Teen Booktalks
created by Carrie Falk and Joy Stortvedt
Shenandoah Public Library

Author List                                        Title List                         Back to Main Booktalks Page

These booktalks are listed alphabetically by the title of the book.  Click on a letter below to see the titles that begin with that letter. To the side of the title is a listing of the grade or grades that I would booktalk this book to.

P    Q    R    S    T

P.S. Longer Letter Later by Paula Danziger & Ann M. Martin  Grades 6-7
234 p., New York: Scholastic Press, 1998.  0590213105.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 750 Points: 7

 Have you ever had your best friend move away?  Stinks, doesn’t it?  Well, that’s what happens to Elizabeth and Tarra*Starr at the beginning of their seventh grade year.  Instead of giving up on their friendship, they write letters back and forth to let each other know what is going on.  They tell each other what they wear to school on the first day and Elizabeth fills Tarra*Starr in on all the traditional things she has missed, like Karen Frank, Barf Queen of the water fountain doing it again this year on the first day of school.  Strange things start going on at Elizabeth’s house.  Her dad starts saying at work till one in the morning and drinking more.  Elizabeth doesn’t know what is going on and she is afraid to talk to her parents about it. She writes all her fears to Tarra*Starr, but what she wouldn’t give to have her best friend right there to talk to.  How are Elizabeth and Tarra*Starr going to keep their friendship going with so many miles separating them and how will they figure out what is going on with Elizabeth’s dad?  Can they save Elizabeth’s family?


Parent Swap by Terence Blacker  Grades 6-8
233 p., New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.  9780374357528

“Want to get a new life?  Looking for a new home?  Tired of your parents?  Then it’s time you tried… ParentSwap™.” (From Parent Swap, p. 14)

When Danny Bell finds that ad in his bookbag, he doesn’t know what to think.  He’s pretty skeptical at first, but looking around, how can it be worse than his absent mother, his all-too present father, a former rock star turned slob who hasn’t left the house in years, and his sister who only has time for her latest boyfriend.  Danny decides to give it a try, but the further he goes into the program the more suspicious he becomes.  Why can’t his friends get the ParentSwap™ office on the phone?  And what’s with all the surveillance cameras?  Something’s not quite right, and it’s up to him to figure out what’s going on, what being a family really means, and how he can turn the tables on ParentSwap™.


Payback Time by Carl Deuker  Grades 8-11
New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010.  9780547577333

I’ve been known as “Mitch” for years now… short for the Michelin Man.  So I weigh a little more than most other people – it hasn’t really bothered me until this year.  I had high hopes for this year: I’d be the editor of the school paper, on my way to being an ace reporter in New York.  But nothing this year turned out like I’d planned.  I lost the editorship, and now I’m the sports reporter.  My camera girl is pretty, and maybe worth the extra effort to get in shape.  At our first football practice, I notice an amazing player – Angel Marichal – but the coach says he’s nothing special and barely lets him play.  I try to find out more about him, but keep running into brick walls.  What’s going on with the Lincoln High football team?  This story could be the biggest scoop of my career… if I can stay out of trouble long enough to print it…


Peak by Roland Smith  Grades 6-8
246 p., Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2007.  9780152024178

Living in New York City isn’t easy for Peak Marcello.  Both his parents were world-famous rock climbers, and he can’t get enough of the sport.  When his love for climbing gets him in trouble with the law, it’s Peak’s dad who comes from the back of beyond to help him out and give him the opportunity of a lifetime:  Everest, and a chance to make history if he makes it to the top.  That definitely beats doing time in juvie.  However, reaching the summit of Everest is not just fun and games.  Climbing this mountain will force Peak to make gut-wrenching decisions about what is really important in life. 


The Perfect Shot by Elaine Marie Alphin  Grades 8-10
359 p., Minneapolis, MN:  Carolrhoda Books Inc, 2005.  1575058626.

 Brian knows it’s all his fault.  If only he’d let Amanda and Cory come over that afternoon to join their game of pickup basketball, then they would both still be alive.  Instead, Amanda, Cory and their mom were shot and killed in their garage.  Now their dad, a police officer is on trial for the murder of his family.  The only way Brian can move on is to lose himself in basketball.  When he is playing he can focus on the ball and forget everything else.  Their team is really good this year and probably championship bound if they can hold it all together.  Then Mr. Fortner the history teacher assigns a really tough project which means Brian has to divide his time between basketball and school work if he wants to stay eligible to be on the team.  This project brings up lots of questions about what happened to Amanda.  Brian knows there is something very important about that day that he isn’t recalling correctly.  He knows something that could change the outcome of the trial.  What is it and will Brian have the courage to step out of his protective shell to make the perfect play to win the game?


Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson  Grades 7-9
451 p., New York: Disney Editions, 2004. 0786854456

 Have you ever wondered how Peter Pan got his magical powers?  How can he fly and here did he and Tinkerbell come from?  How did all that bad blood between him and Captain Hook Start?  Well, it all started at St. Norberts Orphanage in England.  Five of the orphans are being sent on a ship across the ocean to work as servants for a king.  Peter is one of these boys.  As he is familiarizing himself with the rickety old ship he’ll be sailing on he sees a very strange sight.  Two sailors are bringing an old trunk covered in a tarp on board the ship.  This seems like a lot of extra work for one thing and the expression of the face of one of the sailors is very odd.  He looks blissfully happy.  What would do that to him?  What is so special about this particular trunk?  Peter doesn’t get his questions answered right away because he has a more immediate problem.  The food on the ship is horrible and so he has to find something else for the five of them to eat before they all starve.  While he is out searching he finds a room with a guard posted in front of the door.  Luckily for Peter the guard is asleep.  Peter figures if they go to all the effort to guard the door, there must be food inside somewhere so he sneaks in.  When his eyes adjust to the gloom he sees the trunk again.  He also runs into the guard although they are both dumbstruck when they see a rat floating through the air in front of them.  There is something very strange about that trunk and its contents.  Peter will have to fight a lot of people to find out what’s really going on and what is inside that trunk!

