YA Fiction…SRSLY Hamlet; Shadow Scale


Carbone, Courtney (adapted from Shakespeare, William).  SRSLY Hamlet.  New York: Random House, 2015.  978-0-553-53538-9. 101 pages. $9.99.  Gr.  8 and up.

Imagine if Hamlet and Ophelia had smartphones.  This story, SRSLY Hamlet, tells Shakespeare’s famous play through text messages and emojis.  Although this is a very enjoyable read, I would not recommend reading this book in place of Shakespeare’s original Hamlet, but it could be used to accompany the original.  THOUGHTS:  Students will find this to be a quick and humorous read and will most likely find themselves relating to the characters.

Classic Re-telling        Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School




Hartman, Rachel. Shadow Scale (Seraphina Book 2). New York: Random House, 2015. 978-0375866579. 608p. $18.99. Grade 7 and up.

In this much awaited sequel to Seraphina, Queen Grisselda sends the halfling (half dragon-half human) to round up others like herself to aide in the war with the dragons, before mind-reading Jannoula can enlist them in taking over the kingdom of Goredd herself.  THOUGHTS: The book is not a stand-alone. The majority of the first chapters are spent getting up to speed on characters and background from the first book. While some readers may find parts slow, dragon lore fans will enjoy the continued tale of the heroine and the epic battle between humans and dragons.

Fantasy     Robin Bartley, William Tennent High School

Animals All Around…Owl Diaries; Geronimo Stilton; The Bear Ate Your Sandwich; The Bus Ride


Elliott, Rebecca.  Owl Diaries:  Eva’s Treetop Festival.  New York:  Scholastic, 2015.  978-0-545-68362-3.  $4.99.  Gr. 1-3.

Eva Wingdale is an owl who loves drawing, going to school, and her new diary.  On the first day of spring, the owlet offers to organize the first ever Treetop Owlementary Bloomtastic Festival.  With the event only seven days away, Eva’s not sure she can get everything done in time, so she asks for help from her fellow classmates.  Eva’s Treetop Festival, as well as the other books in this series, is written in diary format with speech bubbles.  Each chapter includes lively and bright colored illustrations.  THOUGHTS:  This is a great choice for those readers who are too old for picture books, but too young for a more advanced chapter book.

Fantasy (Easy Chapter Book)      Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School




Stilton, Geronimo.  Back in Time:  The Second Journey Through Time.  New York:  Scholastic, 2015.  978-0-545-74618-2.  $14.99. Gr. 3-6.

In this installment of the Geronimo Stilton series, everyone’s favorite mouse is offered a chance to travel back in time with Professor Paws von Volt in his time machine.  Geronimo travels through time and visits Ancient Rome, the great Mayan Empire, and the Palace of Versailles.  Geronimo Stilton is one of the most requested series in my library, and it’s easy to see why.  This book is filled with bright and vibrant illustrations, a great storyline, and additional information to expand on the various nonfiction topics.  THOUGHTS: Geronimo Stilton is an especially  good choice for those reluctant readers and students who enjoy graphic novels.  This book is recommended for any children’s or elementary school library.

Fantasy; Historical Fiction           Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School




DuBuc, Marianne. The Bus Ride. Tonowanda, NY: Kids Can Press, 2015 (English translation). unpaged. $15.95. Gr Pre-K – 1.

A trip through the woods to Grandmother’s house never looked so fun, especially when the granddaughter travels on an animal filled bus. Full of clever characters who come and go from the interior view of the bus, the girl’s trip is quick and entertaining. For a simple example, watch how the sloth or the fox interact with others. The sparse first person text makes it easy for readers to participate, but there are subtle gaps in the story between the pages which invite speculation and prediction and closer rereading. The Bus Ride is a charming trip in many ways. THOUGHTS: There really are a lot of ELA terms that classrooms could seek from this book. There are behavior lessons as well, such as sharing and not stealing, but apparently talking to animal strangers is accepted! Readers who check in her basket are left wondering if this girl has a familiar fairy tale reference, which makes the story even more delightful!

