Monthly Archives: May 2018

La Niña Que Bebió la Luna by Kelly Barnhill

La Niña Que Bebió la Luna by Kelly Barnhill. March 1, 2018. Loqueleo, 424 p. ISBN: 9781641012102.  Int Lvl: 5-8.

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is kind. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. As Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches, her magic begins to emerge–with dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Deadly birds with uncertain intentions flock nearby. A volcano, quiet for centuries, rumbles just beneath the earth’s surface. And the woman with the Tiger’s heart is on the prowl . . .

The Newbery Medal winner from the author of the highly acclaimed novel The Witch’s Boy.

Spanish translation of The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Human sacrifice, Negative attitudes toward the mentally ill

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (July 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 21))
Grades 5-8. Every year, the elders of the Protectorate sacrifice a baby to appease an evil witch—though, in truth, it’s a facade to subdue the populace. Xan, the witch in question, actually rescues each baby and finds families for them. One time, however, Xan accidentally feeds moonlight to the baby, which fills her with magic. Xan thereupon adopts her, names her Luna, and raises her with the help of a swamp monster and a tiny dragon. Luna’s magic grows exponentially and causes such havoc that Xan casts a spell to suppress it until Luna turns 13. But the spell misfires, clouding Luna’s mind whenever magic is mentioned, making proper training impossible. As the fateful birthday approaches, Xan fears dying before she can teach Luna everything she needs to know. Meanwhile, in the Protectorate, a young couple dares to challenge the status quo, a madwoman trapped in a tower escapes by way of paper birds, and a truly evil witch is revealed. Barnhill’s latest, told in omniscient point of view, is rich with multiple plotlines that culminate in a suspenseful climax, characters of inspiring integrity (as well as characters without any), a world with elements of both whimsy and treachery, and prose that melds into poetry. A sure bet for anyone who enjoys a truly fantastic story.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2016)
Every year, the people of the Protectorate steel themselves for the Day of Sacrifice, when the elders take the city’s youngest baby and leave it in the woods to appease the witch — a witch no one has seen, but whose reputation has become a means to control the populace. In fact, a witch does live in the forest, and she rescues and finds homes for the babies; she even adopts one, the particularly magical Luna, whom she brings home to live with her own family that already includes a beloved bog monster and a dragon. Meanwhile, the true and malevolent Witch of Sacrifice Day, hiding behind the identity of a respected person in the city, secretly feeds off the grief of the bereaved parents until, thanks to adolescent Luna’s emerging magic, the sorrow-burdened Protectorate begins to rebel. Barnhill’s fantasy has a slightly ungainly plot, with backstory, coincidence, insight-dumps, and shifting points of view maneuvering its hinges of logic into place. But in theme and emotion, it is focused: love — familial, maternal, filial, and friendly — is its engine and moral, with Luna’s connections with her adoptive grandmother and unknown birth mother a poignant force. With all story elements and characters interrelated through “infinite love” (the story’s theology), there’s plenty for readers to puzzle out here. deirdre f. baker

About the Author

“I’m a writer, a mom, a wife, a dog owner, a reader, a thinker, a hiker, a friend, a runner, a teacher, a listener, terrible gardener, a lover of nature. Sometimes I’m all of these things at once.

“I’m also a former bartender, former park ranger, former waitress, former church janitor, former kosher meat slicer, former wild-eyed activist, former wildland firefighter, former coffee jerk, former phone-book delivery girl and a former dull-eyed office slave. Sometimes I am still these things. Sometimes all at once.”

Her website is www.kellybarnhill.com

Teacher Resources

The Girl Who Drank the Moon Book Guide

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La Niña Que Bebió la Luna on Amazon

La Niña Que Bebió la Luna on Goodreads

La Niña Que Bebió la Luna Publisher Page

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Rescue by Jessie Haas

Rescue by Jessie Haas. April 10, 2018. Boyds Mill Press, 200 p. ISBN: 9781629798806.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 4.7; Lexile: 610.

