Tag Archives: friendship

The First Rule of Punk by Celia Perez

The First Rule of Punk by Celia Perez. August 22, 2017. Viking Books for Young Readers, 336 p. ISBN: 9780425290408.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.2; Lexile: 670.

From debut author and longtime zine-maker Celia C. Perez, The First Rule of Punk is a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding your place, and learning to rock out like no one’s watching.

There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school–you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malu (Maria Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.

The real Malu loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malu finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!

Black and white illustrations and collage art throughout make The First Rule of Punk a perfect pick for fans of books like Roller Girl and online magazines like Rookie.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

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Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2017 (Online))
Grades 4-7. In her story of seventh-grader Malú, debut author Pérez harnesses the spirit of School of Rock and gives it a punk rock spin. Malú isn’t happy about her recent move to Chicago, because it meant leaving her dad (her parents are amicably divorced) and his record store behind. She tries to assume a brave punk attitude, but she can’t help being anxious on her first day of school, especially when she gets on the wrong side of the class mean girl. When Malú learns about the upcoming Fall Fiesta talent show, she decides to form a band, with the hopes of finding “her people” in the process. While this plan hits a few snags, it results in friendships and a Mexican punk mentor. Like any good riot grrrl, Malú finds a creative outlet in making zines, several of which appear in the novel and call attention to Malú’s passions, heritage (she is half Mexican), and private concerns. Pérez delivers an upbeat story of being true to yourself and your beliefs, that tweens will rally behind.

Kirkus Reviews starred (June 15, 2017)
Malú wants to be totally punk at her new middle school, but her Mexican-American mother would prefer she learn to be a proper señorita. Twelve-year-old María Luisa O’Neill-Morales, aka Malú, loves punk-rock music, hanging out at her father’s indie record store, and making zines. She doesn’t love moving from her home in Gainesville, Florida, to Chicago for her professor mother’s two-year appointment at a university. Although she loves both of her amicably divorced parents, Malú—who favors Chuck Taylors and music T’s—feels closer to her laid-back, artsy white father than her supportive but critical academic mother, whom she calls “SuperMexican.” At Malú’s new majority-Latino school, she quickly makes an enemy of beautiful Selena, who calls her a “coconut” (brown on the outside, white on the inside) and warns her about falling in with the class “weirdos.” Malú does befriend the school misfits (one activist white girl and two fellow “coconuts”) and enlists them to form a band to play a punk song at the Fall Fiesta. Middle-grade readers will appreciate the examples of Malú’s zines and artwork, which delightfully convey her journey of self-discovery. The author surrounds the feisty protagonist with a trio of older women (including her mom, her best friend Joe’s tattooed, punk-loving mother, and his humorous Abuela) who help her embrace being Mexican and punk. A charming debut about a thoughtful, creative preteen connecting to both halves of her identity. (Fiction. 9-13)

About the Author

Celia C. Pérez has been making zines inspired by punk and her love of writing for longer than some of you have been alive. Her favorite zine supplies are a long-arm stapler, glue sticks, and watercolor pencils. She still listens to punk music, and she’ll never stop picking cilantro out of her food at restaurants. Originally from Miami, Florida, Celia lives in Chicago with her family and works as a community college librarian. She owns two sets of worry dolls because you can never have too many. The First Rule of Punk is her first book for young readers.

Her website is celiacperez.com

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Saving Marty by Paul Griffin

Saving Marty by Paul Griffin. September 19, 2017. Dial Books for Young Readers, 208 p. ISBN: 9780399539077.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Lexile: 650.

Fans of Because of Winn Dixie will adore this warm and heart-wrenching story of the friendship between a boy and a pig who thinks it’s a dog.

Eleven-year-old Lorenzo Ventura knows heroes are rare–like his father, who died in the war, or his friend Paloma Lee, who fearlessly pursues her dream of being a famous musician. Renzo would never describe himself as a hero, but his chance comes when he adopts Marty, a runt piglet.

Marty is extraordinary–he thinks he’s a dog and acts like one too–and his bond with Renzo is truly one of a kind. At first, the family farm seems like the perfect home for Marty, but as he approaches 350 pounds, it becomes harder for Renzo to convince his mom that a giant pig makes a good pet. So when Marty causes a dangerous (and expensive) accident, Renzo knows Marty’s time is up. He’d do anything and everything for his best friend, but will everything be enough to save Marty?

Paul Griffin masterfully melds the heartrending and the hopeful in this unforgettable story about the power of friendship . . . and the unsung heroes all around us

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Violence, Discussion of war, Discussion of suicide, Racism

 

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Reviews

Booklist (September 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 1))
Grades 4-7. On the heels of the acclaimed When Friendship Followed Me Home (2016), Griffin returns with another story celebrating the deep bond between man and animal. In rural western Pennsylvania, Lorenzo Ventura, who’s large for his 11 years, forges a deep connection with a pig that thinks he’s a dog. Lorenzo names the pig Marty after the deceased father he never met, but unfortunately his mother, struggling to keep their household afloat, says Marty’s got to go. As Marty grows and grows, his girth causing a number of problems large and small, Lorenzo presses for information about his father. Though slight, Griffin’s novel packs a powerful punch, particularly when Lorenzo receives some unexpected news—his father, struggling with PTSD, had in fact committed suicide. A bit unfocused at the beginning, the story gains momentum midway, culminating in an emotional and heartrending climax. Griffin captures a slice of Americana—the flyover farms of middle America—rarely depicted so sensitively in contemporary middle-grade fiction. Hand this one to fans of animal-centered stories.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 1, 2017)
A failing peach farm and a mountain of bills force 12-year-old Lorenzo Ventura’s mother to consider selling his best friend, Marty—a pig who thinks he is a dog. The only things Renzo has to remember his father by are his Bronze Star, some letters, and his guitar. When new and conflicting details about his father’s death emerge, the white middle schooler is anxious to know the truth. But his mother and her father, Double Pop, are distracted with saving their home. When Paloma Lee, Renzo’s mixed-race (Korean and Colombian) friend, leaves for music camp, Renzo is left alone with his questions and Marty, whose size and enthusiasm are becoming dangerous. Renzo’s search for answers leads him to some profound truths: love is complicated, and people will continually surprise and sometimes disappoint you. But whether they are working single parents, military veterans, or simply friends willing to go the distance, heroes come in many types, and Renzo’s story is a celebration of them all. Renzo is a gentle-hearted dreamer who learns that there are some things worth fighting for. And Marty is the pig who guides him toward the man he is growing to be. Smart, honest, and heart-achingly real. (Fiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Paul Griffin lives, writes, and trains dogs in New York City. His previous novel, The Orange Houses, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults Top Ten, an International Reading Association 2010 Notable Book for a Global Society, a Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Book of 2009, and an Amelia Bloomer Project Award winner.

His website is www.paulgriffinstories.net

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Sled Dog School by Terry Lynn Johnson

Sled Dog School by Terry Lynn Johnson. October 3, 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 198 p. ISBN: 9780544873315.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.0; Lexile: 660.

Eleven-year-old Matt is struggling in school and he has to set up his own business to save his failing math grade. But what is he even good at? The only thing he truly loves is his team of dogs, and so Matt’s Sled Dog School is born. Teaching dogsledding should be easy, right? But people, just like dogs, can be unpredictable. And sometimes the bravest thing a person can do is admit they need help.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

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Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2017)
To fulfill a school project, an 11-year-old boy starts a sled dog school with unexpected results. Matt lives off the grid in Michigan with his parents and younger sister and wishes his family were more mainstream. His stay-at-home father knits and does pottery, and Matt is derisively called “Smokey” by his classmates for his woodstove-smoke smell. Matt is also doing poorly in math class even though he solves practical problems easily outside of school. One thing Matt does love about his life is the sled dogs his family raises and runs. For a school extra-credit project designed to teach business and accounting skills, Matt starts Sled Dog School. His two clients, both about his age, have vastly differing abilities and personalities. Tubbs, blithely uncoordinated, nonetheless has an enthusiastic personality, and his approbation of Matt’s family life makes Matt begin to see it with more appreciative eyes. Overachiever Alex is intelligent and naturally adept, but she is condescending—until a crisis brings all three together. Themes of friendship and problem-solving are slipped effortlessly into the funny and fresh plot, and authentic off-the-grid details bring the story to life. Everyone in the story appears to be white. A tale of loyalty and friendship—with a strong dose of validation for readers who learn from doing rather than books—that hits all the right notes. (Fiction. 9-12)

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

Teacher Resources

Sled Dog School Curriculum Guide

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Sled Dog School on Amazon

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All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson

All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson. September 5, 2017. Dial Books, 248 p. ISBN: 9780525429982.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.6.

