Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
I’ve got the Joy Joy Joy Joy down in Joyland. Where? Down in Joyland. Stephen King has once again delivered another masterpiece of a short story. Joyland isn’t scary or sexy but more of a mystery. Sure there is a ghost a bad guy and a pretty lady but this story has a sweetness to it and heartache as well. Character development is King’s greatest strength and I thank him for it. The carnival has always been a fascination with me. It is mysterious and creepy and even though I’m a rube, I just love the atmosphere of it.
In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck…
A layered, story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make, and the ultimate choice we each may some day have.
Foster lives with his mom at Fourmile. His dad died the previous year in a tragic accident that still haunts Foster. His mom has started seeing Dax, who Foster and his dog dislike intensely. Fourmile is becoming rundown without his dad to fix things up. Foster’s mom Linda plans to sell the farm and move to Montgomery where her dad lives. One day Gary arrives at the farm. He is an ex Special Forces soldier who is hiking to Texas. He stays on at the farm to do some of the work that needs to be done on the place. Foster and his mom both become attached to Gary even though they know they shouldn’t. Of course Dax is not happy with his presence and things get out of control.
This was an intense read. I read it in one setting mainly because I didn’t want to put it down. I thought it was a very realistic look at life on a farm and what happens in an abusive relationship. The violence in the book all seemed necessary in a way to tell the story. It wasn’t graphic, but it might be too intense for some younger readers. I really liked Foster and how he reacted to everything. It felt like the way I would react in that situation, which really made me identify with him. I loved the ending of the book and thought it was a perfect way to finish this story. I would definitely recommend this to upper elementary and middle school students.
When his mother is sent to jail Frankie Joe is forced to leave his home in Laredo, Texas and all his friends to move to Clearview, Illinois with a father, step-mother and four half-brothers he has never met or known about. Life in Clearview is different. He doesn’t have as much freedom; he has to go to school, do chores and report his activities to his father. Frankie Joe plans to run away and ride his bike all the way back to Texas. He needs money to take on the road so he starts a bike delivery service. As his business takes off, he starts making new friends in the people he delivers for. He does better in school and he starts becoming a part of the family.
I found this book entertaining and a quick read. Frankie Joe is a likeable character; he is enterprising and smart even if his school work doesn’t reflect it. I liked the small town part of this story and all the characters we meet. I did find some of the family members underdeveloped and a little one-dimensional, but that didn’t take away from the story. I thought all the fish-out-of-water bits were pretty realistic. However, I found it questionable that all of Frankie Joe’s friends, both in Laredo and Clearview, would be old people; he really only has one friend his age (Mandy) who is as big a misfit as he is.
Fun fast read and one I think kids will enjoy despite its problems.
Clare’s mother has died. Her father is a doctor and decides to move them to Malawi where he will work in a local hospital. Needless to say, Clare is not thrilled. She doesn’t want to leave her home, her friends and where she knew her mom. Once they get to Malawi it is complete culture shock. Everything from the living conditions to the food to the school is 100% different than what she is used to. However, Clare makes friends with Memory and her brother Innocent. She starts fitting in at school and things start to look up. She even gets to teach English to the first graders. Clare has to deal with a lot; she has to come to terms with the loss of her mom, to forgive her dad, and to learn to love her new life.
I didn’t think I would like this book as much as I did. I loved Clare and all her trials and triumphs. I thought she was extremely realistic in how she handled everything from the chicken to the shower to the school. Boston and Malawi are worlds apart and I thought Shana Burg did a great job showing just how different life in Africa really is. I also loved that this was not an after school special type book and that everything was not perfect. Life expectancy is low in Malawi; people don’t live to old age (old age is your 40s). I thought it was really realistic to show a child’s death and to show how difficult getting an education was. Excellent book!
Brian and his family have just moved from Seattle to Riverside, Iowa (future home of Captain James T. Kirk). His father has started a new company that will manufacture plastisteel, a new super-strong plastic. On his first day, Brian joins the kids at the local skate park and quickly grabs the attention of bully Frankie and hottie Wendy, Frankie’s sister. He is rescued by nerdy Max, who also happens to be the son of his dad’s partner. Max has secretly been building an airplane out of plastisteel, which he stole and he needs Brian’s help. They recruit cool kid Alex to be the copilot and together attempt to get the airplane to fly. Everything does not go smoothly however. Frankie continues to bully Brian and Max, the company doesn’t have the financial backing it needs to continue, and they can’t get the plane off the ground.
These kids are very motivated and smart. They are dealing with a lot of stuff at home and school, but when they are working on Blackbird (the plane) they really come together. There is a lot of action in this book: attempts at flying, skateboarding tricks, fights, etc., but it doesn’t take away from the story of friendship and bullying. The bullying is a prominent theme throughout the story. Not just Frankie’s bullying but also the caving in to peer pressure that ends up being a different type of bullying. When working on Blackbird, Brian, Alex and Max are a united front and friends, but at school they are not. Max is the nerd who gets picked on and eats lunch alone. Alex is the cool kid who runs the betting pool at school. Brian is stuck somewhere in between, wanting to be part of the cool crowd, but still picked on by Frankie.
My one complaint about the book might be the kids themselves. The kids are in 6th grade and I didn’t think they acted like 6th graders at all. Max is way smarter than any 6th grader could ever be (he builds an airplane from scratch!) and he talks like no human ever would. I really didn’t find him believable at all. The only times he acted normal was when he was getting picked on. Alex runs a betting pool. Any bets taken at the school are through him. He gets a cut of them all. Really!??!? I don’t know any 6th grader who could do that. Brian is probably the only normal one of the bunch. He is worried about his parents fighting, Frankie’s bullying, his crush on Wendy and his standing at school. All completely normal 6th grade stuff.
I did like this book and I think middle grade readers will as well, especially boys.
Barbara Kingsolver presents an engaging story of a young woman named Delarobia stuck in a hopeless marriage in rural Tenessee. By getting us to identify with the rural protagonist (or at least see the world through her eyes) Kingsolver challenges our stereotypes of rural Americans. By focusing on the plight of the Monarch butterflies, Kingsolver addresses global climate change (climate weirding) as well as issues of rural poverty. I loved the way she wove together several themes, that all tied together, the sheep, the kinship ties, the weather, web 2.0 the butterflies, etc.
I also LOVED the medium twists and surprises. I highly recommend this title!
Mickey Cray has been brought down by a frozen iguana. It has caused a concussion, headaches and double-vision. It also means he hasn’t been able to work as an animal wrangler. Bills are piling up so his wife has gone to China for a job, leaving Mickey and son Wahoo home alone. Then along comes Expedition Survivor and Derek Badger. He is a reality tv survivalist who believes his own hype and wants to film an Everglades episode; he is also a big fake. Mickey and Wahoo hire on to the show and start saving Derek from one animal after another. He is almost drowned by an alligator, bitten on the nose by a snapping turtle, bitten several times by a snake and attacked by a bat he is trying to eat. Mickey and Wahoo are joined on their expedition by Tuna, a girl in Wahoo’s class whose father hits her and who needs a safe place to hide out. The Expedition Survivor shoot is filled with chaos, mainly because of its star. Things get even worse when Tuna’s dad shows up and kidnaps Mickey.
This was a fun book. Carl Hiaasen obviously knows his animal info and is passionate about it. I thought he did a great job of passing along information about wildlife conservation and the plight of animals without shoving it down our throats. I liked how it was just a part of the story. I really enjoyed Mickey Cray, he is a fabulous character and one that was fun to read. His relationship with his son Wahoo was also really good. I liked how they were more partners than father and son, but Wahoo wasn’t the caretaker. I thought Derek Badger was hilarious and just how a reality tv star would be. Of course everything is fake and the star is a diva. The only part I didn’t think worked quite as well as Tuna’s dad. I thought his motivations were unclear and a little over the top. Other than that I really enjoyed it. The audiobook was great!
Lyla has lived in Mandrodage Meadows for 10 years. Her family moved there after the disappearance of her sister Karen. Mandrodage Meadows is a gated community of faithful followers of Prophet. Prophet believes the end of the world is near and only those chosen by the Brethen will survive. He is preparing his followers for the end. They are stocking up on supplies and weapons and have built a huge underground silo for themselves to live in. Lyla believes in the community and prophet. But she is tempted one day when the sheriff arrives and she has to give a tour to his son. Even though she is betrothed to Will, thoughts of Cole stay with her. She starts to question life in the community and Prophet, an act that leads to tragedy.
This was an interesting look at life in a commune with a charismatic leader. On the surface everything looks wonderful, but underneath is a different story. Prophet is not who he seems and his prophecy is hogwash. The book never really explains his prophecy or how he came up with it. I like Lyla’s growth throughout the book as she started thinking for herself and thinking period. This was a very fast-paced book and a fun one to read.
I got a copy of this book from the publisher on Netgalley.com.