Shy farm girl Joni’s new friendship with animal rights activist Chess unravels when Chess’s views push Joni too far in this layered coming-of-age story about two girls and their love for horses.

Joni’s world revolves around her beloved horse, Archie, and her family’s Vermont sheep farm. When outspoken, sophisticated Chess moves nearby, Joni is drawn to her, even though Chess questions everything Joni loves—working horses, eating cheese, having pets, and even the farm itself. Torn between desperately wanting a friendship and resenting Chess’s assumptions about horses and farms, Joni mostly keeps her opinions to herself. But when Chess steals their neighbor’s miniature horses to “rescue” them, Joni finds the courage to stand up for her beliefs. With quiet intensity, this timely novel tackles the complex issue of bridging the political divide and building friendships while staying true to yourself.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mentions of inhumane treatment of animals

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (February 1, 2018)
A Vermont farm girl’s new friend fights for animal rights. Joni, a 12-year-old white girl, loves the quiet and calm of her family’s sheep farm; she loves riding her pony, Archie, after school. But her best school friends don’t live nearby, so when a new girl, Chess (also white), moves into a house Joni passes on her rides, she’s intrigued by the possibility of a new friend. Chess loves Joni’s horse, kittens, and sheep, but she asks uncomfortable questions: don’t the sheep mind being shorn? Milked? Eaten? Joni doesn’t know how to answer, but she does challenge Chess’ interpretation of her neighbor’s treatment of her miniature horses—Chess is certain their muzzles, which restrict them from overgrazing, are cruel, while Joni knows they keep the animals safe on lush pasture. When Chess steals the minis and sets them free to eat, the near disaster challenges their budding friendship. Chess’ back story is muddled, so readers are not entirely sure how she came to her positions, and some of the characterizations are unclear, but Joni’s first-person voice is fresh and true. As always, Haas knows her horses, and she explores the issue of animal rights with sensitivity to both sides. A satisfying read. (Fiction. 8-12)

School Library Journal (March 1, 2018)
Gr 4-6-Twelve-year-old Joni lives on a sheep farm with her family and her spirited horse, Archie. Joni’s family lives a simple life, shearing sheep, making cheese, and taking care of their farm. Joni often feels left out, even at horse camp. When Chess moves in next door, it seems like Joni will have a built-in friend. Chess, however, is different from anyone Joni has ever known: Chess is a vegan and an animal rights activist. When she questions Joni about eating cheese, whether the sheep are happy, or if Archie wants to be ridden, Joni must think about things in an entirely new way. When Chess releases a neighbor’s miniature horses, one of the horses becomes injured. Joni has to decide how to stand up to her new friend and still maintain the friendship. Haas is an expert on all things horse and farm, bringing authenticity and informative details to her novels. Joni is a relatable character, and the themes around animal rights and sustainable farming are timely. –Terry Ann Lawler, Burton Barr Library, Phoenix

About the Author

Jessie Haas has written over 35 books for children and adults, many about horses–a lifelong passion. She currently owns a Morgan mare, Robin, who is being clicker-trained to be a trail and pasture-dressage horse. She lives in a small, off-grid house in the woods with husband Michael J. Daley, two cats and a dog. When not writing or riding or reading she likes to knit, cook, and write, or ride, or read.

Her website is www.jessiehaas.com

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Rescue on Amazon

Rescue on Goodreads

Rescue Publisher Page

Strangers by David A. Robertson

Strangers by David A. Robertson. October 10, 2017. HighWater Press, 216 p. ISBN: 9781553796763.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 630.

When Cole Harper is compelled to return to Wounded Sky First Nation, he finds his community in chaos: a series of shocking murders, a mysterious illness ravaging the residents, and reemerging questions about Cole’s role in the tragedy that drove him away 10 years ago. With the aid of an unhelpful spirit, a disfigured ghost, and his two oldest friends, Cole tries to figure out his purpose, and unravel the mysteries he left behind a decade ago. Will he find the answers in time to save his community?

Strangers is the first novel in The Reckoner series by David Alexander Robertson, award–winning writer, and author of HighWater Press’ acclaimed children’s book When We Were Alone.

Part of Series:  The Reckoner (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Violence, Underage drinking

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2017)
A YA fantasy tells the story of a teen returning home to seek redemption. High school basketball star Cole Harper hasn’t been back to his Canadian hometown of Wounded Sky in 10 years. But when a friend from childhood asks him to return, he can’t bring himself to refuse. When he arrives, it becomes clear that it isn’t just Cole who has been harboring ill feelings in the intervening years. Many members of his First Nation band are still angry at Cole over how he survived the school fire that killed others long ago—and who he helped save during it. When Cole confronts Ashley, the friend who begged him to return, he learns that it was actually someone else using Ashley’s phone: an anthropomorphic coyote spirit who goes by the name of Choch. As surprised as Cole is to have a coyote talking to him, he recognizes that Choch is the same figure who appeared to him during the previous tragedy, offering him the power to save his friends at the cost of the deaths of others. Now he has a new offer for the teen: death is coming to Wounded Sky, and it will claim everyone in Cole’s band unless he can find a way to stop it. Aided by his two best friends from childhood as well as the ghost of another classmate and the coyote spirit himself, Cole must try to redeem his past by preserving the future for as many people as he can. In this series opener, Robertson (When We Were Alone, 2016, etc.) writes in a taut prose that harnesses sensory details to subtly accrue tension: “Sounds were more intimate inside the rink: the shred of metal against ice, the snap of wood against rubber, the collision of body against body, then body against board; and finally, the crowd and its fickle crescendo.” The tone deftly oscillates between moodiness and humor, capturing the angst of the tale’s teens without becoming self-serious. Though this is very much an archetypal story, the blend of Native American fantasy elements and a noirish Canadian setting make this a memorable addition to the genre. A promising first episode of a new series with a striking hero and a coyote spirit.

About the Author

David A. Robertson is an award-winning writer. His books include When We Were Alone (Governor General’s Literary Award winner, McNally Robinson Best Book For Young People winner, TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award finalist), Will I See? (winner Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award Graphic Novel Category), and the YA novel Strangers. David educates as well as entertains through his writings about Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, reflecting their cultures, histories, communities, as well as illuminating many contemporary issues.

David is a member of Norway House Cree Nation. He lives in Winnipeg. His website is www.darobertson.ca.

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Strangers on Amazon

Strangers on Goodreads

Strangers Publisher Page

To the Moon! by Jeffrey Kluger

To the Moon!: The True Story of the American Heroes on the Apollo 8 Spaceship by Jeffrey Kluger. March 20, 2018. Philomel Books, 288 p. ISBN: 9781524741013.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 8.9; Lexile: 1180.

The true story of Apollo 8, the first crewed spaceship to break free of the Earth’s orbit and reach the moon.

The year was 1968, and the American people were still reeling from the spacecraft fire that killed the Apollo 1 crew a year earlier. On top of that, there were rumors that the Russian cosmonauts were getting ready to fly around the moon. NASA realized that they needed to take a bold step — and that they needed to take it now. They wanted to win the space race against Russia and hold true to President Kennedy’s promise to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. So in a risky move, a few days before Christmas of that year, they sent Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders to the moon!

This book tells the story of these three men, the frantic rush to get their rocket ready, and the journey that gave the American people — and the world — a new look at the planet we live on and the corner of space we inhabit.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

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Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 6-9. In 1968, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders were training for their mission to orbit Earth when they learned that their planned flight had been changed. With only 16 weeks to prepare, they would be circling the moon instead. This young readers edition of Kluger’s Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon (2017) briefly traces Borman’s career, before focusing on those 16 weeks of specialized training and the memorable six-day journey. Full of details, this account of the astronauts’ experiences gives readers the sense that they’re along for the ride, keenly aware of the physical challenges of space flight, but sharing moments of awestruck wonder as well. After explaining the backdrop of the Space Race, Kluger tells the main story with a good balance of technological details and human-interest narratives, including the scenes of the astronauts’ families during the long, tense days between liftoff and splashdown. Illustrations (some not seen) include photos and diagrams. An engaging, informative account of the Apollo 8 mission.

Kirkus Reviews (January 1, 2018)
In this account of the Apollo 8 flight, astronaut Frank Borman and his crewmates take the first manned trip around the moon at the height of the 1960s space race. With the assistance of Shamir, Kluger introduces readers to the central figure, Frank Borman, as a boy with dreams of flying who becomes a groundbreaking astronaut. Though there were earlier flights, the book begins with the Gemini 7 and includes all missions through Apollo 8. The pacing until the Apollo flights is slow, but the fascinating details about eating, sleeping, and taking care of business while in space will keep readers turning pages. The co-authors thoughtfully and naturally explain unfamiliar concepts such as how rockets launch and what makes them fly. The writing is best when exploring the people behind the history—the astronauts’ families, friendships, and sorrow at the loss of the Apollo 1 crew—but these compelling details are too few. Similarly, the narrative paints an incomplete picture of the 1960s, with only brief mentions of the civil rights movement, anti-war protests, and the Cold War. Though the tone overall is matter-of-fact, there are a few beautiful, poetic lines. The epilogue is a romantic ode to the space race with reminders of its remarkable legacy. In an author’s note, Kluger briefly describes his process and sources, but there is no formal bibliography. This detailed account of a lesser-known space flight varies in narrative quality but does just enough to draw in readers who grew up well after the space race. (photographs, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Jeffrey Kluger is a senior writer for TIME. He joined TIME as a contributor in 1996, and was named a senior writer in 1998. He has written a number of cover stories, including reports on the connection between sex and health, the Mars Pathfinder landing, the loss of the shuttle Columbia, and the collision aboard the Mir space station.

In 2002, Mr. Kluger along with two other colleagues, won First Place in the Overseas Press Club of America’s Whitman Bassow Award for best reporting in any medium on international environmental issues for their “Global Warming” cover package (April 9, 2001).

Prior to joining TIME, he was a staff writer for Discover magazine, where he wrote the Light Elements humor column. He was also a writer and editor for New York Times Business World Magazine, Family Circle, and Science Digest.

Mr. Kluger is the co-author, along with astronaut Jim Lovell, of Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13, which served as the basis of the “Apollo 13” movie released in 1995. He later wrote Journey Beyond Selene, a book about the unmanned exploration of the solar system, and is currently writing a book for Putnam about Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine.

Mr. Kluger is also a licensed attorney, and intermittently taught science journalism at New York University.

Jeffrey Kluger lives in Manhattan, New York, with his wife and two daughters. His website is jeffreykluger.com.

Teacher Resources

Apollo Space Program Lesson Plans

Around the Web

To the Moon! on Amazon

To the Moon! on Goodreads

To the Moon! Publisher Page

The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk. March 6, 2018. Delacorte Press, 336 p. ISBN: 9781524715892.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 810.

Told from three diverse points of view, this story of life and love after loss is one Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give , calls a “stunning, heart-wrenching look at grief that will stay with you long after you put it down.” 

We’ve lost everything…and found ourselves.

Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death might pull them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was: a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan has always turned to writing love songs when his real love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan is a guy who can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger who’s struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Underage drinking, Suicide, Marijuana, Alcohol abuse

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 7))
Grades 9-12. Autumn, Shay, and Logan have something in common: the loss of a loved one. Autumn’s best friend, Tavia, has died in a car wreck; Shay’s twin sister, Sasha, has died of leukemia; and Logan’s erstwhile boyfriend, Bram, has died of an apparent suicide. The three teens are further linked by their love of music, though each reacts to the various deaths in individual, at first unhealthy, ways. Autumn obsesses, Shay has panic attacks, and Logan drinks heavily. Despite these differences, all three have one common coping mechanism: they cry. Boy, do they cry. Gallons of tears are shed in this novel, too many, really, since their quantity tends to mitigate their impact. That quibble aside, Woodfolk has done an exemplary job of character creating and building. Her three co-protagonists are fully realized, empathetic individuals for whom readers will care. They grow and change believably as they begin to find ways to deal with their grief, and the resolutions of their emotional crises are lucid and deeply satisfying, as, ultimately, is this fine first novel.

Kirkus Reviews (December 15, 2017)
Isolated by three untimely deaths, a diverse assortment of teen millennials seeks healing in friendship and music. Shy Autumn, a Korean-American adoptee, was stunned when her best friend, Tavia, a lively Latinx extrovert, died in a one-car accident returning from a party. Autumn’s guilt over having skipped the party to hang out with Tavia’s brother, Dante, threatens to derail their dawning romance. Bram died months after he’d left Logan for Latinx Yara, a girl. In pain, blocked emotionally and creatively, Logan, a white, singer/songwriter, self-medicates with alcohol. Black identical twins Shay and Sasha were close until leukemia took Sasha’s life. Shay was a strong student and runner; now panic attacks prevent her from focusing on school or the music fan site the two started, on which they’d promoted a once-promising, now-defunct band called Unraveling Lovely—made up of Logan, Dante, and Sasha’s boyfriend, Rohan. Their intersecting stories chart how the void left by death reshapes relationships among survivors: friends, parents, children. Sasha’s long illness defined her three-person family; now Shay and her mother must remake their connection. For Logan, Yara proves an unexpected ally. While Shay and Logan have strong, distinctive voices, Autumn’s agony—with her shorter emotional journey and narrative arc—is less convincing. (That her adopted status might affect her reaction to loss is suggested but unexplored.) All cherish images and voices of those lost, preserved in digital media, but the sensitively wrought narrative braid argues that only the living can comfort and heal. An ambitious debut from a writer to watch. (Fiction. 14-17)

About the Author

Ashley Woodfolk graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in English and her life-long love of books led her straight to the publishing industry. She’s a member of the CBC Diversity Committee and markets books for children and teens. In her abundance of “spare” time, she writes contemporary YA. Indie movies, beer, books, and burgers are a few of her favorite things. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and pit bull puppy, Winnie. The Beauty That Remains is her debut novel.

Her website is www.ashleywoodfolk.com.

Around the Web

The Beauty That Remains on Amazon

The Beauty That Remains on Goodreads

The Beauty That Remains Publisher Page

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

the Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. February 6, 2018. Disney Hyperion, 440 p. ISBN: 9781484728499.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile:.

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

Part of Series: The Belles (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Alcohol, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities

 

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Reviews

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 1, 2017)
In Tiny Pretty Things co-author Clayton’s solo debut, beauty comes at a price.On their joint 16th birthday, Camellia and her five sisters are sent out to restore beauty to Orléans, where everybody is born gray and ugly. They’ve been training for this their whole lives. As Belles, the sisters can use their magic to transform the citizens of Orléans from their original states. For the right price, Belles can grant any desired look. When Camellia secures the coveted spot of Her Majesty’s favorite, it seems as if her dreams have come true. As the most powerful, sought-out Belle, she is in charge of the royal family’s looks. However, the princess is insatiable in her quest for beauty and will do anything to get it—even if it means endangering the Belles and the kingdom—and Camellia may be the only one who can stop her. Not only that, but Camellia finds herself slowly uncovering the secrets of the Belles’ origin, and it’s not as pretty as she was taught. With wonderfully descriptive language, Clayton builds a grand and lavish world, carefully chipping away at the veneer to reveal its dark, sinister interior. In a world where anyone can change their skin color as often as they can change their hair color, race is fluid. Camellia is brown, and her sisters are various shades of brown and pale. With a refreshingly original concept, this substantial fantasy, the first in a duology, is an undeniable page-turner. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Publishers Weekly (November 20, 2017)
Sixteen-year-old sisters Camellia, Edelweiss, Ambrosia, Padma, Valeria, and Hana are the new generation of Belles, young women who are responsible for keeping the citizens of Orléans beautiful, magically transforming their appearances to align with the latest trends. Descendants of the Goddess of Beauty, the Belles are paid to perform their magic to prevent their people from reverting to pallid, red-eyed creatures, their natural state. Talented Camellia believes that she will be selected as the Queen’s favorite, a role the sisters covet deeply. But when another Belle is chosen, and Camellia is assigned to a teahouse to perform beauty rituals on the wealthy, she begins to wonder if what she has always believed about the Belles is true. Clayton (coauthor of Tiny Pretty Things) creates a vivid island world in this enticing series opener, saturating the narration with lush descriptions (“Carts hold tiers of pastries frosted in rose-petal pinks and pearly whites and apple reds, flutes overflow with jewel-tone liquids”) that reflect the culture’s obsession with elegance, appearance, and luxury. Readers will be left with much to consider about morality, individuality, and the malleability and artificiality of beauty. Ages 14-up. Agent: Victoria Marini, Irene Goodman Literary. (Feb.)

