Contact PMSDirections to PMSSite Map

pmslibrary@piedmont.k12.ca.us Subscribe to my updates

Ahmed Aziz Epic Year

by Nina Hamza, 310 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Ahmed is not excited about moving to his father’s hometown of Minnesota. Apart from the surroundings and weather being pretty much the polar opposite to what he is used to having grown up his whole life in Hawaii, it also means trying to fit in in a whole new school environment in middle school. First of all, the kids in Minnesota seem to have never met anyone with the name Ahmed before and can’t seem to pronounce it right, in fact, maybe these kids have never met anyone Muslim before either. Even though it is not easy to find a community in his new school, most of the kids are, at least, trying to be kind. That is, except Jack, who seems determined to crush Ahmed’s spirit and ruin his chances for finding friends here. Jack, unfortunately,  is Ahmed’s neighbor and so Ahmed is unable to avoid his bully, and Jack doesn’t seem to care that Ahmed is going through one of the most challenging moments of his life. Ahmed’s family moved to Minnesota to try to save his father’s life; the hospital there is one of the few in the country that has the new treatment that might keep his father from succumbing to the genetic disease that killed his uncle. It is a lot for Ahmed to carry, and it remains to be seen if these obstacles will help Ahmed become a better person, or if they will break him entirely.

If you enjoy books about finding friends, personal identity and growing up, you might also like: Every Soul a Star, by Wendy Mass, Crunch, by Leslie Connor, Here to Stay, by Sara Farizan, Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now, by Dana Davis, or My Basmati Bat Mitzvah, by Paula J. Freedman.

 

Read More »

The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne

by Jonathan Stroud, 421 pages, Grades 6 and up.

The future in the U.K. is desolate and contaminated with radiation and strange dangerous creatures such as blood-otters and large wolves, but Scarlett is a scrappy orphan who uses cleverness and ingenuity to get by. She is technically a thief, but you can’t help but appreciate the imaginative ways she goes about relieving banks and other people of their money. She does have a kind heart, as it turns out, which is how she becomes connected to Albert Browne. He is a bit of an oddball that she picks up in the wreckage of a bus crash, and though she thinks she is only helping him get to safety so she can continue her solitary outlaw life, their lives are quickly entangled. Albert may not be the innocent needing protection that he seems to be, or is he? Albert and Scarlett narrowly escape death and capture many times as they find themselves on the adventure of lifetime together.

If you like a good adventure you might also enjoy: Aurora Rising, by Amie Kaufman, Renegades, by Marissa Meyer, Refugee, by Alan Gratz, or The Reader, by Traci Chee.

Read More »

Yes, No, Maybe So

by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed, 436 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Canvassing for a candidate when you are not even old enough to vote is not how Jamie, a white Jewish kid from Atlanta, expected to spend his free time, but here he is. Maya, a Pakistani American Muslim kid, feels passionate about defeating the current senator who wants to ban the wearing of hijabi which feels Islamophobic and threatening to Maya’s community. This is how Maya finds herself partnered with Jamie for canvassing to elect a more progressive candidate. Jamie is, at first, painfully shy, but the two become friends as they grow as activists. Life is complicated; everyone’s story has more depth than you can see on the surface and it takes time to really understand people even when you spend a lot of time together working toward a shared goal.

If you enjoy books about friendship and personal identity, you might also like: Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, A Good Kind of Trouble, by Lisa Moore Ramee,The Parker Inheritance, by Varian Johnson, A Mango Shaped Space, by Wendy, Mass, or The Firefly Code, by Megan Frazer Blakemore.

Read More »

Me Moth

by Amber McBride, 248 pages, Grades 8 and up.

Moth lost her family in a car accident and now is living with her aunt in Virginia.  She used to dance, but can’t anymore because of injury and grief. Sani, who lives across the street from Moth in Virginia, is half Navajo but being raised by his white mother and her new husband who is abusive. Until Sani, Moth felt invisible and alone, but Sani sees her because he recognizes her heartbreak as something familiar and Moth understands Sani’s grief as well. The two friends go on a journey out west to find Sani’s biological father and they exchange stories along the way. The stories help them grow as friends and support one another as they slowly heal from their tremendous struggles. 

If you enjoy reading novels in verse, you might also like: The Black Flamingo, by Dean Atta, Punching the Air, by Ibi Aanu Zoboi, The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo, Crossover, by Kwame Alexander, or Forget Me Not, by Ellie Terry.

 

Read More »

The Distance Between Us (a memoir)

by Reyna Grande, 325 pages, Grades 8 and up.

Reyna Grande recounts the story of her life in a small village, Guerrero, Mexico, and her family’s hopes and dreams to travel to “el otro lado” (the other side, or the United States). The parents decide to leave the children behind with their grandmother while they try to find footing in the U.S., but Reyna and her siblings feel abandoned by their parents and cannot possibly imagine what life might be like in “el otro lado.” Their mother returns from time to time to visit the children, but they do not see their father for years, until one day when he finally manages to bring them to the U.S. But, even when they have achieved their dream of living in the United States, things are more complicated than anyone could have imagined.

If you enjoy memoirs you might also like: Every Falling Star, by Sungju Lee, This Star Won’t Go Out, by Esther Earl, Belonging, by Nora Krug, or Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson.

Read More »

A Good Kind of Trouble

by Lisa Moore Ramee, 407 pages, Grades 6 and up.

Shaya and her best buddies call themselves the United Nations because they all come from different backgrounds. She and her friends are good students and have been close friends throughout elementary, but middle school is proving to be a little different. Each of the girls is exploring different interests and Shayla is worried the Nations might be becoming less “United.” At home, her family has been devastated by the not-guilty verdict of a police officer who killed an unarmed Black man; Shayla’s sister and father decide to attend a Black Lives Matter protest, and Shayla decides to show her support by wearing a black arm-band to school. Turns out this action gets Shayla sent to the office and she finds herself in trouble at school for the first time ever. On top of the shock of an arm-band getting her in trouble, her buddies don’t really understand what she is going through either, luckily Shayla’s sister helps her navigate the rocky road of racism and the importance of A Good Kind of Trouble.

If you like books about social justice, you might also like: All American Muslim Girl, by Nadine Jolie Courtney, Between the Lines, by Nikki Grimes, or Trell, by Dick Lehr.

And if you would prefer nonfiction on the subject, you might like: Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and you, by Jason Reynolds, or Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson.

Read More »

Every Falling Star: a memoir

by Sungiu Lee, 314 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Sungju used to live with his parents in North Korea and while they were struggling to have enough, they, at least, had each other. One day his family is exiled into a remote part of the country forced to live in extreme famine and poverty, and then his parents disappear as well. Now Sungju is forced to survive on his own. He resorts to joining a gang of street kids teaching himself to steal, and fight just to stay alive. He is constantly living in fear of being caught by the authorities, or being beat up by another street gang, or simply not finding enough food or shelter to stay alive, and no one seems to be coming to his rescue. Because this is his memoir, we understand he does survive but the path is a terrifying roller coaster without an end in sight.

If you enjoy memoirs and harrowing survival stories you might also enjoy: Red Scarf Girl, by Ji-li Jiang, A Land of Permanent Goodbyes, by Atia Abawi, or Never Fall Down, by Patricia McCormick.

Read More »

Punching the Air

by Ivi Zobol, 386 pages, Grades 8 and up.

Amal is in prison, accused of hurting a peer. This book, written in verse, is a collection of his musings about hopes he had for his life, and dreams about what he would become in the world as well as what it is like being in prison as a Black man. He is only 16, can you really be counted as a man at 16? Prison life is frightening, dehumanizing, and psychologically taxing.

He has so much of his life still in front of him, but now he finds himself trapped, without hope, wondering how he will go on. 

If you enjoy novels in verse about difficult subjects you might also like: Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse, Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds, The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo, or Paper Hearts, by Meg Wiviott.

Read More »

Dustborn

by Erin Bowman, 422 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Delta lives with her pack (extended family) in a barren dusty wasteland. Survival is a struggle but they are a scrappy bunch who stick together and protect one another. There is one place that has enough water and food for its people, but it is ruled by The General who is cruel and harsh. He works people to death so that he can enjoy the luxuries of food and water. Of course, there is also the mythical land they call “the verdant” where there is supposed to be water enough for everyone. Delta was hoping to find one day, but so far, no one has a readable map to find it. The story begins when Delta is away trying to get her pregnant sister some help from healers; her sister is having trouble giving birth. While she is away their pack is attacked and those who are not killed are kidnapped by The General. It becomes Delta’s mission to rescue her people, but now she has to do that with Baby in tow.

If you like dystopian adventures you might also enjoy: The List, by Patricia Forde, On The Edge of Gone, by Corrine Duyvis or Killer of Enemies, by Joseph Bruchac. If you like a science fiction adventure you might also enjoy Contagion also by Erin Bowman.

Read More »

Perfect on Paper

by Sophie Gonzales, 346 pages, Grades 8 and up.

Darcy has a secret; she is the owner and operator of Locker 89. Students drop anonymous letters into the locker requesting relationship advice leaving a little cash and their email with the request, then Locker 89 responds with advice. No one knows who is running the locker, until Brougham sneaks up on Darcy one day after swim practice. He doesn’t actually see the letters, but it is clear Darcy’s secret is out. All Brougham says he wants is a little love life advice himself, but Darcy definitely feels coerced into cooperation worried that her identity will be revealed. To complicate matters Darcy only attends this private school because her mom is a teacher here; they could never afford it otherwise, so there is a lot more than the locker income at stake here.

If you enjoy realistic fiction with a bit of mystery you might also enjoy: Heist Society, by Ally Carter, or if you are looking for another prep school story, and you don’t mind a little fantasy, you might like Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell.

Read More »

We Light Up the Sky

by Lilliam Rivera, 227 pages. Grades 8 and up.

Pedro, Rafa and Luna are teens growing up in Los Angeles and like a lot of American teens have seen plenty of movies and imagined what an alien invasion would be like. But, they pictured flying saucers, or spaceships landing, of course, not unusual vegetation innocuously growing in deserted houses, and dead cousins reanimating. It takes some time, but these three eventually recognize that alien invasions might not be a spaceship like in the movies, but who will believe a bunch of teens from L.A.? How can three kids stop the hostile take-over of their planet by sentient plant life?

If you enjoy science fiction about post-apocalyptic worlds you might also enjoy: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman, Contagion, by Erin Bowman, or Earth Unaware, by Orson Scott Card.

Read More »

Show Me A Sign

by Ann Clare LeZotte, 269 pages, Grades 6 and up.

Mary is growing up on Martha’s Vinyard in the early 19th century in a community with a high population of deaf people. Everyone, deaf or hearing, speaks sign language so that the community can all work together and no one is excluded. This means that Mary, and all the other deaf residents, have never had to conform to the hearing world’s expectations; she has not had to try to learn to talk with her voice or to read lips, for example. Growing up on Martha’s Vinyard in this tight community has allowed her to grow up happy, healthy and proud of her lineage, until the day the “scientist” arrives from England to study the deaf community. His observations seem benign at first, but Mary senses something is not safe about this outsider, and she is right to be wary. One day, he decides to kidnap her so he can study her. It is a frightening prospect for anyone to be kidnapped and taken from their home, but for Mary it is even worse because all of her communication is completely cut off; no one understands her signs, and she can’t read anyone’s lips!

If you enjoy realistic or historical fiction stories about small communities, you might also enjoy: Our Only May Amelia, by Jennifer L. Holm, A World Away, by Nancy Grossman, or Aleutian Sparrow, by Karen Hesse.

Read More »

Blended

by Sharon Draper 308 pages, Grades 6 and up.

Isabella switches houses, families,and nicknames every week. Her parents divorced and each have a new partner; Isabella spends every other week in each location. It is hard to keep track of the two completely different worlds: one week at her dad’s fancy house with his girlfriend and her son, the next week at her mom’s modest house with her boyfriend. Each home has a different cultural experience because of the wealth disparity and because her dad is Black and her mom is white; this code-switching every week is making Isabella begin to consider her own personal identity. Who is she and how does the world see her; how can she be both Black and white when the world only sees her as Black? And, what does it mean to be a Black person in the United States?

If you enjoyed this book you might like other titles by Sharon Draper including: Copper Sun, Stella By Starlight, and Out of My Mind.

Read More »

Pet

by Akwaeke Emezi, 204 pages, Grades 7 and up

Jam and Redemption are growing up in a world free of monsters and safe for everyone in the town of Lucille, or at least that is what they have been taught. But, if there are no monsters, what is this thing called Pet who crawls out of Jam’s mom’s painting and into Jam’s house? Pet doesn’t seem monstrous, in fact, Pet’s declared mission is to hunt shadow monsters, but if Pet is here, does this mean the monsters are not really gone in the town of Lucille? Jam’s biggest worry is that her friend, Redemption, is being threatened by a shadow monster and, even though Jam is trying to sound the alarm, the grown-ups around her can’t believe monsters could exist any more. So, Jam has to face the dangers alone to try to protect her friend.

If you enjoy mysterious fantasy books you might also like: A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, My Name is Mina & I Love the Night, by David Almond, Doll Bones, by Holly Black, or Serafina and the Black Cloak, by Robert Beatty.

Read More »

The Cousins

by Karen M. McManus, 325 pages, Grades 8 and up.

Milly, Aubrey and Jonah are cousins; their grandmother cut off contact with their families years ago.  There was no hope of any inheritance from the wealthy reclusive woman, until they each received an invitation to work at their grandmother’s island resort for the summer. Everyone is hoping this is an opportunity to bring the estranged families back together, but the minute they arrive something seems off. There is clearly something mysterious going on; the questions are:  are the cousins in serious danger, who can they trust and who should they fear?

If you enjoy mysteries you might also like: One of Us Is Lying, by McManus also, or The Parker Inheritance, by Varian Johnson or The Dakhouse, by Barbara Radecki.

Read More »

All American Muslim Girl

by Nadine Jolie Courtney, 419 pages,  Grade 7 and up

Allie Abraham is the daughter of a white mother and a Circassian Jordanian father. Both of her parents were born in the U.S. but ever since 9/11 her father has been treated with suspicion and prejudice. Their family has moved around a lot as she is growing up and she has had to make new friends in a lot of different communities. She is a master of code-switching; changing her demeanor, vocabulary, the way she dresses to fit with the people around her, but suddenly this year, she starts to question this behavior. Why should she be hiding part of her identity just to fit in? And, just as she begins wondering this about herself and coming to terms with her Muslim American identity she finds herself falling for a cute guy at her school who is white. First, she has to cope with the fact that people don’t recognize her as Muslim – she doesn’t cover her head, her Circassian ancestry makes her look pretty white – so somehow she has to figure out how to make her pride in her heritage visible. Second, this guy she likes, it turns out his dad is a super-racist; he even has a radio program where he spreads a lot of negative propaganda against Muslims! Allie is caught between feeling an imposter in her own skin and standing up for her community.

If you enjoy stories about identity you might also like: The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas, The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond, by Brenda Woods, Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip, by Jordan Sonnenblick, or Here to Stay, by Sara Farizan.

Read More »

Crossing the Wire

by Will Hobbs, 216 pages, Grades 6 and up

Victor grew up in Mexico, but when he is 15 his family has been struggling financially and they are on the brink of starvation so he decides to take it upon himself to save his family by journeying to the United States to find work and send money home. There is no legal option for this; the only way he can imagine getting money to save his family fast enough is to sneak across the border. His journey is harrowing and filled with challenges; he faces extreme weather, hunger, dangerous people and people who deliberately take advantage of those who are desperate. When his adventure begins he wonders if he can save his family by getting to the U.S. fast enough, but soon he begins to wonder if he will be able survive the journey himself. 

If you like historical adventure stories you might also like: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes, by Atia Abawi, A Night Divided, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, or Refugee, by Alan Gratz.

Read More »

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

by Sherman Alexie, 229 pages, Grades 7 and up

Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, is 14 years old and growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA. He loves drawing cartoons and playing basketball though a lot of kids at school tease him because he was born with a disability. Between the challenges of family members struggling with alcoholism and the death of close relatives, Junior is having a hard time being good. One day he loses his temper at school and throws a book at a teacher and this incident prompts him to seek education off the reservation. He begins taking a bus to an almost all white school. He is struggling with his identity, and feeling bad about finding people friendly at his new school; is he a sell-out to his community? This is a work of fiction, but the author, Sherman Alexie, weaves a lot of he personal history into the story which makes it a very nuanced and textured story of this young person’s search for personal identity.

If you enjoy stories with indigenous American characters you might also like; House of Purple Cedar, by Tim Tingle, My Name is Not Easy, by Debbie Dahl Edwardson, or The Birchbark House, by Louise Erdrich.

Read More »

Homegoing

by Yaa Gyasi, 305 pages, Written for an adult audience.

Two sisters, Effia and Esi, with two very different fates. Both are born in Ghana in the mid 1700s. One, Effia, marries a British businessman living in Ghana, the other, Esi, ends up a captive of the system and is sent in the bottom of a ship with hundreds of other captives to be enslaved in America. Their stories and the stories of each of their ancestors is told in alternating chapters; one sister and her children and grandchildren who remained in Africa and the other who came to America and whose family was not set free until the Civil War. Both stories are full of tragedy and adventure and both carry through generations until they end in the 1960s.

If you enjoy stories about generations of a family, you might also like: Holes, by Louis Sachar, A Step From Heaven, by An Na, Habibi, by Naomi Shibab Nye, or Copper Sun, by Sharon Draper.

Read More »

Each Tiny Spark

by Pablo Cartaya, 316  pages, Grades 6 and up

Emilia Torres has ADHD which means she has trouble concentrating on one thing at a time and this sometimes makes school work challenging to stay on top of. She lives with her mom and grandmother who help her keep track. Another thing distracting her is that her father has been away, deployed with the military, and he will be returning home soon. Turns out that’s not the only change Emilia has to deal with; as soon as her dad gets home her mom heads out of town on a business trip. Even though she still has her Abuelita and her dad at home, she feels like she is managing school stress, social stress and now the stress of mom being away all on her own. Her usual support system of people are all having their own struggles, so it’s up to Emilia to keep her head above water all by herself.

If you like books about complicated family situations, you might also like Bloomability, by Sharon Creech, The Benefits of Being an Octopus, by Ann Branden, or No Fixed Address, by Susin Nielsen. 

 

Read More »

Poet X

by Elizabeth Acevedo, 361 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Xiomara Batista, is a 15 year old first generation Dominican American.  She is harassed by boys, men and picked on by girls in her school, and so she learns to fight to protect herself. At home her super-Catholic mother is constantly tightening the rules around her. She does this in an effort to protect Xiomara, but instead ends up shaming Xiomara about her changing body and blaming her for the way others’ may see her.  In fact, everyone SEES Xiomara and decides who they think she is, but no one HEARS her, or listens to her. The only place she feels like she has a voice is in her poetry. Xiomara has some support from a kind teacher, poetry club and Aman, her friend (and maybe something more), but in the end she has to find her own power to speak her truth and make herself be heard.

If you novels in verse you might also enjoy: Other Words for Home, by Jasmine Warga, The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander, Forget Me Not, by Ellie Terry, or Paper Hearts, by Meg Wivivott.

 

Read More »

Bindi Babes

by Narinder Dhami, 184 pages, Grades 6 and up.

Amber, Jazz and Geena are used to taking care of themselves; one of their favorite ways to do this is to go to the mall. In fact, at school they are known for their fashion sense and expensive clothes. In reality, this is a mask the Dhillon sisters wear to hide their grief. Their mother died almost a year ago and their father, who is grieving himself, has been very absent from their daily lives. He has basically let the girls parent one another this whole year handing over his credit card anytime they ask if that will make them happy. The girls would say they are managing just fine, but it becomes clear to their father that he needs a little help; he has decided the girls actually could use some parenting after all and he knows just who to ask for help. His sister arrives from India, and Amber Jazz and Geena’s lives take another abrupt turn. Suddenly Auntie is imposing all kinds of rules, curfews and restrictions. How dare she?! The girls have been doing just fine parenting themselves, haven’t they?! Amber, Jazz and Geena need to do something to get Auntie of their back. They concoct a plan to do some matchmaking. Surely one of these single teachers at their school can sweep Auntie off her feet and take her away, so they can be independent again!

If you like funny books about siblings you might also like: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han

 by Firoozheh Dumas, or Absolutely Normal Chaos, by Sharon Creech. 

 

Read More »

Two Can Keep A Secret

by Karen McManus, 329 pages, Grades 7 and up.

STUDENT REVIEW

Ellery and her twin brother are moving to their mom’s childhood hometown. She expects a change of scenery, not a murder mystery. As homecoming season begins and strange things start happening.  Is Ellery safe? Everyone in the town has secrets, and there are many surrounding Ellery’s aunt’s disappearance from years back and the more recent death of a homecoming queen. Mal, an Echo Ridge native is dragged into the narrative because of his brother’s involvement in the late homecoming queen’s murder, and his life will forever be altered by his and Ellery’s new discoveries. Now another girl has vanished and Ellery is caught up in the middle of dangerous threats and lies. Ellery already has enough on her hands with her family issues and school. Can Ellery and her new friends still discover the truth and bring justice to everyone in the town of Echo Ridge?

If you enjoy mysteries you might like another by this author called One of Us Is Lying.

by CM

Read More »

Bloomability

by Sharon Creech, 273 pages, Grades 6 and up.

