When Ken first hears the news that his parents are sending him to Canada, he thinks this is his stepmother’s way of finally getting rid of him. But once the bombs start to fall on his London home, and his family has to the spend their nights in the stinky, crowded bomb shelter, Canada doesn’t seem so bad. He is one of 90 children aboard the luxury ship. For the first time since the war started, he can eat as much as he wants, and there is a whole room full of brand-new toys to play with. At first, the children must wear their life vests at all times even when they sleep, but on the fifth day, the captain announces that they are out of danger. That same night, Ken is woken up by an explosion. The ship has been torpedoed!
What happens next is a miraculous story of survival spent aboard a crowded lifeboat with only 8 days of water, no shelter, and no compass for direction. Based on true events and real people, this novel in verse is a must read. Once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop.
Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head
Lu is the daughter of Argentinian immigrants, living in Alabama. She’s in sixth grade, in a recently integrated school and feeling like an outsider of her own because she’s Latina. For the most part, white students and black students sit on opposite sides of the room, are only friends with people who look like them. Lu’s love of running brings her closer to a black student, Belinda, but this also puts her at odds with her traditional parents sometimes. Tensions rise throughout the book with the upcoming election between Brewer and Wallace (the segregationist)… people start choosing sides leading to disagreements between friends, fights, and a lot of confusion about what is right. When Lu ultimately decides to stand up for what she believes in, she’ll discover who her real friends are and who she really is. Pick up this historical fiction novel if you are interested in civil rights, running, and a well written story that’s heartwarming.
Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian
No one can know the difference that is made by making one choice instead of another. Rarely, though, do our decisions mean the difference between life and death.
It did for Ken.
It was 1940 and WW II was at its peak. Britain prepared for the invasion they were expecting from Hitler and his armies. The decision was made to send as many British children as possible to other British dominions like Canada and New Zealand, where they would be safe from the bombing or an invasion by troops. Not every child could go, so a lottery was set up, and names drawn got to go by ship to a new, temporary home in Canada.
And Ken won the lottery! He was especially excited because the children would be sailing overseas in a luxury liner! Everything was as fantastic as he had expected – until the liner was hit by a German torpedo! Little did he realize that his choice of a lifeboat was going to be critical to his survival. (Based on a true experience)
Book reviewed by Loreen S., Youth Services Assistant
Follow Elias, who at the ripe young age of twelve contracts consumption and is sent to a doctor who specializes in experimental treatment of the disease. What is the catch? The doctor only treats people deep inside a cave! Once Elias is in his tiny hut underground, he struggles to adjust to the darkness and his quirky fellow patients. He thinks he is hearing voices and that the slaves who assist the doctor may be hiding something. What could they be hiding? This historical fiction tale is especially fascinating since it takes place within Kentucky’s world-famous Mammoth Cave and several of the characters are based on real people.
Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant
The Newbery honor author of Wolf Hollow has come out with another stunningly poignant novel with a unique historical setting. In Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk, 12-year-old Crow was a baby when she washed up on an island off the New England coast. It was Osh who found her and he has cared for her ever since. But Crow does not look like everyone else on the tiny island, and has always wondered where she came from. In her search for answers, she triggers a dangerous chain of events that brings conflict to the island and to her home with Osh. This beautifully written book explores themes of identity and belonging and what it means to be a family.
Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator