Set in San Francisco, Five Elements: The Shadow City by Dan Jolley tells the story of five young elementalists trapped in a magickal nightmare.  Together, the youth must combine their powers to fight the Eternal Dawn, an apocalyptic cult trying to merge two worlds into one so that Earth will be swallowed by Arcadia.  By speaking the language of dirt and rocks and sand, twelve-year-old Kazuo Smith can bend the earth to his will.  Thirteen-year-old Lily Hernandez has a similar ability with air, her twin brother, Brett, can harness the powers of water, Gabe Conway possesses the power of fire, and Jackson Wright is magick bound—aRead More →

Actually, David wears the headphones to keep him from feeling anxious, to help him cope with his symptoms of highly functioning autism.  He also makes notes in a notebook, to learn social norms and social cues, to remember names, and to make sense of all the parts of the world that confuse him.  These differences and his predilection for honesty and disclosure often get him in trouble.  So, when Kit sits at his table at lunch, David is surprised. A month after her dad’s death in a car accident, Kit is looking for quiet, for a port in the storm of confusing emotions. Grief hasRead More →

Sometimes a story can take us to a place of understanding and awareness.  Cultural identity literature at its best, The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller transports readers to a place so familiar we wonder whether we haven’t been here before, where we know the people and can relate to their challenges, where we share their hunger for fulfillment, their starvation for affection, attention, and validation, and their hunger for justice. This book will appeal to readers who enjoyed Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron or Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.  Although it is a book for all readers,Read More →

Being smart or being different often makes a young person a target for bullies.  From age four on, David Scungili and Michael Littlefield have been unfairly labelled as Stoopid and Pottymouth, nicknames that brand them for a life of cruelty, blame, and untruths.  Although these details outline the plot of James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein’s recent middle school novel, Pottymouth and Stoopid, the authors also delve into the insidious effects of bullying and the survival tactics used by the bullied.  With every chapter creatively illustrated with cartoon-style drawings by Stephen Gilpin, this book performs some myth-busting about the stereotypical bully and gives hope to theRead More →

Some books are loud where others are quiet. There are positives to both books, but some stories are meant to be subtle. Jen Nails’ One Hundred Spaghetti Strings is one of those stories, quiet but impactful. The book follows Steffy Sandolini and her sister, Nina, as they go through some major changes. When Steffy was three, her mom was in a car accident so bad that ever since, she’s had to live at the Place. Steffy and Nina visit her every week, but still she has to be reintroduced to her daughters every time. Soon after their mom’s accident, their dad had a breakdown andRead More →