Tag Archives: adventure

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman. February 5, 2019. Nancy Paulsen Books, 208 p. ISBN: 9781524738112.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.0.

Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman’s stirring middle-grade debut.

Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter–and friendship–on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.

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

 

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Reviews

Booklist starred (February 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 11))
Grades 5-7. In India, 11-year-old Viji and her 12-year-old sister, Rukku, run away to Chennai after their violent father strikes out at them. Unprepared for living on the streets, they befriend two homeless boys: Arul, who lost his family in a tsunami, and Muthu, who escaped from a so-called school where he was confined and forced to work. Together they pick through garbage dumps for glass and metal scraps to sell, sleep on an abandoned bridge, and form their own family. Rukku’s intellectual disability has made her dependent on Viji, who gradually learns that her sister is more capable than she had thought. When Rukku and Muthu fall ill, Viji makes tough decisions in hopes of saving their lives and later must cope with her grief before she can move on. The four children and their tight-knit relationship are portrayed with conviction and finesse. Written in the form of a letter from Viji to her sister, the affecting narrative transports readers to a faraway setting that becomes vivid and real. Although the young characters face unusually difficult challenges, they nevertheless find the courage they need to move forward. The author of A Time to Dance (2014), Venkatraman offers an absorbing novel of love, loss, and resilience.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2018)
Venkatraman’s middle-grade debut tackles sisterhood, chosen families, and loss. Eleven-year-old Viji and her sister, Rukku, flee their abusive father after he breaks Amma’s arm and kicks Rukku. They find themselves, overwhelmed, in the big city of Chennai, where they are temporarily employed by kind Teashop Aunty, who offers them bananas and vadais, and fall in love with a puppy, Kutti, who becomes their constant companion. The sisters meet Muthu and Arul, two boys who live under an abandoned bridge, and join them; Viji tells Rukku elaborate stories to reassure herself and her sister that they will be OK. Soon, Viji finds herself telling the young boys her stories as well; in return, the boys show the girls how to earn money on the streets: by scavenging for resalable trash in a very large garbage dump Muthu calls “the Himalayas of rubbish.” When tragedy strikes, it is this new family who helps Viji come to terms. Craftwise, the book is thoughtful: Venkatraman employs the second person throughout as Viji writes to Rukku, and readers will ultimately understand that Viji is processing her grief by writing their story. Viji’s narration is vivid and sensory; moonlight “slip[s] past the rusty iron bars on our window”; “the taste of half an orange…last[s] and last[s].” The novel also touches on social justice issues such as caste, child labor, and poverty elegantly, without sacrificing narrative. A blisteringly beautiful book. (Fiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Padma Venkatraman was born in Chennai, India, and became an American citizen after attaining a Ph.D. in oceanography from The College of William and Mary. She is also the author of A Time to Dance (IBBY selection, ALA Notable, CCBC Choice, Notable Books for a Global Society winner, and South Asia Book Award Honor Book), Island’s End (ALA Best Book of the Year, ALA/Amelia Bloomer List selection, and CCBC Best Book), and Climbing the Stairs (Julia Ward Howe Award, Bank Street Best Book, YALSA BBYA selection, Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, and CCBC Choice).

Her website is www.padmavenkatraman.com

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The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away by Ronald L. Smith

The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away by Ronald L. Smith. February 19, 2019. Clarion Books, 224 p. ISBN: 9781328841605.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.4.

Twelve-year-old Simon is obsessed with aliens. The ones who take people and do experiments. When he’s too worried about them to sleep, he listens to the owls hoot outside. Owls that have the same eyes as aliens—dark and foreboding.

Then something strange happens on a camping trip, and Simon begins to suspect he’s been abducted. But is it real, or just the overactive imagination of a kid who loves fantasy and role-playing games and is the target of bullies and his father’s scorn?

Even readers who don’t believe in UFOs will relate to the universal kid feeling of not being taken seriously by adults that deepens this deliciously scary tale.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Grotesque imagery, Mild language, Verbal abuse

 

Reviews

Booklist (November 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 6))
Grades 5-7. Smith (Hoodoo, 2015) continues to be one of the most distinct and impressive voices in middle-grade speculative fiction right now. Twelve-year-old Simon’s longtime obsession with aliens comes to a head when his parents take him camping over the summer. After a terrifying encounter with an owl leaves him with memory loss and a small, mysterious wound on his stomach, Simon worries that he’s been abducted and implanted with an alien tracking device. Peppered with moments of reflection and insight, Simon’s piercing narration strikes a delightfully conspiratorial tone as he confides in, and at times speaks directly to, the reader. Smith plants a seed of dread and suspense early on that grows and grows, right up until the very last page. The unexpected ending simultaneously wraps up the story line, leaves the reader satisfied, and furthers the book’s propensity to blur genre lines. This is an unassuming, stand-alone story that sneaks up when least expected, and it will be hard to forget.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2018)
A young boy gets more than he bargained for while researching conspiracy theories about the government and UFOs in Smith’s latest. Twelve-year-old, biracial Simon is a quirky kid. He lives on an Air Force base, he reads and writes high fantasy stories, and he believes in aliens. Not just any aliens, but “Grays”—the large-headed, spindly-fingered visitors of Roswell fame. Most of the information that Simon can find is from supposed coverups of the Grays’ frighteningly hostile abductions of humans—theories that sound perfectly rational until he says them out loud, especially to his disapproving parents. But theory bleeds into reality when Simon encounters a bright light and a large owl in the woods, leaving him with an odd scar and a jumble of fragmented memories. Simon’s parents worry for his mental health as Simon himself spirals in his search for explanations, certain that the Grays are trying to communicate and that their message is not so friendly. A theme of liminality runs through the narrative as Simon’s interests, including his own writing, explore the limits of black-or-white human concepts and the gray areas where those binaries break down—gray like invading aliens; both black and white like Simon. A stilted conclusion and unnecessary epilogue propped up by platitudes about special children who can save humanity mar an otherwise terrific alien thrill. A middle-grade X-Files primer, a great ride until it stumbles at the finish line. (Science fiction. 10-13)

About the Author

“I grew up on Air Force bases and have lived in Japan, Maine, Alabama, Michigan, South Carolina, Delaware, Washington, DC, Illinois and a bunch of other places I don’t remember. After reading Ray Bradbury’s R is for Rocket and Eleanor Cameron’s Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet I fell in love with books.

I haven’t stopped reading since.”

His website is www.strangeblackflowers.com

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¿Quién es Carmen Sandiego? (Who in the World is Carmen Sandiego?) by Rebecca Tinker

¿Quién es Carmen Sandiego? (Who in the World is Carmen Sandiego?) by Rebecca Tinker. January 29, 2019. HMH Books for Young Readers, 256 p. ISBN: 9781328526816.  Int Lvl: 5-8.

Based on the Netflix original series with a foreword by Gina Rodriguez. For decades, people have asked the question: Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? But just who is this infamous and elusive globe-trotting criminal? 

A skilled thief on a mysterious mission, Carmen Sandiego is endlessly pursued by ACME and Interpol. But the woman in the red fedora is always one step ahead! In this novelization, based on the Netflix animated series, Carmen shares her own backstory for the first time ever. Now, it’s time to find out…. Who in the world is Carmen Sandiego.

Potentially Sensitive Areas:Criminal culture; Violence

 

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Who in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? Character Page with Printables

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King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. January 29, 2019. Imprint, 528 p. ISBN: 9781250142283.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

The Grishaverse will be coming to Netflix soon with Shadow and Bone, an original series!

Face your demons…or feed them.

