Kristin Levine’s debut novel, The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had,  takes place in Moundville, AL in 1917.  12-year old Dit can’t wait for the new postmaster to arrive in his small town because he hopes the postmaster will have a son about his age.  Instead, 12-year old Emma arrives and even more of a surprise to the town is the family’s skin color.  At first Dit is disappointed and wants nothing to do with Emma, but his mama’s rule “be nice to everyone” soon helps himaccept Emma and her family, even if some in the town do not.  Their friendship makes Dit think about whyRead More →

Kurtis Scaletta’s novel about a cursed Minnesota town and its youth baseball team is a home run.  Moundville has seen 22 years straight of rain – is it a curse or just freaky weather?   Roy McGuire knows he’s in for a dreary, wet summer.  Baseball camp is over but when he returns home, he finds a foster kid named Sturgis sprawled out on his couch. As if this isn’t weird enough, just a few days after Sturgis’s arrival, the sun comes out. No one can explain why the rain has finally stopped, but as far as Roy’s concerned, it’s time to play some baseball. It’s time toRead More →

In Jillian Cantor’s first novel, The September Sisters, we watch a family fall apart.  One summer night, 11 year old Becky goes missing from her suburban home.  Left behind are her parents and 13 year old sister, Abby, the narrator of this aching story.  The mother retreats into depression, the father focuses on finding Becky and maintaining normalcy, and Abby is left adrift in her confusion and loss.  The majority of the story focuses on the year following the kidnapping as the family unravels as each person tries to deal with (or escape from ) the horrible pain and anguish caused by Becky’s disappearance.  Abby’s emotionsRead More →

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act went into effect Feb 10, 2009, and the good news for booksellers, librarians, etc., is that the Consumer Product Safety Commission said it would “not impose penalties against anyone for making, importing, distributing or selling” a list of specified products, including “an ordinary children’s book printed after 1985.” Read more at the Publisher’s Weekly site.Read More →

Sunny Hathaway is just the kind of girl I would have loved to have had as a best friend going into 6th grade: she’s smart, creative, a bit of a day-dreamer, and funny.  She freely admits that change is not her strong suit, she often goes off on tangents, and she’s an entrepreneur.  Well written, sassy, and thoughtfully drawn characters abound in Marion Roberts’ debut novel, Sunny Side Up. The start of 6th grade and a lot of things are happening: her best friend Claud(ia) is now frustratingly boy-crazy, her mom’s boyfriend and his annoying kids are moving in, and her dad & his newRead More →

Told in the alternating perspectives of two eigth grade narrators, Wendelin Van Draanen’s Flipped is a charming entrance to the battle of the sexes.  Bryce is cute, with stunning blue eyes, and the center of Juli’s universe.  Juli is a dreamer, an artist and, according to Bryce completely weird.  She’s been in love with him ever since he moved in across from her in 2nd grade, but all Bryce has wanted to do is avoid Juli.  Things start changing in 8th grade, however, when Bryce realizes there’s something special and compelling about Juli, and Juli begins to realize there’s not much character behind Bryce’s amazingRead More →