Cream of the Crop List

Each year publishing houses send thousands of review copies of new children's and young adult books to the Maine Examination Collection to the Southern Maine Library District. The books are reviewed at monthly book review meetings by local librarians. A "Cream of the Crop" Collection of the best titles published in the previous year is prepared. The "Cream of the Crop" Collection contains about books from preschool to high school age levels.

All of the titles on this list have been favorably reviewed by members of the Southern Maine Library District Book Review Group. Publishing date for all books is 2011.

Categories of Books [137 books]

Picture Book Non-Fiction [23 books]

  • L = Library binding
  • M = Maine Author, Illustrator, Setting
  • P = Paperback
  • R = Reinforced trade binding
  • T = Trade binding

Baker, Keith. 1-2-3- Peas. Beach Lane Books. 978-1-4424-4551-2, R $16.99 (PreK-Grade 1). Peas in hardhats, peas in rowboats, peas singing in the shower. Counting from one to twenty then on up to one hundred by tens, every numeral is represented by the accurate number of busy peas. Kids will stretch to be able to count each pea on the page and in doing so will discover the amusing poses and personality of them all.

Burns, Loree Griffin. Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard. Henry Holt & Co. 978-0-8050-9517-3, P $12.99 (Grade 3-6). Readers are encouraged to observe and participate in meaningful activities involving collecting information that is used by scientists in existing projects concerning monarch butterflies, birds, frogs, and ladybugs. Each chapter includes a checklist for observation and “quick quizzes” to engage the reader. The clear color photographs and captions are numerous and the author offers a variety of resources for readers who will want to participate in these and other exciting and important projects.

Christensen, Bonnie. I, Galileo. Alfred A. Knopf.  978-0-375-86753-8, T $17.99 (Grade 3-6). Galileo reflects on his childhood, education, inventions, and discoveries up to his imprisonment at the end of his life. Using the first person approach brings I, Galileo alive. The richly colored illustrations add beauty to this well researched biography which includes extensive information at the end of the book.

Cline-Ransome, Lesa. Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass. Simon & Schuster. 978-1-4169-5903-8, T $16.99 (Grade K-3). This picture book biography is based on Frederick Douglass’ own Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. It is an excellent introduction to what life was like for someone born into slavery. Douglass’s interest in reading and writing began at an early age when he was sent to Baltimore. He eventually escaped on the Underground Railroad and became one of the first leaders of the anti-slavery movement. Illustrated by James E. Ransome.

Codell, Esme Raji. Seed by Seed: The Legend and Legacy of John “Appleseed” Chapman. Greenwillow Books. 978-0-06-145515-5, T $16.99 (Grade K-3). This biography of folk hero, Johnny Appleseed takes young readers back in time to the settling of the American frontier. While presenting facts about Chapman, Codell also shares the 5 guiding (and inspiring) principles by which he conducted his life. Lynne Rae Perkins’ charming and varied illustrations are well researched and nicely complement the text.

Cousins, Lucy. Create with Maisy: A Maisy First Arts-and-Crafts Book. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-6122-9, L  $16.99  (PreK-Grade 3). The author of the familiar Maisy books has compiled a craft book that uses common materials, gives clear instructions and includes a photograph of the finished product. A good variety of easy projects that will have a high probability of being completed.

Evans, Shane W. We March. A Neal Porter Book. 978-1-59643-539-1, T $16.99 (Grade K-3). This brief story shows a family waking up, preparing, and taking part in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963 where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.  It is told from a child’s point of view. There are few words used in this powerful book with vibrant illustrations. The author’s note contains information on this march, the Selma to Montgomery March and their impact on American history.

Fern, Tracey. Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World.  Margaret Ferguson Books. 978-0-374-30516-1, R $17.99 (Grade 1-3). Barnum Brown developed an interest in fossils as a boy, then went on to employ his talent for finding bones on a grand scale. He was responsible for digging up and piecing together the bones of the T-Rex on display at the American Museum of Natural History. A must read for dinosaur enthusiasts or in preparation for a science museum visit.

Freedman, Russell. The Boston Tea Party. Holiday House.  978-0-8234-2266-1, T $17.95 (Grade 3-5). Freedman examines the causes,  results, and the actual event that was the Boston Tea Party. Meticulous research, wonderfully detailed illustrations, and abundant back matter including a bibliography, map, timeline, afterword, and source notes make this an exemplary title.

Frost, Helen. Step Gently Out. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-5601-0,  R $15.99 (PreK-Grade 2). A lyric poem combined with stunning photographs invites the reader to step outside, be still and observe. Beauty and drama can be found on a single leaf. Information is included in the endnotes on each small creature found in the poem.

Harrison, David L. Cowboys: Voices in the Western Wind. Wordsong. 978-1-59078-877-6, R $17.95 (Grade 3-6). Over twenty poems in a variety of forms are paired with richly colored digital paintings. The poems tell the story of a 1,000 mile cattle drive. This would be a useful resource on the American West.

Hopkinson, Deborah. Annie and Helen. Schwartz & Wade Books. 978-0-375-85706-5, T $17.99 (Grade K-3). This picture book biography includes excerpts of letters that Annie Sullivan wrote to her friend and former teacher about working with Helen Keller. The story begins with Helen and Annie meeting for the first time and ends with Helen’s first letter home to her mother while traveling with her father and Annie. Beautiful watercolor illustrations, an author’s note, photographs, and Braille alphabet make this an excellent choice for an introduction to these to two remarkable people.

Johnson, R. Kikuo. The Shark King: a Toon Book. Toon Books.  978-1-935179-16-0, T $12.95 (Grade K-4). The shape shifting Shark King rescues a beautiful young woman who has fallen into the ocean. They marry and produce a son, Nanaue, a mischievous child with an insatiable appetite. Lush illustrations portray a verdant, tropical setting. Filled with mysterious beings and action packed adventure this graphic novel is based on Hawaiian folk tales about the shark god, Kamohoalii.

Keating, Frank. George: George Washington, Our Founding Father. Simon & Schuster. 978-1-44169-5482-8, T $16.99 (Grade K-3). This engaging biography is told in first person and gives the reader a real sense of Washington’s life and character. The full page, oil on canvas, illustrations have been meticulously researched and work beautifully with the text to introduce a younger audience to our first president.

Kerly, Barbara. Those Rebels, John and Tom. Scholastic Press, 978-0-545-22268-6, T $17.99 (Grade 2-5). Salt of the earth, John Adams is contrasted with his fellow founding father, the aristocratic Thomas Jefferson – both distinct personalities even as children. The scrappy Adams and bookish Jefferson are united in their great dislike of King George and their passion for the fledgling United States. Using direct quotations from the two, this book documents their developing friendship and its impact on the American Revolution. The illustrations, done in the manner of political cartoons, expand the text.

King, Martin Luther. I Have a Dream. Schwartz & Wade.  978-0-375-85887-1, T $18.99 (Grade K-3). August 28, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s most famous speech. Kadir Nelson’s large, lush oil paintings capture the emotional content of King’s speech and the hopeful mood of the crowd gathered on the Washington mall that day.  The book contains a CD of “I Have a Dream” as well as the speech printed in its entirety. (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor)

Lawlor, Laurie. Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World. Holiday House.  978-0-8234-2370-5. R $16.95 (Grade 2-5). Rachel Carson was a pioneer both as a woman and a scientist. At a time when few women were members of the scientific community, her research and writing awakened people around the world to the dangers of pesticides. With simple language and gentle, charming illustrations this well researched biography introduces young readers to this remarkable scientist who was a founder of the modern environmental movement.

Leedy, Loreen. Seeing Symmetry. Holiday House. 978-0-8234-2360-6, R $17.95 (Grade 3-6). Symmetry is all around in nature and things we create. Explanations and examples show how to recognize the different types including rotational symmetry. Everyday objects are used making the concept of symmetry easily understood. The Common Core Standard for fourth-grade geometry is mentioned at the end of the book.

Potter, Alicia. Mrs. Harkness and the Panda. Borzoi Books. 978-0-375-84448-5, R $16.99 (Grade K-3). This historical account of Ruth Harkness  who improbably completed her late husband’s expedition to China and brought the first live panda back to the United States. This “little bit of something cute”, Su Lin, sparked the western world’s fascination with pandas and a desire to learn more about and to protect them.  Melissa Sweet’s beautiful illustrations incorporate materials she collected in China.

