Friday, July 31, 2015

Taking Stock - July 2015

Total posts this month: 20
Total books read this month: 32
Total books read this year: 201

Audio: 9/ 41
Debut: 1/4

The Good: Well, I read a fair amount despite a very busy month of professional development. Read a good amount with my ears.

The Bad: I failed to post a Taking Stock for June. Not reviewing nearly enough. I've got to seek out more debuts. I know there are a few on the tbr, but review commitments keep pushing them down. 

The books:
170. George by Alex Gino (7/2)*
171. Crime Biters! My Dog is Better Than Your Dog by Tommy Greenwald (7/3)
172. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce (7/3)
173. The Secrets of Ruling School by Neil Swaab (7/4) (SLJ review)
174. Neighborhood Sharks by Katherine Roy (7/5)*
175. McToad Mows Tiny Island by Tom Angleberger (7/5)
176. Zen Socks by Jon Muth (7/6)
177. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (7/9)
178. Vango: Between Sky and Earth by Timothée de Fombelle (7/11)
179. House Arrest by K.A. Holt (7/11)*
180. I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak (7/12)
181. The Truth about Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh (7/13)
182. Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry (7/14)
183. Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems (7/15)
184. We are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen (7/16)
185. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña (7/16)
186. Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the mysteries of the cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson (7/17)
187. VIP: I'm with the Band! by Jen Calonita (7/18) (SLJ review)
188. Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre & his world of insects by Matthew Clark Smith (7/18)
189. Malala: a brave girl from Pakistan/ Iqbal: a brave boy from Pakistan by Jeanette Winter (7/19)
190. Nature's Perfect Package: Egg by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page (7/19)*
191. Bulldozer's Big Day by Candace Fleming (7/19)
192. A Fine Dessert: four centuries, four families, one delicious treat by Emily Jenkins & Sophie Blackall (7/19)
193. The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud (7/22)*
194. Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley (7/23)*
195. Seven Dead Pirates (7/34)(SLJ review)*
196. The Julian Chapter by R.J. Palacio (7/25)*
197. Babymouse: Cupcake Tycoon by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm (7/25)
198. Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky (7/26)*
199. Jeter Unfiltered by Derek Jeter (7/28)
200. Tombquest Book 2: Amulet Keepers by Michael Northrop (7/29)
201. The Call of the Osprey by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent (7/31)

Friday Memes: Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.

Gracefully Grayson by  Ami Polonsky. 243 p. Disney-Hyperion, November, 2014. 9781423185277. 

Publisher synopsis: What if who you are on the outside doesn't match who you are on the inside?

Grayson Sender has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: "he" is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender's body. The weight of this secret is crushing, but sharing it would mean facing ridicule, scorn, rejection, or worse. Despite the risks, Grayson's true self itches to break free. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher's wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit?

Debut author Ami Polonsky's moving, beautifully-written novel about identity, self-esteem, and friendship shines with the strength of a young person's spirit and the enduring power of acceptance.

First Line(s): If you draw a triangle with a circle resting on the top point, nobody will be able to tell that it's a girl in a dress. To add hair, draw kind of a semicircle on top. If you do this, you'll be safe, because it looks like you're just doodling shapes. 

Page 56: On Monday morning I sit in Humanities, organizing my notebooks and folders and watching everyone file in. I keep thinking about Grandma Alice's coffin being lowered into the dark hole. I'm looking for Amelia, and finally, just as the bell is about to ring, she walks in with Lila. I wave to her, but she doesn't see me. The two of them are too busy talking and smiling at each other, and, as they come closer, I notice that they're wearing almost identical outfits. 

This book came out last November to decent reviews but not as much press as the recently released, George, which I highlighted in a Friday Memes post here and a review, here. Both books are worthy additions to any school or public library.

Audiobook Review: Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley. Unabridged audiobook on 6 compact discs. Read by Bronson Pinchot. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group, June, 2015. 9781101892312. (Purchased.)

Micah Tuttle has lived with his beloved grandfather, Ephraim ever since his parents died. The two are as thick as thieves. Ephraim taught Micah how to tie knots and Micah grew up listening to his grandpa's stories about Circus Mirandus. Now, his grandpa is ill and his odious great-aunt Gertrudis is taking over. She restricts Micah's access to his grandfather and has absolutely no tolerance for any talk of magic in general and Circus Mirandus in particular. What's more, Micah's going to disappoint Jenny Mendoza, the smartest girl in the fifth grade, because he hadn't been able to work on his part of their project on ancient Incans. 

