MG – Quintessence

Redman, Jess. Quintessence. Farrar, Straus, Giroux,  2020. 978-0-374-30976-3. $16.99. 384 p. Grades 3-6.

Twelve year old Alma, a once curious girl, hasn’t felt like herself since moving to the town of Four Points. Shortly after moving, Alma began having panic attacks, and though she’s managed to convince her parents that they stopped, they really haven’t. Instead of going out to explore like she used to love doing, Alma spends afternoons after school in her parents’ new law office. When she meets the reclusive shopkeeper of the Fifth Point, a local junk store with a legendary lookout on its roof, he gives Alma a quintescope. It seems like a sign when – while running out of school – Alma spots an astronomy club flyer on the door. Her curiosity piqued, Alma decides to stop by to see what the club is like. There she meets Hugo, a brilliant young mind who lacks some awareness of himself socially; Shirin, a girl who seems to be part of the popular crowd but doesn’t feel like she fits there; and Dustin, a boy who has more to himself than the bully like he seems. With a shared interest of helping the Starling, this group of misfits learns about each other while learning about more themselves.

THOUGHTS: With a lovable cast of characters, each with his or her own insecurities, Quintessence captures what it means to find oneself at a time in life where many struggle. Give this book to fans of the inexplicable, those who recently moved or are looking for a new friend, or those who need a little magic in their lives. This book deserves a place in all middle school library collections.

Fantasy          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

MG – The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez

Cuevas, Adrianna. The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez. Farras, Straus and Giroux, 2020. 978-0-374-31360-9. 278. $16.99. Grades 3-7.

After nine “first-days” at nine different schools, Nestor Lopez knows the drill. Only unpack enough to get himself through a few months until his mother decides to move again, all while his father is deployed in Afghanistan. When Nestor moves for the tenth time, it is to his father’s hometown of New Haven, Texas to live with his Abuela. Not long after, Nestor is intrigued by rumors of a beast that roams the woods and has killed neighboring animals. Fortunately, his secret ability to talk to animals helps Nestor find out what, or who, is behind the killings. After the town starts to suspect his Abuela, Nestor longs to talk with his dad who could help him make sense of the strange town that is starting to feel like home. Can Nestor reveal his secret to his new friends in order to save the animals and his Abuela from whatever is lurking in the woods? And will his mom decide to move again, or will Nestor finally be able to put down roots in his father’s hometown?

THOUGHTS: Middle grade readers will enjoy this action packed fantasy novel about a brave, hispanic american boy who uses supernatural powers to save his family. Readers of Rick Riordan Presents books will appreciate the story as well as educators adding stories with diverse characters to their collections.

Fantasy (Mythology)          Jaynie Korzi, South Middleton SD

Elem. – Paper Planes

Helmore, Jim. Paper Planes. Peachtree Publishing Company, 2020. 978-1-682-63161-4. 32 p. $17.99. Grades K-3. 

Best friends Ben and Mia love flying planes together. In the fall, their planes soar with the migrating geese, and in the spring, the friends climb tall hills and watch their planes glide to the bottom. When Ben receives news that his family is moving away, the pair wonder how to keep their friendship alive. In a fit of loneliness and anger, Mia smashes her plane to the ground, splintering it into pieces. Later that night, Mia dreams of flying in a life-size version of the plane as a huge gust of wind lifts her into the air. She soars through the sky with the geese until she spots another plane up ahead. It’s Ben, and together, the friends swoop and soar through the night skies. The next morning, a package from Ben arrives. Inside the box is a plane Ben started building. Over the next few weeks, as Mia adds her own finishing touches to the plane, she realizes that she and Ben can still share their love of planes, even from a distance. Just because he lives far away doesn’t mean their friendship has to end. Colorful painted illustrations capture the love between these two friends and the loneliness they feel when they are apart.

THOUGHTS:  This quiet story will work well for morning meetings, and it gently addresses the range of emotions students might feel when a friend moves away. It could also be used for discussions about other people who may be separated from us.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Upper Elem/MS FIC – Emma Moves In; Matylda; Watchdog; One Good Thing…

Hutton, Clare. Emma Moves In (American Girl: Like Sisters #1). Scholastic, 2017. 978-1-338-11499-7. $6.99. 188 p. Gr. 3-5.