Rusch, Elizabeth. The Mighty Mars Rover: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity. Houghton Mifflin. 978-0-547-47881-4, T $18.99 (Grade 3-7). This very readable and amply illustrated title is one of Houghton Mifflin’s “Scientist in the Field” series. Steve Squyres, the lead scientist on the Mars Rover project is profiled along with the plucky robots, Spirit and Opportunity. Engaging and well researched, this book will have readers on the edge of their seats as Steve and his team cheer the rovers’ successes and work together to solve the many problems the robots encounter on the unforgiving surface of Mars.

Scott, Elaine. Buried Alive!: How 33 Miners Survived 69 Days Deep Under the Chilean Desert. Clarion Books. 978-0-547-70778-5, R $17.99 (Grade 4-7). The August 2010 Chilean mine collapse was a harrowing ordeal for the 33 miners trapped 2,300 feet underground, their families and the rescue team. This complicated, emotional story is clearly told and enhanced with stunning photographs, maps and diagrams. Compelling, readable non-fiction.

Spinner, Stephanie. Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird: A True Story. Borzoi Books. 978-0-375-86846-7, R $17.99 (Grade 3-5). This accessible account of Irene Pepperberg’s 30-year relationship with Alex, an African Grey parrot describes early research on animal communication and the fascinating results of her animal language studies with Alex. A heartwarming story of a scientist and a parrot that advanced the understanding of animal intelligence and made humans more aware of their responsibility to wildlife and pets.

Ward, Helen. The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. Templar Books. 978-0-7636-6098-7, R $16.99 (Grade PreK-3). The gentle, detailed, watercolor paintings that illustrate this old tale will enchant young readers. The seasons pass quietly for the country mouse until his city cousin comes for a visit. Curious and with less certitude about his own contentment, he visits his city cousin in New York. Amid sumptuous surroundings and beautiful food, danger lurks. The country mouse flees to the humble delights of his cozy, country home.

Picture Book Fiction [21 books]

Barnett, Mac. Extra Yarn. Balzer + Bray. 978-0-06-195338-5, R $16.99 (PreK-Grade 3). From a small box of yarn, Annabelle knits color and warmth into her world. A greedy Archduke steals the miraculous box, is out witted and puts a curse on the young knitter. Annabelle’s generosity, like the yarn, is never-ending which protects her from the curse. This quirky tale could inspire many classroom projects and discussions. (Caldecott Honor)

Black, Birdie. Just Right for Christmas. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-6174-8, R $15.99 (Grade K-3). The King buys a roll of soft red Christmassy cloth to be stitched into a cloak for his daughter. The material scraps become smaller and smaller gifts as they pass down to badger, squirrel and mouse, but each present is just right for the giver and receiver.  Themes of generosity and thrift are warmly presented in this folklore style story.

Black, Ian.  I’m Bored. Simon & Schuster. 978-1-4424-1403-7, T $16.99 (Grade K-3). The shoe is on the other foot when a
grumpy, bored little girl meets up with a grumpy, bored, potato. He thinks that kids are boring so she tries to impress this
miserable spud by demonstrating her remarkable imagination but he remains unmoved. A surprise ending gives the cranky
potato his just deserts. This irascible twosome will have kids laughing out loud and perhaps inspire some to use their
imaginations rather than succumb to that dreary phrase, “I’m bored.”

Carbone, Lisa. Heroes of the Surf: a Rescue Story Based on True Events. Viking. 978-0-670-06312-3, T $16.99 (Grade 2-4). The English steamship, Pliny, ran aground off the coast of New Jersey in 1882. The U.S. Lifesaving Services came to its rescue. This fictional account is told by two young boys traveling with their families. The illustrations portray the drama of this daring rescue. The afterward explains the incident and the combining of the U.S. Lifesaving Services with the Revenue Cutter Service creating what is now the U.S. Coast Guard.

Cole, Henry. Unspoken: a Story from the Underground Railroad. Scholastic Press. 978-0-545-39997-5, R $16.99 (Grade 2-5). This wordless graphite illustrated books tells the story of a young girl finding a runaway slave in the family barn. With help from her family the escapee is fed and hidden from the authorities. She is left with a surprising gift. Excellent author’s note is included.

Davies, Nicola. Just Ducks!  Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-5936-3, R $15.99 (Grade K-3). This book highlights ordinary, everyday creatures – just ducks.  A little girl awakens to the quacking of (as we learn) female ducks on the river near her home. As she goes about her day, so do the ducks, preening, dabbling, and upending, words that are defined in a smaller text size throughout the story. Appealing illustrations, reminiscent of Quentin Blake, nicely portray these ubiquitous animals.

Davis, Aubrey. A Hen for Izzy Pippik. Kids Can Press. 978-1-55453-243-8, T $16.95 (Grade K-3). A young girl in a small town where times are hard finds a hen on her doorstep. She convinces her family and townspeople to wait for the return of the rightful owner. In the meantime the town is overrun by the hen’s offspring. This humorous story was inspired by Jewish and Islamic traditional texts. The artwork was rendered in pencil and colored using Photoshop.

Emberley, Rebecca and Ed. The Ant and the Grasshopper. A Neal Porter Book. 978-1-59643-493-6, R [M] $16.99 (Grade K-3). Ant is struggling to her colony with a sticky, heavy load on a too hot day. Fortunately she meets up with Grasshopper and his buggy band making magical music. The band accompanies Ant back to her colony where the good times roll. A tribute to the power of music to lift spirits and lighten a load.

Fleming, Candace.  Oh No! Schwartz & Wade Books. 978-0-375-84271-9, T  $17.99 (PreK-Grade 2). A little frog is chased by a hungry tiger in this cumulative tale. When he falls into a huge hole several of his friends tumble in too as they try to rescue him. The tiger happily contemplates a feast until the tables are turned by a friendly elephant. Rhyming, repetitive text, and Eric Rohman’s wonderful prints will make this a story time favorite.

Fleming, Denise. Under Ground. Beach Lane Books. 978-1-4424-5882-6, T  $17.99 (PreK-Grade 2). Fleming’s signature pulp painted illustrations and simple rhyming text take readers on a fascinating tour of the world under our feet, “Past highways and byways. Squirm-ways and worm-ways”. This story is a wonderful introduction to an easily over looked ecosystem.  Additional information about underground dwellers is appended.

Fogliano, Julie. And Then it’s Spring. Roaring Brook Press. 978-1-59643-624-4, T $16.99 (PreK-Grade 3). A little boy waits anxiously for spring, he plants some seeds but the world remains brown. Weeks go by, subtle changes take place until finally a warm, green landscape appears. Delicate illustrations evoke the magic of the earthly renewal that springtime brings.

Manning, Maurie J. Laundry Day. Clarion Books. 978-0-547-24196-8, R $16.99 (Grade 1-3). A young boy finds a red scarf amidst New York city tenement buildings where the streets are filled with horse pulled carts, vendors, and an array of immigrants. The boy searches the neighborhood for the scarf’s owner and learns a new foreign word with each encounter.  This is a nice introduction to a variety of cultures. The detailed illustrations are in a graphic format. A pronunciation guide is included.

Marsalis, Wynton. Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-3991-4, R $15.99 (PreK-Grade 3). Everyday sounds can be heard in a variety of traditional and fold instruments. From the squeak of a back door to the jurr of a barber’s clippers, music and rhythm is present in daily routines as well as concert halls. A foot tapping, mouse eeeking, tuba whomping adventure.

Salas, Laurie Purdie. A Leaf Can Be? Millbrook Press. 978-0-7613-6203-6, R $17.95 (Grade K-3). Leaves have many roles from creating shade to providing camouflage.? Almost two dozen uses are explored using rhyming text enhanced by softly colored illustrations. Additional information about the many functions of leaves is at the end of this delightful book.

Schwartz, Amy. Willie and Uncle Bob. Holiday House. 978-0-8234-2203-6, R $16.95 (Grade K-2). When Uncle Bob comes to babysit Willie the two of them have wonderful adventures. Three short stories show the special relationship between Uncle Bob and Willie and the rollicking fun they have together.

Smith, Lane. Abe Lincoln’s Dream. Brook Press. 978-1-59643-608-4, R $16.99 (Grade K-3). A little girl, Quincy, wanders off from a school tour of the White House to find Abe Lincoln’s restless ghost roaming the halls of his former home. He is troubled by the unfinished business of his presidency. The two make a flying tour of the nation to reassure the former president that the union survived and there has indeed been progress in the struggle for human rights. Illustration and text combine to make this a multi-layered story suitable for many age levels.

Springman, I.C. More. Houghton Mifflin. 978-0-547-61083-2, R $16.99 (Grade K-2). Magpie has accumulated too much stuff. Some friendly mice help Magpie decide how much to keep. Few words are needed in this beautifully illustrated story.

