The angel experiment
A group of genetically enhanced kids who can fly and have other unique talents are on the run from part-human, part-wolf predators called Erasers in this exciting SF thriller that's not wholly original but is still a compelling read. Max, 14, and her adopted family–Fang and Iggy, both 13, Nudge, 11, Gazzy, 8, and Angel, 6–were all created as experiments in a lab called the School. Jeb, a sympathetic scientist, helped them escape and, since then, they've been living on their own. The Erasers have orders to kill them so the world will never find out they exist. Max's old childhood friend, Ari, now an Eraser leader, tracks them down,
kidnaps Angel, and transports her back to the School to live like a lab rat again. The youngsters are forced to use their special talents to rescue her as they attempt to learn about their pasts and their destinies.
This much-loved retelling of the classic French tale Beauty and the Beast elicits the familiar magical charm, but is more believable and complex than the traditional story. In this version, Beauty is not as beautiful as her older sisters, who are both lovely and kind. Here, in fact, Beauty has no confidence in her appearance but takes pride in her own intelligence, her love of learning and books, and her talent in riding. She is the most competent of the three sisters, which proves essential when they are forced to retire to the country
because of their father's financial ruin. The plot follows that of the renowned legend: Beauty selflessly agrees to inhabit the Beast's castle to spare her father's life.
With the plague running rampant in London in 1797, Mary's parents and sister are soon counted among the dead. Left alone and penniless, the eight-year-old is taken in by a gang of orphans and learns survival skills. However, when their leader is killed, Mary decides to try her luck elsewhere. She strips the dead body, cuts
her hair, renames herself Jack Faber, and is soon employed as a ship's boy on the HMS Dolphin. When the vessel sees its first skirmish with a pirate ship, her bravery saves her friend Jaimy and earns her the nickname "Bloody Jack." Told by Mary/Jack in an uneven dialect that sometimes doesn't ring true, the story
weaves details of life aboard the Dolphin.
Boy Who Reversed Himself
Laura's determination to get into medical school has cast her as a brain and, thus, untouchable. She has a crush on Pete, the football captainand weird things are happening on a daily basis, ever since Omar, the creepy boy next door, moved in. Laura makes Omar confess his secrets: he's training to become the guardian of the Second Dimension, while he's exploring the Fifth. Laura invites Pete on a journey to the Fifth Dimensionbut her game becomes a nightmare when she and Pete are captured, and the whole existence of the world depends on Omar's ability to rescue them.
Eleven-year-old Parvana must masquerade as a boy to gain access to the outside world and support
her dwindling family. Parvana's brother was killed years earlier by a land mine explosion and, for much of the story, her father is imprisoned, leaving only her mother, older sister and two very young siblings. The Taliban laws require women to sheathe themselves fully and ban girls from attending school or going out
unescorted; thus, Parvana's disguise provides her a measure of freedom and the means to support her family by providing a reading service for illiterates. There are some sympathetic moments, as when Parvana sees the effect on her mother when she wears her dead brother's clothes and realizes, while reading a
letter for a recently widowed Taliban soldier, that even the enemy can have feelings.
Bridge to America
Fivel, about eight years old, lives with his mother and siblings in a hut. His father left for America years earlier, and the family has been waiting to hear from him ever since. Barely surviving on watery soup and terrorized by the brutal Cossacks, the family depends upon the kindness of neighbors to get by. Only the
mail wagon offers the promise of a brighter future. When the long-awaited package finally arrives, it is a framed photograph of Pa, which the boy's mother angrily throws into the fire. â€˜We'restarving…Are you meshuggeneh? We can't eat a picture!' Luckily, Fivel spies the green bills carefully hidden in the frame--enough money to get them to Pa in Minnesota. Though a simple rag peddler, he has a house with electricity, flush toilets, and plenty to eat. While Fivel is eager to be an American, he realizes that he will always be a boy with two worlds inside
Through the alternating viewpoints of 16 characters from various walks of life, readers gain insight into the first battle of the Civil War and into the nature of war in general. Poignant, dramatic cameos seamlessly woven together make for compelling historical fiction.
