Set in 1939-1943 in occupied Poland, Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit tells the difficult story of growing up during the Second World War, a time rife with barking dogs, tank invasions, bullying soldiers, fiery sacrifices, and other acts of hate and genocide.  In 1939, Germans occupied Kraków with the sole purpose of purging the city of its intellectuals and its academics.  As Germany pushed in from the west, the Soviets closed in on the east.  The occupation of Poland has been called one of the darkest chapters in the history of World War II since it marked the beginning of the Jewish Holocaust when almostRead More →

The somewhat clichéd stereotypes and the questionable caricatures in Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein are offset by creative riddles, rebus puzzles, word scrambles, challenging vocabulary (think Lemony Snicket), and rich allusions to everything from famous aviators and legendary librarians to the Beatles and NASCAR.  The book also ignites the imagination and invites critical thinking about the issue of banned and challenged books and about the purpose of libraries. Because this book is a sequel to Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, it features some of the same characters, including Kyle Keeley, an ordinary twelve-year-old with a passion for video games, the longest to-be-read list,Read More →

Given that her father is the famous Hollywood producer, Bill Hollis, Peyton Hollis is afraid she’ll be paparazzi fodder for the rest of her life, living behind a glam façade—all “dazzle and dysfunction, spritzed with expensive perfume” (1).  No longer wishing to associate with her family, whose money can buy secrecy, shroud scandal, and make them untouchable, Peyton has chosen life’s default setting, WEIRD.  When she discovers unsavory family secrets, she moves out of Hollis Mansion, hoping to escape the unrelenting, high pressure lifestyle of the rich and famous.  Getting more than she’s wishing for, Peyton ends up hospitalized, the victim of a violent assault.Read More →