New Book Reviews
Reading Level: Ages 8 - 12
Dad has been left in charge of the house in Mom's absence and there is no milk for his children's cereal. Not much of a plot unless the author is Neil Gaiman. In the ultimate "the dog ate my homework" story, Dad explains why it took so long to get the milk. The story involves alien aduction, pirates, a dinosaur professor in a hot-air balloon, "wumpires," the space-time continuum- oh, you get the idea. Illustrator Skottie Young 's illustrations manage to match the zaniness of the plot. I'd write more, but I think Bigfoot needs help finding a book and there's the spell cast on the Youth Services Department and . . .
16-year-old Sydney Carton is an orphan. As a baby he was rescued from the eastern wastelands by the Benevolent Society...for a price. Syd must repay the cost of his rescue and education. To recoop their costs the Society sold baby Syd's services to Mr. Brindle, an ultra-wealthy member of the ruling class, as his son's proxy.
16-year-old Knox Brindle only thinks of Syd when he is forced to watch the screen that broadcasts Syd receiving Knox's punishments which range from violent electical shocks to weeks of hard labor.
In two years Syd's debt will be paid and he will never have to worry about suffering for his unknown "patron" again. Syd counts the days until he is free. His hopes are dashed when Knox does the unforgivable, leaving Syd to face years in a brutal maximum security prison. It is a fate Syd is determined to escape.
Other action-packed dystopian tales include:
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Coda by Emma Trevayne
Reading Level: Grades 2 - 4
It's not that there's a lack of books about the racial barrier-breaking sports hero. This biography, written by his daughter Sharon, is different. Yes, this book about the racial divide in baseball and how Jackie Robinson was the first black man to play in the major leagues. It also gives a clear and interesting picture of his early years, his family life, his career in the military, and his life after baseball. Family photos throughout this short biography add that personal touch. Sharon Robinson has every reason to be proud of her father and her work.
Reading Level: Grades 6 - 9
A devastating world war has left the Earth ruined, nations destroyed, and survivors scattered in small colonies trying to restore the world. The United Commonwealth (formerly the U.S.A.) chooses the best and brightest to be tested for the University where they will be trained as scientists, educators and leaders. Cia lives in tiny Five Lakes Colony where nobody has been chosen for testing for years, until her graduation day when she and three other students are chosen. Although it is a great honor, being chosen means that Cia will never see her home again. If she passes all the tests she will go to the University and be assigned to a new colony upon graduation, and if she fails she will be removed from the testing and sent to a new colony to live. Or so the students are told...
Fans of the Hunger Games will not want to miss this new dystopian series.
Reading Level: Grades 6 -9
Told in free verse, this is the story of Kasienka, who has just left her native Poland for a tenament in England. Her mother was determined to follow her father who left the family two years before and hasn't been heard from since. Kasienka is miserable in her new life. At her middle school the popular girls bully her and at home her mother is determined to continue the exhausting, fruitless search for her father. Only when she's swimming does Kasienka feel good and empowered.
Reading Level: Ages 12 and up
This inspiring free verse novel is the fictionalized story of the early teen years of Cuban poet/abollitionist Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda (1814-1873.) At thirteen, Tula uses her poetry and plays to express her views about freedom, both for the slaves of Cuba and for the young girls who are sold into arranged marriages to the highest bidder. In defiance of her family's wishes Tula is determined to live a free life. Other poems give added dimension as the reader hear from her supportive brother, the nuns who nuture Tula, her disgusted mother, and the freed slave who has not had the courage to leave. Tula's is a beautiful and powerful story.
Reading Level: Grades 2-4
It's obvious just from the cover that this book is going to be fun to read. And it's all in poems so you can impress your teacher or your parents with your knowledge of different types of poems. (Each one is labeled with the type of poem and at the back there's an explanation of what each type is.) The story is simple. Sam has been looking forward to a father-son fishing trip, but then his pesky little sister horns in. Tamera Will Wissinger's first book will have you hooked.
Reading Level: Grades 7 - 10
Cameron has schiophreniform disorder, a form of schizophrenia. At fourteen, he decides he's old enough to make the decision to go off his meds. Without medication Cameron hears voices. He hears The Professor who gives good solid advice. Then there's The Girl who is everything Cameron could want in a relationship except that she's not real. Then a new voice called The Other Guy tells Cameron to be more macho and take risks. When a girl in his special ed class shows an interest in Cameron an unusual love triangle develops.
Reading Level: Age 12 and up
In modern day Tanzania, the word for albino and nothing is the same. 13-year-old Habo is an albino who feels that he is nothing but a freak of nature that brings bad luck to his family. When the fatherless family loses their farm, they journey to a region where Habo learns that albinos are hunted and killed for their body parts. Albino's body parts are used by witch doctors to make good luck charms. Pursued by a bounty hunter Habo runs for his life. In the Dar Es Salaam, he meets a kind, blind sculptor who shows Habo the possibility of a new life.
In her riveting, realistic debut novel, Sullivan focuses on the treatment of albinos as she portrays the thoughts and feelings of a wonderful boy who comes to realize his worth. The appendix includes a list of organization who help albinos in East African countries.
Reading Level: Grades 6 - 8
One minute Paige is up on the school roof getting ready to test her egg drop experiment and the next she is waking up a ghost in the basement of the school. Luckily there are two other dead students, Evan and Brooke to keep her company, but she can't stand that everyone alive at the school, including her best friend, is insisting that she killed herself. How can she clear her name when nobody knows she is there and she can't even leave school property?