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Featured Book Lists
Book JacketMy Life as a Book
by Janet Tashjian

Book list *Starred Review* Twelve-year-old Derek is not a reader. His assignment to read three books over the summer stinks. But then something that he wants to read catches Derek's eye. In the attic, he finds a 10-year-old article about a teenage girl who drowned on a Martha's Vineyard beach. When he questions his mother about the article, her nervousness tells him something's up, so he takes on the assignment of discovering what happened on the beach that day and why it's important. Janet Tashjian, known for her young adult books, offers a novel that's part Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2007),part intriguing mystery; yet the best element here is really the first-person voice, which captures so completely the pushes and pulls in the life of someone with learning disabilities. Derek is brash, careless, and usually willing to do something stupid. He is also bright, a talented artist, and smart enough to know when he has gone too far. Adding to the book's effectiveness is a generous typeface that looks like printing and artwork by the author's 14-year-old son, Jake. Like the story's narrator, he uses stick figures to illustrate vocabulary words, and here they march down the margins. Some are simple depictions, like a handful of flowers for the word bouquet. Some take more thought: a sad face moving to a happier one for adapt. Give this to kids who think they don't like reading. It might change their minds.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly When 12-year-old Derek discovers an old newspaper article in his attic about a girl "found dead" on a beach, he becomes obsessed, especially when he learn the teenager may have died saving him from the ocean when he was just a toddler. Derek is a mischievous boy who enjoys using avocados as grenades more than reading, but as he uncovers the truth about what happened 10 years ago from those who were there, he discovers he is "surrounded by stories" both tragic and inspiring. Readers may not quite understand the intensity of Derek's obsession, which takes him from his home in California to Martha's Vineyard, where the accident took place, but his story moves quickly, thanks in part to stick figures drawn in the book's margins by Derek to define "vocabulary words." Some of these illustrations, drawn by Tashjian's 14-year-old son, Jake, are quite clever ("injustice" shows two irate students reading a sign saying "School on Saturday"). Derek's concluding speech may strain credibility, but a relatable and fun format make this a smart choice for "reluctant" readers-like Derek. Ages 9-12. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 4-7-Twelve-year-old Derek has been identified as a reluctant reader. He likes to read, but doesn't enjoy required materials. He says he prefers having his own adventures (tossing as hand grenades the avocados his mother is saving for dinner, climbing onto the roof with a croquet set to hit wooden balls into the satellite dish) to learning about someone else's life. When his teacher gives the class summer reading and writing assignments, Derek finds a way to distract himself from the task. He discovers an old newspaper clipping about a 17-year-old who drowned, and his mother explains that the teen was babysitting him at the time and died saving him. Derek is determined to learn more about her death and his involvement in it. The margins of this book feature vocabulary words illustrated with cartoons. The protagonist is by turns likable and irritating, but always interesting. He is sure to engage fans of Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books (Abrams) as well as those looking for a spunky, contemporary boy with a mystery to solve. Reluctant readers will appreciate the book's large print and quick-paced story.-Helen Foster James, University of California at San Diego (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 4-7-Derek, 12, hates to read but loves to draw, and his incisive and funny cartoons fill the margins of this first-person account of his struggle with a summer-reading assignment. He's also attempting to solve a mystery involving his babysitter who drowned 10 years before. A generous layout and typeface keep the story accessible. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* Twelve-year-old Derek is not a reader. His assignment to read three books over the summer stinks. But then something that he wants to read catches Derek's eye. In the attic, he finds a 10-year-old article about a teenage girl who drowned on a Martha's Vineyard beach. When he questions his mother about the article, her nervousness tells him something's up, so he takes on the assignment of discovering what happened on the beach that day and why it's important. Janet Tashjian, known for her young adult books, offers a novel that's part Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2007),part intriguing mystery; yet the best element here is really the first-person voice, which captures so completely the pushes and pulls in the life of someone with learning disabilities. Derek is brash, careless, and usually willing to do something stupid. He is also bright, a talented artist, and smart enough to know when he has gone too far. Adding to the book's effectiveness is a generous typeface that looks like printing and artwork by the author's 14-year-old son, Jake. Like the story's narrator, he uses stick figures to illustrate vocabulary words, and here they march down the margins. Some are simple depictions, like a handful of flowers for the word bouquet. Some take more thought: a sad face moving to a happier one for adapt. Give this to kids who think they don't like reading. It might change their minds.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly When 12-year-old Derek discovers an old newspaper article in his attic about a girl "found dead" on a beach, he becomes obsessed, especially when he learn the teenager may have died saving him from the ocean when he was just a toddler. Derek is a mischievous boy who enjoys using avocados as grenades more than reading, but as he uncovers the truth about what happened 10 years ago from those who were there, he discovers he is "surrounded by stories" both tragic and inspiring. Readers may not quite understand the intensity of Derek's obsession, which takes him from his home in California to Martha's Vineyard, where the accident took place, but his story moves quickly, thanks in part to stick figures drawn in the book's margins by Derek to define "vocabulary words." Some of these illustrations, drawn by Tashjian's 14-year-old son, Jake, are quite clever ("injustice" shows two irate students reading a sign saying "School on Saturday"). Derek's concluding speech may strain credibility, but a relatable and fun format make this a smart choice for "reluctant" readers-like Derek. Ages 9-12. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 4-7-Twelve-year-old Derek has been identified as a reluctant reader. He likes to read, but doesn't enjoy required materials. He says he prefers having his own adventures (tossing as hand grenades the avocados his mother is saving for dinner, climbing onto the roof with a croquet set to hit wooden balls into the satellite dish) to learning about someone else's life. When his teacher gives the class summer reading and writing assignments, Derek finds a way to distract himself from the task. He discovers an old newspaper clipping about a 17-year-old who drowned, and his mother explains that the teen was babysitting him at the time and died saving him. Derek is determined to learn more about her death and his involvement in it. The margins of this book feature vocabulary words illustrated with cartoons. The protagonist is by turns likable and irritating, but always interesting. He is sure to engage fans of Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books (Abrams) as well as those looking for a spunky, contemporary boy with a mystery to solve. Reluctant readers will appreciate the book's large print and quick-paced story.-Helen Foster James, University of California at San Diego (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 4-7-Derek, 12, hates to read but loves to draw, and his incisive and funny cartoons fill the margins of this first-person account of his struggle with a summer-reading assignment. He's also attempting to solve a mystery involving his babysitter who drowned 10 years before. A generous layout and typeface keep the story accessible. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

