Tag Archives: war

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard. February 7, 2017. HarperTeen, 528 p. ISBN: 9780062310699.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 700.

When the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

Sequel to: Glass Sword

Part of Series: Red Queen (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War; Violence; Strong sexual themes

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Video Reviews

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2017)
The “lightning girl” who once led a revolution now toils, powerless and imprisoned, in this continuation of the Red Queen series. After turning herself over in exchange for the lives of her friends, Mare Barrow becomes King Maven’s puppet. She waits, locked in a room, her lightning drained by Arvens—Silvers who leach power. But Maven has grander plans for her. And if she wants to keep the newbloods safe, she must comply. Mare broadcasts a lie that she willingly surrendered herself to the king after the Scarlet Guard forced her into servitude. She paints the Scarlet Guard as murderers, paving the way for Maven to offer refuge to newbloods in hopes of amassing an army. Otherwise, he’ll just keep hunting them. Political machinations rumble while both the king and the Scarlet Guard form new alliances. As Mare bides her time, she confronts uncomfortable feelings for Maven—she’s his greatest weakness, but can she kill him? Complementing Mare’s narration, Cameron, a newblood, relates the movements of the Scarlet Guard, and Evangeline, Maven’s betrothed, offers insight into the deadly House Samos. Few bursts of action stir up this slow-burning installment, allowing the dizzyingly large fleet of characters room to gain new depth. Mare’s romantic entanglements shift and sizzle, but the true intrigue lies in the ever expanding war for the crown as the players grow and change games. Aside from dark-skinned Cameron, the principal cast appears to be white, although the caste system based on the distinctions between Red and Silver blood holds more sway in this fantasy world than race. Simmering with internal conflict and well-devised courtly scheming—but readers new to the series had best start with Book 1. (Fantasy. 13-adult)

Publishers Weekly Annex (February 13, 2017)
Leashed like an animal and trotted out as a trophy of war, Mare Barrow passes her 18th birthday imprisoned by King Maven and turned into a puppet of a propaganda machine bent on destroying the Scarlet Guard. In this third installment of the Red Queen series, Aveyard’s frenetic action sequences initially take a backseat to the patient study of Mare’s captivity. But there are still plenty of schemes amid royal fissures and ill-fated rescues, an assassination attempt, and raging battles on multiple fronts to help this story keep pace with the previous installments. A newblood struggling with her deadly abilities and a princess begrudgingly betrothed to Maven narrate a few chapters of their own, but the majority of the tale is again seen through the eyes of Aveyard’s “little lightning girl,” who remains a relatable and deeply flawed heroine. Concluding as hope dwindles that the Reds will ever be free of the Silver crown, Aveyard adeptly sets the scene for a fourth book to follow, amid a war not yet won. Ages 13-up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary & Media. (Feb.)

About the Author

Victoria Aveyard graduated from USC, where she majored in screenwriting. She splits her time between Massachusetts and Los Angeles. The genres she’s into include YA, Fantasy, Historical, Adventure, Apocalyptic – “if people are dying, I’m buying”.

Her website is www.victoriaaveyard.com.

 

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King’s Cage on Amazon

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King’s Cage Publisher Page

Front Lines by Michael Grant

Front Lines by Michael Grant. January 26, 2016. Katherine Tegen Books, 576 p. ISBN: 9780062342157.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 890.

Teenage witch Cam isn’t crazy about the idea of learning magic. She’d rather be no witch than a bad one. But when a trio of her mother’s wicked witch friends decide to wreak havoc in her high school, Cam has no choice but to try to stop them.

Esmerelda is the mean girl of the witches. Valda likes to drop anvils on people’s heads. And Malkin—well, Malkin is just plain terrifying. Their idea of fun is a little game—they each pick a student from Cam’s high school and compete to see who can make their teen the most miserable. But Cam suspects one of the witches may have an ulterior motive…which means someone at school could be in worse danger yet.

Now Cam’s learning invisibility spells, dodging exploding cars, and pondering the ethics of love potions. All while trying to keep her grades up and go on a first date with her crush. If the witches don’t get him first, that is.

Can’t a good witch ever catch a break?