Domenica Santolina Doone, or Dinnie for short has two older siblings, one brother and one sister. Her parents are always on the move because her dad always seems to be looking for a job; her mom says he is a dreamer and she believes in him, but they just don’t seem to ever land. Dinnie’s mom is Italian and when her grandmother visits there is always a lot of yelling in the kitchen in Italian. Dinnie can’t understand it all, but what she does understand is that her grandma does not like her dad, and that her grandma wishes her daughter (Dinnie’s mom) would find a better husband who can take care of the family. In fact, it does seem possible that their family is not doing so well; some might call it dysfunctional. The last time her grandma visited she threatened to have Dinnie and her siblings taken away from their parents because she doesn’t believe they are up to the task. The final straw is the day that her brother finds himself in jail and her sister tells her parents that she is pregnant. Nonna (grandma in Italian) and uncle Max swoop in, “kidnap” Dinnie and take her to Switzerland where Uncle Max will be the Headmaster of a boarding school. They say it is in Dinnie’s best interest and that her parents will have a chance to get their act together while Dinnie is away. 

It seems like this is best for Dinnie, but the problem is that this chaotic home is all she has ever known. She is off to Switzerland, but can hardly speak because she feels so sad to be far away from her family. The boarding school is in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, but all the kids who go there come from all over the world and all of them are there living far from their families too. Dinnie begins to find her place and make some friends. And, you’ll never guess what they do for P.E. at this school… skiing in the Swiss Alps! This adventure might just help Dinnie figure out who she is and what her place is in the wide world.

Some kids grow up in families with a lot of challenges, if you want to read more books like this you might also enjoy: Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, Guitar Boy, by M.J. Auch, Family Game Night, by Mary E. Lambert.

Read More »

Pirates

by Celia Rees, 384 pages, Grades 8 and up.

Nancy Kington is growing up in 18th century England. She is the daughter of a wealthy man who owns a sugar plantation in Jamaica. When her father dies she is summoned to the plantation by her brothers, but instead of taking her in and taking care of her they set her up to marry a terrible man some call “the devil himself.” Nancy is strong and clever and after saving her half-sister, Minerva, from a would-be rapist she and Minerva disguise themselves as men and join a band of pirates. They are off to have a great adventure full of mystery, love and murder on the high seas swashbuckling and sword fighting, but have they really escaped the terrible “devil himself” or might that just be another obstacle in their path? 

If you like historical fiction with a lot of adventure you might also enjoy: Refugee, by Alan Gratz, Nowhere Boy, by Katherine Marsh, Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson, or Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein

Read More »

If A Tree Falls at Lunch Period

by Gennifer Choldenko, 216 pages, Grades 6 and up.

Kristin’s start to seventh grade is anything but smooth. Her best friend seems to have dropped her for a popular group and she is suddenly feeling super self-conscious about her appearance and how to fit in at this prestigious private school. Walk’s first day of school is similarly distressing. He is almost the one and only Black kid at school. He can feel how different he is as he enters the classroom, late, making it even worse. Turns out Kristin is late for her first day as well and she and Walk end up in detention together. Luckily they find one another pretty easy to talk to; maybe this school year won’t be as bad as they thought, but then strangely when each of their mothers finds out who they are spending time with they are not at all happy. What is up with their mothers; why do they care? Shouldn’t your mom just be happy you have made a friend in middle school? What matters most?

If you like books about complex families, you might also like: Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now, by Dana Davis, or Far From The Tree, by Robin Benway.

Read More »

My Name is Not Easy

by Debbie Dahl Edwardson, 248 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Luke, 12, and his brothers are Inupiaq Indians of Alaska in the1960s. They are sent to a Catholic boarding school with kids from other native tribes; none of them are allowed to speak their native languages. These kids are far from home and everything they are asked to do is out of their normal comfort zone, yet they are still expected to be able to participate and learn while experiencing this trauma. At first the native American children and white children all move about in small cliques and don’t really try to integrate with one another, but when the school and environment present extreme challenges the kids unify to stay strong and help one another. Things will never be the same for these children, but will the strength they gain from the experience be enough to help them heal when the school year is finally over.

There are some very sad stories about the history of indigenous peoples in our library; if you want to read more like this you could try: Aleutian Sparrow, by Karen Hesse, Fatty Legs, by Christy Jordan-Fenton, or How I Became a Ghost, by Tim Tingle.

 

Read More »

A Step From Heaven

by An Na, 148 pages, Grades 7 and up

Young Ju is born in Korea and lives there until she is 4. She remembers her family talking about the magic of America and the opportunities their family will have there, and she believes she is moving to a dream world like heaven where anything is possible. Young Ju’s story is told as a first person narrative and as a reader you hear her grow up in the voice of the narrator. Her early memories are told in a young child’s voice and as she grows up her story-telling and description become more nuanced and detailed. It is beautiful how An Na mirrors the character’s experience in the way she writes the story. 

Luckily Young Ju is strong because her idea of heaven is not what they find when they come to Southern California. Life is a lot harder than they had imagined for an immigrant family just learning American customs and English at the same time. 

If you enjoy stories about families that immigrated to the U.S. you might also like: Lucky Broken Girl, by Ruth Behar, Refugee, by Alan Gratz, or Heat, by Mike Lupica.

Read More »

Night

by Elie Wiesel, 109 pages, Grade 8 and up

STUDENT REVIEW

Elie is a 15 year old teenager who goes through one of the toughest things you can in life, without even realizing it. Throughout the book Elie faces pain, defeat, loss, and dehumanization. But somehow he manages to push through it with the help of his dad, as he and his family were separated at the beginning. The doubt in the beginning is what got them started, but the death camps are what finished them. “Night” a book by Elie Wiesel, as detailed and descriptive as a diary, you feel as if you are on the journey with him. Overall this is a great book to read if you want to learn more about the Holocaust.

If you liked the author you might like some of his other books – Dawn, Day (part of The Night Trilogy) or The Tale of a Niggun. If you liked the genre you might like some books like these, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl or Maus.

by JL

Read More »

The Benefits of Being an Octopus

by Ann Braden, 254 pages, Grades 6 and up

Zoey is in 7th grade but she has a lot of grown up responsibilities. Her mom works a lot of hours for not a lot of money. Zoey has to help out with her three younger siblings.  Zoey’s favorite animal is an octopus and she says she often feels like she wishes she had 8 arms too to rein in her siblings and take care of all of their needs. In fact, Zoey is so busy taking care of her siblings that she hardly has time to take care of her own things; she often has no clean clothes to wear to school and she rarely finishes her homework on time. In addition to having 8 arms, octopuses also can camouflage themselves to hide from predators. Zoey uses this strategy at home to hide the kdis from her mother’s boyfriend who has a bad temper, and she also tries to disappear at school so no one will notice she isn’t keeping up. Luckily one of her teachers does notice her and invites her to join debate club. The club helps Zoey to find her strength and her voice; maybe hiding is not the right strategy for overcoming the challenges she is facing in her life after all.

If you like books about kids overcoming adversity or difficult family situations you might also enjoy: Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, or Guitar Boy, by M.J. Auch, or The Boy in the Black Suit, by Jason Reynolds.

Read More »

Habibi

by Naomi Shihab Nye, 271 pages, Grades 7 and up

Liyanne has grown up in St. Louis; her family is Palestinian from Jerusalem, but she cannot remember anything about living there. There is a moment in the 1970s when the Israeli and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are living together peacefully and so Liyanne’s family decides to move back “home”. Liyanne, though, is an American teenager looking forward to high school in St. Louis so she is not at all happy about the news, but once she is surrounded by her loving Palestinian family her homesickness for America starts to wane. There are a lot of tensions between Palestinians and Israeli people in Jerusalem, and these bouts of violence and inequity seep into her personal life even though she just wants to live a normal teen life of romance and hope for the future. Everyone in her family is hoping for peace, but Liyanne has a secret reason she is hoping even more that the Israeli and Palestinians can find a way to live peacefully together.

If you like historical fiction, you might also enjoy: Fountains of Silence, by Ruta Sepetys, Dreamland Burning, by Jennifer Latham, or Refugee, by Alan Gratz.

Read More »

The House of Purple Cedar

by Tim Tingle, 326 pages, Grades 8 and up

Rose has to go home to live with her parents and grandparents (Pokoni and Amafo) when her boarding school burns down. The New Hope Academy lost about 20 Choctaw girls in the fire, and left everyone in the town grieving and fearful. The Choctaw people have always seen a lot of prejudice and racism, but something evil is lurking in the town more than ever before, in fact when Amafo (Rose’s grandfather) is in town one day he is beaten by the town marshal who suffers no repercussions for his actions, even though he was drunk and the attack was unprovoked by Amafo. This attack compounds the fear the community is experiencing, but Amafo does not want to let this rage dictate the way he lives his life. Even though he is pretty severely injured in the attack he is determined to show himself in town so the marshal can see he is not afraid. Everyone is proud and impressed with Amafo’s quiet strength, but there is an underlying worry as well; this community has a long history of being subjected to violence at the hands of angry white men and it remains to be seen if things are different now, or if they really should still be afraid. 

If you like stories about Native American people you might also enjoy other titles by Tim Tingle such as How I Became A Ghost. Another Native American author is Louise Erdrich; one of her books is: The Birchbark House. Another author we love is named Sherman Alexie and we have his book called: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian which is a great read!

 

Read More »

Between The Lines

by Nikki Grimes, 216 pages, Grades 7 and up

Darrian did not expect to find himself in a poetry club.  His plan is to go to college to study journalism and become a star reporter, but when his counselor suggests he try poetry to round out his writing skills, he decides to give it a try. Right away he can see how much he has to learn from this group. These writers really know how to show their heart and make listeners feel their struggle. Jenesis is a foster child, Marcel’s dad is in prison, Freddie’s mom drinks and so Freddie parents herself and her cousin as well. Even though Darrian has been in school with these kids he realizes he never really knew them. It is amazing how little we really know about the people around us; almost everyone has a hidden struggle. Each poet has a story and Darian’s narrative ties them all together, and the poems scattered throughout the novel are an added bonus.

If you like poetry or spoken word, you might like these novels written entirely in verse: Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo, Solo, by Alexander Kwame, The Crossover, by Alexander Kwame, or A Time to Dance, by Padma Venkatramen.

Read More »

Aurora Rising

by Amie Kaufman, 470 pages, Grades 7 and up

Tyler is on his way home through “the fold” (a piece of space where distance is folded to help ships travel from one distant planet to another more quickly) when he hears a distress call and decides to do the right thing and investigate. What he discovers is a 200 year old ship full of corpses, but one living girl! Rescuing her means that Tyler arrives late for crew selection for his next mission and he is stuck with a group of leftovers who seem like misfits, but that is the least of his worries. Strange things have been happening since he discovered this 200-year-old living girl, Aurora, in the fold, and there seems to be some kind of conspiracy around the ship and its people as well. When Aurora stows away on Tyler’s new mission the adventure continues. The group decides to protect her and investigate her mysterious history while risking their careers and their lives to find out the truth. 

If you like exciting science fiction adventure including space travel you might also enjoy: Contagion, by Erin Bowman, Illuminae , by Annie Kaufman, On The Edge of Gone, by Corinne Duyvis, or Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card.

Read More »

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

by Mark Haddon, 226 pages, Written for an adult audience.

Christopher John Francis Boone has led a pretty sheltered life. He is super smart, but his autism makes relating to other people and encountering new situations really challenging for him. When he is incorrectly blamed for the death of his neighbor’s dog – possibly because the neighborhood characterizes him as odd – he is determined to find the real dog murderer. Even though he is 15 years old, he has not ventured far from his every day routines, and  although he has little experience with the wide world outside his personal story, he has a brilliant logical mind and is modeling his investigation after his favorite literary detective, Sherlock Holmes. The clues take Christopher on an adventure he could have never imagined and teach him things about himself and his family that he might not really want to know. 

If you enjoy a mystery with a quirky twist you might also like: The Danger Box, by Blue Balliett, The London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd, The Accidental Highwayman, by Ben Tripp, or The Unknowns, by Benedict Carey.

Read More »

Goodbye, Stranger

by Rebecca Stead, 289 pages, Grades 6 and up

Bridge entered seventh grade thinking she had middle school figured out. She had her group of friends – girls she has known since they were tiny – and knows her way around the school, but it turns out things are not as set in stone as she thought. Tabitha is becoming an activist inspired by her new favorite teacher, Emily is suddenly getting a lot of attention from the popular crowd. Even the grown ups around them seem to be changing (or is it that Bridge is just noticing adult relationships more as she is getting older?). Instead of feeling in control as a seventh grader Bridge has started the year feeling a little lost and alone, since her forever friends are occupied with new things.  Luckily, Sherm, a new friend, but definitely not a “boyfriend,” is helping to make Bridge feel a little less alone, and a little more understood. And, in fact, maybe Sherm needs a friend even more than Bridge does.

If you enjoy this book, you might like other titles by Rebecca Stead.  Try: Liar and Spy, When You Reach Me, and The List of Things That Will Not Change.

Read More »

Slay

by Brittney Morris, 321 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Kiera Johnson,17, is one of a very few Black kids in her high school. She is constantly code-switching, moving from the speech patterns and behaviors of one cultural group to another, to fit in and feel comfortable and accepted in the various settings she navigates. All she wanted was a place she could call her own; a safe space to be herself among her BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) brothers and sisters. Because she is a tech genius, she created an online multi-user game that has become wildly popular; now her struggle is managing this online world and her world IRL (in real life). 

If you enjoy stories that include VR (virtual reality), you might also enjoy: Deadly Pink, by Vivian Vande Velde, Bubble World, by Carol Snow, The Six, by Mark Alpert, or Warcross, by Marie Lu.

Read More »

The Land

by Mildred Taylor, 369 pages, Grades 7 and up

This is the prequel to the the book Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.  It is David’s father, Cassie’s grandpa’s story; the story of how he came to own the land that is such an important part of the plot of Roll of Thunder. It is the land, of course, that differentiates the Logan family from their neighbors who have to rely on working for white people to make a living, and these same white people are dishonest and take advantage of them, so owning the land has given the Logan family status, power and security. This is the story of how grandpa Paul-Edwards, Big Ma’s husband, came to acquire it. 

It begins when Paul-Edwards is young and has not yet met Big Ma.  Paul-Edwards was born a slave; his mother is half African American and half Native American and his father was the white master. His childhood is complicated because he passes as white (he is very light skinned and his white father actually acknowledges him, which is very unusual for the time) and he grows up around his white half-siblings. One day, though, something happens that reveals the reality that they will never see him as a true brother; they see him as “other” or “less than” because of his African heritage. He sets off on his own to make his way in the world; falls in love with the piece of land we all know about, and uses cleverness, hard work and innovative thinking to acquire it despite the prejudice and hatred he encounters. Of course, we also meet Caroline, the love of his life (Big Ma in the Roll of Thunder book) and we come to understand how love and family become the foundation of the Logan family.

If you enjoy historical fiction about race in America, you might also enjoy: A Good Kind of Trouble, by Lisa Moore Ramee, The Parker Inheritance, by Varian Johnson, One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia, or Stella by Starlight, by Sharon Draper.

Read More »

Keeper of the Lost Cities

by Shannon Messenger, 488 pages, Grades 6 and up

STUDENT REVIEW

Sophie Foster, age 12, is not exactly normal. Her hidden power, or perhaps burden, is that she can unwillingly hear the thoughts of those around her. While this may seem like a good thing, hearing these thoughts can cause unbearable headaches. When she meets someone else like her, Sophie learns that she is not a human, but an elf.

Confronted with this new information, Sophie must move away from her family and into a new society so different from her own. Settling in isn’t as easy as one might think, however, and she deals with these shifts and all the obstacles that come with them, major or minor.  

Whilst dealing with the after effects of such a transition, Sophie learns that everything about her is not as it seems. Between mysterious wildfires and unanswered questions, secrets are everywhere, even in Sophie’s own mind. Finding out said secrets proves to be a challenge and sends her on a journey filled with adventure, newfound friendships, and self-discovery. 

If you liked this book or books in this genre, feel free to check out either the rest of the Keeper of the Lost Cities Series by Shannon Messenger, The Apothecary by Maile Meloy, The Land of Stories Series by Chris Colfer, or the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. 

by: VV

Read More »

The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green, 318 pages Grades 8 & up

STUDENT REVIEW

Hazel Grace Lancaster, a sixteen year old struggling with thyroid cancer goes to a support group every Wednesday because her parents say she is “depressed.” Hazel hates going to the support group and tries to convince her parents to let her stay home. One day when she is forced to go, she bumps into a boy named Augustus Waters, who had cancer in his leg a couple of years ago. Little does she know that this boy is about to change her life…

Hazel’s favorite book is called “An Imperial Affliction” about a girl who is struggling with cancer too.  It is not just some old cancer book; she feels like the author really captures how people with cancer feel and how they live. There is just one problem… the book ends in the middle of a sentence. Hazel is dying to know what happens, and when she shares the book with Augustus, he wonders about the same question too. When Augustus uses his unused cancer wish to go meet this author, Hazel and Augustus do not expect what happens next and neither will you…

If you like romance you might really like the book “The Sun Is Also a Star” or “Paper Towns.” If you liked more of the forbidden love, illness, and adventure part of the book, you might like a book called “Everything Everything” or “Five Feet Apart.” All of these books also have movies including the “Fault In Our Stars,” if you are interested in that too. 

by: JL

Read More »

Something Like Gravity

By Amber Smith, 400 pages, Grades 7th and up.  Found in RBDigital

STUDENT REVIEW

Something Like Gravity is a great book about two people who are struggling in life. First, there’s Chris he is a transgender boy who moves to a rural area to start anew. His parents have different opinions about him being transgender, and Chris is scared that his parents will get a divorce because of him. Next, there’s Maya. Her parents are divorced, but they still live together; they just avoid each other;this creates a lot of tension. Her sister has also died, and they were very close. Chris and Maya fall in love and help each other with their problems. It is realistic fiction full of real-life problems, and quite a few twists and turns. 

If you like realistic fiction you might also like: Out of my mind, by Sharon M. Draper, The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green and The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon.

by: HT

Read More »

It Ain’t So Awful Falafel

by Firoozeh Dumas, 370 pages, Grades 6 and up.

Zoomrad (which means emerald in Persian) decides to use her chosen name, Cindy, at school to avoid confusion. The name change does help the American kids with pronunciation, but it turns out the name change alone does not make Cindy feel like she completely fits in in her new California town in the 1970s. First of all people in California in the 70s don’t even know where Iran is. And then, Americans who are living in Iran are taken hostage. After this, the lack of understanding becomes prejudice directed at Zoomrad’s family from a community they are trying to become a part of. In addition to this, Cindy’s dad’s company, an American oil company located in Iran and the U.S., closes down because of the hostage crisis, but she can’t talk about this family stress with anyone because it feels too private, and like it might be one more reason for the community to disapprove of her family. Fitting in in a new location is always hard, but Zoomrad has a lot of obstacles to overcome; it really only takes one person to reach out and bring someone into the circle. Will someone do that for her?

If you enjoy books about moving to a new neighborhood or school, you might also like: My Name is Not Easy, by Debbie Dahl Edwardson, Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, or Ruby Holler, by Sharon Creech.

Read More »

Orbiting Jupiter

by Gary D. Schmidt, 183 pages, Grades 7 and up

Jack, 12, is used to his family expanding and shrinking; he has gained a foster sibling before. This time, though, Jack feels a bit uneasy about their latest foster kid, Joseph who is 14. He is jumpy and everyone thinks he is trouble. Teachers at school seem to only see the bad in Joseph, so Jack wonders if he should be afraid of him too. As time goes on Jack sees a different side to Joseph when they are at home and he begins to wonder if he has been misunderstood by the grown ups at school. Joseph, it turns out, has had a complicated life full of heartache; even though he is only 14 he has already survived abuse, lost his parents, fallen in love, fathered a child that he has not been allowed to see, and been torn from the love of his life. Jack begins to see the world through Joseph’s eyes and wonders if he has ever really understood right and wrong, or if, in the real world, right and wrong is not a binary after all. Maybe there is more nuance and humanity to be considered in every situation.

If you are interested in books about teens in trouble, you might also enjoy: Guitar Boy, by M.C. Auch, A Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds, Scrawl, by Mark Shulman, or Simon Vs. the Homo Sapien’s Agenda, by Becky Albertalli.

Read More »

Homeless Bird

by Gloria Whelan, 186 pages, Grades 6 and up

Thirteen year old Koly’s family does not have much money. Their only hope for their daughter, Koly, is to marry her into a prosperous family. Koly and her mother have been preparing a beautiful dowry of money and other beautiful objects including an embroidered quilt that Koly has made, and one day the family announces that they have found her a nice 16 year old named Hari. In the tradition of this region of India, the girl goes to live with the family of her husband. The trouble begins when Koly discovers that her new husband is very ill and that the family only wanted the dowry to pay to take them to the city of Benares in the hope that he can be cured. Hari does not survive. In this family there are few choices for widows. They cannot return to their childhood home, they can become slaves to their mother-in-law, or they can live in the Hindu holy city of Vrindavan (the city of Widows), where widows dress in all white and rely on the kindness of strangers to keep them alive. Koly is strong and innovative, and her spirit cannot be crushed by these circumstances. This is a story of how she manages to survive and thrive despite these challenges.

If you enjoy books taking place in India, you might also like: Keeping Corner, by Kashmira Sheth, A Time To Dance, by Padma Venkatraman, Chained, by Lynne Kelly, or Small Acts of Amazing Courage, by Gloria Whelan.

Read More »

Everything, Everything

by Nicola Yoon, 310 pages, Grades 8 and up

Maddy cannot remember ever having contact with anyone other than her nurse and her mother. Everything makes her sick. Everything, everything! She has “Bubble Baby Disease” which compromises her immune system and has been living in a sterile room for 18 years. Even her education has been all online learning with various tutors. Despite this confinement life has been pretty good; she and her mother enjoy games together and her nurse is a caring confidant. One day a new family moves into the neighborhood; there is a lot of drama going on outside her window. She is especially interested in the son, Olly, who entertains her with his parkour and emotional outbursts. The observing seems harmless until Olly notices her and tries to get to know her too. Of course, he mother is against this idea, but Maddy is enchanted by Olly and getting to know him makes her more curious about the world beyond her bubble. Maddy begins questioning everything and has to decide if being with Olly and seeing the world beyond her bubble is worth the risk. 

