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Grand Avenue Summer Reading Suggestions Rosanne Walker - Librarian Reviews: Anything but Typical (Mar 2009) HL 640 L Author: Baskin, Nora Raleigh Jason, a twelve-year-old autistic boy who wants to become a writer, relates what his life is like as he tries to make sense of his world. People say 12-year-old Jason Blake is weird. He blinks his eyes oddly and flaps his hands, his fingers jerking "like insects stuck on a string." Jason is autistic. He hates art class and PE, where there's too much space and unorganized time, but he feels at home on his computer, writing stories on the Storyboard website. When he meets a fellow writer named Rebecca online and has the chance to meet her in person at a Storyboard conference, he panics. What will happen to their comfortable online relationship when she meets him? Baskin's delineation of an autistic boy's world is brilliant, putting readers into Jason's mind, showing how he sees the world, understands how his parents feel about him, frets about fitting in and yearns to find at least one friend in the world. The Compound (Apr 2008) 570 L Author: Bodeen, S. A. (Stephanie A.) After his parents, two sisters, and he have spent six years in a vast underground compound built by his wealthy father to protect them from a nuclear holocaust, fifteen-year-old Eli, whose twin brother and grandmother were left behind, discovers that his father has perpetrated a monstrous hoax on them all. Ever since their world was destroyed by a nuclear attack, 15-year-old Eli and his family have lived in the Compound, a state-of-the-art bomb shelter built by his billionaire father. Despite having every comfort, Eli is haunted by the fact that his twin and his grandmother were left behind. He also begins to question his father's sanity after an inventory miscalculation threatens their survival, and his dad hatches a morally corrupt plan to "enhance their food supply." Eli's worst suspicions are confirmed when he discovers a live Internet signal using an old laptop. Did the world really end six years ago? Why else would Eli's father want to keep his family underground?
  • Grand Avenue Summer Reading Suggestions Rosanne Walker - Librarian Reviews:

    Anything but Typical (Mar 2009) HL 640 L Author: Baskin, Nora Raleigh Jason, a twelve-year-old autistic boy who wants to become a writer, relates what his life is like as he tries to make sense of his world. People say 12-year-old Jason Blake is weird. He blinks his eyes oddly and flaps his hands, his fingers jerking "like insects stuck on a string." Jason is autistic. He hates art class and PE, where there's too much space and unorganized time, but he feels at home on his computer, writing stories on the Storyboard website. When he meets a fellow writer named Rebecca online and has the chance to

    meet her in person at a Storyboard conference, he panics. What will happen to their comfortable online relationship when she meets him? Baskin's delineation of an autistic boy's world is brilliant, putting readers into Jason's mind, showing how he sees the world, understands how his parents feel about him, frets about fitting in and yearns to find at least one friend in the world.

    The Compound (Apr 2008) 570 L Author: Bodeen, S. A. (Stephanie A.) After his parents, two sisters, and he have spent six years in a vast underground compound built by his wealthy father to protect them from a nuclear holocaust, fifteen-year-old Eli, whose twin brother and grandmother were left behind, discovers that his father has perpetrated a monstrous hoax on them all. Ever since their world was destroyed by a nuclear attack, 15-year-old Eli and his

    family have lived in the Compound, a state-of-the-art bomb shelter built by his billionaire father. Despite having every comfort, Eli is haunted by the fact that his twin and his grandmother were left behind. He also begins to question his father's sanity after an inventory miscalculation threatens their survival, and his dad hatches a morally corrupt plan to "enhance their food supply." Eli's worst suspicions are confirmed when he discovers a live Internet signal using an old laptop. Did the world really end six years ago? Why else would Eli's father want to keep his family underground?

  • Red Kayak (Sep 2004) 800 L Author: Cummings, Priscilla Living near the water on Maryland's Eastern Shore, thirteen-year-old Brady and his best friends J.T. and Digger become entangled in a tragedy which tests their friendship and their ideas about right and wrong. In this crime and coming-of-age drama, a toddler drowns in a kayak accident after friends of teenage Brady, the victim’s neighbor, vent some anger against the child’s dad by drilling holes in the bottom of his craft. It was a mean-spirited prank--but no one was supposed to die. What happens now? Revealing the terrible secret would implicate Brady’s friends in the drowning, and it clouds his

    whole world with guilt and fear. Cummings works plot and characterizations skillfully, building suspense as the evidence unfolds and as Brady wrestles with his decision and tries to come to terms with his own responsibility.