The author of Roller Girl is back with a graphic novel about starting middle school, surviving your embarrassing family, and the Renaissance Faire.

Eleven-year-old Imogene (Impy) has grown up with two parents working at the Renaissance Faire, and she’s eager to begin her own training as a squire. First, though, she’ll need to prove her bravery. Luckily Impy has just the quest in mind–she’ll go to public school after a life of being homeschooled! But it’s not easy to act like a noble knight-in-training in middle school. Impy falls in with a group of girls who seem really nice (until they don’t) and starts to be embarrassed of her thrift shop apparel, her family’s unusual lifestyle, and their small, messy apartment. Impy has always thought of herself as a heroic knight, but when she does something really mean in order to fit in, she begins to wonder whether she might be more of a dragon after all.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Racial taunts, Discrimination, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities, Body humor, Bullying, Discussion of sex

 

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Booklist (September 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 2))
Grades 4-7. After years of homeschooling, Imogene is excited to start public school for the first time. Plus, she finally gets to perform in the Renaissance faire, where her mom has a shop (or, shoppe) and her dad plays a knight. Imogene doesn’t have much trouble sliding into her new role at the faire, but middle school is another story. Rules about who to sit with, what to wear, and how to fit in are confounding, especially when she’s getting some seriously mixed messages from the popular girls in her class and realizing how different her family is. Jamieson’s appealing, naturalistic artwork, full of warm tones, realistic-looking characters, and saturated colors, playfully incorporates medieval imagery along with Imogene’s more mundane homelife, particularly when Imogene fears that her misbehavior at home, thanks to frustrations at school, makes her more of a dragon than a knight. Jamieson masterfully taps into the voice and concerns of middle-schoolers, and the offbeat setting of the Renaissance faire adds some lively texture. Kids who loved Jamieson’s Roller Girl (2015) will adore this one, too.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 1, 2017)
A home-schooled squireling sallies forth to public school, where the woods turn out to be treacherous and dragons lie in wait.Imogene Vega has grown up among “faire-mily”; her brown-skinned dad is the resident evil knight at a seasonal Renaissance faire, her lighter-skinned mom is in charge of a gift shop, and other adult friends play various costumed roles. As a freshly minted “squire,” she happily charges into new weekend duties helping at jousts, practicing Elizabethan invective (“Thou lumpish reeling-ripe jolt-head!” “Thou loggerheaded rump-fed giglet!”), and keeping younger visitors entertained. But she loses her way when cast among crowds of strangers in sixth grade. Along with getting off on the wrong foot academically, she not only becomes a target of mockery after clumsy efforts to join a clique go humiliatingly awry, but alienates potential friends (and, later, loving parents and adoring little brother too). Amid stabs of regret she wonders whether she’s more dragon than knight. In her neatly drawn sequential panels, Newbery honoree Jamieson (Roller Girl, 2015) portrays a diverse cast of expressive, naturally posed figures occupying two equally immersive worlds. In the end Imogene wins the day in both, proving the mettle of her brave, decent heart in finding ways to make better choices and chivalric amends for her misdeeds. Readers will cheer her victories, wince at her stumbles, and likely demand visits to the nearest faire themselves to sample the wares and fun. (Graphic fiction. 10-13)

About the Author

Victoria Jamieson is the creator of the Newbery Honor winner Roller Girl. She received her BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design and worked as a children’s book designer before moving to Portland, Oregon and becoming a freelance illustrator. She has also worked as a portrait artist aboard a cruise ship, and has lived in Australia, Italy, and Canada. She maintains a not-so-secret identity as Winnie the Pow, skater with the Rose City Rollers roller derby league and has a not-so-secret past as a Renaissance Faire groupie.