When Micah finally slips in to visit, he learns that his grandfather has sent a message to the Lightbender. You promised me a miracle. Micah knew these words to be part of the story, and while he hoped, he never truly believed that Circus Mirandus was real. Grandfather Ephraim had saved his miracle all these years and now the Lightbender would come and save him. Micah was sure of it.

What a world debut author, Cassie Beasley has created! Step right up, folks! There's something here for everyone - young readers or old, voracious readers and, quite possibly reluctant readers. The beautifully designed cover will lure readers with the promise of magic. Who doesn't love a circus? Micah is instantly likable. His relationship with his grandfather is achingly palpable. His budding friendship with Jenny Mendoza is authentic. The flashbacks to grandpa Ephraim's childhood are seamlessly woven and perfectly paced - inducing and enticing the reader to turn the page, if reading with eyes or continue, if reading with ears.

The world Beasley builds is intricate, fascinating and wholly believable and the language is absolutely lovely. There's suspense and adventure but there's a subtle underpinning of sadness, of yearning, of disappointment and dashed dreams. The narration by Bronson Pinchot is beautifully understated. His voice choices for a myriad of characters are fitting and consistent. He imbues Micah with such a sense of longing and hope even as he is grieving. The narration is perfectly paced. As much as I couldn't stand to stop for want of knowing what would happen next, I was sad to leave the world of Micah and miracles. While the ending was satisfying, there are some loose ends that might warrant a sequel, which would be welcome.

It is because of the audiobook that I would recommend Circus Mirandus to struggling or reluctant readers. Stories told through flashbacks can be a challenge for even the best of young readers. Reluctant readers may not have the patience or stamina and struggling readers may not have the ability. Pinchot's performance makes the story accessible to everyone.

I received an arc of Circus Mirandus back at ALA Midwinter. The rep said, "This lives up to the hype," as she handed me my copy. I am happy to report that it does. Do not miss this one. Read it and share it with your patrons/ students. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Pop Sonnets: Shakespearean Spins on Your Favorite Songs by Erik Didriksen

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles we can't wait to release.

Pop Sonnets: Shakespearean Spins on Your Favorite Songs by Erik Didriksen. 112 p. Quirk Publishing, October 6, 2015. 9781594748288.

Publisher synopsis: The Bard meets the Backstreet Boys in Pop Sonnets, a collection of 100 classic pop songs reimagined as Shakespearean sonnets. All of your favorite artists are represented in these pages—from Bon Jovi and Green Day to Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé, and beyond. Already a smash sensation on the Internet—the Tumblr page has 20,000+ followers—Pop Sonnets has been featured by the A.V. Club, BuzzFeed, and Vanity Fair, among many others. More than half of these pop sonnets are exclusive to this collection and have never been published in any form.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday:

This week's TTT theme over at Broke and Bookish is:
Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds (love reading, are writers, work at a bookstore, etc.) 

The first one to pop into my head was this:

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan. Random House, 2010.

Lily leaves a red notebook with challenges on a shelf in her favorite bookstore. Dash picks it up, rises to the challenge and issues his own.

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. HarperCollins Publishers, 2003.

Love this book and cry every time I read it. I used to read it aloud to the fourth graders and I always told them I would not be able to read the book without crying. Jack doesn't want to keep a poetry journal. He is not a poet. Poetry is for girls. And he is not going to write about his dog.

Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013.

One of my favorite books of 2013. Twelve-year-old Sarah Nelson has had more than her share of tragedy in her young life. She moves a lot with her alcoholic father and begins writing letters to Atticus Finch after she reads To Kill a Mockingbird.

Looking for Alaska by John Green. Penguin Young Readers, 2005.

Miles collects famous last words, Alaska collects books and wants to live her life reading.

After Eli by Rebecca Rupp. Candlewick Press, 2012. 

Daniel keeps a "Book of the Dead" after his beloved brother Eli is killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. 

Sleeping Freshman Never Lie by David Lubar. Penguin Group (USA), 2007.

