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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

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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

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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 […]

Review of The Wolf Wilder

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The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell Intermediate   Simon   232 pp. 8/15   978-1-4814-1942-0    $16.99 e-book ed. 978-1-4814-1944-4   $10.99 Feodora and her mother, Marina, are “wolf wilders” in early-twentieth-century Russia: when aristocrats tire of their pet wolves (a status symbol thought to bring good luck), the girl and her mother reverse the wolves’ forced domestication, teaching the […]

Review of A Song for Ella Grey

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A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond High School   Delacorte   268 pp. 10/15   978-0-553-53359-0   $16.99 Library ed. 978-0-553-53360-6   $19.99 e-book ed. 978-0-553-53361-3   $10.99 A celebration of the wonderful madness of youth, and of the bemusing, soul-confusing power of aesthetic experience, lies at the heart of Almond’s lyrical, contemporary-set take on the myth of Orpheus […]

Review of Calvin

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Calvin by Martine Leavitt High School   Ferguson/Farrar   182 pp. 11/15   978-0-374-38073-1   $17.99   g Seventeen-year-old Calvin has recently been diagnosed as schizophrenic. Calvin believes that his life is inextricably linked to Bill Watterson, the famously reclusive artist behind the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes — a belief reinforced by the constant presence of the voice of […]