Daniel Pratzer joins the chess club when he enters high school. He's not a great chess player, in fact, he's just a beginner, but he finds out that meDaniel Pratzer joins the chess club when he enters high school. He's not a great chess player, in fact, he's just a beginner, but he finds out that members are viewed as cool and that's something he wants to be for sure! So far, he's not played a major role on the team, but suddenly, the team captains ask Daniel to participate in a father-son tournament that's being held over a weekend in New York City. Daniel is stumped as to why they've asked him when both he and his father are beginning chess players - or so he thought.
Turns out that Daniel's father achieved Grandmaster level when he was in high school. In fact, he was considered one of the best players in the United States. When the pressure got to be too much, he quit. Even now, he never talks about it - and when Daniel asks, his dad refuses to answer any questions and won't consider participating in the tournament. However, when he sees how much it means to Daniel, he agrees to go - just this once.
Daniel is ecstatic but he has no idea what he is asking of his father. On this trip he will have to face an old competitor and also come to terms with other secrets in his past. Will it all be worth it?...more
Anna's life is a proverbial mess right now. Her mom is in the hospital after attempting suicide, leaving Anna to find her and call 911. She has movedAnna's life is a proverbial mess right now. Her mom is in the hospital after attempting suicide, leaving Anna to find her and call 911. She has moved in with her Dad, new step-mom Marnie and their infant daughter, Jane. Anna still has unresolved anger regarding the divorce and Dad's quick re-marriage that makes this situation tenuous at best. Then - maybe worst of all - Anna's best friend since kindergarten Dani Loomis, has unfriended her, opting to be part of the "popular" group and leaving Anna to fend for herself. As an her 8th grade year begins at Shelby Horner Middle School, this is not the best place to be. Anna roams the halls mostly in a daze and finds herself sitting a lunch with a table of girls she has always considered to be misfits. At home, she hides in her room, refusing to build any kind of relationship wth Marnie and Jane, avoiding her Dad for the most part, fighting sadness and playing the blame game. But Anna is lucky that there are people in her life - some that she wouldn't even have expected - that don't seem to want to let her continue living life in a haze, and Anna learns that even from the depths of sadness there are ways to carry on.
This book will be very popular with my students, some of which have been huge fans of Natasha Friends' work for many years and have been waiting for her to write a new book. I can't wait to share this one with them. ...more
When Nina's 8th grade teacher told his students as they departed middle school for high school, "As you embark on your high school careers, be unnoticWhen Nina's 8th grade teacher told his students as they departed middle school for high school, "As you embark on your high school careers, be unnoticed but be remarkable." she thought nothing of it. In fact, she finds it strange that she is thinking about it now as she sits on the hammock watching her elderly, currently crippled neighbor, Mrs. Chung, try to plant marigolds as she has for every year since she's lived there. Nina knows she should get up and offer to help, but she thinks she's not that kind of girl - the kind of girl who steps up and offers to help. But as she sits there and thinks about what Mr. Pontello said and reflects on all the things Mrs. Chung's late husband did for her family, she starts to wonder. Could she be that person? If she was, could she really make that kind of difference? As she looks at the marigolds that Mrs. Chung abandoned in frustration, she decides to go over and plant them. And she does, without anyone noticing. She felt pretty good about helping. So good that she decides that for the 65 days of summer, she will do one random act of kindness every day for a total of 65. Can one person doing small good deeds have any affect on a community? ...more
Cece Bell tells her story in a fictionalized, graphic novel format. As a child, Cece became seriously ill and the illness left her very hard of hearinCece Bell tells her story in a fictionalized, graphic novel format. As a child, Cece became seriously ill and the illness left her very hard of hearing. In fact, for all intents and purposes, she was deaf. Leaving the hearing world was very difficult for Cece. Her parents make choices for how she will deal with her new hearing loss and some of these choices are difficult for Cece. As she goes through school, she experiences a number of issues with interpersonal relationships and just simply fitting in with her fellow classmates. This story explores some of the issues and difficulties faced by kids with hearing loss....more
When Joseph comes to live with Jackson and his family, he barely talks. Joseph grew up in a motherless, abusive situation. When a certain situation caWhen Joseph comes to live with Jackson and his family, he barely talks. Joseph grew up in a motherless, abusive situation. When a certain situation causes him to be removed from his home and sent to a group home, things go further downhill. Upset one day, a buddy gives him two yellow pills containing some sort of bad drug that messes him up. When a teacher comes looking for him in the restroom, the affects of the drug cause him to attack the teacher - leading him to be placed at Stone Mountain Detention Center. With all of the baggage that Joseph carries, it's amazing that he is able to even function. With the Hurd family, Joseph blossoms. He loves milking the cows after he get used to doing it and starts to relax. At school, things aren't quite as easy. And then there's the really big burden he carries - Joseph is fourteen and a father to a baby girl he has never met. It tears at him. He really feels like he needs to meet Jupiter, but he's not allowed to see her. How far will he go to actually get what he wants....more