    Payback Time (Sep 2010) HL 750 L Author: Deuker, Carl After losing the election for editor, Mitch True, an overweight aspiring journalist, is assigned to be the sports reporter for his high-school paper. He's initially disappointed with the assignment, but he soon discovers that the gig has its perks. Kimi, the sports photographer, is beautiful, bright and brave, and, remarkably, he may be sitting on a scorcher of a story. It seems that there's a high-school football player, a recent transfer, who is huge and amazingly talented. Yet the player is

    seriously underutilized, and, oddly, the coach doesn't want a word written about him. As Mitch begins to lose weight, gain confidence and, with Kimi's help, ferret out the mystery, he finds that he has accidentally poked his pen into a hornet's nest. Told in the first person, the story is initially funny, but the humor is soon eclipsed by the suspenseful plot and the play-by-play football action.

    Out of My Mind (Mar 2010) 700 L Author: Draper, Sharon M. (Sharon Mills) Considered by many to be mentally retarded, a brilliant, impatient fifth-grader with cerebral palsy discovers a technological device that will allow her to speak for the first time. Melody, an 11-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, who cannot speak or walk, tells the story of her daily struggles. While Melody cannot express herself through words, those around her realize that she understands more than she has been given credit for. Melody’s mother enrolls her at their neighborhood

    elementary school where she is placed in a classroom for physically and mentally challenged students. The teacher decides that her students are going to be included in regular classroom activities, and Melody is given a computer, which allows her to

  • express herself by speaking for her. She is able to join a group of students who participate in a national quiz bowl. Once everyone realizes that Melody has far more talent than many of the regular students, they question their treatment of others.

    Michael Vey – Prisoner of Cell 25 (Aug 2011) Science Fiction HL 500 L Author: Evans, Richard Paul Tale of a teenager with superpowers and the conspiracy that created him. Years ago, a medical equipment accident killed dozens of newborns and left 17of them with assorted "electrical powers." In present-day Idaho, 14-year-old misfit Michael Vey, who can create electricity and has Tourette's syndrome, is one of the last two living outside of Pasadena. Coincidentally, the other "electric child" is Michael's

    crush, cute cheerleader, Taylor who is able to mentally "reset" people's brains. When a mysterious organization called Elgen kidnaps Taylor as well as Michael's mother, Michael, his best friend Ostin, and a pair of school bullies venture on a cross-country trip to rescue them.

    Better Nate than Ever (Feb 2013) 930 L Author: Federle, Tim An eighth-grader who dreams of performing in a Broadway musical concocts a plan to run away to New York and audition for the role of Elliot in the musical version of "E.T.". In this funny and insightful story, the dreams of many a small-town, theater-loving boy are reflected in the starry eyes of eighth-grader Nate. When Nate hops a Greyhound bus to travel across Pennsylvania to try out for the Broadway-bound musical based on the movie E.T., no one but his best friend, Libby, knows about it;

    not his athletic brother, religious father, or unhappy mother. Self-reliant, he arrives in Manhattan for the first time and finds his way into the audition with dramatic results, and when his estranged actress/waitress aunt suddenly appears, a troubled family history and a useful subplot surface. Nate’s emerging sexuality is tactfully addressed in an age-appropriate manner throughout, particularly in his wonderment at the differences between his hometown and N.Y.C., “a world where guys . . . can dance next to other guys who probably liked Phantom of the Opera and not get threatened or assaulted.

    Under the Egg (Mar 2014) 790 L Author: Fitzgerald, Laura Marx Her grandfather's dying words lead thirteen-year-old Theodora Tenpenny to a valuable, hidden painting she fears may be stolen, but it is her search for answers in her Greenwich Village neighborhood that brings a real treasure. Could a treasure be hiding underneath? An accident with a bottle of rubbing

  • alcohol reveals an unusual image that sets the teen off on an art history adventure taking her from New York Public Library's Jefferson Market branch to a fancy Upper East Side auction house, to a church, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Center for Jewish History, and two Holocaust survivors. Along the way, she befriends Bodhi, the jet-setting, paparazzi-hounded daughter of two celebrities; Reverend Cecily from Grace Church; and a punk-rock librarian named Eddie. Following her grandfather’s death, Theo shoulders the responsibility of looking after her mentally unfocused mother and keeping their Greenwich Village household running with no income. When Theo uncovers the old painting, possibly an original Raphael, she hopes to save their home. But is it a Raphael? Why was it hidden under a layer of paint? Was it stolen? By her beloved grandfather?! Along the way, Fitzgerald includes a good bit of art history, which becomes as interesting as the interplay between the two friends.