About the Author

Dhonielle Clayton is the co-author of the Tiny Pretty Things series. She grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs on the Maryland side and spent most of her time under her grandmother’s table with a stack of books. A former teacher and middle school librarian, Dhonielle is co-founder of CAKE Literary—a creative development company whipping up decidedly diverse books for a wide array of readers—and COO of the non-profit, We Need Diverse Books.

She’s got a serious travel bug and loves spending time outside of the USA, but makes her home in New York City, where she can most likely be found hunting for the best slice of pizza. Her website is www.dhonielleclayton.com.

Around the Web

The Belles on Amazon

The Belles on Goodreads

The Belles Publisher Page

The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan

The Burning Maze: The Trials of Apollo, Book Threeby Rick Riordan. May 1, 2018. Disney-Hyperion, 448 p. ISBN: 9781484746431.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.9.

Zeus has punished his son Apollo—god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more—by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo do anything about them without his powers?

After experiencing a series of dangerous—and frankly, humiliating—trials at Camp Half-Blood, Apollo must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he’s gaining in new friendships—with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride. . . .

Sequel to: The Dark Prophecy

Part of Series: The Trials of Apollo (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns; Violence; Animal cruelty; Murder

Book Trailer

About the Author

Rick Riordan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the Kane Chronicles, and the Heroes of Olympus. He is also the author of the multi-award-winning Tres Navarre mystery series for adults.

For fifteen years, Rick taught English and history at public and private middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Texas. In 2002, Saint Mary’s Hall honored him with the school’s first Master Teacher Award.

While teaching full time, Riordan began writing mystery novels for grownups. His Tres Navarre series went on to win the top three national awards in the mystery genre – the Edgar, the Anthony and the Shamus. Riordan turned to children’s fiction when he started The Lightning Thief as a bedtime story for his oldest son.

Rick Riordan now writes full-time. He lives in Boston with his wife and two sons.

His website is www.rickriordan.com.

Teacher Resources

Trials of Apollo  Teaching Resources

Around the Web

The Burning Maze on Amazon

The Burning Maze on Goodreads

The Burning Maze Publisher Page

American Panda by Gloria Chao

American Panda by Gloria Chao. February 6, 2018. Simon Pulse, 311 p. ISBN: 9781481499101.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 780.

An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Discrimination, Strong sexual themes, Body humor, Graphic descriptions, Mention of child abuse

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 9-12. For Mei, age 17 doesn’t involve prom dates. Instead, she’s a hopeful medical student at MIT, exactly as her parents planned. Mei strains against the expectations of her traditional Chinese parents, especially after they disowned her brother for choosing love over familial duty. At first, dance is the secret indulgence she must hide from them, but soon it graduates to a cute Japanese (read: unsuitable) boy and even worse—contact with her ostracized brother. She comes to understand her culture to be both a source of pride and a prison sentence, and she must find the strength to empathize with her parents, who are just as trapped by expectations. Vibrant, complex, and refreshing, this book crafts a nuanced view of growing up in a family beholden to centuries of tradition. Chao is meticulous in showing the wrinkles of a Chinese upbringing, especially in the face of an individualistic American society. Chao’s also wickedly funny; she’s not afraid of placing Mei in embarrassing situations to show readers what she’s made of. Moreover, Chao devotes a generous amount of effort to fleshing out Mei’s mother, transforming her from antagonist to someone with whom Mei learns to identify. A soulful and hilarious debut.