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war―and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried―and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

Part of Series: King of Scars (Book #1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Violence

 

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Reviews

Booklist starred (February 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 11))
Grades 9-12. Though the nation of Ravka survived a brutal civil war, it was left ravaged and scarred, and no one knows this better than its king. Infected with traces of dark magic at the end of Ruin and Rising (2014), the concluding volume to Bardugo’s first foray into the Grishaverse, Nikolai Lantsov weathers uncontrollable transformations in this duology starter, as he, charming king by day, becomes without warning a vicious beast in the night. With Ravka in desperate need of stabilization and delegations of princesses—potential brides—on their way, Nikolai and his Grisha general, the unshakable Zoya Nazyalensky, set off on a journey that, futile though it may be, takes them deep into the history of their country as they search for a cure. Meanwhile, in Fjerda, to the north, Grisha soldier Nina Zenik is on a mission of her own, one that’s part spy assignment on Nikolai’s orders, part a deeply personal journey through grief. This is Bardugo’s third series in the Grishaverse, and while it draws from both the Grisha trilogy and the Six of Crows duology, both Bardugo’s skill and Nikolai’s appeal are such that readers new to the world should have no problem joining in. Deadly clever political intrigue, heart-stopping adventure, memorable characters, and several understated, hinted-at romances (how will we wait?!) come together in one glorious, Slavic-folklore-infused package. Bardugo’s star continues to rise.

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2019)
In this Grishaverse novel, King Nikolai struggles to keep his kingdom afloat in a destabilized, rapidly changing world. Though Ravka’s civil war ended three years ago, Ravka still faces threats both domestic—pretenders to the throne, policies that are popular with commoners but anger nobility—and external—old enemies like Fjerda, debts owed to Kerch. Worse, for the past 6 months Nikolai has been struggling with an enemy inside himself: The monstrous curse thought ended by the death of the Darkling re-emerges when he sleeps, posing a danger to his people, crown, and soul. With traveling becoming too risky given his secrets, Nikolai and his inner circle hatch a display of strength that will bring the other powers to him for diplomacy, using the cover of his seeking a queen. Meanwhile, in the months since the end of Crooked Kingdom (2016), grieving Nina has returned to Fjerda on a mission to rescue and recruit Grisha. Following the call of her changed abilities, she’s drawn to an area with poisoned waters and a mysterious factory holding dark secrets. Multiple romantic storylines among the multiethnic cast develop organically and don’t pull the focus away from keeping up with the plots. Strategically-deployed backstory makes already likable characters even more compelling; international political developments (especially with Grisha experimentation) are woven seamlessly in with the epic themes. Will leave readers begging for the sequel. (cast, maps) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

About the Author

Leigh Bardugo is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising).

She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently, makeup and special effects. These days, she’s lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

She would be elated if you visited her web site.

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Dust Storm! by Terry Lynn Johnson

Dust Storm! by Terry Lynn Johnson. November 6, 2018. HMH Books for Young Readers, 128 p. ISBN: 9780544970984.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 4.4; Lexile: 590.

Stay calm. Stay smart. Survive.

Stranded after a dust storm hits in a desert in New Mexico, sixth-graders Jen and Martin must call upon real-life skills to come to the rescue. When disaster strikes, they will have to use all their knowledge and grit to survive.

Part of Series: Survivor Diaries

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

About the Author

Terry Lynn Johnson writes outdoor adventures.

Terry’s writing is inspired by her own team of eighteen Alaskan huskies. Her passion for adventure has provided her with a rich background to write from.

When she’s not writing, Terry enjoys hiking, snowshoeing, and kayaking. She works as a Conservation Officer (Game Warden) in Whitefish Falls, Ontario.

Her website is www.terrylynnjohnson.com

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The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee. October 2, 2018. Katherine Tegen Books, 450 p. ISBN: 9780062795328.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

In this highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Felicity Montague must use all her womanly wits and wiles to achieve her dreams of becoming a doctor—even if she has to scheme her way across Europe to do it. A must-have for fans of Mackenzi Lee’s extraordinary and Stonewall Honor-winning novel.

A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.

But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid.

In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.