Easy Fiction/Picture Book   Dustin Brackbill, Mount Nittany Elementary




Sarcone-Roach, Julia. The Bear Ate Your Sandwich. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2015. 34 unnumbered pages. $16.99. Grades K-3.

The title of this colorful picture book implies a simple open and shut case, but there is a creative story between the pages. The unreliable narrator describes the cheerful misadventure of a bear who wanders beyond his forest and ends up downtown. He is mostly unnoticed until he stumbles upon a tasty sandwich, gets caught, and escapes back home. Except the witnesses may know more, even if they aren’t telling. The acrylic illustrations and sparse text make this a sneaky success for young readers.  THOUGHTS: This book would be great as an intro to a writing prompt or a good suggestion for readers who love Jon Klassen books. The use of an “unreliable narrator” is a growing trend in YA and adult lit, but there is delight in letting young readers play with the story this way.

Easy Fiction/Picture Book   Dustin Brackbill, Mount Nittany Elementary

New Middle Grades…The Trilogy of Two; Newts; Home is the Place


Malouf, Juman. The Trilogy of Two. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers. 2015. 978-0-399-17114-7. 416p. $15.34. Gr 5-8.

Twelve-year-old identical twins Charlotte and Sonja Tatters have amazing musical talent. They’ve spent their entire lives performing with a travelling circus alongside their adopted mother, Tatty the Tattooed Lady, and their Uncle Tell, the fortune teller. Lately, it seems like the twins’ power over their audience is stronger than normal, and one night, their playing even channels an indoor rainstorm and levitates the entire crowd. When the girls’ musical talent is abruptly stolen and Tatty is kidnapped, the twins learn they are really the Daughters of the Key, and they play an important role in protecting the mythical Seven Edens from greedy Katz von Stralen who is out to rob all the worlds’ children of their talents. Malouf’s vivid storytelling pulls listeners into this fantasy world, leading them through the Outskirts, the Million-Mile-High City, the Golden Underground, and the Forlorn Forest.  THOUGHTS:  Strong middle-grade readers will enjoy following Charlotte and Sonja on this novel’s three-part adventure, but the amount of world-building necessary for setting the story’s foundation may deter others.

Fantasy    Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County




TenNapel, Doug.  Nnewts:  Escape From The Lizards.  New York:  Scholastic,  2015.  978-0-545-67646-5.  185 pages.  $10.95.  Gr. 4-8.

The Nnewts, a community of amphibians, live in the the village of Nnewtown. Herk is a young Nnewt who is  confined to his home’s spawning pool because his legs are not strong enough to support his body. When Nnewtown is attacked by the evil Lizzarks, Herk’s parents are killed and he is forced to escape. On his journey he meets many new characters who give him the courage to confront the Snake Lord, the villian who replaced his strong legs with weaker legs.

This is the first volume of this new graphic novel series.  The illustrations in this book are very enjoyable and complete the story.   My students can not get enough of the graphic novel genre, and I believe they will enjoy this storyline as well.  THOUGHTS:  Herk’s adventures will hold the attention of the most reluctant reader.  This book is recommended for any elementary or children’s collection.

Graphic Novel       Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School




Martin, Ann M. Home is the Place. New York: Scholastic, 2015. 978-0-545-35945-0. 215p. $16.99. Gr 4–6.

This book is the final in a quartet of stories that follows four generations of the same family: Abby, Dana, Francie, and Georgia. This volume begins with Georgia’s sixth birthday and follows her for the next twenty years of her life. As her story unfolds, her mother Francie, grandmother Dana, and great-grandmother Abby’s stories intertwine. Georgia also learns some secrets about her great -great-grandmother Nell after discovering her diaries hidden away behind a secret panel in her girlhood home in Maine. Each of the book’s chapters takes place in a different year, and the story culminates with great-grandma Abby’s 100th birthday party celebration.  THOUGHTS:  Martin’s straightforward storytelling and vivid descriptions bring the past alive while also drawing readers into Georgia’s present-day world. This title will be popular with thoughtful readers who will enjoy tracing the bond between the women in this family from generation to generation. Although this story can stand alone, to be fully appreciated, it should be read with the preceding three volumes.