Scott vents his frustrations in a series of letters (boys don't write journals) to his unborn baby brother during his freshman year. A sequel is due out mid-August called Sophomores and Other Oxymorons.

Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud. The Screaming Staircase and The Whispering Skull,which is due out mid-September. Disney-Hyperion, 2013, 2014, 2015.

Where would Anthony Lockwood and Lucy Carlisle be without George's meticulous research?

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. Simon Pulse, 2014.

Two engrossing books in one here - the story of Darcy Patel, teen writer and winner of a writing contest and the story she has written. 

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. Random House Children's Books, 2006.

Who better to put on this list than someone who steals books? Liesel is an unforgettable character in an unforgettable book.

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

We can't leave out Hermione!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Non-Fiction Monday: Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre & his world of insects by Matthew Clark Smith

Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre & his world of insects by Matthew Clark Smith. Illustrated by Giuliano Ferri. unpgd. Two Lions/ Amazon Children's Publishing, May, 2015. 978147782624. (Borrowed from the public library)

The lovely cover was the first thing to catch my eye as I scanned the shelf of "new books" at my local public library. The next thing was the fact that it was about an entomologist. While I'm always on the lookout for quality biographies of scientists, I will admit that I thought of the young son of a colleague who is crazy about bugs. I'm not crazy about bugs but I am fascinated by them. I had never heard of Jean-Henri Fabre so I added the book to my stack.

The biography starts with Fabre as an eccentric old man living in a village in southern France. The inhabitants knew very little about him but gossiped about him, debating about whether he was a madman or a sorcerer. They were shocked and amazed when the President of France visited him. Turns out Jean-Henri Fabre had just won a Noble Prize in Literature. He was one of very few scientists to win the prize in literature for his life's work studying insects.

The story then rewinds to the early 1800s and relates how Fabre's youth on a mountainside in rural France shaped his love of nature and insects in particular. Once he started school, he would secrete all sorts of flora and fauna into his desk to study instead of his Latin. His teachers did not appreciate his lack of interest in academics. Eventually, he became a teacher. He married and had children, many of whom died. But he continued to study nature. 

He came down with pneumonia so severe he thought he would die. He made a last request of his son to retrieve some bees from their winter nest. When they stirred from their hibernation due to the warmth of the room, Jean-Henri found a reason to live. He recovered and began writing. And writing and writing. He felt that if his writing awakened an awe of nature in just one person, he had done his job. In his 90th year, he learned that his work earned him a Nobel Prize and a visit from the President of France. He died several years later.

The narrative is engaging and evocative as are the soft watercolor illustrations. They are colorful and energetic. Each contain tons of larger-than-life insects. The end-pages are gorgeous as well. While certainly recommended for elementary school libraries, this picture book biography should find a home in the middle school library thanks to an in-depth historical note; detailed timeline; author's note and sources. This unique and affectionate treatment of a scientist mostly unknown outside of his field should awaken a sense of wonder in young readers. It did for this old one.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

I attended a Scholastic Book Summit on Tuesday, July 14 near Boston, Mass. There was a Scholastic Book Fair, of course. Of course, I bought. I was very thrifty though and purchased just ten books even though I was eyeing ten more. I featured them in this Top Ten Tuesday post. You can read about them here.

The following day, I stopped in at Blue Bunny Books and Toys before heading to Plymouth. I'm a fan of Peter Reynolds' books and have always wanted to see his book store. It's a lovely, little literary oasis in Dedham, Mass. Do stop by if you're in the area and, do visit the web site. Here's what I picked up there:

Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. 376 p. Candlewick Press, February, 2015. 9780763663230.

Publisher synopsis: When forced to choose between staying with her guardian and being with her big brother, Ari chose her big brother. There’s just one problem—Gage doesn’t actually have a place to live. 

When Ari’s mother died four years ago, she had two final wishes: that Ari and her older brother, Gage, would stay together always, and that Ari would go to Carter, the middle school for gifted students. So when nineteen-year-old Gage decides he can no longer live with their bossy guardian, Janna, Ari knows she has to go with him. But it’s been two months, and Gage still hasn’t found them an apartment. He and Ari have been "couch surfing," staying with Gage’s friend in a tiny apartment, crashing with Gage’s girlfriend and two roommates, and if necessary, sneaking into a juvenile shelter to escape the cold Maine nights. But all of this jumping around makes it hard for Ari to keep up with her schoolwork, never mind her friendships, and getting into Carter starts to seem impossible. Will Ari be forced to break one of her promises to Mama? Told in an open, authentic voice, this nuanced story of hiding in plain sight may have readers thinking about homelessness in a whole new way.

Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey. 362 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May, 2015. 97805473993100.

Publisher synopsis: In this fresh and funny teen mystery, seventeen-year-old Millie joins forces with her classmate, gorgeous but mysterious Chase Albright, to try to find out who murdered Coach Killdare.

The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt. Illustrated by Ross Collins. 291 p. Viking/ Penguin Group (USA), June, 2015. 9780451471963.

Publisher synopsis: TELL THE TRUTH: 
Have you ever picked your nose? Have you ever picked your nose and eaten it? Have you ever picked your nose, eaten it, and, doing so, opened a portal to a world run by pirates?
Mabel Jones has.
Mabel is kidnapped and forced to serve aboard The Feroshus Maggot with the strangest crew you’ll ever meet. And the captain—an odious wolf named Idryss Ebenezer Split—won’t let her go until she helps the pirates unlock the treasure they seek. 
Mabel’s voyage takes her across The Greasy Pole of Certain Death, into the belly of a whale, and underground to a decrepit crypt. And she does it all…in pajamas!
Read on if you dare. You are promised a most unlikely adventure.

And this bit of whimsy: Sorry for the crooked and dark shot. A corner of the book store is filled with Peter Reynolds' art and tee shirts and books he illustrated. I had trouble choosing.                                                                                     

For review: 

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Planet Girl by Tommy Greenwald. Illustrated by J.P. Coovert. Charlie Joe Jackson series #5. 203 p. Roaring Brook Press, August 25, 2015. 9781596438415.

Jacket synopsis: Get ready for makeups, breakups, ad hilarious romance tips as Charlie Joe figures out this crazy little thing called love.

Frank Einstein and the Brain Turbo by Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by Brian Biggs. Frank Einstein series #3. 192 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, August 25, 2015. 9781419716430. 

Publisher synopsis: Frank Einstein (kid-genius scientist and inventor) and his best friend Watson, along with Klink (a self-assembled artificial intelligence entity), create the BrainTurbo to power-boost the human body and help their baseball-pitching pal Janegoodall make the team. But when Klank (a mostlyself-assembled and artificial almost intelligence entity) goes missing, they must first rescue their robot pal and stop T. Edison—Frank’s classmate and archrival—from stealing their latest invention and using it against them!

The Road to You by Alecia Whitaker. A Wildflower Novel. 337 p. Poppy/ Little, Brown and Company, July, 2015. 9780316251402.

Publisher synopsis: Bright lights...screaming fans...cute music sensation Bird Barrett has officially arrived.

Next up on the road to stardom, Bird's heading out on tour. Between opening for one of the biggest acts in country music and meeting a passionate young photographer who's working as part of the backstage crew, the weeks pass by in an exciting blur. It might even be enough to distract Bird from the way things ended--or never quite started--with Adam Dean.

When the tour wraps, though, it's back to reality. The label is eager for a new hit song, but the sudden fame, complete with a media-fueled rivalry with another country music starlet, has Bird questioning her priorities. Before she can pour her heart into her music, she'll need to figure out where it truly lies.

Filled with sweet country music spirit, Wildflower is a series you just can't get out of your head.

That's what's new with me. What's new with you?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Memes: Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley. 292 p. Dial Books for Young Readers/ Penguin Group (USA), June, 2015. 9781101892312.

Publisher synopsis: Do you believe in magic?

Micah Tuttle does.

Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather.

The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn't want to keep his promise. And now it's up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.

First line(s): Four small words. That was all it took to set things in motion. 

Page 56: "Oh, it's nice of you to worry," said Aunt Gertrudis, "but I'm all right. Not that it's been easy with my brother and the boy. I do my best, but the situation just isn't healthy for either of them if you ask me. Honestly, I'm relieved that it's almost at an end."

     Micah froze. His hand clutched the banister so tightly that all of the blood was pressed from his knuckles. It's fine. It's nothing. You promised Grandpa Ephraim you would try to get along with her. 