Part of Series: Front Lines (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Racial taunts; Harsh realities of war; Sexual harassment

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (October 15, 2015 (Vol. 112, No. 4))
Grades 8-11. In many ways, Grant’s latest feels like an old-fashioned war novel—it begins with the soon-to-be soldiers at home, worrying about what they are going to face, and saying good-bye to family. Then they arrive at boot camp, building both combat skills and bonhomie. Finally, they find themselves in the thick of it, unprepared for the gravity of death, both witnessing it and serving it, while tapping heretofore unknown reserves of fortitude, resilience, and stony-eyed vengeance. The only difference, and it’s a big one, is that women are in the battle ranks. Though women are not yet being conscripted in this alternate history of WWII, Rio, Jenou, Frangie, and Rainy sign up anyway. Rio’s feeling a bit listless after her sister dies in the battle of Pearl Harbor, and her best friend, Jenou, makes a convincing case for signing up. Jenou says she wants to meet handsome officers, though in truth, she is desperate to escape her rocky home life. Frangie, an African American girl in Oklahoma, sees enlisting as an opportunity to get medical training she otherwise wouldn’t be eligible for. Jewish Rainy is smart, capable, fluent in German, and wants to kill Nazis. Just because women are permitted to enlist, however, doesn’t mean they are treated any more fairly. It’s abundantly clear that Grant has done an impressive amount of research, not only into battle movements and period details—which are exhaustive, vivid, and clearly, grippingly written—but also the prevailing attitudes. In keeping with the historical period, the women face down plenty of prejudice, and Grant doesn’t shy away from ugly language, particularly regarding Frangie, who endures a deluge of hateful slurs and more than one threat of rape. While there are enough military men open to women in their ranks, enlisting alone can’t change deeply ingrained beliefs. There’s no magical eraser for racism or misogyny here, except the rigors of the battlefield, where they prove their mettle. The history is certainly illuminating and fascinating, but where Grant excels even more is in the tight, propulsive, and immersive storytelling and compelling bonds among the multifaceted characters. Grant alternates among the four young women, interspersing their stories with letters and news bulletin–like summaries of historical events, framing the whole thing with commentary from the unnamed narrator, who sits typing the story in a military hospital, offering brief glimpses of the near future. Most of the pages are dedicated to Rio and Jenou, who blessedly get to stay together, ending up in a mixed-company platoon in North Africa. Rainy leaves New York with a stopover in intelligence training before heading to Tunisia to translate incoming communiqués. Frangie heads to North Africa as a medic with an all-black battalion. Finally, the four women meet at the Battle of Kasserine Pass, grittier, bloodier, and tougher than when they set out. Though it’s an epic story with a page count to match, the dynamic characters and urgent plot never get lost in the enormity of the historical moment. Grant’s writing is remarkably tidy, cultivating a staggering amount of feeling out of only a few lines, and imbuing each figure with such depth and personality that, even if a character gets less than two total pages of attention, his or her death is utterly, completely devastating. This is a story about soldiers, and those soldiers never take a backseat to history. Given current headlines about women in combat, it’s natural to assume this novel has an agenda, but Grant trumpets no cause, and while he makes a huge change to WWII history, he so unobtrusively weaves it throughout the story it’s easy to forget that, except in a few special cases, women weren’t fighting alongside men. Rio and Jenou drink and smoke and trash talk just as much as the men in their …

Kirkus Reviews (October 15, 2015)
Three young women supply a gritty grunt’s-eye view of World War II in the opener to an ultrahistory series. After a court decision declares women eligible for combat, aimless California farmer’s daughter Rio Richlin volunteers for the Army, partly to avenge her sister’s death but mostly to keep her best friend company. Diminutive, compassionate, and determined, African-American Frangie Marr enlists for the paycheck, but she also hopes for medical training. And Jewish Rainy Schulterman just wants to pour all her ferocious intelligence and steely will into killing Nazis. Switching among these three viewpoints, the narrative slowly constructs intimate portraits of each, as the “soldier girls” are tested in body and spirit, overcoming laziness, fear, and cockiness. They suffer through boredom, rough conditions, and incompetent commanders as well as routine sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism (authentically, highly offensive language is employed throughout). A framing device ponderous with foreshadowing–along with such standard teen tropes as love triangles and family secrets–keeps the plot moving, but it’s the immersive, quotidian details that set up the gripping climax amid the chaos of combat. Bestselling science-fiction author Grant did his research (an extensive bibliography is provided), but the odd and likely unintended consequence of his premise is the erasure of thousands of military women who historically served and fought and died. Still, an engrossing portrayal of ordinary women in extraordinary circumstances. (Alternate history. 14 & up)

About the Author

Michael Grant is married to Katherine (K.A.) Applegate. They’ve been together for 36 years. Which doesn’t say much for Katherine’s judgment does it? And they’ve been writing for 25ish years, sometimes as partners — Boyfriends/Girlfriends, Animorphs, Everworld — and sometimes on their own.

