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Review of The Smell of Other People’s Houses

hitchcock_smell of other people's houses

The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock Middle School, High School   Lamb/Random   228 pp. 2/16   978-0-553-49778-6   $17.99 Library ed. 978-0-553-49779-3   $20.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-553-49780-9   $10.99 Through sensory details that viscerally evoke the story’s physical and emotional landscapes, readers are transported to 1970s Birch Park, Alaska, where hunting and fishing are both livelihood […]

Review of To Catch a Cheat

johnson_to catch a cheat

To Catch a Cheat by Varian Johnson Middle School   Levine/Scholastic   248 pp. 2/16   978-0-545-72239-1   $16.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-545-72241-4   $16.99 After his crew succeeded at foiling a corrupt student council election in The Great Greene Heist (rev. 7/14), Jackson Greene retired from his con-man antics. Until…someone floods the Maplewood Middle School bathrooms and hallways, and […]

Review of American Ace

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American Ace by Marilyn Nelson Intermediate   Dial   122 pp. 1/16   978-0-8037-3305-3   $17.99   g Nelson’s talent for undergirding her poetry with historical empathy (Fortune’s Bones, rev. 1/05; A Wreath for Emmett Till, rev. 5/05) is once again present in this verse novel. In forty-five poems, Nelson tells the story of Connor Bianchini, who finds out that […]

Review of The Skeleton Tree

lawrence_skeleton tree

The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence Intermediate, Middle School   Delacorte   281 pp. 1/16   978-0-385-73378-6   $16.99 Library ed. 978-0-385-90395-0   $19.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-307-97489-1   $10.99 Chris’s uncle Jack is a “daredevil” who “can’t be happy unless he’s facing danger.” Nevertheless, Chris’s mother allows the boy to go with Jack and another boy, Frank, on a sailing […]

Survival adventures

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These high-stakes survival tales feature bad-ass boys braving the elements, racing the clock, battling villains, and fending off wild creatures, all while learning a little something about themselves and nature. Thrill-seekers should be enthralled. Tristan Bancks’s On the Run begins with twelve-year-old Ben’s parents fleeing the police, leaving Ben and his younger sister, Olive, on […]

Identifying with history

nelson_american ace

In poetry or prose, these works of historical fiction for middle graders delve into the search for identity during hard times, offering paths to self-fulfillment through connecting with family or the arts. In American Ace, a novel in verse, Marilyn Nelson tells the story of Connor Bianchini, who discovers that his biological grandfather was a […]

Review of Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow

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Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell High School   St. Martin’s Griffin   522 pp. 10/15   978-1-250-04955-1   $19.99 e-book ed. 978-1-4668-5054-5   $9.99 In Fangirl (rev. 11/13), protagonist Cath wrote fanfiction for the fictitious “Simon Snow” fantasy series. Now Rowell has written a novel set in Simon Snow’s universe and using many […]

Review of City of Halves

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City of Halves by Lucy Inglis Middle School, High School   Chicken House/Scholastic   361 pp. 11/15   978-0-545-82958-8   $17.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-545-83054-6   $17.99 While on reconnaissance for her lawyer father in the City of London, sixteen-year-old Lily is viciously attacked by a two-headed dog and discovers the existence of the other half of the City she […]

Review of Dark Shimmer

napoli_dark shimmer

Dark Shimmer by Donna Jo Napoli High School   Lamb/Random   358 pp. 9/15   978-0-385-74655-7   $16.99 Library ed. 978-0-385-90892-4   $19.99 e-book ed. 978-0-375-98917-9   $10.99 Napoli’s latest fairy-tale revisioning is set amongst the beautiful homes and mysterious waters of fifteenth-century Venice. Dolce grew up on a tiny island believing that she was a monster: larger than everyone else, […]

Review of Orbiting Jupiter

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Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt Middle School   Clarion   185 pp. 10/15   978-0-544-46222-9   $17.99 Jack’s new foster brother, Joseph, has a troubled past. The fourteen-year-old attacked a teacher, was subsequently incarcerated at a juvenile detention center, and has a baby daughter named Jupiter whom he’s never seen. At school, Joseph has a rough time, with […]