Jacqueline Woodson’s recent middle-grade novel, Harbor Me imparts how story holds the power to heal because it helps us make sense of the world.  Woodson tells a tale about rising from tragedy and how tragedy not only takes away but bestows gifts. Similar to other novels that use trees as metaphors for survival and interconnected relationships—novels like Hidden Roots by Joseph Bruchac, Wishtree by Katherine Applegate, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith—Woodson’s book alludes to Ailanthus trees with their extensive root systems that help not only to ground them but to lend endurance in harsh conditions. Set in Brooklyn, the native landRead More →

Hoping to be the next great foreign correspondent, Viola Wynne Li plans to attend New York University Abu Dhabi when she graduates from Liberty Prep School in Seattle.  Intent on being a voice for the powerless and the homeless, Viola envisions herself as a truth-teller in a conflict zone, one who covers “the forgotten issues, the ones more convenient to ignore” (117). Also passionate about comics, Viola especially loves Firefly, and considers her own super power to be researching.  Not only does knowledge empower, but data prepares a person to make a good decision in difficult circumstances.  She and her friends Aminta and Caresse areRead More →

Sheltered on a remote island and taught to think that the rest of the world has been destroyed by swelling tides and rising temperatures due to the effects of global warming and selfish, greedy people, Moss lives a nearly idyllic existence with her Pa and their dogs, Jess and Adder. On Flower Island, Pa experiments with magic since the storm-flowers that grow there have healing properties and their petals are capable of engendering a buzz of relaxation, happiness, and queasy-strange feelings—even hallucinations.  When Pa is “flower-struck,” his thinking buzzed, he dances and tells stories.  In this hopeful and happy state, he pushes healing pollen toRead More →

Fitting in or finding a sense of belonging is of critical importance during one’s junior high years.   To be branded a freak or to not be part of the social construct is a curse capable of derailing the course of one’s destiny.  Just as the Greeks voted politically dangerous citizens into exile, ostracism is a genuine fear for Janey Silverman, the protagonist of J.S. Puller’s inaugural novel Captain Superlative.  Given her fears, Jane blends in and doesn’t step beyond her comfort zone.  Content with being Plain Jane, she floats along under the radar of detection, ensuring she is not the target of notice. Then, CaptainRead More →

By using her video game skills to replicate the first eruption of the Yellowstone Super-volcano, thirteen-year-old Brianna Dobson earns the opportunity to work with world-famous geologist Dr. Samantha Grier at Yellowstone National Park for a summer of official science research.   She joins fellow nerds and intrepid explorers Kenzie Reed, Todd Henning, and Wyatt Cayanan on a geology adventure. Besides her fascination with science, Bri finds comfort in her ability to record the world.  Behind her video camera, she feels like she can take on any obstacle.  But initial work in the tunnels carved out by the team and meant to protect the planet from disasterRead More →