The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Mark Twain
Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Pub. Date: August 1989
Age Range: Young Adult
256pp

Almost all boys share a common desire to be great adventurers. Tom Sawyer is no different. He is a young, rambunctious boy who is constantly seeking adventure. He finds many adventures, and often finds himself in trouble. Because of his common troubles, he often lies. He also finds many girls attractive, and ends up being engaged to one of them. Along with Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer becomes a pirate and treasure hunters as they seek to find the treasure of Injun Joe. Will they be successful? Find out as you join Tom on his boyhood adventures! - AB

*****

A boy named Tom Sawyer is seeking adventure and comes across it when he meets a boy named Huckleberry Finn. Huckleberry Finn is an orphan that lives a life of adventure and no rules. He can whatever whenever. Huckleberry Finn kind of takes Tom under his wing to show him his way of living. The boys have many journeys together. Tom and Huckleberry Finn become pirates together, die together, put someone in jail together, come back to life together, and find a hidden treasure together. It was overall a great book. I did think it was a little slow in the beginning. - RC


The Basket Counts
Matt Christopher
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: September 1991
Recommended Ages: 9-12
Pages: 125

Annotation : Mel Jensen and Darryl Brady were new to the town of Trexton and to Hillcrest School. They were two of only a few black families that lived in the town, and not everyone welcomed them warmly—especially Caskie Bennett and Earl “Stoney” Stone. Caskie and Stoney made it clear that the two were not welcome. On the basketball court, there was open hostility and discriminatory remarks directed toward Mel and Darryl. Off the court, things were not much better. It takes a near tragedy for eyes to be opened and minds changed leading to cooperation, understanding, and even friendship across racial lines.

Reaction : I liked the realism in this book. It is part of a series of books that appear to be really engaging and quick reads for young readers. I think this book, and the other in the series, would be good for reluctant readers, particularly males. - EH

Being Bindy
Alyssa Brugman
Random House Children's Books
Pub. Date: April 2006
Age Range: Young Adult
199pp

Australian teenager Bindy finds it hard to cope when her best friend of many years suddenly finds other friends and interests and her divorced parents present her with choices that could change everything about her way of life.

More

Bird Lake Moon
Kevin Henkes
Harpercollins Childrens Books
Pub. Date: April 2008
Age Range: 9 to 12
192pp

“ Bird Lake Moon” is a book about what true friendship is. Spencer and Mitch help each other work through the hard stuff that is going on each other’s lives. After Mitch’s parents separate, Mitch and his mom move in with Mitch’s grandparents. While Mitch was having a hard time trying to deal with not having his dad around, he decided to explore the empty house next door. One day he noticed that a family was moving in the old empty house next door. This was when Mitch and Spencer met. Spencer was trying to work through the loss of his brother. Mitch and Spencer both helped each other overcome their great sadness from Mitch’s parents splitting up, and Spencer’s brother dying. No matter how much distance is put between Mitch and Spencer they are always apart of each others lives. - EM

The Boxcar Children
Gertrude Chandler Warner
Albert Whitman
Pub. Date: June 1989
154pp
Ages: 9-12

This book is a well known favorite! It is book one in an extensive series. Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny are a group of four brothers and sisters. - JK

The Boxcar Children: The Mystery of the Stolen Boxcar
Gertrude Chandler Warner
Albert Whitman
Pub. Date: November 1995
116pp

The “Boxcar Children,” is a children’s mystery series about the four Alden siblings. Through some unfortunate events the children started living in a boxcar because they had nowhere else to go. After living in the boxcar for a while, the kid’s grandfather found them and took them all in. In “The Mystery of the Stolen Boxcar,” the Alden children, their dog, and their historic boxcar get in the local paper because of the upcoming Greenfield Founder’s Day. Upon seeing the boxcar and the children in the paper, many people can to try to buy it from them. After the boxcar and their dog is stolen, the Alden children set out to solve the mystery! Can they figure this mystery out or will it be a lost cause? - EM

Bridge to Terabithia
Katherine Paterson
128 Pages
Copyright 1977
Grades 5 - Up

The life of a ten-year-old boy in rural Virginia expands when he becomes friends with a newcomer who subsequently meets an untimely death trying to reach their hideaway, Terabithia, during a storm.

More

Carpe Diem
Autumn Cornwell
Feiwel & Friends
Pub. Date: August 2007
Age Range: Young Adult
368pp

Vassar Spore has her life planned out and she has some very ambitious goals. It seems that all life depends on her achieving these goals and meeting up to her parent’s expectations. Everything seemed to be in order and going as planned until Grandma Gerd called from one of her adventures overseas. Vassar’s parents are blackmailed into having Vassar go spend the summer with her Grandma overseas in Southeast Asia. This of course ruins Vassar’s plans of AP Camps and becoming closer to reaching her goal of valedictorian. Vassar is so used to be in her little planned out world that she pretty much does not know how to live in the real world let alone in another country! Vassar has many adventures with her Asian cowboy bodyguard, her eccentric Grandma and the Natives that she encounters. But most of all Vassar learns how to live in the moment and she finds a new sense of contentment and adventure in it. - JK

