bone by Bone by Bone.

Wintergirls

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Wintergirlsby Laurie Halse Anderson, p. 278 – Grades 8 & Up

This novel, for mature readers, tells the story of Lia who has just found out about the death of her once best friend, Cassie. While they were friends, both girls suffered from eating disorders: Lia- anorexia and Cassie- bulimia. On the night of Cassie’s death, Lia received 33 phone calls and messages from Cassie… all of which Lia had left unanswered. Lia’s family (too busy mother, distant father and clueless stepmother) are concerned that the news will send Lia over the edge again and back to New Seasons the rehabilitation center she has already visited twice.

Connection:  For another story that shows a teen dealing with the death of another teen read Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why.

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

Ghostgirl

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

ghostgirlby Tonya Hurley, p.328 – Grades 7 & Up

It is the first day of her junior year and Charlotte is geared up to shift from ignored wallflower to part of the in-crowd.  When she gets dream-guy Damen as her physics lab partner, she thinks that the stars have finally aligned. As they leave the classroom with Damen asking her to be his tutor, Charlotte chokes on a gummy bear and dies.  Caught in the world between life and eternity, Charlotte and her new Dead Ed. classmates find out that they have some unfinished business before they can really move on.

Connection:  For another book about high school and struggles with popularity try reading, She’s So Money by Cherry Cheva –CRW