Whether you’re vying for a spot on Jeopardy, studying for an exam, wanting to impress someone with your trivia smarts, or simply hoping to learn more about sports or geography, My Weird School, Fast Facts Sports/Geography by Dan Gutman is for you! This two-in-one book features as narrators: Arlo, a.k.a. “Professor AJ, the professor of awesomeness” (4), and Andrea Young, who is in the gifted and talented program at school and is going to Harvard someday (6).  Although the two tweens do overuse the word weird, they share with readers many interesting and esoteric facts, such as how the tradition of the seventh inning stretchRead More →

Upheaval.  That one word sums up Josh LeBlanc’s life.  His father, a minor league baseball player turned coach, has accepted a job with Crosby College in Florida.  Gary LeBlanc hopes to turn Crosby into a training ground for the majors, but Josh isn’t happy because the job means he will be leaving behind his home in Syracuse, New York; his team, the Syracuse Titans; and his friends.   He’ll also be saying goodbye to any hopes that his mother and father will get back together since his mother and baby sister Laurel aren’t planning to move.  On the trip south, thirteen-year-old Josh is overcome by sadness, worry,Read More →

In The Secrets of Solace, Jaliegh Johnson brings the fantasy World of Solace to life with maps, vivid descriptions, relatable conflicts, and characters to whom the reader can form a connection.  Although the target audience for Johnson’s book is tween readers, anyone who finds fascination in archives and museums will likely consider this tale intriguing. Because the Winterbocks died from a pestilence when their daughter Lina was nine years old, she has been entrusted to the care of Zara, a senior archivist in the mountain stronghold of Ortana—an underground community of rocks and caves.  Besides humans, Lina’s world is populated by shape-shifting chamelins, a sarnun speciesRead More →

Friends, family, babysitting, and playing the French horn comprise the interests of twelve-year-old Gabby Duran.  To Gabby, every child is a puzzle-locked box that can be solved: “If you [are] interested in them enough to figure out the puzzle, you [can] open that box and completely connect with the person inside” (44).  That philosophy, and her aversion to the words strange or disgusting as descriptors for children and their behavior, make her a superior associate for the Association Linking Intergalactic and Earthlings as Neighbors (A.L.I.E.N). Working for A.L.I.E.N. as a Sitter to the Unsittables, Gabby encounters a troll family and their son Trymmy, who—just likeRead More →

Preening, posing, and shallow small talk aren’t really Josie Browning’s scene, but when her editor Liani gives this junior writer for the online magazine, indi 18 days to plan a revolutionary launch for the magazine, Josie gets a crash course in schmoozing. As she works to make this an epic launch, Josie rubs elbows with plenty of mag hags—polished, glamorous, and arrogant women with vicious reputations for pedestal grubbing.  Along the way, Josie—who claims to be missing the charm gene—makes plenty of mistakes until she feels as if she’s only one embarrassing email or magazine event encounter away from losing everything—including the love of herRead More →

In the spirit of good science fiction, Bluescreen by Dan Wells explores not only where over-extended technology might lead but also how easily technology can slips its leash and turn dangerous or destructive.  Not since reading Feed by M.T. Anderson have I experienced such a thought-provoking and chilling indictment that may encourage other readers to examine how technology—in careless or greedy hands—facilitates insidious manipulation, exploitation, and control of the individual. Set in 2050 in Mirador, a suburb of Los Angeles, Bluescreen features Anja Litz, Sahara Cowan, and Marisa Carneseca.  These three seventeen-year-olds—along with Fang and Jaya—are members of the Cherry Dogs, players in an online virtualRead More →