Posts Tagged ‘junior fiction’

Unidentified Suburban Object

September 22, 2016

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By Mike Jung

Chloe Cho is tired of everyone assuming that all Asians are the same.  As the only Korean American as well as the only Asian American in her school, she’s heard it all — she’s a straight-A student because she’s Asian, she’s good at the violin because she’s Asian, her parents know how to discipline because they’re Asian — and she’s had enough!  It doesn’t help that her parents seem just fine with people confusing them for Chinese or Japanese and never seem to want to talk to her about their lives back in Korean.  Things finally start to look up for Chloe when a new teacher comes to town and she’s Korean American too!  Finally, she has someone to talk to who understands her!  But Chloe’s world starts to unravel when a class assignment about her family history forces her parents to share an out-of-this-world family secret.

I’m not going to lie; the book cover is what originally drew me to this book; just look at the face on that fish!  After reading the summary on the book cover, I was hooked.  Racial stereotypes and unintended racism can be hard topics to address and even harder to sell to young readers, but I think Jung does a great job giving it enough humor to help the medicine go down in the most delightful way.  Chloe has such an authentic voice and is very relatable.  It really sounds like a story told by a seventh grade girl.  While a lot of authors struggle with the balance of character emotion, Jung is able to portray Chloe at her whiniest, most miserable low point without alienating the reader (pun intended).  I really enjoyed the emotional roller coaster and I loved the little twist at the end.  Who knows, maybe this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Miss Chloe Cho…

Reviewed by Meredith (Harrington Library)

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Tru & Nelle

September 16, 2016

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Tru & Nelle

by G. Neri

In their small town of Monroeville, Alabama, in 1930, misfits Tru and Nelle strike up a friendship and find a mystery to solve when someone breaks into the drugstore and steals some candy and a fancy brooch.

This is a fictionalized account of the real-life friendship between two of America’s great writers, Truman Capote and Harper Lee, so for adults, it’s really fun to see the ways parts of this book mirror things that happen in the books that Capote and Lee wrote as grown-ups. But it’s also a really satisfying story of friendship, small town life, standing up for yourself and your friends, childhood adventures, and dealing with tough situations in life, and also about sometimes having to let go when you’ve found a person and a place you really connect with. No prior knowledge of Truman Capote or Harper Lee are necessary to enjoy this book immensely! Definitely well worth a read for aspiring writers, mystery fans, and those looking for adventures in everyday life.

Happy reading!

Reviewed by: Lara (Haggard Library)

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Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith

August 30, 2016

hoodooHoodoo by Ronald L. Smith

Looking for a page turner?  I picked up Hoodoo, because I heard it would keep you on the edge of your seat.  Set in 1930’s Alabama, Hoodoo Hatcher, twelve, needs to learn to conjure to defeat the “Stranger,” threatening the town with black magic.  Be sure to know your reader, because this story might be too scary.  But it’s perfect for those who like a bit of a shiver.  After all, Halloween is just two months away!

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The Wild Robot

June 7, 2016

The Wild Robot

By Peter Brown

Roz the robot (otherwise known as ROZZUM Unit 7134) is the sole surviving robot of a cargo of 500 lost at sea after a hurricane.  When Roz’s crate washes ashore on an island, otters play with her protective packaging and accidentally push the button which activates the robot.  As the robot opens her eyes, she announces “You may call me Roz”. This unexpected pronouncement terrifies the sea otters who think this unknown creature is a monster.  Roz is confused by her presence on the island but her robot brain is programmed to learn and master tasks. In other words, she is programmed to survive. This is, of course, a handy trait to have when lost on a remote island. Equipped with the human senses of sight, smell, touch and hearing, Roz observes and learns and becomes more and more acclimated to life on the island.  But she is lonely as the island’s animal residents fear her and stay away from her. Due to her powers of learning and observation, Roz is eventually able to learn the language of the wild creatures (each species with its different “accent”) which enables her to ask the other animals for their help when a terrible accident occurs.

As Roz becomes acclimated to life on the island, the island’s creatures adjust to their new neighbor who ultimately becomes their friend.  Life settles into a happy routine for the animals and Roz until environmental and technological dangers threaten the island community.

Middle grade readers who enjoy robot and/or animal stories with a taste of adventure will enjoy this delightful story of a robot with very human attributes and the difference she makes to her island home.

Peter Brown’s striking gray-scale illustrations complement the story and set the atmosphere for this unique novel.

Recommended by Connie (Parr Library)

 

 

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Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

May 27, 2016

By Chris Grabenstein

 

Kyle Keeley is the class clown, popular with most kids, (if not the teachers), and an ardent fan of all games: board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the building of the new town library.
Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the library for an overnight of fun, food, and lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the other winners must solve every clue and every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route. And the stakes are very high.
In this cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night in the Museum, Agatha Award winner Chris Grabenstein uses rib-tickling humor to create the perfect tale for his quirky characters. Old fans and new readers will become enthralled with the crafty twists and turns of this ultimate library experience. (taken from Goodreads)

This fun, entertaining book has many elements that engage the reader. I enjoyed all aspects of this story. The clues and puzzles are cleverly done and the children have rewards and consequences for their actions.

This is a great book for older elementary age kids, who will have an opportunity to discuss the book in our ‘Tween You and Me Book Club at Parr Library this summer.  You can find more information about the book club, and other great summer events at the library here

Happy reading!

