Remy, a talented, seventeen-year-old auto mechanic, questions his decision to join his girlfriend when she starts college in Pennsylvania after a visi...moreRemy, a talented, seventeen-year-old auto mechanic, questions his decision to join his girlfriend when she starts college in Pennsylvania after a visiting artist helps him to realize what his family’s home in a dying West Virginia mountain town means to him.(less)
Bundle up before you open up Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater,* because each chapter is headed by the temperature of the day, and freezing temperatures for...moreBundle up before you open up Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater,* because each chapter is headed by the temperature of the day, and freezing temperatures for some mean changing into a werewolf in this original, lyrical, and romantic tale.
15°F: Angry wolves drag 9-year-old Grace off her back porch and into the woods, tugging her body this way and that, their muzzles smeared with red. Grace remembers the snarling and biting, and she especially remembers the yellow-eyed wolf who saved her from the pack.
15°F: Grace is forever watching the yellow-eyed wolf in the woods behind her house…
7+ YEARS LATER…
44°F: High School junior Jack Culpeper is killed by wolves.
50°F: The police attempt to kill the wolves in the woods so that no one else will have to suffer Jack’s fate. A deafening pop is heard echoing throughout the woods.
49°F: A wounded Sam is found lying on Grace’s back porch. Sam has yellow eyes. This time Sam winds up in Grace’s arms.
45°F: Grace: “The truth of it struck me then. Here I was with a shape-shifting boy… Not just any shape-shifting boy, but my wolf.”
And so begins Sam’s and Grace’s relationship in human form, and they are rapidly falling in love. Grace’s parents’ hands-off parenting style opens the door for her to spend long stretches of time with Sam. But there are plenty of threats to their intense relationship, such as Shelby, the white she-wolf who is also in love with Sam. There’s also Jack’s sister, Isabel, who is determined to uncover secrets behind her brother’s murder (is that what it was?) and change the course of events, for better or worse. Practical and intelligent Grace can’t let people know about Sam, the wolf Sam. Sam’s own mysterious past complicates matters. And there’s the constant cold that could change everything for Sam and Grace at any moment, which only ratchets up the intensity of their longing and understanding of the fragility of each moment. There are limits to how many times Sam can change back into human form…If you’re looking for a riveting, winter, romantic story, grab a blanket, a cup of steaming hot chocolate, and Stiefvater’s "Shiver."(less)
Imagine if you really did have adamantium claws, and crazy healing powers? What if you could manipulate the weather like Storm? How does invisibility...moreImagine if you really did have adamantium claws, and crazy healing powers? What if you could manipulate the weather like Storm? How does invisibility sound? Pretty cool, right? Now let’s say that your mutation isn’t clear cut invisibility. No, instead it seems that people just do not notice you. You can be standing next to them, but unless you focus so hard that it feels like your eyeball is going come out of its socket, they’re none the wiser to your presence.
This is the dilemma Eric Mattias faces in Barry Lyga’s new book Worst Day Ever. He attends Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Students. Eric thinks his mutant power is pretty lame. Especially, as it makes it difficult for him to make friends, and he can pretty much forget about a date with Dani.
There are a few things that keep Eric from going off the rails alotgether. First, he has his newly created blog. It’s through his blog entries that we get to know him. Second, his drawings. While people may not be able to see him, they can see his artwork. One of Eric’s favorite things to draw is Wolverine.
Eric and Wolverine share an inability to sleep. Often times late at night, Eric will go down to the kitchen and find Wolverine with a sandwich. Both quiet and sad.
Fans of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series are sure to enjoy Worst Day Ever.(less)
Physical Condition: I was diagnosed with leukemia at age 5 (for more details, read Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick, but that book is mostly about my brother Stephen and how hard it was for him when he was in eighth grade for me to have cancer, FYI). My cancer is in remission, but, like I say in this new book that’s out about my eighth grade year, After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick, “Treatment is nothing compared to what happens after you’ve been ‘cured.’ . . . Being a cancer survivor can be a life sentence all its own.” Because of all the intense radiation and chemotherapy I received, I walk with a limp on my right side and have some neurological damage that basically makes me “a little scrambled up” and I can’t focus in class for any period of time. So if you want me to figure out math, or be some sort of math genius like my dad, the accountant, well, you can forget about it.
Oh, yeah: I’m short, chubby, and I wear glasses. Do those count as conditions?
Interests: My girlfriend, Lindsay. (WHOA, IT’S WEIRD TO WRITE THAT! Seriously, who would have thought a girl, let alone Lindsay, the coolest, most down-to-Earth, and hottest girl in the school, would ever like me!?! Did I mention I’m spacey and chubby with a limp? You could call me Chubby Limp! Why would Lindsay go for a kid named Chubby Limp? Shrug, but it’s pretty cool.
Oh, yeah, I love riding my bike: “I can’t walk too well, but when I’m on my bike, I fly.”
Hero: My brother, Stephen. Stephen is currently wandering Africa banging on some hand drums “to find himself” while I suffer through 8th grade, the second worst year of my life. I used to depend on Stephen for everything, but now that I might not pass the eighth grade because of some stupid state test in math (Mom and Dad don’t know about this because I, er, shoved the letter from the school about the tests down the garbage disposal) and a girl actually likes me for the first time in my life (seriously, holy crap) where is he? AFRICA!
I wish I could only be angry at him, but truth is, I really miss him.
Inspiration: Um, if you ever tell him this I’ll ride my bike off a pier, but my inspiration is my friend Tad who’s also a cancer survivor. Tad’s also got a whole bunch of messed up problems from his treatment, (his leukemia was even worse than mine, so he’s in a wheelchair and has brain damage, which may or may not be the cause of a serious bitterness problem), but we’re trying to help each other live life to the fullest (and pass eighth grade) which means I have to put up with him while he tutors me in math and he has to put up with me yelling at him to try harder on the exercise bike during gym class because I want to see him walk across the stage at graduation. That’s right, Tad: walk. Together we’re gonna make our goals for each other happen. Read After Ever After to see how we do.(less)
"The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted."
When nine-year-old Trisha MacFarland turns off the Appalachian Trail for a min...more"The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted."
When nine-year-old Trisha MacFarland turns off the Appalachian Trail for a minute of relief from her ever-bickering brother and mom she becomes lost deep in the woods. As she wends her way desperately through the ever-thickening trees she has only broadcasts of Boston Red Sox games on her Walkman to keep her company. She listens in each night in the hopes that's she'll hear her favorite player, the game-saving pitcher Tom Gordon, bring home a win, hopes that call forth memories and dreams of her father, divorced from her mother, and with whom she shares a deep bond over baseball.
But as her hopes of rescue dwindle she begins to sense that something out there is following her. Something sitting on the edges of the dark around her encampments watching, something leaving claw-marks gouged in trees, blood-spills and beheaded animals in its wake. "She could feel eyes crawling on her skin the way the little bugs, the minges and noseeums, crawled there." Is this a hallucination brought on by a patch of berries she'd eaten on the edge of that last bog? Are these illusions conjured from the deepest recesses of a young girl's dark fears, a form of temporary insanity? Or is "the world a worst-case scenario...the skin of (it) woven with stingers," and the wasp-faced "God of the Lost" come to tear her apart?
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a powerful, inspired and tightly-written story of survival and psychological horror. In Trisha MacFarland King creates a dynamic, at times funny, main character full of grit, resolve, ingenuity, and courage; I absolutely fell in love with her. Early on I thought I didn't need the creature stalking Trisha in the woods - her survival story without it is terrifying enough - but King shows us that survival and horror are not mutually exclusive, but rather, one evokes the other. He has masterfully stitched together the story of one girl's struggle to live with underlying questions about God and monsters, the beauty of game-saving pitching strategy, a father-daughter relationship, and the fact of our deepest fears in profound, moving ways I did not expect.
