Lewis lives on a reservation near the Canadian border in 1976. He attends school off the res and has been placed with the smart kids since kindergarten. He is the only Indian kid his classes; ignored by the white kids, he is quiet and gentle and feels invisible. He cuts off his braid, dreaming of fitting in and finding friends but this doesn’t happen until he meets a new kid who has moved onto the military base. George is kind and open minded and quickly becomes friends with Lewis. As he says, if you are a military kid you never know when you will be departing so you have to connect with people quickly. The two boys bond over music, especially the Beatles and Lewis gets a taste of living in a white family. Embarrassed by the severe poverty in which he lives, Lewis builds a web of lies to keep George from seeing his home. A severe snow storm results in both families becoming stranded in Lewis’s house. With an authentic and quirky cast of characters, life on the res comes alive. Themes of racism, pop culture, family relationships, bullying and finding your identity make this a book you will not soon forget.
Tessa's Picks, 7th grade, 8th grade, 8th summer 2016, Character driven, Contemporary fiction, Friendship, Issues fiction, People of color
I, Madeline, have Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease better know as "bubble baby disease." It means I have never left my house in seventeen years because basically i am allergic to the world. The only people i see are my mom, who is also my doctor, and Carla my full time nurse. I read a lot, my mom and I play games, I have my computer and lots of time. Life was pretty much the same every day until looking out my window I see a new family moving in next door. He looks up and our eyes meet. Olly, dressed all in black. And then we meet, on-line since, you know, no germs.
If you loved the characters in Fault in our Stars, Olly and Madeline will also capture your heart. And the ending is much better, I promise.
Tessa's Pics, 7th grade, 8th grade, 8th summer 2016, Character Driven, Contemporary Fiction, People of Color
I just read some reviews of this book on Goodreads. People are all over the place. Some love Parker for her snarky, sarcastic, fiercely independent, unforgiving, courageous, selfish, self-centered persona. Others hate her for it. Did I mention that she happens to be blind and runs track so fast the coach thinks the timer is broken? She has a set of rules for life; here are a few: Don’t deceive me. Ever. Especially using my blindness. Especially in public. Don’t help me unless I ask. Otherwise you're just getting in my way or bothering me. Don’t be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I’m just like you only smarter. There are NO second chances. Violate my trust and I’ll never trust you again. Betrayal is unforgivable. Unfortunately she believes that the boy she has always loved violated her trust and she will NEVER forgive him even if she loves him still. Prickly with practically everyone, Parker is not an empathetic character, yet you root for her and wish she would let people closer and realize that everyone is fighting their own battle.
Tessa' s Picks 8th summer 2016, Character driven, Contemporary fiction, Sports; 7th grade, 8th grade
Seth feels the impact of a rock against his head as the waters close in around him and he drowns. He dies in America, but he wakes up again in his childhood home in England. His neighbors' houses are exactly how he remembers them, except that nobody's home. He ventures into town for supplies and finds that nature has begun to reclaim the town with wild plants and animals. It's like nobody has lived there for years. He thinks he's in his own personal afterlife until he finds two others like him and a mysterious enemy that is hunting them all down. I always go into Patrick Ness novels expecting death, so I was actually a bit relieved when it came at the very beginning. I had hoped that would remove some of the suspense and eventual emotional devastation--oh how wrong I was! I think talking too much about the plot will just ruin it for people who haven't read it yet so I'll just say that I love the the characters and the mind-trip that was the ever-twisting plot.
More Than This by Patrick Ness
Erica's Picks 8th Tags: Adventure, Character Driven, Dystopian, LGBTQ, People of Color, Science Fiction, Tear Jerker
John Brown is a controversial figure: depending on your perspective he could be seen as an inspiration who stopped at nothing to fight for what he thought was right or as one of the earliest domestic terrorists. The truth lies somewhere in the murky area between these two extremes. Read this book to uncover the bloody and complicated history of slavery, the civil war, and John Brown.
I really enjoyed the nuanced approach Marrin took towards John Brown but my favorite parts were when he pulled back to provide further context. His section on the history of slavery was excellent. Marrin doesn't pull any punches and he doesn't come down on any one side but allows the reader to explore the complexities of history and see multiple perspectives.
