All Summer Long

All Summer Long by Hope Larson

New York: Farrar Straus Giorux, 2018.

Genre: Graphic Novel—Realistic Fiction

Perhaps this books should have been titled Long Summer, as thirteen year old Bina is off for the summer but her best friend from birth and who lives next door, is going away to camp for the summer—Austin.  Austin and Bina have been  summerinseparable every summer—they even have “summer fun cards” to prove it.  This summer is different, Austin has been acting strange and Bina struggling through boredom and trying tange and white/black. 

Grades: 6 to 8.

Author Facebook: https://twitter.com/hopelarson

 

The Lifters

By Dave

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Not If I Save You First

Not If I Save You First

By Ally Carter

New York: Scholastic, 2018.

Grades: 6 an Up

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Maddie and Logan were unlikely best friends. They became friends when Logan’s dad became President and Maddie’s dad head of the President’s security detail. Both kids were restricted from most activities but not from each other and so by age ten they were best friends. They believed they would be best friends for life—until one night Russians attempted to kidnap the First Lady. Both Maddie’s dad and Logan were injured that night. The next thing Maddie knows, dad retires and they go off grid to Alaska. Maddie continues to write Logan—almost every day (for 6 years) but to her dismay no letters—now she loathes him.Save

Out of the blue who drops in with daddy one cold evening? You guessed it—Logan.  Camped outside is secret service. Maddie heads off in the morning with instructions from her dad “not to be soft” with the President’s son.  So they head off to cut some wood when someone throws Maddie over a ridge and Logan is handcuffed and taken away. Only the kidnapper did not realize just how tough Maddie was and  what kind of survival skills she had. Maddie has a fleeting thought—why should I care about what happens to Logan??

This mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat—another great read by Ally Carter.

Bob

Bob

By Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2018.

Genre: Fantasy

Grades: 4-6

BobThis was a most delightful story by two of my favorite authors!  Olivia, Livy for short, has packed up her bags and is off to see her grandmother in Australia—it has been five years since her last visit and she is both excited and anxious.  She loves her grandmother but she is nervous because both her mom and her grandmother want her to remember the great times from her last visit—she doesn’t remember the farm, the animals or even the toys she played with—after all she was only five.  Livy heads upstairs to her room (the same room that her mom grew up in) and it feels comfortable but as she heads to the closest, she gets the feeling she left something important in that closest. She opens the closest and inspects the contents and what to her wondering eyes should appear but a zombie wearing a chicken suit. Not a very good chicken suit at that. Then the zombie talks—he wants to know what took Livy so long to come back.  She had no idea what he is talking about so he, Bob, proceeds to fill to her in.

Each chapter alternates between Livy trying to understand what was happening and Bob telling his sad tale of wanting to go home—telling Livy she had promised to help him find his way home and that was five years ago!

This story will make you laugh out loud and magically move you to a heartfelt place that every child (and adult) should visit!

The Stars Beneath Our Feet

The Stars Beneath Our Feet

New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Grades: 6/7 and Up.  Students need to be mature enough to deal with the language in this book. 

Where you grow up does not determine who you become but your future is determined by the people who come in and out of your life, that touch you in a way that shapes and influences your decisions. I did like this book a lot! This book is jammed packed with issues of today—gang violence, having two moms, autism, police disconnect, gun Starsviolence, drugs and murder of a sibling. It also deals with strong friendships, importance of family relationships, school counselors, being different, and Legos!

For Wallace losing his older brother to gang violence was devastating especially when the week before he died they weren’t speaking to one another. Lolly, as he was known was looking for a way to deal with his life and loss and found a way to express himself through building and creating with Legos. 

A great redeeming story! It is both hard and soft!

Author Website:David Barclay Moore

Ghost Boys

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Ghost Boys will be a book you will not soon forget. This book is heartbreaking it is a story about bullies, racism, and death of 12 year old boy. But it is also a story of family, friendship and hope.  Jerome is a 12 year old African American boy growing up in a rough neighborhood in Chicago, who is bullied at school because he follows the

 rules aGhostnd is a good kid. A new boy Carlos, moves in and Jerome feels bad for him because he also becomes the object of the bullies.  Carlos has something that keeps the bullies away—a gun—which the bullies believe is real.  Jerome is intrigued with the power of that toy and takes it out to play—but that toy becomes a real weapon in a police officer’s eyes.

Jerome is dead and this is his story—of what it is like to be dead—how the families grieve, how the kids at school respond and how the officer responds—responds to killing a kid. 

Jerome can only watch from afar except he can communicate with one person—the 12 year daughter of the police officer that shot him, Sarah.   This is where the story gets very complicated—Sarah doesn’t know only she can hear Jerome and Jerome is angry that it is only her that he can communicate with. 

Then an added layer happens in this book—Jerome meets other boys that were killed—these Ghost Boys are led by Emmitt Till.  Emmitt Till a 14 year old African American who was severely beaten and hanged for “supposedly offending a white women” back in 1955.  This historical fiction gives the reader some perspective on just how long children have been dying because of their race. 

This book will move you, and you to will want to make the world better place for all of us!

The Place Between Breaths

The Place Between Breaths

By An Na

New York: A Caitlyn Dlouhy, 2018.

