Book Report Suggestions
Esperanza Risingby Pam Munoz Ryan Year Published: AverageRyan uses the experiences of her own Mexican grandmother as the basis for this compelling story of immigration and assimilation, not only to a new country but also into a different social class. Esperanza's expectation that her 13th birthday will be celebrated with all the material pleasures and folk elements of her previous years is shattered when her father is murdered by bandits. His powerful stepbrothers then hold her mother as a social and economic hostage, wanting to force her remarriage to one of them, and go so far as to burn down the family home. Esperanza's mother then decides to join the cook and gardener and their son as they move to the United States and work in California's agricultural industry. They embark on a new way of life, away from the uncles, and Esperanza unwillingly enters a world where she is no longer a princess but a worker. Set against the multiethnic, labor-organizing era of the Depression, the story of Esperanza remaking herself is satisfyingly complete, including dire illness and a difficult romance. Except for the evil uncles, all of the characters are rounded, their motives genuine, with class issues honestly portrayed.
Freak the Mightyby Rodman Philbrick Year Published: Easy ReadingA wonderful story of triumph over imperfection, shame, and loss. Large, awkward, learning-disabled Maxwell Kane, whose father is in prison for murdering his mother, and crippled, undersized Kevin are both mocked by their peers; the cruel taunting they endure is all too realistic and believable. The boys establish a friendship-and a partnership. Kevin defends them with his intelligence, while Max is his friend's "legs," affording him a chance to participate in the larger world. Inspired by tales of King Arthur, they become knights fighting for good and true causes. But Kevin's illness progresses, and when he dies, Max is left with the memories of an extraordinary relationship and, perhaps, the insight to think positively about himself and his future. The author writes with empathy, honoring the possibilities of even peripheral characters; Kevin and Max are memorable and luminous. Many YA novels deal with the effects of a friend dying, but this one is somewhat different and very special.
I, Corianderby Sally Gardner Year Published: AverageThis atmospheric blend of historical fiction and original fairy tale spans 15 years in the life of Coriander, daughter of a London merchant and his fairy-princess wife. The protagonist relates the events of her life from early childhood to about age 17, a life shaped by both the politics of Oliver Cromwell's Puritan England and the oddly parallel politics of her mother's fairy kingdom. Moving between England and her mother's world with a pair of magical silver shoes, Coriander recovers a lost treasure, frees an enslaved fairy prince, defeats an evil witch, and then must do the hardest thing of all: decide in which world she ultimately belongs. Readers who love romantic fairy tales will delight in the way her dual heritage allows her to honor her human father and still have her fairy prince. Fans of historical fiction, in turn, will enjoy ornate descriptions of the sights, sounds, and smells of 17th-century London, which unfold in both Coriander's slightly formal voice and through the distinctive dictions of numerous, well-realized secondary characters. The stories of these characters, several shifts in time as Coriander travels between the worlds, a flashback to explain the witch's early involvement in Coriander's life, and other digressions complicate the plot, and the connection between the realms remains unclear at story's end, but these small shortcomings detract little from this absorbing, picturesque tale.
Ida B: . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the Worldby Katherine Hannigan Year Published: Easy ReadingAs an only child, Ida B has had plenty of time to indulge her creative bent. She makes miniature rafts, to which she attaches notes with questions such as, "What is life like in Canada?" Acres of apple trees are her friends, and she enjoys long conversations with Beulah, Pastel, Henry VIII, and other trees. She lives life to the fullest, firmly believing there is never enough time for fun. When her mother develops cancer, her parents sell part of the orchard and send Ida B to public school rather than homeschooling her. The changes leave her feeling fiercely angry and betrayed. With the help of a wise and caring fourth-grade teacher and the enduring love of Mama and Daddy, the girl slowly begins to heal. Ida B is a true character in every sense of the word. Through a masterful use of voice, Hannigan's first-person narration captures an unforgettable heroine with intelligence, spirit, and a unique imagination. The rural but otherwise undefined setting works well in taking a backseat to the characterization. With just the right amount of tension in the plot, a spot-on grasp of human emotions, and Ida B's delightful turns of phrase, this book begs to be read aloud. Regardless of how tight the budget, don't pass it up.