Stead, Philip C. A Home for Bird. A Neal Porter Book. 978-1-59643-711-1, R $16.99 (Grade K-3). Loyal persistent Vernon is a toad that won’t be happy until he finds the perfect home for his new friend, Bird. Bird remains silent despite all of Vernon’s efforts, until the two take refuge in a damaged clock. Full of caring characters, perfect for one on one reading or for small groups.

Sutton, Sally. Demolition. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-5830-4, R $15.99 (Grade K-2). Repetition, rhyme, and onomatopoeia describe the demolition of a building using a variety of big machines. The illustrations are bold and colorful.  Machine facts are included on the last page. This creation by the same author and illustrator of Roadwork will be a popular title.

Wolff, Ashley. Baby Bear Sees BLUE. Beach Lane Books. 978-1-4424-1306-1, R $16.99 (PreK-Grade 1). In the span of one colorful day, baby bear questions his mother about every new thing he sees. Each question leads to an exploration of one color through beautiful woodland images. A well-paced story combined with masterful illustrations.

Yates, Louise. Dog Loves Drawing. Alfred A. Knopf. 978-0-375-87067-5, T $16.99 (PreK-Grade 2). In this second book about Dog, an inveterate reader and bookstore owner, he receives a blank journal from his Aunt Dora. The adventure begins when Dog draws several characters, then a train and a boat to take them to exotic places. A surprise ending keeps Dog drawing. This book will evoke the magic and imagination of “Harold and the Purple Crayon” for a contemporary audience.

Non-Fiction [19 books]

Ali-Karamali, Sumbul. Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam. Delacorte Press. 978-0-385-74095-1, T $16.99 (Grade 7-12).  Accessible, enjoyable read about Islam and what it feels like to be Muslim in America from the author’s personal experiences. She provides credible and clear information about the beliefs and practices of Muslim families. Readers will learn to identify their own misconceptions about the many aspects of the faith including prayer, fasting, and dietary restrictions, as well as understand basic terms such as Jihad, Taliban and Sunni.  Notes, bibliography and an index are provided.

Aronson, Marc. Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-5025-4, R $25.99 (Grade 10-12).  A thought-provoking, historical narrative about Hoover’s rise to power that reads like a thriller.  The history of the FBI and the power the FBI has over media, entertainment and government was fascinating.  From the first quote to the last acknowledgment, Aronson presents history as ever changing, challenging readers to question and understand both sides of multiple issues and drawing parallels to current world events. Aronson includes photographs, period cartoons, movie posters, FBI documents as well as a comprehensive bibliography and notes that provide more interesting tidbits.

Cross, Gillian (retelling). The Odyssey. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-4791-9, T $19.99 (Grade 5-12). A fantastic retelling of the classic epic, with wonderfully bizarre illustrations that will add to its appeal for middle and high school readers. It makes a wonderful introduction to mythology and Homer with its chapter format, large size, and vivid color. A must-have classroom book.

DeCristofano, Carolyn Cinami. A Black Hole Is Not a Hole. Charlesbridge. 978-1-57091-783-7, L $18.95 (Grade 4-7). This cleverly laid out and captivating book explores the question: What is a black hole?? DeCristofano skillfully takes complex astronomical subjects and makes them accessible to young readers. She deftly poses essential research questions, answering each with a selection of stellar images supported with clear, informative text. Side bars and occasional talking bubbles add to the energetic and engaging presentation.? Author?s note, timeline, image credits, electronic resources, glossary, and index.

Freedman, Russell. Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship. Clarion Books.
978-0-547-38562-4, T $18.99 (Grade 6-10). Freedman compares the similarities and differences in the lives of these two prominent men as a way of exploring the wider scope of slavery, the Civil War and issues concerning black soldiers. The accessible narrative, copious quotes, captioned photographs, illustrations - a few graphic in nature and a clearly drawn premise add to the appeal.  History buffs and browsers will get a glimpse into the strength of character that both men presented during this time in American History.

Greitens, Eric. The Warrior’s Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage. Houghton Mifflin. 978-0-547-86852-3, T $16.99 (Grade 8-12). Eric Greitens shares his incredible life story from growing up in Missouri, to volunteering as a humanitarian aid worker, to becoming a Rhodes Scholar. His military training to become a Navy SEAL and hunting al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq, to founding the non-profit organization The Mission Continues.  Adapted for a teen audience from Greiten’s adult title, The Heart and the Fist, this enticing read is balanced with humorous and adventurous personal stories. The heartfelt message is that through strength and courage, anyone can make a difference.

Hopkinson, Deborah. Titanic: Voices from the Disaster. Scholastic Press. 978-0-545-11674-9, T $17.99 (Grade 5-10).  An authentic, engaging and suspenseful narrative for middle-school-aged fans makes this nonfiction a standout in the plethora of Titanic offerings. The layout is in chronological order, from ship building to discovery of its ocean floor resting place.   The testimonies of the survivors and many photographs add a new dimension to the well-known turn of events.  Extensive back notes are included. (Robert F. Sibert Honor, YALSA Nonfiction Honor)

Liu, Na. Little White Duck: A Childhood in China. Graphic Universe. 978-0-7613-6587-7, T [GN] $9.95 (Grade 5-8). An autobiographical graphic novel from when the author was a young girl in China in the 1970s. She remembers her family life and the death of Chairman Mao, as well as the stark contrast in living conditions she notices when visiting her cousins in the country. A great addition to a classroom library for a unit on China. The book also covers some Chinese holiday traditions, food, and some basic vocabulary.

Montgomery, Sy. Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World. Houghton Mifflin. 978-0-547-44315-7, R $17.99 (Grade 4-8). This is an accessible, smartly designed biography about Temple Grandin. She has revolutionized the treatment of animals in meat processing plants, using her rare understanding of the way animals think and behave.  Grandin is an exemplary role model for children who are autistic.   She provides an honest glimpse into the daily hardships and struggles for autistic individuals, those who see the world through highly sensitized visual pictures. Layout includes personal photographs, design blueprints, selected bibliography, websites and photo credits. Recommend to students, parents, librarians and teachers who are fortunate enough to have someone with autism in their lives.

Moon, Sarah (Ed.). The Letter Q. Arthur A. Levine Books. 978-0-5453-9932-6, T $17.99 (Grade 10-12). A wonderful collection of letters by writers and illustrators to their younger selves, with a common theme that they are all GLBTQ. There is some mature language and there are adult situations described, but this is an invaluable resource for anyone feeling alone, bullied, or confused because of their sexuality. Similar to the It Gets Better campaign, this book should be in every school and every library where it can reach those who need it most.

Newquist, HP. The Book of Blood. Houghton Mifflin. 978-0-5473-1584-3, T $17.99 (Grade 5-12). An entertaining but factual exploration of blood - from science to superstition, this book has it all covered. The fascinating text is well organized and illustrated with both photographs and drawings, and includes a complete bibliography and suggestions for further reading. The vampire lore and history of blood rituals were especially interesting.

O’Reilly, Bill and Dwight Jon Zimmerman.  Lincoln’s Last Days: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever. Henry Holt & Co.  978-0-8050-9675-0, T $19.99 (Grade 7-12). O’Reilly’s passion for Abraham Lincoln sets the stage for this riveting account of his assassination, an unprecedented tragedy in American History. The chapters are organized by a date and location beginning on the day of Lincoln’s second inaugural address.  Just one example of the strategically placed photographs captures John Wilkes Booth watching in the crowd, foreshadowing the lack of security for presidents at this time in history.  On the day of Lincoln’s assassination the chapters also add a time of day and readers will turn the pages with the pending doom just hours away.  With the exception of the source notes, the back matter is extensive and informative.  This teen adaptation of O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln is a historical and forensic tour de force.

Pringle, Laurence.  Ice! The Amazing History of the Ice Business. Calkins Creek. 978-1-59078-801-1, T $17.95 (Grade 4-8). This brightly colored book, rich with archival photographs, advertisements, newspaper clippings, and illustrations, examines the history of the ice industry. Pringle describes the tools and methods used to harvest and store ice from the early 1800s to the early 1900s.  Accessible to young readers, images are clearly captioned and the writing is concise with vocabulary smoothly defined in the text. Well sourced and indexed with additional resources cited for further study – including websites and YouTube videos.