If you like this book, you might also like The Sun is Also A Star, also by Nicoloa Yoon. Some other books about teens you might enjoy are: I’ll Give you the Sun, by Jandy Nelson, or I’ll Be There, by Holly Goldberg Sloan

 

Read More »

The Fountains of Silence

by Ruta Sepetys, 495 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Daniel’s father has an opportunity to make a business deal in Spain; he is an oil man. Daniel’s mother grew up in Spain and is happy to be able to share her home country with her family. Daniel’s dad is also hoping Daniel will follow in his footsteps and work for his oil company one day, but Daniel’s passion is photojournalism. He has applied to journalism school and hopes to enhance his portfolio by taking photos on this trip. It is 1957 and Spain is led by the dictator Francisco Franco, or Generalissimo. Things might appear to be orderly, but everyone has secrets and everyone is afraid; bad things happen when you don’t follow all the rules. Daniel has grown up speaking Spanish at home, so he finds his way around Madrid more easily than other tourists from America and also comes to see the Spanish people in a way that many tourists aren’t allowed. He is only hoping for a provocative photographic entry to send with his application to journalism school, but in the end his life is forever changed. The darkness of Franco’s Spain is hard to endure and impossible to escape.

 

If you like exciting historical fiction you might like other books by Sepetys: Between Shades of Gray, and Salt to the Sea.

Read More »

Dreamland Burning

by Jennifer Latham, 371 pages, Grades 8 and up

Rowan’s family is doing some renovation in their back house, but when the construction crew comes to begin demolition they drop everything and leave suddenly. Rowan and her friend, James go out back to see what’s what and discover an old skeleton wrapped in oil cloth that had been buried beneath the house since 1921. Whose body is it? Why was it buried beneath Rowan’s house? Was it an accident or a murder?

Will tells his story from the past. He lived in 1920 when Jim Crow laws segregated and discriminated against African Americans. Will’s father is white and so he has mostly been raised as a white man, but Will’s mother was Osage Indian, so his personal history is a bit more complex than it appears at first. 

Will’s story casually mentions evidence that was found on the body in present day time, but there are so many twists and turns you never know who the body from the present will turn out to be in Will’s story set in the past.

If you like historical mysteries you might also enjoy: One Came Home, by Amy Timberlake,  Parker Inheritance, by Varian Johnson, or The Girl in the Blue Coat, by Monica Hesse

 

Read More »

Summer Bird Blue

by Akemi Dawn Bowman, 373 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Until the terrible day that changed everything, Rumi lives with her mother and sister. Rumi takes on a lot of responsibility for her sister, Lea, since her mom works so many hours to make ends meet. But, she also loves spending time with Lea, especially writing music together. They are going to be partners writing music and performing when they grow up, but then, the car accident happened. Lea doesn’t get to grow up. When Lea dies Rumi and her mother are heartbroken, but instead of healing together Rumi finds herself being sent to her Auntie Ani’s in Hawaii without her mother! Rumi is grieving in a strange place surrounded by people she doesn’t know. Can she ever forgive her mother for abandoning her? Will music ever find its way back into her life? Can she even survive this heartache?

If you like sad stories, you might also like: Untwine, by Edwidge Danticat, Grounded, by Kate Klise, or books about kids who use music to help them heal: Guitar Boy, by M.J. Auch.

 

Read More »

The Book of Dust: the belle sauvage

by Phillip Pullman, 449 pages, Grades 7 and up.

This is the prequel to the His Dark Materials trilogy which includes the books The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass

The world of His Dark Materials feels a lot like the earth we know but humans in this fanstasy world are made up of two parts: the human being and the daemon. Daemon’s take many animal forms, but they are really part of the human with whom they are paired. It is a little bit like having your soul or your heart living outside of your body in this other little being. 

Malcolm is young enough that his daemon has not settled on a form yet. Daemon’s change shape from owl, to fox, to squirrel all day every day until one day when you reach a certain age they settle into one form they will be the rest of your life. 

Malcolm is 11, he is a good kid, and a hard worker. He is always helping his parents and other people in the village, but his favorite thing to do is take to the water in his little boat, The Belle Sauvage. 

Recently, dangerous, creepy people have been visiting his parents’ pub asking questions about a baby. The only baby Malcolm knows is the adorable Lyra being taken care of by nuns at the priory, and Malcolm begins to worry for her safety. Then, the flood strikes. It is the biggest flood in centuries, it seems like the whole of England is under water. Suddenly Malcolm finds himself in charge of saving little Lyra from the flood, evil people, and the government; Malcolm’s calm existence is transformed into a grand adventure full of life threatening danger.  

If you like fantastic adventures you might also enjoy: The Bartimaeus Trilogy, by Jonathan Stroud, the Harry Potter Series, by JK Rowling, or, of course, His Dark Materials Trilogy, by Phillip Pullman.

Read More »

When Friendship Followed Me Home

by Paul Griffin, 247 pages, Grades 6 and up

“Never let the hill slow you down, Traveler.” This is something Ben’s mom would have said to help him get through difficult times. The trouble is, this hill might just be too steep. Ben is moving in with his aunt and uncle after his mom died; how can he feel “at home” in a place that has never been his home. At least he has Flip and Rainbow girl in his life. Flip is his little dog he can carry around in his backpack, and Rainbow Girl is a new friend who is trying to convince him to help her write a novel. Maybe friendship is just the thing to help him up this hill of troubles.

If you like books about kids overcoming adversity, you might also like: Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan, or The Boy in the Black Suit, by Jason Reynolds.

 

Read More »

Renegades

by Marissa Meyer, 556 pages, Grades 8 and up.

In the old days “prodigies” used their superhuman skills to save society from anarchy and destruction. Nova was a little girl at the time and when the Renegades, a group of prodigies, took control of the government to bring about peace and justice when the world was full of chaos. The Renegades promised to keep people safe, but Nova’s parents were killed anyway and Nova cannot forgive the Renegades for this injustice. She is a prodigy herself and has made it her life’s mission to avenge her parents’ murder. She has allied herself with a group of prodigy villains who plan to take down the Renegades and bring about anarchy where all people can make their own rules and take care of themselves. It happens that nothing is as simple as good and evil, and Nova finds herself seeing both qualities in places where she did not expect to. What is the right path? Who can be sacrificed for the greater good? How will Nova know whether her actions will really be the right choice? 

If you like a good adventure story you might like the Cinder series by Marissa Meyer as well.

If you like superhero stories you might also enjoy: Miles Morales, Spiderman, by Jason Reynolds, Dreadnaught, by April Daniels, or the Graphic Fiction: Black Panther, by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Read More »

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes

by Atia Abawi, 285 pages, Grades 7 and up

Tareq remembers growing up in beautiful, peaceful country, but just barely. Most of his life Syria has been turmoil and then his family home was bombed.  Tareq,his little sister, Susin, and their father – the only two surviving family members – decide it is time to find a safer place to live. The journey itself is treacherous. Who can they trust? How can they find the money to afford safe passage, and will they be able to keep the remains of the family together and safe from any more heartache?

If you enjoy harrowing survival stories, you might also like: Refugee, by Alan Gratz, Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go, by Laura Rose Wagner, or Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys.

Read More »

CYRM NOMINEES 2019-20

Here are our California Young Reader Medal Nominees for 23019-20!

You have until the end of March to read all three in each category. Then you can vote to select the winners!!

 

 

 

 

Read More »

No Fixed Address

by Susin Nielsen, 280 pages, Grades 6-8.

Felix has had a lot of different homes, he has gone to a lot of different schools, his mom has had a lot of different jobs and a lot of different partners. You could say Felix is kind of an expert when it comes to change and instability, but this time, this living situation might be too much even for a veteran of change such as Felix. His mom, currently out of work, and out of a living situation “borrows” her x-boyfriend’s van which, she explains, will be a fun way to live for a little while. The view out the window can be different and new every day. Of course, she is not talking about the down sides to living in a van, like not having a kitchen for making food – “We’ll get take-out,” not having a shower – “We’ll join a gym,” and not having a bathroom! Felix believes his mom wants the best for him, but the question is, does she really know what that is? And, if so, can she really provide it?

If you enjoy books about kids in difficult living situations, you might also enjoy: Guitar Boy, by M.J. Auch, or Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor, or Hold Fast, by Blue Balliet.

Read More »

Copper Sun

by Sharon Draper, 302 pages, Grades 8 and up

Amari lived a happy life in a beautiful African village. The biggest thing on her mind was her betrothal to Besa who she thought was very handsome; that was until the day the strangers with pink skin and strange weapons arrived. Of course, her village elders made arrangements to welcome these strangers as was the custom, but the white men took advantage of this hospitality and Amari’s village was suddenly under attack. Beaten and chained the survivors were marched to a slave castle to await their terrible fate; Amari and Besa were among them. Survival usually thought of as a good thing, but the trials Amari faces are so devastating it is not surprising that she wonders why she still lives, and struggles with how she will go on.

Stories about American slavery are always sad, but somehow Sharon Draper weaves hope into this book as well. If you enjoy this author, you might also like some of her contemporary novels: Blended, and Out of My Mind, or if you like historical fiction with African American protagonists you might also like Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson, or Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

Read More »

Nowhere Boy

by Katherine Marsh, 362 pages, Grades 6-8.

Max has just moved from the U.S. to Belgium with his family. The family is renting a home in Brussels and Max will be attending the local middle school where the language is FRENCH! He doesn’t yet speak French which seems like a big problem to Max – it’s hard enough to understand a school’s culture and make friends in a new school when you DO speak the language, but Max’s parents are unsympathetic. 

Ahmed has just arrived in Brussels as well, but he is a refugee from Syria. He would give anything to attend school, even if it was in another language, but the more urgent problems for him are finding a place to sleep and food to eat. It is especially tough for anyone who looks Muslim in Brussels because of the recent terror attack, so Ahmed thinks it is best to hide out an lay low for a while. The safe place he finds to hide is a basement room full of boxes… boxes being stored because the home is being rented out to a family from the U.S.

If you are interested in reading more stories about refugees and immigrants you might also enjoy: Refugee, by Alan Gratz, Salt to the Sea, Ruta Sepetys, or In The Sea There Are Crocodiles, by Fabio Geda.

Read More »

Nick and June

by Shalanda Stanley,  298 pages, Grades 7 and up.

The love between Nick and June is not the problem in this story. They love each other, they are a perfect match, they only want the best for each other, and their friends support them too, but their lives are very complicated and are unraveling in ways they may never be able to weave back together. Nick has no family to speak of, he works for a car repair place that makes most of its money dismantling stolen cars and selling their parts which means that Nick has had some trouble with law enforcement. June started hearing voices and, for a while, she was able to cope by tuning them out and keeping busy, but they have become more and more insistent and it is clear she cannot go this alone; she needs professional help. Can their love story survive? Or will the faith in their love be their personal undoing?

If you enjoy love stories you might also like: The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han, or Geography of You and Me, by Jennifer Smith.

Read More »

Here to Stay

by Sara Farizan, 265 pages, Grades 8 and up.

Bijan loves playing basketball; mostly he just wants to have a normal high school experience. He is an amazing basketball player and all was going well until someone photoshopped his face into a photo of someone else to make him look like a terrorist and shared it with the whole school! Bijan just wants to forget it and hope everyone else will ignore it. It’s not that he is ashamed of his middle eastern heritage, he just doesn’t want to be the token Muslim American; he doesn’t want to stand out for any reason, especially his race. Unfortunately he can’t control everyone around him and it does become a big deal for his friends, family, the school administration, and there are also people at school and in the community who are now voicing their predjudice. What can Bijan do to get back to normal, and who can he trust to help him?

If you like books with sports that are really about more that the sport itself, you might also enjoy: 

Under the Blood Red Sun, by Graham Sallisbury, Heat, by Mike Lupica, or The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.

Read More »

Untwine

by Edwidge Danticat, 303 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Giselle and Isabelle are very close friends AND identical twins. In fact, they’re so close that when the family gets in a car accident the living twin can’t quite understand which one she is. She is severely injured and barely conscience; nurses and doctors come and go taking care of her as she watches from somewhere seemingly far away. Her parents have also been injured in the accident, will they know which twin sits before them? And, in the end of the day, can one twin survive without the other? 

If you like stories about interesting family circumstances you might also enjoy: Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, or Guitar Boy, by M.J. Auch. Or, if you enjoy sad stories you might also like reading: Boy in the Black Coat, by Jason Reynolds, or My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, by Annabel Pitcher.

 

Read More »

The Parker Inheritance

by Varian Johnson, 331 pages, Grades 6 and up

Candice is pretty unhappy to be in South Carolina with her mom instead of back in Washington D.C. with both of her parents. Her parents are  trying to unstitch their marriage and her mother wanted some space in her hometown while they work it out. It is hard struggling with the loss of her family and trying to be comfortable in a new place, but she when she finds a letter written by her great-grandmother containing a mystery and then meets Brandon, the perfect mystery-solving companion, things start to get interesting. Brandon and Candice believe they are searching for a long lost treasure as they read and do research about the people mentioned in her great grandma’s letter. The whole history of the town and the mystery specifically is steeped in racial tension both historical and contemporary. Something happened when a tennis match was played between Wallace School (white) and Perkins School (African American) in the 1950s. What did her great grandmother have to do with it? And, who are Siobhan, Enoch and Leanne and how do they fit in? Brandon and Candice follow twists and turns in their search for answers. Racism, colorism (prejudice and privilege based on the shade of your skin even within the Black community) and the concept of passing for white all play a role in this complex historical mystery.

If you enjoy a good mystery, you might also like Hold Fast, by Blue Balliett, or if you are more into historical adventure you might like Elijah of Buxton, by Christopher Paul Curtis. If you enjoy books about family with a little mystery too, you might like As Brave As You, by Jason Reynolds.

Read More »

Girl in the Blue Coat

by Monica Hesse, 301 pages, Grades 8 and up

Hanneke is growing up in Holland during World War II; she is trying to help her family make ends meet by working in a funeral home. Even that is not enough, so when her boss suggests she would be good at working in the Black Market, she decides to do this job as well. The Black Market, illegal secret trade,  arose when many goods that people were accustomed to having access to suddenly became scarce because the Nazis were taking them all for themselves. Some things could be found and secretly traded if you had money. Hanneke looks German enough to have more freedom than many living under the German occupation; she is also clever and has figured out how to weasel out of sticky situations cooly. Hanneke’s boss and Hanneke find things people request, people of Amsterdam pay dearly, and Hanneke makes deliveries. She feels like she is doing her best to survive a terrible wartime situation, but one day someone asks for someONE instead of someTHING and she suddenly feels the true weight and cost of this terrible war. 

If you like books about World War 2, we have a lot of different stories from that period. Under The Blood Red Sun, by Graham Salisbury takes place in Hawaii after Pearl Harbor is bombed, Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys is about refugees at the end of the war trying to escape via the ship called Wilhelm Gustloff, Invasion, by Walter Dean Myers is about D-day, and All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, a book written with an adult audience in mind, but with young characters is about the occupation of France by Nazis. 

 

Read More »

Return to Sender

by Julia Alvarez, 325 pages, Grades 6-8

Tyler’s family was worried about making ends meet after his dad gets hurt in a tractor accident. Luckily they found a couple of workers to hire so they can keep the farm running without Tyler’s dad. The two men are brothers and they move in to the workers cabin with one brother’s family – three daughters. 

Mari is the eldest of three daughters, but their age is not the biggest difference. Her sisters were born in the U.S. so they are really American; Mari and her parents came from Mexico when she was tiny. They are undocumented and are always in fear of being deported, but that is not all Mari is worried about. Her mom went home to Mexico to help her grandma and they have not heard from her since she started her journey back to the U.S. Did she get stopped by immigration? How will she find them now that they are in a new home helping out on Tyler’s farm? 

If you enjoy books about refugees and people seeking better places to live, you might also enjoy: Refugee, by Alan Gratz, Nowhere Boy, by Katherine Marsh, In the Sea There are Crocodiles, by Fabio Geda.

Read More »

Congtagion

by Erin Bowman, 423 pages, Grades 7 and up

The Odyssey crew receives a distress from a nearby planet. The cold, dark planet is inhabited by the mining industry, so the Odyssey expects to find a busy industrial complex when they land at the station. Instead the whole station seems quiet, and then they find bodies. So many bodies, some strewn throughout the station, throats cut, bleeding from the eyes, some piled in a mass grave in the mine shaft frozen and unmoving. Instead of running back to the ship the team decides to investigate; they will collect a body to autopsy in the lab so they can understand the disease that overcame an entire mining company, but when they try to collect a corpse, the bodies reanimate and begin to attack! Luckily they all are wearing impenetrable space suits that should keep them safe, but how can they be sure no one is infected when they don’t even understand the contagion?

If you enjoy science fiction books full of suspense and adventure, you might also enjoy: Killer of Enemies, by Joseph Bruchac, Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman, or Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card.

Read More »

Bamboo People

by Mitali Perkins, 272 pages, Grades 7 and up

Chiko joins the Burmese army because he is out of choices. His family is struggling to find enough food to eat since his father was imprisoned by the government and it seems like his only choice to keep everyone alive.

Tu Reh is Karenni, an ethnic minority in Burma. The Burmese burned his family home and village to the ground, so he decided to join the resistance. 

Their two parallel stories are full of the heartache and violence of war, but deep down they are each young men trying to do what is right to protect their family.

What would happen if these two meet? Will they see beyond the side they have taken and into each other’s hearts or will the pressures of winning the war be too much to allow them to see the humanity beneath the soldier?

If you enjoy historical fiction about wartime you might also like Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers, Private Peaceful, by Michael Morpurgo, or Refugee, by Alan Gratz about those who try to escape war-torn countries.

Read More »

Warcross

by Marie Lu, 353 pages, Grades 8 and up.

Despite Emily’s amazing hacking skills she just can’t seem to make ends meet. She is literally about to be evicted from her apartment when she decides to take the risk of hacking into the nationally broadcast VR game to steal an item that could fix her financial troubles. Somehow her hack goes terribly wrong; somehow she materializes into the game and the whole world sees her where she doesn’t belong. She figures this is the end, but it is only the beginning because she has impressed the people at the top with this stunt and is recruited to find and take out an incognito player called Zero who is causing trouble in the VR game world; he has, so far, evaded capture by those with power. Can a hacker hack another hacker and save the gaming world for everyone?

If you enjoy sci-fi, VR stories you might also like: Bubble World, by Carol Snow, or  The Six, by Mark Alpert. You might also want to try Ready Player One, written by Ernest Cline with an adult audience in mind- a movie was recently made from this book as well.

Read More »

Just Mercy: adapted for young audience

NONFICTION by Bryan Stevenson, 277 pages, Grades 7 and up

Bryan Stevenson is an attorney, a social justice activist and the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative. His mission is to bring more justice to the criminal justice system. He shares stories of varied individuals and their experiences with the criminal justice system illustrating its unfairness, its racial inequities, its harsh realities and challenges, and how it can sometimes work for good. Stevenson reminds readers that, “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done,” and helps readers to feel compassion for the humanity we continue to incarcerate often unfairly and inhumanely. 

If you enjoy reading nonfiction, you might also like: The Other Wes Moore, an autobiography by Wes Moore, Zeitoun, a biography by Dave Eggers, or Superman vs. the KKK, by Rick Bowers.

 

Read More »

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried

by Shaun David Hutchinson, 296 pages, Grades 8 and up. 

Dino is the son of morticians and already quite talented at making up the faces of the corpses to look alive enough for open-casket funerals. Somehow he convinces himself he is the only one who can make July, his ex-best-friend, look her best in death. Even though it is rough having to see his ex-friend dead on a gurney, autopsy scars popping out above the hospital gown, he is managing just fine until her eyes pop open and she sits up and starts talking to him like … well, like she was alive. He knows she is NOT alive; beyond the facts of the autopsy, the smell of rotting flesh is a dead give-away (pun intended). The question is, why won’t she die like a normal person? And how do you keep an undead friend from ruining life for everyone left behind?

If you don’t mind stories about death that include irreverent narrators you might also like Hold Me Closer Necromancer, by Lish McBride. If you like books about contacting friends beyond the grave you might also like: The End or Something Like It, by Ann Dee Ellis. If you enjoy books about the place we might go after we die, you might like: Heaven Looks a lot Like The Mall, Wendy Mass, or Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin.

Read More »

Zebra Forest

download-2by Adina Rishe Gewirtz, 200 pages, Grades 6 and up

Annie lives on the edge of the forest with her little brother Rew and her Gran. They live a pretty quiet life, but it is not easy because Rew and Annie’s grandma is not really able to take care of them. They don’t complain, though, because they want to stay together and while the house might not be super tidy and their meals might sometimes be thrown together, they are managing. One thing that brings them joy is the beautiful forest next to their house; it was always a peaceful place until the scary man tumbled out of it and ran into their house. The man had escaped from prison and run through the woods; he decided to hold them hostage and wait out the police search of the area. Something is fishy about the way Gran reacted to this man in their house bossing them around; is she just older and more confused than they realize or is this man someone she knows?

If you enjoy reading books that include family mysteries you might also like: All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, by Leslie Connor, Trell, by Dick Lehr, or Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine.

 

Read More »

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now

download-1by Dana L. Davis, 332 pages, Grades 8 and up

Tiffany Sly and her mom were doing fine. They lived in an apartment in the city, Tiffany had friends at school and her mom worked hard to take care of her, but then her mom got sick and things got hard. Before her mom died she told Tiffany not to worry, she would not be alone when her mom was gone; she would go to live with her bio-dad in the suburbs. Tiffany hardly knows her dad; he has another whole family – white wife, and 4 biracial daughters one exactly her age!

