Candace Fleming puts her research skill and storytelling talent to use to write a remarkable nonfiction account of ten teenage girls who broke ciphers, kept secrets, and helped win World War II. Because everyone employed at Bletchley Park—code name Station X—signed the Official Secrets Act, their vital, top secret toil was unknown for more than thirty years. Writing The Enigma Girls and filling it with rich photographs to capture this historic time, Fleming memorializes the heroic contributions of these young women who dedicated themselves to hard work and secrecy. Although names like Alan Turing, Alfred “Dilly” Knox, and Tommy Flowers may be more widely known,Read More →

Readers of Carl Hiaasen and Katherine Applegate will likely enjoy The Secret Language of Birds by Lynne Kelly. Set in Houston, Texas, Kelly’s novel for middle grade readers features thirteen-year-old Nina whose parents are investment bankers. Nina spends her time immersed in her birding apps, but flounders when it comes to making friends, believing she was absent on the day any instruction manuals were handed out. For example, although she tries to befriend Iris, a hearing impaired classmate, she fails in that attempt. When Nina’s older sister Sage encounters the concept of zugunruhe and its impact on the bird brain, she wonders if something insideRead More →

When they encounter big feelings, young people often feel confused. What do they do with their anger, resentment, jealousy, or love? To help tweens better understand these overwhelming emotions that are capable of causing damage if not handled with care, Aida Salazar pens Ultraviolet. In particular, this novel in verse examines puberty, gender, first crushes, and rites of passage for young boys of color. It encourages a society that provides space to explore emotions, vulnerability, and hormonal confusion rather than burying them behind attitudes of being “macho” or “manning up.” Afraid of bees and plagued by other irrational fears, Elio Solis tries to understand hisRead More →

Enrolled at Riverstone High School (RHS) in Ohio, Jasmine and Jackson Ghasnavi are the mixed race (half White, half Iranian) children of doctors. Jasmine is a senior who loves pottery, and Jackson’s passion is theatre. When their parents divorce, Jackson develops abandonment issues and Jasmine struggles to find a lasting relationship. Jackson helps his sister cope with her breakups by constructing breakup lists. At the recommendation of his therapist, Jackson also uses lists to cope with his own anxiety. These lists and teen relationship drama form the plot for Adib Khorram’s novel The Breakup Lists. As a former “theatre kid” himself, Khorram infuses his novelRead More →

In her debut novel, Paper Dragons, the first in what sets itself up for a sequel or series, Siobhan McDermott has created a fantasy adventure story about twelve-year-old Yeung Zhi Ging. Although Zhi Ging has grown up in the village of Fei Chui, she wants to be its next Silhouette. When she catches the eye of a Silhouette Scout named Reishi, Zhi Ging fights hard to secure his recommendation. Even though she doesn’t finish her exam, somehow—whether by magic or by fate—she gets named Fei Chui’s Second Silhouette and gains access to the training in Hok Woh, which is the underwater home of the immortalRead More →

Set in Paris, 1942, The Night War by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley tells the story of twelve-year-old Miriam Erika Schrieber (Miri). In the face of danger, Miri’s parents have always told her “Verne heldishe (be brave)” and “We don’t choose how we feel, but we choose how we act. Choose courage” (16).   These words become Miri’s mantra when she is forced to flee the Pletzl, a Jewish neighborhood in Paris during a roundup of Jewish people. In a moment, with two-year-old Nora Rosenbaum in her arms, thrust there by a mother wanting to save her child from the Nazis, Miriam becomes Marie when a CatholicRead More →

Because Where Was Goodbye? is a story about navigating grief, loss, and the search for answers about suicide, Janice Lynn Mather provides a trigger warning at the beginning of her novel. Although suicide is central to Mather’s writing, Where Was Goodbye? also indicates the importance of support systems, coping mechanisms, friendship, and unconditional love. Having an eye for color and creation, Karmen Wallace is a maker of soft things. Despite her ability to knit, her family is broken, and Karmen is struggling to make sense of the tragic loss of her brother Julian who takes his life by suicide. Although Karmen’s best friend, Layla, isRead More →