Emma, an only child, adores the time she spends with her twin cousins, Natalia and Zoe. When her parents decide to leave their Seattle home and move across the country into her mother’s family homestead, Emily’s secret dream comes true: she will be living in the same town as her cousins. However, the transition is more difficult than Emily could have imagined. When school starts, she realizes her cousins have different personalities, different groups of friends, and finds herself awkwardly pulled between the sisters. Additionally, Emily’s father is still in Seattle, and the extended separation is adding to the stress Emily and her mom are experiencing. Was this move a huge mistake? THOUGHTS:  An exploration of the anxieties involved with moving and starting a new school. The secondary plotline concerning the escalating anger between Emily’s parents is also well portrayed. Emily exhibits good problem-solving skills in dealing with her cousins and hostile classmates but makes age-appropriate mistakes in dealing with the fear her parents are divorcing.   

Realistic Fiction     Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District

 

McGhee, Holly M. Matylda, Bright and Tender. Candlewick, 2017. 978-0-7636-895-1-3. $16.99. 210 p. Gr. 3-6.

Sussy and Guy have been friends since kindergarten. The pair bonded over Mr. Potato Head and never looked back. The two know they just belong together, bringing out the best in each other. Towards the end of fourth grade, the pair decide they need a pet, something of their own for which to be responsible. Guy adores leopard geckos, so they purchase Matylda and go to work figuring out how to make her happy. But in a moment of pure Guy, tragedy strikes as the pair are riding their bikes to the pet store. Now Sussy channels her grief on to Matylda, becoming increasingly desperate and reckless in her need to hold on to Guy through the gecko.   THOUGHTS:  Sussy and Guy are memorable characters, and Sussy’s grief is tangible. Readers will root for her to find her way back into the world.  

Realistic Fiction       Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District

 

McIntosh, Will.  Watchdog. Delacort, 2017.  978-1-5247-1384-3. $16.99. 192 p. Gr. 4-7.

Orphans Vick and Tara eke out a living by scavenging electronics parts to sell. The 13-year-old twins have been on their own since their mom died after being replaced at her job by a hairstyling robot. Although Tara is autistic, she is also a mechanical genius and tinkers with making a watchdog bot named Daisy. Unfortunately, the clever mechanical dog attracts the attention of Ms. Alba, who quickly puts the Vick and Tara to work in her bot-building sweatshop. After they manage to pull off an escape, Vick and Tara are on the run, with a price on their heads. However, a shadowy groups of teens who run a chop shop, stealing domestic robots to take apart and make watchdogs, come to the twins’ aid in their fight against the evil Ms. Alba. THOUGHTS:  A slightly dystopian setting with lots of action, sure to please those not ready to plunge into The Maze Runner or Hunger Games.  

Science Fiction     Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District

 

Freeman, Ruth. One Good Thing About America. Holiday House, 2017. 978-0-8234-3695-8. $16.95. 152 p. Gr. 3-7.

Nine-year-old Anais, her mother and brother Jean-Claud have recently arrived in the United States from Congo, escaping the violent, corrupt mining officials from whom her father and older brother are on the run. The book is a series of letters Anais writes her grandmother back in Congo. In each letter Anais attempts to find one good thing about America. Some days are easier than others to be positive, as the young girl battles a new language, new culture, new school and friends. Her missives reflect frustration when students at school laugh at her language mistakes, and a heart-wrenching moment when a friend’s parents exhibit blatant prejudice. The book is an insight into the struggles of the many immigrant students in our schools, highlighting the difficulties Anais’s mother experiences trying to find employment and housing, while maintaining stability for Anais and Jean-Claud. THOUGHTS:  A sweet book that thoughtfully illustrates a timely topic. Pair this book with Alan Gratz’s Refugee. While the afterward provides guidance to Anais’s broken English, a French-English pronunciation guide would have been extremely helpful. (She complains that her teacher can’t pronounce her name, but we are never given any guidance as to how her name would be pronounced.)

Realistic Fiction       Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District

MS Fiction – Guitarist Wanted; Snow & Rose; Well That Was Awkward; Rosemarked

Brezenoff, Steve. Guitarist Wanted (Boy Seeking Band Series) Capstone Press, 2017.  978-1-4965-4448-3. 96 p. $19.54. Gr 5-8.

Finding just the correct members for a band is challenging for Terence Kato. Moving is difficult enough, but now he needs to add members to the band that have different skills or backgrounds. The book concludes with trivia regarding music terms to see if you would make the band.  THOUGHTS: Students will appreciate the fast pace story and look forward to  reading the Boy Seeking Band series.