A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown's War Against Slavery by Albert Marrin
The Romanov family reigned over Russia in a time when unrest was growing and trouble was on the horizon. As the world outside changed, they grew increasingly out of touch as their isolation both protected and endangered them. Then, on one infamous day, the whole family was murdered to end the imperial line. Rumors of the survival of the young Anastasia spread, but the fate of the family was sealed. What led to this event and what was it like to grow up in Russia's last royal family? Find out in The Family Romanov!
This nonfiction book reads like a novel as the characters are developed and the plot races towards its inevitable tragic end. Fleming did an excellent job taking a really complicated era and making it understandable. Additional excerpts about lives of the peasants at the time helps to provide a wider context and make sense of what happened. An excellent read!
The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming
Have you ever seen a dragon attack up close? Felt the heat from their flame on your skin and smelled the sulfur in the air? Most people run for cover as soon as one is spotted. It takes a special type of person to run toward one. You need bravery, training, agility, skill, and a touch of madness. But slayers aren't the only ones crazy enough to seek out a dragon. Their trusty bards are always close behind. Everyone in Trondheim has great hopes for Owen, the youngest in a long line of dragonslayers. But before he can fulfill his destiny, he and his bard must face a more fearsome foe: his algebra test.
This story is a cross between an epic dragon-slaying fantasy novel and a regular school story about a new student in town. There's plenty of action as well as great bits about Owen's family (he is raised by his aunt who is a famous retired dragon slayer and her wife who is a blacksmith) and his budding friendship with the story's narrator (who has musical talent and becomes his bard/tutor.) An all around great novel! Erica's Picks 6th - 8th grade Tags: Adventure, Family Life, Fantasy, Friendship, LGBTQ, School Stories
Everyone thinks that Nolan suffers from seizures, but the truth is much stranger. When he closes his eyes, he sees out of the eyes of a girl who lives in a world filled with danger and magic. He is powerless to do anything and she seems unaware of his presence. Until the day Nolan realizes he can control her and sends a message. At first she is terrified, then she is furious, but soon she realizes that they must work together if either of them want to survive.
The premise of the novel is wholly unique. Their connection raises a lot of interesting possibilities. The girl's story, full of magic, assassins, and princesses in disguise is a great adventure.
Erica's Picks 7th & 8th Tags: Adventure, Character Driven, Fantasy, LGBTQ, People of Color
Kestrel lives a pampered life as the daughter of the Valorian General, but even she cannot avoid society's imperative to either get married or become a soldier by the age of 20. She wants nothing more than to be left to play the piano, but in a militaristic society where arts are seen as a weakness that is not an option. She's a keen strategist and excellent at games of chance, which is why she makes a gamble one day and purchases a slave for an exorbitant fee from the auctions in the city. Her new slave is headstrong and rude, but he opens her eyes to see her society in a whole new light. Then Kesterel's entire world is turned upside down. She must start asking herself difficult questions: Who can you trust when any action you take will betray someone you love? What would you sacrifice for freedom? What is the difference between revolution and revenge? And most important of all: what are you willing to do to survive?
I was completely swept away by the world of this novel. The society is loosely based on ancient Greco-Roman civilization but has its own unique geography, history, and culture. There's no real heroes or villains, everyone populates a morally grey area as the plot twists and turns and power dynamics change in a dizzying but captivating way.
Erica's Picks 8th Grade Tags: Character Driven, Romance
Ava dreams of Earth, but she has never set foot on solid land. She lives on a Crewe ship where everyone has a place and a job. She longs to learn how to fix things or go down to Earth, but that's men's work. Women have their own work like cooking and laundry. The other women tell her that the longing for Earth and other things she can't have will go away once she gets married and has children. As the captain's daughter the odds are good she'll make a fine match--maybe even as a first wife. But just when everything seems to be coming together, disaster strikes and she has to flee everything she has ever known for the perils of a life on land.
Reading about the Crewe ship society with its mythology and social constructs is fascinating and that's just the beginning of the fully developed settings Ava lives in. The characters are as richly layered and diverse as the settings and had a way of staying with me. If you like reading about gritty, dystopian futures and well developed characters overcoming trials and tribulations, then this is the book for you.
Erica's Picks 8th Grade Tags: Character Driven, Dystopian, People of Color, Science Fiction