Her website is www.victoriajamieson.com

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All’s Faire in Middle School on Amazon

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The Boy Who Loved Too Much by Jennifer Latson

The Boy Who Loved Too Much by Jennifer Latson. June 20, 2017. Simon Schuster, 304 p. ISBN: 9781476774046.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 1070.

The poignant story of a boy’s coming-of-age complicated by Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder that makes people biologically incapable of distrust.

What would it be like to see everyone as a friend? Twelve-year-old Eli D’Angelo has a genetic disorder that obliterates social inhibitions, making him irrepressibly friendly, indiscriminately trusting, and unconditionally loving toward everyone he meets. It also makes him enormously vulnerable. Eli lacks the innate skepticism that will help his peers navigate adolescence more safely—and vastly more successfully.

Journalist Jennifer Latson follows Eli over three critical years of his life as his mother, Gayle, must decide whether to shield Eli entirely from the world and its dangers or give him the freedom to find his own way and become his own person.

By intertwining Eli and Gayle’s story with the science and history of Williams syndrome, the book explores the genetic basis of behavior and the quirks of human nature. More than a case study of a rare disorder, however, The Boy Who Loved Too Much is a universal tale about the joys and struggles of raising a child, of growing up, and of being different.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes

 

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Booklist (May 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 18))
Journalist Latson portrays Eli, a boy with Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder with a striking feature: it causes excessive friendliness. This instant, hyperendearment can make it seem that Williams people “love” complete strangers as much as immediate family. Among the disorder’s other problems are developmental delays, which can be hidden by exceptionally expressive speaking skills. Family members know, of course, that serious life obstacles lurk beneath the charming veneer. Just when it seems that Eli is stuck in an untenable stage in puberty, making frequent inappropriate physical contact with others, he suddenly improves. These leaps are the hard-earned fruits of Eli’s mom, whose Herculean diligence and self-sacrifice are surely some of the best examples of family commitment in recent literature. With Williams caused by the loss of only 26 of the 20,000 human genes, it allows researchers unprecedented opportunities for studying the links between genetics and behavior. This new knowledge will shed light on a variety of conditions, including autism. Latson blends life concerns and hard medical facts in this widely appealing chronicle of a fascinating disorder.

Kirkus Reviews (May 1, 2017)
A personal look at Williams syndrome, “a genetic fluke that strip[s] one in every 10,000 people of the inherent wariness, skepticism, and inhibition that [are] hardwired into the rest of us.”In her debut, former Houston Chronicle reporter Latson combines the moving story of Gayle and her son Eli, a child with Williams, with scientific data on this rare genetic disorder. Characterized by an elfish appearance, sleeplessness, heart murmurs, sensitivity to sound, and cognitive and developmental difficulties, the biggest issue with Williams syndrome is that people who have it are overly friendly, too trusting, and unconditionally loving toward everyone, including strangers. For Gayle, this meant she was not able to let Eli out of her sight, for she never knew when he would head toward someone with open arms, wanting a hug or wanting to give a hug. Approximately 30,000 Americans have Williams syndrome, making it less common than Down syndrome or autism, but its effects on the parents and children are no less profound and life-changing. Latson shares Gayle’s story from the moments of Eli’s diagnosis and into his teen years. As a single mother, she struggles with raising Eli, trying to navigate the health care system, work, and finding places where Eli can be himself without causing disruptions. Attending a special camp helped Eli make new friends, but Gayle was unable to relax and enjoy herself. When Eli entered puberty, Gayle faced further obstacles, as Eli openly experienced sexual desire but was not fully aware of what that meant physically. Latson tells the story with great sympathy and eloquence, giving voice to the frustration, anguish, and despair a parent feels when their child struggles with a rare disorder. A well-researched, perceptive exploration of a rare genetic disorder seen through the eyes of a mother and son.

About the Author

Jennifer Latson has written for The Boston Globe, the Houston Chronicle, and Time. She received an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of New Hampshire and was a recipient of the Norman Mailer Fellowship for nonfiction in 2013. The Boy Who Loved Too Much is her first book.