Historical Fiction Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County

New Holiday Picture Books


Buehner, Caralyn. Merry Christmas Mr. Mouse. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015. 978-0-8037-4010-5. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

Mr. Mouse and his family are new to their apartment under the kitchen stove when Christmas time arrives. The people in their home string lights on an evergreen tree, gather with friends and family, and celebrate His birth many years ago. Mr. Mouse and his wife like the idea that “…Christmas means joy, and love,” and decide to celebrate Christmas with their seventeen children. They borrow bits of this and that to make their own tree and gifts, and Mr. Mouse shares the story of the first Christmas night. They also get a surprise visit from Santa! The whole family is filled with love and cheer on their first Christmas in nook number twenty-four. THOUGHTS: This story nicely incorporates the origins of Christmas, a visit from Santa, and the joy of the season in one small package.

Easy Fiction/Picture Book     Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools

Carolyn and Mark Buehner, creators of Snowmen at Night and Snowmen at Christmas, created another festive winner with Mr. Mouse and his family. The story is an enjoyable combination of holiday elements as seen through the eyes of tiny creatures unaware of the Christmas season. Mark Buehner’s illustrations are the best part of the book. The back flap shows photographs of models that he created for Mr. Mouse’s nook. Illustrations show a fireplace made of a chili powder can with a tiny candle for a flame and pretty matchbooks hung as art on the walls. The dust jacket also has pictures of objects hidden in the illustrations. Children will delight in looking at all the details while searching for the hidden pictures.



Cocca-Leffler, Maryann. A Homemade Together Christmas. New York: Albert Whitman & Co, 2015. 978-0-8075-3366-6. 32 p. $16.99. Gr. K-3.

Luca has a problem. His family decided to have a homemade Christmas, but he can’t decide on a homemade gift for his family. Mom, Dad, and sister Rosie are all hard at work on their gifts, but Luca’s many attempts all seem to fall short. On Christmas Eve, Mom gently reminds him that “…the best part of Christmas is spending time together.” Luca suddenly has a homemade gift idea for his family that will bring joy for an entire year, starting on Christmas Day. THOUGHTS: This family of pigs will bring joy to many families around the holidays in this simple but sweet story.

Easy Fiction/Picture Book  Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools

This is my favorite new Christmas book in 2015. Maryann Cocca-Leffler’s colorful illustrations pop on white backgrounds and Luca and his family are a refreshing throwback to simpler, old-fashioned holidays. This story might inspire your children and students to think of their own homemade gifts.


New Fiction for Middle Grades…Yard Wars; Magnus Chase Book 1


Kitchings, Taylor. Yard War. New York: Wendy Lamb Books, 2015. 978-0-553-50754-6. $16.99. 216p. Gr. 4-6.

Even though twelve-year-old Trip Westbrook is growing up in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Era, his passion and interest are focused on the football field.  He has decided, under the strong encouragement of his mother, to take a year off and try out for the team next year after he’s had a chance to put on more muscle.  That doesn’t stop him from planning regular pickup games in his yard with all his buddies.  To his surprise, he discovers his maid’s son, Dee, can play football like a pro.  The other boys are a little skeptical at first, but Trip convinces them it’s all for the good of the game.  This seems to be enough until the neighbors begin driving by, stopping to watch with a critical eye, and then spreading rumors.  Living in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1964 brings Trip’s family under persecution and makes them a target for the bigotry and hatred running rampant among neighbors.  When Tom and Tim, local bullies, show up with reinforcements to carry out their threats, the boys could end up in an all-out yard war.  THOUGHTS: What first appears to be a straightforward sports story introduces the reader to the harsh realities, fears and prejudices of the civil rights movement and details how one outspoken, candid young boy stands up in the face of adversity.

