Fifth grader Anthony Joplin, aka Ant, is afraid of confrontation but confident in his card playing skills and kind to his friends. He is also trying to discover where and how he fits into the “tough guy” image and whether he can “be a lion,” as Jamal’s brother Taj says. Ant is further confused by girls, in particular, Shirley Heyward. How she smiles, talks, and laughs makes Ant’s skin tingle. “Ant doesn’t know what was prettier—Shirley’s smile, her brown fingers as they worked the deck, or the sound of the cards as she made a perfect shuffle” (193). Now that Ant’s older brother Aaron isRead More →

Newbery Honor-winning author Kathryn Lasky has written her fourth book about World War II: Faceless. In this historical fiction account set in 1944, thirteen-year-old Alice Winfield is a member of the most-skilled intelligence service on earth. Working for MI6, Alice and her family belong to a small clan of spies called the Tabula Rasa.  Because they can pass unseen through enemy lines and “become” other people without being recognized, they are, essentially, faceless. Alice’s older sister Louise has determined that blending in and being anonymous is not for her, so she decides to have plastic surgery so that her face is memorable. Her choice toRead More →

September 11, 2021 will mark the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, and Alan Gratz’s book Ground Zero is here to bring that history to middle grade readers. Told in alternating perspectives between Brandon Chavez, a nine-year-old living in New York City in 2001, and Reshmina, an eleven-year-old girl living in Afghanistan in 2019, the two tales run parallel to one another but ultimately intersect in a surprising twist. As the novel opens, Brandon has been suspended for punching a bully in the nose, and because his mother has died and no one is available to watch him at home, he has to accompany his father toRead More →