New Books for 6th Graders

The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba's Greatest Abolotionist by Margarita Engle

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.

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Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan

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.

Absent by Katie Williams

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?

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