Rappaport, Doreen. Beyond Courage. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-2976-2, T $22.99 (Grade 7-12). This is the story of Europe’s Jews and non-Jewish supporters taking an active role in the survival of the Jewish people and culture during the Holocaust. Rappaport stresses the importance of documenting the truth about the Jewish Holocaust in the hopes that history will not repeat itself. Jews, a large number of them students, trained each other and planned their own rescues. There were expert document forgers, resisters, secret shelters and camps, informers, underground newspapers and defense groups, smuggling networks and a vow of silence that was lifesaving. If the adult Jews were not going to survive the war, they would do everything in their power to save the lives of their children. They then could pass on their traditions to future generations. The photographs breathe life into the individuals behind the stories. Includes an excellent source guide, chronology, and index.

Reef, Catherine.  The Bronte Sisters: the Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Clarion Books.  978-0-547-57966-5, T $18.99 (Grade 7-12).  An inspiration to young writers, Reef traces the lives of three sisters who would later become literary icons. Their home and daily life in the village of Haworth, beginning in early childhood is vividly brought to life. Reef intersperses historical references and the Bronte's personal narratives leap out of the pages of history. Voracious readers as well as playwrights, the siblings started their own amateur writing circles and play productions at a young age.  Inspired by the circumstances in which they lived, their body of work is largely autobiographical.  Extensive source notes, a selected bibliography, complete list of the Bronte's works, picture credits and index complete this wonderful biography intended for a broad teen audience.

Sheinkin, Steve. Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon. Roaring Brook Press.

978-1-59643-487-5, T $19.99 (Grade 6-12). In December 1938, German physicist, Otto Hahn, made the shocking discovery that uranium atoms could be split. This incredible breakthrough began the frenzied race to build the world’s first atom bomb. With an engaging storytelling style, authenticated by anecdotes, quotes, photos and reports, Sheinkin breathes life into the brilliant physicists, military spies, world dictators, and covert insiders contending in the greatest and most dangerous race of the 20th century. Comprehensively sourced and indexed. An educational and gripping read. (Newbery Honor, Robert F. Sibert Award, YALSA Nonfiction Award, National Book Award Finalist)

Silvey, Anita. The Plant Hunters.  Farrar Straus Giroux. 978-0-374-30908-4, R $19.99 (Grade 4-9). Silvey takes adventurous readers on a journey to "remote pockets of the world," introducing notable naturalists, botanists, and explorers including Linnaeus, Darwin, and Captain James Cook.  These "plant hunters" risked their lives for the sake of precious plant specimens. Some plants capable of curing disease, other plants were a marketable commodity for an entire country to profit from.  A chapter on contemporary "plant hunters" will inspire young naturalists. Illustrated with black and white and color photographs, lithographs, maps, oil and watercolor paintings and sketches.  A time line stretching from 1495 B.C. to 2008, an author's note, chapter notes, bibliography and index are appended.

Swain, Gwenyth. Hope and Tears: Ellis Island Voices. Calkins Creek.  978-1-59078-765-6, RT $17.95 (Grade 6-12). For every immigrant that has passed through Ellis Island there is a unique story to share.  Swain, through extensive research, has recreated these immigrant experiences and situated them within the history of the island. These historical highlights, beginning with the island's inception as a military fort, to the arrival of the first immigrants, through the current restoration efforts by the National Park Service, set the stage for the voices of the people. Through poems and narratives, Swain includes a wide variety of perspectives including nurses, inspectors and immigrants; social history at its finest. Source notes, bibliography, including interviews, websites and silent films, index, picture credits, and suggestions for further discussions appended.

Walker, Sally M. Blizzard of Glass: the Halifax Explosion of 1917.  Henry Holt & Co.  978-0-8050-8945-5, T $18.99
(Grade 5-8). Recounts the harrowing story of the collision of a munitions and a supply ship in Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia in 1917. The blast, killing almost 2,000 people, was the largest man-made explosion before the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. Through individual family stories and archival photos, the narrative personalizes this unprecedented tragedy, heroic recovery and determined rebuilding of a community. Clearly sourced, bibliography and index.

Fiction [74 books]

Alexander, William. Goblin Secrets. Margaret K. McElderry Books.  978-1-4424-2726-6, T $16.99 (Grade 4-7).  A cautionary tale turned upside down, where a boy entrusts his life to a traveling troupe of goblin actors. Zombay is a city of goblins, witches and the “unchanged” humans. Its citizens live and breathe superstitions; curses are weapons; and goblin actors are the outcasts of society. A runaway orphan, Rownie is in search of his actor brother, and turns to the goblins for help. The stage opens up a magical world to Rownie - a world of ancient masks and unusual storytelling where human hearts are replaced by mechanized gears. The generous goblins offer Rownie a family. Alexander's debut tantalizes readers with a dark magical tale laced with a steampunk adventure. (National Book Award)

Anderson, Jodi Lynn. Tiger Lily. Harper Teen. 978-0-06-200325-6, T $17.99 (Grade 8-12). Fifteen year-old warrior, Tiger Lily meets the alluring teenager Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and falls in love. Promised to marry a horrible man in her village, Tiger Lily must choose between her tribal responsibilities and the draw she feels to the enigmatic Peter. This magically romantic, charmingly funny and heartbreaking, coming of age, love story has added depth.   Anderson portrays intriguingly contemporary and reinvented secondary characters, such as an alcoholic Hook and a serial killer Sneed.

Applegate, Katherine. The One and Only Ivan. Harper.  978-0-06-199225-4, T $16.99 (Grade 4-6). Ivan is an artist, friend, storyteller, and a silverback gorilla whose life changes when Ruby, a baby elephant becomes a part of his circus act.  Applegate has written a heartwarming tale based on a true story of a circus gorilla and the people and events that saved his life. Ivan evokes the unforgettable Wilbur in E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. (Newbery Medal)

Avi. Sophia’s War. Beach Lane Books. 978-1-4424-1443-3, T $16.99 (Grade 5-8). An intriguing look at the Culper Spy Ring whose goal was to expose the betrayal of Benedict Arnold during the Revolutionary War. These historic events are captured through the eyes of fictitious Sophia, a fifteen-year-old girl determined to serve her country and avenge her patriot brother’s cruel death. In a tense race against time, Sophia must journey alone from New York City to West Point to warn the Americans of Arnold’s plot. An excellent classroom read-aloud. The historical aspects are all well-researched facts, and Sophia is neatly woven in around the truth.

Bachmann, Stefan. The Peculiar. Harper Collins. 978-0-06-219518-0, T $16.99 (Grade 5-7). In a world where England was once at war with Faeries, the unfortunate children of Faeries and Humans are known as Peculiars. They suffer their fate as society's disgusting curses or outcasts and become the latest victims of a serial murderer. Bartholomew, a Peculiar, knows to stay out of sight and lives his life in the shadows of everyday society until the moment he catches the murderer in the act.  How can an outcast like Bartholomew attempt to unravel this magical mystery when it leaves a bloody trail of victims and involves political leaders of the highest order?  In his debut, Bachmann, with his beautifully poetic writing, builds an enchanting steampunk adventure with hints of a sequel.

Bacon, Lee. Joshua Dread. Delacorte Press. 978-0-385-74185-9, T $16.99 (Grade 4-6). Joshua doesn’t want anyone to know that his parents are super-villains trying to destroy the world. He is bullied at school and learns by accident that he has his own unique super power. A new girl, Sophie, arrives at Joshua’s school and it turns out that her dad is a superhero
who clashes with Joshua’s parents. This action packed, fun story shows that the power of friendship can triumph over all. The black and white illustrations add to this lighthearted fantasy.

Barnaby, Hannah. Wonder Show. Houghton Mifflin. 978-0-547-59980-9, T $16.99 (Grade 9-12). A dark tale of a girl alone in the world trying to survive during the Dust Bowl. Abandoned by her father, she is left at the creepy McGreavy’s Home for Wayward Girls under the too-watchful eye of the sinister Mister. Portia, and her strength of spirit, must uncover the truth of Mister’s past; find the courage to escape; set the other girls in the home free; all of this before she goes to find her father. Once on the run, she spends some time in a traveling carnival and meets a colorful cast of performers who help her discover the meaning of belonging to a family. (William C. Morris Finalist)

Bauer, Michael Gerrard. Just a Dog. Scholastic Press. 978-0-545-37452-1, T $15.99 (Grade 3-6). Corey claims that Mister Mosely, a Great Dane-Dalmatian mix, is just a regular dog. The brief chapters revolve around Mister Mosely from his arrival to the end of his too short life. His impact on Corey and his family prove that he was definitely more that “just a dog.”

Bemis, John Claude. The Prince Who Fell from the Sky. Random House. 978-0-375-86752-1, T $16.99 (Grade 3-6).  Set in a future world where wild animals rule and nature has reclaimed the crumbling remains of human civilization, Casseomae, a mother bear, finds a boy in the wreck of a space vehicle. To protect the “cub”, she embarks on a dangerous journey with the help of a sassy rat and a faithful dog. With a fast moving plot and well-drawn characters, this fantasy is an excellent read aloud.