Historical Fiction       Christine Massey, JWP Middle School



Riordan, Rick. The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Book 1). New York: Disney Hyperion, 2015. 978-1423160915. 491p. $19.99. Gr. 5-8.

In a stunning series-opener, protagonist Magnus Chase dies. But he’s meant to, and it affords him a place in Valhalla, Norse paradise for warriors of Odin. Thankfully, the tree of life is the portal to the Nine Worlds, one of them back “home” to human Boston, and Magnus has picked up a few knowledgeable friends in his short-time dead. Two “homeless men” who looked out for Magnus on the streets turn out to be a dwarf and an elf, unswervingly loyal, and the Valkyrie who chooses Magnus for Valhalla not only defends his choice when he’s questioned but works beside him to prevent Ragnarok, the Norse version of the apocalypse. Magnus is just in time to fit into the tales long foretold and to change the course of that tale, that is, if he can locate, use, lose and regain the “sword of summer” that was his father’s.  With his beloved (human) mother gone, he learns his father is the Norse god Loki, and his mother died protecting her son. Riordan’s writing is enjoyable and humorous at the expense of both Norse mythology and Boston (where Riordan lives, conveniently the entrance to human world, or, “why do you think Boston is called the Hub of the Universe?” 118). The chapter titles alone reveal a light-hearted side to Magnus and the story, from “Good Morning! You’re going to die!” to “Four Million Channels and There’s Still Nothing On Except Valkyrie Vision.”

Readers unfamiliar with Norse mythology and the Nine Worlds should give attention to the helpful glossary. Book 2: The Hammer of Thor is planned for Fall 2016.  THOUGHTS: This is a not-to-be-missed series opener that will naturally lead to questions about the various gods, monsters, etc of Norse mythology, so get those books ready.

Fantasy, Mythology   Melissa Scott, Shenango High School

Count this the first Riordan book I’ve read, and count me a new fan. Riordan maintains masterful control of his story and an incredible number of characters, all the while injecting humor and humanity, even believability, to this great world. That it fits in with his previous writing—Magnus is Annabeth’s cousin, and she makes brief, important appearance—is icing on the cake for fans who have been clamoring for this anyway. I found myself not caring so much about the outcome as the journey with these characters, especially Magnus, who doesn’t take himself too seriously. Don’t assign this novel; just let readers read and love it.


Nonfiction Grades 7 & up…Most Dangerous


Sheinkin, Steve. Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsburg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War. Roaring Brook Press, 2015. 978-159643-9528 370p. $19.99. Gr. 7 and up.

How does an attitude shift? In the early 1960s, Daniel Ellsburg was a “cold warrior” dutifully working for the U.S. government as a data analyst and committed to defeating communism. Sheinkin shows how Ellsburg changed his point of view to become the leak of the Pentagon Papers, spearheaded by Henry Kissinger, “seven thousand pages of documentary evidence of lying, by four presidents and their administrations, over twenty years.” Ellsburg spent nearly two years in Vietnam collecting data to build the government’s case for war, but the hopelessness of the American position there, combined with the misrepresentation of the war’s “success”, gradually led Ellsburg to realize that the war was absolutely wrong on every level. The history is perfectly told in this new text.  Readers can understand the differing viewpoints and feel the explosion that is to come. THOUGHTS: Expertly researched and expertly told from start to finish this is a must have for all junior high and high school libraries.   

