Eleven-year-old Kammie only wanted to be friends with the popular girls. When they say she has to pass an initiation to join their club, Kammie agrees and lets them cut off her hair. Next, she follows their demands to stand on top of some boards that cover a well, and she falls through. The girls try half-heartedly to help her, but then they run off. As it grows darker, Kammie doesn’t know whether they have gone to get help or if she’ll die alone in the well. Cold, hungry, thirsty, and scared, Kammie begins to imagine that a French-speaking coyote, goats, and all kinds of creepy-crawlies are in the well with her. During this time Kammie also reflects on her past: her dad, who is in prison for stealing money from a fund to help children with cancer; her older brother Robby, who used to be nice until he turned 14 and her former home and friends before moving to “Nowheresville, Texas.”
If you like stories about trying to fit in and finding your true friends—and with a little bit of suspense—check out The Girl in the Well is Me.
Book reviewed by Dana F., Assistant Head of Youth Services
Mai is ready for summer vacation in California. She plans to spend it on the beach with her best friend and maybe even talk to the guy she likes, but her parents have other ideas. Mai’s family is from Vietnam. Her grandmother left with her children after the Vietnam War. Her grandfather was never found after the war. Now, a detective thinks he has found some information on what happened to her grandfather and her grandmother wants to return to Vietnam for answers. Mai’s parents insist that Mai accompany her grandmother on the trip, which means no beach for Mai. Soon, Mai is in Vietnam, a place she considers hot, smelly, and with a lot of extended family. She doesn’t speak the language well and Vietnam is very different than California. It’s even worse when she finds out that her best friend in California is on the beach hanging with the guy she likes. If only the detective and grandmother could work something out. Then, she would get to go home, but that doesn’t seem likely. Now, she must try to find a balance between California life and Vietnam life, and maybe even try to give Vietnam and her extended family a chance.
Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian
In Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff, 12-year-old Trent used to love sports and had lots of friends, but 6 months ago all that changed—a boy died after getting hit in the chest with a hockey puck. And guess who hit that hockey puck? So Trent is having a rough year to say the least. His tense visits with his standoffish dad aren’t helping. His homeroom teacher, who he calls the “wrinkled old crone,” forcing him to water her plants after school isn’t helping. The only things that may be helping are his “Book of Thoughts” and the unexpected friendship that’s springing up with Fallon Little, the outcast girl with the scar across her face. Lost in the Sun is a heartfelt and emotional story from a boy’s point of view, with a little bit of sports thrown in.
Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator
Talk about a challenging life. Sugar has a deadbeat dad, a mom with emotional issues and they lose their house. You would think that would make this sixth grader very negative and troubled. Not Sugar (that is her name :)) She rises above it all with the help of a puppy, poetry and a few people who take the time out to build into her life. This is a really good book!
The Truth About Twinkie Pie unfolds as GiGi begins 7th grade at a new school and learns more about herself, her mother and her sister. This is a heartwarming story of love, loss, sacrifice, and what it means to be a family. Each chapter begins with a recipe from mama’s cookbook which adds to the charm of this middle grade novel. Readers who like character driven stories with a bit of mystery are sure to enjoy The Truth about Twinkie Pie.
Book reviewed by Amy S., Youth Outreach and Programming Assistant
Put this book on your must-read list if you are a fan of stories where the main character must struggle to overcome real-life obstacles. Although Aubrey is only eleven, she has had her share of hardships. Her father and younger sister suddenly pass away in an accident. Then, her mother is unable to cope with their deaths and drives away from the house, leaving Aubrey to fend for herself. Aubrey quietly accepts her abandonment and lives alone for days before her grandmother discovers the truth and whisks her away to her house in Vermont. With a new place to live and new people in her life, Aubrey searches for what will help her move forward but won’t let her forget precious memories. There are many moments of hope and happiness in this book, but also many sad moments, so get your tissues ready!
Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Programming Assistant
Jackson Greene is known for a couple of things: his blazer jacket and red tie, and big scale tricks or cons like the “Blitz at the Fitz” or incidents like the “Mid-day PDA.” But for the past four months, things have been different. After his last con blew up, he’s decided to stay on the straight and narrow. That was until he found out that Keith Sinclair is planning on running for student council president against Gabby de la Cruz, Jackson’s former best friend/almost girlfriend who kind of hates him right now. Jackson knows he shouldn’t get involved, but Keith is known for playing dirty, and he has the greedy principal on his side. So Jackson gets together a group of students, each talented at something different, to make sure the election goes according to plan. And if Jackson wins back Gabby’s respect in the process, and stays out of trouble, that will just be the icing on the cake. If you like mystery, adventure, and fast paced stories, check out this entertaining book.
Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian
If you ask Jimmy why he started creating comics, he would tell you it all began when he caught chicken pox in middle school. Before that he was popular, an athlete, and doing really well in school, but then he had to miss school and the championship basketball game for being sick. His grades begin to drop, basketball isn’t going great, and his teacher confiscates his comic book in class because it is not acceptable reading material. Rather than be upset, Jimmy created his own comic book. The first one isn’t as great as it could be, so he asks his friend for advice. However, according to Jimmy, the advice is the dumbest idea ever. Is it really though? Find out the idea by reading this graphic novel.
Book reviewed by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian
This realistic fiction story focuses on 11 year-old Tessa, a born and bred Maine islander who enjoys helping her dad fish for lobster off of their family’s boat. When her school might close due to low enrollment, the town hatches a plan to keep it open by bringing several foster children to live with them on the island. Tessa’s father comes back with Aaron, a reserved 13 year-old boy who is not at all like she expected. Tessa keeps her good luck charms with her always, but as Aaron spends more time with the family, her worries and secrets begin to multiply despite her efforts to stay lucky.
Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Programming Assistant
In Ann M. Martin’s newest novel entitled Rain Reign, we meet 5th grader Rose Howard who is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. This beautiful novel is told through her voice. Rose is obsessed with homonyms (which are words that sound alike but are spelled differently; like the title of this book Rain Reign).
No one seems to understand her…not her teachers, the kids at school, or even her own father! They don’t get her obsession with homonyms, prime numbers, and following rules. This makes school and home quite a struggle.
When her town is hit by a super storm, Rose’s world is turned upside down. The power is out, schools are closed, her already stressed father loses his job, and the search for her missing dog, Rain, pushes her way out of her comfort zone.
From sadness to joy, this book takes you on a rewarding adventure filled with emotion and allows the reader to see things from the very different viewpoint of someone on the Autism spectrum.
I recommend this book for 4th-6th graders who enjoy a heartfelt read.
Book reviewed by Carol C.., Elementary School Liaison