Written by daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, The Hero Two Doors Down by Sharon Robinson, recounts the historical fiction tale of tumultuous times of global, racial, cultural, and religious unrest in the late 1940s.  Because of its inspirational message about the need to depend on faith, family, and friends during the worst of times, contemporary readers will find this story of friendship and unity especially relevant as Martin Luther King, Junior’s 87th birthday approaches. In 1948, Steven Satlow is eight years old, and a train ride to Ebbets Field costs five cents each way.  Because Steve is the shortest kid in his class andRead More →

We humans are all broken, broken by life’s trials and tribulations, undone by love, fragmented by bullies who shoot holes in our confidence, or traumatized by loss—whether a consequence of death, divorce, or some other life-altering trauma.  These truths unfold  from the beginning line—“Life is bullshit”—of We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson, a novel that explores both the absurdity of and the grand scheme of the cosmos and of human existence. Ever since he was 13 years old, Henry Jerome Denton has been abducted by aliens, whom he calls sluggers.  The abductions always begin with shadows and end with his being deposited—often naked—far fromRead More →

Not only unaware of the meaning of the word decorum but also oblivious as to how to show it, Angelo Fabrizzi detests the formal education his mother, Julietta, wishes upon him in Paris.  Uninspired in the classroom, Angelo feels most alive when he’s working in his father’s workshop where he doodles car designs and fires up the welding torch to work and rework metal scraps into fantastical creations.  Like his Italian father, Luca Fabrizzi, Angelo is a passionate and creative car-lover with a sweet tooth, who believes that magical ideas take shape under the influence of sugar. After the front wheel drive sensation of 1934,Read More →

The embodiment of athletic purpose, graceful and resolute, Elijah Thomas is 6’4” and carved out of steel, according to his best friend, Dylan Buchanan.  With his rhythmic dribbling skills, Dylan is no slouch on the court either.  The two juniors, teammates on Maryland Public Secondary School’s basketball team who have been playing together since boyhood, help their high school team win the state championship.  Now, they’re ready to play in the adult tournament, Hoops, on the Battlegrounds, an asphalt court in the neighborhood where practice and pickup games take place.  Despite their talent, can the boys “compete in the adult division, against college guys, hard-core streetRead More →

Living on the Northern Tier of Montana called the Hi-Line, I’ve seen the aurora borealis break dance with a rhythm similar to that described by Rodman Philbrick in his book The Big Dark: “Imagine a lightning bolt hitting a box of crayons and turning it into a colored steam.  Like that.  Electric colors rippling and pulsing as if they were alive” (3). In The Big Dark, Philbrick, an award-winning author of the classic Freak the Mighty and numerous other books for young adults, not only writes in richly descriptive prose but posits a possible answer to the question: How would human kind respond to a massive solarRead More →