Realistic     Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District

 

Martin, Emily Winfield. Snow and Red. Random House, 2017. 978-0-533-53818-2. $17.99. 224 p. Gr. 4-7

Life drastically changes when their father never returns from the woods. Their mother is distraught, and their lavish lifestyle is exchanged for a little dwelling in the woods. While in the woods the sisters come across a goblin. Snow’s birthday wish is for everything to go back to the way it was before. Shortly after, Snow and Rose save a bear stuck in a hunting trap. Also in the woods, they meet The Librarian of unique objects and Ivo, an underground dwelling boy. What objects will they find and what happens to their new friends?  THOUGHTS: The illustrations and enchanting chapter artwork are sure to draw in the most reluctant reader and add additional excitement to the readers that are naturally drawn to fairy tales.

Fantasy, Fairy Tale    Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District

 

Vail, Rachel. Well That Was Awkward. Viking, 2017. 9780670013081. $16.99. 314p. Gr. 5-8.

Gracie and Sienna are best friends. Gracie realizes she has feelings for a classmate, AJ, and is upset to find out through their good friend, Emmett, that AJ likes Sienna. Emmett and Gracie have known each other since they were young, and Gracie doesn’t realize that Emmett has a crush on her. All she knows is that her friend, Sienna, needs her help crafting the perfect witty texts to AJ. It breaks Gracie’s heart to help her friend build a relationship with the boy she has a crush on, but she does it because she is a good friend. It makes her feel even worse when AJ’s return texts are romantically funny. Unbeknownst to them, Emmett is the one writing AJ’s return texts because AJ doesn’t know what to say. To complicate matters, Gracie is living in the shadow of a sister, Bret, that passed away before Gracie was born. She feels tremendous pressure to be the perfect daughter and keep her parents happy.  THOUGHTS: This is a great middle-grade retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac. I’m always looking for good books for my 7th graders, and I was happy to have found this one that has realistic banter and situations.

Realistic Fiction            Bridget Fox, Central Bucks SD

 

Blackburne, Livia. Rosemarked. Hyperion, 2017. 978-148478855-4 390p. $17.99.  Gr. 6 and up.

Zivah is the youngest healer her village has ever seen.  When an outbreak of the Rose Plague breaks out among the soldiers stationed in her village, of course, she has to help.  When she becomes infected, she survives but is “Rose Marked,” meaning she will live for only a short time longer and is contagious.  Dineas is a soldier who was captured by the Amparans and tortured.  He also gets the plague, but survives as “Umber Marked.” He is immune to the Rose Plague.  Zivah and Dineas meet under stressful circumstances and do not like each other, yet they take on a mission to go to the capital city to try to help overthrow the Amparans.  There is much intrigue and deception involved.  THOUGHTS: This is a very smart book that made me marvel at its cleverness at how quickly I was involved in this world.  Fans of The Ember in the Ashes will enjoy this one.

Fantasy      Toni Vahlsing, Abington Friends School

 

Blackburne, Livia. Rosemarked.  Hyperion. 2017. 978-1-48478-855-4. 390 p.  $17.99. Gr. 6 and up.

A tale of political intrigue and espionage told in the alternating voices of two teens living under an oppressive regime.  Zivah is a gifted healer who has trained her entire life to reach the level of a master.   As she celebrates her achievement, a battalion of the occupying Amparan Army falls ill with rose plague, the contagious disease that kills most who contract it within a few days.  A lucky few survive for a few more years, but they are “rosemarked“ with red blotches,  contagious and forced to live apart from the general population.  The luckiest few survive the disease and become “umbertouched”, covered with dark spots that indicate the person is completely cured and immune to further infection.  Zivah herself falls to the disease, rosemarked and destined for a lonely and uncertain future. But she is remembered by the Amparan general whose life she saved; he rewards her with an offer to live in the capital and train with the medical experts there.  As she ponders that offer, she meets Dineas, a young warrior from the rebel Shihadi tribe, who has escaped from the Amparan prisons.  Umbertouched after his bout with rose plague, he is now on a quest for vengeance against the Amparan leaders. The two teens, so different in temperament and outlook are brought together by their tribal leaders to fight against the empire. Together, they travel to the capital to spy on and sabotage the rulers. They come to rely heavily on each other and a strong attraction begins to form as they work on their dangerous mission. Rosemarked is the first book in a new political fantasy/adventure series.  The novel is slow to start but builds in intensity as the teens go deep undercover to strike against the oppressive regime. The novel explores such themes as social and racial prejudices, medical ethics and the fight of a conquered people against oppression.  There is solid character development with heroes and villains who are nuanced and fully fleshed out individuals, each with positive and negative traits that humanize them and make them believable.  THOUGHTS: Recommended for fans of tales such as The False Prince or Ember in the Ashes. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers waiting eagerly for the next volume.  