When she moves the whole experience is surreal: the suburbs feel isolating – no public transportation, the house feels hectic – so many siblings and at the same time restricting – the family is very religious and there are a lot of rules, and the private school is completely different than her old school – like a movie set or something and almost zero Black kids. To complicate things further, another man contacted her right before the move claiming to be her real biological father. Tiffany can’t help hoping that he might be her real dad because that life would be a lot for familiar than this Twilight Zone where she is right now.

If you enjoy stories about complicated family situations and step-siblings you might also like: Far From the Tree, by Robin Benway, Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, or The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond, by Brenda Woods.

Read More »

Second Life of Ava Rivers

downloadby Faith Gardner, 361 pages, Grades 8 and up

When the twins were just 5 Vera’s sister, Ava, went missing. It was a terrible, tragic event, but what’s worse is that it continues to be a mystery to this day. Vera’s entire life has been spent beneath the specter of her sister’s disappearance. Every holiday – especially Halloween because that is the day Ava was lost – every birthday, every day the whole family feels the loss of their baby girl. Vera’s family is forever changed; her brother struggled with drug abuse and now hardly comes home, her dad spends most of his days in the basement pouring over documents that might help him uncover some clue, her mom is always as some PR function to talk about missing children, and plead for the return of Vera’s twin. Her whole life has been overshadowed by this tragedy, so it is not wonder she is looking forward to college where she can start over and create a life of her own around people who know nothing about the missing twin, but then the police call the house. They have found a teenage girl – alive!

If you like creepy mysteries you might also like: The Leaving, by Tara Altebrando, Break My Heart 1,000 Times, by Daniel Waters, or The Darkhouse, by Barbara Redecki.

 

Read More »

Screaming At The Ump

51AevIJg8mL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_by Audrey Vernick, 250 pages, Grades 6 and up

One of Casey’s favorite things is helping out his dad and grandpa with their Umpire Training Camp. One thing Casey is NOT interested in doing is talking to Mrs. Bob the Baker (a.k.a. Mom). She broke the family, married Bob (who bakes for a living), and moved out. He hasn’t lived with her for years, and hasn’t spoken to her for months. What’s the point? There are more interesting things going on in his life: he might be the first 6th grader to get something published in the school paper, his best friend, Zeke, is entering a film about their Umpire Camp in a national contest, a famous x-baseball player may be attending their Umpire Camp in disguise, and he and Zeke get to be in charge of the best day of camp this year! Life is good; even Mrs. Bob the Baker can’t ruin this.

If you like books about baseball and a lot more too, you might also enjoy: Heat, by Mike Lupica, One Handed Catch, by Mary Jane Auch, Under the Blood Red Sun, by Graham Sallisbury, or The Other Boy, by M.G. Hennessey.

Read More »

All American Boys

518x0cPKHSL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely, 316 pages, Grades 8 and up.

Rashad is Black. His father is a retired police officer. Rashad is taking ROTC because his father believes this will make him an upstanding citizen, but Rashad already is responsible.Quinn is white. His dad died in Afghanistan and everyone in town knows Quinn as the hero’s son.Rashad and Quinn run in different crowds, but they are teammates on the basketball court.

One day Rashad is beaten by a cop and Quinn happens to witness the incident. Quinn is horrified, but also frozen because he knows the cop; it is his best friend’s older brother. This man had once looked after Quinn when his father died.

Quinn can’t believe the same person who helped him could commit such violence. Rashad’s father can’t believe a fellow officer could do such a thing.  People are complicated and life is messy, and sometimes doing the right thing is not easy at all.

If you enjoy reading books about contemporary social justice issues, you might also enjoy: Piecing Me Together, by Rene Watson, The Stars Beneath Our Feet, David Barclay Moore or The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas.

Read More »

Down and Across

91pt6L4K1-Lby Arvin Ahmadi, 320 pages, Grades 8 and up

Scott has hard time committing to anything; most of his sixteen years he has quit before he has finished. This summer his parents sign him up for an internship trying to help him get serious; college applications are just around the corner, after all. When his parents leave him home alone for a few weeks he quickly gets side tracked and skips the internship to attend a lecture in the city. Ironically, the author he cuts his internship to see is famous for studying and writing about grit, basically the art of resolve and sticktoitiveness. If anyone can help him become more committed the expert in grit might be his last best hope!

If you enjoy books with teen characters about friendship you might also enjoy: Guitar Boy, by Mary Jane Auch, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han, or The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon.

Read More »

CYRM Nominees 2019

Here are the CYRM Nominees.

Read all three in a category and you can VOTE!

Voting ends March 31, 2019.

Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 9.00.46 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More »

The Stars Beneath Our Feet

9781524701246David Barclay Moore, 294 pages, Grades 5-8

Lolly’s favorite thing to do is build with legos, and it is building that helps him cope when his brother is shot and killed in a gang related incident. When Lolly builds his imaginary cities he creates games and characters and kind of escapes into his fantasy world. Grown-ups around him can see this lego building is helping him feel better; his mom’s girlfriend keeps bringing him discarded blocks from her job, the after school teacher has set aside a big place where he can build and add to his structures day after day, and even though Lolly thinks he prefers this private, quiet space and time, he has to admit it does get more fun when the after school teacher makes him share his space with Rose.

If you enjoy stories about overcoming the death of a loved one you might also enjoy: The Boy in the Black Suit, by Jason Reynolds. If you like books that deal with social justice issues, you might also enjoy: Hold Fast, by Blue Balliett, or The Sky at our Feet, by Nadia Hashimi

Read More »

One of Us is Lying

91BHA3Ym2HLby Karen M. McManus, 360 pages, Grades 8 and up.

When Simon drops dead in detention the four other kids in the room become suspects. Investigators discover he died because the water he drank was contaminated with peanut oil and he is highly allergic. The mystery is how did peanut oil get in his water, and how did all the emergency epipens happen to go missing right when they could have saved his life? Bronwyn, Addy, Nate and Cooper all claim to be innocent, but they also all have something they would like to keep secret. Can they prove their innocence without divulging their embarrassing secret? And, who did kill Simon, anyway?

If you enjoy mysteries you might also like: Death Cloud, by Andy Lane, I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I Would Have to Kill You, by Ally Carter, or if you like your mysteries creepy try Darkhouse, by Barbara Redecki.

Read More »

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora

910v3TBEG8Lby Pablo Cartaya, 236 pages, Grades 6-8

Arturo thought he would be enjoying the summer, but recent events have turned him into an unexpected activist. His whole family works in his grandmother’s Cuban restaurant, La Cocina. The restaurant is more than a popular place to eat it is the hub of the neighborhood. His grandma has always helped families who are in struggling with gifts of food and a warm place to be. Everyone in the neighborhood loves La Cocina, but it is hard to resist the sweet talking proposals of the real estate developer, silver-tongued Winfrido Pipo. Even Arturo is taken with Pipo’s plans for the new mall until he realizes the development does not include La Cocina anywhere! Is Pipo planning to put grandma out of business? How can that be good for the neighborhood?

If you are interested in social justice issues you might also enjoy reading: The Sky at our Feet, by Nadia Hashimi,  Lucky Broken Girl, by Ruth Behar, or The Stars Beneath our Feet, by David Barclay Moore.

Read More »

The Thing About Luck

61IvDDX-bVL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_by Cynthia Kadohata, 269 pages, Grades 6-8

Luck is a nice thing to have when it is good, but when bad, luck seems to attract more bad luck and so on and so on. Summer thought it was bad enough when her parents were called back to Japan for an emergency; this means she is in charge of her brother until they get back. But then, it is also harvest time and, since her parents are not around, it is up to Summer to help her grandmother cook and clean for the harvest workers. Then her grandpa seems to be slowing down a lot and the bosses are getting angry and threatening not to pay them if they cannot work faster. Will this bad luck just keep multiplying or could Summer finally catch a break and some good luck after all?

If you like reading books by Kadohata you might also enjoy: A Million Shades of Gray, Cracker!, or Weedflower.

Read More »

Long Way Down

Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 8.36.35 AMby Jason Reynolds, 306 pages, Grades 7 and up

In this novel in verse Will, who is 16 years old, grapples with the idea of street justice; death for a death. He descends in the elevator from his apartment to the street, gun in the waist of jeans, ready to avenge his brother Shawn’s fatal shooting, he is visited by seven ghosts. Each ghost has a story about street justice, “the code,” and the continual cycle of violence. Will is broken hearted about his brother’s murder, what will he decide to do?

If you like novels in verse that tackle difficult topics you might also like Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse, Paper Hearts, by Meg Wiviot, Caminar, by Skila Brown, or The Red Pencil, by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

Read More »

A Night Divided

Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 2.52.44 PMby Jennifer A. Nielsen, 317 pages, Grades 6 and up

For a while after the war ended, the country of Germany was politically divided, but there was no wall keeping East and West Berlin apart, so people passed from Communist Germany into West Germany as easily as walking across the street. Gerta’s father often went into West Germany to find products that could no longer be bought in the east, but one night while Gerta’s dad and brother are in West Germany the Berlin wall goes up all in a night! Suddenly her family is divided, and she, her mother and her older brother are suspected of undermining the East German government because her father and brother crossed into the west. Life on the eastern side becomes more and more harsh, and Gerta’s family has a black mark on their records. Her older brother feels like he has no future because of this mark, Gerta just wants the family back together, her mother is constantly afraid and money and food are in short supply. When Gerta sees her father waving and dancing to get her attention on the other side of the wall she and her brother have the idea for a Garden of Hope. This is not just a garden, and the hope is not just and idea, it is a plan of action!
If you like war stories you might also enjoy: War and Watermelon, by Rich Wallace, The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, or Private Peaceful, by Michael Morpurgo.

Read More »

Far From The Tree

Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 2.51.52 PMby Robin Benway, 374 pages, Grades 8 and up

There are more and more stories of people finding siblings because of genetic testing. Grace is a junior in high school, she is adopted and wants to search for her birth parents. What she finds is 2 siblings instead. One sister, Maya, who was also adopted into a loving family, and Joaquin, their brother who has had to live in foster care his entire life. The three siblings struggle with comprehending their different lots in life as they get to know each other and try to find the mother they all have in common.

If you enjoy personal stories of different family situations you might also enjoy: Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, Wild Things, by Clay Carmichael, or Guitar Boy, by Mary Jane Auch.

Read More »

The Hate U Give

Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 2.52.24 PMby Angie Thomas, 444 pages, Grades 8 and up

Some people think Starr is lucky because she goes to a “good” school, but it is not easy to balance two very different worlds inside your personal identity. She grew up and lives in Garden Heights, an all Black neighborhood where people are just making ends meet. Every day of the week, though, Starr spends time with a lot of rich white kids from the suburbs because she attends Williamson Prep High School. She has friends in her neighborhood, but they don’t understand the Williamson Prep Starr. She has friends at school too, but they don’t really know the whole Starr either. When a childhood friend, Khalil, is killed by police it becomes impossible to feel at home in the prep school where kids around her cannot begin to comprehend the complexity of the situation. To them and a lot of people- it has become national news – it is too easy to stereotype Khalil and excuse his murder as the result of gang violence instead of seeing him for the whole person he was and understanding that the situation is a lot more complex.

If stories about contemporary issues appeal to you, you might also like: All American Boys, by by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely, A Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds, or The Stars Beneath Our Feet, David Barclay Moore.

Read More »

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

lemoncelloSTUDENT REVIEW

by Chris Grabenstein, 290 pages, Grades 6-7

Kyle is an all-time gamer.  Kyle’s hero, the famous game-maker Luigi Lemoncello, is the mastermind behind a top-secret project in their town: the new public library. Not only are there books for all ages, but also an IMAX theater, instructional holograms, electromagnetic hover ladders, and more. Through an essay contest, Kyle wins a spot as one of the first twelve kids to see the library during an overnight lock-in filled with fun and games. But the next morning, when the lock-in is supposed to be over, the doors remain locked. Kyle must combine his knowledge of games and his friends’ knowledge of books to escape from the library by using only each other and the clues scattered around the library.

If you enjoy this book, you may also like other fun puzzle mysteries like: The Unknowns, by Benedict Carey, Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett, or The Potato Chip Puzzles, by Eric Berlin.

 

 

by I.W.

Read More »

CYRM WINNERS 2018

Here are the new California Young Reader Medal winner for 2018.

CYRM

For Middle School: A Night Divided, by Jennifer Nielsen

For Young Adult: Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys

Read More »

The Book Thief

book thiefSTUDENT REVIEW

by Markus Zusak, 552 pages, adult audience

Death is a unique narrator. He speaks the truth, while at the same time, gives input on what is happening around him. In The Book Thief, Death spends time observing a little girl named Liesel who was adopted by Rosa and Hans Hubermann in Nazi Germany, after her mother abandoned her. Liesel develops strong bonds with Hans, who steadily teaches her how to read. Slowly, Liesel becomes adjusted to life with her new family. Then, one day, a man comes knocking at their door. His name is Max Vandenburg, and he is in trouble. Being Jewish, he must hide from the Nazis, who would bring him to a concentration camps where he could ultimately die. After Max tells his story, Hans agrees to secretly house him for as long as he can. From that day forward, Liesel had a huge secret kept inside her. Liesel couldn’t tell anyone, not even her new friend, Rudy. During the day, she would go to school, and at night, she would talk to Max and take care of him, always in fear of someone coming to take him. Along the way, Liesel also gains a fondness for books, rather stealing books. Any chance she had, Liesel would find books to steal and add to her collection; a dangerous habit in a dangerous time.

If you enjoy books about World War 2, you might also like is Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys.   

by S. H.

Read More »

Three Times Lucky

luckySTUDENT REVIEW

by Sheila Turnage, 312 pages, Grades 6-7

Three Times Lucky is the story of Mo and her best friend Dale. Mo had floated downstream in a hurricane and was taken in by a man who had survived car crash during the hurricane, but lost all his memory. This man, the colonel, and his wife Miss Lana raise Mo, but Mo cannot stop trying to find her “upstream mother,” and she keeps sending notes in bottles to try and find her. While Mo’s summer seems to be going great suddenly a detective comes into Miss Lana’s Cafe and tells them there has been a murder and Dale is a suspect! It is up to Dale and Mo to find the culprit and clear Dale’s name.

If you enjoy mysteries you may also like: The Unknowns, by Benedict Carey, Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett, or The Potato Chip Puzzles, by Eric Berlin.

by C.C.

 

Read More »

I’ll Give You The Sun

sunby Jandy Nelson, 371 pages, Grades 8 and up

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

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

Read More »

Princess Academy

516U42-nZXL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_STUDENT REVIEW

by Shannon Hale, 388 pages, Grades 6-7

Miri and her family have lived on Mount Eskel for generations, making their living from mining stone. The lowlanders have always looked down upon the mountain as it is poor and the villagers are thought to be crazy. To everyone’s surprise the priests have announced that the prince’s potential future wife will be to come from Mount Eskel. But, before the ladies go to meet the prince,  Miri and her friends need to be taught proper etiquette at the “Princess Academy” in case they are to become royal. Becoming the new princess is an exciting thought for everyone, but is this really what Miri wants for her future?

If you enjoy this book you may also like the rest of the trilogy: Palace of Stone (#2), The Forgotten Sisters (#3).

By A. D.

Read More »

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

51OzCSUtdFL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_STUDENT REVIEW

by Ransom Riggs, 352 pages, Grades 8 and up.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is about a boy named Jacob Magallan Portman. Before his beloved grandfather died, Jacob would always listen to his fascinating stories. Aside from the two being a part of a very emotionally distant family, Jacob and his grandfather were always very close. Jacob took his grandfather’s death extremely hard, he felt as if there was more to him that needed to be discovered. Throughout the book, Jacob travels to the island of Wales to try and discover more about his grandfather’s interesting past life. Jacob also discovers more about himself along the journey. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is filled with magic, mystery, courage, and revelations.

If you liked this book you might enjoy the rest of Ransom Riggs’ series; Hollow City is book 2.

If you like mysterious fantasy books you might also like Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia or  The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman.

By M. S.

 

Read More »

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

220px-Theboyinthestripedpyjamas

STUDENT REVIEW

by John Boyne, 335 pages, Grades 8 and up

​​​Bruno is the son of a high-ranking Nazi officer in Germany during World War II. When he learns his family has to move to the country for his father’s work, he is not exited. There isn’t much to do, and Bruno doesn’t have any friends to play with.

Shmuel is an eight year-old Polish Jew who living in the Auschwitz concentration camp. One day, as he is sitting at the edge of camp near the barbed wire fence, Bruno walks up to him from the other side. As they talk, their forbidden friendship grows, and with it comes dangers they are both oblivious to.

If you enjoy historical fiction about World War II, you might also like Between Shades of Gray, and Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys or Paper Hearts, a novel in verse by Meg Wiviot.

By M. L.

Read More »

Zeroboxer

20320562by Fonda Lee, Grades 8 and up

In the future genetic modification is the norm. We have made so many advancements that humans have been modified to be able to live on Mars without domes or special suits. In fact, every human gets a genetic package when they are born a bit like a vaccination – including anti-disease stuff, straight teeth, average height and weight etc. If you have money you can get super-packages to increase strength, height, beauty, intelligence… etc. Of course, if you are an athlete you are not allowed to have additional genetic modification, or at least that is the common perception, a little like our “no-doping” rules for athletes today.

Carr is an earth human who comes from poor family; he is a rising star in a sport called Zeroboxing. Zeroboxing is a fight in a caged “boxing ring” up in zero gravity. It is wildly popular and a big money-maker; the best boxers are super-celebrities. Carr is rising so fast that he has been assigned a brandhelm – a sort of personal director of marketing, PR and social media – named Risha Ponn. Carr and Risha, a genetic Martian, quickly fall for one another, so when a terrible secret emerges they are not sure how to overcome it. This secret could have devastating effects on Carr’s career, both of their futures and their potential relationship as well. Will the choices they make ruin everything?

If you enjoy science fiction adventures you might also like: Killer of Enemies, by Joseph Bruchac, Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card or Divergent, by Veronica Roth.

Read More »

List

33846933by Patricia Forde, 314 pages, Grades 7 and up

In the future people speak “list.” In an attempt to keep people safe from dangerous thoughts and ideas many many words in the language of the Kingdom of Arc have been banned for all time so people speak to one another using this very abbreviated list of words to create meaning the best they can. One place in the kingdom keeps track of the greater vocabulary for posterity, keeping it hidden from the general population. Letta is an apprentice Wordsmith in Arc so she has access to this huge library of words and literature. It is her master’s and her job to continue to limit the number of words ordinary people are allowed to use to fewer and fewer words as decreed by their leader, Noa. Letta begins to notice that the concepts of words that have not been used for a long time have begun to disappear as well. What will happen to the world and to people’s lives as their language and therefore their experience of the world diminishes to almost nothing? Can this drab existence even really be considered truly living?

If you enjoy dystopias you might also like: Matched by Allie Condie, or The Giver, by Lois Lowry, or Mark of the Dragonfly, by Jaleigh Johnson.

 

Read More »

The Thing About Luck

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

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

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

Read More »

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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

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

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

Read More »

Noteworthy

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.

Read More »

Trell

51Da69LekyL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_by Dick Lehr, 307 pages, Grades 6-10

Van Trell has grown up while her dad has been in prison; he was falsely convicted of murder when Van Trell, or Trell,  was just a baby. Now that Trell is 14, she is determined to help prove her father’s innocence. Trell finds an investigative journalist to help her with her search for truth, but digging into the past can sometimes bring up things you would rather not know. Will their investigation help repair the system that put her dad in prison, their broken drug infested neighborhood, or even just Trell’s family?

If you enjoy reading about criminal justice, you might also enjoy All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, by Leslie Connor, or the autobiography/biography The Other Wes Moore, by Wes Moore.

Read More »

Refugee

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

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

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

Read More »

Salt to the Sea

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

Read More »

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook

25817074by Leslie Connor, 381 pages, Grades 5-8

CYRM NOMINEE

Perry has always lived at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility; he does attend the local public school, but the rest of the day he lives with the inmates at Blue River. This might seem like an unusual arrangement, and it is, but Perry has never known anything different. He was born while his mother was in prison, and the warden made special arrangements to allow Perry to stay with his mother. Some things about this life are not easy for Perry; he can’t invite friends over to play, he gets teased at school because his mother is a convicted inmate, but mostly Perry loves Blue River. His friends are other inmates and no one in the correctional facility teases him; they are the most supportive family he can imagine. Of course, he and his mom can’t wait until they can live on the outside; they have all kinds of plans and dreams for what that will look like one day. They are counting the days until his mom’s parole hearing, and everything seems on track, but, as Perry has learned growing up in a prison, some things are not as easy or straight-forward as they might seem.

If you enjoy realistic fiction, you might also like another book by this author called: Waiting for Normal, or if you are interested in books about unusual family situations you might also like Wild Things, by Clay Carmichael, or The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron.

Read More »

The Reader

readerby Traci Chee, 442 pages, Grades 8 and up

Sefia and her aunt Nin have just escaped into the wilderness because her father was murdered. Aunt Nin teaches Sefia survival skills while Sefia tries to understand the object her father left in her care. It is a book, but no one in Sefia’s world knows what books are because, for the most part, they no longer exist, and neither does the art of reading. Sefia and her aunt are running from her father’s murderers, trying to stay clear of pirates and ninja assassins all while Sefia tries to teach herself to read so she can uncover the mystery of her father’s murder.

 

If you enjoy adventures set in fantastical locations, you might also like: Graceling, by Kristin Cashore, or Sabriel, by Garth Nix.

Read More »

Family Game Night

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

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

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

Read More »

Speed of Life

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.

Read More »

The Nest

by Kenneth Oppel, 244 pages, Grades 7 and up

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

 

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

Read More »

CYRM NOMINEES 2017-18

CYRM NOMINEESThis Year we are featuring both the middle school and YA nominees in our library.

Read all three in one category and you can vote. Voting ends at the end of March.

Middle School: All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, by Leslie Connor, A Night Divided, by Jennifer Nielson, and Tesla’s Attic, by Neal Shusterman

YA: Orbiting Jupiter, by Gary Schmidt, Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys, The Hired Girl, by Laura Amy Schlitz

Happy Reading!

Read More »

Forget Me Not

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.

Read More »

As Brave As You

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

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

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

Read More »

Outrun The Moon

by Stacey Lee, 391 pages, Grade 7 and up26192915

Mercy is a Chinese American growing up in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  Luckily she is resourceful and industrious because getting ahead as a Chinese American girl is not easy in the early 1900s. She knows if she can get a good education she will be able to own and run a successful business one day, but the good schools will not admit her. Mercy uses her intelligence and cleverness to get admitted to the private school called St. Clare’s – albeit for one year only at first – but she has to hide her true identity from the other girls. Fitting in and finding friends and allies is problematic to say the least, and in the midst of all this tension and deception, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake strikes. Will Mercy’s resourcefulness be enough to overcome even this devastation?

If you enjoy books about surviving natural disasters you might also like: Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere, by Julie Lamana or Zane and the Hurricane, by W. R. Philbrick. Books that have earthquakes in their plot include: Night of the Howling Dogs, by Graham Salisbury, and Dragonwings, by Laurence Yep.

Read More »

Killer of Enemies

by Joseph Bruchac, 361 pages. Grades 8 and up

17946249In the not too distant future people had relied on technology for everything. Anyone with money and power has so much faith in tech that they use it to enhance not only their homes and their world but also augment themselves physically. Those with the most power were called the “Ones.” But then the cloud came and all tech ceased to function. Some of the Ones survived and became leaders of walled communities where all people had to live to stay alive; Lozen lives in a walled city called Haven and she is the Killer of Enemies. People in pre-cloud times had also done a lot of genetic splicing and engineering to create incredible zoos, and personal collections of invented creatures. Now that the tech no longer keeps their cages locked and now that their owners have hidden themselves in walled cities and no longer feed their pets, giant alligator-sharks, sabertooth-lion-apes and other giant, hungry creatures roam the earth looking for food. Lozen’s job is to clear an area of these beasts for the Ones that control Haven. It is not only dangerous outside the walls; people die every day inside Haven. The Ones are harsh rulers and they are using the safety of her family to coerce her into working for them. She is just hoping she can stay alive long enough to get her family out of Haven.

If you enjoy science fiction adventure you might also like: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, or Shipbreaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi. If you enjoy science fiction with strong female characters you might also like: Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, or Illuminae, by Jay Kristoff.

Read More »

The Leaving

by Tara Altebrando,   pages, Grades 8 and up

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

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

Read More »

CYRM Middle School WINNER 2017

Keeper of the Lost Cities

Read More »

Ghost

ghost-9781481450157_hrby Jason Reynolds, 181 pages, Grades 6 and up

Castle, or Ghost, is a great runner. He is so good that he gets recruited for an elite team just by showing up and showing off one day while they were training which is pretty amazing. The challenge is he has to keep his act together, no more “altercations” at school. Fights just seem to happen to Ghost – anger boils up inside and he can’t stop himself – but now he has to make sure he stays out of trouble or Coach will kick him off the team.

Try some other books by Jason Reynolds: Boy in the Black Suit and As Brave as You!

Read More »

On The Edge of Gone

51+fV4a0zOL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_by Corinne Duyvis, 456 pages

Everyone knows a comet is going to collide with earth. Even though time is short, Denise’s mom is taking her sweet time getting ready to go as if it was any normal day. Some of earth’s people have been selected to board generation ships; these ships will have to spend time away from the earth while the planet heals and becomes habitable again. These ships will spend generations away from earth; only a select few get to escape on one of these. Some people have been lucky enough to find a place in a permanent shelter on earth where they will live and wait out the time. Some of the less fortunate could only secure a place that should be safe for the comet’s impact, but where they cannot stay long term; this is where Denise and her mom are headed. Denise’s mom is a bit of a mess; she uses drugs and is not the most responsible of parents, but she is patient with Denise and is also kind. In fact, when they see someone stranded on the side of the road her mom decides to stop and help even though a comet is fast approaching. This act of generosity might just be the thing that saves Denise’s family.

 

If you enjoy science fiction stories about surviving the end of the world Life as We Knew It, by Susan Pfeffer, Divergent, by Veronica Roth, or In The After, by Demitria Lunetta.

Read More »

Scythe

scythe-9781442472426_lgby Neal Shusterman, 433 pages, Grades 8 and up

In the future medical technology has advanced so much that humans are basically immortal. People can heal from almost any injury even those that would be fatal today; people can also “turn the corner” when they decide they would rather be younger again, and if they choose to be a lot younger they can start another family. Clearly this presents problems when it comes to population. This is how the Scythes are devised. Scythes are an honorable organization of people who swear a sacred oath, live modestly, do not accept an income, vow to never marry or have children, and also murder a certain number of people each year to keep the population in check. Of course, it seems like a good solution, but things are never as simple in life as they might seem on paper especially when it involves killing people. As Citra and Rowan train to become Scythes they see the true lives of the Scythes; are they living up to their forefathers guidelines and intentions?

 

If you like suspenseful page-turners and you don’t mind books that are creepy, you might also enjoy Unwind, by Neal Shusterman, Break My Heart 1000 Times, by Daniel Waters, or Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.

Read More »

Illuminae

23395680by Amie Kaufman, 599 pages, Grades 7 and up

Ezra and Kady are stationed on the same planet when it is attacked by BeiTech Industries. In the chaos of people fleeing they find themselves on different ships in the escaping fleet. Just as they are leaving they see one ship being hit with a mysterious biological weapon cloud which turns out to be a lethal biotech that turns its victims into violent zombie-like aggressors and the virus is contagious! The escaping fleet is trying to contain the biological attack, escape BeiTech and on top of all that one of the ship’s Artifical Intelligence systems has taken on a life of its own. Al says he is working for the good of the fleet, but it’s hard to tell if what Al thinks is good is really best for the human’s relying on his help.

This book is also interesting because of its format. It feels like reading a novel, a graphic fiction book and a magazine all rolled into one. Some pages are formatted like reports, some are formatted artistically to add to the context of the text.

If you enjoy books that use format to help tell their story you might also like Revolution, or Countdown, by Wiles.

If you enjoy books about space travel you might also like the Ender’s series by Orson Scott Card.

 

Read More »

Zeroes

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.

Read More »

The Sun Is Also a Star

28763485by Yoon, 348 pages, Grades 8 and up

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

 

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

Read More »

Serafina and the Black Cloak

51cpfz1ul-_sy344_bo1204203200_by Robert Beatty, 292 pages, Grades 6 and up

Serafina has grown up happily with her father in the basement of the big mansion learning her place in the world. Her father fixes things and Serafina, as it turns out, is really good at catching rats. She has never spoken to the guests of the Biltmore Estate or even the family to whom the mansion belongs; she is a secret. No one at Biltmore knows she exists until one day she witnesses a young guest disappear and fights a terrible monster in a black cloak. She can’t help herself; she has to warn the others. She decides to tell Braedden Vanderbilt, nephew of the Biltmore owners, and luckily he turns out to be a reliable ally because there is a great force of evil they must combat, and Serafina needs all the help she can get.

 

If you enjoy mysterious stories you might also like Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, by Karen Foxlee, or The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman.

Read More »

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere

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

CYRM NOMINEE 2016

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

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

Read More »

You Are My Only

you-are-my-only-beth-kephart-book-coverby Beth Kephart, 240 pages, Grades 7 and up

Emmy is a young first time mother when her baby is stolen. She is blamed and forced into an asylum as a result of the kidnapping where she grieves the loss of Baby and tries to understand her new circumstances and how to survive them.

Sophie has grown up home-schooled by her mother; they have lived in many different houses in many different cities in the effort to avoid the “No Good” her mother fears. Sophie has never really known anyone but her mother, but now that she is 14 she has become curious about people around her. The friends she makes next door empower her to investigate her mother’s past and give her strength to come to terms with what she discovers.

The two girls each narrate alternating chapters until their stories come together.

If you enjoy books about teenagers in trouble or complicated family situations you might also enjoy: Orbiting Jupiter, by Gary Schmidt, or Waiting for Normal, Leslie Connor.

Read More »

CYRM NOMINEES 2017

California Young Reader Medal winners are chosen by students. Students all over the state are reading these books and voting for their favorite.

Read all three of the titles and cast your vote for the best of the group!

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-9-21-32-am

Nominees: Hold Fast, by Blue Balliett, Upside Down and In the Middle of Nowhere, by Julie T. Lamana, Keeper of Lost Cities, by Shannon Messenger

Read More »

CYRM WINNERS 2016

California Young Reader’s Medal winners are chosen by students. Students voted after reading all three of the titles in a section and cast their votes for the best of the group!

Here are 2016 Middle School and Young Adult Winners!

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-12-09-46-pm

Read More »

Drama

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.

Read More »

The Infinite In Between

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

Read More »

Roller Girl

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.

Read More »

The Boy in the Black Suit

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

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

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

Read More »

Carry On

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.

Read More »

Fuzzy Mud

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.

Read More »

Dream On, Amber

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

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

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

Read More »

A Year Without Mom

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

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

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

Read More »

Echo

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.

Read More »

The Hired Girl

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.

Read More »

The Thing About Jellyfish

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.

Read More »

Orbiting Jupiter

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

CYRM NOMINEE – 2017

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

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

Read More »

All The Light We Cannot See

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

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

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

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

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

Read More »

The Paper Cowboy

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

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

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

Read More »

Nest

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.

Read More »

Paper Hearts

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.

Read More »

The Lighning Dreamer

lightningby Margarita Engle, 244 pages, Grades 7 and up

This novel in verse is based on the true story of a young woman who speaks up for the poor enslaved and mistreated people of her country, Cuba. She is inspired by a rebel poet and moved by those living without freedom all around her. She risks her own life and freedom to speak out about these inequities.

Sometimes novels in verse can make stories even more powerful and moving. If you enjoy novels in verse you might also like: The Aleutian Sparrow, by Karen Hesse, or The Surrender Tree, by Margarita Engle, or Paper Hearts, by Meg Wiviott.

Read More »

Doll Bones

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.

Read More »

The Red Pencil

20454083by Andrea Davis Pinkney, 308 pages, Grades 6 and up

Amira lives in Sudan and though she loves to create stories and draw in the sand she is not encouraged to go to school. Girls, her mother says, must become good wives and mothers. Luckily her father and grandfather see Amira’s passion for learning and want to help her fulfill her dreams. Just when she thinks her life might be looking up their village is invaded and her father is brutally killed. She and her mother and grandfather struggle to find a safe place to live while they also try to find the courage to survive their grief. The sadness consumes Amira; it even swallows her voice and she can no longer speak out loud. What will give Amira strength to go on? Will she ever be able to speak again? What about her passion for learning; is that lost forever?

If you like stories of overcoming difficult circumstances, you might also enjoy: Homeless Bird, by Gloria Whelan, The Lightning Dreamer, by Margarita Engle, or if you want to read more stories about refugees of war you might also like Now Is the Time For Running, by Michael Williams.

Read More »

How I Became a Ghost

51L2Lg+T8bL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_by Tim Tingle, 139 pages, Grades 6 and up

There was a time when Isaac’s life was happy and peaceful with his Choctaw family and his dog, Jumper. But this is not the story of that part of Isaac’s life; this story is actually told by his ghost, so right away you see things are not going to end well for Isaac. Isaac becomes a ghost during the Trail of Tears, but that doesn’t stop him from helping his family and friends survive their harrowing journey.

If you enjoy stories about the Native American experience you might also enjoy:  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, Ghost Hawk, by Susan Cooper, House of Purple Cedar, by Tim Tingle, or The Birchbark House, by Louise Erdrich.

Read More »

CYRM 2016 Nominees

California Young Reader’s Medal winners are chosen by students.  Read all three of the titles in a section and cast your vote for the best of the group!

CYRM 2015-16

Middle School Titles are: Dogtag Summer, by Elizabeth Partridge, Doll Bones, by Holly Black, and Ghosthawk, by Susan Cooper.

Young Adult Titles are: Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs.

Read More »

Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go

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.

Read More »

What if?

what ifby Randall Munroe, 295 pages, All ages

“What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent the speed of light?”

“If every person on Earth aimed a laser pointer at the Moon at the same time, would it change color?”

“What would happen if you made a periodic table out of cube-shaped bricks, where each brick was made of the corresponding element?”

These questions and many more are scientifically considered and answered using diagrams and line drawings by Randall Munroe, the creator of xkcd.

 

If you enjoy nonfiction books that answer curiosity, you might also enjoy: Cool Stuff 2.0 and How It Works, by Woodford and Woodcock, Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun, by Glenn and Larsen, or Pick Me Up, by Roberts and Leslie.

Read More »

Darius & Twig

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.

Read More »

Proxy

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.

Read More »

CYRM Winners 2015!

Middle School Winner is False Prince, by Nielsen, and YA Winner is The Fault in Our Stars, by Green. Screen shot 2015-05-04 at 8.09.55 AMAnother book we own won for upper elementary! Wonder, by Palacio.121009_DX_WonderBook.jpg.CROP.article250-medium

 

Read More »

Revolution

18527498by Deborah Wiles, 495 pages, Grades 6-8

This is book 2 in the Sixties Trilogy by Deborah Wiles.

 

It is 1964 and Sunny’s life has been taken over by a stepmother, her children, her mother and a dog. She feels like starting a revolution or at least participating in a protest like her mother might have done. Sunny’s life really isn’t that bad, at least she go where she wants. Raymond is African American living near Sunny but in very different circumstances. He can’t even swim in the “public” pool just because he is Black. That, at least, is about to change because Sunny and Raymond are in the middle of Freedom Summer when desegregation advocates flocked to Mississippi to register African Americans to vote. Jo Ellen (the older sister character in the book Countdown, by Wiles) is part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee that comes to Sunny’s town to register voters and Sunny admires her right away. The three characters’ stories overlap during one of the most memorable time in the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. Wiles makes the book especially interesting to read by scattering news articles, radio transcriptions, and other elements of popular culture of 1964 throughout grounding the story in the historical time frame.

 

If you enjoy books about the Civil Rights Movement in American history you might also enjoy: One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia, Lions of Little Rock, by Kristin Levine, or the non-ficiton book called Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, by Phillip M. Hoose, or the biography called Warriors Don’t Cry by Beals

 

Read More »

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms

51+6PD7wcQL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_by Katherine Rundell, 248 pages, Grades 6 and up

 

Will (Wilhelmina) is growing up free to roam and run wildly on the farm her father manages in Zimbabwe. She is happy and healthy and life has never been better until the day her father dies and she cannot stay on the farm anymore.  Will is sent to boarding school in England and her life abruptly makes a complete about face. The boarding school is nothing but rules, the students make fun of Will for being uneducated and not properly groomed, the clothes required are uncomfortable and confining, and the weather, food and people are cold, awful and mean. Will cannot stand it, and no one understands her or even seems to want to. She decides she will make her way back to Zimbabwe somehow; she can live in the wild around the farm where she grew up, after all, she knows people there; her first step is escaping the school.

 

If you like stories taking place in countries other than the U.S. you might also like: A Time to Dance, by Padma Venkatraman, Words in the Dust, by Trent Reedy, or A Million Shades of Gray, by Cynthia Kadohata, Small Acts of Amazing Courage, by Gloria Whelan.

Read More »

The Clockwork Scarab

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.

Read More »

Fish in a Tree

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.

Read More »

Rain, Reign

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.

Read More »

The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond

18079754by Brenda Woods, 222 pages, Grades 6-7

 

Violet is happy; she loves her family. She even loves her perfect sister, though she is a bit envious. Her sister is gorgeous and talented and fits in perfectly at home and in public; no one ever questions how she is a part of their family. Violet’s father was African American and her mom is white. Now that her dad is dead, she is growing up as the only person of color in a white family and just being seen as part of the family out in the world is not simple. No one can just see that she belongs, and even though she is close to her mom and sister she longs for somewhere to fit it without anyone questioning it. Her father’s mother is an artist and is doing a show nearby. Violet is determined to go to the show and convince her grandmother to be a part of her life; since her father died her grandmother has not contacted their family out of both grief and anger. It is time Violet finds a connection to the rest of her personal identity and her father’s family, but is this angry grandmother the way to find it?

If you like stories about personal identity you might also enjoy My Basmati Bat Mitzvah, by Paula J. Freedman, A Mango Shaped Space, by Wendy Mass, or My Name is Mina, by David Almond.

Read More »

I Kill The Mockingbird

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

Read More »

The Accidental Highwayman: being the tale of Kit Bristol, his horse Midnight, a mysterious princess, and sundry magical persons besides

20519011by Ben Tripp, 303 pages, Grades 6 and up

 

Kit  Bristol is a gentleman’s assistant, or so he thinks. When his master is mortally wounded Kit learns that he is a highwayman, a robber in 18th century England, and a notorious one at that name of Whistling Jack. Kit’s first mistake is borrowing his master’s coat when he tries to sneak off to get help for the suffering man. Instead of finding help, Kit is mistaken for Whistling Jack and ends up saddled with his debt. Whistling Jack owes the magical kingdom something and now Kit is bound to taking up the task; he won’t have his life back until he completes the quest Whistling Jack had only just begun. Will he survive the treacherous adventure and please the fairy Whistling Jack had promised to help or is there some other way out of his predicament?

 

If you enjoy fantasy adventure stories you might also like: Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher or W.A.R.P.: The Reluctant Assasin, by Eoin Colfer.

 

Read More »

Sparkers

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.

Read More »

Brown Girl Dreaming

 

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.

 

Read More »

A Time to Dance

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

 

Read More »

Caminar

18166935by Skila Brown, 193 pages, Grades 6 and up

 

Carlos lives in Guatemala during a civil war. When he is little his village is quiet and peaceful, but as the war comes closer things begin to get frightening. Soldiers make camp nearby and although they seem nice enough, there is a sense that trouble is lurking in their backyard. Eventually, the war separates Carlos from the rest of his family.  He is starving and alone when the soldiers find him. Should he trust them? Can he survive without them? When the soldiers were camped outside their village his mother told him he was not old enough to stand up to them, but has he grown up since then? If only he could ask his mother if he was ready, so he would know what to do to save his grandmother’s village.

 

Click here to see if this book is available.

If you like stories of war and courage, you might also like: A Long Walk To Water, by Barbara Parks, or Now is The Time for Running, by Michael Williams.

Read More »

The Fourteenth Goldfish

fourteenthgoldfishby Jennifer L. Holm, 195 pages, Grades 5-7

 

Life does not go on forever normally, though it seems like Ellie’s goldfish is hanging on a lot longer than her friends’ goldfishes. Her grandfather also has an aging problem; he has become an adolescent boy again. It is pretty weird watching a pimply 7th grader bossing around her mom, but it is kind of nice to have someone around to talk to about science. Melvin, Ellie’s grandfather, is a scientist. He is mostly concerned with retrieving his research from his office; he cannot very well waltz into the lab as a 13-year-old boy without arousing suspicion.

 

Click here to see if the book is available.

 

If you like science fiction with a little humor, you might also enjoy: Boom, by Mark Haddon or The Doom Machine, by Mark Teague. If you enjoy books about friendships between the young and old you might also enjoy: Curveball:The Year I Lost My Grip, by Jordan Sonnenblick, or The Cardturner, by Louis Sacher

Read More »

The Glass Sentence

glass-sentenceby S. Grove, 489 pages, Grades 6 and up.

 

Sophia is growing up in a very different world than you can read about in our history books. About 100 years ago in her world there was something called The Great Disruption which was a bit like a time earthquake; it shook the whole world and left its continents in different eras. Dinosaurs roam some parts of the earth, some parts are living in the Middle Ages, and some are living in a futuristic time; Sophia lives with her uncle, a cartographer, in New Occident where it is 1891. Sophia’s parents are explorers and have been out-of-touch for a long time. Sophia is anxious to learn about the new world in the hopes that she might find them. She has just begun to learn about cartography from her uncle, Shadrack, when he is kidnapped. Sophia begins an adventure; she has to escape those who kidnapped her uncle, try to find her parents, and possibly stop the destruction of the world they are just coming to know. Has she learned enough to be up to such a task?

 

Click here to see if this book is available.

 

If you like adventure fantasy stories, you might also enjoy Graceling, by Kristin Cashore, or Sabriel by Garth Nix, or Stardust, by Neil Gaiman.

Read More »

West of the Moon

westofthemoonby Margi Preus, 213 pages, Grades 5-8

 

Astri and her sister are waiting for their father to send for them. They live in Norway and he has gone to America leaving them with their terrible relatives. These relatives are so terrible that they sell Astri to a cruel goat farmer where she is expected to work from dawn until dusk. Astri is strong and brave, though, and she decides to make a plan to escape the evil goat man, rescue her sister and go to America to find their father. Of course, nothing is as easy as she hoped: knife wielding farmer, treaturous mountains, mysterious spinning girl and trolls make the journey a harrowing adventure.

 

If you enjoy fantasy reads that draw from folk and fairy tales you might also like Cinder, by Marissa Meyer or Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine.

 

Click here to see if the book is available.

Read More »

CYRM Nominees 2015

Middle School Nominees

Bluefish, by Pat Schmatz,The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, Chained, by Lynne Kelly

Middle School CYRM

YA Nominees

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, Legend, by Marie Lu, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor

YA CYRM

Read More »

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

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.