Sequel to: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Part of Series: Montague Siblings (Book #2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Drugs, Mild sexual themes, Racism

 

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Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. Though her elder brother Monty may be content, cuddled up in the dregs of London with the boy of his dreams (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, 2017), Felicity Montague has grander ambitions. Unfortunately, it’s the eighteenth century, and ambition in a woman isn’t well received. Felicity, who is determined to become a physician, has been met with resounding rejection from the hospitals of Edinburgh, though she has received a proposal that she won’t be accepting. Then she learns her medical idol may need an assistant, and he’s more forward-thinking than most—but he’s about to marry Johanna Hoffman, Felicity’s childhood best friend turned nemesis. Still, Felicity never said no to a challenge before, and so begins an adventure featuring field surgery, pirates, sea dragons, and one truly massive dog. Felicity, comfortable discussing medical science and not much else, and who ultimately realizes that she’s not interested in romantic or sexual relationships of any kind, is a singular heroine; Lee navigates her narration with even more aplomb than she did Monty’s. Felicity’s reconnection with Johanna and her gradual awareness of her own dismissiveness toward traditionally feminine interests adds wonderful depth, and Sim, the Muslim pirate inspired by pirate queens through history, offers a different image of strength and a window into a wider world. Lee’s research is thorough and organically incorporated, and this action-driven adventure is a joy.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 15, 2018)
Felicity Montague fights to take up space in a world that demands she remain invisible. Barred from study at hospitals and universities because of her sex, Felicity chases her dreams of medical study from London all the way to Stuttgart, where her idol, Alexander Platt, an expert in preventative medicine, plans to marry before embarking on an expedition. Without any money of her own since she ran away from home, white English girl Felicity must rely on Sim, an Algerian Muslim woman with connections to piracy and secret motives. To make matters worse, Platt’s fiancee, Johanna Hoffman, also white, used to be Felicity’s best friend until falling out over their changing interests. As in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (2017), Stonewall Honor recipient Lee (Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World, 2018, etc.) develops a world rich in historical detail, crafts a plot wild with unexpected turns, and explores complex topics like colonization and identity. Felicity’s brother, Monty, and his boyfriend, Percy, play smaller roles in this volume; the story focuses on the relationships between Felicity, Sim, and Johanna as the three women fight their own battles for respect and recognition within societal systems built to suppress them. Traveling alongside Sim and Johanna challenges Felicity to acknowledge the flaws of her not-like-other-girls self-image and realize that strength comes in more than one form. An empowering and energetic adventure that celebrates friendship between women. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in history and an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Simmons College. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the historical fantasy novels This Monstrous Thing and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (HarperCollins), as well as the forthcoming The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (coming in 2018 from HarperCollins) and Semper Augustus (coming in 2019 from Flatiron/Macmillan). She is also the author of Bygone Badass Broads (Abrams, 2018), a collection of short biographies of amazing women from history you probably don’t know about but definitely should, based on her popular twitter series of the same name.

She currently calls Boston home, where she manages an independent bookstore, drinks too much Diet Coke, and pets every dog she meets.

Her website is www.mackenzilee.com

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Dry by Neal Shusterman

Dry by Neal Shusterman. October 2, 2018. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 390 p. ISBN: 9781481481960.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 790.

When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.

The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.

Until the taps run dry.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Underage smoking, Violence, Guns, Sexual exploitation of minors