*****

Carpe Diem written by Autumn Cornwell, is the story of a girl named Vassar Spore. Her parents wanted nothing more than for their baby girl to get into Vassar University and become a world renounced author who would eventually win the Pulitzer Prize, and they had her entire life planned out until that very point! Plan was a big word in this book, one that Vassars family used for just about everything! Everything was going just as planned (no pun intended), when they receive a letter from Vassar's paternal grandmother, along with a plane ticket for Vassar to Malaysia! Vassar thought that there would be no way her parents would let her go with her hippy grandmother, but some big secret seemed to persuade them! Vassar, who is caught in the middle of this does end up going on this trip, where she learns to love her grandmother, and eventually uncovers the big secret! Somewhere in the middle Vassar also falls in love with a cowboy among many other wild adventures! - KH

More

The Case of the Cold Turke
y
Pauline Wilson
Moody Publishers
Pub. Date: April 2001
Age Range: 7 to 10
144pp

Les and the rest of the Sugar Creek Gang love adventures. They also love animals. When they learned about something that was hurting deer, dogs, and rabbits around town they set out on a mission to find what was harming these poor little animals. They did research at a museum, and talked to people around town to see if they knew anything. After talking to people around town, they thought they had solved the case. All their evidence pointed to wolves or coyotes being the ones hurting and killing the other animals. When Les goes to try to solve this case by himself, because the Sugar Creek Gang was having a big fit, Les realized how much he needed the others after almost getting eaten alive. Read “The Case of the Cold Turkey” and find out if Les survives, and if the gang gets back together! - EM

Cheaper by the Dozen
Frank B. Gilbreth, and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
HarperCollins Publishers
Pub. Date: June 2002
224pp

Cheaper by the Dozen, written by Frank B. Gilbreth, and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, is the story of a very large family, and family of fifteen people to be exact! The Gilbreth family is everything I want and more(l want at least ten children of my own)! The book is very different from, and much better than the movie in my opinion. This family is made up of a father, who is and efficiency expert who thinks he can run his household just as one would run a factory. The mother is a supportive wife, who backs her husband up with everything other than discipline---that's a man's job! As you follow the family through allof the trials that a normal family would go through, everything is magnified, with twelve kids involved! They go through everything from leaving children behind at restaurants, to the question of "where do babies come from", which is asked much earlier than nonnal, but when there's twelve to one family the kids have got to wonder! This book was very entertaining! - KH

Cheating Lessons
Nan Willard Cappo
262 Pages
Copyright 2002
Young Adult

Bernadette Terrell lives in a typical public high school… she is not popular, but she is one of the brainiacs, she is great on the debate team and has outstanding grades. She ends up getting on to Wickham High School’s state championship quiz bowl team. All is well for her, but she wonders how a few others in her class did well enough to make the team. She suspects someone cheated, but who and how? In her quest for answers she learns more than she wants to, and has to decide if she is responsible to rat someone out, and what will happen if she does. - AF

More

Code Orange
Carolyn Cooney
Random House Children's Books
Pub. Date: May 2007
Age Range: 12 and up
224pp

While conducting research for a school paper on smallpox, Mitty finds an envelope containing 100-year-old smallpox scabs and fears that he has infected himself and all of New York City.

More

More


Crank
Ellen Hopkins
Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Pub. Date: October 2004
Age Range: Young Adult
544pp

Crank written by Ellen Hopkins, is the beautifully written story of a sixteen year old girl and her battle with drugs, namely crank(thus the title). When Kristina takes a court ordered summer visit to her loser of a father she meets her first love, Adam. He is the one that first introduces her to "the monster". This drug turns Kristina into a totally different person, so much so that she gives herself a second name, Bree. When she returns home, she is hungry for the drug, and she finds that boys will give her what she wants as long as she gives them what they want in return. In the end of this sad story, Kristina finds herself pregnant, alone, and starving for love and drugs. - KH

Deadline
Chris Crutcher
Harpercollins Childrens Books
Pub. Date: September 2007
Age Range: Young Adult
320pp

Deadline written by Chris Crutcher, is the story of a boy who has just discovered that he is dying. When Ben Wright goes in for his cross country physical in the summer before his senior year, he finds that he has a terminal disease. Ben decides that it would be better for everyone if he didn't tell anyone about his illness, and the doctor is forced to keep the information a secret because Ben is legally an adult! With the knowledge of his death, Ben decides to do things that he never thought he could ever do. He quits cross country, so that he can spend a season playing football with his younger brother, he finally gets up the courage to talk to the girl that he has loved for years, but never thought she would give him the time of day. In the end he knows that he cannot keep his quickly oncoming death a secret any longer, he is just too sick. He wonders if he made the right decision, and if his family will ever be able to forgive him. - KH

Diamonds in the Shadow
Carolyn Cooney
Random House Childrens Books
Pub. Date: September 2007
Age Range: Young Adult
240pp

This is the thrilling story of your ordinary, everyday white American family that decides to open their home to a family of African refugees. Little do they know that not only are these refugees not a family, but they have some very dark secrets that they would just assume forget about all together. - KH

More

The Face on the Milk Carton
Caroline B. Cooney
Random House Children's Books
Pub. Date: April 1991
Age Range: Young Adult
184pp

The Face on the Milk Carton, written by Caroline B. Cooney, is a story of a girl who finds herself in a real identity crisis, and not the kind that you might think. When Janie Johnson sees a picture of herself on a milk carton along with the other missing persons photos, her world is crushed right out from under her. Through a series of events that lead her to believe that she was really Jennie Spring, taken from her home when she was just two years old! How could this have happened to her? Her parents were perfectly normal! They could not have possibly done this, but if not them than who? - KH

The Fate of the Yellow Woodbee
Dave and Neta Jackson
Bethany House Publishers
Pub. Date: August 1997
Age Range: 8 to 12
144pp

“The Fate of the Yellow Woodbee” is based on a true story of missionaries from Ecuador that were trying to get to the Auca Indian Tribe there. This book is full of excitement and inspiration. A boy named Niwa is one of the main characters in this book. He is a young boy from the Auca Indian Tribe. Throughout this book the missionaries are trying to get in contact with the Auca tribe because they had never heard about Christ. After dropping gifts from the missionaries little yellow plane they decided that they had build a decent relationship with the tribe, so they decided to land their plane near the Auca Village. Upon doing this they five missionary men met some Auca’s that were not so happy to see them. The Auca’s killed all five missionaries. The book also spends a chapter telling about how the missionary men’s wives came to the village later and was able to share Christ with the Auca tribe! - EM

Fighting the Current
Heather Waldorf
Orca Book Publishers
Pub. Date: August 2004
Age Range: 12 and up
224pp

Theresa Stanford's life is forever changed when her father is hit by a drunk driver and left with the mind of a five-year-old, leaving Theresa to face a new future without the guiding force in her life.

More

Finding Lubchenko
Michael Simmons
Penguin Group (USA)
Pub. Date: May 2006
Age Range: Young Adult
304pp

Evan steals things from his father’s company because he believes that he deserves something from his multimillion dollar father. When his father is accused of murder, Evan realizes that a laptop he has stolen holds key evidence that could prove his father innocent. But if he turns the laptop over to the authorities, his thievery will be found out. Instead, he decides to go to Paris, France in search of the man Lubchenko who was referred to on the laptop. He goes, paid for by stealing his father’s credit cards, and searches for the evidence that can clear his father. However, he also goes to have a good time. He eventually finds Lubchenko, gets the evidence, and his father is released. - SM

More

The First Part Last
Angela Johnson
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pub. Date: January 2005
Age Range: Young Adult
144pp

“The First Part Last” is a personal diary of a sixteen year old father, Bobby. It is a very in depth and intimate look into this young father’s life. Throughout the book every other chapter is a flashback on how things went when He and Nia had to tell their parents about Nia being pregnant. Everyday is a struggle for Bobby trying to figure out how to manage his schedule and take care of baby Feather too. The question about where Nia is the whole time goes through your head as you read this book. However, it all comes full circle with a surprising twist in the last chapter. We find out that the reason that Bobby is the only one taking care of Feather is because Nia is in the hospital in a coma. - EM

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Written and Illustrated by E.L. Konigsburg
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pub. Date: November 1970
Age Range: 8 to 12
168pp

Claudia and Jamie Kincaid are two ambitious children embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. Eleven-year-old Claudia intends to run away from home, taking her nine-year-old brother Jamie with her. While she is adventurous, Claudia also is sure to do all the planning – right down to where they would stay after they left (the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City); Jamie has enough sense to manage the money for the affair, but still is addicted enough to the thrill of excitement that he jumps into the scheme with both feet. When the two uncover a mystery at the Museum neither one of them ever intended to find, they also learn an important lesson about life – and what really makes one different from everyone around. - KD

Going for The Record
Julie Swanson
Eerdmans Pub Co
Pub. Date: February 2004
217 Pages
Young Adult

In “Going for the Record”, Leah Weiczynkowski, is a high school student who has the dream of playing soccer in the Olympics. After coming home from a huge soccer camp where scouts from big colleges were at to watch the players, she finds out that her has cancer and only has three months to live. While she is trying to deal with her dad withering away, colleges keep calling and offering her full rides to their schools if she would play soccer for them. She soon losses interest in soccer and turns all her focus on taking care of her dad until he passes away. Leah does not want anything to do with soccer even after her dad passes away, but will her high school friend Clay be able to convince her that soccer is what she really needs? - EM

More

Happy Birthday, Addy!
Book Four in Addy’s series of The American Girls Collection
Written by Connie Porter; Illustrated by Bradford Brown
1994
Ages 7 - 10

Having escaped from slavery in the south, Addy now lives with her parents in Civil War era Philadelphia. Her father drives a wagon, delivering ice blocks to various businesses, while her mother is a homemaker. Addy’s father was a carpenter when they were enslaved, but now that they are free, he cannot find a carpentry job anywhere – the prejudices are too great. Frustrated Addy finds a wise old woman, Mrs. Golden, who, though blind, sees better than many people do. When Addy and her friend Sarah take a trip into town to find Mrs. Golden some needed medicine, both girls learn a lesson in the evils of prejudice – and how to rise above it. – KD