Midnight Magicby Avi Year Published: Easy ReadingA nervous king, an exasperatingly playful princess, a diabolical count, an oddly ubiquitous kitchen boy, a magician who doesn't believe in magic, and a servant who knows far too much for his own good. When this motley crew embarks on a medieval ghost hunt, destiny throws plenty of twists and turns their way. Fabrizio, meddlesome but loyal servant of Mangus the ex-magician, feels horribly guilty. Though forbidden to do so, he secretly continues to practice sleights of hand and metaphysics. Casting his tarot cards one stormy night, Fabrizio fears he has unleashed terrible powers that will determine his master's fate. Sure enough, moments later, Mangus and Fabrizio are summoned to the court of the king, who expects Mangus to use his recently outlawed mystical ability to rid his daughter of a ghost that haunts her. The plot is soon thick as oatmeal, with threats of death or promises of reward behind every hidden corner.
Nothing But The Truthby Avi Year Published: AverageStructured as a series of journal entries, memos, letters and dialogues, this highly original novel emerges as a witty satire of high school politics, revealing how truth can easily become distorted. After Philip Malloy, a clownish, rather unmotivated freshman, is punished for causing a disturbance (humming "The Star Spangled Banner"), facts about the incident become exaggerated until a minor school infraction turns into a national scandal. Philip's parents, several reporters and a neighbor (who happens to be running for the school board) accuse the school of being unpatriotic. Philip gains fame as a martyr for freedom; his homeroom teacher, Miss Narwin, however, faces dismissal from her job. After gleaning the points of view of many characters, readers will side with Miss Narwin and will recognize the hollowness of Philip's eventual victory. It is clear that Avi ( The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle ) is attuned to the modern high school scene. With frankness and remarkable insight, he conveys the flaws of the system while creating a story that is both entertaining and profound.
Speakby Laurie Halse Anderson Year Published: AverageSince the beginning of the school year, high school freshman Melinda has found that it's been getting harder and harder for her to speak out loud: "My throat is always sore, my lips raw.... Every time I try to talk to my parents or a teacher, I sputter or freeze.... It's like I have some kind of spastic laryngitis." What could have caused Melinda to suddenly fall mute? Could it be due to the fact that no one at school is speaking to her because she called the cops and got everyone busted at the seniors' big end-of-summer party? Or maybe it's because her parents' only form of communication is Post-It notes written on their way out the door to their nine-to-whenever jobs. While Melinda is bothered by these things, deep down she knows the real reason why she's been struck mute...
Stargirlby Jerry Spinelli Year Published: AverageIn time, incredulity gives way to out-and-out adoration as the student body finds itself helpless to resist Stargirl's wide-eyed charm, pure-spirited friendliness, and penchant for celebrating the achievements of others. In the ultimate high school symbol of acceptance, she is even recruited as a cheerleader. Popularity, of course, is a fragile and fleeting state, and bit by bit, Mica sours on their new idol. Why is Stargirl showing up at the funerals of strangers? Worse, why does she cheer for the opposing basketball teams? The growing hostility comes to a head when she is verbally flogged by resentful students on Leo's televised Hot Seat show in an episode that is too terrible to air. While the playful, chin-held-high Stargirl seems impervious to the shunning that ensues, Leo, who is in the throes of first love (and therefore scornfully deemed "Starboy"), is not made of such strong stuff: "I became angry. I resented having to choose. I refused to choose. I imagined my life without her and without them, and I didn't like it either way."
The Watsons Go to Birminghamby Christopher Paul Curtis Year Published: AverageThe year is 1963, and self-important Byron Watson is the bane of his younger brother Kenny's existence. Constantly in trouble for one thing or another, from straightening his hair into a "conk" to lighting fires to freezing his lips to the mirror of the new family car, Byron finally pushes his family too far. Before this "official juvenile delinquent" can cut school or steal change one more time, Momma and Dad finally make good on their threat to send him to the deep south to spend the summer with his tiny, strict grandmother. Soon the whole family is packed up, ready to make the drive from Flint, Michigan, straight into one of the most chilling moments in America's history: the burning of the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church with four little girls inside.
Tuck Everlastingby Natalie Babbitt Year Published: Easy ReadingImagine coming upon a fountain of youth in a forest. To live forever--isn't that everyone's ideal? For the Tuck family, eternal life is a reality, but their reaction to their fate is surprising.