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. Alyssa and her brother, Garrett, are normal kids in a suburb in Southern California—that is, until surrounding states shut the floodgates to the Colorado River due to prolonged drought. At first, people dismiss the news, but circumstances turn dire quickly when bottled water disappears off store shelves while the spigots remain dry. What ensues is a horrifyingly fast descent into barbarity as neighbor turns on neighbor, government intervention falls short, and society’s civil facade disintegrates. Alyssa and Garrett must travel to find new sources of water, all the while defending themselves against people crazed by thirst. While this book leans on siege-like tropes established in zombie movies, the Shustermans revivify the genre by adding an environmental twist. Using multiple points of view, the authors fully flesh out Alyssa, Garrett, and their travel companions to showcase the various ways people mentally approach calamities. The authors do not hold back—there is death, disease, manipulation, and chaos. None of it is presented simply, and none of it is sugarcoated. Lovers of horror action fiction will feel right at home with this terrifyingly realistic story of our tenuous relationship with the environment and of the resilience of the human spirit in the face of desperate situations.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 1, 2018)
When a calamitous drought overtakes southern California, a group of teens must struggle to keep their lives and their humanity in this father-son collaboration. When the Tap-Out hits and the state’s entire water supply runs dry, 16-year-old Alyssa Morrow and her little brother, Garrett, ration their Gatorade and try to be optimistic. That is, until their parents disappear, leaving them completely alone. Their neighbor Kelton McCracken was born into a survivalist family, but what use is that when it’s his family he has to survive? Kelton is determined to help Alyssa and Garrett, but with desperation comes danger, and he must lead them and two volatile new acquaintances on a perilous trek to safety and water. Occasionally interrupted by “snapshots” of perspectives outside the main plot, the narrative’s intensity steadily rises as self-interest turns deadly and friends turn on each other. No one does doom like Neal Shusterman (Thunderhead, 2018, etc.)—the breathtakingly jagged brink of apocalypse is only overshadowed by the sense that his dystopias lie just below the surface of readers’ fragile reality, a few thoughtless actions away. He and his debut novelist son have crafted a world of dark thirst and fiery desperation, which, despite the tendrils of hope that thread through the conclusion, feels alarmingly near to our future. There is an absence of racial markers, leaving characters’ identities open.< Mouths have never run so dry at the idea of thirst. (Thriller. 13-17)

About the Author

Neal Shusterman is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty award-winning books for children, teens, and adults, including The Unwind Dystology, The Skinjacker trilogy, Downsiders, and Challenger Deep, which won the National Book Award. Scythe, the first book in his newest series Arc of a Scythe, is a Michael L. Printz Honor Book. He also writes screenplays for motion pictures and television shows. The father of four children, Neal lives in California.

His website is www.storyman.com/

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Call of the Wraith by Kevin Sands

Call of the Wraith by Kevin Sands. September 25, 2018. Aladdin Books, 544 p. ISBN: 9781534428478.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.7.

Christopher Rowe is back and there are more puzzles, riddles, and secrets to uncover in this fourth novel of the award-winning Blackthorn Key series.

Christopher Rowe has no idea who he is. After being shipwrecked in Devonshire, he wakes up alone, his memories gone. Villagers tell him he was possessed by an unseen evil, and only became conscious after being visited by the local witch.

As Christopher tries to get his bearings, he realizes his current state may be far from coincidence. Dark events have been happening in this corner of Britain—village children are disappearing without a trace. There are whispers that the malevolent ghost of the White Lady has returned to steal the children away, one by one, and consume their souls.

Thankfully, friends Tom and Sally find Christopher and help him reconnect with his unique skills and talents, even as his memories elude him. But as motives and secrets are revealed, Christopher finds himself in a desperate race to reclaim his memories and discover the missing children before it’s too late

Sequel to: The Assassin’s Curse

Part of Series: The Blackthorn Key (Book 4)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Grotesque imagery, Violence, Child abuse

 

About the Author

Since escaping from university with a pair of degrees in theoretical physics, Kevin Sands has worked as a researcher, a business consultant, and a teacher.

His website is kevinsandsbooks.com.

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Where She Fell by Kaitlin Ward

Where She Fell by Kaitlin Ward. October 30, 2018. Point, 272 p. ISBN: 9781338230079.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 690.

Watch your step.

Eliza knows the legends about the swamp near her house—that people have fallen into sinkholes, never to be seen again, maybe even falling to the center of the earth. As an aspiring geologist, she knows the last part is impossible. But when her best friends drag her onto the uneven ground anyway, Eliza knows to be worried.

And when the earth opens under her feet, there isn’t even time to say I told you so.