    The Skin I'm In (Oct 1998) 670 L Author: Flake, Sharon Thirteen-year-old Maleeka, uncomfortable because her skin is extremely dark, meets a new teacher and makes some discoveries about how to love who she is and what she looks like. In this YA novel, a middle - schooler feels like an outcast and struggles for acceptance. Maleeka Madison feels like a freak in her inner-city middle school. The kids pick on her because she's "the darkest, worst-dressed thing in school" and because she gets good grades. The leader of the pack is Charlese, who pulls and pushes Maleeka into wilder and wilder

    delinquent behavior. A new teacher tries to help and so does a smart, friendly boy. In the end, Maleeka stands up for herself, wins the poetry contest, and likes the skin she's in. The gum-smacking, wisecracking dialogue in the hallways, the girls' bathroom, and the classroom will pull readers into a world too rarely represented in middle-grade fiction. Every outsider kid will get it, every victim of class bullies.

    Dead End in Norvelt (September 2011) 920 L Author: Gantos, Jack

    In the historic town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Jack Gantos spends the summer of 1962 grounded for various offenses until he is assigned to help an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, and lessons from history, typewriting, and countless bloody noses. Jack accidentally discharges his father's war relic, a Japanese rifle, and is grounded for the summer. When a neighbor's arthritic hands get the best of her, his mother lifts the restriction and volunteers the 12-year-old to be the woman's scribe, writing obituaries for the local newspaper. Business is brisk for Miss Volker, who doubles as town coroner, and Norvelt's elderly females seem to be

  • dropping like flies. It is a madcap romp, with the boy at the wheel of Miss Volker's car as they try to figure out if a Hell's Angel motorcyclist has put a curse on the town, or who might have laced Mertie-Jo's Girl Scout cookies with rat poison. Each quirky obituary is infused with a bit of Norvelt's history, providing insightful postwar facts focusing on Eleanor Roosevelt's role in founding the town on principles of sustainable farming and land ownership for the poor.

    Far North (Sep 1996) Adventure - Realistic Fiction 820 L Author: Hobbs, Will From the window of a small float plane, 15-year-old Gabe Rogers is getting his first look at Canada's magnificent Northwest Territories with Raymond Providence, his roommate from boarding school. Below is the spectacular Nahanni River: wall-to-wall whitewater racing between sheer cliffs and plunging over Virginia Falls. The pilot sets the plane down on the lake-like surface of the upper river for a closer look at the thundering falls. Suddenly the engine quits. The only sound is a dull

    roar downstream, as the Cessna drifts helplessly toward the falls. . . . With the brutal subarctic winter fast approaching, Gabe and Raymond soon find themselves stranded in Deadmen Valley. Trapped in a frozen world of moose, wolves, and bears, two boys from vastly different cultures come to depend on each other for their very survival.

    Stormbreaker (May 2001) 670 L Author: Horowitz, Anthony After the death of the uncle who had been his guardian, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider is coerced to continue his uncle's dangerous work for Britain's intelligence agency, MI6. When his uncle and legal guardian are mysteriously killed in a car crash, 14-year-

    old Alex sees his prep-school world overturned in an instant. Police explain in funeral voices that Ian Rider’s death was the result of not wearing his seat belt, but that doesn’t explain the fresh spray of bullet holes across the car’s battered windshield. Finding out what really killed his uncle “and saving England” become young Alex’s new life mission. Inspired by James Bond and his own opulent but lonely boarding school upbringing, Horowitz thoughtfully balances Alex’s super-spy finesse with typical teen insecurities to create a likable hero living an adventure fantasy come true.

  • Fish in a Tree (Feb 2015) 550 L Author: Hunt, Lynda Mullaly “Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.” Ally's greatest fear is that everyone will find out she is as dumb as they think she is because she still doesn't know how to read"--. Ally Nickerson has been to seven schools in seven years, and the same thing happens at each one: she spends

    more time in the principal’s office than in class. The pattern is repeating at Ally’s current school until a long-term substitute teacher, Mr. Daniels, discovers that Ally is acting out to hide the fact that she can’t read. Ally is deeply ashamed and has bought into what others have told her—that she’s dumb and worthless—but Mr. Daniels helps her understand that she has dyslexia and see her talents and intelligence. As Ally’s fragile confidence grows, she connects with two other classroom outsiders, Albert and Keisha.