Where the Red Fern Growsby Wilson Rawls Year Published: AverageAuthor Wilson Rawls spent his boyhood much like the character of this book, Billy Colman, roaming the Ozarks of northeastern Oklahoma with his bluetick hound. A straightforward, shoot-from-the-hip storyteller with a searingly honest voice, Rawls is well-loved for this powerful 1961 classic and the award-winning novel Summer of the Monkeys. In Where the Red Fern Grows, Billy and his precious coonhound pups romp relentlessly through the Ozarks, trying to "tree" the elusive raccoon. In time, the inseparable trio wins the coveted gold cup in the annual coon-hunt contest, captures the wily ghost coon, and bravely fights with a mountain lion. When the victory over the mountain lion turns to tragedy, Billy grieves, but learns the beautiful old Native American legend of the sacred red fern that grows over the graves of his dogs. This unforgettable classic belongs on every child's bookshelf.
Bud, Not Buddyby Christopher Paul Curtis Year Published: Average"It's funny how ideas are, in a lot of ways they're just like seeds. Both of them start real, real small and then... woop, zoop, sloop... before you can say Jack Robinson, they've gone and grown a lot bigger than you ever thought they could." So figures scrappy 10-year-old philosopher Bud--"not Buddy"--Caldwell, an orphan on the run from abusive foster homes and Hoovervilles in 1930s Michigan. And the idea that's planted itself in his head is that Herman E. Calloway, standup-bass player for the Dusky Devastators of the Depression, is his father. Guided only by a flier for one of Calloway's shows--a small, blue poster that had mysteriously upset his mother shortly before she died--Bud sets off to track down his supposed dad, a man he's never laid eyes on. And, being 10, Bud-not-Buddy gets into all sorts of trouble along the way, barely escaping a monster-infested woodshed, stealing a vampire's car, and even getting tricked into "busting slob with a real live girl." Christopher Paul Curtis, author of The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963, once again exhibits his skill for capturing the language and feel of an era and creates an authentic, touching, often hilarious voice in little Bud.
Code Orangeby Caroline B. Cooney Year Published:While conducting research for a school paper on smallpox, Mitty finds an envelope containing 100-year-old smallpox scabs and fears that he has infected himself and all of New York City.
Hatchetby Gary Paulsen Year Published: Easy ReadingBrian Robeson, 13, is the only passenger on a small plane flying him to visit his father in the Canadian wilderness when the pilot has a heart attack and dies. The plane drifts off course and finally crashes into a small lake. Miraculously Brian is able to swim free of the plane, arriving on a sandy tree-lined shore with only his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother had given him as a present. The novel chronicles in gritty detail Brian's mistakes, setbacks, and small triumphs as, with the help of the hatchet, he manages to survive the 54 days alone in the wilderness. Paulsen effectively shows readers how Brian learns patienceto watch, listen, and think before he actsas he attempts to build a fire, to fish and hunt, and to make his home under a rock overhang safe and comfortable.
