Bravelands: Broken Pride is the first book in a beast fable series by Erin Hunter.  The novel offers significant lessons for human society about identity, change, excessive ambition, and the value of believing in a higher power or of adhering to a Code, such as “You may kill only to survive” (18).  Although Hunter recycles plot elements from the Disney film Lion King, she reshapes the story with new connections and perspectives, adding threads to develop her themes. Hunter’s novel follows the adventures of the young lion Fearless, who has been exiled from his pride by the ambitious and evil Titan, who kills Fearless’ father,Read More →

“Most people, it seemed, dreamt and fantasized about being able to fly like a bird” (86). For Quinn Cutler, her dreams have always been about the ocean. Since she was a child, she’s had a deep connection to the sea, specifically the water by her family’s summer home. They haven’t been there in years, though, not after Quinn almost drowned because she couldn’t stay away from the waves. Years later and Quinn has adjusted to living a normal life in the city. Well, as normal as it can be when your dad is running for Congress. While in the limelight, her family tries to remainRead More →

Imagine living underground without sunlight, sky, fresh air, or space to run unfettered.  Set in an underground city called Caverna, A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge imagines that possibility for the reader.  An amazing machine where nothing happens naturally or without planning, the city is home to many craftsmen and women who create the world’s delicacies: wines, cheeses, spices, perfumes, and balms.  Despite these elegant refinements with their magical properties, Caverna is a dark and drab and dank place, where even the citizenry have been deprived of real emotion.  Instead, they select a suitable Face from the 200 they have been taught in infancy. Read More →

The Pages Between Us: In The Spotlight is the second novel by writing team Lindsay Leavitt and Robin Mellom about two best friends maneuvering through middle school. Piper and Olivia have been Best Friends for forever, but after getting different schedules at the start of middle school, they decided to start a shared journal to stay close. Now, a semester into school, they’ve got this letter-sharing journal down. The plan is to “drop off the notebook in our lockers and exchange it in the hallway between classes. Let’s document every step of the way for fun…These are our secrets. Our precious thoughts. Our ‘only myRead More →

How to Be The Someday Suitcase by Corey Ann Haydu Share the lives of believable and genuine characters: Ten-year-old, curious, and easily distracted Danny who is in charge of passion and of reminding others how to have fun; eleven-year-old Clover who loves science, has a knack for observation, and is in charge of reason and reminding Danny to focus; six-year-old Jake who can make any situation lighter, sillier, and simpler because his moods are big, buzzy, and contagious. Look for scientific reasons to explain life’s mysteries but realize that science shows us both certainties and limitations to those certainties. “Ms. Mendez says the best scientistsRead More →

If you’re looking for a novel this summer that will inspire thought about all of life’s big topics, like love, sex, kissing, loss, and death, Cath Crowley’s Words in Deep Blue is that book.  Although a simple-looking book on the surface, Words in Deep Blue packs a philosophically powerful punch by asking some tough questions, inviting the reader to wrestle with a variety of options about topics that matter, questions like: Are all worthwhile things—like love and the ocean’s depths—also terrifying?  It poses some theories, too—about how people are like secondhand books, full of mysteries, or how science attracts us because it is rich withRead More →

According to seventeen-year- old Louna Barrett, “You can’t measure love by time put in, but by the weight of those moments” (115).  She had only loved Ethan Caruso for a short time, but he was her “once and for all,” until he wasn’t. Since losing Ethan, Louna is prickly, antisocial, and somewhat cynical about love.  Ethan, whose mother had been married multiple times, had been cynical about marriage, but Louna knows a lot about weddings, after having worked summers at her mother’s wedding planning business.   She sees a wedding as a series of special moments, strung together like beads on a chain.  A Natalie BarrettRead More →