    One for the Murphys (May 2012) 520 L Author: Hunt, Lynda Mullaly A moving novel about a foster child learning to open her heart to a family's love. Sent to a foster home after a beating from her stepfather, eighth-grader Carley Connors learns about a different kind of family life. At first she resists living with her foster family and then she resists having to leave the loving, loyal Murphys.

    Carley uses humor and street smarts to keep her emotional walls high and thick. But the day she becomes a foster child, and moves in with the Murphys, she's blindsided. This loving, bustling family shows Carley the stable family life she never thought existed, and she feels like an alien in their cookie-cutter-perfect household. Despite her resistance, the Murphys eventually show her what it feels like to belong--until her mother wants her back and Carley has to decide where and how to live. She's not really a Murphy, but the gifts they've given her have opened up a new future.

    The Great Greene Heist (May 2014) 660 L Author: Johnson, Varian Jackson Greene has a reputation as a prankster at Maplewood Middle School, but after the last disaster he is trying to go straight--but when it looks like Keith Sinclair may steal the election for school president from Jackson's former best friend Gabriela, he assembles a team to make sure Keith does not succeed. Trying to go straight, troublemaker Jackson Greene succumbs to the lure of the con when it appears Maplewood Middle School's student-council election is being rigged against his friend Gaby de la Cruz. Although Gaby's been

  • angry at Jackson for more than four months, the two could be more than just friends. And her twin brother, Charlie, Jackson's best friend, is worried about her electoral chances. So Jackson breaks rule No. 3 of the Greene Code of Conduct: "Never con for love. Or even like." During the week before the election, a delightful and diverse cast of middle school students with a wide range of backgrounds and interests concocts a series of elaborate schemes to make sure the Scantron-counted ballots will produce honest results. While all this is going on, Gaby is busily campaigning and rethinking her love life.

    Ungifted (Aug 2012) 730 L Author: Korman, Gordon . Donovan Curtis is an impulse-driven prankster who, at the start of Ungifted , manages to alienate both the students and faculty of his middle school. First he mocks the basketball team over the school PA system with a derisive cheer and then he whacks the school's statue of Atlas with a stick, knocking the huge globe off and sending it rolling down the hill where it smashes into the gymnasium and stops the big game. When Donovan ends up in trouble, the district superintendent accidentally adds his name to the roll of gifted students at the

    Academy for Scholastic Distinction. Although he flounders at his new school, Donovan ends up humanizing a program that focuses on academic achievement and ignores the social aspects of students' success. Donovan finds that his gift lies in helping the smart kids by teaching them how to be "normal.

    Death Cloud (Feb 2011) Mystery 940 L Author: Lane, Andy In 1868, with his army officer father suddenly posted to India, and his mother mysteriously "unwell," fourteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes is sent to stay with his eccentric uncle and aunt in their vast house in Hampshire, where he uncovers his first murder and a diabolical villain. Series: Young Sherlock Holmes, 1

  • Legend (Nov 2011) (Sci Fi) HL 710 L Author:Lu, Marie In a dark future, when North America has split into two warring nations, fifteen-year-olds Day, a famous criminal, and prodigy June, the brilliant soldier hired to capture him, discover that they have a common enemy. In this futuristic tale told in alternating voices, the United States has devolved into factions and California is a part of the Republic. The people are oppressed, except for the privileged few, and Day is carrying out a raid on a hospital for plague medicine for his family. Readers learn that he has been fighting against

    the Republic for some time, with phenomenal success. Unfortunately, his raid ends with a Republic soldier wounded, and Day is also injured while making his escape. The other narrator is June, who is Republic-trained, privileged, and also in possession of remarkable abilities. She vows vengeance on her brother's killer—he is the wounded soldier. June knows about Day, and she also knows that he doesn't kill, so why did he kill her brother? It's a good question, since he didn't. There is plenty of intrigue and underhanded dealing going on, mostly by Republic officials. The mystery surrounding June's brother and the constant recurrence of various strains of plague are solved by the end, with June and Day joining forces to fight injustice.