Hatchet
Gary Paulsen
Publisher: Scholastic
Copyright : 1988
Pages: 208
Grade Level: 5 - up
Awards: Newberry Honor

On his way to visit his father in Canada, the pilot of plane Brian is riding in dies of a sudden heart attack. Forced to fly the plane based on a short lesson the pilot gave him, Brian must try to fly the plane. Unsuccessful, the plane crashes into a lake somewhere in the Canadian wilderness. What will Brian do? With his hand forced, Brian must learn how to survive on his own, and fast. It’s Brian against nature. What will become of him? Will he beat the odds and survive, or will the test prove to be too much to overcome? Find out by reading Gary Paulsen’s timeless classic, Hatchet. - MM

****

Annotation : The story begins as Brian Robeson is beginning his journey from his mother’s home in New York to that of his father in Canada where he will spend the summer. While flying over the Canadian wilderness, the pilot of the single-engine Cessna in which Brian is traveling suffers a massive heart attack. The plane is pilotless and drifting off course. The only option for Brian, who does not know how to fly a plane, is to make a crash landing into the wilderness below. The plane crash-lands in a lake, and Brian swims to shore, leaving the body of the pilot strapped in the plane’s cockpit. Equipped only with the hatchet that his mother gave him, resources from his surroundings, and his own mental and emotional abilities, Brian spends the next two months learning to survive in this wilderness.

Reaction : My son had been recommending this book for a long time, but I never made time to read it. I am, now glad that I did, and will probably read the other selections in the “Brian” series. It was and excellent book—very well written. - EH

*****

Brian is on his way to Canada to see his father, who has just recently divorced his mother. During the flight, the plane’s pilot has a heart attack. The plane flies drastically off track until Brian can finally regain control. The plane is still off course, but at least it has not crashed. Brian flies the plane until it runs out of fuel; then he looks for a good place to crash land. He finds a lake in the middle of nowhere and the plane goes down. Brian fights his way to the surface. When he is able to breathe again, he looks around and realizes that he is terribly alone.

This is the story of a young boy who is thrust into a world that he does not know. He has nothing except his hatchet to survive in the wilderness. He learns to hunt and to fish and he builds a good shelter for himself and learns to make fire.

All this time the plane has been under water. But one night, a tornado goes through Brian’s camp. The next morning he sees that the tail end of the plane is sticking up. He decides that he needs to go find the survival pack that is on board.

He builds a raft and painstakingly makes his way out to the plane. He finally finds the pack and goes back to shore. He looks through his new treasures. One is an emergency transmitter. Brian flicks the switch a couple of times but nothing happens; he assumes it is broken. Brian continues to look through the survival pack. Suddenly, he hears a plane flying over head. He looks up and sees the plane and the floats on the bottom. The plane lands and the pilot tells Brian that he heard the signal from the emergency transmitter. Suddenly Brian is saved. - JH

Hidden Talents
David Lubar
Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Pub. Date: January 2003
Age Range: Young Adult
224pp

This book is about a group of boys in school that are labeled the losers. They all believe they are losers until one of them (Martin) discovers they all have hidden paranormal abilities. This helps them cope with being labeled losers by others and helps them discover who they want to be. - RC

Hope was Here
Joan Bauer
Penguin Group (USA)
September 2000
192pp
Age Range: Young Adult

The book Hope Was Here is about a girl that lives with her aunt and considers her aunt her mother. The girl's name is Tulip and her mother gave her over to her aunt right after she was born because Tulip’s mother did not want to take care of her. Tulip dad was not in the picture at all. When Tulip turned thirteen years old she changed her name to Hope because she did not like her real name and she did not want it to remind her of her real mother. Hope got along with her aunt really well, but her aunt was constantly moving because she got new job as a cook at diners. With being in that kind of atmosphere, Hope learned how to waitress at an early age. This book works through many hard issues such as working to get rid of anger, sticking up for what is right, and trying to deal with the feelings of abandonment. Will Hope be able to find her dad after all these years of waiting for him to come find her? Read the book and find out! - EM

More

More

How To Be Popular
Meg Cabot
Harpercollins Childrens Books
Pub. Date: July 2006
Age Range: Young Adult
288pp

How to be Popular by Meg Cabot, was actually a very good read! I was expecting it to be a very shallow read, and it kind of was, but it was easy to read and dealt with real like issues. The book is about a girl named Steph Landry, who has been picked on just about everyday since the second grade when she accidentally spilled a slurpy on the most popular girl in school. At that moment the phrase was coined "way to pull a Steph". and she was never able to live it down. Until now that is. As a junior in high school, she is more than ready to put those days behind her. When Steph found a book in her future grandmothers attic titled "How to be Popular" she knew that she would follow every step in the book. Surprisingly, the book really worked and Steph really did become popular, only to find that it isn't as great as she would have hoped. She decides to turn her popularity around for good, and in the end, she even gets the guy! - KH

More

If This is Love, I'll take Spaghetti
Ellen Conrad
Scholastic, Inc.
Pub. Date: March 1983
165pp