Readalikes: Hatchet, The Hunger Games, and The Road.
Who are the first people that come to mind when you think of the Montgomery bus boycotts of the 1950s? Are there any teenagers on your list? If not, s...moreWho are the first people that come to mind when you think of the Montgomery bus boycotts of the 1950s? Are there any teenagers on your list? If not, set a place at the table for several, and in particular, for Claudette Colvin. And make it a round table so that as many people as possible can share her story.
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose, the 2009 National Book Award Winner for Young People’s Literature, is a masterfully crafted, beautifully rendered account of Claudette Colvin, much of it told in her own words and accompanied by primary documents, police reports, and signage that transports you right to Montgomery, Alabama in the 1950s.
On March 2, 1955, 15-year-old Colvin refuses to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger almost a year before Rosa Parks did the same. Her refusal wasn’t planned, though a long trail of experiences led her to that moment, including an unquenchable thirst for learning and critically examining the degrading and at times horrific events surrounding her, and her mounting frustration with adults who would bemoan segregation behind closed doors but fail to act.
Imagine yourself at 15 and in her shoes. Two policemen, both bigger than you, pull you right out of your bus seat, sending your school books flying everywhere. One kicks you as they both drag you off the bus. Then they ask you to stick your hands out of the police car so that they can handcuff you for all to see. On the way to the city jail – the adult jail – they call you every imaginable name and try to guess your bra size, and when you arrive at the station, they don’t even allow you to make a phone call.
Many of the adult civil rights leaders had much to lose with their brave actions; the teens who stood up (or remained seated) for their constitutional rights had everything to lose. They did not have established reputations on which to draw. Nor did they necessarily have the family status or attend the “best” churches. Rather, they were immersed in the sometimes murky waters of high school where student opinions shift like the tides; one minute you’re a hero, and the next you’re an outcast and are shunned. Given that, Claudette Colvin’s courage is the rawest, bravest kind. She puts her entire future on the line; she had had dreams of attending law school.
There is a second momentous action that Claudette Colvin took at great risk to herself and her family. One year after her arrest, she agrees to be a plaintiff in the Browder vs. Gayle case in which the defendants sue the city of Montgomery and the state of Alabama, arguing that the segregated seating on buses is unconstitutional. Though not widely known, this case changed the relationships of blacks and whites in America and in the world.
Author Phillip Hoose first heard of Claudette Colvin in 2000 when he was writing We Were There Too! Young People in U. S. History. When he first contacted her, Ms. Colvin wasn’t ready to tell her story for reasons she talks about in the book. It took four years before she agreed to meet with him.
This 2009 National Book Award Winner for Young People’s Literature is more than deserving of the accolade – it’s a major addition to our understanding of the events that changed the course of history, and the very courageous people that stepped out onto the front lines to effect that change. Brava! Reserve a copy of this book from the library as fast as you can, and then give this book to everyone you know. (less)
The instant Bobby sees the abandoned Skoda(car) in the driveway, he starts formulating a plan. It was his ma’s decision, not his, to leave Dublin; awa...moreThe instant Bobby sees the abandoned Skoda(car) in the driveway, he starts formulating a plan. It was his ma’s decision, not his, to leave Dublin; away from his friends that maybe aren’t the best influence, away from ma’s own set of problems. Well, she may have moved them down to Ennis, but he would get back to Dublin. In Dublin, there’s his cousin Fluke, Psycho Mick, and Beetle; his gang. They steal cars and wallets, and use the proceeds to get high.
It’s too quiet out in the country, and there’s nothing to do. There’s always something to do in Dublin; a car ‘to borrow’ and take for a ride, something, anything. PJ Dooley, the man who owns the cottage they’re renting seems decent enough, if not a little bit too trusting.