Chasing Lincoln’s Killer
As President Lincoln delivers victory speeches in April 1865, an enraged John Wilkes Booth vows death: "Now, by God, I'll put him through." Every bit of dialogue is said to come from original sources, adding a chill to the already disturbing conspiracy that Swanson unfolds in detail as Booth persuades friends and sympathizers to join his plot and later, to give him shelter. The author gives even the well-known murder scene at Ford's Theatre enough dramatic flourish to make the subject seem fresh. While Lincoln lays dying, Booth's accomplices clumsily attempt to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward, and Booth talks his way past a guard meant to bar him from crossing a bridge into Maryland. In focusing on Booth, the author reveals the depth of divisions in the nation just after the war, the disorder within the government and the challenges ahead.
In Montgomery, AL, in March 1955, 15-year-old Colvin refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. She was arrested, and although she received some help from local civil rights leaders, they decided that the sometimes-volatile teen was not suitable to be the public face of a mass protest. Later that year, Rosa Parks sparked the famous bus boycott. Colvin was left with a police record and soon faced the additional problems of an unwed pregnancy and expulsion from school. In spite of those troubles, she consented to be named as a plaintiff in the court case that eventually integrated Montgomery's buses. Thus Colvin played a central role in the city's civil rights drama, but her story has been largely
lost to history.
Closed for the Season
Another well-done, action-packed mystery from Hahn. This book starts off as seventh-grader Logan Forbes learns that a murder had been committed in his family's new house three years earlier. Myrtle Donaldson, a bookkeeper accused of embezzling from the local amusement park, was found dead in her ransacked house and her killer is still at large. Logan's next-door neighbor, Arthur Jenkins, a sixth grader with a bottomless stomach and a quirky personality, is convinced that Mrs. Donaldson was falsely accused, and he wants Logan to help him find the real perpetrator. The boys discover a letter and puzzle left among
the woman's possessions that convinces them they are on the right track. Their investigation includes visiting the abandoned and overgrown Magic Forest amusement park, a reporter with secrets, shady property developers, a menacing convict, and purloined library materials. It all culminates in a terrifying
nighttime showdown among the kudzu at the Magic Forest where the truth is revealed.
In top, utterly terrifying form, Cooney leads a gregarious New York City teenager to a century-old sample of smallpox scabs. As dedicated to avoiding study as he is to getting closer to classmate Olivia, Mitty is oblivious to the danger he, she, and everyone else in the crowded city is in from his possible exposure to
this hyper-contagious, utterly devastating disease--until he starts looking into smallpox for a school project. Drawing from several medical resources, which she lists at the end, Cooney lays out the illness's history and symptoms in precise, gruesome detail as a horrified Mitty writhes on the horns of a dilemma: Is the
virus still active? Can he find a way to prevent an epidemic if it is? Should he tell the authorities, and look like a total dork if it isn't? Then, in a heartstopping twist, Mitty is kidnapped by terrorists intent on using him as a biological weapon.
Crispin and Cross of Lead
After being declared a "wolf's head" by his manor's corrupt steward for a crime he didn't commit (meaning that anyone can kill him like a common animal--and collect a reward), this timid boy has to flee a tiny village that's the only world he's ever known. But before our protagonist escapes, Avi makes sure that we're thoroughly briefed on the injustices of feudalism--the countless taxes cottars must pay, the constant violence, the inability of a flawed church to protect its parishioners, etc. Avi then folds in the book's central mystery just as the boy is leaving: "Asta's son," as he's always been known, learns from the village priest that his Christian name is Crispin, and that his parents' origins--and fates--might be more perplexing than he ever imagined.