If This is Love, I'll Take Spaghetti is a series of short stories written by Ellen Conrad. To be perfectly honest I did not enjoy reading this book at all. I felt like it was poorly written and each of the stories left you hanging on by a string ... I kept thinking it was going to get interesting, and then all of the sudden it was over and on to the next short story. Each story was about 5-10 pages long, and in my opinion held very little content. - KH

Justifiable Means
Terri Blackstock
Zondervan
Pub. Date: June 1996
320pp

In Justifiable Means, written by Terri Blackstock, Melissa Nelson finds herself caught in a lie so big, she may have to pay the price of prison! Years earlier her sister had been raped by a man who got off scott free because of some stupid technicalities! Melissa could not let him get away with what he had done, so she staged her own rape! She knew all the ins and outs of the courts, and she was determined to put this man behind bars. What she hadn't anticipated was to find love in the man that was investigating her case! - KH

Kidnapped at the Capital
Random House Childrens Books
Pub. Date: April 2002
Age Range: 7 to 10
80pp

KC Corcoran and Marshall Li are two best friends with a habit if finding trouble – and intense adventures. When Marshall, KC and her mom are invited out to see Washington, D.C.’s famous cherry blossoms with the President himself, the three are ready for another typical day with President Thornton. After the President and Mrs. Corcoran are kidnapped by a couple of goons, their day in D.C. is anything but typical! Will Marshall and KC ever find KC’s mom? And what will the country do without a President? – KD

Killing Mr.Griffin
Lois Duncan
Random House Children's Books
Pub. Date: August 1990
Age Range: Young Adult
224pp

Mr. Griffin is an English teacher. He is extremely strict and is only critical of his students. Students must pass his class in order to graduate. He often makes students feel belittled and stupid.

One of Mr. Griffin’s students, Mark, decides that it would be a good idea to kidnap Mr. Griffin. The idea is to kidnap him and scare him and humble him. That way, he would be a nicer person. Mark ropes other students into helping him.

The students kidnap Mr. Griffin and take him to a deserted area where no one goes. They blindfold him and kick him a little bit and leave him. That night, two of the students, David and Susan, decide to go and check on Mr. Griffin. They find him dead.

The kids try to find ways to cover up what they have done. Even though they were not responsible for the death, they knew that they would still get in trouble for kidnapping their teacher.

Finally through several events the death is linked to Mark and the rest of the students. They confess everything. It is found, however, that Mark is a psychopath and capable of convincing people to do things for him, whether they want to or not. The students get into trouble, but since they were not solely responsible for the crime their punishment is not as bad as it could have been. -JH

More

The Longing
Beverly Lewis
Bethany House Publishers
Pub. Date: October 2008
352pp

Nellie and her family have always been Amish. However, recently, they have found joy in the gift of salvation and the assurance of eternal life with Jesus. This was not an easy thing for them, or for anyone in their Amish community, to accept. It goes against the things taught in the Old Order. It caused a great split in the church, and caught in the middle, Nellie and her beau are torn apart: Nellie accepting salvation, and her beau firmly rejecting it as heretical and prideful. Will Caleb ever find the joy Nellie has found, or will he find it too late, as his distant cousin becomes enamored with Nellie. - SM

More

Lord of the Flies

William Golding
Pages: 208
Grade Level: 8 up
Copyright : 1959
Publisher: Faber & Faber

What happens when a band of boys is marooned on a deserted island and left to fend for themselves? Will they abide by the codes of moral, ethical, and judicial conduct that they have learned back home, or will chaos break out with the lack of authority? Watch as “boys being boys” turns into a deadly game of Russian Roulette. William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is a provoking tale of the human state void of the rule of government or authority. It is filled with adventure, suspense, and conflict as Ralph struggles against nature, the other boys, and sometimes himself in his attempt to fight for what he knows is right. Will Ralph be able to maintain order, or will the chaos claim him along with the rest? - MM

The Man Who Loved Clowns
June Rae Wood
Penguin Group (USA)
Pub. Date: April 2005
Age Range: 9 to 12
224pp

Delrita Jensen lives with her parents and uncle “Punky” who has Down syndrome. Delrita prefers to keep to herself because she is embarrassed of her uncle and she is very protective of him. Punky lives at home and loves his TV commercials and clowns. Delrita’s parents are killed in a car accident and both Delrita and Punky go to live with her Aunt and Uncle. Delrita learns how to make friends while suffering through her loss and Punky learns independence while working at a sheltered workshop. The story includes happy moments, sad moments, and moments that will help you evaluate how you treat those around you. - JK

Maniac Magee
Jerry Spinelli
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: November 1999
Recommended Ages: 9-12
Pages: 192
Awards: Newberry Medal

Annotation : When an orphaned boy named Jeffery Magee runs away from the home of his aunt and uncle, he encounters a world divided along color lines. As “Maniac” Magee becomes known for his remarkable physical abilities in both the West End (white section of town) and the East End (black section of town), he begins to experience the realities of prejudice first hand through interactions with various people, of both races, to whom his feats, fame, and family-needs expose him. Through these experiences, Maniac learns the realities of the discrimination to which he has previously been oblivious as well as what it truly means to embrace people as people.

Reaction : This story was very interesting and believable. I enjoyed seeing how the author wove the resolution into each chapter and culminated at the end of the story. I highly recommend it as a class read. - EH

Martyn Pig
Kevin Brooks
Scholastic, Inc.
Pub. Date: May 2002
Age Range: Young Adult
240pp

Martyn Pig's life goes from bad to worse when he accidentally kills his father, and he must choose whether to tell the police the truth about what happened and be suspected of murder, or he can get rid of the body and pretend nothing ever happened.

More

Mind Games
Jeanne Marie Grunwell
Houghton Mifflin Company
Copyright : 2003
Grade Level: 7
124 pp

Almost every middle school student in the country can identify with doing science fair projects. The six main characters find themselves signing up for an elective called “The Mad Science Club,” while conducting a science fair experiment on ESP. Through the narratives of the students, readers learn about their lives, families, and struggles with each other. How will the students test their hypothesis on ESP? How will they do at the science fair? The answers lie within the pages of Jeanne Grunwell’s fast-paced read, Mind Games. - MM

Much Ado about Aldo
Johanna Hurwitz
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Pub. Date: September 1989
Age Range: 8 to 12
96pp

Aldo seems like a normal third grader but he has a very sensitive spirit for animals and does not like how the food chain works. Upon getting crickets in his third grade classroom he loved to observe and take care of them. However, what will happen with his teacher puts chameleons in the tanks with the crickets to demonstrate how the food chain works. Will Aldo be able to figure out someway to save his little friends? After understanding where Aldo’s meat came from he asked himself, if being a vegetarian is the answer to help stop this awful thing called the food chain? - EM

My Side of the Mountain
Jean Craighead George
Pages: 192
Grade Level: 4 - up
Copyright : 1988
Publisher: Puffin Books

Jean Craighead George’s classic, My Side of the Mountain, is touching, gripping, and humorous novel that readers will not be able to put down. Everyone, at one point or another, contemplates running away from home. Most, however, don’t make it more than a few blocks if they make it out of the back yard at all. Sam makes it out of the back yard, a few blocks, and beyond to the Catskill Mountains. He lives in a tree with a weasel and falcon as friends. Read to find out how Sam struggles with nature, hunters, and loneliness, and how his desire for freedom and adventure help him to grow up on his side of the mountain. - MM

The Mystery of the Homeless Treasure
John Bibee
InterVarsity Press
Pub. Date: July 1994
Age Range: 9 to 12
117pp

Six homeschoolers minding their own business, just looking for leaves for their science projects, stumble upon a 30-year-old mystery. What does an old cup, a kidnapping and a homeless looking man have in common? Read “The Mystery of the Homeless Treasure” to find out. This book as good for any elementary age kids. While searching for truth, the kids learn many valuable lessons such as honesty, and truthfulness. Will the kids be able to solve the case that has not been opened up for 30 years? Will they be able to clear an innocent good name or will evil prevail? - EM

No More Dead Dogs
Gordon Korman
Disney Press
Pub. Date: October 2002
Age Range: 12 and up
192pp

Wallace Wallace is tired of the books where the dog dies at the end. The dog dies at the end of Shiloh. Both dogs die at the end of Where the Red Fern Grows. Old Shep, My Pal, is no different, and it is not just a lame book - it is doubling as the play this year! Wallace Wallace is asked to write a book review on Old Shep, but his teacher, who thinks that book is one of the greatest of all time, does not appreciate Wallace’s very negative opinion thereof. Wallace is then taken out of football practice – nearly killing his teammates – and is assigned to detention, watching the drama club practice for the play. Wallace ends up being the dialogue consultant for the play so that he can re-write the lines in such a way that they are more realistic than the classic, archaic style in which the book was written. More than that, Wallace actually likes that job! So when other students try to sabotage the play, there is no one better than Wallace to find out who is doing it, and stop them. - KD

Pieces of Georgia
Jen Bryant
Random House Childrens Books
Pub. Date: November 2007
Age Range: 12 and up
176pp

In a blend of free verse and diary/journal, 13-year-old Georgia pours her heart out to her mother, who died six years ago.

More

Pondfire
Bill Maynard
Puffin Books
Copyright : 2000
Grade Level: 4
Pages: 86

All boys seem to be fascinated by fire; it’s somehow ingrained in them. Jed is no different. Once, when he was practicing putting out fires in his back yard, he accidentally burned down the garage. After a series of suspicious fires happen in town, everybody in town assumes Jed is to blame. After his father is left in a coma after responding to a fire, Jed and his friends set out to find what is really behind these fires. Will they discover who or what is behind it all? Pondfire by Bill Maynard tells the whole story. - MM

Pool Boy
Michael Simmons
Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: May 2005
Age Range: Young Adult
192pp

Publisher's Annotation: When his father is arrested for insider trading and his family loses all their money, Brett Gerson takes a job as an assistant to a 70-something pool cleaner in his former wealthy California neighborhood and learns some valuable life lessons.