 

Read More »

Dreamwood

DREAMWOOD-coverby Heather Mackey, 328 pages, Grades 5-8

 

Lucy’s father, a once renowned ghost hunter, is a laughing stock.  People think he is a bit crazy, so when he hasn’t contacted Lucy for a while no one is worried but her. Lucy knows her father is a good scientist despite what people say, so she decides to leave her school and go after him. When she arrives in the Northwest where he has been doing his research she hears that he has gone after “dreamwood” and hasn’t been heard from since. Lucy begins an adventure of her own in which she meets native people, timber barons and others and is not sure who to trust. The tree plague is worrying everyone; it could be the end of trees on earth.  Everyone seems to be after a cure, as was her father, but some may have more devious motives than others. Will Lucy be able to save her father or find a cure for the tree sickness? Lost in the woods without food or water Lucy wonders if she can even make it out alive herself.

 

Other fantasy stories that you might enjoy include: The Mark of the Dragonfly, by Jaleigh Johnson, or The Great Unexpected, by Sharon Creech.

 

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

Read More »

Countdown

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.

 

Read More »

One Man Guy

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.

Read More »

Code Name Verity

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.

Read More »

Rose Under Fire

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.

 
 

Read More »

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah

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.

Read More »

The Whispering Skull

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.

 

Read More »

Always Emily

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

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

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

 

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

 

Read More »

Love Letters to the Dead

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.

 

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

Read More »

The Geography of You and Me

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.

 

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

 

Read More »

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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.

 

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

Read More »

A Dark Inheritance

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.

 

Read More »

Since You’ve Been Gone

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.

 

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

Read More »

The Invention of Wings

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Read More »

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The_Sweetness_at_the_Bottom_of_the_Pieby Alan Bradley, 385 pages, Adult audience

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

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

 

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

 

Read More »

The Mark of the Dragonfly

the mark of the dragonflyby Jaleigh Johnson 388 pages, Grades 6-8

Piper is a scrapper. She knows how to live with very little and she makes her living by trading things left behind after the meteor showers for things that she needs to survive. It is a hard life, especially since she has to go it alone; her mother died long ago and her father was killed while trying to earn some money working in a factory in the capital city. Things might seem hopeless, but Piper has dreams for her future. She can fix almost anything she gets her hands on, and she hopes to one day move to a big city and make a living as a mechanic. Piper’s hope is that something she collects in a meteor storm will be her ticket out of town, but she never expected it to be a young girl marked with the Dragonfly tattoo of the king! It turns out that the girl is being chased by an evil man, and Piper cannot resist helping her.  When they board the train for the capital Piper thinks they are home free, but it is only the beginning.

If you enjoy fantasy adventure stories, you might also like: The Apothecary, by Maile Meloy, or Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman. If you like adventures that take place on trains you might also like The Boundless, by Kenneth Oppel, or Railsea, by China Mieville.

 

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

 

Read More »

The Here and Now

HereAndNow__140411190949by Ann Brasheres, 242 pages, Grades 7-10

In 2014 a “time-native” named Ethan witnesses a strange event that will impact the rest of his life; he sees a girl appear out of thin air. Prinna is a time-traveler from the future. She and a small community have come to the past as refugees. The future is polluted, and filled with disease and suffering; Prinna’ two younger brothers died of the plague. She  and her mother and father were supposed to travel with the community, but somehow her father goes missing before the immigration. The refugees are worried about being found out and about inadvertently changing history in any way, so they have to live by very strict rules, in fact, the elders seem to be spying on everyone; people are even punished for speaking badly about the community. Those who become too close to “time natives” are often relocated or accidents seem to befall them coincidentally, so when Ethan befriends Prinna she is worried about the consequences. But, there is something about Ethan that she cannot resist, and he seems to understand her, but how? Is it possible that he knows her secret?

If you enjoy dystopias you might also like: Divergent, by Veronica Roth, or Legend, by Marie Lu, or Ship Breaker, by Paolo Baciagalupi.

 

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

 

Read More »

The Boundless

17846771by Kenneth Oppel, 332 pages, Grades 6-8

Will’s father started his career as a brakeman, but when he saves the owner of the greatest railroad in the country from an avalanche he moves on to bigger things. When Will was young they barely had enough to eat, but now on the first voyage of the Boundless, the biggest train ever to cross the country, he is traveling in first class, at least until someone tries to kill him. Will manages to barely escape with his life but finds himself at the back of the train. He has to overcome a series of obstacles and life-threatening adventures while attempting to return to his father at the front of the train. Chased by murderous brakemen, pulled into a circus car by an elephant, grabbed by a sasquatch, disguised as an indian circus performer Will makes his way up the train with the help of his wire-walking friend, Meran, but can they make it in time to save his father and keep the Boundless on the track?

If you like adventure stories you might try other titles by Kenneth Oppel such as Airborn and Silverwing.  If you like action adventures with trains you might also enjoy Railsea, by China Mieville.

 

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

Read More »

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

ToAllTheBoysI_veLovedBefore_FinalCoverby Jenny Han, 255 pages, Grades 7-12

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

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

 

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

 

Read More »

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

smoke&boneby Lanini Taylor, 418 pages, Grades 8 and up / YA

CYRM NOMINEE 2014

Karou is an art student in Prague. Her friends think her notebook is full of fantastic creatures she imagines, but in reality she is drawing the creatures who brought her up. She was raised and still works in an in-between place, a place between the human world and a magical world of chimera. Brimstone, one of the chimera who raised her, sends her on errands, deliveries mostly, in faraway lands. Sometimes the errands are dangerous, but Karou is tough, she has been trained in martial arts, so she can take care of herself pretty effectively. When the serafin return, though, everything changes. They chase her and almost kill her in Marrakesh and then mysterious burning handprints appear on doors throughout the city. Suddenly she loses contact with her chimera family and is trapped in the human world. Are they hurt? Do they need her? Will the serafin come for her as well? Who is she and where does she fit in the two worlds she seems to be part of?

If you like rich fantasy adventure stories you might also enjoy Sabriel, by Gath Nix, or Graceling, by Kristin Cashore.

 

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

 

Read More »

Cinder

Cinder_Coverby Marissa Meyer, 390 pages, Grades 7 and up

CYRM NOMINEE 2015

Cyborgs are second class citizens; technology is sophisticated enough to provide people with prosthetic limbs stronger than the limbs they lost, or eyes that do more than just see, but anyone who has to repair themselves this way is shunned and thought of as less than human. Cinder, who is a 67% cyborg, was adopted by a kind man, but his wife and daughters were not so understanding of her “deformities.” When he dies her life at home becomes almost unbearable. Luckily she is a talented mechanic and spends most of her time with her android friend at her shop in downtown New Beijing. She is counting the days until she will be able to leave home for good, when who should waltz into her shop but the prince himself, disguised, of course. This chance meeting changes the course of her life and begins a great adventure full of space travel, chivalrous fighting, high tech geeks, aliens, and Cyborgs, of course.

If you enjoy science fiction adventure you might also like The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, Divergent, by Veronica Roth, or Legend, by Marie Lu.

 

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

 

Read More »

One Came Home

Amysbookby Amy Timberlake, 257 pages, Grades 6-8

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

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

 

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

Read More »

Serafina’s Promise

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.

 

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

 

Read More »

Bluefish

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.

 

Read More »

Invasion

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.

 

Read More »

Ghost Hawk

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.

Read More »

Picture Me Gone

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.

Read More »

Hattie Big Sky

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!

ep

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.

Read More »

Ocean at the End of the Lane

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.

 

Read More »

Solstice

solsticeby P.J. Hoover, 381 pages, Grades 7 and up

Piper is lucky to live in the Botanical Gardens of her town where she is surrounded by beautiful and delicious plants and can keep cool. The world around is experiencing a Global Heating Crisis; temperatures soar to 115° and more. The city has a few things to protect its people from these “heat bubbles” like glass domes, and cooling gel, but the world is in crisis. Piper has her own challenges as well; she wants to be a normal teenager, but her mother is extraordinarily protective and she doesn’t even know who her dad is. Suddenly she is getting attention from two young men, from no one to two fighting for her attention, and each one is very interesting to say the least. One is the god of the underworld, Hades, and one is the god of war, Ares. Who is Piper, anyway, and why are these gods so determined to get her attention and affection, and what does all of this have to do with the high temperatures that seem to be killing the world?

If you enjoyed this and have not read the books by Rick Riordan, you might enjoy his fantasy take on Greek Mythology as well.  If you are looking for another dystopia romance you might enjoy Divergent, by Veronica Roth.

 

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

Read More »

Freakling

freaklingby Lana Krumwiede, 309 pages, Grades 5-7

Taemon lives in Deliverance in a telekinetic community. Future humans have developed an additional sense, so to speak; they have evolved to do everything with their minds. Their food seems to jump into their mouths, their clothes fasten themselves, and dishes seem to clean themselves on the other side of the room, but this is not magic, it is accomplished with psy, an energy source people of the future have learned to harness. Some knowledge of the past has been lost or hidden when psy became a human skill in order to protect people; for example, if you understand how the heart works and you had evil motives you might be able to stop someone’s heart with your psy. All books and knowledge about the human body and how it works is closely guarded. Because psy is such a potentially dangerous power, anyone with variations of psy are outcasts; Taemon has the ability to “mind wander” and his parents are worried people will find out, including his older brother, but, of course, “mind wandering” is so natural to Taemon it is hard to keep it a secret. His special psy could be his downfall, but it might also be the community’s only hope.

If you enjoy dystopian fantasies, you might also like:  Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi or Maze Runner, by James Dashner.

 

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

Read More »

The Lions of Little Rock

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.

 

Read More »

The Hypnotists

hypnotistsby Gordon Korman,  232 pages, Grades 6-8

Jackson Opus thinks he is a normal, albeit persuasive, twelve-year-old, but little does he know he is the descendant of two of the most famous hypnotists of all time. When the Sentia Institute shows interest in him, he begins to understand the power and scope of hypnotism in the world around him. But is it ok to use this power to control world events, or even people’s decisions? Jackson is learning how to control his gift, struggling with the ethics of hypnotism, and trying to escape the evil hypnotists who want to control him all at the same time. He really would prefer to return to the life of a normal kid, but when you have a gift like Jackson’s you have to grow up in a hurry.

Gordon Korman writes a lot of great books.  Comedies:  No More Dead Dogs, The Chicken Doesn’t Skate, Ungifted.  Adventures: Dive, Island, and Everest series. Mystery: Swindle series.

 

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

Read More »

Twerp

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.

Read More »

The Boy on the Porch

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.

Read More »

So B. It

sobitby Sarah Weeks, 245 pages, Grades 6-9

Lucky for Heidi and her mom their neighbor Bernadette helped raise Heidi and take care of her mother as well since Heidi was a tiny baby. Heidi’s mother loves her, but she really could not have taken care of Heidi by herself; she is mentally disabled to the point that she only has about 27 words in her vocabulary. One of those words, “soof,” drives Heidi crazy because she cannot figure out what it means! Heidi, at 12, is becoming more and more curious about her past; she wants to understand who she is and where she fits in the world. When an old camera turns up in the back of the closet and provides some photographic clues Heidi is off, determined to find herself and her past without any help from anyone!

If you enjoy books about kids who persevere and triumph despite the odds, you might also enjoy Counting by7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan, or Wonder, by R.J. Palacio.

 

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

Read More »

The Testing

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.

Read More »

The League

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?

wr

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.

Read More »

Heat

heatby Mike Lupica, 220 pages, Grades 6-8

* STUDENT REVIEW *

Michael, a star baseball player, and his brother Carlos are living alone without their parents. The boys came to the U.S, from Cuba with their father. Shortly after arriving, their father goes missing and the boys are trying to make it on their own. Michael is a very good baseball player;  in one game Michael strikes out a hot-headed player named Justin whose father is the coaches.  Justin and his father decide to try and kick Michael out of the league by getting all the coaches to believe Michael is over the age limit. All the coaches sign a form requesting the league to investigate Michael’s age. To keep playing baseball Michael has to show his birth certificate.  The boys cannot find Michael’s birth certificate and what’s worse is that it is drawing attention to the fact that they are living without a parent.

wr

If you enjoy books about children managing without their parents then you might also like:  Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan, or  Guitar Boy, by M.J. Auch.  If you enjoy books about baseball, you might also like:  Under the Blood Red Sun, by Graham Sallisbury, or One Handed Catch, by Mary Jane Auch.

 

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

 

Read More »

Counting By 7s

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.

 

Read More »

Floors

floorsby Patrick Carman, 261 pages, Grades 5-7

* STUDENT REVIEW *

Leo is a maintenance boy at the fantastic Whippet Hotel, run by Merganzer Whippet. Mr. Whippet is a wacky inventor and lover of ducks. Leo spends every day surrounded by the robot room, the cake room, the pinball room, and many others. He caters to all the unique inhabitants of the whippet hotel, including a writer, a captain, and a former socialite, and even 6 ducks, but most of all, the dreaded Ms. Sparks. When Merganzer Whippet disappears, Ms. Sparks starts taking over the hotel. Leo heads off on a wild goose chase, or rather, a wild duck chase, all instrumented by Mr. Whippet himself. Can Leo save the hotel before it's too late?

If you enjoy books full of whimsy, you might also like The Candy Makers, by Wendy Mass or the Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman.

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

 

Read More »

Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase

screaming staircaseby Jonathan Stroud, 390 pages, Grades 6-9

London is crawling with ghosts and they are not friendly; they are, in fact, dangerous. Many people died because they were “ghost touched” until they discovered that adolescents and teens have a special ghost sensory ability that makes them particularly able when it comes to investigating hauntings.  Lucy Carlyle is one of these talented young people and she finds a job with Lockwood and Co., a private agency responsible for ghost eradication – a bit like the Sherlock Holmes agency for ghosts and hauntings. Of course, people who haunt generally have troubled pasts, so often Lockwood and Co. are not only extinguishing ghosts, but they are also uncovering murderers, which is a dangerous occupation indeed.

If you enjoy ghost stories you might also like Break My Heart 1,000 Times, by Daniel Waters, or if you enjoy a good mystery you might also like Death Cloud, by Andy Lane a young Sherlock Holmes story.

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

Read More »

Cuckoo’s Calling

cuckoo's callingby Robert Galbraith (really J.K. Rowling’s pseudonym), 455 pages, Adult Mystery

Lula Landry, gorgeous English supermodel, just fell from her penthouse balcony to her death. The media has no trouble believing the police’s verdict of suicide, after all, Lula lived in the fast lane, and everyone knows she has been on medication for mood swings as well.  That’s why when Lula’s brother shows up in Strike’s office, the veteran and struggling private investigator is taken by surprise. Strike is enduring a hard patch at the moment: the love of his life has just walked out, he is not only out of money, but overdue on shady loan payments, and is currently living in his office. Robin walks in to Strike’s office right before Lula’s brother; she has been sent there as a temporary secretary, and though Mr. Strike seems unprepared for her or for life in general, it has always been her secret dream to work for a private detective.

If you enjoy detective novels you might also like Heist Society, by Ally Carter, The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud, or Death Cloud, by Andy Lane.

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

Read More »

Planet Thieves

planet thievesby Dan Krokos, 253 pages, Grades 6-8

Mason is studying at the Academy for Earth Space Command, but one of his favorite pastimes is tormenting his older sister who is an officer. This comes to an abrupt halt when he finds himself in the middle of an actual alien invasion during one of his little pranks. It turns out what was described as a simple mission was really something much more complicated. Another group of creatures is seeking an inhabitable planet because they are outgrowing their home world just like humans are.These aliens happen to need the same kind of atmospheric conditions that we do so Earth and the aliens are in competition for the same planet, in fact, it was his family’s mission to capture the planet and keep it from the aliens, but things have gone horribly wrong. His sister has been kidnapped with all the officers and it is up to a group of adolescents to save earth and the future of humanity.

If you enjoy space adventures you might also like:  Apollo’s Outcasts, by Allen Steele, or Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card.

 

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

Read More »

Seraphina

seraphinaby Rachel Hartman, 499 pages, Grades 7 and up

Seraphina is born into a medieval world where dragons and humans have learned to live in peace following years of war. Dragons magical powers allow them to transform into Sars, dragons in human form.  These Sars live in the human world as ambassadors; they help maintain the peace and teach humans their advanced technology. They are also there to learn about human behavior, but they are not to become emotionally affected or invested in any way. Of course, much of human strength comes from our ability to love one another, and even though Sars are supposed to stay away from human emotion that is sometimes impossible, and Seraphina’s very existence is proof of just that.

If you enjoy fantasies about dragons you might also like:  Dragonrider by Cornelia Funke, or Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia Wrede.  If you like fantasy books with strong female protagonists you might also enjoy Graceling, by Kristin Cashore, or Sabriel, by Garth Nix.

 

Read More »

WARP: The Reluctant Assassin

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.

 

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

 

Read More »

MILA 2.0

mila-2-0by Debra Driza, 470 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Mila is an average teenage girl struggling with fitting in a new school and grieving over the death of her father, at least that is what she thinks until the accident.

When Mila in almost completely uninjured after being thrown from a moving car, that seems pretty unbelievable and even scary (how can she not feel pain?), but what is revealed beneath her skin is even more creepy. Mila’s whole life spins out of control; everything is not as it seems. She has to figure out what is real: her friends, her family, her memories, her self.  Those who have the answers Mila wants, also want to destroy her.  Would you want to remain in the dark about your life to stay alive, or would you have to know where you came from and what was the truth?

If you enjoy science fiction books about futuristic humans you might also enjoy:  Eve and Adam, by Michael Grant, When We Wake, by Karen Healey , or Double Identity, by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

 

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

 

Read More »

The Bad Beginning

badbeginningby Lemony Snicket, 162 pages, Grades 6-8

*Student Review*

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

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

mt

 

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

Read More »

Zeitoun

Zeitoun_loresby David Eggers, 337 pages, adult biography

Zeitoun is the biography of a man living in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina.  His full name is Abdulrahman Zeitoun, but everyone calls him Zeitoun for short.  He and his wife Kathy have been living in New Orleans for years raising their four kids and running their business, so when the threats of the hurricane come in at first they think the reports are exaggerated and that they will remain in the city and ride it out.  Eventually, though, they decide that Kathy will leave with the children for a few days, just to be safe.  Zeitoun wants to remain behind so that he can watch after all the different properties they own, and try to minimize the damage.

The hurricane, of course, does more damage than anyone can imagine and Zeitoun uses his canoe to row around the city helping those he can and keeping an eye on his property.  At least he does this until the Homeland Security police scoop him up and unlawfully throw him into a prison.  He is not given a call, or a lawyer and his family does not even know where he is. This frustrating and harrowing story reads like an adventure even though it is a true account of this family’s ordeal.

If you enjoy biographical adventure stories you might also like:  Into The Wild, by Krakauer, or Three Cups of Tea, by Mortenson, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, by Ralston.

 

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

 

Read More »

2014 CYRM Winners

 

Middle School: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Young Adult:  Divergent by Veronica Roth

Wonderstruck-Cover divergent_veronica_roth_a_p

Read More »

Apothecary

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.

Read More »

Liar & Spy

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.

 

Read More »

When We Wake

when we wakeby Karen Healey, 296 pages, Grade 8 and up

It was such a good day for Tegan until she died. On that day in 2027 it was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm. She was hanging out with the people she liked best, and she had finally kissed the boy she liked.  When she next wakes, 100 years later, all the people important to her are long gone.

Tegan is an experiment in cryogenics; her body was donated to science and frozen 100 years ago. Today she is the first successfully woken person, so she is being kept under tight supervision and hidden from the press. The fact is, the planet is pretty full 100 years in the future; there are not enough resources to go around as it is, so even though bringing important people back from the dead sounds appealing to the government – especially the military – the rest of the population is pretty upset their tax money is being used for this purpose; why bring people back, when we can’t even feed those who exist today?

Naturally, Tegan’s new life doesn’t stay a secret for long.  She is thrust into school and the public eye so that people can see she is a real human being, but Tegan never asked to be the spokesperson for waking the dead, and no matter how much money the military invested in her regeneration, she still has a mind of her own.

If you enjoy book about dystopian futures you might also enjoy: Matched by Ally Condie, Legend, by Marie Lu, or Eve & Adam, by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate.

 

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

 

Read More »

Eve & Adam

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.

 

Read More »

Apollo’s Outcasts

ApolllosOutcastsby Allen Steele,  311 pages,  Grades 7 and up

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

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

 

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

Read More »

Hero On A Bicycle

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Read More »

Hunger Games

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

kt

 

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

Read More »

Year of Wonders

by Geraldine Brooks, 308 pages, adult fiction, but great for adolsecents.

Anna Frith’s is a story of survival during the years of plague beginning in 1666 in Europe.  Her life was already filled with hardship even before the plague arrived to their village.  Her mother died when Anna was very young, her dad remarried, but the woman was not much of a mother and her father became more and more verbally and physically abusive to his children.  Anna got out of the house by marrying young, but even before their second child reached one year old, her husband died in the mines.  Anna’s tough and optimistic spirit helps her meet all of these challenges and it might be just these qualities that give her the strength to survive the horrors that the Black Plague brings.

If you enjoy historical fiction you might also like:  Now is The Time for Running, by Michael Williams, or Looking for Me, by Betsy R. Rosenthal.   Also, Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson is another historical fiction novel of survival in a time of devastating disease.

 

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

 

Read More »

CYRM Winners 2013!

Did you read the CYRM nominees this year?