Michael and Katherine have two kids, Jake 18 and Julia 16. (Feet tall. Get it? 16 feet tall? Ah hah hah. Yeah, okay: not funny.) Anyway, the point is that Michael Grant is the author or co-author of 150 books. Yeah: 150, including most recently the critically-acclaimed Front Lines, and of course the also critically acclaimed, New York Times bestselling, Gone series

Her website is www.michaelgrantbooks.co.uk.

Around the Web

Front Lines on Amazon

Front Lines on Goodreads

Front Lines on JLG

Front Lines Publisher Page

Four-Four-Two by Dean Hughes

Four-Four-Two by Dean Hughes. November 8, 2016. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 272 p. ISBN: 9781481462525.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 820.

From the author of Soldier Boys and Search and Destroy comes a thought-provoking, action-packed page-turner based on the little-known history of the Japanese Americans who fought with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II.

Yuki Nakahara is an American.

But it’s the start of World War II, and America doesn’t see it that way. Like many other Japanese Americans, Yuki and his family have been forced into an internment camp in the Utah desert. But Yuki isn’t willing to sit back and accept this injustice—it’s his country too, and he’s going to prove it by enlisting in the army to fight for the Allies.

When Yuki and his friend Shig ship out, they aren’t prepared for the experiences they’ll encounter as members of the “Four-Four-Two,” a segregated regiment made up entirely of Japanese-American soldiers. Before Yuki returns home—if he returns home—he’ll come face to face with persistent prejudices, grueling combat he never imagined, and friendships deeper than he knew possible.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War; Violence; Smoking

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 5))
Grades 7-10. In December 1941, FBI agents arrest Yuki Nakahara’s father without cause. By 1943, 18-year-old Yuki and his family have been “relocated” from California to an internment camp in Utah. Despite this, Yuki enlists in the U.S. Army with his best friend, Shig, and they join the Second Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (which comprises only Japanese Americans, as whites refuse to fight alongside them). Yuki initially boasts about becoming a war hero, but is sobered as he sees friends killed by German artillery. After months of relentless battle, Yuki and Shig’s comrades-in-arms suffer countless casualties and gain a reputation as “the Purple Heart Battalion.” Finally, because generals view the nisei soldiers as expendable, Yuki’s battalion is sent on an almost impossible mission to rescue white American soldiers surrounded by German forces. Hughes’ writing effectively evokes the horrors of war and the internal conflict of young men fighting for a country that has treated them unjustly. The challenges of Yuki’s reentry into the States are also well conveyed: the guilt of survival, the difficulty of communicating the war experience to civilians, and the continued widespread racism. Though a couple of conversations seem stilted for the sake of exposition, in general the dialogue reads naturally (even the pidgin English spoken by Hawaiian soldiers is decent). This is historical fiction at its finest—immersive and inspirational.

Horn Book Magazine (November/December, 2016)
The book’s title refers to the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was composed entirely of Issei and Nisei (first-generation Japanese immigrants and their children, respectively) who served in WWII, and which earned the name Purple Heart Battalion because so many of its soldiers were either wounded or killed in battle. In December 1941, Hughes’s protagonist, Berkeley high-schooler Yuki Nakahara, watches helplessly as FBI agents arrest his father as a spy and unceremoniously haul him away. Less than six months later, Yuki and his siblings, all American citizens, are deported with their mother to the Topaz internment camp in Utah. Yet Yuki decides to join the army because he believes it’s the only way he’ll “ever be respected in this country.” Readers follow him through basic training; the agonies of battle, loss, and injury; and his return home. Events, characters, and dialogue create an indelible sense of time and place. When Yuki’s mother protests her husband’s arrest, an FBI agent spits out: “That’s enough, lady. Your husband’s a sneaky little slant-eyed Jap. That’s all we need to know.” A Denver barber refuses to “cut Jap hair” even though Yuki is wearing his Silver Star and Purple Heart. Yuki’s wish to put it all behind him realistically characterizes so many of “the greatest generation”; his father’s lack of physical affection is a cultural marker; and the sweet, naive romance with the girl back home reflects the times. A predictable story arc lessens the novel’s tension; still, Yuki emerges as a true hero during a dark period of American history. betty carter

About the Author

Dean Hughes is the author of more than eighty books for young readers, including the popular sports series Angel Park All-Stars, the Scrappers series, the Nutty series, the widely acclaimed companion novels Family Pose and Team Picture, and Search and Destroy. Soldier Boys was selected for the 2001 New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age list. Dean Hughes and his wife, Kathleen, have three children and six grandchildren. They live in Midway, Utah.

His website is www.deanhughes.net.

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Four-Four-Two on Amazon

Four-Four-Two on Goodreads

Four-Four-Two on JLG

Four-Four-Two Publisher Page

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific by Deborah Hopkinson

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific by Deborah Hopkinson. September 27, 2016. Scholastic Press, 384p. ISBN: 9780545425582.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 7.7; Lexile: 1090.

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific tells the incredible story of America’s little known “war within a war” — US submarine warfare during World War II.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US entered World War II in December 1941 with only 44 Naval submarines — many of them dating from the 1920s. With the Pacific battleship fleet decimated after Pearl Harbor, it was up to the feisty and heroic sailors aboard the US submarines to stop the Japanese invasion across the Pacific.

Including breakouts highlighting submarine life and unsung African-American and female war heroes, award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson uses first-person accounts, archival materials, official Naval documents, and photographs to bring the voices and exploits of these brave service members to life.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violent images and imagery; Harsh realities of war

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (June 1, 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 19))
Grades 5-8. Hopkinson’s gripping account of submarine warfare in the Pacific during WWII begins with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, as told through the eyes of 15-year-old Martin Matthews, who lied about his age to enlist in the U.S. Navy. As battleships were repaired, undamaged submarines with torpedoes became lone raiders in a vast ocean, decimating Japanese ships and cutting off lines of supply. Although Hopkinson (Courage & Defiance, 2015) continues her tried-and-true format of revealing history through firsthand accounts—ranging from a submariner and communications officer to an admiral and rescued nurse—she keeps it fresh with harrowing near misses, attacks, accidents, and rescues. Readers wait anxiously alongside crew members amid silence and dangerous heat and oxygen levels as the submariners narrowly escape enemy detection or brace for depth charge explosions that rattle bones, fray nerves, and signal possible death. An abundance of archival photos provide visual references, while short asides fill in gaps on such submarine-related topics as the treatment of African American crew members, the modern integration of female officers into the Submarine Force, and on-board living conditions—from bathrooms to ice-cream machines. Copious back matter provides even more facts and figures. With a fascinating blend of submarine mechanics and tales of courage, readers will dive in deep.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 1, 2016)
Hopkinson’s writing plumbs the depths in relating the undersea exploits of American submariners during World War II. “The U.S. Navy fought the Pacific Ocean phase of World War II on a liquid chessboard,” according to Adm. Bernard A. Clarey, and while sailors and battleships island-hopped across the Pacific, the “Silent Service” of gallant submariners lurked below the surface, facing what naval historian Theodore Roscoe called “the overwhelming forces of the Unknown.” With an emphasis on first-person accounts—such as that of 15-year-old Martin Matthews, a young white man who lied about his age and joined the Navy just in time to be on the Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor—Hopkinson crafts a gripping narrative. It’s supplemented with three types of interspersed text: “briefings” with information about the war (including a section on African-American submariners), “dispatches” offering stories of interest and first-person accounts, and “submarine school,” about submarines and submariners. Numerous dramatic black-and-white photographs offer a parallel visual story. Told chronologically, from Pearl Harbor through the end of the war, with frequent news reports from above the surface, such as engrossing accounts of Bataan and Corregidor, the fascinating volume serves as a solid history of the war in the Pacific. Extensive backmatter includes a glossary, a timeline, facts and statistics about submarines, and links to resources. Fascinating World War II history for history buffs and browsers alike. (epilogue, bibliography, source notes) (Nonfiction. 8-14)

About the Author

Deborah Hopkinson is as award-winning of picture books, fiction, and nonfiction for young readers. In 2013 she received a Robert F. Sibert Honor and YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award honor for Titanic: Voices from the Disaster.