Grades: 9 and up

Grace King is strong but is she strong enough to overcome her own DNA? Grace’s mom left when Grace was very young—her mom was suffering with schizophrenia and when she couldn’t deal with it anymore she left her husband and Grace  behind.  Grace just has some vague memories of her mother that at times scare herBetween—not because her mother would hurt her but because her DNA might be a repeat of what her mother went through.

Although intrigued with this story of a father who is obsessed with finding his wife and a cure for schizophrenia and a daughter who works in the same lab, looking for the same cure. But Grace’s mental condition begins to deteriorate it was hard to tell if she was telling us about her mother or if we were living her own hallucinations.  A sad story indeed. I would only recommend this to a dedicated high school reader as it has a suicide is a theme.

The Exact Location of Home

The Exact Location of Home

By Kate Messner

Bloomsbury, 2017.

Grades 4 to 8  Realistic Fiction`                                                 

61Cvi3QGhkL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_I was looking for a new book for a poverty class and I think I found it!  I love Messner’s books and this one is no exception another book with a timely issue! Kirby Zigonski, Jr. —Zig for short is in eighth grade, is science nerd, gets picked on at school, has an absent father who makes a lot of promises that he doesn’t keep and a mom who is tries to keep it all together.

Zig’s closest friends are Giannna and Ruby—they share everything and do everything together—they love to go to garage sales and their latest find was a GPS that takes them on some wild geocaching adventures. Zig believes the messages are being hidden by his father and will go to great lengths to find messages; especially as they lose their apartment—and as he struggles to hang on to the hope that his dad is going to save them from homelessness. Zig now is ashamed and has a secret that he goes to great lengths to hide from everyone.  Travel along and see how homelessness, hunger effect every part of Zig’s life and he finds out the true meaning of home.

Author Website: http://www.katemessner.com/

The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner

Based on the original book by Deborah Ellis

Groundwood Press, 2017.

Grade 6 and Up    Graphic Novel

This is a story of an eleven year old Afghanistan girl, Parvana who decides to take action Breadwhen her father is taken to prison for teaching and having “illegal” books in the home. Parvana needs to take action but because she is a girl she has no rights—she must cover herself, cannot be out alone, cannot earn money. So she takes matter into her own hands—she cuts her hair, dresses as a boy and takes on a boy’s name. She brings money home for her family and tries to get her father out of jail but then civil war once again breaks out.  This a beautifully illustrated graphic novel of a story that needs to be told so that women everywhere no longer have their human rights violated.

Author website: http://deborahellis.com/

The Breadwinner Trailer: https://youtu.be/yQBQw-Bh1pg

Ghost

Ghost

By Jason Reynoldsghost

A Caitlyn   Dlouhy Book, 2016.

I enjoyed Ghost—it was a fast paced story about a junior high boy, named Castle Crenshaw who gave himself the nickname, Ghost.  His mom is a nurse’s aide who is taking online courses to become an RN is his only true support. His dad, a mean alcoholic, who pulls a gun on him and his mom is now in jail. Ghost is traumatized and angry about his dad—that anger is what often gets him in trouble—big trouble at school.  One day he stumbles upon a coach and a group of kids running and knows that he can beat them all—when he challenges them—the coach sees something redeeming in Ghost and encourages him to join the Defenders Track Team; with conditions—keep up grades and no school troubles. Unfortunately, trouble seems to follow Ghost. Can Ghost overcome his past to make something of his future? Don’t miss this great read by Jason Reynolds! Perfect for middle school readers!!

Author Website: http://www.jasonwritesbooks.com/

Greetings From Witness Protection

Greetings from the Witness ProtectionIMG_2677

By Jake Burt

I loved, loved this book!  Spunky Nikki has just been “bounced” from another foster home back to the foster center but she doesn’t let that get her down then she is suddenly called out of art class. Getting called out of class usually means you are heading out to witnessmeet a “new perspective” family.  Nikki hadn’t even unpacked her bag yet when she gets led into the “visiting” room and notices two uniformed adults.  This makes Nikki very squeamish as she has a kind of a “bad habit” when she gets nervous.  She is a masterful kleptomaniac—she can pick any pocket thanks to her criminal dad (now in prison) and her late grandmother. These U.S. Marshall’s have a unique opportunity to offer Nikki. A family entering the witness protection program, because of being involved in organized crime, need to change their family structure by adding a family member. Nikki has been chosen because she looks just like the mom, they needed girl who could be strong in the face of adversity. The decision is Nikki’s to make and she declines because she is waiting for her dad to get out of prison and come get her. Nikki’s world is suddenly turned upside down when the U.S. Marshall’s tell Nikki her dad has been out of prison for three years. Nikki is crushed and then quickly decides she is up for a new adventure as the daughter of the Trevor’s. Quickly, the reader discovers that the Trevor’s need a street smart girl as much as Nikki needs a family!

As one might imagine—the mob is very persistent and it is just a matter of time before they figure out the location of the Trevor’s. That’s when the story gets really intense—don’t miss this first great novel by Wyoming (Ohio) High School graduate, Jake Burt!

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We had a great impromptu visit with Jake Burt!!

Author Website:  http://www.jburtbooks.com/