 

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The Boy Who Loved Too Much on Amazon

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And Then There Were Four by Nancy Werlin

And Then There Were Four by Nancy Werlin. June 6, 2017. Dial Books, 416 p. ISBN: 9780803740723.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 730.

Let’s not die today. Not even to make things easier for our parents.

When a building collapses around five teenagers—and they just barely escape—they know something strange is going on. Little by little, the group pieces together a theory: Their parents are working together to kill them all. Is it true? And if so, how did their parents come together—and why? And, most importantly, how can the five of them work together to save themselves? With an unlikely group of heroes, sky-high stakes, and two budding romances, this gripping murder mystery will keep readers guessing until the last page.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (May 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 17))
Grades 8-12. Five teens at a private school are invited to a Leader’s Club orientation at a dilapidated campus building, and then the roof falls in—literally. Someone, maybe plural, is trying to kill them, but what does this unlikely group have in common? Except for Antoine and Evangeline, they barely know each other—although Saralinda does have a crush on Caleb. Those two are the alternating narrators, and from them we learn that diabetic, physically challenged Saralinda lives with a smothering mother who would like her daughter to be dependent on her. Caleb’s father is a celebrity psychiatrist who has convinced his son that the boy is a bad seed, a danger to everyone around him. Although the psychology of the kids—and their parents—is a huge part of the story, it’s the nonstop action that sweeps readers along. People are on the run, bodies are piling up, and murder is in the air. Up until the last moment, it’s not clear who is going to make it out alive. Over the top, definitely, but also a compulsive read.

Horn Book Magazine (July/August, 2017)
After a three-book detour through the fantasy genre (Impossible, rev. 9/08, and sequels), Werlin (The Rules of Survival, rev. 9/06) returns to her mystery/thriller roots for another psychological page-turner. Five students at a private boarding school are called together under mysterious circumstances to a remote, dilapidated building on campus. The building collapses, and they all survive, but one of them dies shortly afterward in an automobile accident. The remaining students band together, pool their information, and come to a horrific conclusion: each of their parents is involved in a conspiracy to murder them. Werlin simultaneously deepens characterization and unfolds the plot in alternating narrative voices from two of the teens, Saralinda and Caleb; they are attracted to each other but slow to act on it. Saralinda has diabetes–and a cane–but she is a hopeless romantic and a keen observer of her classmates. She loves her overbearing single mother but wishes for a greater measure of freedom. Caleb is aloof and harbors a dark side, but is fiercely loyal to his friends; his second-person narration is unsettling and underscores the notion that he might have sociopathic tendencies. His famous psychiatrist father has cowed both Caleb and his mother, and harbors a mean streak of his own. The other three teens, Antoine, Evangeline, and Kenyon–along with their parents–are similarly complex. Indeed, the entire cast is also notable for its diversity (in terms of ethnicity, sexuality, ability) in ways both organic and incidental to the plot. And if that plot occasionally strains credulity, it taps into a deep-seated teen paranoia that adults are out to get them. jonathan hunt

About the Author

Nancy Werlin has written 10 young adult novels, including New York Times–bestselling fantasy (Impossible), Edgar-award winning suspense (The Killer’s Cousin), and National Book Award-honored realistic fiction (The Rules of Survival). Her newest book is And Then There Were Four, a suspense thriller that marks her return to suspense after writing the fantasy trilogy Impossible, Extraordinary, and Unthinkable. Nancy grew up in Peabody, Massachusetts, received her bachelor’s degree in English from Yale, and now lives with her husband near Boston.

Her website is nancywerlin.com

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And Then There Were Four on Amazon

And Then There Were Four  on Goodreads

And Then There Were Four  on JLG

And Then There Were Four  Publisher Page

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan. August 15, 2017. Big Mouth House, 432 p. ISBN: 9781618731203.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 800.

The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. Don’t try to smuggle a phone or any other piece of technology over the wall that marks the Border ― unless you enjoy a fireworks display in your backpack. (Ballpoint pens are okay.) There are elves, harpies, and ― best of all as far as Elliot is concerned ― mermaids.

“What’s your name?”
Serene.”
Serena?” Elliot asked.
Serene,” said Serene. “My full name is Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle.”
Elliot’s mouth fell open. “That is badass.”