More

Presumption of Guilt
Terri Blackstock
Zondervan
Pub. Date: May 1997
304pp

Presumption of Guilt written by Terri Blackstock, who happens to be one of my favorite authors, is the story of a brave reporter who has maybe cut off a little more than she can handle. Beth Wright has suspected that something fishy has been going on at St. Clairs Childrens home, and wants to make sure that whatever is going on, is taken care of! The problem is there is someone who does not want anybody snooping around the children's home, especially not a nosy reporter like Beth! When Beth starts to get in way too far over her head, only social worker, Nick Hutchins, is there to save the day. Through much danger and investigation, it is discovered that the people running the children's home are hardened criminals, who are using the children to do their dirty work! - KH

Rat Life
Tedd Arnold
Penguin Group (USA)
Pub. Date: April 2007
Age Range: Young Adult
208pp

Todd’s life is fairly simple: eat, sleep, work at the hotel for free, to go school and write. But one day his world begins to change. It all starts by finding a stray pup. At the same time he sees police men near the river and later finds out there was a dead body found in the river. From his incident with a puppy, he meets Rat, an employee at an old drive in theatre. Rat asks Todd to start working at the theater, and Todd’s dad agrees. Todd soon begins to find out about Rat’s past as he discovers more and more about the dead body. Are they connected? Could Rat be the murderer? - AB

Responsible

Darlene Ryan
Orca Book Publishers
Pub. Date: September 2007
Age Range: 12
112pp

Annotation: Many high school kids deal with bullies, Frasier and Erin were no exception. Nick, however, was no ordinary bully. Spurned and embarrassed by Erin who refuses to go out with him, Nick vows to get revenge. When Erin does not cower to him, however, Nick continues to escalate his attacks to the point of kidnapping and near sexual assault. Frasier, sucked into the “gang” in order to keep himself from getting bullied by Nick must decide whether to continue to play it safe and act as Nick’s stooge in various attacks or to stand up and take responsibility for doing the right things—even if it means danger for him. When Erin is almost raped by Nick, Frasier does the right thing and stand up, resulting in a very severe beating. In the end, Fraser learns that being responsible sometimes means doing the right thing even when it is not the easy thing to do.

Reaction: This book was very realistic in the authors approach to the subject of bullying, more importantly the realities, risks, and rewards of standing up and doing the right thing in the face of this tragedy. The author presented the message in a quick yet clear manner, that any young person should enjoy. - EH

Sand Dollar Summer
Kimberly Jones
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pub. Date: June 2008
Age Range: 12 and up
206pp

When twelve-year-old Lise spends the summer on an island in Maine with her self-reliant mother and bright--but oddly mute--younger brother, her formerly safe world is complicated by an aged Indian neighbor, her mother's childhood friend, and a hurricane.

More

The Shack
William Young
Windblown Media
Pub. Date: July 2008
Age: Young Adult - Adult
256pp

A little girl murdered, a hurting dad, and the trinity. “The Shack” is a book that examines the hurt and pain that Mac had to face head on when his baby girl was kidnapped and brutally murdered. Three years after his little girls murder, Mac gets a mysterious letter in the mail that says that he needs to go back to the shack where his daughter was murdered. After a lot of thought Mac went back to the shack. As he go there, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit was waiting there for him. After a long hard process with the trinity Mac is able to let go of the anger, hurt and pain that he had kept inside for the past three years. - EM

*****

This story is a story that helps convey understanding to the subjects of pain, suffering and relationships. Mac is a grief stricken father who is grieving the death of his youngest daughter by the hand of a serial killer. He goes to the place of his daughter’s murder only to find a resolution to the situation beyond his wildest dreams. God meets him there on an intimate and personal level and Mac learns what it truly means to love, trust and live beyond pain and suffering. - JK

*****

Mack takes his three kids camping one weekend. They have a great time together, sleeping under the stars and cooking in the outdoors. Their last day of camping, two of Mack’s kids, Kate and Josh, want to go canoeing. At first Mack is hesitant, but he finally says they can go. His youngest daughter, Missy, is sitting at a picnic table coloring. All of a sudden, Mack hears something and he looks to the water and he sees that the canoe with his kids has tipped over. He sees Kate, but Josh is still under water. He goes to the water and pulls Josh out and begins to give him CPR. All the rest of the campers are gathered around, watching to make sure everything is all right. As soon as Josh comes around, Mack walks away and he realizes that Missy is gone. They search the camp and cannot find her. Finally the police are contacted. Eventually, after a long time of searching, the police find in a deserted shack a torn, bloody, dress that is identified as Missy’s.

Mack’s family is devastated and there is always a sadness that lingers. Mack’s wife prays and trusts God and even calls him Papa, but Mack is not so quick to trust. One day, during an ice storm, Mack makes his way out to the mailbox. He sees only one letter, a piece of paper really, telling him to meet someone at the shack. The letter is signed Papa.

Mack goes up to the shack prepared to meet his daughter’s killer. He falls asleep in the shack and when he wakes up he decides to leave. He makes his way out to his jeep when suddenly things around him begin to change. He turns around and sees the shack has been transformed into a beautiful cabin and the countryside has been transformed into beautiful colors. Instead of the dead of winter, it looks like summer. Mack goes back into the shack.

