Told in 33 chapters by seven voices, Linked by Gordon Korman shares the story of a swastika that sets in motion a series of unintended consequences.  Because the administration at Chokecherry Middle School believes that information is the best antidote to the poison of prejudice, the 600 students who attend are subjected to tolerance education. Still, the swastikas continue to show up. What initially seemed to be a sick joke turns into something more sinister. The persistence dredges up 40-year-old memories of the Ku Klux Klan in Shadbush County and the Night of a Thousand Flames.  Soon, the quiet town of Chokecherry, Colorado, is madeRead More →

Betita is a nine-year-old girl with a loving family in modern-day America. She enjoys learning new words, spelling, drawing, and playing with other kids her age. What appears to be a rather normal life quickly begins to unravel into fear and uncertainty when her Papi doesn’t pick her up after school one day. After failing to reach her father, the principal drives Betita home. While her mother tries to hide her worry, Betita knows something is wrong, and she soon finds out that the almost-worst has happened. Her father has been deported, leaving her mother, who is newly pregnant, and Betita to fend for themselvesRead More →

Set in 1941 in Viteretz, Ukraine, Don’t Tell the Nazis is a historical fiction account of events during the Soviet Occupation of Ukraine, the few days of “freedom,” and the German infiltration that followed.   Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch frames her story around real people and events so as to be true to the history but takes liberties to humanize it. Readers follow the heroism of Krystia Fediuk, a twelve-year-old girl wishing to bring the hope back to her mama’s eyes after Tato’s death from cancer.  Krystia steps in to take on the tedious tasks that could wear her mama down, but she feels powerless against Ukraine’sRead More →

As a confirmed bibliophile who believes in the power of books, I didn’t need Suggested Reading by Dave Connis to convince me that a person can be undone by a book or that books serve like eyeglasses, giving us new insight by providing a perspective we didn’t realize we were missing. Similarly, Connis’ protagonist, Clara Evans has been built by books; they have shaped, changed, inspired, and guided her to her senior year at Lupton Academy (LA), a private school in Tennessee.  On the first day of her last year in high school, Clara learns about a school policy about “prohibited media”: LA’s librarian Mr.Read More →

Born to Austrian and Indonesian parents, Alexa is nearly ten years old and attends Nelson Elementary School in London.  She dreams of having the best job in the world: “being a reporter and getting to solve mysteries and go on adventures” (2) just like Tintin and Snowy, her favorite comic book characters. One day, a boy with lion’s eyes joins Alexa’s class and sits in the back.  Intrigued by the mysterious boy, Ahmet, Alexa and her friends—Josie, Tom, and Michael—set out to discover where Ahmet is from and how he came to be in London.  During their discovery phase, the group learns not only thatRead More →

Just as an apple, cut and cored, cannot be put back together, Nella Sabatini–a young Italian Catholic girl–feels undone, confused, and incomplete.  Restless with desire for things her parents cannot afford, for popularity that evades her, and for a sense of peace and quiet that is in short supply with a houseful of “barbarian brothers” and a grandmother who is demanding and grumpy, “ancient and ignorant,” Nella aches for answers to life’s toughest questions and difficult dilemmas.  With happy moments so ephemeral, she wishes, “If only you could store up happiness. . . . Dig a happiness hole, or keep a happiness piggy bank, savingRead More →