Fantastic, enthralling nonfiction that once again proves Sheinkin one of the best writers of YA nonfiction today, this story will help students to understand the background behind decades of complicated governmental actions. It will also push them to consider the current role of whistleblowers (Edward Snowden) and the support and backlash they receive. Students aren’t likely to know the name Daniel Ellsburg, but a solid push from librarians and teachers will get this into the right hands. This could be used in American History, AP Government, or Civics courses to explain the inner workings of government agencies and the “fall” of U.S. government’s trustworthiness in the eyes of the general public. An added bonus is that students can interview an older generation about their remembrances of the Vietnam era, Daniel Ellsburg, and/or the Pentagon Papers. This book has earned seven starred reviews, was a National Book Award finalist, a New York Times Notable Children’s Book, and a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year.  It is an excellent, eye-opening text on many levels.

959.7; Vietnam War    Melissa Scott, Shenango High School

Understanding the Holocaust…series NF from Reference Point Press


Understanding the Holocaust (series). San Diego: Reference Point Press, 2016. 80p. $28.95 ea. Gr. 8-12.

Allen, John. Hitler’s Final Solution. 978-1-60152-840-7.

Allen, John. Holocaust Survivors. 978-1-60152-848-3.

Blohm, Craig E. Holocaust Camps and Killing Centers. 978-1-60152-842-1.

Blohm, Craig E. Holocaust Rescue and Liberation. 978-1-60152-844-5.

Blohm, Craig E. Holocaust Resistance. 978-1-60152-846-9.

MacKay, Jenny. Children of the Holocaust. 978-1-60152-838-4.

Nardo, Don. Nazi War Criminals. 978-1-60152-850-6.

Each title in Understanding the Holocaust, Reference Point Press’ new seven-book series for teen researchers, explores a different aspect of the Holocaust in depth. Children of the Holocaust by Jenny MacKay, for example, covers children in hiding, children in captivity, the killing of children, liberation, and growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust. Each book opens with a useful timeline of important dates in Holocaust history, which contextualizes the events described in the following chapters. These extremely well-written, well-organized books incorporate quotes from survivors and eyewitnesses, photographs, and sidebars on pertinent topics such as “Starvation’s Lifelong Victims.” The various authors cover these subjects in a manner that is both respectful of the Holocaust’s victims and appropriate to the intended audience. Nonetheless, some of the text and photographs are inevitably disturbing, particularly in Holocaust Camps and Killing Centers and Hitler’s Final Solution, and these particular volumes may not be the best options for introductory research on the topic. THOUGHTS: While countless resources on the Holocaust exist, because these are some of the most heavily used items in many high school libraries, there is always room on library shelves for a strong new series such as this one.

940.53; Holocaust            Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School


YA Realistic Fiction…Everything, Everything; Whippoorwill


Yoon, Nicola. Everything, Everything. New York: Delacorte Press, 2015. 978-0553496642. 320 p. $18.99. Gr. 9 and up.

This wonderful novel by newcomer Nicola Yoon will leave readers thinking about the things we take advantage of in our lives, and how love can, in some situations, drive us to perform astonishing, or horrifying, acts. Ever since she can remember, Maddy has lived in fear of the outside; she has a rare disease that causes her to be allergic to basically everything. Her mother, a medical doctor, has created a safe haven in their home and taken every precaution to keep Maddy healthy and happy. Maddy accepts her fate stoically (what chance has she had to do otherwise?). But then, Olly moves in next door, and slowly her understanding of who she is and what she values most in the world begins to unravel. Through instant messaging, she becomes friends with Olly. Eventually, after repeated begging, Maddy’s nurse lets them meet in person. The usual boy/girl romance begins to unfold, but Yoon creates tension with the constant reminder of Maddy’s disease and her inability to be in the outside world. Maddy’s mother, who was always Maddy’s best friend and confidant, begins to wonder what Maddy is doing with her time and what her relationship with Olly truly is. Olly’s own difficult relationship with his father brings their relationship to a head, and Maddy must decide what she values most in life: living in fear or embracing her dreams? THOUGHTS: The plot can be a bit hard to fathom at times, but the characters are likeable and interesting, and Maddy’s discovery of the outside world replicates the happy time of watching a young child experience something new. Take a chance on experiencing this novel, and you won’t be disappointed!