Burak, Kathryn.  Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things. Roaring Brook Press. 978-1-59643-736-4, T $17.99 (Grade 9-12). After losing her mother to suicide and being a suspect in the disappearance of her best friend, Claire and her father move to Amherst, MA in hopes of escape and a new start. Fortunately, Tate, a former student teacher, is also watching out for Claire, when she accidentally steals Emily Dickinson’s dress. Together they work to solve the mystery of her friend’s disappearance and find a way to return the stolen dress. Lyrically written with Claire’s smart, witty voice, weaving passages of Dickinson’s poetry throughout the narrative, this story has mystery, literary motifs and a hopeful romance.

Coats, J. Anderson. The Wicked and the Just.Harcourt.  978-0-547-68837-4, T $16.99 (Grade 10-12). A richly detailed, sophisticated tale about the tensions between England and Wales in the Thirteenth Century. The book alternates between Cecily and Gwenhwyfar’s voices. Cecily’s father has a position in occupied Wales and Gwenhwyfar is the starving, Welsh serving girl who comes with their house. It’s easy to feel the stench of poverty, empathize with the hatred toward the English and to applaud the strength behind each character's resolve to live. Historical notes included.

Danforth, Emily M. The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Balzer + Bray. 978-0-06-202056-7, T $17.99 (Grade 10-12). A coming-of-age tale set in rural Montana in the 1990s - a hard place to be if you are discovering that you are a lesbian. Cameron is a complex character dealing with the sudden death of her parents and getting used to living with her born-again Christian aunt. When a romance goes wrong and everyone suddenly learns Cameron’s secret, she is sent to a Christian reform camp to “cure” her of her lesbian feelings. There she must find an inner strength to choose a life for herself. This is an excellent book, but readers should be aware of strong language, some drug use, and sexual scenes. (William C. Morris Finalist)

Davis, Tanita S. Happy Families. Alfred A. Knopf. 978-0-375-86966-2, T $16.99 (Grade 7-12). Ysabel and Justin, twins with separate interests, must endure a spring break that turns their seemingly stable family life upside down.  The family vacation is spent in counseling sessions. Therapeutic activities help to acquaint the twins and support them as they learn about their father’s secret to live as a transgender woman.  An engaging and heartfelt treatment of this controversial topic will educate and reassure readers. Davis includes references to assist with proper usage of transgender-specific terminology.

Dicamillo, Kate and Alison McGhee. Bink and Gollie: Two for One. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-3361-5, R $15.99 (Grade K-3). This book is the second in a series of three featuring Bink and Gollie who are best friends and opposites in so many ways. The friends are visiting the state fair, and in three stories we follow Bink whose strong arm combined with her poor aim nearly KOs the man at the ball toss booth,  Gollie who suffers from stage fright in a talent contest, and finally a fortune teller who confirms what we knew all along – these two have a marvelous friendship.  Tony Fucile’s whimsical illustrations nicely capture this delightful pair.

Fforde, Jasper. The Last Dragonslayer. Harcourt. 978-0-547-73847-5, T $16.99 (Grade 7-12). Jennifer Strange, orphaned teen apprentice, is left in charge of an employment agency for magicians since the magic in the world has depleted to party tricks and renovating houses.  As the rumor spreads that Big Magic is coming and the last Dragonslayer will free up prime real estate, Jennifer becomes burdened with Dragonslayer responsibilities, press conferences, 5 marriage proposals and her Berzerker tendencies. Witty satire, fast-paced action, and intelligent dragons make this a sophisticated, comical read for fantasy and fairy tale fans.

Flake, Sharon G. Pinned. Scholastic Press. 978-0-545-05718-9, T $17.99 (Grade 6-9). Autumn is a free spirit whose limitless energy is positively explosive when she is on the mat, as the only girl wrestler on her team.  How will she cope when she is kicked off the team?  Adonis, a handicapped student coach for the wrestling team, excels at everything he sets his mind to.  He also holds a secret that is more of a handicap than the wheelchair he has been confined to since birth.  Told in alternating voices, award-winning author, Flake captures the emotions flooding through these two middle-school-aged kids. When the weight of the world is holding them pinned, they turn to each other for support. This is a quirky gem of a non-traditional love story.

Gagnon, Michelle. Don’t Turn Around. Harper. 978-0-06-210290-4, T $17.99 (Grade 8-12). In this gripping techy sci-fi thriller, teen hackers, Noa and Peter, are on the run when they are caught investigating reports of missing street kids and hack into a secret corporate project code named: Persephone.  Noa discovers that she is an important key to the project and to stay alive, she must stay off the grid. Espionage, deception, and corporate corruption drive this fast-paced and suspenseful page-turner. Stand alone, but with opportunities for a sequel.

Hartman, Rachel. Seraphina. Random House. 978-0-375-86656-2, T $17.99 (Grade 7-12). Seraphina is the daughter of the taboo coupling of a human father and dragon mother in a fantasy world where humans and dragons coexist amid crumbling treaties and generations of animosity.  Dragon lore, romance and political intrigue are clearly drawn; multiple characters are well developed in this alternative medieval world.  Complex layers of societal rules. (William C. Morris Award)

Hartnett, Sonya. Sadie and Ratz. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-5315-6, R $14.99 (Grade K-3). This clever story is a perfect introduction to chapter books for beginning readers. Hannah’s hands, Sadie and Ratz, not only have names, they have distinct personalities. They fly into action when Hannah is irritated by her 4 year old brother, “Baby Boy”.  Baby Boy sees his opportunity and blames Sadie and Ratz for his own bad behavior until their parents catch on. Hannah has a newfound respect for her sneaky brother and realizes he can be an ally rather than an enemy.

Hayles, Marsha. Breathing Room. Henry Holt & Co. 978-0-8050-8961-5. T $17.99 (Grade 5-8). In the midst of World War II, Evvy is fighting a war of her own - for her life against Tuberculosis. She is sent to a sanatorium where her every move, bite of food, and every cough, is closely monitored and restricted. Determined to get well, she and her dorm-mates do the best they can to take care of themselves while forming a lasting bond. This well-researched novel is peppered with photographs of real sanatorium equipment and TB facts. A sweet and sad read, with some very nice historical details, realistically seen in bits and pieces from the sheltered world of the sanatorium.

Hobbs, Valerie. Minnie McClary Speaks Her Mind. Frances Foster Books. 978-0-374-32496-4, R $16.99 (Grade 4-7). Big changes are happening in 6th grader Minnie McClary’s world. With the help of a creative new teacher, her war veteran Uncle and a new friend, she gains self-confidence, questions small town prejudices and uses her voice when it is most needed. A variety of contemporary topics for discussion. 

Holm, Jennifer L. Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick: Ginny Davis’s Year in Stuff. Random House.  978-0-375-86851-1, T $15.99 (Grade 6-8). Holm’s novel is completely told in full page, photo-collages with no white space, depicting items found in backpacks, on refrigerators, notes, schedules, bank book receipts, trash etc. Readers must infer the story line that follows Ginny’s year in eighth grade that includes a variety of characters with distinct voices, conflicts and personal growth.

Hopkins, Ellen. Tilt. Margaret K. McElderry Books. 978-1-4169-8330-9, T $18.99 (Grade 10-12). This is a heavy book content-wise, but the interwoven stories are told in free verse poetry. The characters are all linked by parts of their stories as the teens grapple with unplanned pregnancy, growing up too fast, coming out as gay, bullying, rape, HIV, and losing a sibling. We get glimpses of the parents as they cheat, fight, and contemplate divorce. While the issues and language are gritty, the lessons are important, and the stories might help a teen in similar situations.

Hunt, Lynda Mullaly. One for the Murphys. Nancy Paulsen Books.  978-0-399-25615-8, T $16.99 (Grade 4-8). Twelve year old, Carley is angry and suspicious when she is placed in foster care with the Murphy family after suffering abuse at the hand of her stepfather and neglect on the part of her mother. During her time with the Murphys, Carley learns to care for others and also discovers her own strengths. The realistic ending is hopeful as Carley begins to imagine a path out of the chaotic and unstable life she has led with her mother.

Johnson, Angela. A Certain October. Simon & Schuster. 978-0-689-86505-3, T $16.99 (Grade 10-12). In short narrative chapters from the singular voice of Scotty, readers are plunged into the everyday relationships of family, friends, and extreme trauma. Stuck in grief after a train crash, Scotty’s family and friends persistently make connections for her that help her navigate a way to move on. Themes include: blended families, gay issues, autism, safe sex and constructs of a healthy family in crisis.