As she scrambles through one cave, which leads to another, and another, Eliza finds herself in an impossible world—where a small group of people survive underground, running from vicious creatures, eating giant bugs, and creating their own subterranean society. Eliza is grateful to be alive, but this isn’t home. Is she willing to risk everything to get back to the surface?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Grotesque imagery, Mild sexual themes, Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (October 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 4))
Grades 8-11. When Eliza’s “friends” drag her to the swamp near her house on a dare, she tries to put on a brave face even though she knows the legends about the sinkholes. When the ground really does swallow her and drop her into a vast network of caves, she must rely on her love of geology to survive, a task that proves increasingly difficult as the caverns and their inhabitants—giant insects and glowing humanoids—begin to defy known science. But Eliza isn’t alone; there’s a small group of people who have similarly disappeared and found one another, and while their pseudosociety is at first a welcome relief, Eliza must resist the temptation to lose hope of returning to the surface world, as they have. Eliza’s literal journey through the dark tunnels mirrors her emotional journey as she reflects on social anxiety, cruel friends, and the lies she believes about herself. Though at times repetitive and lacking in subtlety, this empowering story of survival boasts a refreshingly realistic teenage voice and a lot of heart.

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2018)
A teenager battles social anxiety disorder and giant bugs in a subterranean world. When two bad friends to whom she’s been clinging trick her into venturing into the ominously named Drowners Swamp, Eliza falls into a sinkhole that leads into a seemingly endless cave system. Being an avid fan of caves and geology, Eliza is as enthralled as she is terrified—a mix of emotions that remains unaltered as she encounters a small community of likewise trapped people surviving on a diet of outsized spiders and cave insects. Weeks later she is captured (briefly, thanks to a conveniently timed spider attack) by bioluminescent humanoids. All the while, despite having been in therapy for years, she continually denigrates herself for panic attacks and freezing up around others. Her emotional reactions take up so much of the narrative, in fact, that for all its lurid, occasionally gruesome turns, it’s hard to tell whether character or action drives the story more. In the event, Eliza is surprised to find reserves of inner strength—and a chance at personal transformation—through her ordeal. The first-person narration is punctuated with excerpts and sketches from Eliza’s journal. Except for one character with brown skin, the nonglowing cast defaults to white. Warring themes and elements give this outing a distinct feel of multiple stories yoked together by violence. Melodramatic but definitively all over the place contentwise. (Science fiction. 12-14)

About the Author

Kaitlin Ward grew up on a dairy farm in a tiny New Hampshire town, the same town where she lives now with her husband and son. She studied animal science at Cornell University and cofounded the well-known blog YA Highway. She is also the author of Where She FellGirl in a Bad Place, and Bleeding Earth.

Her website is www.kaitlin-ward.com

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I Survived the Attack of the Grizzlies, 1967 by Lauren Tarshis

I Survived the Attack of the Grizzlies, 1967 by Lauren Tarshis. September 25, 2018. Scholastic Paperbacks, 144 p. ISBN: 9780545919838.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.2; Lexile: 550.

No grizzly has ever killed a human in Glacier before . . . until tonight. Eleven-year-old Melody Vega and her family come to Glacier National Park every year, and it’s always been a place where she can forget her troubles. But this year is different. With Mom gone, every moment in the park is a heartbreaking reminder of the past.

Then Mel comes face-to-face with the mighty grizzly. Now her only thought is one of survival. Mel will soon be a part of one of the most tragic seasons in the history of America’s national parks – a summer of terror that will forever change ideas about how grizzlies and humans can exist together in the wild.

Part of Series: I Survived (Book #17)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

About the Author

Lauren Tarshis often wonders how she came to spend most of her waking moments thinking about disasters, as the author of the children’s historical fiction series “I Survived.” Each book takes readers into the heart of history’s most thrilling and terrifying events, including the sinking of the Titanic, the Shark Attacks of 1916, Hurricane Katrina, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the San Francisco earthquake, 9/11, the Battle of Gettysburg and many more.

Lauren conducts extensive research to bring her topics to life. She has traveled to most of the locations where her books are set. Her goal is to open readers’ eyes to new chapters in history and to inspire them with stories of hope and resilience.

Her website is www.laurentarshis.com

Teaching Resources

I Survived Teaching Resources

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