One October evening, Bethany's parents drive her to another state to stay with an aunt she never knew existed. Left confused and without a way to contact her parents, the 12-year-old tries to figure out the reason behind their strange behavior and learns some family secrets in the process. It turns out that she is
the clone of her sister, who was killed years earlier in a tragic automobile accident, and she is being hunted by a man who wants to expose her secret existence for his own benefit. Although there is not much action, the twists and turns of the suspense-filled plot are more than enough to keep readers interested. When one question is answered, another one is raised. Readers will relate to Bethany's feelings of abandonment, as well as her struggle to set herself apart from the sister she never knew but with whom she shares so
Juli Baker devoutly believes in three things: the sanctity of trees (especially her beloved sycamore), the wholesomeness of the eggs she collects from her backyard flock of chickens, and that someday she will kiss Bryce Loski. Ever since she saw Bryce's baby blues back in second grade, Juli has been smitten.
Unfortunately, Bryce has never felt the same. Frankly, he thinks Juli Baker is a little weird--after all, what kind of freak raises chickens and sits in trees for fun? Then, in eighth grade, everything changes. Bryce begins to see that Juli's unusual interests and pride in her family are, well, kind of cool. And Juli starts to think that maybe Bryce's brilliant blue eyes are as empty as the rest of Bryce seems to be. After all, what kind of jerk doesn't care about other people's feelings about chickens and trees?
In the "ideal" world into which Jonas was born, everybody has sensibly agreed that well-matched married couples will raise exactly two offspring, one boy and one girl. These children's adolescent sexual impulses will be stifled with specially prescribed drugs; at age 12 they will receive an appropriate career assignment,
sensibly chosen by the community's Elders. This is a world in which the old live in group homes and are "released"--to great celebration--at the proper time; the few infants who do not develop according to schedule are also "released," but with no fanfare. Lowry's development of this civilization is so deft that her
readers, like the community's citizens, will be easily seduced by the chimera of this ordered, pain-free society. Until the time that Jonah begins training for his job assignment--the rigorous and prestigious position of Receiver of Memory--he, too, is a complacent model citizen. But as his near-mystical training progresses, and he is weighed down and enriched with society's collective memories of a world as stimulating as it was flawed, Jonas grows increasingly aware of the hypocrisy that rules his world.
When the father he idolizes dies in a covert government operation, 14-year-old Billy Harriman is determined to find out who killed him, and why. In the course of his investigation he discovers that his father had superpowers, and that he has inherited them. Guided by a mysterious older man who identifies himself as Mr. Herbert, and supported by his wise and sassy girlfriend Kate, Billy begins to come to terms with his destiny. As his socially prominent mother assumes a leading role in the campaign of the presidential candidate his father had backed, Billy finds himself at odds with his father's old friend (and mother's
current advisor). The teen eventually becomes convinced that Uncle John is allied with the forces responsible for his father's death. After he uses his superpowers to thwart an assassination attempt on the candidate, he confronts Uncle John, who remains evasive about his involvement with the shadowy
organization that seems to have targeted Billy and his family.
"If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy." Such is the reigning philosophy at Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention facility where there is no lake, and there are no happy campers. In place of what used to be "the largest lake in Texas" is now a dry, flat, sunburned wasteland, pocked with countless identical holes dug by boys improving their character. Stanley Yelnats, of palindromic name and ill-fated pedigree, has landed at Camp Green Lake because it seemed a better option than jail. No matter that his conviction was all a case of mistaken identity, the Yelnats family has become accustomed to a long history of bad luck, thanks to their "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather!" Despite his innocence, Stanley is quickly enmeshed in the Camp Green Lake routine: rising before dawn to dig a hole five feet deep and five feet in diameter; learning how to get along with pack of boys in Group D; and fearing the warden, who paints her fingernails with rattlesnake venom. But when Stanley realizes that the boys may not just be digging to build character--that in fact the warden is
seeking something specific--the plot gets as thick as the irony.
Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore
She spots the masked man in the dark, lonely parking lot--but too late. Grabbed and drugged, Christina is kidnapped and held for ransom. When her family pays, she thinks her ordeal is over. But then she realizes that her family thinks she planned the kidnapping! How will Christina prove her innocence?