His mother, Mrs. Dooley pays them a welcoming visit. Along with the eggs, she brings the story of the only child to have lived in their cottage, a little girl; a little girl who was never allowed outdoors, and was never seen by anyone except her parents and a nurse. This is the same child, whose cries would wake Mrs. Dooley and cut her to the bone with the pain in them. To make the visit stranger still, as she leaves, Mrs. Dooley tells them to be sure to put out the little green bowl full of milk each night for the fairies. To city folk like Bobby and his mum, this seems ridiculous, but his little brother Dennis is happy to play along.
The idyllic country scene is shaken like an Etch a Sketch when Bobby steals the Skoda and high tails it back to Dublin. Things don’t go as planned. Bobby ends up being hauled into a police station after Mick crashes the car. Smooth talking and a bit of finger pointing get him off the hook, and a ride back to Ennis. This is where things change.
Lars, the Skoda’s owner may have mysteriously disappeared, but he’s not forgotten. PJ Dooley is determined to have Bobby work off the value of the car, in order that he should be able to send it to Lars’s mother.
Remember the bowl of milk to be left out for the fairies? Dennis, Bobby’s little brother does. Bobby is woken up night after night by the sound of Dennis down in the kitchen, chattering away to someone. Dennis says he’s talking to the little woman.
As the story progresses two things are clear: hard work is good for Bobby, and there’s a mysterious force at work. As you turn the pages, you can feel it tightening around your chest. Something is going to give; the picturesque scene can’t and won’t stay as is. Will it be Psycho Mick, the creditors, or someone else from their past in Dublin? Maybe the girl who lived in their house; Bobby heard a disturbing story about her. Or what about that ‘little woman’ Dennis is always going on about?
Short chapters make this book fly by. Bobby isn’t always the most upstanding citizen, but you can’t help liking him. His voice rings true. You find yourself desperate to find out what or who is the creature of the night.
This is a page turner! Although the end was predictable, it still held my interest and maintained the suspense. The protagonist tells the story from a...moreThis is a page turner! Although the end was predictable, it still held my interest and maintained the suspense. The protagonist tells the story from a coma, which should boost its appeal given the current craze of dead or almost-dead or immortal protagonists.(less)
Life is as unpredictable as a knuckleball. Molly learns that the hard way — her father has just died in a mysterious car accident. Her mother is in th...moreLife is as unpredictable as a knuckleball. Molly learns that the hard way — her father has just died in a mysterious car accident. Her mother is in that ”distant, ticked-off, unreachable place.” Molly is left to navigate on her own the morass of 8th grade and grief. And the one thing that she knows can help her the most is BASEBALL.
Remembering the long afternoons playing baseball with her father, mastering the art of throwing a knuckleball, Molly decides to try out for the baseball team — the boy’s baseball team: “‘You don’t just aim a butterfly,’ her father used to say. ‘You release it.’ ” He told her that the knuckleball isn’t just a pitch but an attitude toward life, a way of being in the world — a philosophy…
In Mick Cochrane’s The Girl Who Threw Butterflies, the characters are so well-drawn, the descriptions of baseball make me want tickets to the World Series and drew me into the magic of the game, and the rich metaphors and story brilliantly capture the transitions and struggles in the life of an 8th grader. For example, from her father “Molly understood that keeping score was a kind of storytelling, an almost magical translation of loud and dusty events in the world — a stolen base, an around-the-horn double play, a triple — into pencil marks, a kind of secret code, numbers and lines and shapes, like cuneiform or hieroglyphics, the handiwork of some ancient scribe.” From the baseball team Molly discovers that as the pitcher, if there’s a runner on first base, it’s her responsibility to talk to the shortstop and second baseman. It’s her job to call out who should take a bunt if the first and third basmen are both charging it. If Coach Morales touches his forearm, it means steal a base. If he touches the bill of his cap, it means bunt. Molly loves this entire system of wordless communication.