Fantasy; Adventure           Nancy Summers, Abington  School District

YA Realistic Fiction – What Light; Keep Me In Mind; The Boy Who Killed Grant Parker

whatlight

Asher, Jay. What Light. New York: Razorbill, 2016.  978-159514-5512. $18.99. 251 pp. Gr.  7-12.
Sierra loves her life but is between two worlds.  For most of the year she lives in Oregon on her family’s tree farm, but each year in the pre-Christmas season, her family moves to California to work on their tree lot.  Sierra loves the work and loves that her family embraces everything Christmas; no jadedness or blasé attitudes here.  However, each year it’s hard to leave behind friends, and this year her parents have come clean with the fact that individual sales are down, and they may close the California lot after this season.  And so, Sierra knows that starting a relationship with a boy in California would be foolish; she’ll be gone and maybe never return.  Enter Caleb.  After several visits to her family’s tree lot, Caleb clearly is interested.  Sierra is drawn to him, and his choice to buy trees to surprise families in need, but her friend warns her of a violent act in his past.  She tries to keep her distance, but also tries to find out how a “violent” boy description squares with the kind Caleb she’s getting to know.  Soon, they’re both head over heels in love, and run into problems from the past and present.  THOUGHTS: This winter romance delivers light PG-related content.  Asher pricked our guilty consciences with Thirteen Reasons Why.  In What Light, he shines only a pale, predictable light on forgiveness and judging others. Drink with a peppermint mocha.  Suitable for grades 7-12.
Romance         Melissa Scott, Shenango High School

 

keepmeinmind

Reed, Jaime. Keep Me In Mind.  New York: Point, 2016. 978-0-545-88381-8. 329 p. $17.99. Gr. 8 and up.
When Ellia Dawson has an accident and suffers a head injury, her memory of the past two years is erased.  While she can remember her family and her best friend, she does not remember her boyfriend, Liam McPherson.  Liam, on the other hand, is still crazy about Ellia and would do anything in his power to bring her memory back.  He turns to writing to document their love story, and the author presents bits and pieces of his narrative throughout the story.  Chapters alternate between Liam’s perspective and Ellia’s perspective as the two work to overcome the obstacles associated with memory loss and rebuild their relationship.  A well-written story of teenage love and self-discovery. THOUGHTS: This title is remarkable in that it profiles an interracial relationship; Liam is white, and Ellia is black.  Although there is some tension between their families, the fact that they come from different backgrounds does not even phase Liam or Ellia.  Recommend this book to fans of romantic movies about memory loss, such as The Notebook or 50 First Dates.

Realistic Fiction         Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School​

 

grantparker

Spears, Kat. The Boy Who Killed Grant Parker: A Novel . New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016. 978-1250088864. 320pp. $18.99. Gr. 8 and up.

After a series of pranks and misbehaviors, high school senior Luke is sent away by his mother to live with his father, a Baptist minister in a conservative town in Tennessee.  Luke immediately gets the attention of just about everyone in town, and the principal and the police chief are particularly suspicious of him. As the school year begins he struggles to find his spot on the social ladder and initially ends up with the outcasts. But before long, the school golden boy, Grant Parker, targets him for some old fashioned bullying.  A freak accident occurs and almost immediately Luke goes from bullied loser to boy of the hour with everyone now looking up to him to take Grant’s place on the high school social scene. Told in the first person with a male POV, the book delves into the social hierarchies in high school. Luke is at first an interesting and complex character, but after the pivotal incident his character loses his edgy voice as he blithely goes along with the crowd in his new found popularity.  Luke begins to take on more of Grant’s mean streak and he starts to lose himself and his true friends as he tries to fit in with the popular crowd. THOUGHTS: This novel is a fine realistic fiction quick pick for reluctant readers, but in the end leaves some questions and issues unresolved. I was hoping for a stronger and more insightful resolution to Luke’s change in status and attitude. Some of the situations in the novel are a bit implausible and many of the secondary characters could be fleshed out beyond stereotypes.  A quick read that brushes on some important issues such as bullying and conformity.

