Before. Before what he did to Kacey. She was his best friend. They were always together having adventures, laughing, daring each other. It was all about that last dare. Now she was gone and Ethan and his family have moved from Boston to Georgia to give Ethan a new start. The seaside town of Pam Knot where their new home with grandpa Ike is offers a big dose of culture shock. The last thing Ethan expects to find is a new friend. Coralee is a feisty girl with a big personality who is up for any adventure. They find a box of jewels in a haunted house and flee from an unexpected “ghost.” Both of them are keeping secrets that could lead them into danger. A daring rescue during a hurricane brings all the secrets tumbling out. I dare you to read this book.
Tessa's Picks, 4th-7th grade, Friendship, Character driven, Family life, People of Color, Contemporary fiction
Seventeen –year old Harper Scott’s whole life has been ballet. She and her best friend Kate have held true to ”The Plan “which would place them in professional ballet companies after early graduation from high school. But the plan fails Harper; "Your love is evident," her instructor tells her. "But, darling, sometimes ballet does not love us back." Harper tries to move past disappointment and envision a new path forward which lands her in Antarctica, one of three lucky students to receive an internship. She is related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died attempting to reach the South Pole and that fact was the “luck.” Haunting her are her jealousy and anger that Kate has succeeded where she failed and doubts about her first ever romantic interest in Owen who she left in home town San Francisco. This is a story of what it means to have your whole life derailed, go to an unimaginably hostile, isolated and beautiful place and forge a whole new path for yourself. I loved this book; it broke my heart and then mended it.
Tessa's Picks, 6-8th grade, Character driven, Romance, Friendship
Ellie has always been smart. That's why she was chosen for a special purpose. She was trained as a puppy in how to track and find people. At first, it was just a game to make her human happy. But as she grew up, she could sense that her work was important. Whether it was finding injured humans in disaster zones or comforting people when they were sad, she helped people when they most needed it. But what would happen if she couldn't do her job any more? Would she still have a purpose? Would she still have a human who loves her?
I was completely fascinated by the training process for a search and rescue dog from the dog's perspective. Cameron does a great job describing what it's like and imagining how a dog would puzzle out what humans want it to do. The story goes along at a pretty fast clip through Ellie's life with a lot of tear-jerker moments, but things always work out in the end.
A young man survives a shipwreck in 1766 and goes on to create a dynasty of famous actors in London. Another runs away from his boarding school in 1990 to seek out his estranged and eccentric uncle who lives in an even more mysterious house. Their stories, told through pictures and words, intertwine in unexpected ways that will leave you flipping pages and looking for clues about how their stories meet.
This story completely wrecked me. I was deeply touched by the slowly unraveling story of the uncle and his mysterious house. I was drawn in by wondering how the two stories connected. After reading this, I made a point of visiting the museum that inspired it. The whole experience of this book is simply beautiful.
This is a beautiful book about identity and being true to yourself. Amina Khokar, a Pakistani-American girl who lives with her parents and older brother in Milkauwee has just started middle school and is feeling a little lost. Her best friend is drifting away, her uncle is visiting from Pakistan and her mom and dad are worried that they need to be "more traditional”. Amina’s beautiful voice has been in hiding due to shyness and anxiety. To make matters worse, her family has signed her up for the Qu’ran reciting competition. After an awful attack on the community’s Islamic Center, an inter-faith effort rallies around the Muslim community. Amina struggles to define her sense of self among family, friends, faith, as well as the world around her that is by turns hostile and embracing. Will Amina find the strength to free her voice? It is the first novel from Salaam Reads, a new imprint of Simon & Schuster.
Tessa's Picks, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th Summer 2017, Contemporary Fiction, Issues Fiction, Friendship, Family Life, People of Color
Told in alternating viewpoints, this novel presents Naomi Marie who is African American, a big sister and finally feeling better about living with her mother since her parents’ divorce and Naomi E. who is white, an only child also dealing with a divorce and a mom who has moved away. Both the girls are ten years old when their parents start dating each other. When Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi Edith’s dad get serious about dating, each girl tries to cling to the life she knows and loves. Then their parents push them into attending a class together, where they might just have to find a way to work with each other—and maybe even join forces to find new ways to define family. Love and laughter and lots of empathy make this a joyful read.
Tessa's Picks, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th Summer 2017, Contemporary Fiction, Family Life, Friendship, People of Color
People of With a diverse cast of characters, Harlem Charade takes on real-life issues of gentrification, big money and the loss of a neighborhood's history and culture. Harlem has long been synonymous with black culture and this books explores the rich heritage and present day issues. Three 7th graders band together to solve a mystery and save their community. Jin who lives with her grandparents and helps run their bodega, keeps her keen observations in notebooks. Alex hides her embarrassing wealth and spends her free time trying to help the disadvantaged. Elvin has just arrived in Harlem to live with his estranged grandfather but is living on the streets after grandfather is mysteriously attacked. In their efforts to find the attackers, the three discover that there are missing master pieces from the past worth a fortune. If they can uncover them, they may be able to stop an ambitious politician who wants to turn their neighborhood into a ludicrous historic theme park. Daring, danger and plenty of action enliven this story about what it means to be a community and the power of art to show truth and define home.
Tessa's Picks, 6th grade Summer 2017, 7th grade, Adventure, Contemporary fiction, Friendship, Mystery, Issues Fiction, People of Color
n 20th century Tsarist Russia, aristocrats raise wolf cubs as pets. Wolves are at heart wild creatures and when their true nature comes out they must be sent away for it is considered bad luck to kill a wolf. Feo and her mother are wolf wilders; they retrain the creatures to survive in the forests. When a sadistic general demands that they kill the wolves including the three who have bonded with Feo, they refuse. General Rakov takes the mother, Marina prisoner and burns down their house. Feo and her wolves escape and travel through the icy woods determined to free her mother. In evocative prose, the author evokes the courage and fierceness of the girl and her wolves. Help comes from villagers who have been brutalized by Rakov and Feo realizes she is not alone..."The moments in which the world turns suddenly kind can feel like a punctured lung." The children of the village become her army as they march to St Petersburg to stage a revolution and free Marina. The climax will have you cheering!
4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, character driven, contemporary fiction, friend Raymie’s dad has run off with a dental hygienist and she has a plan to bring him back, a plan that involves winning the competition for the title of "Little Miss Central Florida Tire." This involves learning to twirl the baton. And she has some competition from Louisiana Elefante (who has a show business background) and Beverly Tapinski (who wants to sabotage the competition). They all meet up at baton class with with instructor Ida Nee. Unexpectedly they become friends, helping each other resolve a sorrow that each carries with her. There is sadness, droll humor, connectedness and that incredibly real sense of humanity that this author is so capable of revealing.
Nandu who was raised by wild dogs in the jungle of Nepal, by a twist of fate finds himself at the King’s elephant stable. His “parents” are the wise stable head, Subba-Sahib, and an affectionate elephant Devi Kali. Although he is only twelve, Nandu becomes the most skilled elephant handler. When the government threatens to close the stable, he searches for a way to save his community and his family. To accomplish this he must find a great tusker; a bull elephant must be bought and lead back to the stable. This pays homage to The Jungle book, another coming of age tale where adventure, animals, family and bravery lead to wisdom.