Kirkus Reviews (December 15, 2017)
A Taiwanese-American girl finally starts to experience life beyond her overbearing parents.Mei, a 17-year-old freshman at MIT, has followed her parents’ plans so far. Now all she has to do is get into a good medical school, become a doctor, and marry a nice Taiwanese boy. But with some distance from her parents (living in the Boston suburbs, they still demand to see her at weekly check-ins), Mei starts to buckle under the weight of their expectations and the truths she discovers about herself: she’s a germophobe who can’t stomach the thought of medical school. She really, really likes Darren, a Japanese-American classmate. Unfortunately, a thinly drawn cast of characters (an old friend appears in just one chapter to make a point) and heavy-handed first-person reflections (“She didn’t know anything about them, my situation, how hard it was to straddle two cultures”) sometimes read more as a book about cultural stereotypes and self-discovery than a compelling, fully fleshed novel. Awkwardly specific and quickly dated cultural references such as a Facebook check-in and an explanation of the term “hack” jar readers from the narrative. Nonetheless, Chao’s inclusions of an Asian male romantic interest, a slightly nontraditional Asian female lead (size 8 with a big nose and “man-laugh”), and casual Mandarin dialogue are welcome and will appeal to uninitiated readers. A worthy story that stumbles. (author’s note) (Fiction. 12-17)

About the Author

Gloria Chao is an MIT grad turned dentist turned writer. American Panda is her debut novel and Misaligned is forthcoming fall 2019.

Gloria currently lives in Chicago with her ever-supportive husband, for whom she became a nine-hole golfer (sometimes seven). She is always up for cooperative board games, Dance Dance Revolution, or soup dumplings. She was also once a black belt in kung-fu and a competitive dancer, but that side of her was drilled and suctioned out.

Her website is gloriachao.wordpress.com.

Around the Web

American Panda on Amazon

American Panda on Goodreads

American Panda Publisher Page

Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLelland

Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLelland. February 20, 2018. Henry Holt & Co. BYR, 336 p. ISBN: 9781250124326.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.8; Lexile: 760.

The first book in a new middle-grade fantasy action-adventure series set in the Old West.

A band of orphan avengers. A cursed stone. A horde of zombie outlaws. This is Keech Blackwood’s new life after Bad Whiskey Nelson descends upon the Home for Lost Causes and burns it to the ground.

With his home destroyed and his family lost, Keech will have to use the lessons he learned from Pa Abner to hunt down the powerful Char Stone. Luckily, he has the help of a ragtag team of orphans. Together, they’ll travel through treacherous forests, fight off the risen dead, and discover that they share mysterious bonds as they try to track down the legendary stone. Now, it’s a race against the clock, because if Bad Whiskey finds the stone first. . . . all is lost.

Part of Series: Legends of Lost Causes (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Smoking, Some gruesome imagery, Death of a parent

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 4-7. “I may be a greenhorn,” Keech Blackwood tells a “lawdog” sheriff, “but I’m far from a child.” And it’s true that, at 13, Keech has seen far more than most—he’s just recently watched his orphanage home burned with all his foster siblings inside and his caretakers killed by a man called Bad Whiskey Nelson. Now Keech is after vengeance, but when he meets a fellow group of orphans out for the same, the quest changes. The group sets out to track down a powerful object called the Char Stone, but Bad Whiskey is after it, too, and he’s got an army of outlaws he’s raised from the dead. Keech and his new crew battle zombie cowboys and the treacherous Wild West as they search for the stone, and discover things in their pasts that tie them to the quest. Cowriters McLelland and Sylvester incorporate aspects of Osage culture and legend into this action-packed series starter. Part western, part zombie flick, this pits scrappy, resourceful kids against some menacing villains—always a recipe for success.

