Eliana Elisabeth Montgomery-Hofstein — Ellie, has many names. Her least favorite of all is Splash; it was given to her at the age of five and has shaped her life ever since. See, Ellie is beautiful, but she doesn’t see herself that way because the people around her can’t get past her being fat. She is bullied daily by her peers, her siblings, and worst of all, her own mother. To cope, Ellie spends her free time floating in her pool where she can be weightless, free to take up as much as space as she wants. When her best friend moves away unexpectedly, Ellie feels lonely in a way she’s never felt before. With the help from a therapist and making a new friend in her neighbor Catalina, Ellie slowly learns to view life through a new lens and to live life on her own terms — Fat Girl Rules be damned. This poignant story about beauty in all forms, loving yourself, and challenging societal norms spoke deeply to my heart. It will speak to yours, too. A debut novel-in-verse from author Lisa Fipps will leave readers wanting to hear more from Ellie.
One year ago Nora's family went out for dinner to celebrate her birthday. One year ago, Nora's mother was killed when a shooter opened fire in the restaurant. Ever since, her father has kept her close and withdrawn from everyone else, even pulling Nora out of school. This year for Nora's birthday her father has chosen a remote celebration, miles from the nearest person. They get out their gear to explore a slot canyon. But when the worst happens, their remote location means no one can hear their cries for help. So it's up to Nora to survive, find her father, and save them both.
This novel starts and ends in prose but when Nora is fighting for survival in the canyon it switches to powerful verse. The story moves quickly as her situation goes from bad to worse and death seems inevitable. Watching Nora fight is thrilling and inspiring as she combats the real environment around her and the memories that have haunted her ever since her mother's death. A quick, impactful read.
The Canyon's Edge by Dusti Bowling
Erica's Picks 4th - 6th grade tags: character driven, contemporary fiction, family life, fast-paced, mental illness, novels in verse, survival
When a plane crashes on its way from New York to the Dominican Republic, the lives of two girls are changed forever. They live in the same time zone but worlds apart. Yahaira is a chess champion who lives in an urban apartment with her mother and is dating the girl next door. Camino lives in a rural house with her aunt who is a healer and dreams of going to America to study medicine one day. When tragedy strikes, they are forced to question everything they thought they knew as they cope with loss and unexpected gains.
This novel in verse is a quick, impactful read. The alternating chapters explore each girl's point of view and paint two very different but equally compelling pictures.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo Erica's Picks 8th grade tags: character driven, contemporary fiction, family life, global perspectives, issues fiction, LGBTQ, novels in verse, People of Color, SEL, summer vacation, tear-jerker
"There is an Arabic proverb that says: She makes you feel like a loaf of freshly baked bread It is said about the nicest kindest people The type of people who help you rise." This story in verse is about Jude, a young Syrian who has fled her country with her pregnant mother. Suddenly she finds herself labeled “Middle-Eastern” and struggles to fit in yet keep her identity. Can a girl who wears hijab star in the school play? You will love Jude’s voice as she tells her story with grace and heart.
Tessa's Picks, 5-7th grade, Character driven, Contemporary fiction, Global perspectives, Issues fiction, Novels in verse
“A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.”
Dominican teen Xiomara is a powerful poet. Growing up in a strict Hispanic household, she feels trapped by her mother’s oppressive religious beliefs. Her voice will grab you and not let go as she processes her relationships and her passion to break out of the confines surrounding her. There is so much raw emotion here. “Late into the night I write and the pages of my notebook swell from all the words I’ve pressed onto them. It almost feels like the more I bruise the page the quicker something inside me heals.” Content warning: for mature students
8th grade, Character driven, Family life, Issues fiction, People of color, LGBTQ, Novels in verse
The words in this book are so wise and wonderful, I want to carry it around and speak them to anyone who will listen. I used to think i wouldn't like novels in free verse. Boy was I wrong. Like Brown Girl Dreaming, the verse seems to transport you into the mind and soul of the main character. Mimi Yoshiko Oliver's mother is Japanese and her father is black, and her family moves to a predominantly white town in Vermont where she is judged by her identity and confined by her gender. The time is the 1960s and the move from liberal Berkeley California is a culture shock. Mimi is never afraid to speak her truth or stand up for what she believes.My favorite part is when the white principal tells her that "she is a credit to her race" and as she leaves their exchange she tell him the same thing. She is "Like raindrops on granite." I say, because we know that's how I persist--- drip, drip, drip until the granite cracks." Funny, tender,strong, this is a book you will want to put in the hands of everyone you know.
Tessa's Picks, 5th grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, 7th summer 2016, People of color, Novels in verse, Historical fiction, Character driven
Twins Josh and Jordan were raised with a ball in their hands by their father, a retired professional basketball player. On court they dominate and make an unbeatable team. Off court, things aren't going as well. When an off-court argument leads to an on-court lash out Josh gets kicked off the team. Then, just when everything in his life seems to be coming apart at the seams, things take a turn for the worse.
I absolutely adored this novel even if it did rip my heart out and dribble it around for a while. The game descriptions, the language of the poetry, the family relationships at play--this book has so much to offer!I'd give it to fans of basketball or poetry or just those looking for a good story with a strong emotional impact.
Erica's Picks 5th - 8th Grade Tags: Character Driven, Contemporary Fiction, Family Life, Novels in Verse, People of Color, School Stories, Sports, Tear Jerker
A classical dance prodigy in India, Veda’s heart and soul are in her graceful movements.When an accident on the way home from winning a big competition leaves her with one leg amputated below the knee, her dreams are also shattered.Fitted with a state of the art prosthesis, she must start over as a beginner.Her spirit and courage get her into a school with a revered teacher, Dr. Dhanam, who tells her that dancing is not about competition but “something larger and deeper that self.”With the help of the handsome and talented Govinda, Veda begins to approach dance as a spiritual pursuit.
This is the inspiring story of a young girl struggling to regain joy in her art. Told in verse which captures the mystery and beauty of India, it is a moving tribute to the power of art, faith and hope.
tags: Tessa's picks, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, Contemporary fiction, Novels in verse, Character driven, People of color.
"My mother has a gap between her two front teeth. So does Daddy Gunnar. Each child in this family has the same space connecting us."
It's hard to write anything about this book that will do it justice. On the surface it's a memoir about an African American author growing up during the Civil Rights Movement. But it's not really about any one thing just as a person's life isn't about any one thing. There are parts about her family, her struggles with learning to read, and how she eventually found her voice as an author. The things Woodson chooses to describe are just as interesting as the way she chooses to describe them. The language is simply gorgeous. If you have an interest in memoirs, history, poetry, family life, or just want to read something extremely well-written then this is the book for you.
"On paper, things can live forever. On paper, a butterfly never dies."
Erica's Picks 4th - 7th Grade Tags: Biography, Family Life, History, Novels in Verse, People of Color, Poetry
If you're stuck in your room or stuck in a rut, If your life needs adventure no if, and, or but, If you love magical creatures and mysteries too, I've just the right thing: read Zorgamazoo!
Zorgamazoo is a delightful rhyming romp that reminded me of Dr. Seuss, except in long form. In addition to rhyming, the novel does a lot of fun things with typography and has illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. Full of weird creatures, clever humor, and adventure this is a great choice for a read-aloud or independent reading.