Inside he meets who he finds out to be God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. They help Mack to work through many issues in his life, including the abuse he suffered from his father. Jesus takes him to find Missy’s body which they bury in a wonderful garden right by the shack.

When Mack leaves the shack it is back to the way it was. He makes his way back home, but gets into a car accident. He is in the hospital in a coma and his family is there, hoping and praying that he wakes up. He does, and he tells his wife everything that happened. At first she does not believe him, but finally she does, once she hears him tell Kate that Missy’s death was not her fault.

When Mack gets well, he takes his family and the police to the place where Jesus took him to find Missy’s body. They find her body and the forensics team are able to find out who killed her. They find the killer and he is convicted. - JH

Shadow Club
Neal Shusterman
Penguin Group (USA)
Pub. Date: February 2002
Age Range: Young Adult
192pp

Publisher's Annotation: When a junior high school boy and his friends decide to form a club of "second bests" and play anonymous tricks on each other's arch rivals, the harmless pranks escalate until they become life-threatening.

More

Snapshots
Paul W. Buchanan
Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.
Pub. Date: October 2007
Age Range: Young Adult
216pp

This story is about a boy who has experienced a painful loss by the disappearance of his best friend “Jen”. Jen and Jimmy were in their adolescent years and Jimmy knew that Jen had surpassed him long ago in the area of “growing up”. She had matured into a beautiful young woman and was starting to use that to her advantage to attract attention by men, especially those older than her. Her internet love life was something that truly worried Jimmy but out of respect for his friend he had kept his mouth shut and covered for her, until she disappeared. Jimmy does not know how to deal with the disappearance and it has consumed his life. He does not know how to move on and this has worried everyone around him. Jimmy needs to learn how to resolve his past and keep living life. - JK

Speak
Laura Halse Anderson
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pub. Date: October 1999
Age Range: Young Adult
208pp

Publisher's Synopsis: A traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect on Melinda's freshman year in high school.

More

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Judy Blume
Scholastic Inc.
Copyright : 1972
Grade Level: 4
Pages: 118

We have all been there – or most of us anyway. You are the underappreciated one, and it seems as if your little brother gets all of the attention. Life simply is not fair, and you are the victim. Everyone loves the adorable toddler. If they only knew what a little terror he really is. Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, allows you to relive those days when you were the mature ten year old sibling of a two year old through the eyes of Peter as he learns to live with – maybe even love – his little brother Fudge. - MM

More

The Voice on the Radio
Caroline B. Cooney
Random House Children's Books
Pub. Date: August 1998
Age Range: Young Adult
208pp

The voice on the radio by Caroline B. Cooney, is the story of a boy, Reeves, who is in love with the star from "The Face on the Milk Carton", and "Whatever Happened to Janie". though Reeves and Janie are "in love", Reeves is offered a position that he just cant refuse to be a radio announcer for a college station. As a result reeves being a year older than Janie, goes away to college where he can be the announcer he had always wanted to be. Despite the distance, the two think their relationship can make it. After all Reeves had been there for Janie through it all! It is not until he gets to his new job and realizes that he has nothing interesting to say, that his spills Janie's story to the entire campus. When Janie comes to surprise Reeves with a visit, and accidentally overhears him telling her story on the radio, the trust she once had for the boy was completely destroyed! The question remains, "can Janie ever forgive Reeves for this betrayal?" - KH

Wanderer
Sharon Creech
Harpercollins Childrens Books
Pub. Date: April 2002
Age Range: 12 and up
320pp

Publisher's Annotation: Thirteen-year-old Sophie and her cousin Cody record their transatlantic crossing aboard the Wanderer, a forty-five foot sailboat, which, along with uncles and another cousin, is en route to visit their grandfather in England.

More

Whatever Happened to Janie
Carolyn Cooney
Random House Children's Books
Pub. Date: September 1994
Age Range: Young Adult
217pp

When Janie Johnson discovered that she was really Jenny Spring, she was sent to live with her biological family in New Jersey. Here she finds that she has brothers and sisters that she never knew anything about! Though it is extremely hard, Janie knows that she must except her new family ... her real family, for the sake of everyone involved. But the question still remains, "Whatever Happened to Janie", which is that title of this book written by Caroline B. Cooney. The police work out a scenario where Hannah, who is the Johnson's older biological daughter who joined a cult as soon as she left home, abducted Jenny and brought her to the home of her parents. The Johnsons, believing that Jenny, or Janie, was their granddaughter and believe that it Is their duty to care for the girl when Hannah returns to the cult. They were none the wiser that Janie was of no relation to them at all. - KH

Where the Red Fern Grows
By Wilson Rawls
Random House Children's Books
Pub. Date: March 1997
Age Range: 12 and up
249pp

At some point in his life, every little boy wants a dog, especially when he lives in the heart of the Ozarks. Billy is no different. However, his family does not have enough money to buy him the two coon dogs he desires. One day, Billy discovers an ad for coon dogs at $25 each, and begins working to save the money. After two years, Billy’s determination is rewarded when he receives the dogs. This is the classic story of a little boy and his adventures with his two wonderful dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann. - AB