Elliot? Who’s Elliot? Elliot is thirteen years old. He’s smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands.
It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there’s Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there’s her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There are lots of interesting books. There’s even the chance Elliot might be able to change the world.

In Other Lands is the exhilarating new book from beloved and bestselling author Sarah Rees Brennan. It’s a novel about surviving four years in the most unusual of schools, about friendship, falling in love, diplomacy, and finding your own place in the world ― even if it means giving up your phone.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Discrimination, War, Violence, Strong sexual themes, Alcohol, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2017)
Four years in the life of an unloved English schoolboy who’s invited to a secret magical school and learns that even in fantasyland, real life is messier than books.If Elliot’s story seems familiar, the impression fades quickly. Ginger-haired, white Elliot, an undersized nonpracticing Jew, is a total brat. When the 13-year-old crosses into the Borderlands and sees he’s more intelligent than most of the other kids—and adults—he’s quick to say so. He doesn’t form a circle of friends so much as an alliance of distrustful mutual advantage. With Luke Sunborn, a flaxen-haired, blue-eyed, white golden boy, Elliot tutors Serene, an ethereally beautiful elf with “pearl-pale” skin, who’s determined to excel twice as much as any other student. Elliot’s initial interest in Serene is despicable; he aims to fake friendship until she grows to love him. But over the course of four years training among child soldiers, Elliot, unsurprisingly, grows up. His slow development into a genuinely kind person is entirely satisfying, as is his awakening to his own bisexuality and to the colonialism, sexism, and racism of Borderlands society. Only one human character, the beautifully and sparingly drawn Capt. Woodsinger, appears to be a person of color. A stellar, if dense and lengthy, coming-of-age novel; those with the patience to sit through our hero’s entire adolescence will find it a wholly rewarding journey. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Publishers Weekly Annex (August 7, 2017)
Elliot Schafer is a small-for-his-age 13-year-old who is prone to being bullied-largely due to his personality, which slots somewhere between insufferable know-it-all and sarcastic jackass. When Elliot’s class travels to a “random field in Devon, England” for a supposed scholarship test, he instead winds up in a strange world known as the Borderlands, which are filled with elves, mermaids, and other creatures. So begins Brennan’s hilarious, irreverent, and multilayered coming-of-age fantasy, set over several years. Elliot quickly befriends (and falls for) Serene, a fierce elven warrior, and arranges a reluctant truce with Luke Sunborn, the son of one of the Borderland’s founding families. All three-along with every young person there-are training in war or as councilors, charged with protecting the fragile barrier with the human world. Amid shifting relationships, the threat of war, and substantial growth among the characters, Elliot’s razor-edged wit and general inability to keep his mouth shut make for blissfully entertaining reading. Smart explorations of gender stereotypes, fluid sexuality, and awkward romance only add to the depth and delight of this glittering contemporary fantasy. Ages 13-up. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary.

About the Author

Sarah Rees Brennan is Irish and currently lives in Dublin. For a short stint, she lived in New York and became involved with a wide circle of writers who encouraged and supported her, including Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. She has developed a wide audience through her popular blog, mistful.livejournal.com, where she writes movie parodies, book reviews and some stories.

Her website is sarahreesbrennan.com

Around the Web

In Other Lands on Amazon

In Other Lands on Goodreads

In Other Lands on JLG

In Other Lands Publisher Page

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein. May 2, 2017. Disney-Hyperion, 326 p. ISBN: 9781484717165.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 860.

Before Verity…there was Julie.

When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly like she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital.

Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister, Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to firsthand, a stark contrast to her own upbringing, and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation.

Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.