Killing Sea: A Novel of the Tsunami
Set on the western coast of Sumatra where the waves first hit land, the story centers on Ruslan, a local teenager searching corpse-strewn ruins for his father, and Sarah, a young American tourist desperately seeking medical help for her little brother. Falling in with a small group of other survivors, the three young people wander through shattered villages, seeing bodies dumped into hastily dug mass graves and people fired upon as suspected rebels, but also witnessing much kindness (except at the end, when, rescued at last, they are set upon by avid journalists and other Ugly Americans).
Letters From Rifka
Twelve-year-old Rifka's journey from a Jewish community in the Ukraine to Ellis Island is anything but smooth sailing. Modeled on the author's great-aunt, Rifka surmounts one obstacle after another in this riveting novel. First she outwits a band of Russian soldiers, enabling her family to escape to Poland. There the family is struck with typhus. Everyone recovers, but Rifka catches ringworm on the next stage of the journey--and is denied passage to America ("If the child arrives . . . with this disease," explains the steamship's doctor, "the Americans will turn her around and send her right back to Poland"). Rifka's family must leave without her, and she is billeted in Belgium for an agreeable if lengthy recovery. Further trials, including a deadly storm at sea and a quarantine, do not faze this resourceful girl.
Marvin is a beetle, and he and his family live in the Manhattan kitchen that belongs to the Pompaday family. When James receives a pen-and-ink drawing set for his 11th birthday, Marvin discovers that he is a bug with artistic talent. Although he can't speak to James, they soon bond in a true interspecies friendship, and
their escapades begin. Because of Marvin's wonderful drawing, presumed to be James's work, the boy is recruited to create a fake Dürer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art to help trap an art thief. Marvin produces the forgery, but he soon realizes that the original artwork is in danger. Only by placing his life
on the line and relying on James's help can he save the masterpiece.
Thirteen-year-old Kate Gordon is assisting her father, an English-history professor, in his search for a sunken Spanish galleon off the Baja peninsula, when she rescues a whale that has gotten tangled in the expedition's equipment. That event propels the group into a quest for Merlin's legendary horn of power, hidden in the galleon, which in turn is surrounded by a huge whirlpool. After plunging into the whirlpool, Kate and her companions engage in an epic battle with Merlin's mortal enemy Nimue and her cadre of sea demons, who want to use the horn to extend their evil domain. Barron achieves a solid balance of mythology, environmental issues and scientific research procedures.
Now You See it
When Wendy, 15, finds sunglasses that fit her prescription perfectly, she begins to see little blue men and realizes that a popular girl in her class is actually a 90-year-old crone, and that the new kid has rather long pointy ears. Wendy is convinced that these strange visions will go away, until she stumbles into Kazaran Dahaani. There she finds out that the boy with the ears is actually an elven prince and that she inadvertently allowed him to be captured. Wendy is inwardly terrified but outwardly uncaring about the prince and demands to go home immediately. Unfortunately, a wayward thought transports her back 50 years before she was born, and she meets her grandmother as a young girl. Eleni is a caring, empathic person who instantly agrees to go to Kazaran to save the prince, and through her influence, Wendy begins to overcome her fears and become the person she's always wanted to be. She also comes to know her grandmother as a young woman, rather than as the bedridden Alzheimer's patient she is today.
On the Blue Comet
An engaging story of the magic of trains and time travel. Oscar Ogilvie, 11, lives with his dad in Cairo, IL. They share a love for model trains, particularly exact replicas of existing trains. After the Crash of 1929,
Oscar's dad loses his job and their house, including the model trains, and leaves for California to look for work. Lonely and sad, Oliver is left in the care of his dour Aunt Carmen. Pining for the trains and the connection to his father that they represent, he visits the Blue Comet in the basement of the First National Bank on Christmas Eve. Harold Applegate, a homeless man Oscar has befriended, is the night watchman. He explains the theory of negative velocity, or time pockets, to Oscar. When armed robbers break into the bank, Harold tells Oscar to jump into the model train set, and the boy is catapulted into an adventure that carries him from coast to coast and across time from 1931 to 1941 as he searches for his dad.