She has won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text twice, for A Band of Angels and Apples to Oregon. Sky Boys, How They Built the Empire State Building, was a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor awardee. She lives near Portland, Oregon.

Her website is www.deborahhopkinson.com.

Teacher Resources

Submarines Lesson Plans

WWII Pacific Theater Lesson Plans from The National WWII Museum

WWII: The Pacific Lesson Plans

Around the Web

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific on Amazon

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific on Goodreads

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific on JLG

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific Publisher Page

 

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard. February 9, 2016. HarperTeen, 444 p. ISBN: 0765383756.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 770.

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

Sequel to: Red Queen

Part of Series: Red Queen

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Violence

 

Book Trailer

Video Reviews

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2015 (Online))
Grades 9-12. Anyone can betray anyone. It’s a lesson that thief-turned-revolutionary Mare Barrow learned the hard way in Red Queen (2015). After she learns the truth about Maven, now the king of the powerful Silver court, Mare and the displaced Silver prince, Cal, flee the city, tenuously joining up with a resistance group. But Mare has learned that she is not the only Red with magical Silver-like abilities, and soon finds herself on a journey to find and recruit the others, determined to form a powerful army, if only she can find them before Maven does. But to do so, she must become a leader willing to make sacrifices, and the cost may be higher than she ever anticipated. While the story of a powerful young woman facing her own darkness is done a bit more effectively in Marie Lu’s Young Elites series, high-stakes excitement and sharp plot twists, nevertheless, make this a fast-paced, exciting read and a thrilling sequel.

Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2015)
Reborn as the infamous “lightning girl,” Mare struggles to build an army of newbloods to face the murderous new king. After narrowly escaping the burning city of Naercey, Mare and her friends make their way to a secluded island where her family and the Scarlet Guard lie low. Bruised and beaten, Mare quickly realizes she can’t trust anyone, not even her closest friends–maybe not even family. But Mare has a plan: she’s going to track down the rest of the newbloods–Reds with unknown powers that rival the strongest Silvers’–and build an army. She sets out with those closest to her, including Cal, the now disgraced prince. Feeling incredibly alone, she can’t help but gravitate toward him; they share an ache for the person they both believed Maven to be before he became a treacherous king. As her conviction rises, so does the body count, and it isn’t long before Mare becomes eerily like the killer she’s trying so hard to destroy. Though her friends are disturbed by what she’s become, not even they can stop her now. Her quest is fraught with trials and bloodshed, but the action lags; the traps begin to feel too familiar, and the first-person, present-tense narration spares no detail. Tragedy seems to be a certainty before the end, but the spectacle still packs a surprising punch. This too-long heroine’s journey requires that the next volume provide sufficient fireworks to keep readers invested in the planned four-book series. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

About the Author

Victoria Aveyard graduated from USC, where she majored in screenwriting. She splits her time between Massachusetts and Los Angeles. The genres she’s into include YA, Fantasy, Historical, Adventure, Apocalyptic – “if people are dying, I’m buying”.

Her website is www.victoriaaveyard.com.

 

Around the Web

Glass Sword on Amazon

Glass Sword on JLG

Glass Sword on Goodreads

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox. March 15, 2016. Viking Books for Young Readers, 400 p. ISBN: 9780451476333.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.5; Lexile: 740.

An eerie gothic fairytale with a World War II setting and magic at its heart– and the recipient of four starred reviews and multiple honors.

Twelve-year-old Katherine Bateson believes in a logical explanation for everything. But even she can’t make sense of the strange goings-on at Rookskill Castle, the drafty old Scottish castle-turned-school where she and her siblings have been sent to escape the London Blitz. What’s making those mechanical shrieks at night? Why do the castle’s walls seem to have a mind of their own? And who are the silent children who seem to haunt Rookskill’s grounds? Kat believes Lady Eleanor, who rules the castle, is harboring a Nazi spy. But when her classmates begin to vanish, one by one, Kat must face the truth about what the castle actually harbors–and what Lady Eleanor is–before it’s too late.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns; Mild language; Child abuse; Ethnic slurs