Prequel to:  Code Name Verity

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Mild sexual themes

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (March 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 13))
Grades 9-12. Those who had their hearts broken by Julie in Code Name Verity (2012) will relish this prequel opportunity to meet the brash girl who grew into the brave spy. Julie, almost 16, is returning for the final cleanup of her family’s Scottish estate, about to be turned into a boy’s school to pay off its debt. Before her mother knows she’s returned, Julie is conked on the head and winds up in the hospital, missing a few days of memory. Out of this singular event come knotted ropes of story that overlap and intertwine. One strand is the introduction of siblings Euan and Ellen, locally despised Travellers who enlighten and complicate Julie’s life. Another is the disappearance of a cache of glowing river pearls originally found in the estate’s waters. Hanging over everything, like a moldering net, is the death of a scholar cataloging the estate’s holdings, a death Julie may have witnessed. Yet, for all the story’s mystery and history—some of it quite ancient—two other elements take hold: the intriguing characters, brimming with life, and the evocative language seeded with Scottish words and phrasings that forces the audience to read the book as carefully as it deserves. A finely crafted book that brings one girl’s coming-of-age story to life, especially poignant for those who already know her fate.

Kirkus Reviews starred (March 15, 2017)
Wein’s fans will revel in the return of Julie Beaufort-Stuart, the co-narrator of Code Name Verity (2012). Billed as a prequel to that Printz Honor book, this is no mere back story to Julie’s role in World War II but a stand-alone mystery. The 15-year-old white minor noble returns from boarding school in the summer of 1938 to the Scottish country estate of her late grandfather, the Earl of Strathfearn. Her luggage lost, Julie dons “a mothy tennis pullover which left my arms daringly bare and a kilt that must have been forgotten some time ago by one of my big brothers….I was David Balfour from Kidnapped again, the way I’d been the whole summer I was thirteen.” After a blow to the head leaves her unconscious, Julie becomes tangled up in a web of events that includes a missing antiquities scholar, a body found in a river, and the theft of the family’s heirloom river pearls, all seemingly connected to a band of Travellers with ancestral ties to Strathfearn reaching back as far as Julie’s. Well-developed characters highlight the class differences that Julie chafes against while struggling with her family’s place in a changing world. Her plainspoken, charming narrative voice establishes her own place with the same strength of character, on a smaller scale, that she showed in Code Name Verity. Another ripping yarn from a brilliant author. (Historical fiction. 13-adult)

About the Author

Elizabeth Wein was born in New York City, grew up abroad, and currently lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. She is an avid flyer of small planes, and holds a PhD in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. Elizabeth is the author of Code Name Verity, winner of the Edgar Award in the Young Adult category and a Printz Medal Honor Book; Rose Under Fire, winner of the Schneider Family Book Award; and Black Dove, White Raven, winner of the Children’s Africana Book Award.

Her website is www.elizabethwein.com

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Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman

Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman. May 2, 2017. Sourcebooks Fire, 350 p. ISBN: 9781492646860.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 790.

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves .

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Drugs, Underage drinking

 

Reviews

Booklist (April 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 16))
Grades 9-12. Anise has few needs in life. Just the surf, her board, and her tight-knit posse of friends. Then Anise’s aunt is in a terrible car accident and needs them to come help care for her children in landlocked Nebraska. One place her younger cousins enjoy is the skate park, where Anise meets a handsome black skater boy, Lincoln. After Anise claims that surfing is harder that skateboarding, Lincoln challenges her to give skating a try. It’s a fiasco, but Anise becomes determined to learn to skateboard, and Nebraska slowly grows on her. Debut novelist Silverman realistically captures Anise’s love for her surfing life and the terrible sacrifice she makes when leaving it behind for a whole summer, and her relationships with her family are bittersweet and loving, giving her depth of character. Meanwhile, Lincoln is a charmer, and thanks for Silverman’s excellent portrayal of a boy who is not defined by his disability, like Anise, readers will easily forget that he is missing an arm. Hand to fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han.

Kirkus Reviews (March 1, 2017)
Silverman’s debut offers several takes on a good question: “Why do so many people equate growing up with leaving?” Unlike her mother, who enters and exits her life at whim, white, 17-year-old Anise has lived—and surfed—in Santa Cruz her whole life. Her easygoing father and a diverse group of friends provide stability—especially Eric, her white best friend, who’s turning into something more. As the friends plan their last summer together before college, Anise’s plans are shattered. Her aunt has been in a car accident, and Anise and her dad will be spending the summer in Nebraska caring for her aunt and high-spirited cousins. Anise’s reluctance to leave, rooted in worries of forgetting home and being forgotten, will resonate with readers who’ve ever been homesick. While babysitting her cousins, she meets Lincoln, a black, smart, handsome, witty one-armed skateboarder whose personality quirks are rattled off in lists rather than revealed through interactions. As Anise trades surfing for skating, she gradually matures, feeling a responsibility to her cousins and sympathy for her aunt and father. Nomadic, nature-obsessed Lincoln, whose only flaws seem to be a messy glove compartment and an inability to sing, is an ever patient teacher, showing Anise how to adapt to new places and call them home. A quick summer read to reassure teens who worry about college or blooming where they’re planted. (Romance. 14-18)