She wonders if she could apply this system to the rest of her life, like when her locker is defaced, or when she’s sitting across the table from her mother at dinner. She would love to try and communicate some of their dinner conversations using signs. But then again there are many nights when she doesn’t see how she possibly could, because half the time she doesn’t even know what she wants to get across.
Even the signs and scorebook don’t show just how nervous a pitcher is, or how exuberant a teammate is when he clears the plate with a double, with all the attendant whistling and cheering. Or how terrible Molly feels if her knuckler has gone completely wild. “You’re cruising along one minute, feeling like you can do no wrong. Life is good, all’s right with the world. And then all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, things change.” Baseball = 8th grade = life.(less)
Bullied constantly during his freshman year in high school, Cameron’s anger and isolation grows, leading to deadly consequences. Intense, urgent, and...moreBullied constantly during his freshman year in high school, Cameron’s anger and isolation grows, leading to deadly consequences. Intense, urgent, and shocking, this brutal novel furiously races across the page as fast as Cameron’s tortured thoughts. You’ll never feel safe in a locker room again after reading this portrait of a boy going up in flames.(less)
“I admire you, Kate, I do. Look at me, I’m twenty-two and I do nothing. I’m going nowhere. You’re ten and you’re a little hive of industry, always run...more“I admire you, Kate, I do. Look at me, I’m twenty-two and I do nothing. I’m going nowhere. You’re ten and you’re a little hive of industry, always running about, always with some project or scheme, always with stuff to do. You make the adults look dead. It doesn’t matter how old you are. I’d be your friend if you were eighty-five or if you were twenty-five. You’re burning brighter than the rest of us.” -Adrian to Kate, What Was Lost.
Kate Meaney is quick and observant; polite and respectful. She’s the girl that you notice and don’t simultaneously. Kate has her own detective agency, Falcon Investigations, complete with a partner, Mickey. She spends her free time wandering the newly constructed Green Oaks Shopping Centre. It’s there she can keep an eye out for any wrongdoing or nefarious plots.
After her father dies rather suddenly, Kate’s distant grandmother comes to act as her guardian, and nothing more. No affection, none of the love one might hope for, but things aren’t entirely hopeless. Kate has a friend in Adrian Turner, who works in the shop next to her house. His dad owns it, and thinks that Adrian, a recent college graduate, should be doing something more worthwhile than selling magazines and candy.
One day though, Kate disappears. With it, we jump ahead nearly 20 years to 2003. Green Oaks isn’t the shiny centre of commerce that it once was. It feels different now, sadder. Other people are now the focus: two specifically: Lisa and Kurt. I could tell you how they relate to Kate, but I don’t want to spoil it.
Lisa works at Your Music in Green Oaks. She’s stuck. She doesn’t particularly like her job, or her live-in boyfriend, Ed. Both seemed to have just happened. She’d only intended to work at Your Music for a year or two, now it’s four. Ed, well they went from chatting after work, kind of dating, and now they live together, but don’t actually spend much time together. She wants to do something, he wants to play Xbox.
Kurt the night security guard at Green Oaks is an insomniac. When his girlfriend was killed in an accident a year ago, he lost his ability to connect to other people. If he’s honest with himself though, the relationship was over long before the car struck Nancy. Now he’s haunted by the image of the little girl on the CCTV monitor.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are some moments that are absolutely hysterical. Of all the friends Kate could make at school, troublemaker, Teresa Stanton isn’t the obvious choice, but she is a hilarious one. Some of the customer interactions at Green Oaks are side splitting.