Realistic Fiction     Lindsey Myers, Shady Side Academy Senior School

While this is a truly wonderful story, the plot does have a few holes that the reader must patch up with a healthy amount of willing suspension of disbelief. This, though, is reminiscent of John Corey Whaley’s recent novel, Noggin. The authors do not want the science to get in the way of telling a story, and if students are willing to take this into account they will enjoy the character study. Other reviews have compared the relationship of Maddy and Olly to Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, but I have to say that I enjoyed Eleanor and Park much better. While both couples are overcoming obstacles (Eleanor and her difficult home life cause much strife in that relationship), Eleanor and Park’s story is one that could happen anywhere and in any town. Maddy and Olly have a fantastical basis for their relationship, and this can sometimes make the reader feel that the relationship is not as authentic as it could be. Yet, I did enjoy the slight tension that Maddy’s disease caused, even if I did not always believe in the plot. I definitely look forward to reading more of Yoon’s novels in the future!


Monninger, Joseph. Whippoorwill. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. 978-0-544-53123-9. 275 p. $17.99. Gr. 7 and up.

In New Hampshire, “Whippoorwill” families are the ones with muddy yards full of rusted junk and trash. In the yard of Clair Taylor’s neighbors, the Stewarts, one of those items is a dog named Wally. He spends days and nights chained to a pole, treated with indifference at best, and with no clue of how to interact with humans. Clair takes an interest in Wally and begins training him with the methods of Father Jasper, founder of the novel’s Maine Academy for Dogs. In the process, Clair forms an unexpected friendship with Danny Stewart, who seems almost as hungry for affection as Wally. The story begins at a slow but steady pace as Clair gets to know Wally and Danny and begins to reveal her own pain over the death of her mother three years earlier. Midway through the book, an act of violence flips Clair’s relationship with Danny on its head and endangers her claim to the eminently lovable Wally. It’s tough to put a new spin on the “good dog in a bad situation” story, but Joseph Monninger has done it! His austere writing style is absolutely perfect for the novel’s plotline and for the voice of Claire, a refreshingly unselfconscious protagonist in YA literature. THOUGHTS: Themes of loyalty and friendship lend Whippoorwill a timeless quality, though the true hero of the story is human kindness. After reading the last page you will want to give any animal (or underdog, for that matter) in your life the extra compassion that they deserve. And just try to resist that cover image!

Realistic Fiction            Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School


YA Crossovers…Circling the Sun; The Night Sister


McLain, Paula. Circling the Sun. New York: Ballantine Books, 2015. 978-0345534187. 384 p. $28.00. Gr. 11 and up.

Paula McLain has again brought to life an enigmatic and engaging woman. As she did in The Paris Wife with Hadley Richardson, McLain tackles the story of a remarkable young woman, whose entertaining and fantastic story was somewhat lost to history. Beryl (Clutterbuck) Markham moved to Kenya with her family when her father decided to begin a new venture as a horse farmer in British East Africa. The novel begins with Beryl watching her mother leave with Beryl’s brother on the train to return to Britain, leaving Africa, and her daughter, behind. Beryl is raised by a series of governesses and then a stepmother, but also becomes close with the local tribe of natives. This nontraditional upbringing reflects in her independent lifestyle. She becomes first a horse trainer, the first female horse trainer in Kenya, and then takes on piloting as well. Though she mingles constantly with the upper class, she is not afraid of hard work and dedicates her life to achieving her many goals. Though there are very adult themes (Beryl’s love triangle with Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa, and Denys Finch Hatton permeates much of the novel, and sex is constantly discussed), her story will resonate with young adults, who will no doubt be captivated by her independent spirit. Beryl was truly a modern woman, who made her own decisions and led her life the way she wanted, defying the standard views of her time. THOUGHTS: This is a wonderful story to give to students interested in strong females who performed many firsts- while having fun along the way. Highly recommended.