About the Author

Laura Silverman is a writer, editor, and publishing consultant. She is a lover of all things bookish. Silverman suffers from chronic pain and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Her website is laurasilvermanlovesbooks.tumblr.com

 

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In 27 Days by Alison Gervais

In 27 Days by Alison Gervais. July 25, 2017. Blink, 352 p. ISBN: 9780310759058.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Hadley Jamison is shocked when she hears that her classmate, Archer Morales, has committed suicide. She didn’t know the quiet, reserved guy very well, but that doesn’t stop her from feeling there was something she could have done to help him.

Hoping to find some sense of closure, Hadley attends Archer’s funeral. There, Hadley is approached by a man who calls himself Death and offers her a deal. If Hadley accepts, she will be sent back 27 days in time to prevent Archer from killing himself. But when Hadley agrees to Death’s terms and goes back to right the past, she quickly learns her mission is harder than she ever could have known.

Hadley soon discovers Archer’s reasons for being alone, and Archer realizes that having someone to confide in isn’t as bad as he’d always thought. But when a series of dangerous accidents starts pushing them apart, Hadley must decide whether she is ready to risk everything – including her life – to keep Archer safe.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Suicide

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (August 2017 (Online))
Grades 8-11. As Hadley Jamison mourns a classmate who committed suicide, a man calling himself Death offers her a unique opportunity: go back 27 days into the past to prevent Archer Morales from taking his life. Hadley is suddenly jerked backward in time and finds that her mission is far from simple—Archer’s anger toward the world pushes her away. Even more treacherous is Hadley’s discovery that Death isn’t the only eternal being with its eyes on her. Gervais transitions her hit Wattpad story into a fleshed-out novel, managing to retain the energy that earned it more than two million readers. The book’s centerpiece is plucky Hadley herself. Despite all efforts to thwart her, Hadley remains resolute in her mission to save a stranger from an untimely death. In doing so, she must confront how her own seemingly perfect family is far more dysfunctional than she’d like to believe. This is a fun, quick, yet emotional read that readers will have a hard time putting down.

School Library Journal (June 1, 2017)
Gr 7 Up-Sixteen-year-old Hadley Jamison is strangely troubled by the suicide of one of her classmates. Though she knew Archer only from sitting next to him in English class two years earlier, she wonders whether she could have done anything to keep the quiet, surly boy from killing himself. After Archer’s funeral, a man known as Death approaches Hadley and offers her the opportunity to go back in time 27 days to save Archer. Hadley accepts, and over the next several weeks, she forces her company on Archer, convincing him to tutor her in geometry and working at his family’s coffee shop. She becomes close with his family, soon spending all her free time with them, in stark contrast to her usual routine of evenings alone in her Upper East Side apartment. Slowly, Hadley learns the truth about what led Archer to commit suicide. Her stubborn refusal to leave him alone seems noble in the context of a lifesaving mission but in reality would be disturbing. Repeated violations of personal boundaries should not be romanticized. The message that one teenager should take on total responsibility for preventing another’s suicide is also troubling. VERDICT Fast-paced and filled with romance, this would likely appeal to some reluctant readers. However, the immature writing style, the clumsy and heavy-handed delivery, a tone that is too light for the subject matter, and unhealthy messages for teenagers should make librarians pause before adding this to their collections.-Liz Overberg, Zionsville Community High School, IN

About the Author

Watty Award-winning author Alison Gervais has been writing for as long as she can remember. In 2011, she began posting her work on Wattpad.com and has been active on the site ever since. If she’s not writing, she can be found re-reading Harry Potter, watching Supernatural, or trying to win the affection of her two cats, Kovu and Rocket.

 

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