Holesby Louis Sachar Year Published: Easy Reading"If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy." Such is the reigning philosophy at Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention facility where there is no lake, and there are no happy campers. In place of what used to be "the largest lake in Texas" is now a dry, flat, sunburned wasteland, pocked with countless identical holes dug by boys improving their character. Stanley Yelnats, of palindromic name and ill-fated pedigree, has landed at Camp Green Lake because it seemed a better option than jail. No matter that his conviction was all a case of mistaken identity, the Yelnats family has become accustomed to a long history of bad luck, thanks to their "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather!" Despite his innocence, Stanley is quickly enmeshed in the Camp Green Lake routine: rising before dawn to dig a hole five feet deep and five feet in diameter; learning how to get along with the Lord of the Flies-styled pack of boys in Group D; and fearing the warden, who paints her fingernails with rattlesnake venom. But when Stanley realizes that the boys may not just be digging to build character--that in fact the warden is seeking something specific--the plot gets as thick as the irony. It's a strange story, but strangely compelling and lovely too. Louis Sachar uses poker-faced understatement to create a bizarre but believable landscape--a place where Major Major Major Major of Catch-22 would feel right at home. But while there is humor and absurdity here, there is also a deep understanding of friendship and a searing compassion for society's underdogs. As Stanley unknowingly begins to fulfill his destiny--the dual plots coming together to reveal that fate has big plans in store--we can't help but cheer for the good guys, and all the Yelnats everywhere. (Ages 10 and older) --Brangien Davis --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Hootby Carl Hiaasen Year Published: Easy Readingith a Florida setting and proenvironment, antidevelopment message, Hiaasen (Sick Puppy) returns to familiar turf for his first novel for young readers. Characteristically quirky characters and comic twists will surely gain the author new fans, though their attention may wander during his narrative's intermittently protracted focus on several adults, among them a policeman and the manager of a construction site for a new franchise of a pancake restaurant chain. Both men are on a quest to discover who is sabotaging the site at night, including such pranks as uprooting survey stakes, spray-painting the police cruiser's windows while the officer sleeps within and filling the portable potties with alligators. The story's most intriguing character is the boy behind the mischief, a runaway on a mission to protect the miniature owls that live in burrows underneath the site. Roy, who has recently moved to Florida from Montana, befriends the homeless boy (nicknamed Mullet Fingers) and takes up his cause, as does the runaway's stepsister. Though readers will have few doubts about the success of the kids' campaign, several suspenseful scenes build to the denouement involving the sitcom-like unraveling of a muckity-muck at the pancake house. These, along with dollops of humor, help make the novel quite a hoot indeed. Ages 10-up. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Joey Pigza Loses Controlby Jack Gantos Year Published: AverageFirst introduced in Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, Gantos's hyperactive hero Joey Pigza has not lost any of his liveliness, but after undergoing therapy and a stint in special ed., he now can exercise a reasonable amount of self-controlDprovided he takes his meds. His mother has reluctantly agreed to let him spend the summer three hours from home with his father, an alcoholic who, so he claims, has taken steps to turn his life around. Readers will sight trouble ahead long before Joey's optimistic perception of his father grows blurry. Mr. Pigza is at least as "wired" as the old Joey, and when he resorts to his drinking habits and becomes belligerent, Joey (who still wants to win his father's favor) feels scared. Then Mr. Pigza, telling Joey his medicine patches are a "crutch" that Joey doesn't need, summarily flushes them down the toilet: "You are liberated... You are your own man, in control of your own life," he announces. Joey is torn between wanting to call his mom immediately and sticking with his father. "Even though I knew he was wrong," Joey says, "he was my dad, and I wanted him to be right." Like its predecessor, this high-voltage, honest novel mixes humor, pain, fear and courage with deceptive ease. Struggling to please everyone even as he sees himself hurtling toward disaster, Joey emerges as a sympathetic hero, and his heart of gold never loses its shine. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)
The Kite Riderby Geraldine McCaughrean Year Published: ChallengingWith her exuberant, nonstop plotting and supremely colorful setting, McCaughrean (The Stones Are Hatching) grabs hold of readers' imaginations and doesn't let go. In 13th-century China, a 12-year-old boy prepares to say goodbye to his father, who is about to put to sea as a crew member of the Chabi, and to watch the testing of the wind, which involves strapping a man to a huge kite and seeing if it flies straight up (a good omen for the Chabi's voyage) or at a certain angle (foretelling danger). But almost before Haoyou knows what is happening, the first mate makes his father the wind-tester, and Haoyou looks on in horror as his father becomes a speck in the distant sky, then returns, lifeless, to earth. All this McCaughrean accomplishes in less than 10 pages, establishing a breakneck pace, which she maintains with seeming ease. The story takes Haoyou from his determined efforts to prevent the evil first mate from marrying his beautiful mother to his joining a traveling circus as a kite rider, mastering his father's tragedy as he himself flies skyward into what the circus-goers take to be the spirit world. Eventually the circus reaches the court of the Kublai Khan, evoked here in splendor and awe. While Haoyou never becomes as compelling a character as those around him a spirit medium cousin, the circus master, Kublai Khan McCaughrean offers more than enough adventure, plot twists and exotic scenery to keep the audience fully engrossed. Ages 12-up. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Al Capone does my shirtsby Gennifer Choldenko Year Published: AverageGrade 6-8–In this skillfully told novel by Gennifer Choldenko (Putnam, 2004), 12-year-old Moose Flanagan and his family move to Alcatraz Island in 1935, where his father gets a job in the prison which housed such noted criminals as Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. Moose's older sister, Natalie, is severely autistic and his mother has been obsessed with getting her "cured." She has been sent to a variety of schools and bizarre hospitals, none of which have helped, and their last hope is getting her into a school in San Francisco. Moose is given almost complete responsibility for his sister. Meanwhile, Moose is coping with his new school, living in an isolated and strange place, and the warden's daughter, Piper, who always has a new money-making scheme. Juggling Natalie's daily moods, school work, yearning for Piper, and worry over his folks, Moose tries to please everyone. His greatest fear is that somehow he has caused Natalie's problem. Listeners learn a lot about Alcatraz and what it was like for children to grow up on the Island. There is a lengthy author's note with extensive information that adds to the fictional tale. Johnny Heller does a masterful job conveying both Moose's anger towards and concern for Natalie. His timing is perfect, he voices all the characters with great versatility, and he makes Moose come to life. This is a fascinating book superbly narrated.–B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor, NY Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Flushby Carl Hiaasen Year Published: Easy ReadingGrade 5 Up–In Flush (Knopf, 2005), Carl Hiaasen's ecological concerns focus on illegal dumping of raw sewage from a floating casino. Noah Underwood's dad has sunk the gambling ship, the Coal Queen, in protest. Now the elder Underwood is launching a media campaign from his jail cell to raise public awareness since the sewage-spewing ship will soon be back in operation. Though Noah and his younger sister Abbey believe in their father's cause, they also fear their mother will file for divorce if he continues to react so outrageously to environmental issues. After a few false starts and run-ins with the casino owner's son and the ship's hired goon, the siblings come up with a plan to use food coloring to expose the hazardous dumping. Working with Shelly, the casino's bartender, and aided by a mysterious white-haired man, Noah and Abbey set their trap, but end up adrift off the Florida Keys. Rescue and an unexpected family reunion make their successful exposure of the corrupt casino owner even sweeter. It takes a few more plot twists before the Coral Queen is closed forever, and by then Noah's parents have learned better ways to manage their marital problems. Michael Welch's narration neatly balances the protagonist's earnest youthfulness with the story's humor. In the manner of Hoot (Knopf, 2002), Hiaasen's award-winning first foray into young adult novels, Flush deals with serious ecological and personal issues. With good insight into real world relationships plus a mix of solid citizens and offbeat good guys, this audiobook has broad appeal and will be valued in middle school, high school, and public libraries.–Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Science Fiction and Fantasy
Artemis Fowlby Eion Colfer Year Published: AverageTwelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is the most ingenious criminal mastermind in history. With two trusty sidekicks in tow, he hatches a cunning plot to divest the fairyfolk of their pot of gold. Of course, he isn't foolish enough to believe in all that "gold at the end of the rainbow" nonsense. Rather, he knows that the only way to separate the little people from their stash is to kidnap one of them and wait for the ransom to arrive. But when the time comes to put his plan into action, he doesn't count on the appearance of the extrasmall, pointy-eared Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon (Lower Elements Police Reconnaisance) Unit--and her senior officer, Commander Root, a man (sorry, elf) who will stop at nothing to get her back. The first book in a great series!
Ella Enchantedby Gail Carson Levine Gail Carson Levine Year Published: AverageAt birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the "gift" of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: "Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally." When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella's life and well-being seem in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery, trying to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you've ever read.
Eragonby Christopher Paolini Year Published: ChallengingHere's a great big fantasy that you can pull over your head like a comfy old sweater and disappear into for a whole weekend. Christopher Paolini began Eragon when he was just 15, and the book shows the influence of Tolkien, of course, but also Terry Brooks, Anne McCaffrey, and perhaps even Wagner in its traditional quest structure and the generally agreed-upon nature of dwarves, elves, dragons, and heroic warfare with magic swords. Eragon, a young farm boy, finds a marvelous blue stone in a mystical mountain place. Before he can trade it for food to get his family through the hard winter, it hatches a beautiful sapphire-blue dragon, a race thought to be extinct. Eragon bonds with the dragon, and when his family is killed by the marauding Ra'zac, he discovers that he is the last of the Dragon Riders, fated to play a decisive part in the coming war between the human but hidden Varden, dwarves, elves, the diabolical Shades and their neanderthal Urgalls, all pitted against and allied with each other and the evil King Galbatorix. Eragon and his dragon Saphira set out to find their role, growing in magic power and understanding of the complex political situation as they endure perilous travels and sudden battles, dire wounds, capture and escape. In spite of the engrossing action, this is not a book for the casual fantasy reader. There are 65 names of people, horses, and dragons to be remembered and lots of pseudo-Celtic places, magic words, and phrases in the Ancient Language as well as the speech of the dwarfs and the Urgalls. But the maps and glossaries help, and by the end, readers will be utterly dedicated and eager for the next book, Eldest.