When Abigail Rook first meets Jackaby, she thinks he's a strange little man. Strange, but observant. Just by looking at her, he is able to tell her thWhen Abigail Rook first meets Jackaby, she thinks he's a strange little man. Strange, but observant. Just by looking at her, he is able to tell her things about herself and she finds that shocking. It's clear from the reaction of the people of New Fiddleton, that Jackaby is not respected. Instead, he is mocked for his methods which include supposedly being able to seen through glamours and identify paranormal activity. As a detective in the late 1800's in this small community, it seems to come in handy, even if no one believes that Jackaby actually has this power. Abigail has come from far away, looking for adventure, but she must first find a job. After trying all of the village's retail outlets, she ends up answering an ad to be an assistant to Jackaby who is a detective. Immediately, Abigail finds herself immersed in a murder investigation that seems to involve a suspect who may not actually be human. Of course, the head of the police department brushes off their efforts to identify any paranormal involvement. Abigail finds that she might just be up to the job. Although she can't see what jackaby sees, she is able to see some things that most people can not see. She and Jackaby set out to identify the serial killer without the approval of Marlowe and the police department. This is no ordinary killer and their involvement puts both of them, but especially Abigail in grave danger.
Jackaby is an interesting foray into detective fiction with a paranormal twist. This book is the first in an anticipated series....more
May lost her best friend Libby to a tragic accident three years ago. As she has tried to deal with this loss, as well as her parents' divorce, she finMay lost her best friend Libby to a tragic accident three years ago. As she has tried to deal with this loss, as well as her parents' divorce, she finds herself still struggling. Yes, she has friends, but none quite like Libby. She and Libby met in grade school and they developed a cartoon called Princess X. Libby drew the pictures and May wrote the stories. They filled notebook after notebook with the adventure. When Libby died, so did Princess X. Even the notebooks disappeared. Now three years later, as May has returned to Seattle to spend the summer with her Dad after being in Atlanta with her mom for the school year. One day while she is out, she notices a sticker the spitting image of the character Princess X. Then she notices another and another. Who else knew about Princess X? May goes into full detective gear. One day, she discovers that there is a website - iamprincessx.com where kids have been reading about Princess X's adventures. Thing is, they aren't the adventures that Libby and May created - but instead new stories. As May begins to read the cartoon, she discovers a great number of parallels to real life - Libby's real life. Convinced the Libby is either alive or trying to speak to her from the grave, May sets out with the help a high school computer guru to figure out exactly what is going on. This is a high spirited adventure that kids will not want to put down. With strong female and male characters, it should appeal to both boys and girls - assuming we can get boys to pick up a book that is designed with a pink and purple cover. ...more
**spoiler alert** Arcturus Betelguese Chambers is a twelve-year-old boy, better known as Arty who lives in Liberty, MO. His name represents two import**spoiler alert** Arcturus Betelguese Chambers is a twelve-year-old boy, better known as Arty who lives in Liberty, MO. His name represents two important stars, one of which is part of the constellation Orion and translates literally to "armpit." Arty's name is appropriate, as he is obsessed with space - particularly life on Mars. He's even developed a project to try to communicate with martians who might be living there. Things start to turn upside down when his dad looses his job at the University's Observatory. When he finds a job, it's in a different state - Nevada. Arty is devastated for more than one reason. He'll need to leave his best friends Tripp and Priya and even worse, he's worried about his project to contact life on Mars, known to him as CICM, Clandestine Interplanetary Communication Mission. The skies in Vegas are polluted with light, making the stars and space difficult to see without the most sophisticated equipment.
When his parents decide to go to Vegas to look for a house, a series of unfortunate events leads Arty to have to stay with his neighbor overnight. This overnight that actually spells disaster eventually opens some doors from Arty. He and his friends refer to the neighbor as Dr. Death. Dr. Death leaves his house every night and heads into the woods. He wears dark clothes and a hood and doesn't come back until morning. They are certain he is a zombie. Or is he... If he's not, exactly what is Dr. Death up to?
This story examines assumptions we make about people. Are people always who they seem? The zombie turns out to be a former astronaut, though a really crabby one. Maybe there is something Arty can learn from him - ...more