    Every Soul a Star (Oct 2008) HL 740 L Author: Mass, Wendy Ally, Bree, and Jack meet at the one place the Great Eclipse can be seen in totality, each carrying the burden of different personal problems, which become dim when compared to the task they embark upon and the friendship they find. The lives of three young people intersect and transform against the backdrop of a total solar eclipse. Homeschooled Ally has grown up at the remote Moon Shadow Campground, which her family runs. An eclipse, which can be viewed

    only from this site, is approaching, and ahead of it come Bree, an aspiring model obsessed with popularity, and Jack, a reclusive artist and avid sci-fi reader. Ally's sheltered world is about to change as she discovers that her parents plan to cede management of the campground to Bree's parents after the event. Neither Ally nor Bree is excited about the prospect, but as the teens interact they come to terms with the changes they face. Meanwhile, introverted Jack finds himself making friends and becoming a leader. As they go their separate ways, all three approach the future with a newfound balance between their internal and their external lives.

  • Second Chance Summer (May 2012) 1020 L Author: Matson, Morgan Taylor Edwards' family might not be the closest-knit--everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled--but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor's dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains. Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven't actually gone anywhere. Her

    former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend...and he's much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve. As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they're more aware than ever that they're battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance--with family, with friends, and with love.

    The Cruisers (Aug 2010) 810 L Author: Myers, Walter Dean Series: 1 (Three other books in series) Friends Zander, Kambui, LaShonda, and Bobbi, caught in the middle of a mock Civil War at DaVinci Academy, learn the true cost of freedom of speech when they use their alternative newspaper, The Cruiser, to try to make peace.

    Eighth-grader Zander Scott and his friends are known as the Cruisers in their Harlem school for gifted and talented kids, primarily for being fine with Cs and not into “that heavy competition thing.” They’ve also started an unofficial newspaper, The Cruiser, that isn’t explicitly designed to ruffle the school administration’s feathers but has a knack for it anyway. A project on the Civil War splits the class into Union and Confederate sympathizers, and the Cruisers are tasked with trying to mediate a peace. Tempers flare as the school allows the project to progress a bit too far, but that gives the kids a chance to get creative in their responses to racial tensions.

    A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story 720 L (Jan 2009) Author: Park, Linda Sue When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, eleven-year-old Salva becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members through southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of safe haven, food and water. Based on the life of Salva Dut, who, after emigrating to America in 1996, began a project to dig water wells in Sudan

    The lessons Salva remembers from his family keep him from despair during harsh times in refugee camps and enable him, as a young man, to begin a new life in America. As Salva's story unfolds, readers also learn about another Sudanese youth, Nya, and how these two stories connect contributes to the satisfying conclusion. This story is told as

  • fiction, but it is based on real-life experiences of one of the "Lost Boys" of the Sudan. Salva and Nya have difficult paths to walk in life. Salva's journey, based on a true story, begins in 1985 with an explosion. The boy's small village in Sudan erupts into chaos while the 11-year-old is in school, and the teacher tells the children to run away. Salva survives and gets 1200 boys to safety in Kenya. Nya's life in 2008 revolves around water. She spends eight hours a day walking to and from a pond.

    Bluefish (Sept 2011) HL 600 L Author: Schmatz, Pat Everything changes for thirteen-year-old Travis, a new student who is trying to hide his illiteracy, when he meets a sassy classmate with her own secrets and a remarkable teacher. Eighth-grader Travis is beginning his first year in a new school. When he helps out a student being bullied, this rare act of middle-school kindness impresses an unusual, witty, and talkative girl named Vida—or

    Velveeta, as she prefers to be called. She befriends the strong-but-silent newcomer. Velveeta and Travis have the same reading class, where compassionate Mr. McQueen quickly recognizes that Travis has a serious reading deficit and suggests that he visit him for extra tutoring. Velveeta soon guesses what Travis is doing in these early-morning sessions and offers to help him. Eventually, he reluctantly agrees. But Travis's reading problem is only one of the deeper secrets that this unlikely pair will gradually begin to share. Travis lives with his alcoholic grandfather and his beloved dog, Rosco. When he and his grandfather move to a new town, the dog disappears, and Travis is devastated. Worse, he feels like a “bluefish,” his word for stupid. And, indeed, school is a struggle for him because, as the reader soon discovers, he has a closely guarded secret.

    Okay for Now (Apr 2011) 850 L Author: Schmidt, Gary D. When his dad loses his job, Doug Swieteck has to leave his friend Holling and Camillo Junior High and get used to things in Marysville, NY. His oldest brother's in Vietnam, his middle brother's still a hoodlum, his mom is quiet but nice, and his only salvation is weekly visits to the public library, where the librarian is teaching him to draw by using models from a volume of Audubon's Birds of America. Lil, the daughter of the grocer, gives him a delivery job. Schmidt brings in baseball, theatrical events, and timely events like the Moon landing and the Vietnam War.

    Readers know right away that Doug’s father is abusive, but for a while Doug keeps the magnitude of it a secret among other secrets—hidden from those around him. He grows to realize a lot about his family's relationships through study of Audubon's painted birds (one plate is featured at the start of each chapter), and the volume itself becomes a metaphor for his journey from fragmented to whole self. A tough but engaging story.

  • Scrawl (Sept 2010) 650 L Author: Shulman, Mark When eighth-grade school bully Tod and his friends get caught committing a crime on school property, his penalty--staying after school and writing in a journal under the eye of the school guidance counsellor--reveals aspects of himself that he prefers to keep hidden. After class-bully Tod and his “droogs” get caught vandalizing school property, his punishment is to spend every day in after-school detention writing in a notebook. “About anything?” he asks Mrs. W., his jailer. “Okay. Fine. You asked

    for it. I’ll write about this desk. I hate this desk.” The classic smarter-than-his-teachers underachiever with a rotten home life, Tod has a real way with words (the way he crashes, then dominates the spelling bee is priceless), and he soon warms to his enforced writing therapy.

    The Schwa was Here (Oct 2004) 790 L Author: Shusterman, Neal A Brooklyn eighth-grader nicknamed Antsy befriends the Schwa, an "invisible-ish" boy who is tired of blending into his surroundings and going unnoticed by nearly everyone. When Anthony “Antsy” Bonano and his friends meet Calvin Schwa, they are impressed and puzzled by his ability to appear and disappear before their very eyes. Antsy concocts a moneymaking scheme based on the Schwa’s invisibility

    that seems promising until he and his friends overreach and are caught by the town’s legendary mean millionaire, Mr. Crawley. Their resulting community service project--walking the 7 virtues and 7 vices (Crawley’s 14 afghan hounds) and going out with Crawley’s granddaughter Lexie--cements and ultimately challenges friendships.

    Counting by 7s (Aug 2013) 770 L Author: Sloan, Holly Goldberg Twelve-year-old genius and outsider Willow Chance must figure out how to connect with other people and find surrogate families for herself after her parents are killed in a car accident. Twelve-year-old Willow Chase lives with her adoptive parents in Bakersfield, California. There in the desert, she grew a garden in her backyard, her sanctuary. She was excited about starting a new school, hoping this time she might fit in,

    might find a friend. Willow had been identified in preschool as highly gifted, most of the time causing confusion and feelings of ineptness in her teachers. Now at her new school she is accused of cheating because no one has ever finished the state proficiency test in just 17 minutes, let alone gotten a perfect score. Her reward is behavioral counseling with Dell Duke, an ineffectual counselor with organizational and social issues of his own. She does make a friend when Mai Nguyen brings her brother, Quang-ha, to his appointment, and their lives begin to intertwine when Willow's parents are killed in an auto accident.

  • For the second time in her life she is an orphan, forced to find a "new normal." She is taken in temporarily by Mai's mother, who must stay ahead of Social Services. While Willow sees herself as just an observer, trying to figure out the social norms of regular family life, she is actually a catalyst for change, bringing together unsuspecting people and changing their lives forever.

    Peak (May 2007) 760 L Author: Smith, Roland A fourteen-year-old boy attempts to be the youngest person to reach the top of Mount Everest. Fourteen-year-old New Yorker Peak Marcello hones his climbing skills by scaling skyscrapers. After Peak is caught climbing the Woolworth Building, an angry judge gives him probation, with an understanding that Peak will leave

    New York and live with his famous mountaineer father in Thailand. Peak soon learns, however, that his father has other plans for him; he hopes that Peak will become the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest. Peak is whisked off to Tibet and finds himself in the complex world of an Everest base camp, where large amounts of money are at stake and climbing operations offer people an often-deadly shot at the summit. This is a thrilling, multifaceted adventure story. Great for a kid who thinks books are boring. Action filled realistic fiction.