Realistic Fiction       Nancy Summers, Abington SHS

Picture Books – Before I Leave; The Squiggly Story; The Christmas Boot

beforeileave

Bagley, Jessixa. Before I Leave. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2016. 978-1-62672-040-4. $17.99 PreK-2nd Grade.

By the author of Boats for Papa comes another gentle book to help children. Little hedgehog’s family is moving away, but she doesn’t want to leave her best friend. Refusing to go doesn’t work, so her friend tries to help her pack. Instead of concentration on their task, these two friends end up doing all their favorite things. When little hedgehog moves into her new house and goes to unpack she discovers pictures and letters from her anteater best friend. THOUGHTS: A heart-warming way to express to children that change does not mean the end of friendships.

Picture Book       Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

 

squiggly

Larsen, Andrew. A Squiggly Story. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press, 2016. 978-1-77138-016-4. Unpaged. $16.95. Gr. PreK-2.

A young boy wants to write a story, but he doesn’t know many words.  After receiving some encouragement from his sister, he begins by writing down letters and shapes that he does know, and before long, he has crafted a creative tale in which he and his sister are playing soccer on the beach.  When he shares his story with his class for show-and-tell, they suggest several creative endings for the story, but the protagonist has his own ending in mind.  Graphic novel-like illustrations, complete with speech bubbles and boxes on some pages, add to the book’s accessibility and appeal.  THOUGHTS: This playful tale is a great resource for young students learning about the parts of a story (beginning, middle, and end) and anyone looking for strategies for overcoming writer’s block.  It can also encourage brainstorming and creative thinking, as students can be prompted to come up with endings of their own for the boy’s story.  The varied skin colors of the children in the protagonist’s class give this book a multicultural dimension.

Picture Book     Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School

 

christmasboot

Wheeler, Lisa. The Christmas Boot. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2016. 978-0-8037-4134-8. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

Hannah, an old woman who lives in a cabin in the woods, is gathering firewood when she spots a single boot laying in the snow. When she puts it on to warm her cold foot, it magically becomes a perfect fit for her, and she takes it home where she wishes for its mate. The next morning, she finds a pair of boots next to her bed, and later on she wishes for a pair of warm mittens and a fancy house and feast. She loves the boots and mittens but feels that the house doesn’t quite “fit” the way she’d hoped. Santa comes calling, looking for his missing boot, and Hannah offers it up at once, saying that it doesn’t belong to her anyway. Immediately the other boot, mittens, and house are no more. Santa offers Hannah whatever she truly desires. She replies that she really wants someone to talk to but warm boots and mittens would be fine. Suddenly, Hannah is rewarded with fine new boots and mittens…and a small puppy hiding in one of the boots, ready to be Hannah’s new friend. THOUGHTS: A beautiful story of gratitude and kindness that works well for the holidays and is highlighted by Jerry Pinkney’s gorgeous illustrations.

Picture book Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools

New MS Realistic Fiction – Chloe in India; Friends for Life; The Closer; Cassidy’s Guide…

chloeinindia

Darnton, Kate. Chloe in India. New York: Delacorte, 2016. 978-0-553-53504-4. 224p. $19.99. Gr. 6-8.

Hoping to show their daughters, 15 year old Anna, 11 year old Chloe and baby Lucy, a different way of life, the Jones family moves from Boston , Massachusetts, to New Delhi, India. Change is difficult for Chloe who is one of the few students with blonde hair.  School is different too, as students sit on the floor more often in classes and report cards are hand delivered once a month with at least 70 different grades. Chloe hopes to be friends with Anvi and be invited to do activities together. A new student, Lakshmi, is called “stinky” by Anvi. Anna, now a uniform monitor, informs the family that Lakshmi is from the EWS, emotional weaker section. While Chloe misses and Skypes her best friend from Boston, it feels like their friendship is weakening to Chloe. Outside of school, Chloe spends time with Lakshmi. Chloe is shocked to learns that families in India would never have three children due to overpopulation. At first her mother is excited to see a revolution as poorer citizens have a chance for first rate education, but her mother is repulsed by the excess wealth that many families have in the area and especially at Aniv’s over the top birthday party. As Annual Day draws closer, Chloe and Lakshmi practice frequently outside of school. Their practice leads to great dancing, and Anvi does not get the lead dance role. In the restroom Chloe tells Anvi that she is not friends with Lakshmi. Shortly later, a bathroom door opens, and Lakshmi walks out having heard the entire conversation. It is her older sister who helps make things right in her friendship with Lakshmi. The sisters learn more about housing and corruption of wealth in the process.  THOUGHTS: Many students experience the uncertainties of moving around the state or throughout the United States. Not as many students are uprooted to another country and this book allows students to see what it might be like to be an outsider experiencing a new culture.  The mother at times is worked up about her writing deadline or concerned about social justice and has a curse word-reaction, once her dad does this as well. Chloe doesn’t like when she hears either parent swear. This book offer a realistic story of a moving, friendship and standing up for social justice.