This debut has received a TON of hype. I'm happy to report that it is well-deserved. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

What's New? Stacking the Shelves - ALA - Box 3

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

Okay. Here's the final box that I shipped from ALAAC15. How am I ever going to get these read AND learn robotics this summer?

Big Game by Stuart Gibbs. A FunJungle novel. 339 p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, October 15, 2015. 9781481423335.

Publisher synopsis: Teddy Fitzroy returns as FunJungle’s resident zoo sleuth when a rhinoceros is at risk in Big Game, a companion to Belly Up and Poached—which Kirkus Reviews called a “thrill-ride of a mystery.”
When someone takes aim at Rhonda Rhino, FunJungle’s pregnant (and endangered) Asian greater one-horned rhinoceros, the zoo steps up security measures in order to protect this rare animal and her baby.
But the extra security isn’t enough—someone is still getting too close for comfort. Teddy and company start to suspect that whoever is after Rhonda is really after her horn, which is worth a lot of money on the black market.
For the first time ever, the head of the zoo enlists Teddy for help—for once, he doesn’t have to sneak around in order to investigate—and the results are even more wacky, and even more dangerous, than ever before.

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin. 350 p. Little, Brown and Company, September, 9780316380836.

Publisher synopsis: A stunning debut about how grief can open the world in magical ways.
After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory--even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy's achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe...and the potential for love and hope right next door.

Stone Wall: breaking out in the fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum. 120 p. Viking/ Penguin Group (USA), May, 2015. 9780670016792.

Publisher synopsisThat’s the Stonewall.
The Stonewall Inn.
Pay attention.
History walks through that door.
In 1969 being gay in the United States was a criminal offense. It meant living a closeted life or surviving on the fringes of society. People went to jail, lost jobs, and were disowned by their families for being gay. Most doctors considered homosexuality a mental illness. There were few safe havens. The Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-run, filthy, overpriced bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, was one of them.
Police raids on gay bars happened regularly in this era. But one hot June night, when cops pounded on the door of the Stonewall, almost nothing went as planned. Tensions were high. The crowd refused to go away. Anger and frustration boiled over.
The raid became a riot.
The riot became a catalyst.
The catalyst triggered an explosive demand for gay rights.
Ann Bausum’s riveting exploration of the Stonewall Riots and the national Gay Rights movement that followed is eye-opening, unflinching, and inspiring.

Untamed: the wild life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey. 96 p. National Geographic Kids, June, 2015. 9781426315190.

Publisher synopsis: Jane Goodall, one of the most recognized scientists in the Western world, became internationally famous because of her ability to observe and connect with another species. A girl of humble beginnings and training, she made scientific breakthroughs thought impossible by more experienced field observers when she was only in her twenties. Then these animals shaped Jane's life. She began tirelessly fighting to protect the environment so that chimpanzees and other animals will continue have a place and a future on our planet. Jane Goodall continues to leave the modern world with an extraordinary legacy and has changed the scientific community forever.

The Rain Wizard: the amazing, mysterious, true life of Charles Mallory Hatfield by Larry Dane Brimner. 120 p. Calkins Creek/ Highlights, September 8, 2015. 9781629794358.

Publisher synopsis: In December 1915, San Diego’s leaders claimed the town’s reservoirs were nearly dry. Knowing the city would not survive and grow unless it had water, they hired Charles Mallory Hatfield, whose skills at making rain were legendary. But when torrents and torrents of rain came, disaster struck. Roads were closed, people drowned, and dams burst. The town elders blamed Hatfield and refused to pay him. Was Hatfield really a rain wizard, or simply a fraud? Renowned author Larry Dane Brimner examines the man and the myth by relying on personal recollections from growing up in California, as well as extensive research. Readers will be captivated by Hatfield—a man once known as the Frankenstein of the air—and his secret rainmaking formulas. Includes author’s note, source notes, and bibliography.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate. 243 p. Feiwel & Friends, September, 2015. 9781250043238. 

Publisher synopsis: Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken, and he's imaginary. He has come back into Jackson's life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.

Return to Augie Hobble by Lane Smith. 283 p. Roaring Brook Press, May, 2015. 9781626720541.