Gossamerby Lois Lowry Year Published:While learning to bestow dreams, a young dream giver tries to save an eight-year-old boy from the effects of both his abusive past and the nightmares inflicted on him by the frightening Sinisteeds.
Gregor the Overlanderby Susan Collins Year Published:When eleven-year-old Gregor and his two-year-old sister are pulled into a strange underground world, they trigger an epic battle involving humans, bats, rats, cockroaches, and spiders while on a quest foretold by ancient prophecy.
Inkheartby Cornelia Funke Year Published: ChallengingMeggie’s father, Mo, has an wonderful and sometimes terrible ability. When he reads aloud from books, he brings the characters to life--literally. Mo discovered his power when Maggie was just a baby. He read so lyrically from the the book Inkheart, that several of the book’s wicked characters ended up blinking and cursing on his cottage floor. Then Mo discovered something even worse--when he read Capricorn and his henchmen out of Inkheart, he accidentally read Meggie’s mother in. Meggie, now a young lady, knows nothing of her father's bizarre and powerful talent, only that Mo still refuses to read to her. Capricorn, a being so evil he would "feed a bird to a cat on purpose, just to watch it being torn apart," has searched for Meggie's father for years, wanting to twist Mo's powerful talent to his own dark means. Finally, Capricorn realizes that the best way to lure Mo to his remote mountain hideaway is to use his beloved, oblivious daughter Meggie as bait!
Redwallby Brian Jacques Year Published: AverageAs the inhabitants of Redwall Abbey bask in the glorious Summer of the Late Rose, all is quiet and peaceful. But things are not as they seem. Cluny the Scourge, the evil one-eyed rat warlord, is hell-bent on destroying the tranquility as he prepares to fight a bloody battle for the ownership of Redwall. This dazzling story in the Redwall series is packed with all the wit, wisdom, humor, and blood-curdling adventure of the other books in the collection, but has the added bonus of taking the reader right back to the heart and soul of Redwall Abbey and the characters who live there. Magical, mystical, and the stuff of legends, this stunning tale of good battling with--and ultimately triumphing over--evil takes the reader on a roller-coaster adventure that barely draws breath from the first page to the very last. Brian Jacques is a true master of his craft. The first in a glorious series.
The Golden Compassby Philip Pullman Year Published: AverageThe Golden Compass, a story ostensibly for children but one perhaps even better appreciated by adults. The protagonist of this complex fantasy is young Lyra Belacqua, a precocious orphan growing up within the precincts of Oxford University. But it quickly becomes clear that Lyra's Oxford is not precisely like our own--nor is her world. For one thing, people there each have a personal daemon, the manifestation of their soul in animal form. For another, hers is a universe in which science, theology, and magic are closely allied: As for what experimental theology was, Lyra had no more idea than the urchins. She had formed the notion that it was concerned with magic, with the movements of the stars and planets, with tiny particles of matter, but that was guesswork, really. Probably the stars had daemons just as humans did, and experimental theology involved talking to them. Not that Lyra spends much time worrying about it; what she likes best is "clambering over the College roofs with Roger the kitchen boy who was her particular friend, to spit plum stones on the heads of passing Scholars or to hoot like owls outside a window where a tutorial was going on, or racing through the narrow streets, or stealing apples from the market, or waging war." But Lyra's carefree existence changes forever when she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, first prevent an assassination attempt against her uncle, the powerful Lord Asriel, and then overhear a secret discussion about a mysterious entity known as Dust. Soon she and Pan are swept up in a dangerous game involving disappearing children, a beautiful woman with a golden monkey daemon, a trip to the far north, and a set of allies ranging from "gyptians" to witches to an armor-clad polar bear.
