Ren’s family decides to move to the outskirts of town. He misses being close to his best friend, Aiden, and he just wants things to go back to normal. Imagine his surprise when he looks up in the sky and sees birds just falling towards the ground. He watches closer and begins to think they’re falling on purpose.
As he investigates, he learns his new neighbor, Sutton, is training the pigeons to fly in competition. While Ren becomes better friends with Sutton, he faces some challenges in his friendship with Aiden. Ren has to figure out the type of friend he wants to be and the type of friends he wants to have. I would recommend this book for 4th-6th graders who love realistic fiction.
Book reviewed by Katie D., Youth Outreach Liaison
One night, Astrid’s mom takes her and her best friend to a roller derby, and this sets off a course of events that changes Astrid’s life. Astrid becomes obsessed with everything roller derby and decides to join roller derby camp the summer before entering junior high. This decision leads to some major problems with her best friend. To add to her troubles, Astrid discovers that skating for the roller derbies is much harder than she ever imagined, and she can’t think of an awesome roller name like the other girls in the league. How will she ever be as talented as her idol, Rainbow Bite? Roller Girl is a fun, entertaining graphic novel with strong female role models. It is a great choice for those who enjoyed reading Smile.
This title is also a 2018 Bluestem Award Nominee and Winner.
Auma’s Long Run transports the reader to a Kenya where people are just discovering and coming to grips with the AIDS epidemic. Auma, unlike most of her classmates, looks beyond a career as a farmer or wife and dreams of being a doctor. It’s part of why she works to understand why so many people are dying and what can be done. Auma, and most in her community, have to deal with being poor and the limited options there are for women, but she has a great relationship with her family, and the whole community works together to help one another. The author did a good job of putting us in that setting, so that even though it is not my own culture, I could relate. Auma is not only a dutiful daughter and student, but a runner and someone who wishes to go back to being a child. Her friends and classmates experience grief, taunting, romantic feelings, and moments of laughter, just like teens here. I recommend this story especially to middle grade and teen readers who want a new perspective.
Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian
This sweet beginner chapter book will make readers of all ages (including adults) have some real emotion. It is about a boy whose parents are divorced, and yet the word divorce is never even mentioned, because what it’s really about is the relationship between a boy and his dad—how they communicate, how they play together, and also how things are a little different now than they used to be. Each of the three chapters has a theme and a short story within the overall narrative arc. It’s amusing and lovable, without glossing over some of the issues, such as Max’s dislike for how his dad decorated his new room, but his hesitance to tell him because it would hurt his feelings. This is the first of three books in a new, engaging series!
Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator
Sixth-grader Ally gets into trouble during class enough to be a frequent flyer in the principal’s office. Not only does she struggle with her father’s absence due to an overseas deployment, she dreads going to school since she has no friends and she knows she’ll be forced to act out in order to protect a secret. Her life drastically changes when her strange behavior causes a move to a new classroom. Ally initially panics as Mr. Daniels, her new teacher, uncovers her secret. As the school year goes on and new friends are made, however, Ally begins to blossom. If you enjoy reading books that feature a main character who faces challenges in a school setting, this book is for you!
Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant