Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Real Friends: Mean Girls for Tweens

From the publishers:

When best friends are not forever . . .
Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen's #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.
Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?
Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it's worth the journey.

My thoughts:

The pairing of words by Shannon Hale and illustrations by LeUyen Pham gives this novel that awkward, lonely, confused feeling that dredges up my own tween years when my own friendships started to change and drift away and I was left a little confused by my changing hormones, and the way I was very out of sync with my childhood best friend based on the rate of our maturity. This is a kinder, gentler Mean Girls, but it brings up emotions that all these years later still can come back through this book. 

In the Author's Note section Hale says she never thought she would write a memoir, but in some ways it is. The honesty and truth of this and the illustrations that are able to deftly illustrate awkward, confused and unsure states just in the character Shannon's face created an emotional roller coaster of a ride for me. 

This book is for those upper elementary girls who feel lost and misunderstood and abandoned and confused. The creators have a message. Things do get better. 

Publication Day: May 02, 2017
First Second Books

advanced copy made available by the publisher and Net Galley (.) com

Thursday, April 6, 2017

SYNC 2017 is almost here!

Summer is coming and with it comes free audiobooks from AudioFile Magazine and Overdrive! 

If you have never heard of this free, fabulous service, Sync is aimed at teens 13+. SYNC 2017 will give away 32 titles, 2 paired audiobook downloads each week starting on April 27th and ending on August 16!

Check out the complete list of exciting audiobook titles from award-winning authors such as Daniel José Older, M.T. Anderson, Franz Kafka, Ruta Sepetys, and Nikki Grimes.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sun Dragon's Song #1

by Joyce Chng and Kim Miranda
Rosarium Publishing
Publication date: September 21, 2016

Ho Yi wants to be a sun dragon rider like his parents, but he uses a crutch to get around and he is often bullied by a larger pupil at his school. Still, he feels their song in his heart and he believes that despite his disability, he can become a rider. 

Set in a distant land, this origin story sets up a little of young Ho Yi's life. The reader sees a little of his grit personality. We learn a bit about his parents and the struggles that this young boy goes through. However, there is much left unanswered, which I think will keep young tweens invested in reading. For example, what is he gathering in the cave and why does he have to wash it down? What happened to his legs? Why does the bully hate him so much? And will the feisty young girl that his father released at the border play a part in the next installments?

If readers liked Avatar, they will like Sun Dragon's Song. 

An e-galley provided by Net Galley and the publishers for an honest review. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016


Publication date: October 1, 2016

From the Publishers:
August 9, 1945, began like any other day for six-year-old Sachiko. Her country was at war, she didn't have enough to eat. At 11:01 a.m., she was playing outdoors with four other children. Moments later, those children were all dead. An atomic bomb had exploded just half a mile away.
In the days and months that followed, Sachiko lost family members, her hair fell out, she woke screaming in the night. When she was finally well enough to start school, other children bullied her. Through it all, she sought to understand what had happened, finding strength in the writings of Helen Keller, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr.
Based on extensive interviews with Sachiko Yasui, Caren Stelson shares the true story of a young girl who survived the atomic bomb and chronicles her long journey to find peace. Sachiko offers readers a remarkable new perspective on the final moments of World War II—and their aftermath.

My Thoughts:

With the mix of poignant storytelling and sidebars of historical facts, this multi-genre novel will be a wonderful resource for middle level students to learn about World War II from the perspective of a Japanese atomic bomb survivor. It chronicles the moment right before the Nagasaki bomb as well as the devastating after effects that continues to be felt in Japan today. Sachiko's loss is devastating and unfathomable, and yet through it all, she continues to speak out for peace. Like the late Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps, Sachiko has found her voice and continues to push for a peaceful world, lest we forget the atrocities of history. 

This is a well researched book and a good model for student research.

This advanced copy provided by Net Galley (dot)com and the publisher for an honest review. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Magic of Wish

Publication date: August 30, 2016

From the Publishers:
Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.
From award-winning author Barbara O'Connor comes a middle-grade novel about a girl who, with the help of a true-blue friend, a big-hearted aunt and uncle, and the dog of her dreams, unexpectedly learns the true meaning of family in the least likely of places.

My Thoughts:
Summers are made for just these types of books: funny and sweet, with a lovable character whose world reveals itself like the stars coming out after a long dusk.  Charlie Reese joins the ranks of strong girls who come from brokenness and just need a little time to see that when a door closes, look for an open window. I hope that everyone is having adventures this summer, whether it's in the backyard, or in the pages of a book like this. Summer is for loving a dog, understanding the expanded definition of family and a loyal friend in an up-down boy. 

An advanced copy provided by Net Galley (dot) com and the publisher for an honest review. 


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