The Lightning Thiefby Rick Riordan Year Published:Percy, expelled from six schools for being unable to control his temper, learns the truth from his mother that his father is the Greek god Poseidon, and is sent to Camp Half Blood where he is befriended by a satyr and the demigod daughter of Athena who join him in a journey to the Underworld to retrieve Zeus's lightning bolt and prevent a catastrophic war.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulaneby Katie DiCamillo Year Published:Edward Tulane, a cold-hearted and proud toy rabbit, loves only himself until he is separated from the little girl who adores him and travels across the country, acquiring new owners and listening to their hopes, dreams, and histories.
The Thief Lordby Cornelia Funke Year Published: AverageThis suspenseful tale begins in a detective's office in Venice, as the entirely unpleasant Hartliebs request Victor Getz's services to search for two boys, Prosper and Bo, the sons of Esther Hartlieb's recently deceased sister. Twelve-year-old Prosper and 5-year-old Bo ran away when their aunt decided she wanted to adopt Bo, but not his brother. Refusing to split up, they escaped to Venice, a city their mother had always described reverently, in great detail. Right away they hook up with a long-haired runaway named Hornet and various other ruffians who hole up in an abandoned movie theater and worship the elusive Thief Lord, a young boy named Scipio who steals jewels from fancy Venetian homes so his new friends can get the warm clothes they need. Of course, the plot thickens when the owner of the pawn shop asks if the Thief Lord will carry out a special mission for a wealthy client: to steal a broken wooden wing that is the key to completing an age-old, magical merry-go-round. This winning cast of characters--especially the softhearted detective with his two pet turtles--will win the hearts of readers young and old, and the adventures are as labyrinthine and magical as the streets of Venice itself.
Ugliesby Scott Westerfeld Year Published:Tally is faced with a difficult choice when her new friend Shay decides to risk life on the outside rather than submit to the forced operation that turns sixteen year old girls into gorgeous beauties, and realizes that there is a whole new side to the pretty world that she doesn't like.
Heatby Mike Lupica Year Published: Easy ReadingGrade 5-8-When Michael Arroyo is on the baseball diamond, everything feels right. He's a terrific pitcher who dreams of leading his South Bronx All-Stars to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. It's a dream he shared with his father, one they brought with them as they fled Cuba and wound up living in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Michael's ultimate dream is to play in the major leagues like his hero, El Grande, Yankee star and fellow Cuban refugee. Tragically, Papi died of a heart attack a few months back, leaving Michael and his older brother, Carlos, to struggle along on their own. Afraid of being separated, they hide the news of their father's death from everyone but a kindly neighbor, Mrs. Cora, and Michael's best friend, Manny Cabrera. When a bitter rival spreads rumors that Michael is older than he appears, the league demands that he be benched until he can produce a birth certificate. As he did in Travel Team (Philomel, 2004), Lupica crafts an involving, fast-paced novel peopled with strong, well-developed characters. Readers will find themselves rooting for Michael as he struggles with the loss of his father, stumbles into his first boy-girl relationship, and yearns to play baseball. The sports scenes are especially well written; fittingly, the euphoric finale takes place at Yankee Stadium. At times, the author veers toward melodrama but he keeps his lively plot on course with humor, crisp dialogue, and true-to-life characters. Lupica scores another hit with this warmhearted novel.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Tangerineby Edward Bloor Year Published: ChallengingPaul Fisher is legally blind. He wears glasses so thick he looks like a bug-eyed alien, and kids tell a story about how he blinded himself by staring at an eclipse of the sun. But Paul doesn’t remember doing that. And he doesn’t mind the glasses, because with them he can see. Can see that his parents’ constant praise of his brother Erik, the football star, is to cover up something that is terribly wrong. But no one listens to Paul. Until his family moves to Tangerine. Tangerine is like another planet, where weird is normal. Lightning strikes at the same time every day. Underground fires burn for years. A sinkhole swallows a local school. And Paul the geek finds himself adopted into the toughest group around–the soccer team of his middle school. Suddenly the blind can see, geeks can be cool, and–maybe–a twelve-year-old kid can finally face up to his terrifying older brother.