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Summerlost

May 19, 2016

SummerlostSummerlost

By: Ally Condie

This is a deeply emotional coming-of-age story about twelve-year-old Cedar Lee, who moved to Iron Creek, Utah, for the summer with her mother and younger brother, Miles. The family is struggling to recover after an accident claimed the lives of Cedar’s father and brother Ben. Cedar quickly befriends Leo, a hometown boy, who helps her get a job at Summerlost, the town’s yearly Shakespeare festival. The enterprising young people team up to give unofficial walking tours about a legendary actress, Lisette Chamberlain, from their hometown. A couple of different mysteries are woven into the story including mysterious trinkets that keep appearing on her windowsill that remind Cedar of her brother Ben. Another mystery involves the circumstances surrounding Lisette’s death. However, the heart of the story revolves around Cedar coming to terms with her grief and her new relationship with her friend Leo.

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Dash by Kirby Larson

April 22, 2016

DashjacketX6W1G7TADash by Kirby Larson

Historical fiction is my favorite genre, because I love learning about other time periods and other perspectives of life.

Dash is set during World War II. The story revolves around Mitsi, who is separated from her dog, Dash, when her family is sent to a Japanese internment camp.  Based on the story of a real life person, the story touched my heart.  Larson’s writing pulls you into a young girl’s emotional perspective.  Fortunately, Mitsi and Dash are reunited, but unfortunately the internment camps were a reality that impacted so many people in America in a negative way.

I have read a couple of Kirby Larson books for teens and kids, and I’m glad I tried this one. On page 200 of the book, one of the adult characters who has created a tumbleweed garden at the camp, says, “…if you look with your heart, you can find beauty anywhere.” This book would be great for young readers and adults who are willing to discuss the past and look to the future!

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Ruby Lee & Me

April 20, 2016

Ruby Lee & MeRuby Lee & Me

By: Shannon Hitchcock

It’s 1969 and everything is changing for twelve-year-old Sarah Beth Willis. Sarah blames herself when her six-year-old sister, Robin, is hit by a car and is seriously injured. There is also racial tension in North Carolina where Sarah lives and it affects Sarah’s friendship with her best friend Ruby Lee. Sarah, who is white, has been best friends with Ruby, who is black, since she was a small child. In addition, the school the girls attend is being integrated and they will have their first black teacher. Despite the title of the book, the story centers more around the relationship between Sarah and her little sister Robin. Sarah tries to ease her guilty conscience by giving her sister something she has always wanted.

This is a touching story with well-developed characters and a realistic historical setting.

Reviewed by: Renee (Parr Library)

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Fortune Falls

April 8, 2016

Fortune Falls

by Jenny Goebel

Are you a superstitious person?  Do you believe that if you find a 4-leaf clover or a lucky penny, you’ll have good luck? If you step on a crack will you really break your mother’s back?  And what about black cats, broken mirrors and the number 13? Will they really bring bad luck?  Welcome to Fortune Falls!  Here they believe and experience all these superstitions and many more!

In Fortune Falls, luck is a very serious business.  When you turn 12, you must take a Luck Test.  If you fail and are determined to be Unlucky, you are sent away to Bane’s School for Luckless Adolescents – a dreary boarding school separated from family and friends – a place created to keep them from endangering those around them.

Sadie Bleeker is still an Undetermined. She has not yet turned 12 so she has not yet taken the test.  Unfortunately Sadie is seemingly born unlucky since she was born on Friday the 13th and she has a history of bad luck following her around.  Sadie fears that she is doomed to fail the test and be permanently labeled Unlucky.  Sadie’s best friend Cooper (a Lucky) tries to help her but things only go from bad to worse.  Will Sadie be able to overcome her constant streak of bad luck and pass the test against all odds?

If you enjoy books with mystery and magic that are a little bit spooky, consider yourself lucky if you pick up this book!  As one reviewer stated, “Bad luck has never been so interesting!”

Reviewed by Connie (Parr Library)

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Minna’s Patchwork Coat

March 8, 2016

Minna’s Patchwork Coat

by Lauren A. Mills

8-year-old Minna lives with her family in a rustic cabin in the Appalachian Mountains during the beginning of the 20th century.  Life is difficult.  Her father works in the coal mines where he has contracted the deadly black lung disease and is forced to miss work more and more often. The family is extremely poor.  Too poor, in fact, to afford a coat for Minna. Without a coat, Minna must remain at home during the harsh winter months.  No coat means no school – her greatest wish. Minna knows how to read and write thanks to her mother who has taught her at home but Minna desperately wishes that she could go to school and make friends with the other mountain children.

Sadly, Minna’s beloved father finally dies from his disease and her mother must make ends meet by joining the local Quilting Moms who sell their quilts to city people to bring in an income.  When the mothers discover Minna’s coat dilemma, they offer to make her a coat from the scraps of material that are part of their family’s life.  Each scrap has a story behind it – stories of the children that Minna hopes will eventually be her friends.  Can the children see beyond the rags to the girl inside who is offering them her friendship?

The author has based this middle grade chapter book upon her 1990 picture book The Rag Coat and in so doing has expanded Minna’s story and built it upon her own childhood memories of summers spent with her grandparents in West Virginia.  In addition, Mills has complemented Minna’s tale with exquisitely drawn pencil sketches that skillfully bring the setting and characters to life.

Recommended for grades 4 – 6.

Reviewed by Connie (Parr Library)

 

 

 

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