A mother and her daughters drive for days without sleep until they crash their car in rural Oklahoma. The mother, Amaranth, is desperate to get away from someone she’s convinced will follow them wherever they go–her husband. The girls, Amity and Sorrow, can’t imagine what the world holds outside their father’s polygamous compound. Rescue comes in the unlikely form of Bradley, a farmer grieving the loss of his wife. At first unwelcoming to these strange, prayerful women, Bradley’s abiding tolerance gets the best of him, and they become a new kind of family. An unforgettable story of belief and redemption, AMITY & SORROW is about the influence of community and learning to stand on your own.
A National Book Award winner, this modern classic is perfect for fans of Noel Streatfeild and Edward Eager.
This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundels sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundels owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.
The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will–wont they? One things for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.
Deliciously nostalgic and quaintly witty, this is a story as breezy and carefree as a summer day.
As her family noisily slurps root beers at a drive-in stop, Carmen longs to be invisible — especially when Clark and Larry shout out the news about Mama. Can it get any worse than this? Carmen imagines she’s been kidnapped — how else did she wind up as one of the Cathcarts. . . . At almost thirteen she’s the oldest, with five noisy little brothers, a dreamy mom, and a sometimes reckless dad. When she’s a famous artist, she’ll get away from them all! This wonderfully honest and bighearted first novel mirrors life. Carmen Cathcart becomes a friend as, with a voice that is deeply moving yet often funny, she shares the importance of holding on to your dreams and what it means to be a family.
When Wren Abbott and Darra Monson are eight years old, Darra’s father steals a minivan. He doesn’t know that Wren is hiding in the back. The hours and days that follow change the lives of both girls. Darra is left with a question that only Wren can answer. Wren has questions, too.
Years later, in a chance encounter at camp, the girls face each other for the first time. They can finally learn the truth – that is, if they’re willing to reveal to each other the stories that they’ve hidden for so long. Told from alternating viewpoints, this novel-in-poems reveals the complexities of memory and the strength of a friendship that can overcome pain.
Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she’s a terrible singer. Instead she’s the set designer for the stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that comes once the actors are chosen, and when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier! Following the success of Smile, Raina Telgemeier brings us another graphic novel featuring a diverse set of characters that humorously explores friendship, crushes, and all-around drama!
Here’s one for the dog lovers out there. After a brief and sad life as a stray puppy named Toby, a dog is reborn as Golden Retriever who finds a home with a boy named Ethan and his family. Ethan names the dog Bailey and together, they grow up. When the inevitable happens and Bailey’s time is up, Bailey is shocked to find himself reincarnated as a female German Shepard. All these lives lead this dog to wonder what his purpose on this earth is and what he (or she, in some cases) should do to achieve that purpose.
Told entirely from the dog’s perspective, this is an amusing and heartwarming tale about man’s best friend. It has its rough spots; humanity isn’t always nice or pretty, but Toby/Bailey/Ellie/Buddy always finds a way to make sense of every situation and adapt accordingly. I liked this book well enough, though found it a little too precious for my taste. I am, however, a dog lover and this novel did make me rethink the way I interact with my canine companions. While this book was originally published for adults, it really is appropriate for just about all ages. My middle school kids loved reading and discussing this book, so it could potentially be a fantastic family read aloud(providing the family likes dogs and all).
Tabitha, Elodie and Moe couldn’t possibly be more different. Tabitha is your classic popular girl, with all the money, clothes and friends that come with such a status. Elodie is a “good girl”, decent grades, minimal drama. Moe is a cynical goth. Imagine Moe’s surprise when the other two girls show up in her Shoplifter’s Anonymous group. None of them like the group and decide to bond over their addiction to the rush of stealing. They cement their friendship by getting together to see who can steal the best stuff.
Trinkets is a super-fast read and the characters are entertaining, if more than a little cliched. The narrative switches between the three and reveals snippets of the girls’ family lives, which are, predictably, deeply flawed. While this wasn’t really the book for me, plenty of teen girls are going to snap this one up and many will likely see at least a little bit of themselves in one of the three protagonists.
Tragedy has struck the small town of Knollwood, Texas and Dovie Grant finds herself dealing with the loss of her husband and daughter. Despite her grief, she still must fight to bring her remaining family through the already trying times of The Great Depression. Her father needs help on their struggling farm, Quail Crossings. She isn’t thrilled that he’s hired a young 18 year old boy who’s caring for his three younger siblings. Surviving her grief, as well as the constant dust storms that plague the plains, will Dovie be able to put her pain aside to care for these children or be forever trapped in the darkness of the loss in her family.