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (January 1, 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 9))
Grades 5-8. Robbie is thrilled at the prospect of going to school in a Scottish castle, an escape from London’s Blitz during WWII. His older sister, Katherine, takes a more measured view, suspicious of what lies ahead: their father plays an undercover role in MI6, Britain’s intelligence service, and has trained Kat in his clock-repair business (“You’ve a mind for patterns and a careful, patient hand”). Kat’s suspicions only increase when her great-aunt Margaret hands over her odd-looking chatelaine, an antique belt with charms attached—each supposed to be suffused with magic should Kat need it. Sure enough, a dark and perilous challenge lies ahead, and Kat is destined to take it on, though the level of malice she faces may be greater than she expected. Lady Eleanor, ostensibly in charge of the castle and school, is a malevolent force straight out of horror tales, and the children will need to fight for their lives—and souls. This wonderfully written gothic fairy tale pairs the horror elements with a steampunk witch and mysterious staff, all while telling a war-espionage tale. Embedded lessons—even including Plato’s cave allegory—from a pair of sympathetic castle teachers provide clues to defeating the evil witch. Readers will curl up and keep the lights on with this chilling page-turner.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2015)
During the Blitz, 12-year-old Londoner Kat, along with two younger siblings and an American boy, is sent to a distant relative’s Scottish castle, where they confront evils both old and contemporary. Though Lady Eleanor claims to be starting an academy in her castle and has hired faculty to attend to the curriculum, it’s soon clear that none are what they claim to be. The old castle keep is burned out, and the newer part seems to have weird twists and turns, secret doors and strange goings-on, including several ghostly children. Clues multiply early on that Eleanor is the same woman for whom the creepy, unnamed village magister has replaced living parts one by one over decades, each given in payment for a charm for a child’s soul. Kat’s father–now away working for MI6–is a watchmaker, and Kat has his gift for numbers, gears, and puzzles. Witchy magic, Nazi menace, and clockwork all come into play, along with an Enigma machine and spies for both the Allies and the Nazis seeking occult sources of power or protection. After the breathtaking climax, various threads of the story are tied up in a drawing-room denouement in which the characters decide to dispose of toxic magical artifacts rather carelessly–though in a way that invites anticipation (and fortuitously leaves room for sequels). An original, clever, page-turning adventure. (Historical fantasy. 10-14)

About the Author

Janet S. Fox (Janet Fox) is a writer, mom, and former high school English teacher. Her first young adult novel Faithful (Speak/Penguin, 2010), was a 2011 Amelia Bloomer list pick, and is set in Yellowstone National Park in 1904. Forgiven, a companion YA novel (Speak/Penguin, 2011) set in 1906 San Francisco at the time of the Great Earthquake, was a Junior Library Guild selection and WILLA Literary Award finalist. Janet’s third YA, Sirens (Speak, 1012), is a “noir romance” set in 1925 New York. Get Organized Without Losing It is her award-winning middle grade self-help book for kids (Free Spirit Publishing, 2006), and her debut middle grade novel, The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, is a spooky historical fantasy set in Scotland (Viking, 2016). Look for her second middle grade novel, The Last True Knight, from Viking in 2018. Janet is a 2010 graduate of the MFA/Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Janet currently lives in the mountains of Montana. The family loves dogs and is ruled by a rambunctious yellow lab puppy.

Her website is www.janetsfox.com.

Teacher Resources

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle Discussion and Activity Guide

Around the Web

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle on Amazon

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle on JLG

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle on Goodreads

 

The Girl Who Escaped ISIS by Farida Khalaf

The Girl Who Escaped ISIS: This Is My Story by Farida Khalaf with Andrea C. Hoffmann. July 19, 2016. Atria Books, 240 p. ISBN: 9781501131714.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 720.

A young Yazidi woman was living a normal, sheltered life in northern Iraq during the summer of 2014 when her entire world was upended: her village was attacked by ISIS. All of the men in her town were killed and the women were taken into slavery.

This is Farida Khalaf’s story.

In unprecedented detail, Farida describes her world as it was—at nineteen, she was living at home with her brothers and parents, finishing her schooling and looking forward to becoming a math teacher—and the hell it became. Held in a slave market in Syria and sold into the homes of several ISIS soldiers, she stubbornly attempts resistance at every turn. Farida is ultimately brought to an ISIS training camp in the middle of the desert, where she plots an against-all-odds escape for herself and five other girls.

