A story of resilience, Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist addresses the issue of homelessness from a child’s perspective. The Dunn family’s homelessness is brought on by the death of Isaiah’s and Charlie’s father, Gary Dunn, on November 24 due to a heart attack. Gary’s wife, Lisa subsequently falls into a debilitating depression accompanied by a bout with alcoholism. While his mother is incapacitated by grief, Isaiah is expected to watch and entertain his four-year-old sister and to keep up in school at Woodson Elementary.  This ten-year-old young man is forced to accept other responsibilities, as well.  Hoping to get the fundsRead More →

The balance between humans and nature is a recurring theme in The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco.  In her cautionary tale about the long-lasting and detrimental consequences of man-made climate change, Chupeco also includes hope and redemption.  Furthermore, she poses the question: What if the world didn’t tilt?  Although the book is targeted more towards young adults than fifth graders, that’s an awesome inquiry question since fifth graders would soon discover that without Earth’s tilt, humanity would be in a sorry state. Set in both the sand-locked Golden City—where the sun is relentless and resources are scare—and in Aranth—where ignorance is a strength andRead More →

All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker tells the colorful story of Olympia, a twelve-year-old artist who is named after a painting by French painter Manet.  Olympia’s (aka Ollie) dad Graham is an art restorer and her mom Doll is a sculptor.  The family lives in the Soho neighborhood in Manhattan, New York. Ollie’s best friends are Alex, an agile young man who Spiderman’s his way up a wall and who practices jumps like a stuntman in training; and Richard, a monster aficionado fascinated by science who is developing a scrapbook that he calls the Taxonomy.  Using her sketching talent, Ollie will occasionallyRead More →

“Nothing is quieter, or has more secrets . . . than a book that’s closed” (233), writes Avi in his newest novel, School of the Dead.  With each turn of the page, the book whispers its secrets about why Uncle Charlie is so different, why Jessica Richards walks with a limp, and how Tony Gilbert gets in to Penda School, a private school in San Francisco, so easily. Uncle Charlie may be eccentric, but he is the best friend of sixth grader Tony Gilbert, who hates fakery—especially adults who pretend to enjoy adolescent pastimes.  But Uncle Charlie loves kids’ stuff like video games, spooky stories, andRead More →

Getting out from under the intense weight on my chest after reading Matthew Quick‘s Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock has taken some time.  I felt pulled down into a deep, dark hole, all alone with only my thoughts about the futility of life, the lack of care or concern for myself or others, and a resigned sense of defeat in the face of an untenable future.  The slope down into Leonard’s depression is slippery and quick and getting back out isn’t easy work.  Which is the long way of saying that in Leonard Peacock Quick has expertly captured and painfully portrayed depression, anger, and isolation atRead More →

A teenage girl with an unknown power, her guy best friend with whom she’s so comfortable she doesn’t even consider romance, and a mysterious guy, brooding, beautiful, and seemingly dangerous who is suddenly everywhere she turns.  Twilight?  No, actually, these three teens are the main characters in The Fallen Series author Lauren Kate‘s new trilogy, Teardrop. Seventeen year old Eureka Boudreaux is a strong-willed, beautiful, and depressed.  Just months ago she lost her best friend, her mom Diana, to a rogue wave that inexplicably swept their car, and only their car, from a bridge connecting the Florida Keys to the mainland.  Now Eureka, wracked withRead More →