This book stands out from the rest for its unique structure and creative vision of the future. The first part of the book takes place just one year from now and revolves around a boy with the ability to cross into a parallel universe, a talent that others dismiss as him hanging on to childish fantasies. The consequences of this one boy's actions play out over the years at different intervals. Each story takes place farther into the future and revolves around different characters, although their stories are clearly related and have rippling effects on the others. The futures are both absurd and scarily prescient as society's obsession with social media and refusal to take responsibility reach their logical extremes. A science-fiction dystopia you won't soon forget!
Squirrel Girl has the proportional strength and speed of a squirrel as well as the ability to talk to them. She even has a squirrel tail, but her mother insists that she hide it or the other kids would get jealous. More than that she has relentless optimism, and an irreverent take on all the other Marvel Superheroes. When she moves to a new town she tries to blend in with everyone else, but when a new super villain starts attacking the town, she knows she has use all her squirrel skills to save the day!
I love this younger, novel-length take on the Squirrel Girl story. I also enjoy the new character of her best friend who is Deaf and creates a name sign for Squirrel Girl. Fans as well as those new to the character will enjoy this romp through the marvel universe.
Elle's life is controlled by her wicked step-mother. One of the only bright spots is Starfield, a show her parents loved when they were alive. When it's announced that the latest teen heart-throb is cast as the lead in the new reboot, she's crushed. But when a costume contest for the show at the local comic con is announced, she sees its cash prize as her ticket to freedom. In her quest to alter her dad's costume and make it to the masquerade ball she'll find an unexpected fairy godmother and an even more surprising prince charming.
This is a great retelling of the Cinderella story. The magic pumpkin is replaced with a vegan food truck, the fairy godmother is a surly coworker, and the evil step-mother is...well...an evil step-mother. Some things don't change. I like that the story alternates between Elle's perspective and the actor playing the lead. Even better it turns out that he's more than some brainless heart-throb and is actually a huge fan of the show.
Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Erica's Picks 6th - 8th Grade Tags: contemporary fiction, fairy tales, people of color, retellings, romance
Avani doesn't fit in with the flower scouts as they talk about boys and make -up tips. But an accidental alien abduction leads to her true scout calling: star scouts. This inter-galactic troupe of kids may not be the most skilled or organized, but they love being together and embrace their quirkiness. Where can I sign up?
Star Scouts by Mike Lawrence
Erica's Picks 3rd - 5th Tags: adventure, comics, humor, people of color, science fiction
Malu's parents are divorced, and she wonders how they were ever together. Her dad owns a record store that hosts punk rock concerts while her mother is always telling her to act like a proper 'senorita.' When Malu's mother drags her away from her home and her father to move halfway across the country to Chicago, it's Malu's worst nightmare. She hates her new school and the popular girls who make fun of her punk style. But when she sees a flyer for the school's talent show she knows one sure-fire way to make it all better: form her own band!
Malu's love of punk is infectious and her zines interspersed throughout the book made my fingers twitch for scissors and and glue sticks.
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez
Erica's Picks 3rd - 6th Tags: character driven, contemporary fiction, family life, humor, people of color, school stories
When Chase wakes up in a hospital room, he doesn't even recognize his own mother. As the weeks pass, his body recovers, but his past is still a complete blank. His dad tells Chase that he was the star of the football and lacrosse teams and his mom points out his best friends to him. But when school starts, he notices that kids shrink away from him in the hallways and his 'best friends' are jerks. He has a lot of questions about his past, but people are reluctant to answer him. As his memories come back and he learns who he was, the main question on everyone's mind is who will he be? Will the old Chase return, or is this a fresh start?
I loved this book! There's sports, humor, viral YouTube videos, and a lot more to enjoy. I particularly like that it shifts perspective so I got a sense of how the other students responded to Chase and how he affected their lives.
Crow washed up on the shore of a tiny island twelve years ago. Osh took her in and raised her and Miss Maggie nursed her when she was ill and taught her how to read and write. No one else on the island will come near her. They're afraid she was born on the nearby leper colony and might carry the dreaded disease. So Crow has lived her life full of love and sea salt and beautiful views that Osh paints, isolated on her tiny island. Until the day she decides to look into the mystery of her past, and she discovers pirate treasure, danger, and sorrow. Will finding the truth be worth it, or will it destroy the happy life she already has?
This setting of this book is practically the main character of this story and I could almost taste the salt air as I read it. The adventure is slow to start, but picks up. Crow, Osh, and Miss Maggie are all characters that will stay with me.
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
Erica's Pick 4th - 6th Grade Tags: Adventure, character driven, family life, historical fiction, mystery, people of color
Tina and her mother fled the Congo when she was five. She doesn't remember much of her life there, and her mother never talked about it. They lived as refugees, working on the estate of a rich family, the Greyhills, in Kenya until Tina's mother was murdered. Tina knows that Mr. Greyhill is the one who killed her, and she's spent the last five years since her mother's death training to become a thief with a local gang and plotting her revenge. But when that day finally comes, she's caught red-handed by Mr. Greyhill's son, her former best friend. He's convinced his father didn't kill Tina's mother, so they strike a deal to find proof. Even if that means smuggling back into the depths of a war-torn Congo.
City of Saints and Thieves is part heist, part murder mystery, and 100% thrilling. I was completely absorbed by the setting and the characters' search for justice in a place where morality is murky and hard to find. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for an absorbing, page-turning adventure.
City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
Erica's Picks 7th & 8th Grade Tags: crime caper, fast-paced, mystery, people of color, social justice
In the summer of 1944, 50 sailors, all of them African American, were tried and convicted of mutiny by the U.S. Navy. They had refused to follow a direct order of loading dangerous rockets and munitions on ships bound for battle in the Pacific after an enormous explosion had killed more than 300 of their fellow sailors and other civilians working on the dock. At the heart of this story is the rampant racism that permeated the military at all levels, leaving minority sailors and soldiers to do the drudge work almost exclusively while their white counterparts served on the front lines. Through extensive research, Sheinkin effectively re-creates both the tense atmosphere at Port Chicago before and after the disaster as well as the events that led to the men's refusal of this one particular order that they felt put them directly in harm's way. Much of the tension in this account stems from the growing frustration that readers are meant to feel as bigotry and discrimination are encountered at every turn and at every level of the military. The attractive and user friendly format is laced with primary-source material, including interviews with the convicted sailors, court records, photographs, and other documents, all of which come together to tell a story that clearly had a huge impact on race relations in the military. This little known event is placed in historical context with Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, and Eleanor Roosevelt figuring in the telling. Sheinkin, who writes non-fiction with a “you are there” immediacy, gives voice to 50 new American heroes. “ If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.”
Tessa's Picks, Nonfiction, 6th-8th grade, Social Justice, People of Color,