New Book Reviews
Reading Level: Grade 6-8
Vera is too young to remember a time she wasn't thirsty. Since the polar ice caps melted and the rivers dried up, there is very little fresh water left. Almost all the northern hemisphere's fresh water is controlled by the Empire of Canada and the Republic of Minnesota. Vera lives in the Republic of Illinowa where she is lucky to get a drink a day.
One day Vera meets Kai a boy with a wonderful, powerful secret. When Kai is suddenly, violently kidnapped, Vera and her older brother Wil naively set out to save him. As they encounter dangerous water pirates, the People's Environmental Army and the sinister organization Bluewater, it becomes clear that the brother and sister probably won't even be able to save themselves.
Other tales of environmental disaster include:
Reading Level: Grades 3-6
Be careful what you wish for.
After her older half-sister reads her part of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland but refuses to tell why Alice followed the rabbit down the hole, nine-year-old Olemaun nags her parents to send her to the school of the white outsiders. Even though her father warns her that they will cut her hair, give her a new name and not allow her to speak their language , Olemaun so desperately wants to read that she persists until she gets her way.
Once in the clutches of the dark-cloaked nuns, Olemaun realizes what a horrible mistake she has made. Somehow she must hold onto who she is until she can finally return to her people.
More narratives of Indian boarding schools include:
Reading Level: Grades 4-6
Quiet Calli Gold feels out of place in her family of achievers. Her older brother Alex is the star of his school's basketball team. Her older sister Becca is an ice skater. The family calender is loaded with post-it notes, blue for Alex's games and practices, pink for Becca. Calli's color is yellow. There only two yellow post-its up for the whole month, appointments for the dentist and a haircut.
Calli's parents are sure if Calli would just be willing to try she would find her place to shine. Calli HAS tried. So far she has tried and failed gymnastics, ballet, soccer, baton twirling, violin and origami. Now her father has signed her up for acting.
Can Calli ever be appreciated for who she is in this high octane family?
For other stories of a kid feeling out of place in their family try::
Reading Level: Grades 2-4
Sassy Simone Sanford feels invisible in her family. Her older brother, sister and her parents call her "Little Sister." Sassy hates that nickname. It sounds like she's a baby. Sassy is anything but a baby. She's a bubbly kid with a quirky fashion sense. Her friends appreciate her, she just needs her family to see her for who she is.
If you enjoyed meeting Sassy you'd also enjoy.:
Reading Level: Grades 5-7
11-year-old Tracy has been in America for six years. She doesn't remember much about her years in Vietnam. Not until she and her friend Stargazer discover her father's old ammo box in the garage. Stargazer breaks off the lock and opens the box. Her father finds them just as they pull out the military dogtag. His cold, hard anger sends Stargazer running for home.
During that steamy summer of 1980, powerful memories come back to haunt both Tracy and her father, memories that may force them apart forever.
Other stories of the lingering effects of war include:
The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt
Reading Level: Grades 8-10
If the kid had just waited five minutes Detective George Rawls wouldn't have caught the case. He was on his way out when he was told that a kid had just walked through the door and confessed to murder. Small, slight 16-year-old Shayne Blank isn't like any killer the detective has ever encountered.
Switching between the stark interview room and the memories of Shayne's friend Mikey, the author pulls the reader into a tantalizing mystery that is almost impossible to put down.
Other tales of teens and the police include:
Reading Level: Grade 6-8
Riley Bloom resisted for a long time. After she, her parents and her dog were killed in a traffic accident, Riley lingered on the earth plane spying on her sister and her friends as they continued living. When she finally crossed the bridge into Here and was reunited with her parents and dog, she still couldn't resist spying on the living.
On her first day of school (yes, they have school in Here) a nerdy boy brings her to a mysterious door. Inside she meets a group of angels who show her her life...all of it. Riley is horribly embarrassed. So embarrassed that she doesn't ask the right questions when the council of angels announces that Riley will train as a soul catcher. She should have asked.
Other tales of the afterlife include:
No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko
Reading Level: Grades 2-4
The first book in the Ballpark Mysteries series features the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox season is jeopardized when their star slugger's lucky bat is stolen right after batting practice. When no one else can find the bat cousins Mike and Kate decide to save the day.
If you enjoyed this baseball mystery try:
Reading Level: Grades 4-7
Fisher was "born" when a defective robot triggered the pod right before the entire Ark was destroyed. Fisher was the only biological being to survive. Fisher knows his name, how to talk and one hundred ways to catch fish. Fisher also knows that unless he finds more people, the human race will end with him.
So Fisher sets off in search of other Arks accompanied by his defective robot protector Click and a friendly baby woolly mammoth that Fisher dubs Protein just in case he needs to eat him later. Out in the world the trio encounters killer giant parrots, swarms of tiny, vicious crocodiles and not so friendly nanotechnology.
Other apocalyptic fiction includes:
Reading Level: Grades 7+
First Mate Jack Sparrow, an employee of the East India Trading Company, is somewhere in the Caribbean when his cargo ship is attacked. Luckily, the pirate captain of the attacking ship is a friend of Jack’s, and doesn’t steal his entire cargo. Unluckily, Captain Baimbridge, furious at being attacked, boarded, and stolen from by a female pirate, tries to attack la Dona Pirata. In the ensuing swordfight, Baimbridge suffers from a heart attack and dies, leaving Jack in charge of the ship (though not officially captain… yet.)
Across the ocean, a princess and her brother set sail from a magically hidden island in search of their missing father. They are captured and sold into slavery, but not before Princess Amenirdis casts a protective spell over herself, altering her appearance to that of an old ugly hag. Separated from each other by the cruel slave trade, Amenirdis (now calling herself by the name Ayisha) longs for her brother and hopes for a chance at freedom.
Back at port, EITC employee Cutler Beckett comes into possession of a few pieces of golden jewelry he believes are connected to the legendary island of Kerma - and if he can locate the slave these pieces were stolen off of, he can locate Kerma’s treasure. His hunt soon leads him to suspect Ayisha’s involvement with the royal Kerman family, though her disguise and self-imposed language barrier deter Beckett’s ability to question her further.
Upon Jack’s return to shore with the pirate-lightened cargo ship, and explanation to Cutler Beckett the events of the pirate attack, he is promoted to Captain (huzzah! huzzah!) and given command of the vessel Wicked Wench. Beckett, ironically convinced that Ayisha was once a slave on the island of Kerma, tells Cap’n Jack to offer the woman escape from Beckett’s ownership and then charm her into giving up the location of the island. Then, Jack is to return to Beckett with the coordinates and the fabled Kerman treasure - and Beckett will set sail for Kerma with a dozen slave ships, prepared to snatch up the citizens.
Of course, we all know Cap’n Jack to be a moral man. Don’t we? And of course, Cap’n Jack has another plan up his sleeve - one that doesn’t involve stealing an entire population to be slaves or giving Cutler Beckett any treasure at all.
In The Price of Freedom, Pirates of the Caribbean fans will get to know Jack in an entirely new light than the four movies and love him all the more for it. His wobbling morality and quick wit, paired with his prowess at the helm (of both a ship and a woman) make him an entirely lovable, dimensional character. Yet one doesn’t have to have seen the movies to fall in love with this adventurous naval romp. It's not one to miss.