    Curveball: the Year I Lost My Grip (Mar 2012) 800 L Author: Sonnenblick, Jordan Peter Friedman, high school freshman, is a talented photographer and a former baseball star. When a freakish injury ends his pitching career, Peter has some major things to figure out. Is there life after sports? Why has his grandfather suddenly given him thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment? And is it his imagination, or is the super-hot star of the girls' swim team flirting with him, right in front of the amazing new girl in his photography class? Realizing that his baseball career is over, Peter Friedman, 13, turns to sports

    photography, in emulation of his beloved grandfather, who was a professional photographer. It soon becomes evident; however, that Grampa is slipping into senility. Peter feels that his parents are unwilling to accept this reality, and so he attempts to deal with his grandfather's growing impairment on his own, with near-catastrophic results. He also keeps the extent of his arm injury secret from his best friend, the popular and outgoing AJ, who continues to make plans for their mutual success on the diamond. With the help of wise and sassy Angelika, a fellow photographer, Peter learns to confront the difficult issues in his life.

  • The Meaning of Maggie (May 2014) 690 L Author: Sovern, Megan Jean Maggie Mayfield, 11, begins chronicling her life, because keeping a memoir is very important when you are a future U.S. president. This is the year that she will start middle school, defend her science fair title, and become a Coca-Cola shareholder. But while Maggie is acing her classes and keeping an eye on her flighty sisters, her

    father’s health is failing. He quits his job, and her mom goes back to work, plus her sisters are acting even more strangely while everyone is adjusting to this new system. As her father’s symptoms of multiple sclerosis become more severe, Maggie’s hope is to find a cure with her science fair project. Maggie’s story is at once optimistic but realistic. Typical school problems and family issues compete for attention, but she stays true to herself.

    Liar & Spy (Aug 2012) 670 L Author: Stead, Rebecca Seventh-grader Georges adjusts to moving from a house to an apartment, his father's efforts to start a new business, his mother's extra shifts as a nurse, being picked on at school, and Safer, a boy who wants his help spying on another resident of their building. Georges’ life is turned upside down when his father loses his job, forcing his mother to take on extra nursing shifts and prompting the family to move from

    their house into an unfamiliar Brooklyn apartment. At school, Georges is a bit of an outcast, having been abandoned by his one and only friend and often the subject of bullies' taunts. Then he sees a sign advertising a Spy Club and meets Safer, a homeschooled loner who lives in his building, and Safer's warm, welcoming, and quirky family offers him respite from the stress at home. Together the boys track a mysterious building resident who Safer is sure is hiding a sinister secret. As the investigation progresses, Georges grows increasingly uncomfortable with Safer's actions. Stead has written a layered novel that explores friendship in all its facets. She particularly examines truths, secrets, deceptions, and imagination and whether these can destroy or ultimately strengthen a friendship.

    Unfriended (Sep 2014) 670 L Author: Vail, Rachel

    In middle school, nothing is more important than friendship. When Truly is invited to sit at the Popular Table with the group she has dreamed of joining, she can hardly believe her luck. Everyone seems so nice, so kind to one another. But all is not as it seems with her new friends, and soon she's caught in a maelstrom of lies, misunderstandings, accusations and counter-accusations, all happening very publicly in the relentless, social media world

  • from which there is no escape. Six middle schoolers, four girls and two boys, struggle to understand and process their interactions in one another's lives as they find new ways to disconnect, but also to connect. The novel addresses cyber bullying among eighth-graders, multiple narrators give their first-person accounts of the thorny relationship between former best friends Truly and Natasha—and its effects on the social dynamic of a wide circle.

    Paperboy (May 2013) 940 L Author: Vawter, VinceAn 11-year-old boy living in Memphis in 1959 throws the meanest fastball in town, but talking is a whole different ball game. He can barely say a word without stuttering, not even his own name. So when he takes over his best friend’s paper route for the month of July, he knows he’ll be forced to communicate with the different customers, including a housewife who drinks too much and a retired merchant marine who seems to know just about everything.

    The newspaper route poses challenges, but it’s a run-in with the neighborhood junkman, a bully and thief, that stirs up real trouble–and puts the boy’s life, as well as that of his family’s devoted housekeeper, in danger.

    The Running Dream (Jan 2011) HL 650 L Author : Van Draanen, Wendelin When a school bus accident leaves sixteen-year-old Jessica an amputee, she returns to school with a prosthetic limb. Running is Jessica’s life. She was hoping for a sports scholarship to college when she is injured in the bus accident. She slips into depression. Whenever Jessica starts feeling better about her situation, something knocks her back down. She fits in all right at school, but she finds out that the insurance companies won't pay for her bills so her parents have

    to fight in court. Her father is putting in long hours at work to pay the bills Her track team finds a wonderful way to help rekindle her dream of running again.