...More
Book JacketWarcross
by Marie Lu
Book JacketThe punch escrow
by Tal M. Klein
Book JacketOops, Pounce, Quick, Run! An Alphabet Caper.
by Mike Twohy
Book JacketIn Darkness
by Nick Lake
Book JacketAnimal Mouths
by Mary Holland
Book JacketEcho
by Pam Munoz Ryan

Publishers Weekly The fairy tale that opens this elegant trio of interconnected stories from Ryan (The Dreamer) sets the tone for the rest of the book, in which a mystical harmonica brings together three children growing up before and during WWII. Friedrich, an aspiring conductor whose birthmark makes him an undesirable in Nazi Germany, must try to rescue his father after his Jewish sympathies land him in a prison camp. In Pennsylvania, piano prodigy Mike and his brother, Frankie, get a chance to escape the orphanage for good, but only if they can connect with the eccentric woman who has adopted them. In California, Ivy Maria struggles with her school's segregation as well as the accusations leveled against Japanese landowners who might finally offer her family a home of their own. Each individual story is engaging, but together they harmonize to create a thrilling whole. The book's thematic underpinnings poignantly reveal what Friedrich, Mike, and Ivy truly have in common: not just a love of music, but resourcefulness in the face of change, and a refusal to accept injustice. Ages 10-14. Agent: Kendra Marcus, BookStop Literary Agency. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-"Long before enchantment was eclipsed by doubt," a young boy named Otto lost in the woods is rescued by three sisters imprisoned there by a witch's curse. In return, he promises to help break the curse by carrying their spirits out of the forest in a mouth harp and passing the instrument along when the time is right. The narrative shifts to the 20th century, when the same mouth harp (aka harmonica) becomes the tangible thread that connects the stories of three children: Friedrich, a disfigured outcast; Mike, an impoverished orphan; and Ivy, an itinerant farmer's child. Their personal struggles are set against some of the darkest eras in human history: Friedrich, the rise of Nazi Germany; Mike, the Great Depression; Ivy, World War II. The children are linked by musical talent and the hand of fate that brings Otto's harmonica into their lives. Each recognizes something unusual about the instrument, not only its sound but its power to fill them with courage and hope. Friedrich, Mike, and Ivy are brought together by music and destiny in an emotionally triumphant conclusion at New York's Carnegie Hall. Meticulous historical detail and masterful storytelling frame the larger history, while the story of Otto and the cursed sisters honor timeless and traditional folktales. Ryan has created three contemporary characters who, through faith and perseverance, write their own happy endings, inspiring readers to believe they can do the same.-Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list When Otto meets three ethereal sisters, he has no idea that the harmonica they enchant will one day save a life. Decades later, the very same harmonica makes its way to America, and in three sections, Ryan tells the stories of kids whose lives are changed by its music: Friedrich Schmidt, in 1933 Germany, whose father is a Jewish sympathizer; Mike Finnegan, an orphan in Philadelphia in 1935; and Ivy Lopez, living with her parents in California in 1942 while they take care of the farm of a Japanese family who has been sent to an internment camp. The magical harmonica not only helps each of the three discover their inborn musical talents but also gives them the courage to face down adversity and injustice. Though the fairy tale-like prologue and conclusion seem a bit tacked on, Ryan nonetheless builds a heartening constellation of stories around the harmonica, and the ultimate message that small things can have a powerful destiny is resoundingly hopeful. Harmonica tabs are included for readers who want to try their hands at the instrument.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

...More
Book JacketGolden boy
by Tara Sullivan

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-Habo, 13, knows that his albinism makes him a zeruzeru, less than a person. His skin burns easily, and his poor eyesight makes school almost impossible. People shun or mock him. Unable to accept his son's white skin and yellow hair, his father abandoned the family, and they cannot manage their drought-ravaged farm in a small Tanzanian village. Habo and his mother, sister, and brother travel across the Serengeti to seek refuge with his aunt's family in Mwanza. Along the way, they hitch a ride with an ivory poacher, Alasiri, who kills elephants without remorse for the money the tusks bring. In Mwanza, the family learns that one commodity can fetch even higher prices: a zeruzeru. Rich people will pay handsomely for albino body parts, and Alasiri plans to make his fortune. Habo must flee to Dar es Salaam before he is killed. After a harrowing escape, he reaches the city and miraculously encounters a person to whom his appearance makes no difference: a blind woodcarver named Kweli. Slowly Habo develops a sense of self-worth as well as carving skills. When Alasiri brings ivory for Kweli to carve, the boy and old man work with the police to send the hunter to prison. Habo's gripping account propels readers along. His narrative reveals his despair, anger, and bewilderment, but there are humorous moments, too. Although fortuitous encounters and repeated escapes may seem unlikely, the truth underlying the novel is even more unbelievable. In Tanzania, people with albinism have been maimed and killed for their body parts, thought to bring good luck. Readers will be haunted by Habo's voice as he seeks a place of dignity and respect in society. An important and affecting story.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Born albino in a Tanzanian village, Habo suffers virulent prejudice for his pale skin, blue eyes, and yellow hair, even from his own family. At 13, he runs away to the city of Dar-es-Salaam, where he thinks he will find more acceptance: there are even two albino members of the government there. He finds a home as an apprentice to a blind sculptor who knows Habo is a smart boy with a good heart, and he teaches Habo to carve wood. But Habo is being pursued by a poacher who wants to kill him and sell his body parts on the black market to superstitious buyers in search of luck. Readers will be caught by the contemporary story of prejudice, both unspoken and violent, as tension builds to the climax. Just as moving is the bond the boy forges with his mentor, and the gripping daily events: Habo gets glasses for his weak eyes, discovers the library, and goes to school at last. The appended matter includes a Swahili glossary and suggestions for documentary videos.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

...More
Book JacketAstrophysics For People In A Hurry
by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Book JacketTinkers
by Paul Harding
Book JacketSlime, Mold and Fungi
by Elaine Pascoe
Book JacketHoliday
by Stanley Middleton