Announcing the WINNERS!
Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper  for Middle Grade & Matched, by Ally Condie for Young Adult

Read More »

Railsea

by China Mieville, 424 pages, adult fiction, but great for adolescents

Railsea is a dystopian future society where the earth is covered in rails; there are islands of rubble scattered around the earth’s surface between the rails where people have built up towns, but any actual earth is uninhabitable.  Underground creatures have grown to gigantic size and anyone walking upon the natural ground is in danger of being swallowed up by huge moles, or giant insects.  The rails are home to a lot of different occupations: there are traders, thrill seekers, soldiers, and pirates, but Railsea’s central character, Sham, is a medic in training on a Moler vessel. The Molers are on a quest to finish off the mole that stole the captain’s arm, but Sham may have another destiny in his future adventures on the Railsea.

If you enjoy dystopian adventures you might also enjoy Maze Runner, by James Dashner,  Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi or Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher.

 

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

 

Read More »

Hold Fast

by Blue Balliett, 274 pages, Grades 6-9

CYRM NOMINEE 2016

Early lives with her father, Dash, her mother, Summer, and her little brother, Jubilation.  They are a happy family hoping to live in a cute little house one day.  They play word games, and read books together in their little apartment while Dash tries to save up enough money for their dream house. To make extra money he has a new night job sorting books; his day job is at the local library.  He and Al go through boxes of old books to send to a second-hand bookseller somewhere.  The job seems a little strange to Early, but she never expected it to be dangerous.  One day her father goes missing and the next their apartment is invaded and ransacked and they are out on the street.  The little family of three struggles to “hold fast” living in a shelter while they wait for Dash to return, but when the police prove less than helpful Early is compelled to solve the mystery behind her father’s disappearance herself.

 

Blue Balliett has written a lot of terrific mysteries:  Chasing Vermeer, The Wright Three, The Calder Game, and The Danger Box; if you enjoy Hold Fast, you might like those as well.

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

Read More »

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass

by Russell Freedman, 119 pages, Grades 5-9

“‘He was the architect of his own fortune, a self-made man,’ Douglass wrote of Lincoln.  He had ‘ascended high but with hard hands and honest work build the ladder on which he climbed’ –  words that Douglass, as he was aware, could easily have applied to himself” (Freedman 103).

 

Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln had a lot in common:  they both grew up poor and uneducated, they both taught themselves because they greatly desired knowledge, and they both wanted to end the practice of slavery in the United States.  They were also very different men: Douglass was born a slave, Lincoln was born free, Douglass had to spend the first part of his life tortured and enslaved, and though Lincoln’s family was poor and he had to work hard he was never tortured.  Douglass and Lincoln also had different approaches to the problem of slavery, but they respected one another greatly even when they did not agree.

 

Freedman’s book is not only interesting, but also an easy read; you feel compelled to continue reading every word as though it were a suspenseful novel keeping you on the edge of your seat.

 

If you enjoy nonfiction, you might also like other books by Russell Freedman like:  The War to End All Wars, Who Was First:  Discovering the Americas, or The Voice that Challenged a Nation: Marion Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights.  

 

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

 

Read More »

Break My Heart 1,000 Times

by Daniel Waters, 342 pages, Grades 7 and up

 

In Veronica’s world there are ghosts among the living.  Since “the Event” people from the past inhabit the world of the living; they look like solid people for the moments they visit, but then they fade away kind of like a short hologram of the person playing the same piece of film over and over.  Veronica’s dad sits at the breakfast table every day and Mary, a teenage girl who was murdered, climbs the front steps of a neighbor every morning as Veronica is walking to school. You get used to it, until it feels like the dead might actually be able to affect the living.  Kirk and Veronica have been asked to research the local ghosts by one of their teachers, and this sometimes means visiting the places where people have died – ghosts often appear to replay their death scene.  Just that seems creepy enough, but Veronica and Kirk might  be stumbling into the path of a murderer unprepared.  

 

If you enjoy suspenseful books you might also like Girl Stolen, by April Henry, or if you like ghost stories you might like Ghosts of the Titanic, by Julie Lawson.

 

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

 

Read More »

Outcasts United

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#!

 

 

Read More »

Kids of Kabul

 

by Deborah Ellis, 137 pages, Grades 6-8

This is a nonfiction collection of stories from the perspective of different kids living through the wars of Afghanistan. These children have lived through the violence of war and the challenges of survival in war’s aftermath.  Each chapter is a heartwrenching story of survival; the characters are pragmatic and realistic, and most unbelievably remain hopeful as they look toward the future.  

If you enjoy reading nonfiction books about kids your age you might also enjoy Girl, 13, by Starla Griffin, From Jazz Babies to Generation Next: The history of the American teenager, by Laura B. Edge, or Claudet Colvin: Twice toward justice, by Phillip Hoose.

 

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

Read More »

Homesick

 

by Kate Klise, 180 pages, Grades 6-8

Poor Benny is homesick in his own house. Benny’s dad is a junk expert, but when his shop gets closed down and he brings all his stuff home – he cannot part with even a tiny bit – Benny’s mom just can take the clutter and she moves back to her hometown by herself. It doesn’t feel like home to Benny anymore because the kitchen is full of empty pizza boxes and nothing to eat, the house is stacked with random stuff, his dad seems lost in his own worries, and, of course, his mom isn’t there.

Now that the town has won “The Most Charming Town” contest more people than just Benny and his mom want to see their house cleaned out; no one is sure that their town can live up to expectations since Miss Turnipson embellished quite a bit when she wrote her entrance essay nominating the town.  The contest officials are due in town any day and pulling the town together might take more than is humanly possible.

If you enjoy books about quirky towns and interesting characters you might also like:  Deliver Us From Normal by Kate Klise, A Long Way from Chicago, by Richard Peck, or Ruby Holler, by Sharon Creech.

 

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

Read More »

The Mighty Miss Malone

miss maloneby Christopher Paul Curtis, 307 pages, Grades 5-7

Deza lives with her parents and her older brother, Jimmie, in Gary, Indiana.  It is 1936, and even though her parents are both hardworking people, the Depression has taken its toll on their family.  Her father lost his job a while back and even though he is always looking for work there is just nothing to be found.  

Deza makes her family proud because she is the gets the highest marks in her class and does her best to keep her brother in line as well; this is how she earns her nickname, “the Mighty Miss Malone.”  It is a good thing she is mighty, because their family is put through the wringer; it seems like whatever can go wrong does go wrong, and the question is: is Deza tough enough to help her family make through the terrible trials of the Depression?

If you like historical fiction you might like other titles by Christopher Paul Curtis such as: Bud Not Buddy, Elijah of Buxton, or The Watson’s Go To Birmingham.

 

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

Read More »

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece

mantepieceby Annabel Pitcher, 211 pages, Grades 7-10

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Read More »

The Great Unexpected

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.

Read More »

See You At Harry’s

seeyouhby Johanna Knowles, 310 pages, Grades 6-9

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

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

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

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

 

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

Read More »

eBooks in Our Library Collection!

Click the link below for directions for accessing the ebooks we have in our catalog.

 

You can also download the Follett app onto your iPad, iPod, or Android and download ebooks from our library to read on your device!  

 

They will automatically come off your device after 8 days.

goo.gl/RdT00

 

Happy Reading!

Read More »

A Mango Shaped Space

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.

Read More »

Monkey Town

monkeytownby Ronald Kidd, 259 pages, Grades 6 and up

Fifteen year old Frances’s biology teacher is absolutely dreamy, so when she sees her dad talking to him in their family coffee shop, she fantasizes about getting to know him better.  Frances’s dad and his friends are scheming to get business to pick up; they decide to organize a publicity stunt involving the handsome science teacher, Johnny Scopes.  They create a case against Scopes who is teaching evolution in his science classes, and get the religious creationists rallying against him.  

The whole thing ends up in one of the biggest trials in American history right in the center of Frances’s world, and her beloved Johnny, or Mr. Scopes, is being framed by her own father!

If you enjoy historical fiction about United States history, you might also like Uprising, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, or The Minister's Daughter, by Julie Hearn, or Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson.

 

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

Read More »

Wild Things

wildthingsby Clay Carmichael, 241 pages, Grades 5-8

CYRM NOMINEE 2012

Zoe, who is eleven years old, has had a hard life already.  She hasn’t grown up with a lot of motherly affection or concern, and she has had to deal with a number of her mother’s boyfriends stealing her mother’s attention over the years as well.  

When Zoe’s mother dies, her Uncle Henry takes her in, but Zoe is not sure what she thinks about the arrangement.  Having been left to her own devices all her life has made Zoe very independent and capable; she knows how to take care of herself, but she is not sure if she can ever bring herself to trust anyone else.

Adults in her life have not really panned out, is Uncle Henry up for the challenge of a wild thing like Zoe? 

If you enjoy books with characters facing a challenging family situation, you might also like Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, or Guitar Boy, by M.J. Auch.

 

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

 

Read More »

Things a Brother Knows

brother knowsby Dana Reinhardt     242 pages     Grades 7 and up

CYRM NOMINEE 2012

Student Review

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

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

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

 

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

Read More »

Pathfinder

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.

Read More »

Middle of Nowhere

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Read More »

Incarceron

incarceronby Catherine Fisher, 442 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Claudia is living a nobel life, like a princess in a castle, but to her home feels like a prison.  

Finn’s home really is a prison, but a prison like no other.  This place is so vast it feels like a kingdom full of villages, and cities, forests, and swamps, beggars, thieves and people with power and influence; this is Incarceron.  The place itself seems to have a mind of its own, it shifts and transforms itself to make life difficult for its inmates; escape feels so impossible that most are making the best of their life within the walls.  

Finn is new to Incarceron; most believe he was born there, but he has glimpses of another life, another place, that make him wonder, and so he seeks to escape this dark metalic world.

A crystal key brings Claudia and Finn together, but the prison does not give up its people easily, even if it is to the warden’s daughter.

If you enjoy books about dystopian future world, or fantasy kingdoms, you might also enjoy:  Maze Runner, by James Dashner, or Graceling, by Kristin Cashore.

 

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

Read More »

The Other Wes Moore

the_other_wes_moore_bookcoverby Wes Moore, 239 pages, Adult Biography

READMONT BOOK OF 2012-13!

The author Wes Moore had a challenging childhood.  His father died when he was very young, his mom had to work multiple jobs to support their family after his death, and they had to live in neighborhoods plagued with drugs and gangs.  

Moore survived his turbulent youth, however, and went on to become a decorated war veteran, college graduate, and Rhodes scholar.  It was when he was in South Africa on his Rhodes fellowship that his mother told him about another young man, about his age, and from his home town, who had just been arrested for robbing a jewelry store; the robbers had killed a security guard. This young man’s name was also Wes Moore, and this Wes Moore was convicted to a life sentence in prison.  

The shock that there could be another person, with his identical name, growing up in a very similar situation who ended up in such a different place made the author want to understand the other Wes Moore, and how their lives had diverged so significantly.  This is the biography and autobiography of the two Wes Moores.

If you enjoy reading biographies of contemporary people, you might also enjoy The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba, or Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different, by Karen Blumenthal, or Aung San Suu Kyi, by Sherry O'Keefe.

 

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

Read More »

Unforgettable

Unforgettableby Loretta Ellsworth, 256 pages, Grades 6-9

Baxter can remember what his mom was wearing when she came to pick him up from kindergarten ten years ago including what her voice smelled like to him.  It seems like it would be a cool trick, like photographic memory, but Baxter also cannot get rid of these memories or any information, and they can be a burden.  Also, this kind of gift can be used for evil, and, in fact, his mom’s last boyfriend thought of an illegal way to profit from Baxter’s gift. This criminal boyfriend is just about to be released from jail for those crimes; Baxter had been a key witness, so he and his mother are moving to a small town across the country to escape his anger.  It is hard to be new in a strange town, but Baxter has found someone from his past to connect with, and even though she can’t remember their kindergarten days together, of course, Baxter can.

If you enjoy books about kids with unusual abilities, you might also enjoy Bruiser, by Neal Shusterman.  

 

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

 

Read More »

My Name is Mina

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.

Read More »

Wonder

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.

Read More »

Ghost Knight

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.

Read More »

Beautiful Creatures

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.

Read More »

Insignia

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.

 

Read More »

A World Away

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Read More »

Promise the Night

promise the nightby Michaela MacColl, 262 pages, grades 6 & up

When Beryl's dog was dragged away from her mud hut by a leopard in the middle of the night because she forgot to secure the door flap, Beryl vows to find him… then does.  When people start refering to her as a "wild child" and Beryl's dad tries to get her a British nanny, Beryl seeks education alongside the boys from the local Nandi tribe.  When she is told that girls don't get to go on lion hunts…

Beryl Markham was the first pilot to fly solo from England to North America.  She spent her life defying the rules that society placed on her and other women of the time.  Promise the Night is a novel based on Beryl's remarkable childhood in Africa.

If you would like to read Beryl's own story of her life as a pilot, you could read her autobiography, West with the Night.

 

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

Read More »

CYRM 2012-13 Nominees

Have you read the California Young Reader Medal nominees this year?

Middle School

Invisible Lines by Mary AmatoWild Things by Clay CarmichaelOut of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Invisible Lines by Mary Amato, Wild Things by Clay Charmichael, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Young Adult

Matched by Ally CondieBeautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret StohlThe Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt

Matched by Ally Condie, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt

Read More »

Looking For Me

looking.for.meby Betsy R. Rosentahl, 165 pages, Grades 6-8

 
Edith is number four in a family with 12 children. They call her the good little mother because everyone counts on her to take care of the smaller children, but she is not sure this label really fits her. The novel is written in verse, each poem illustrating a piece of Edith’s life and coming together to form a complete coming-of-age story full of challenges.  She has to overcome bigoted teasing, her family’s financial hardships, and personal loss as she learns to understand who she among the chaotic comings and goings in this big huge family.
 
If you enjoy stories of kids who overcome against the odds you might also like: Elijah of Buxton, by Christopher Paul Curtis, Small Acts of Amaing Courage, by Gloria Whelan, or Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor.
 

Read More »

Uprising

uprisingMargaret Peterson Haddix, 346 pages, Grades 6-8

 
Uprising is told from the point of view of three young women living in New York City in 1911.  Two are immigrants, one from Russia, Yetta, one recently arrived from Italy, Bella; both are factory girls living downtown, working long hours, and saving every penny possible to send home to their families in the old country. The other girl, Jane, has grown up privileged; she has a closet full of fancy dresses, servants to dress, feed and drive her.
The immigrant girls work for a shirtwaist factory where bosses force girls to work in dangerous conditions, for long grueling hours, and then cheat them when payday rolls around.  Jane finds herself moved by the factory workers plight and circumstances bring these women together.  It soon becomes clear they are really not so different; all are trapped and powerless as are most women of that time.
The suspenseful conclusion brings vivid detail to the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire that took the lives of so many young girls on March 25, 1911.
 
If you enjoy suspensful historical fiction you might also like Across the Nightengale Floor, by Lian Hearn, or Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson.
 

 

Read More »

Ghetto Cowboy

ghetto_cowboy_coverby G. Neri, 218 pages, Grades 5-8

 
Cole has caused his mom so much trouble that she has decided to deliver him to his father’s in the hopes that Cole’s dad can shape up her 12 year old before it is too late.  Cole has never met his father, so he’s unsure what to expect, but when he finds out his father lives like a cowboy in the middle of the city racing horses and teaching city kids to ride, he is beyond shocked.  He cannot believe his mom is leaving him in this crazy place; his father doesn’t even have an extra bedroom for him, and his idea of helping out around the house has Cole shoveling horse manure!  Who is this ghetto cowboy, and how could his mom trust him to take care of Cole, when everything around here seems to be falling apart?
 
If you enjoy reading books about different cultures right here in our country, you might also enjoy Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, or Guitar Boy, by M.J. Auch. If you like books about families dealing with troubled teens you might also enjoy Watson's Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis, and Absolutely Normal Chaos, by Sharon Creech.
 

Read More »

Curveball: the Year I Lost My Grip

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
 

Read More »

Moon Over Manifest

PDF Creation in Quark 7by Clare Vanderpool, 351 pages, Grades 5-8

 
Abilene is used to moving from place to place in 1936.  She and her dad never stay too long anywhere so she has seen a lot of different towns in her 12 years.  Unstable as life on the road might seem to an outsider, Abilene’s dad has been the one constant in her life; they always stick together.  This summer, though, things are different; her dad just drops her in his hometown of Manifest with complete strangers (his father’s good friends) and leaves her there alone.  He says it is just for the summer, but Pastor Shady makes her attend the last day of school anyway.  At first she thinks she’ll be quietly counting the days until her stay in Manifest is over, but then she discovers a loose floorboard with treasures beneath:  letters and mementos about the town in 1918 and a notorious WWII spy called the Rattler.  Abilene is surrounded by mysteries and is determined to discover how these characters fit together and what they can teach her about her father’s personal history as well.
 
If you enjoy stories about kids overcoming family hardship, you might also enjoy Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, or Absolutely Normal Chaos, by Sharon Creech, or A Dog for Life, by L.S. Matthews.
 

Read More »

Elsewhere

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
 

Read More »

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual

food-rules-cover-484by Michael Pollan, Illustrated by Maira Kalman, 207 pages, all ages

Eating healthy food has become complicated in the modern western world.  According to Michael Pollan many of us have grown up eating “edible foodlike substances” instead of, or in addition to real food.  The food industry’s advertising and marketing has made finding healthy food very complicated.  Pollan has a simple message:  “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.”  He breaks into some clever and easy-to-follow rules for healthy eating including:  “Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary person would keep in the pantry,” “Eat animals that have themselves eaten well,” and “Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.”
If you enjoy reading about the food we eat you might also enjoy Man Eating Bugs: the Art and Science of Eating Insects, by Peter Menzel.

Read More »

Earth Unaware: the First Formic War

earth unawareby Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston, 368 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Before the earth began preparing for the inevitability of alien contact, before they had faster than light speed communication capabilities, before they had Ender to pin their hopes on, earth was caught unaware.  This is the story of the world before the first Bugger invasion.  It is the first book of a new trilogy that tells what happened before Ender’s Game began; it is the story of earth’s incredible survival in a war they were unprepared for, and staggeringly unequipped to participate in, but when aliens attack people of earth do anything and everything to protect their homeland.

If you enjoyed the Ender’s Game series this new trilogy will not disappoint, but better read after Ender’s Game itself.

Read More »

Out of My Mind

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.

 

Read More »

Jefferson’s Sons

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

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

Read More »

Divergent

divergent-book-cover-image-396x600by Veronica Roth, 487 pages, Grades 8 and up (YA)

CYRM NOMINEE 2013

In future Chicago there are five factions Abnegation (known for selflessness), Amity (known for keeping the peace), Candor (known for honesty), Dauntless (known for courage), and Erudite (known for their intelligence); everyone is born into one of these, but at age 16 each person chooses which faction they will become and live with for the rest of their lives.  Beatrice, born into Abnegation, goes to the faction assessment designed to help sixteen-year-olds determine which faction they are most suited to. Beatrice gets an unusual result.  In fact, her outcome is such an anomaly that her test administrator has to cover up the results. Beatrice must keep a secret from everyone, even her family; she is Divergent.  How can she choose a faction; should she go with her heart, or try to be safe, and how will she be able to keep her strange status a secret?

If you enjoy dystopian fiction you might also like Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, Matched, by Ally Condie, Legend, by Marie Lu, or Maze Runner by James Dashner.

Read More »

After Ever After

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.

Read More »

Dead End In Norvelt

Dead-End-in-Norvelt-Coverby Jack Gantos, 341 pages, Grades 5-8

“School was finally out and I was standing on a picnic table in our backyard getting ready for a great summer vacation when my mother walked up to me and ruined it.”  

Isn’t that a great way to start a book?  

The surprise Jack’s mom has in store for him is that he will be working this summer for the old lady next door.  It seems like that might be boring, but this is no ordinary old lady. When he arrives his first day Miss Volker is boiling her hands in a pot on the stove, next thing you know Jack’s breaking-and-entering in a neighbor’s house on her orders.  Miss Volker is an expert on the town’s history; it was founded by Eleanor Roosevelt.  She needs Jack’s help to write obituaries for all the town’s original residents who are suddenly “dropping like flies.”

Poor Jack.  Between covering for his dad who wants to build an airport in their yard for the plane he is hiding in the garage, trying to avoid arrest for polluting, spying on the Hell’s Angels, and working for his crazy neighbor, his summer is not delivering the fun and games he had hoped for.

If you like funny fiction with a bit of history you might also enjoy:  A Long Way From Chicago, by Richard Peck, or Walking Across Egypt, by Clyde Edgerton, or The Worst/Best School Year Ever, by Barbara Robinson.

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

Read More »

A Monster Calls

monstercallsby Patrick Ness, 204 pages.  Grades 7 and up.

Connor has been making his own dinner, and putting himself to bed for a while now.  His mom has been sick a long time. The treatments seem never-ending.  There is always something new to try; something that will surely work this time.  It is hard for him, but he has it under control, and he is managing just fine, until some bullies start bothering him at school, and a monster moves into his backyard and starts waking him up in the middle of the night trying to scare him.

The monster takes Connor on a journey of stories, each more unexpected than the next. On the way he learns that things are not always what they seem and he finds the strength to face his worst fear of all.  

The combination of the illustrations and the writing is so powerful that it brings the reader along on Connor’s emotional journey in a way that feels tangibly genuine and raw.

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

If you like sad stories you might also enjoy:  After Ever After, by Jordan Sonnenblick, or The Poet Slave of Cuba, by Margarita Engle.

Read More »

Now Is The Time For Running

nowisthetimeforrunning__spanby Michael Williams, 233 pages, Grades 7 and up

Deo is playing soccer when the soldiers arrive.  At first they hope that they will shout and shoot into the sky and then move on to the next village to show their power, but the soldiers are serious about violence this time.  Deo and Innocent narrowly escape the massacre and run from their home with only a few possessions. Deo is the younger brother, but Innocent is disabled and suffers from emotional fits when he isn’t able to calm himself with his radio, so it is Deo who has to make all the decisions to make sure they are safe.