Jones, Diana Wynne. Earwig and the Witch. Greenwillow. 978-0-06-207511-6, T $15.99 (Grade 2-4). Earwig, who is nobody’s fool, is perfectly happy to live in St. Morwald’s Home for Children – because she has figured out how to make everyone do what she wants. Try as she might to avoid it, she is adopted by a strange couple, a witch, Bella Yaga and her 9 foot tall husband, the Mandrake. After winning a battle of wits with Bella Yaga, Earwig settles happily into her new home. Paul Zelinsky’s black and white drawings perfectly capture the audacious Earwig.

Kacvinsky, Katie. First Comes Love. Houghton Mifflin. 978-0-547-59979-3, T $16.99 (Grade 10-12). Gray is reeling from the death of his sister, and shuts himself down emotionally to get by. That is his life until he meets Dylan, a girl so bright and larger-than-life that he can’t help being drawn into her spontaneous world. They quickly fall in love but must face the choices that come with Dylan’s free-spirit nature. She wants to travel the world, but doing so means leaving Gray behind at his college. The relationship and bittersweet parting are realistically handled, and leave room for a sequel.

Kindl, Patrice. Keeping the Castle: A Tale of Romance, Riches, and Real Estate. Viking. 978-0-670-01438-5, T $16.99 (Grade 5-12). This is a delightful light romance in the tradition of Jane Austen, full of contrary heroines, insufferable step-sisters, mistaken identity, rags-to-riches transformations, and secrets galore. Althea is a wonderful main character, full of endearing flaws. She blindly falls in love with the least suitable suitor, when she thinks she ought to be marrying for money to save the family castle from crumbling into the sea.

Knowles, Jo. See You at Harry’s. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-5407-8, R $16.99 (Grade 7-10). When Charlie, age 3, dies in an unexpected accident, his family struggles to cope with their loss, each in a different way.  Twelve-year-old Fern fraught with guilt, learns how to depend on friends and family. Holden, her older brother, deals with his coming out. Well-developed characters that have flaws before the tragedy make their ways of coping in a clear and believable way. Although the book looks unassuming,  readers are gently enticed into serious family issues including the death of a child/sibling, gay acceptance and advertising media.

Kontis, Alethea. Enchanted. Harcourt. 978-0-547-64570-4, T $16.99 (Grade 7-12). Kontis has French braided many nursery rhyme and fairy tale themes, strand by strand, into a story about the magic of storytelling .  The seven Woodcutter daughters, named after the days of the week, each have their part in this tale that starts with kissing a frog; wrapping Cinderella around the beanstalk, Blackbeard, the Pirate King, Sleeping Beauty…etc. The story line is predictable and happily ever after,  just what fans of twisted fairy tales consider satisfying.

Korman, Gordon. Ungifted. Balzer + Bray.  978-0-06-174266-8, T $16.99 (Grade 5-8). When eighth grader Donovan Curtis’ prank goes awry, he is mistakenly assigned to the gifted magnet school where he plans to hide from the administration. There he meets brilliant, yet socially awkward students and finds that although he is not brilliant, he has talents to share.  In this hilariously unique story told through multiple points of view, stereotyped characters grow, forming unexpected alliances and adults do not always do what is right or expected.

LaFevers, Robin. Grave Mercy. Houghton Mifflin.  978-0-547-62834-9, T $16.99 (Grade 9-12). Set in medieval Brittany, seventeen year-old Ismae escapes from an arranged marriage to a brutal man. She finds sanctuary in the convent of St. Mortain. Ismae discovers her gift as a handmaiden of death and trains to become an assassin.   She is assigned to attend the high court of Brittany as a secret protector of the Duchess. In her new position, Ismae meets Gavriel Duval and is surprised and unprepared for her own fascination with a man that she may have to kill. A richly imagined feminist fantasy, with poison, murder, betrayal, suspense, passion and mercy.

Lanagan, Margo. The Brides of Rollrock Island. Alfred A. Knopf. 978-0-375-86919-8, T $17.99 (Grade 10-12). This dark novel evokes the smell of the sea, the passion of revenge and horror of consequences with a tale of the Selkie sea-wives.  As Misskaella grows into her power as a witch, she withstands the taunts and trials of the village. She draws wives for the men folk from the seals with devastating consequences on their relationships, their future lineage and own self will.  Lanagan’s richly written prose captures the intensity of feelings for each of the six narrators who are part of this generational story.

Larbalestier, Justine & Sarah Rees Brennan. Team Human.  Harper Teen. 978-0-06-208964-9, T $17.99 (Grade 9-12). When Mel’s best friend falls in love with a vampire and another friend’s father disappears with one, Mel must put aside her prejudices and team with a vampire raised boyfriend to investigate the mysterious disappearance. Set in New Witby, a city founded by vampires, this fresh twist on vampire stories where vampires and humans live tolerantly side-by-side, delivers romance, love, suspense, mystery and danger. Witty, laugh-out-loud dialogue.

Lean, Sarah. A Dog Called Homeless. Katherine Tegen Books. 978-0-06-212220-6, T $16.99 (Grade 4-6). Cally is a fifth grade girl who decides to quit talking. Her mother died a year ago and her father and brother don’t want to talk about her. Cally sees visions of her dead mother. When this happens there is always a large dog nearby which Cally names Homeless. This is a well-crafted story about loss, grief, selective mutism, and friendship. (Schneider Family Book Award – age 11-13)

Leavitt, Martine. My Book of Life By Angel.Margaret Ferguson Books.  978-0-374-35123-6, T $17.99 (Grade 9-12).  Angel’s life takes a slow downward spiral after she runs away from home and accepts an invitation from Call, a pimp masquerading as Angel’s boyfriend. Angel's journal acts as a confessional to the angels that are her namesake. What she can’t share with anyone else, she shares with the angels in the hopes that they will offer their forgiveness for the horrors that have become her life. Leavitt’s use of the journal as a device for Angel’s awakening gives her character and her story a great weight and depth that will open up a discussion for a high school audience.

Legrand, Clare. The Cavendish Home For Boys and Girls. Simon & Schuster. 978-1-4424-4291-7, T $16.99 (Grade 5-8). A deliciously creepy mystery. Victoria is a perfectionist, and enjoys helping her friend Lawrence learn some social graces.  When Lawrence vanishes into the disturbing Cavendish Home, Victoria must confront disorder, bugs, and disobeying rules to infiltrate the home and steal Lawrence back. Miss Cavendish is a seriously horrific villain, determined to “cure” the children in the Home of their faults or unique qualities. She uses a combination of magic and torture to control her charges, and it is up to Victoria to break the spell.

Lewis, Gill. One White Dolphin.  Atheneum Books. 978-1-4424-1447-1, T $15.99 (Grade 4-8). Unlikely characters are drawn together when an albino dolphin calf is washed ashore in a small English fishing village. Many issues are explored such as conservation, fishing rights, economic hardship, coming of age, mental health, dyslexia, cerebral palsy, and coming to terms with the death of a loved one. There is also an exciting and daring rescue at sea in this well written, complex story.

Long, Mark & Jim Demonakos. The Silence of Our Friends. First Second. 978-1-59643-618-3, T [GN] $16.99 (Grade 8-12). In 1968 Houston, a white television reporter and his family befriend a black family amidst the burgeoning civil rights movement and struggle to meet their moral obligations to stand for them publicly. Based on events from the author’s childhood memories, compelling and realistic dialogue paired with illustrator, Nate Powell’s expressive and emotional inky black and white drawings create a breathtaking work of historical fiction that explores a vast array of cultural dynamics.  A great classroom read.

Lowry, Lois. Son. Houghton Mifflin. 978-0-5478-8720-3, T [M] $17.99 (Grade 7-12). What did happen to baby Gabe after going down that sledding hill in Jonas’s arms?  In a world devoid of emotions, where mothers are vessels and sons are products, Claire and her son Gabe share an unusually strong bond even after their separation at birth. This bond of love continues to grow in their quest to reconnect with each other. It will reunite mother and son and overpower the worst of evils in their world. Award-winning author, Lowry tells this story in three parts and reunites familiar characters in this long-awaited conclusion to the powerful Giver quartet.

MacLachlan, Patricia. Kindred Souls. Katherine Tegan Books.  978-0-06-052297-1, R $14.99 (Grade 4-6).  A beautiful relationship between a boy, Jake, and his Grandfather, Billy, written with spare language that mirrors the story’s prairie setting. Jake and his family are able to give Billy his last wish before he dies peacefully with his dog at his side. Death as a natural part of life is presented here with love, humor,  joy and sadness in equal measure.

Marillier, Juliet. Shadowfell. Alfred A. Knopf. 978-0-3758-6954-9, T $16.99 (Grade 5-8). Richly steeped in Celtic mythology, this first book in a trilogy is enchanting and well-written. Neryn is a new orphan determined to survive on her own and make it to a legendary sanctuary in the north  far from the reaches of a cruel king. She is joined on her journey by the mysterious Flint who both protects her and frightens her. Neryn must learn whom she can trust, and what powers and strengths she possesses.

Matson, Morgan. Second Chance Summer. Simon & Schuster.  978-1-4169-9067-3, T $16.99 (Grade 8-12). When Taylor’s father is diagnosed with untreatable Pancreatic Cancer, the Edwards family returns to their Poconos lake house to spend their final summer together. This bittersweet narrative gracefully balances a story of romance, first kisses, summer jobs, and renewed friendships with poignant moments of family bonding, and coping with grief. Characters grow, each experiencing personal guilt until their father helps them learn that they must cherish their memories, but also move on in life.

McCormick, Patricia. Never Fall Down. Balzer + Bray.  978-0-06-173093-1, T $17.99 (Grade 7-12). McCormick’s first person retelling of Arn Chorn-Pond’s true story juxtaposes the horrors of war with the resiliency of the human spirit.  The Khmer Rouge, native Cambodian Communists, have over thrown the Cambodian government.  Arn is 11-years-old and there is no warning when the Khmer Rouge soldiers evacuate his village. In the four years of his imprisonment, Arn performs small acts of rebellion inspiring his fellow captives to fight to live. His survival story will inspire teens and encourage further discussions of genocide and other atrocities of war. (National Book Award Finalist)

McKinlay, Meg. Duck for a Day. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-5784-0, R $12.99 (Grade 2-4). Abby’s class has a new teacher with a pet duck called Max.  Max is the class pet. There are strict rules for any student wanting to bring Max home for an overnight visit. Abby is determined to bring Max home as is Noah, her weird neighbor and classmate.  Whimsical pencil drawings add to this funny story.

Mobley, Jeannie. Katerina’s Wish. Margaret K. McElderry Books. 978-1-4424-3343-4, T $15.99 (Grade 5-8). Katerina’s family comes to America from Bohemia in 1900 to fulfill their dream of owning a farm. They live in Colorado where her father and other immigrants work at a dangerous coal mine. The workers are paid in scrip, which can only be used in the overpriced company store.  Katerina is determined to help her family own a farm. Eastern European folktales are woven into this historical novel of hard work, wishes, and dreams.

Monaghan, Annabel. A Girl Named Digit. Houghton Mifflin. 978-0-547-66852-9, T $16.99 (Grade 7-12).  Seventeen year old, Farrah Higgins, (not Fawcett, but named after), has the gift or curse of seeing patterns in everything. When she uncovers a suicide bombers plot while watching a teen soap opera, the FBI puts her under protection.  Farrah’s fresh voice is filled with glib humor, realistic teen emotion and a perspective on a fascinating ability that keeps her juggling between eccentricity and pure danger. Fast paced action, romance and a great book layout make this a complete package.

Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux. No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller. Carolrhoda Books.  978-0-7613-6169-5, T $17.95 (Grade 9-12). A work of historical fiction told in short chapters from multiple points of view. This is an illustrated look at the life of Lewis Michaux, who opened the National Memorial African Bookstore in Harlem in the 1930s. He faced prejudice and hardship to bring literature to underprivileged African Americans in order to help them educate themselves and rise above poverty and discrimination. A good classroom book. (Coretta Scott King Author Honor)

Newman, Leslea. October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-5807-6, T $15.99 (Grade 5-8). A beautiful collection of poems that examines the tragic death from many points of view - from the killers to the fence where Shepard was found. This is a heart wrenching volume that brings the event back to light for a generation in danger of forgetting. (Stonewall Book Honor)

Nielsen, Jennifer A. The False Prince. Scholastic Press. 978-0-545-28413-4, T $17.99 (Grade 7-9). Sage, one of three orphans, is being groomed by the cruel & purposeful Regent Connor to portray the lost prince Jaron. Nielsen provides well-developed characters that have both evil and good tendencies in this suspenseful and intriguing fantasy. This is the first in a planned trilogy.

O’Connor, George. Hades: Lord of the Dead. First Second. 978-1596434349, T [GN] $9.99 (Grade 5-12). With modernized language and engaging illustration, this graphic novel is a great introduction to the myth of Hades and Persephone. This retelling is unique in that it gives Persephone more backbone than most stories - in this version she eats the pomegranate seeds on purpose because she chooses to stay with Hades for half of the year.

Palacio, R.J. Wonder. Borzoi Books.  978-0-375-86902-0, R $15.99 (Grade4-7). Auggie Pullman is a small 10 year old who has had 27 surgeries to repair the facial deformities he was born with. He is entering school for the first time in 5th grade and he has quite a year ahead of him.  Auggie’s classmates, his sister, parents and teachers are memorable characters with authentic emotions. “Don’t judge a boy by his face”.

Pennypacker, Sara. Summer of the Gypsy Moths. Balzar + Bray. 978-0-06196420-6, T $15.99 (Grade 4-6). 11 year old, Stella is a foster child, taken in by her great aunt Louise. She craves predictability and order, often referring to a file of Hints from Heloise for advice about house-keeping and life. Louise has also taken in Angel, a tough cookie who Stella finds anything but heavenly. After Louise dies quietly in her chair, watching her beloved soap operas, the two girls -afraid of being placed in another foster home- team up. They work hard to survive and to convince neighbors that Louise is still alive. Readers will be caught up in the misadventures of these two unique and memorable characters, their growing friendship, and their dreams for a family.

Pratchett, Terry. Dodger. Harper.  978-0-06-200949-4, T $17.99 (Grade 6-12). In this alternative historical fiction tale, Pratchett breathes life back into Dickens’ well-loved character Dodger. He is seventeen-years old and scraping by in Victorian London as a “tosher,” scavenging for lost coins and other treasures in the sewers. Simplicity, a young lady in distress, is a treasure that Dodger could never have dreamed of crossing paths with in his line of work. The noble act of saving Simplicity is a turning point in Dodger’s life after which he finds himself introduced to a host of historical figures and caught up in a mystery. Through humor and clever turn of phrases, Pratchett makes history come to life for middle school-aged readers. (Michael L. Printz Honor)

Primavera, Elise. Libby of High Hopes. A Paula Wiseman Book. 978-1-4169-5542-9, R $14.99 (Grade 3-5). Libby Thump has spunk, but it isn’t easy being a 10 year old with a difficult older sister and a perfect best friend. When the horseback riding lessons Libby is yearning for go to her sister instead, her good nature is tested. Persistence helps Libby live up to her potential and provides the reader with a satisfying heroine. 

Pyron, Bobbie. The Dogs of Winter. Arthur A. Levine Books. 978-0-545-39930-2, T $16.99 (Grade 5-8). In 1990s Russia, the wall fell down, poverty and homeless children abounded.  Ivan, 5 years-old, homeless and mistreated, slowly finds solace, food, and a level of respect with a group of street dogs. As he grows and survives two winters with this pack of dogs, he becomes feral but has found his place. Although book jacket art will appeal to younger readers, the content is for more mature readers due to drugs, alcohol and some graphic poverty.

Rapp, Adam. The Children and the Wolves. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-5337-8, T $16.99 (Grade 10-12). Using sparse text and changing character perspective, Rapp tells the unsettling story of fourteen year-old genius Bounce, and followers Wiggins and Orange. Together they abduct a three year-old child from a parking lot and chain her to a basement pipe.  They then scam money under the ruse of searching for the child. Tension builds as Wiggins begins to question the brutality and powerlessness in their perverse world in which Bounce is calling the shots. In this disturbing, yet evocatively written psychological thriller, characters struggle on the fringe of society. They seldom question the morality of their actions, leaving the reader with a haunting feeling of hopelessness. Mature reader – drug use, sexual content and violence.

Ross, Gary. Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-4920-3, R $17.99 (Grade 1-5). This beautifully illustrated windblown story follows Bartholomew on his bed sheet flight of adventure and discovery. He learns a little something from everyone he meets, arriving home determined to dream big and take a chance. The music of this rhyming verse begs to be read aloud with equal enjoyment for the reader and listener. 

Rossetti, Rinsai. The Girl with Borrowed Wings. Dial Books. 978-0-8037-3566-8, T (Grade 8-12). In a stifling oasis in the Middle East, seventeen year-old, Frenenqer meets and falls in love with a shape shifting Free Person who creates nightly opportunities for escape from her father’s dominating control. Told through Frenenqer’s first person witty and poetic voice, her new found freedom and blooming self-realization read as a journey to discover her soul. A fresh paranormal romance with passion and desire, yet sweetly innocent.

Rupp, Rebecca.  After Eli. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-5810-6, T $15.99 (Grade 6-9). Told in the first person, Danny is looking back on a time of grieving after the death of his brother in Iraq.  The chapters cleverly tie in the deaths of famous historical figures as Danny shares his entries from his Book of the Dead ?journal.? Rupp touches upon the healing power of friendship with wonderfully developed supporting characters. ?After Eli is reminiscent of Schmidt’s Okay for Now or Spinelli’s Star Girl, an inspiring read for a broad teen audience to enjoy.

Saenz, Benjamin Alire. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Simon & Schuster. 978-1-4424-0892-0, T $17.99 (Grade 9-12). It’s 1987 in a small town on the Texas/Mexico border. Fifteen year-old Ari is struggling to find his place in the world and in his family. His brother is in prison and the family does not communicate. Then he meets Dante, a wise, kind boy his age who quickly becomes his friend, and then more. The two boys help each other grow up and learn to love bravely. This is a heart-wrenchingly beautiful story, full of sadness and hope, growth and change, family and second chances. Absolutely a must read. (Michael L. Printz Honor, Pura Belpre Author Award, Stonewall Book Award)

Scattergood, Augusta. Glory Be. Scholastic Press. 978-0-545-33180-7, T $16.99 (Grade 5-8). A child’s-eye-view of Freedom Summer in a small southern town. Glory, who is white, must come to terms with all the strange agitation and changes in her town, and realize that canceling her birthday party is not the biggest issue that needs considering this summer. Glory’s growth and her learning to take a stand for what she feels is right is very well done.

Schlitz, Laura Amy. Splendors and Glooms. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-5380-4, T $17.99 (Grade 4-8).  In this Dickensian fairy tale, Schlitz beautifully captures the innocence of childhood and the nightmares that can last a lifetime. It is Clara’s twelfth birthday party and she is introduced to sinister Master Puppeteer Grisini and his young assistants Lizzie Rose and Parsefall. The atmosphere Schlitz creates becomes intoxicating, think Nutcracker, as Clara is swept up under an evil spell and goes missing the night of her party.  Mystery fans of Maine Student Book Award author Kathleen O’Dell’s The Aviary will enjoy this dark magical tale. (Newbery Honor)

Schrefer, Eliot. Endangered.Scholastic Press. 978-0-545-16576-1, T $17.99 (Grade 7-12). This is an intense adventure/survival story situated in the civil war torn Democratic Republic of the Congo. Strong, resourceful 14 year-old Sophie, is spending the summer with her mother in a Bonobo sanctuary. There she bonds with, an abused Bonobo infant, Otto.  When the civil war breaks out, Sophie and Otto, together, negotiate the jungle, the murders, the bugs, dehydration and other endangering situations. Readers will seamlessly learn about the political climate, the plight of the Bonobos and the everyday conditions of the Congo villages in our modern world. (National Book Award Finalist)

Smith, Andrew. Passenger. Feiwel & Friends. 978-1-250-00487-1, T $17.99 (Grade 10-12).  A novel that defies categorization. This follow up to Smith's Marbury Lens combines qualities of a western, a needling horror novel, dystopian science fiction and an engrossing mystery.  Protagonist Jack and his friends Conner, Ben and Griffin search and stumble their way through an alternate, war-ravaged universe called Marbury. This a place inhabited by cannibals, parasitic monsters and bands of malicious rangers. Undeniably brutal and loaded with profanity, this is a brilliant and uniquely satisfying read with a smart, brave conclusion.  It will require dedicated readers, undeterred by ambiguity. The pay off is huge.

Sonnenblick, Jordan.  Curveball: the Year I Lost My Grip. Scholastic Press. 978-0-545-32069-6, T $17.99 (Grade 7-10).  An injury benches all-star pitcher Peter Friedman before his freshman year.  Peter struggles to figure out where he will fit in at high school. Luckily, he meets Angelica, a cute girl in his photography class. They find a niche as the sports photography crew for the school newspaper. After noticing his grandfather showing signs of forgetfulness, Peter then decides how to reveal his concerns to his parents without betraying his grandfather’s trust. A heartwarming and funny coming of age story about finding one's place, trusting family and addressing Alzheimer’s.

Stead, Rebecca. Liar & Spy. Wendy Lamb Books. 978-0-385-73743-2, R $15.99 (Grade 5-8). Seventh grader Georges, in first person narrative, deals with his father’s job loss, moving and bullies at school. He develops a friendship with Safer and his sister Candy through their Spy Club in his new building. The spy missions eventually challenge Georges to confront his friend’s seeming betrayal, his own mother’s glaring absence and the bullying. Georges can be both lightly comical as well as poignantly painful. A beautifully written novel that does end slightly “safe”.

Stiefvater, Maggie. The Raven Boys. Scholastic Press. 978-0-545-42492-9, T $18.99 (Grade 9-12). A captivating story of legend and magic, focused around a tight-knit group of four prep-school boys – and the girl who foresees the death of their leader. While the quest for an ancient Welsh king somehow buried in Virginia is intriguing, this story really shines when it comes to the rendering of the four boys and their incredible friendship. This is a rare gem of a story, and will thankfully be continued for three more books.

Telgemeier, Raina. Drama.  Graphix. 978-0-545-32698-8, T [GN] $23.99 (Grade 6-9). Callie is excited to be the set designer for her middle school production of Moon Over Mississippi, but drama builds when crew members have difficulty working together and two new boys join the cast. With warmly colorful and expressive art, “Drama” serves as a double entendre for this on-target middle school-aged graphic novel that addresses familiar adolescent themes of romance, friendship, and insecurity, as well as more complicated ones such as homosexuality. (Stonewall Book Honor)

Turnage, Sheila. Three Times Lucky. Dial Books. 978-0-8037-3670-2, T $16.99 (Grade 5-8). The witty, down home world of Mo will immediately pull readers in. In their small town of 148, Mo (short for Moses) and her friend Dale come to grips with a murder, a missing identity and what it means to be family. The writing is spot on with laugh out loud funny characters that have tremendous heart. The mystery will keep readers guessing. All the characters are fully developed and are endearing or hated as the case may be. (Newbery Honor)

Vivian, Siobhan. The List. Push. 978-0-545-16917-2, T $17.99 (Grade 9-12). On the Monday of homecoming week at Mount Washington High, someone annually and anonymously posts lists of the ugliest and the prettiest girl in each class. Revealed through the voices of the eight girls on the list, the narrative explores individual reactions and provides a shrewd view into the cruelty of high school cliques. The pressures are faced by both the beautiful and the ugly. Strong character development, unexpected alliances and an element of mystery will engage readers. Explores themes of anorexia, bullying and self-perception.

Wells, Rosemary. Following Grandfather. ?Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-5069-8, R $14.99 (Grade 2-4). Set in the Italian North End Boston neighborhood of an earlier age, young mouse Jenny idolizes her Grandfather.? Following his death she can’t accept that she will never see him again, but through their shared love of seashells, Jenny realizes her Grandfather will always be with her. Soft pencil sketch artwork captures the charm of mid 1900’s Boston and the loveable mice that live there.

Williams, Carol Lynch. Waiting. Paula Wiseman Books. 978-1-4424-4353-2, R $16.99 (Grade 8-12).  London's story, written in first-person, minimalistic prose, is heart wrenching. Her brother committed suicide and his religious girlfriend had an abortion. The steps and missteps of London and her grieving family and friends is understandable. Her whole family has fallen apart and London exists in a vacuum with her pain. Through patient interaction with her brother’s best friend and a new family in town, London is able to break through her paralyzing grief and call her family to account. Topics of religion, grieving parents with baggage, friendship, and unhealthy ways to deal with pain, will inspire further discussion.

Wrede, Patricia C. The Far West. Scholastic Press. 978-0-5450-3344-2, T $17.99 (Grade 5-12). Though this is the third book in a wonderful series, it stands alone well. In this volume, Eff has gained control of her magic and has discovered a deep love of studying magical animals. She joins an expedition to the wild frontier to catalog the new animals discovered there. Along the way she must contend with both an unwanted suitor and someone she just might be falling for. Eff is a fantastic heroine who neatly deals with the potential love triangle in about a paragraph - so refreshing for YA these days. The re-imagined American history is fascinating.