Historical Fiction   Lindsey Myers, Shady Side Academy Senior School

I loved The Paris Wife, so I was eager to read McLain’s newest novel. Her writing style is engrossing, and I quickly fell into the story of Beryl Markham. I was astounded by all that she went through and accomplished throughout her life. The scene in which Beryl survives a lion’s attack is particularly captivating, and I was almost on the edge of my seat while reading the exciting text. McLain does an amazing job of highlighting and giving voice to this engaging woman, and I eagerly await her next venture.





McMahon, Jennifer. The Night Sister. New York: Doubleday, 2015. 978-0-385-53851-0. 322p. $25.95. Gr. 10 and up.

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon will hold you spellbound as it unfolds across three interwoven timeframes. In the mid-1950s, beautiful Sylvie and awkward younger sister Rose are growing up at their family’s Tower Motel in London, Vermont. In 1989, Rose’s daughter Amy is twelve, living at the hotel and finding adventures with her neighbors, sisters Piper and Margot. That summer, the girls discover both a suitcase hidden inside the motel’s iconic tower and the possibility of a secret 29th room. Then in 2013, a tragic event pulls the storylines together yet again. This is a spooky, multigenerational, maybe-ghost story that borrows elements from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Vertigo, with a touch of gothic romance. For the most part the scares are subtle; the suspense builds slowly but surely with each page. The novel has some of my favorite components of a crossover read: a coming-of-age narrative, the transformative experience of adolescence, the lifelong reverberations of childhood female friendships, and the eventual cost of long-buried family secrets. THOUGHTS: With its ample appeal for teen readers, this adult horror novel is a MUST-READ for teenaged fans of the genre! I look forward to reading whatever Jennifer McMahon writes next!

Horror            Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School


YA Realistic Fiction…Survival – The Distance Between Lost and Found; Adrift

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Holmes, Kathryn. The Distance Between Lost and Found. New York: HarperTeen, 2015. 978-0-06231-726-1.  304p. $17.99. Gr 7-12.

High school sophomore Hallelujah (Hallie) Calhoun isn’t looking forward to hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains with her church group. In fact, she isn’t looking forward to much; over the past year a rumor started by the preacher’s son, Luke, has isolated her from even her closest friends. And now together on the hike, Luke only means to shame and embarrass her more. Hallie has remained silent through the ordeal and tries to remain so when hiking, as well. But when she and two other members of the group, Jonah and Rachel, find themselves lost in the woods, Hallie must find her voice and confront relentless physical and emotional trauma. As the hours lost lengthen and the situation turns grave, Hallie, Rachel, and Jonah must work together to survive; even if it means confronting the past. THOUGHTS: A solid and gripping debut for readers of any faith.

Realistic Fiction     Vicki Schwoebel, Friends’ Central School




Griffin, Paul. Adrift. New York: Scholastic Press, 2015. 978-0-545-70939-2. 228p. $17.99. Gr. 7 and up.

Brooklyn teens Matt and John have summer jobs in the Hamptons, where they make extra money selling soda and ice cream on the beach. Here they meet wealthy Driana, her Brazilian cousin Estefania, and Stef’s boyfriend, João. Matt is immediately smitten with charismatic Dri, and he and John accept an invitation to a beach party with her posh crew. When Stef disappears for a midnight windsurfing session, the new friends grab a neighbor’s 20-foot boat and go after her. Things go off the rails after Stef suffers a severe injury, and then the boat runs out of gas, stranding the teens in high seas with no way to contact help. And, did I mention, a hurricane in the forecast? Their struggle to stay alive (and sane) becomes more grim with each passing day. The truth about what happened three years prior on the night that John’s father was shot and killed gives the story needed depth. This novel, by the versatile and talented Paul Griffin, is reminiscent of Trapped by Michael Northrop, a longstanding student favorite. THOUGHTS: What this high seas survival story lacks in subtlety, it makes up in sheer excitement and reluctant reader appeal.

Realistic Fiction           Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School