Be warned: this book will grip you. It crawls under your skin and pulls at you. It woke me up at three in the morning demanding to be finished. When I did, it left me the emotional equivalent of a colander; structurally sound, but full of holes. (less)
Seventh grader Matt Pin is a child of war. Airlifted out of Vietnam by American soldiers and adopted by a loving American family, he carries within hi...moreSeventh grader Matt Pin is a child of war. Airlifted out of Vietnam by American soldiers and adopted by a loving American family, he carries within him inescapable visions of chaos: “the smell and the smoke and the sound of someone crying,” his mother’s “thin, shrill staccato” voice when she urged him away from her to safety “through sounds of whirring helicopters and open prayers,” and his 3 yr. old brother’s burned, dismembered body.
At the center of these visions is a dark secret, one Matt keeps tightly wound up inside.
Luckily, he has baseball. When his “new” father introduces him to the sport, they discover Matt’s talent for pitching unhittable sliders. Against all odds, Matt makes the middle school team – led by a tough, fair-minded coach who rejects prejudice – and his first time on the mound he pitches a perfect game.
He also has piano. “When I play the piano, I’m sheltered in that safe place where the only thing that matters is music.” His teacher, Jeff, a virtuoso who gave up a prestigious musical school to serve as a medic in the war, knows something about the darkness Matt carries inside (”Jeff’s Vietnam is my Vietnam, the Vietnam nobody talks about on Saturday mornings”) and encourages Matt to talk.
Above all, Matt has his new family. His mother sings to him when he awakens screaming at night (You are safe, my precious child. You are safe now, you are home) and his proud father stands quietly by at all his games. But, falling in love with a new family begs all sorts of questions that add their own pressure: How can I love two families at once? How could my mother give me away if she really loved me? Will my new family give me away if I’m not perfect? Did anyone here spray Agent Orange on the people I loved? Only through a series of simple, yet powerful encounters with a racist teammate and a group of war-wounded vets (not to mention remarkable support from the adults in his life) does Matt finally find some sweet, much needed relief.
All the Broken Pieces is an exceptionally beautiful novel that captures the physical and emotional wreckage left in the wake of the Vietnam War. Written in free verse form, the novel moves at a quick pace through sharp, disarmingly poetic fragments that fit Matt’s intense feelings of confusion. Everyone in this story has been disfigured in some way by the war. But, remarkably, many of the characters also reveal their persistent good hearts and act out of love towards one another in quiet, unexpected ways. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one wins the Newbery. Gr 6 and up. (less)
Jimmi is a street poet. Jimmi is a street junkie. It just depends on who you talk to. If you see him skateb...moreJimmi, Mik, and Fatima. Before the hanging:
Jimmi is a street poet. Jimmi is a street junkie. It just depends on who you talk to. If you see him skateboarding and hear him reciting his verse, he’s without doubt a poet. But if you know that he’s already been to a desert war and back at the age of 18, and his ex-girlfriend killed herself, you also know there are memories he just has to block out.
Tamika, who prefers “Mik” that rhymes with Nick as opposed to Meek-a (yuck), is partially deaf. She wears woefully out-of-date hearing aids that she frequently turns down if not off. Blocking out noises is more pleasing to Mik than actually hearing them. Who needs to hear Shanelle’s taunting and threats of violence, Jaekwon’s come-ons, or all the other intrusive noise and harassment. Mik loves drawing and she’s good at it, and she’s not even sure she really wants the surgery that could improve her hearing, even though there’s absolutely no money to be had for that so-called surgery about which her mother keeps dreaming.
Fatima sells newspapers on the street corner by day. She wears a head scarf that partially covers a scar that runs across her cheek. She effortlessly folds beautiful angels out of newspapers. If you look closely while she’s folding, you’ll see she’s missing a few fingers. Fatima, 16, is trying to make it on her own in New York City. She has to. And she especially has to avoid the immigration police.
Mik, Fatima and Jimmi form a friendship that shines right through the orange houses that are not really orange but “beaten brick the color of the sky this drizzly dusk.” Mik and Fatima, introduced by Jimmi, bond over their artistic talents which they share as volunteers at the Veterans’ Administration Hospital.