Publisher synopsis: Augie Hobble lives in a fairy tale--or at least in Fairy Tale Place, the down-on-its-luck amusement park managed by his father. At least Augie has his notebook and his best friend Britt to confide in... until the unthinkable happens and Augie's life is turned epically, even paranormally, upside down.

Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-a-Lot by Dav Pilkey. 205 p. Scholastic Inc., August 25, 2015. 9780545690751.

Publisher synopsis: There's something rotten in the state of Ohio, and it's smellier than a pile of putrid gym socks! Steer clear -- it's Sir Stinks-A-Lot!
George and Harold, and their doubles, Yesterday George and Yesterday Harold, have a good thing going. Two of them go to school, while the other two hide in the tree house and play video games all day -- then they switch! But when their malicious gym teacher, Mr. Meaner, creates a method of mind-control that turns their fellow students into attentive, obedient,perfect children, the future of all humanity will be in their hands!

Untwine by Edwidge Danticat. 303 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., October . 9780545423038.

Publisher synopsis: A haunting and mesmerizing story about sisterhood, family, love, and loss by literary luminary Edwidge Danticat.
Giselle Boyer and her identical twin, Isabelle, are as close as sisters can be, even as their family seems to be unraveling. Then the Boyers have a tragic encounter that will shatter everyone's world forever.
Giselle wakes up in the hospital, injured and unable to speak or move. Trapped in the prison of her own body, Giselle must revisit her past in order to understand how the people closest to her -- her friends, her parents, and above all, Isabelle, her twin -- have shaped and defined her. Will she allow her love for her family and friends to lead her to recovery? Or will she remain lost in a spiral of longing and regret?
Untwine is a spellbinding tale, lyrical and filled with love, mystery, humor, and heartbreak. Award-winning author Edwidge Danticat brings her extraordinary talent to this graceful and unflinching examination of the bonds of friendship, romance, family, the horrors of loss, and the strength we must discover in ourselves when all seems hopeless.

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen. 317 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., August 25, 2015. 9780545682428.

Publisher synopsis: From NYT bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen comes a stunning thriller about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west.
With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can't help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.
But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson. 320 p. graphix/ Scholastic Inc., August 25, 2015. 9780545565431.

Publisher synopsis: Highly acclaimed graphic novelist Craig Thompson's debut book for young readers about a plucky heroine on a mission to save her dad.
For Violet Marlocke, family is the most important thing in the whole galaxy. So when her father goes missing while on a hazardous job, she can't just sit around and do nothing. To get him back, Violet throws caution to the stars and sets out with a group of misfit friends on a quest to find him. But space is vast and dangerous, and she soon discovers that her dad is in big, BIG trouble. With her father's life on the line, nothing is going to stop Violet from trying to rescue him and keep her family together.
Visionary graphic novel creator Craig Thompson brings all of his wit, warmth, and humor to create a brilliantly drawn story for all ages. Set in a distant yet familiar future, Space Dumplinsweaves themes of family, friendship, and loyalty into a grand space adventure filled with quirky aliens, awesome spaceships, and sharp commentary on our environmentally challenged world.

Ticket to India by N.H. Senzai. 198 p. Simon & Schuster, November 17, 2015. 9781481422581.

Publisher synopsis: A trip to India turns into a grand adventure in this contemporary novel about the Great Partition, from the award-winning author of Saving Kabul Corner and Shooting Kabul.
A map, two train tickets, and a mission. These are things twelve-year-old Maya and her big sister Zara have when they set off on their own from Delhi to their grandmother’s childhood home of Aminpur, a small town in Northern India. Their goal is to find a chest of family treasures that their grandmother’s family left behind when they fled from India to Pakistan during the Great Partition. But soon the sisters become separated, and Maya is alone. Determined to find her grandmother’s lost chest, she continues her trip, on the way enlisting help from an orphan by named Jai.
Maya’s grand adventure through India is as thrilling as it is warm: a journey through her family’s history becomes a real coming-of-age quest.

The Great Good Summer
by Liz Garton Scanlon. 218 p. Beach Lane Books/ Simon & Schuster, May, 2015. 

