Of magic and moxie

anderson_my diary from the edge of the world

These books take place in fantastical worlds, but the protagonists’ pluck may feel familiar to many intermediate and middle-school readers. Twelve-year-old Gracie Lockwood, the high-spirited heroine of Jodi Lynn Anderson‘s My Diary from the Edge of the World, lives in a world that’s like ours but with a few key differences (involving dragons and poltergeists, […]

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 […]

Two historical fiction books | Class #3, 2016

One Crazy Summer

     One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia Supplemental readings: Rita Williams-Garcia’s profile in July/August 2007 Horn Book Magazine No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie Historical fiction is a balancing act of storytelling and character development with […]

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 The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden & the 
Trial of the Century

miller_borden murders

The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden & the 
Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller Middle School   Schwartz & Wade/Random   284 pp. 1/16   978-0-553-49808-0   $17.99 Library ed. 978-0-553-49809-7   $20.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-553-49810-3   $10.99 Lizzie Borden took an axe, / Gave her mother forty whacks. / When she saw what she had done, / She gave […]

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

bancks_on the run

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 […]

Review of A Year Without Mom

tolstikova_year without mom

A Year Without Mom by Dasha Tolstikova; 
illus. by the author Middle School   Groundwood   168 pp. 10/15   978-1-55498-692-7   $19.95 e-book ed. 978-155498-693-4   $16.95 Tolstikova’s illustrated memoir recounts the time when her mother relocated to America for graduate school and she, twelve years old, was left in the care of her grandparents in Moscow. Through present-tense […]

Review of City of Halves

inglis_city of halves

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 Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and 
Survivors in World War II Denmark

hopkinson_courage and defiance 2

Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and 
Survivors in World War II Denmark by Deborah Hopkinson Middle School   Scholastic   339 pp. 9/15   978-0-545-59220-8     $17.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-545-59222-2   $17.99 When Germany invaded Denmark in April 1940, the Nazis believed their small neighbor to the north would be a pushover. The Germans were partially right: […]