The teens face immense difficulties as they make their way to the border, but it is when they get there that the real challenge begins. Deo and Innocent have to make their way across a raging river and through a wild animal preserve just to escape the war, but even away from the war safety is very hard to find.

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

If you enjoy reading stories about real places and situations that are very different from your own, you might also like:  No Ordinary Day, Breadwinner, or I Am A Taxi, by Deborah Ellis, or Crossing the Wire, by Will Hobbs.

Read More »

No Ordinary Day

noordinarydayby Deborah Ellis, 155 pages, Grade 5-7

The day Valli leaves her miserable coal mining village and sets off on an adventure is no ordinary day; it is her happiest day so far.  Valli is a clever survivor; she ends up in Kolkata, India and lives alone on the streets borrowing and begging to fill her belly, and sleeping in the cemetery when she can sneak by the guards.  Life is hard, but she is stubbornly optimistic.  Valli approaches strangers to ask for food, dives to the bottom of the river to collect change; she has a gift for getting what she requires and when she is finished with something she makes sure to give it to someone else in need.   

One day she meets a lady doctor whom she is sure will give her a few rupees (Indian money), but while they are talking Valli steps on some burning coals.  The doctor is alarmed, but Valli doesn’t feel a thing; she tells the doctor that she has magic feet, nothing can hurt her.

Leprosy is one of the most feared and misunderstood diseases probably because of the way it disfigures its victims.  Even today people with the disease are considered outcasts of their societies.  In reality, leprosy is hard to get, and, in fact, can be cured if diagnosed and treated.  Unfortunately, often those who contract it are not in a position to get assistance.  

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

If you enjoy reading about social situations much different from our lucky circumstances here in Piedmont, then you might also enjoy The Breadwinner, by Deborah Ellis, Homeless Bird, by Gloria Whelan, or Now is the Time for Running, by Michael Williams.

Read More »

The Absolute Value of Mike

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.

Read More »

Legend

20121230015234!Legend_Marie_Lu_Book_coverby Marie Lu, 305 pages, Grades 7-12

CYRM NOMINEE 2014

In a dystopian future society, the western United States has become the Republic, a military dictatorship in a constant war with the surrounding Colonies.  Student trials determine where you will be placed in the social order, but Day lives outside the law; he is the Republic’s most infamous criminal.  June, on the other hand, was raised in a wealthy family; her parents and her brother held high positions in the Republic; she scored the highest ever on the Trials and attends one of the Republic’s best military academies.  An accident throws these two opposites together.  They should be instant enemies, but maybe what brought them together was not an accident after all, but what they are up against might be too big for the greatest outlaw and the smartest citizen even if they are working together.

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

If you like dystopian fiction, you might also enjoy:  The Hunger Games, by Susanne Collins,  The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, or Matched, by Ally Condie.

Read More »

Half Brother

half brotherby Kenneth Oppel, 375 pages, Grades 7-11

Ben had always hoped for a sibling, but he never expected that his parents would adopt a little brother like Zan.  His father is a behavioral psychologist who has transplanted the family to Canada to study chimpanzees, so it wasn’t so unexpected that his parents would bring a chimp into their home.  But, in 1973 on Ben’s thirteenth birthday they surprise him with “a little brother.” Zan is a chimpanzee that they expect Ben to treat like a sibling.  It is all part of his father’s study, but it soon becomes difficult to distinguish experiment from genuine feelings, and the thing is what is cute when the chimp is a baby might be a real problem when Zan is stronger than everyone he lives with.

If you enjoy speculative fiction, you might also like Airborn, also by Kenneth Oppel, or Crunch by Leslie Connor, or A Dog For Life, by L.S. Matthews; these books have a realistic feel, but a fantasy twist.

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

Read More »

Every Soul A Star

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.

 

Read More »

Wildwood

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.

 

Read More »

Waiting For Normal

waiting-for-normalby Leslie Connor,  290 pages, Grades 6-8

CYRM NOMINEE 2011

Addie’s life has a lot of “twists and turns” that she doesn’t expect.  She used to live with her Mommers, Dwight and her two little sisters, but after what she calls her big mistake everything changes.  Now, she and Mommers are moving into a trailer home and “the littles” (her sisters) are moving away with their dad, Dwight.  

Addie is good at making the best of almost every situation; her mom calls the trailer a piece of junk in the middle of no where, but Addie calls it an adventure and sees her new loft-room as cozy, not cramped.  Even when there is no food in the house, she can create a delicious meal, in fact, she has invented a repertoire of toast-dinner recipes.  

Addie’s winning personality makes her a lot of friends, but her life is far from normal; she might need more than optimism to get her to out of danger in the end.

Other stories about challenging family situations are:  Guitar Boy, by M.J. Auch, Grounded, by Kate Klise, and Ruby Holler, or Bloomability, by Sharon Creech.

 

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

Read More »

Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party

revolutionby Ying Chang Compestine, 249 pages, Grades 5-8

CYRM NOMINEE 2011

Ling is nine, her parents are both doctors and they live in China surrounded by neighbors who are their friends.  Little by little the China they know begins to change around them.  The young people call themselves revolutionaries and say they value equality for all, but soon their chants “Down with the bourgeois!” and actions turn against people like Ling’s parents who have been educated.  Ling faces challenges of school bullies, the disappearance of friends and family, the lack of food and necessities as well as the abuse of loved ones as the China she knew transforms into a different place entirely.

If you would like to read more about this time period you might also enjoy a biography called:  Red Scarf Girl, by Ji-ling Jiang, or Little Green: Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, by Chun Yu

 

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

Read More »

Small Acts of Amazing Courage

small actsby Gloria Whelan, 209 pages, Grades 6 and up

_

Rosalind, an English girl growing up in India, prefers to spend her days exploring the city streets and bazaar with her friend Isha, but her parents don’t know that.  Her father is away at war and her mother is still grieving over Rosalind’s brother who died while he was away at school in England.  It is her brother’s death that made it possible for Rosalind to remain in India – her mother cannot bare to part with her only child now even though most British children are educated in England – but her father is becoming concerned about Rosalind’s education and behavior; her disobedient, unconventional ways might get her sent to England after all, and just as she is becoming interested in Indian politics, in particular a dynamic leader working for India’s independence through peaceful protest named Ghandi.

If you enjoy this book you may also like other titles by Gloria Whelan including:  Parade of Shadows, Homeless Bird, or Angel on the Square.  They are all historical fiction novels with strong female characters.

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

Read More »

A Long Walk To Water

alongwalktowaterby Linda Sue Park, 120 pages, Grades 5-8
_

Salva is at school when they attack.  The teacher sends the boys running out the back door and into the forest to get away from the invading rebel soldiers.  

This is the beginning of Salva’s journey through southern Sudan into Ethiopia on the run from the war sweeping his country, and he is on his own; he was separated from his family when their village was attacked.  

This novel is based on the true life of Salva Dut who now lives in the United States and has started an organization that digs wells to help people in the country where he grew up.

Salva Dut’s website:  http://www.waterforsouthsudan.org/salvas-story/

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

If you enjoy stories about ingenuity and survival you might also like the biography by William Kamkwamba called:  The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

Read More »

The Cardturner

the_cardturnerby Louis Sachar,  336 pages,   Grades 7-adult

At first Alton thought being forced to visit his elderly uncle was going to be pretty boring.  He was pretty sure his uncle didn’t even know who he was, even though his mother had been making him call Uncle Lester, a.k.a. Trap,  his “favorite uncle” ever since he was little.

He was even more certain that this was going to be boring when his uncle explained that what he needed was a cardturner for his bridge games each week since he could no longer see the cards; Trap had recently lost his eyesight.   Alton could only remember old people playing bridge, and the game seemed to include a lot of complicated rules, not particularly, but he agreed to help his “favorite uncle.”

His “favorite uncle” also turned out to be pretty crabby at first, and was not a man to give compliments very often, but everyone has a story; there is a lot more to Trap’s story than Alton ever could have guessed. The mystery of Trap’s past is entertaining, bridge is intriguing, and when a pretty girl enters the picture Alton’s boring summer turns into one of the best of his life.

Connections:  If you enjoy Louis Sachar, you might also like Holes. Another great read about younger and older generations connecting is called The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly.

 

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

Read More »

Demonkeeper

demonkeeper-coverby Royce Buckingham, 216 pages  Grades 6-7

After his mentor disappeared, Nat was left alone to care for all of the demons in their run-down, old house in Seattle.  Most of the demons aren’t too much trouble, just a little pesky.  But, the Beast in the basement is a different story.  Nat has never seen the Beast; the terrifying creature must be kept locked away to protect runaway and orphan children, its chosen prey.  Of course, on the one night that Nat decides to leave the house to go on a date with Sandy, the girl he met at the library, two boys break into the house and release the chaos that Nat, and all of the previous demonkeepers before him, have so carefully kept in check.  At the same time, another less honorable demonkeeper has slipped into town intending to use the demons, especially the Beast, for his own dastardly plans.  Can Nat control the chaos and defeat the destructive demonkeeper?

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

Connections:  For other stories of kids left to battle monsters, check out Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, and The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu.

 

Read More »

Death Cloud

Death-Cloud-HCby Andrew Lane,    311 pages,     Grades 6-9

Maybe you have heard of Sherlock Holmes the grown man who solved impossible crimes with his sidekick Watson, but did you ever wonder what he was like as a teenager?

Death Cloud is the first adventure of the teenage Sherlock.  He is not yet officially the mastermind he will become, but you can see his mind already has those keen sensibilities that make him the superior detective he is as an adult.

“‘You came in Father’s carriage,’” the young Sherlock tells his older brother when he sees him.

“‘How on earth did you deduce that, young man?’

Sherlock shrugged. ‘I noticed the parallel creases in your trousers where the upholstery pressed them, … Father’s carriage has a tear in the upholstery that was repaired rather clumsily a few years ago.  The impression of that repair is pressed into your trousers…’”

Brilliant deduction!  But can he solve the mysterious murders taking people around him in a cloud of death while being pursued by the criminals themselves?  Is the teenager up to the task?

Connections:  If you like a good mystery you might also enjoy Heist Society, by Ally Carter, or Montmorency:  Thief, Liar Gentleman?, by Eleanor Updale.

 

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

Read More »

Airman

airman_book_coverby Eoin Colfer,   412 pages,   Grades 7-8

Conor Broekhart was born in the air.  His parents took a ride in a hot air balloon at the 1878 Paris World’s Fair, and that is the moment Conor decided to arrive.  It is no wonder he is determined to fly; he is a brilliant engineer from very young and is lucky enough to work with another brilliant man, Victor Vigny, advisor to the king.  The king’s daughter admires Conor’s talent as well, and all seems to be perfect for the Broekhart family.

Unfortunately, his life takes a dramatic turn.  The good king has placed his trust in the wrong man; one of his confidants, Marshall Bonvilain, kills the king and frames Conor for the murder!  Conor is thrown into a high security prison on an island, and his parents believe him to be dead.  He is subjected a brutal life in the prison, but also makes some allies that help him attempt to save the kingdom, and his family as well as seek revenge on the evil Bonvilain.

Connections:  If you enjoy steam punk fiction, you might also like: Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, or Airborn by Kenneth Oppel. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas is the first novel about a man being mistakenly imprisoned and escaping to seek his revenge.

 

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

Read More »

Elijah of Buxton

elijahofbuxtonby Christopher Paul Curtis,  341 pages,   Grades 6-8

Elijah wishes he was not quite so fragile.  He can take off running when he sees a snake, or might feel like crying when someone tells the sad story of escaping from slavery in America.  His parents worry that his fragile nature might make his life difficult, but it is that very nature that turns him into a hero.

Buxton was a real town established in 1849 by an American abolitionist who hoped to give people escaping American slavery a place to live as free human beings. The story of Elijah is fictional, but things that happen are realistic for the time and place.

Even though his family thinks he is a delicate soul, Elijah finds courage deep inside himself and takes a lot of risks to do the right thing.  It is a dangerous time to be African American; Elijah’s adventure is truly heroic.

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

Connections:  Christopher Paul Curtis is gifted at creating exciting stories that happen to be set in realistic times in history.  If you like Elijah of Buxton, you might also like Bud Not Buddy, or The Watson’s Go to Birmingham, both by Curtis as well.

Read More »

The Education of Hailey Kendrick

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.

 

Read More »

The Poison Diaries

poison diariesby Maryrose Wood,    278 pages,   Grades 7 and up. Even Jesamine, who is the daughter of the apothecary and a skilled gardener,  is not allowed beyond the locked gate of the poison garden. Jesamine lives with her father, who heals the sick in and around London, in a country house in the mid 1800s.

One day the man in charge of the local home for the insane delivers a mysterious young man he calls Weed to their doorstep.  Jesamine’s father agrees to take him in even though he seems dangerous; he might be to blame for curing those in the asylum, and creating an epidemic of insanity in town.

The arrival of Weed reveals things to Jesamine that she has not realized about herself, about her father, and about the nature of poisons. Her life will never be the same.

If you like romance, mystery and fantasy you might also like Graceling, by Kristin Cashore, Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, or Matched by Allie Condie.

 

Read More »

The Memory Bank

memory_bankby Carolyn Coman 263 pages  Grades 6-8

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Read More »

Heist Society

heist societyby Ally Carter, 287 pages,  Grades 6-10

Kat knows a lot about famous works of art, she is an expert when it comes to museums, but she is not a museum curator or an art history major; she is a teenager.  Kat was raised surrounded some of the greatest criminal masterminds in history; her mom died when she was young, but her dad and her Uncle Eddie taught her everything she knows, and she knows a lot!

Kat thinks she is taking a break from the family business; she is enrolled in a private boarding school, but then her dad is in trouble and she has to pull a heist herself to save him.

If you liked any of the Oceans movies you’ll enjoy Heist Society; it is Oceans Eleven with teen criminals and a female in charge.

 

Read More »

Guitar Boy

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

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

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

 

Read More »

Grounded

Groundedby Kate Klise 196 pages Grades 6-7Daralynn’s father, brother and baby sister died in a plane accident, and Daralynn is only alive because she was grounded that day and had been forced to remain behind.

After the tragedy, her mother becomes the hairdresser for the dead at the local mortuary to make ends meet, but it is not easy to recover from such a shattering loss.  Daralynn’s mother is not only over-protective of her, but also seems to be angry about everything, and kind to no one.

Even Daralynn’s Aunt Josie, her father’s sister, is often the victim of Mother’s attacks.  When Josie starts dating Daralynn’s mother’s competition, things really heat up.  But, there is something suspicious about “Uncle Clem,” Josie’s new beaux, and Daralynn’s investigation might just prove to be the thing her family needs to pull them back together.

If you enjoyed Regarding the Fountain by Klise, you won’t be disappointed by this sweet narration.  Another great book about family perseverance in the face of tragedy is Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine

 

Read More »

Storm Mountain

storm mountainBy Tom Birdseye, 135 pages  Grades 5-8

Somehow… one thing led to another, and before Cat knew what what was going on, she and her cousin, Ty, were stuck in a winter storm on Storm Mountain… just like the one their fathers had died in two years before.  Cat knew it was crazy when Ty showed up at their door and suggested they climb the mountain to spread their fathers’ ashes, but she didn’t think Ty was insane enough to take off on his own when she said she wouldn’t go.  Challenge after challenge leave Cat wondering if her limited mountaineering skills can save them both.

Connections:  For other high adventure mountaineering books, try reading Peak by Roland Smith, the Everest series by Gordon Korman, or Climb or Die by Edward Myers.

Read More »

Slick

slick 116 pages  Grades 5-8

Thirteen year-old Liza’s parents are divorced, and she has found that one way to take away the sadness is through DIY (Do It Yourself) projects like making things from recycled items and stuff she finds thrifting (shopping at thrift stores).  She doesn’t like her mom’s new boyfriend and becomes convinced he is up to no good when she finds out how the oil company he works for is ruining the environment in Guatemala.  Liza decides to take action and forms a group called GRRR! (Girls for Renewable Resources Really!) to expose the company.

Connections:  For other stories of activism, try reading Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French or Hoot and Flush by Carl Hiaasen.

Read More »

Prisoner in the Palace: How Victoria Became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel

prisoner in the palaceBy Michaela MacColl, 367 pages  Grades 7 & Up

Seventeen year-old Liza’s circumstances changed suddenly and for the worse.  One day she was living a life of luxury in a fancy hotel with her parents and the next she is destitute, after her parents die in a carriage accident.  Liza considers herself fortunate when she is hired to be the maid for the young princess (and soon to be queen), Victoria.  She quickly finds herself caught up in the intrigue, with the previous maid mysteriously dismissed and the princess’s mother and confidante trying to take away control from the soon to be queen.

Connections: For other tales of enterprising orphans from other eras, try reading Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Crispin: the Cross of Lead by Avi, and The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick.  If none of those appeal, a subject search in our OPAC would reveal 190 books with the tracing of “orphan.”

Read More »

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

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.

 


Read More »

The Maze Runner

The_Maze_Runner_coverby James Dashner        374 pages,  Grades 6-10

Tom wakes up in a box without windows or doors.  He fumbles around and cannot find a way out until the top opens up and beyond the glare of the bright light he hears kids voices.
“Look at that shank.”
“How old is he?”
“Looks like a klunk in a T-shirt.” (p.3)
Tom cannot remember who he is or where he came from, but he is pulled up into the Glade by a bunch of other teenage boys. All the kids there arrived in about the same state: confused, some sense of the way things work, but no clear memories of the details of their lives before the dark box that delivered them. The Glade is a bit like a working farm and a bit like a prison.  Each of the teens has a job to keep the place functioning:  cook, farmer, slopper, runner, etc., but there is no way out. They all believe their one hope to get home is to decipher the maze that surrounds the Glade, but the maze changes shape every night, and there are frightening things that roam its halls.

Connections: Those who enjoyed Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins or Unwind, by Neal Shusterman will like the Maze Runner too!

Read More »

The Running Dream

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

Read More »

Matched

matched_book_coverby Ally Condie,    366 pages, Grades 7 and up

CYRM NOMINEE 2012

In a future world where no one has to fear disease, malnutrition, crime, or other problems of past cultures, people trust The Society to make the best decisions about everything: the food you should be eating, the clothes you wear and even who is best suited to be your partner for life.

Cassia has reached the age of her matching, and at the ceremony while others are paired with people from other cities far away Cassia is surprised and grateful to find her match is Xander, her best friend from childhood.  She leaves the ceremony feeling confident this is her ideal mate, but when she uses the computer to find out more about her match the face of another boy she knows flashes on the screen!

This little “mistake” opens Cassia’s eyes to the possibility that The Society might not really be as perfect as she has been brought up to believe; could this doubt put everyone she knows in danger?  And, who is her real match?

If you enjoy dystopian fantasy, fiction that takes place in a future that is the opposite of an ideal world,  you might also like: Unwind by Neal Shusterman, or Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Crossed, the sequel to Matched will come out in 2011.

Read More »

Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom

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.

Read More »

The Unknowns

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.

Read More »

Leviathan

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.

Read More »

Keeper

keeperBy Kathi Appelt, 399 pages  Grades 5-7

Keeper has messed up… really messed up, and she needs to fix things.  During the blue moon, she plans to visit the sandbar where mermaids gather, to find her mother who disappeared when Keeper was 3 years-old.  Keeper has a plan and is sure that her A to A plan will work.

Check out the book trailer at the author’s website.

Connections:  For another story that make you question a character’s reality, try reading Signal by Cynthia DeFelice.  Another magical story by Kathi Appelt is The Underneath.

Read More »

Closed for the Season

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.

Read More »

Eye of the Whale

eye of the whale*Green Team Recommends*

by Douglas Carlton Abrams, 365 pages  Adult Novel

Though not strictly written as young adult fiction, this book will appeal to Middle Schoolers interested in the natural world, especially in marine life.  Eye of the Whale is an eco-thriller set primarily in the greater Bay Area, bringing together whale researchers, whalers, corporate lobbyists, activists, and government agents.  One central character is actually a humpback whale, nicknamed Apollo, who swims up the Sacramento River to deliver a message, but to whom?  And what is the message?  And who is it that doesn’t want the message to get delivered?  This thriller uses fascinating and startling facts and theories– about whales and about the impact of chemical pollutants accumulating in the natural world and eventually in our own bodies (body burden)– to tell a story that is both a page turner and a cutting commentary on the destruction, waste and poisoning that has flowed out from our modern industrial civilization into the natural world.

Read More »

Unwind

UnwindBookCoverBy Neil Shusterman, 335 pages.         Grades 7-9

It is the future, and if you are between the ages of thirteen and eighteen you worry every day about becoming an “unwind.”

When no one won the terrible civil war between the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life groups there was a compromise.It was decided that all babies would be born, that children would be untouchable from birth to 13, and that between 13 and 18 any child could be unwound. Every single body part goes on living in another body, so it is not considered death.The unwound teen continues to live in different places.

In this version of the future there are no doctors, only surgeons.There is a transplanting process that works so well, people just replace parts that are damaged or diseased instead of trying to cure them.The technology is great for people who lose a limb, but you can also “correct” things like baldness with a transplanted scalp full of hair, or replace your crooked teeth with a brand new set.

Connor is trouble, and his parents have had enough.Risa has no parents, and the state homes need to make space for the new babies being “storked,” left on their doorstep.Lev is a “tithe;” he has been raised since birth to be unwound as a sacrifice to god. “Unwinds” are outcasts whom no one wants to help, so how can they escape their fate?

Connections:  For other survival stories full of adventure try:  The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, or Graceling, by Kristin Cashore.  Another edgy science fiction adventure is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

Read More »