Realistic Fiction    Beth McGuire, Wendover MS

 

friendsforlife

Norriss, Andrew. Friends for Life. New York: Scholastic, 2015. 978-0-545-85186-2. 234p. $17.99. Gr. 6-8.

Francis is fine eating lunch alone but would prefer that others not talk about his passion of fashion and creation of doll clothes. After a year of being a ghost and having no communication with anyone, Jessica is shocked that Francis can see, hear, and communicate with her.  Then shortly after, new neighbor Andi, “Thug, Thugette,” can see Jessica. The parents of Andi and Francis are shocked that their kids get along.  Andi doesn’t find Francis’ hobby odd as a relative makes a living designing clothes, but she has a hard time being teased regarding her appearance. Previously, Andi got in a lot of fights at school and at the new school she puts a stop to Quintin teasing. Both Francis and Andi wonder how Jessica passed and when they try to learn, Jessica is gone for several days. Any time they bring it up Jessica fades away. Francis is called to motivate a boy to go to school, and he is large in stature. This boy, Roland, can also see and hear Jessica.  Roland discovers the truth that Jessica committed suicide. All of those that can see Jessica seriously contemplate(d) suicide.  At the hospital, Jessica is able to stop a suicide, and she completes her journey. THOUGHTS:  This book reminds readers not to be afraid to talk or listen to one another. Your actions can help or hurt others greatly without your knowledge.

Realistic Fiction   Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

 

closer

Ripken, Carl, Jr. and Kevin Cowherd. The Closer. Los Angeles: Disney, 2016. 978-142317868-2. 200p. $16.99. Gr. 6-8.

Danny, going into eighth grade, is having a difficult time finding the correct pitches and stamina to be a consistent pitcher. Mickey, the catcher, is his best friend. His other teammate, Katelyn, confuses him as she invites the entire baseball team to her bowling birthday party. As Danny struggles to find his niche with baseball, his older brother, Joey, is a phenomenal high school senior pitcher with talent, bringing scouts from all over to watch his playing. At home, Danny accidentally breaks the window of his new and octogenarian neighbor, Mr. Spinelli. To his surprise, Mr. Spinelli offers Danny advice and teaches him a eephus pitch. Danny seems to have a handle on the pitch and posts his pitching which goes viral and gets him interviewed by local news outlets. When his special pitch, nicknamed “terminator”, stops working, Mickey asks Elmo for scientific help. Eventually Danny asks Mr. Spinelli for help about baseball and then about art. Relationships highlight the jealousy between siblings that can exist and the friendship that can be developed with others if you just try. THOUGHTS: This book is like The Pigman meets Finding Buck McHenry! Students that enjoy realistic or sport fiction will be sure to like The Closer.

Realistic Fiction; Sports     Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

 

cassidysguide

Stauffacher, Sue. Cassidy’s Guide to Everyday Etiquette (and Obfuscation). New York: Knopf, 2015. 978-0-375-83097-6. 294p. $16.99. Gr. 6-8.

Eleven-year old Cassidy looks forward to summer. She enjoys spending time in nature, making pranks with Jack, and wandering like a hobo. It is just her rotten luck that when her great-grandmother passes her dying wish is for Cassidy to attend etiquette school while her older sister attends a forensic science class. Each chapter has a title and lively place settings, adding to the mood of the story. Cassidy is surprised that Delton, a smart and quiet classmate, is also enrolled in the etiquette course. They both struggle with the lessons providing humor to the readers. As the story progresses, Cassidy misses Jack and wonders why he is working so hard with lawn care and saving money. Etiquette lessons are the last place Cassidy wants to be during her summer, but it a rewarding experience for her. THOUGHTS:  This book is a fun summer read. It demonstrates that sometimes what one thinks will be terrible, such as etiquette lessons during summer, may not turn out that way.

Realistic Fiction   Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School