A riveting firsthand account of life in captivity and a courageous flight to freedom, this astonishing memoir is also Farida’s way of bearing witness, and of ensuring that ISIS does not succeed in crushing her spirit. Her bravery, resilience, and hope in the face of unimaginable violence will fascinate and inspire.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong sexual themes; Criminal culture

 

About the Author

Farida Khalaf is from the Yazidi community of the small village of Kocho, Iraq. Farida was nineteen years old and preparing for her last year in school when ISIS descended upon her village, and she was sold into slavery. After making a daring escape, she reunited with her mother and her brothers in an Iraqi refugee camp and was granted asylum in Germany in 2015.

Andrea C. Hoffmann is an author and a journalist. She specializes in the Middle East and the situation of women in Muslim countries. She lives in Berlin, Germany.  Her website is http://andreachoffmann.com.

Teacher Resources

Questions about ISIS

ISIS: Teaching the News Lesson Plans

Around the Web

The Girl Who Escaped ISIS on Amazon

The Girl Who Escaped ISIS on JLG

The Girl Who Escaped ISIS on Goodreads

 

Children of Exile by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Children of Exile by Margaret Peterson Haddix. September 13, 2016. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 304 p. ISBN: 9781442450035.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.3; Lexile: 680.

Rosi must decide what she’s willing to risk to save her family—and maybe even all of humanity—in the thrilling first novel of a brand-new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author, Margaret Peterson Haddix.

For the past twelve years, adults called “Freds” have raised Rosi, her younger brother Bobo, and the other children of their town, saying it is too dangerous for them to stay with their parents, but now they are all being sent back. Since Rosi is the oldest, all the younger kids are looking to her with questions she doesn’t have the answers to. She’d always trusted the Freds completely, but now she’s not so sure.

And their home is nothing like she’d expected, like nothing the Freds had prepared them for. Will Rosi and the other kids be able to adjust to their new reality?

Part of series: Children of Exile (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination; War; Violence; Criminal culture; Discussion of trauma; Kidnapping

 

Reviews

Publishers Weekly (July 11, 2016)
In this trilogy opener, Rosi and her younger brother, Bobo, are two of many children raised by Fred-mamas and Fred-daddies in Fredtown, a place of equality and harmony. After an agreement is struck, the children are forced to return home to their actual parents. At 12, Rosi is one of the oldest children, charged with protecting the others, including her estranged friend Edwy, who believes the Freds are just as fake as the Enforcers who take them away. When the children reach their real home, Rosi finds life unbearable under cruel parents and extreme poverty, despite the help of a missionary. When Edwy and Rosi work together to determine what happened to the charred buildings and maimed citizens of their new town, they discover severe inequality and a bias against their bright green eyes. Much as in Under Their Skin (2015), Haddix seems to be telling one story before pivoting sharply amid major revelations that shake up everything Rosi knows. Though the messaging isn’t subtle, Haddix gives readers lots to mull over regarding conflict, justice, and prejudice. Ages 10-up. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary

School Library Journal (July 1, 2016)
Gr 4-8-Twelve-year old Rosi has spent her entire life away from her parents. She, her brother, and the other children from her hometown were brought to Fredtown as infants to be kept safe from danger. This small, structured, and simple community named after the Norwegian word for peace is the only environment the children have ever known. When the Fred-parents abruptly inform the children they will be returning home, questions flood Rosi’s mind but are left unanswered. The children are forced onto an airplane heading to a place that feels foreign, where they are greeted by biological parents who are strangers to them. At first, Rosi is desperate to return to Fredtown. Then she begins to uncover mysteries and question what she’s been told all along. Haddix brilliantly sets up her story, giving readers just enough information to keep them grounded while elevating tension through Rosi’s uncertainty. Fast-paced action, plot twists, and cliff-hanger chapter endings will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Haddix’s tone and language and the absence of graphic violence make this an ideal selection for younger readers eager for a dystopian novel. -Beth Parmer, New Albany Elementary Library, OH

About the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix grew up on a farm near Washington Court House, Ohio. She graduated from Miami University (of Ohio) with degrees in English/journalism, English/creative writing and history. Before her first book was published, she worked as a newspaper copy editor in Fort Wayne, Indiana; a newspaper reporter in Indianapolis; and a community college instructor and freelance writer in Danville, Illinois.

Haddix and her husband, Doug, now live in Columbus, Ohio, with their two children.

Her website is www.haddixbooks.com.

Around the Web

Children of Exile on Amazon

Children of Exile on JLG

Children of Exile on Goodreads