    The Final Four (Mar 2012) 870 L By: Volponi, Paul The fates of four college basketball players come together as their teams meet in a semifinal game of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Malcolm McBride and Michael Jordan are members of the vaunted Michigan State Spartans while Roko

  • Bacic and Crispin Rice play for the underdog Troy University Trojans. Their stories are told by means of flashbacks, journal entries, newspaper accounts, and TV interviews weaving in and out of the play-by-play. Four players with one thing in common: the will to win. Malcolm wants to get to the NBA ASAP. Roko wants to be the pride of his native Croatia. Crispin wants the girl of his dreams. M.J. just wants a chance. Malcolm, Michael, and Roko come across as being especially complex, multifaceted, driven individuals. Malcolm is in many ways the least likable but most compelling of the protagonists. He boldly speaks truth to power in challenging a college athletic system that routinely exploits student athletes while raking in hundreds of millions of dollars from their unpaid labors. This book contains exciting game action and a candid exploration of the hypocrisy of amateur sports.

    So B. It (May 2004) 860 L Author: Weeks, Sarah The only family that 13-year-old Heidi has ever known is an unusual one made up of her developmentally disabled mother and their agoraphobic neighbor, Bernadette. (Agoraphobia is a terrible fear of open spaces.) Bernadette ("Bernie") has been taking care of both Heidi and her mother since they showed up in her Reno, Nevada apartment building soon after Heidi was born. But since Heidi's mom only uses 23 different words, neither Heidi nor Bernie really knows where she came from or whether Heidi and she have any other family. When Heidi finds an old camera and the developed film gives her a clue about her mother's past, she

    strikes out on her own for New York, determined to find her roots.

    Revolution (May 2014) 840 L Author: Wiles, Deborah Struggling to adapt within her newly blended family in 1964 Mississippi, Sunny witnesses increasingly scary community agitation when activists from the North arrive in town to help register African Americans to vote. Readers are offered two alternate viewpoints from very different worlds within the same Greenwood, Mississippi town during the tumultuous Freedom Summer of 1964. Sunny, a 12-year-old white girl is worried about reports of "invaders" descending upon the

    sleepy Southern enclave and causing trouble. Meanwhile, Raymond, a black boy from Baptist Town (known among the white citizens as "Colored Town"), is becoming increasingly aware of all the places (especially the public pool and Leflore's theater) he is barred from attending due to Jim Crow laws. Song lyrics, biblical verses, photographs, speeches, essays, and other ephemera immerse readers in one of the most important—and dangerous—moments during the Civil Rights Movement. Readers are offered a window into each community and will see both characters change and grow over the course of the summer.

  • The Revealers (Oct 2003) 580 L Author: Wilhelm, Doug Tired of being bullied and picked on, three seventh-grade outcasts join forces and, using scientific methods and the power of the Internet, begin to create a new atmosphere at Parkland Middle School. Parkland Middle School is a place the students call Darkland, because no one in it does much to stop the daily harassment of kids by other kids. Three bullied

    seventh graders use their smarts to get the better of their tormentors by starting an unofficial e-mail forum at school in which they publicize their experiences. Unexpectedly, lots of other kids come forward to confess their similar troubles, and it becomes clear that the problem at their school is bigger than anyone knew.

    No Summit Out of Sight: the true story of the youngest person to climb the seven summits (May 2014) Biography - Non-fiction 850 L Author: Romero, Jordan

    The true story of a 10-year-old who climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro and subsequently summited the tallest mountains on the other six continents by the age of 15.Inspired by a school mural, 9-year-old Jordan Romero announced to his father his goal to climb each of the Seven Summits, the tallest mountains on each continent. He reached his first, Kilimanjaro, when he was 10 and conquered Everest

    at 13. At 15, Romero completed his final climb in Antarctica, becoming the youngest person to reach all Seven Summits, plus Mount Carstensz in New Guinea, and setting several world records. Romero's father and stepmother, both professional athletes, were unwaveringly supportive in helping him achieve his goal. Funding the expeditions was accomplished through corporate sponsorship, T-shirt sales, a lemonade stand and support from small businesses in Jordan's hometown. Now 17 (and with the assistance of LeBlanc), Jordan vividly chronicles his preparation for the climbs, his impressions of the countries he visited, the dangers and thrills of the ascents, and the physical and emotional endurance required to achieve his goals.