Out of the Dust
In this compelling, immediate journal, Billie Jo reveals the grim domestic realities of living during the years of constant dust storms: That hopes--like the crops--blow away in the night like skittering tumbleweeds. That trucks, tractors, even Billie Jo's beloved piano, can suddenly be buried beneath drifts of dust. Perhaps swallowing all that grit is what gives Billie Jo--our strong, endearing, rough-cut heroine--the stoic courage to face the death of her mother after a hideous accident that also leaves her piano-playing hands in pain and
permanently scarred. Meanwhile, Billie Jo's silent, windblown father is literally decaying with grief and skin
cancer before her very eyes. When she decides to flee the lingering ghosts and dust of her homestead and jump a train west, she discovers a simple but profound truth about herself and her plight.
Fifth-graders Lydia and Julie, best friends, decide to observe "the popular girls" at their school in preparation for junior high. Julie, who lives with her two dads, loves to draw, and Lydia, who lives with her mom and sister, loves to sing. The story is told entirely in full-color drawings and in each girl's individual handwriting as they pass their notebook back and forth to record their observations. Of course, things
don't go as planned—though the girls' quest for popularity leads them to new hobbies and new friends, it also challenges their own friendship.
Someone was Watching
In one fleeting, sickening moment, the Bartons' precious 3-year-old girl, Molly, disappears, and judging from the coloring book floating down by the dock, she is lost forever to the river. One evening, about three months after "the Incident," 13-year-old Chris Barton watches the family-vacation video he made in the last
hours of Molly's life. Clues in the background--including the appearance of a white ice-cream truck--don't add up, and Chris becomes convinced his sister is still alive. With the help of his best friend, Pat, he sets out to track her down, despite his parents' grief-weary refusal to even consider the possibility that little Molly is anywhere but in the river. What follows is a riveting journey, where the boys are on their own in a heroic, terrifying, nail-biting adventure.
Based on a legend of a real chapel stairway in Santa Fe, The Staircase is a lively historical fiction that successfully merges myth, religion, and old-fashioned pioneer sensibility. "'This one is wise,' he said.' This one has an old spirit. She has been among us before.'" Though the Arapaho Indian on the trail praised her old spirit, 14-year-old Lizzy Enders feels anything but wise. Within only a few days, she has lost her mother to the fever, been left by her widowed father at a convent, and thrust into the strange world of the Academy of Our Lady of Light in 1870s Santa Fe. Born a Methodist, Lizzy just can't comprehend Catholicism: "All this
talk of blood and martyrdom and eating flesh and agony. It was just all too much, is all." In an attempt to alleviate her misery, Lizzy befriends an unemployed elderly carpenter and suggests he be hired to build the missing staircase for the convent's new chapel. The other girls at the academy are furious, since they have been praying for a miracle to complete the stairs, not an old beggar. Can she convince them that this aged man, with his real tools, is better than an ephemeral miracle?
Stanford Wong, who, after flunking sixth-grade English, must forgo celebrity basketball camp for summer school and afternoon tutoring with Millicent. During their sessions, the former adversaries grudgingly discover that they have more in common than just their grandmothers, who are best friends, an each helps the other move through messy predicaments grounded in their own embarrassment and lies. Yee weights the lively sparring between her young characters (and Stanford's new crush on Millicent's friend) with Stanford's worries at home: his grandmother, recently placed in a nursing home; his parents'fights; and his
remote, hard-to-please father.
Mandelbaum had lived a comfortable life with his family in Gdynia, Poland, until the German invasion forced them to flee to a relative's village in 1939. Later, when the Jews were sent to concentration camps, the 12-year-old became separated from the rest of his family and wound up in the Blechhammer camp. By describing events through the boy's voice, the author does an excellent job of letting his words carry the power of the story. She avoids historical analysis, sticking to Mandelbaum's experiences, and brings readers into the nightmarish world of the concentration camp with a strong feeling of immediacy. As with many stories of great suffering, some of the minor details, such as risking death to steal a jar of marmalade, deliver the most impact. Besides the physical hardship, Warren conveys how frustrating and confusing it was for a child in such an environment.