Publisher synopsis: Ivy and Paul hatch a secret plan to find Ivy’s missing mom and say good-bye to the space shuttle in this evocative, heartfelt novel reminiscent of Each Little Bird that Sings and Because of Winn-Dixie.
Ivy Green’s mama has gone off with a charismatic preacher called Hallelujah Dave to The Great Good Bible Church of Panhandle Florida. At least that’s where Ivy and her dad think Mama is. But since the church has no website or phone number and Mama left no forwarding address, Ivy’s not entirely sure. She does know she’s missing Mama. And she’s starting to get just a little worried about her, too.
Paul Dobbs, one of Ivy’s schoolmates, is also having a crummy summer. Paul has always wanted to be an astronaut, and now that NASA’s space shuttle program has been scrapped, it looks like his dream will never get off the ground.
Although Ivy and Paul are an unlikely pair, it turns out they are the perfect allies for a runaway road trip to Florida—to look for Mama, to kiss the Space Shuttle good-bye, and maybe, just maybe, regain their faith in the things in life that are most important.

My Diary from the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson. 416 p. Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, November 3, 2015. 9781442483873.

Publisher synopsis: Told in diary form by an irresistible heroine, this playful and perceptive novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the May Bird trilogy sparkles with science, myth, magic, and the strange beauty of the everyday marvels we sometimes forget to notice.
Spirited, restless Gracie Lockwood has lived in Cliffden, Maine, her whole life. She’s a typical girl in an atypical world: one where sasquatches helped to win the Civil War, where dragons glide over Route 1 on their way south for the winter (sometimes burning down a T.J. Maxx or an Applebee’s along the way), where giants hide in caves near LA and mermaids hunt along the beaches, and where Dark Clouds come for people when they die.
To Gracie it’s all pretty ho-hum…until a Cloud comes looking for her little brother Sam, turning her small-town life upside down. Determined to protect Sam against all odds, her parents pack the family into a used Winnebago and set out on an epic search for a safe place that most people say doesn’t exist: The Extraordinary World. It’s rumored to lie at the ends of the earth, and no one has ever made it there and lived to tell the tale. To reach it, the Lockwoods will have to learn to believe in each other—and to trust that the world holds more possibilities than they’ve ever imagined.

Old Wolf
by Avi. Illustrated by Brian Floca. A Richard Jackson Book/ Atheneum Books for Young Readers/ Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, August 4, 2015. 9781442499218.

Publisher synopsis: Hunting—the predator, and its prey—is at the heart of this riveting and suspenseful novel from Newbery Medalist Avi with illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Brian Floca.
In the computer game world of Bow Hunter—Casey’s world—there are no deaths, just kills. In the wolf world—Nashoba’s world—there have been no kills. For this is March, the Starving Time in the Iron Mountain region of Colorado, when wolves and ravens alike are desperate for food.
With the help of a raven, the miraculous Merla, Nashoba must lead his pack of eight to a next meal. The wolf hates being dependent on a mere bird, but Merla is a bird wise beyond her years.
And when thirteen-year-old Casey crosses their path, two very different approaches to hunting collide.

Firefly Hollow
 by Alison McGhee. Illustrated by Christopher Denise. 291 p. Atheneum Books for Young Readers/ Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, August 18, 2015. 9781442423367.

Publisher synopsis: Firefly. Cricket. Vole. Peter. Can four creatures from four very different Nations help one another find their ways in the world that can feel oh-so-big? Delve into this lush, unforgettable tale in the tradition of Charlotte’s Web and The Rats of NIMH, from the author of the New York Times bestselling Someday.
Firefly doesn’t merely want to fly, she wants to touch the moon. Cricket doesn’t merely want to sing about baseball, he wants to catch. When these two little creatures with big dreams wander out of Firefly Hollow, refusing to listen to their elders, they find themselves face-to-face with the one creature they were always told to stay away from…a giant.
But Peter is a Miniature Giant. They’ve always been told that a Miniature Giant is nothing but a Future Giant, but this one just isn’t quite as big or as scary as the other Giants. Peter has a dream of his own, as well as memories to escape. He is overwhelmed with sadness, and a summer with his new unlikely friends Firefly and Cricket might be just what he needs. Can these friends’ dreams help them overcome the past?
Firefly Hollow is nothing short of enchanting, reminding us all that the very best friend is the one who wants you to achieve your dreams. Full-color tip-in illustrations and dozens of black-and-white drawing provide added glow.

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