School Library Journal (February 1, 2018)
Gr 4-7-McLelland and Sylvester’s debut novel and series opener is a classic Western full of cowboys, adventure, and a sprinkling of the supernatural. In 1850s Missouri, orphans Keech and Sam’s peaceful life at the Home for Lost Causes is interrupted when a stranger named Bad Whiskey comes looking for the orphanage’s patriarch, Pa Abner. As it turns out, Pa-whose real name is Isaiah Raines-used to be part of a group known as the Enforcers. When Pa doesn’t reveal the location of the mysterious Char Stone, Bad Whiskey shoots Pa dead and burns the orphanage to the ground. Only Keech escapes and, on the road, joins a band of other orphans to follow Pa’s secret telegram to find the Char Stone before Bad Whiskey and his army of undead thralls do. The characters are all larger-than-life, including a few that stand out against the White majority: Keech is part Osage and Cutter is Latinx. The Old West lingo-laden dialogue is pitch-perfect-not to mention contagious. It’s rare to see a Western in middle grade fiction-especially one that, like this one, eliminates some of the genre’s more harmful stereotypes of Native populations. -Alec Chunn, Eugene Public Library, OR

About the Author

Born and raised in Arkansas, Brad McLelland spent several years working as a crime journalist in the South before earning his MFA in creative writing from Oklahoma State University. A part-time drummer and singer, Brad lives in Oklahoma with his wife, stepdaughter, a mini-Aussie who gives hugs, and a chubby cat who begs for ham.

His website is www.bradmcbooks.com.

Around the Web

Legends of the Lost Causes on Amazon

Legends of the Lost Causes on Goodreads

Legends of the Lost Causes Publisher Page

Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda. February 20, 2018. Fiewel & Friends, 378 p. ISBN: 9781250085894.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 770.

Set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound, here is a frightening, fast-paced YA adventure from the author of the acclaimed horror novel, Shutter.

Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.

Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.

Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.

In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you’ll hear.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Physical abuse

 

Reviews

School Library Journal
Before humans made Earth completely unlivable, the Exodus project was launched, sending out manned spacecrafts to begin the process of planetary colonization. Among them, the USS John Muir carried the soil and plant life needed for terraforming. That was 400 years ago. The ships were lost; now, finding them is the last hope for human survival. In this intense sci-fi thriller, Alameda paints a bleak picture of the future and poses the question: Is the human species worthy of being saved? Two teen protagonists provide the first-person play-by-play in alternating chapters. Tuck, a white self-deprecating loner, belatedly awakens from stasis aboard the John Muir to discover most of the crew are missing and the ship is overrun with deadly monsters. Shocked by the passage of time and keenly aware of how unlikely it is they’ll be found, Tuck shows little concern for death in keeping the ship operational. Laura, a talented hacker and budding archaeologist of Latinx heritage, searches with her family for the original Exodus ships in hopes of finding and salvaging valuable cargo. When Laura’s ship’s computer is hijacked by terrorists, Tuck and Laura are the only two people capable of saving their crews and, possibly, the entire human species. The nail-biting plot will keep teens engaged, even though the terrifying monsters are poorly explained. The budding romance between the two complex protagonists takes a backseat to the high-octane action. —Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA

About the Author

A veteran bookseller and librarian, Courtney Alameda now spends her days writing thriller and horror novels for young people. Her debut novel, Shutter, was nominated for a Bram Stoker award and hailed as a “standout in the genre” by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novel, Pitch Dark (Spring 2017), is a genre-blending science fiction/horror novel in the vein of Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. She is represented by the talented John M. Cusick of Folio Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, a legion of books, and a tiny five pound cat with a giant personality. Her website is www.courtneyalameda.com.

Around the Web

Pitch Dark on Amazon

Pitch Dark on Goodreads

Pitch Dark Publisher Page