Since their mother's death, six years ago, 12-year-old Sadie Kane has lived in London with her maternal grandparents while her older brother, 14-year-old Carter, has traveled the world with their father, a renowned African American Egyptologist. In London on Christmas Eve for a rare evening together, Carter and Sadie accompany their dad to the British Museum, where he blows up the Rosetta Stone in summoning an Egyptian god. Unleashed, the vengeful god overpowers and entombs him, but Sadie and Carter escape. Initially determined to rescue their father, their mission expands to include understanding their hidden magical powers as the descendants of the pharaohs and taking on the ancient forces bent on
Danny Walker is crushed when he doesn't make the Vikings, the seventh-grade basketball team. He is told that he is too short, but he suspects that the real reason has something to do with the bad blood between his divorced father (a former NBA star whose career was cut short by a car accident) and Mr. Ross, the father of the team's best player. Then Danny's father announces that he is starting his own youth team, but unexpected setbacks sideline his dad and the team until Danny steps in and coaches the team himself.
Tally Youngblood lives in a futuristic society that acculturates its citizens to believe that they are ugly until age 16 when they'll undergo an operation that will change them into pleasure-seeking "pretties." Anticipating this happy transformation, Tally meets Shay, another female ugly, who shares her enjoyment
of hoverboarding and risky pranks. But Shay also disdains the false values and programmed conformity of the society and urges Tally to defect with her to the Smoke, a distant settlement of simple-living conscientious objectors. Tally declines, yet when Shay is found missing by the authorities, Tally is coerced by the cruel Dr. Cable to find her and her compatriots–or remain forever "ugly." Tally's adventuresome spirit helps her locate Shay and the Smoke. It also attracts the eye of David, the aptly named youthful rebel leader to whose attentions Tally warms. However, she knows she is living a lie, for she is a spy who wears an eye-activated locator pendant that threatens to blow the rebels' cover.
Waiting for Normal
12-year-old Addie, who lives with Mommers in a trailer on a busy street in Schenectady after her adored stepfather and half sisters move upstate. Mommers has lost custody of the “littles” because of neglect, and though she and Addie can laugh together, once Mommers hooks up with Pete, she is not much for good times—though she brings the bad times home. Addie finds solace in occasional visits to her sisters and in her neighbors, especially Soula, ill from her chemotherapy treatments
Eleven-year-old Zoë is a survivor. Her fiery independence has seen her through a series of adults who “don’t stick,” and she trusts no one, including Uncle Henry, who has just taken her in after the death of her neglectful mother. Henry is a renowned sculptor of what Zoë skeptically calls“wild things.” Other wild things slip through Henry’s North Carolina woods unnoticed until Zoë’s arrival catapults them into the spotlight, with life-changing consequences for everyone. In her debut novel, Carmichael gives a familiar plot fresh new life in this touching story with a finely crafted sense of place.
Though his parents are city folk trying to hack out a life on the frontier in Pennsylvania, 13-year-old Samuel is entirely at home in the woodland wilderness that surrounds their little settlement. Soon after word arrives of the uprising in Concord and Lexington, Samuel returns home from a jaunt in the forest to find his home burned down, the neighbors slaughtered, and his parents missing. Samuel tracks his captured parents through the countryside to British-held New York, encountering scalping bands of Iroquois, pillaging squads of mercenary Hessians, and a few hardy, helpful rebels along the way.
Z for Zachariah
Ann Burden is sixteen years old and completely alone. The world as she once knew it is gone, ravaged by a nuclear war that has taken everyone from her. For the past year, she has lived in a remote valley with no evidence of any other survivors. But the smoke from a distant campfire shatters Ann's solitude. Someone else is still alive and making his way toward the valley. Who is this man? What does he want? Can he be trusted? Both excited and terrified, Ann soon realizes there may be worse things than being the last person on Earth.