Alternative booktalk:
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson  Grades 7-9
451 p., New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2004.  9780786854455

Read p. 130 “D’you think it’ll hurt me reputation” through p. 132 “We’ve got work to do.”

Pirates, treasure, adventure on the high seas, and – pixie dust?  It can only be the unstoppable Peter Pan.  Find out what happened before Wendy came to Neverland, how Tinkerbell was born, and how Peter became “the boy who never grew up.”  First in a series of four.


Petey by Ben Mikaelsen Grades 8-9
280 p., New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1998.  0786804262.
Iowa Teen Award Nomination 2000-2001

 Have you ever wondered what it would have been like if you had been born with a disability?  Imagine that your arms were pulled into your sides and you really couldn’t use them at all.  Your legs are pulled up at the knees and there is no way you could walk.  If that isn’t hard enough, your tongue is very large and you can’t really speak.  You can imitate sounds others make, but conversation is virtually impossible.  Once you imagine all that you have the beginning of an idea of what life is like for Petey.  Only Petey doesn’t have the benefit of mainstreaming or new technology.  Petey was born in 1922 in Bozeman, Montana.  Back then people didn’t know what Petey had.  Today we would know he has cerebral palsy.  But, back in 1922, he was considered to be a freak who was an idiot because he couldn’t speak and as far as doctors were concerned he had no mental ability at all.  Petey is put in a state insane asylum at the age of two because no one knows what to do with him.  Eventually Petey does make a few friends at the insane asylum and is able to communicate a few thoughts.  Doctors still believe he has no ability and that he is just being conditioned to respond a certain way.  How will Petey and his friends ever be able to convince the doctors otherwise?  Will Petey ever got to lead a normal life?  To find out what happens read Petey by Ben Mikaelsen.


Pictures, 1918 by Jeanette Ingold  Grades 8-9
152 p., New York: Puffin Books, 2000.  0141306955.

 If you want to be something no matter what it is you can do that, right?  No one says you can’t do that because you are a girl or because you don’t have enough money or whatever the case may be.  Things used to be different.  In 1918 there were certain things girls could and could not do.  Asia is about to break the accepted norms for her small Texas town.  When Asia sees the Kodak Autographic camera for $55.00 in the window of the pharmacy she knows somehow she has to get that camera.  Asia wants to take pictures, to capture memories on film so she will be able to view them that way forever and they won’t ever change.  When Asia tells her parents about the camera they think she is crazy.  What does a 15 year old girl need an expensive camera like that for anyway?  How is Asia going to get the money to buy the camera?  $55.00 is a lot of money in 1918.  If only Asia could get the camera she would have pictures of her rabbit Straw Bit before he was killed in the fire.  She would also have a picture of the shadowy figure she saw slinking away right after the fire was started.  She might also have pictures of Boy Blackwell who is acting so strange and of his cousin Nick Grissom whom she thinks might like her as more than just a friend.  Will Asia find a way to purchase the camera, and if she gets it will she be able to take pictures that will help her see the world around her more clearly?  To find out read Pictures, 1918


Pirates! : the true and remarkable adventures of Minerva Sharpe and Nancy Kington, female pirates by Celia Rees  Grades 8-9
379 p., New York: Bloomsbury, 2003.  1582348162.

 The year is 1724.  Nancy Kington’s father owns a major shipping company out of Bristol, England with a large sugar plantation in Jamaica.  When a horrible storm comes up and destroys most of he father’s shipping empire Nancy promises him she will do whatever he asks to help the family.  Little does she know what she is getting herself into.  The next thing Nancy knows she is on a ship bound for their plantation Fountain Head in Jamaica.  Nancy is leaving the world she knows and the boy she loves far behind.  She only hopes her letter to William will make it so that he knows what has happened to her.  When Nancy arrives in Jamaica she is taken straight to Fountain Head.  Jamaica is a very different world than England.  It is very beautiful but cruel.  Nancy is left alone on the plantation with no one to talk to except the house slaves Phyllis and Minerva.  Nancy tries to make friends with them but they are very wary of her.  Then on the eve of Nancy’s 16th birthday she finds out what her family has in store for her.  Fountain Head is her plantation and her father has promised her in marriage to the Brazilian who owns the neighboring plantation.  He is very wealthy, but old and cruel.  Nancy knows she can never marry him, she loves William.  How will she escape from this life she is being forced into?  That is when Nancy and Minerva devise the most daring plan of all.  To find out what happens read Pirates!


Playing the Field by Janette Rallison  Grade 7
172 p., New York: Walker & Company, 2002.  0802788041.

 McKay is in deep trouble.  He is flunking algebra.  All those x’s and y’s don’t make any sense.  His parents have told him that if he doesn’t get his grades up he will have to quit the baseball team.  Now McKay lives for baseball and he is one of the best hitters on the team.  This year they are championship bound, so not being on the team is not an option.  This means that somehow McKay will have to brush up on his algebra.  His friend Tony suggests McKay get Sabrina, one of the prettiest, smartest girls in class, to tutor him.  The only problem is that McKay has never spoken to Sabrina.  What do you say to a girl to get her to tutor you in algebra anyway?  Tony suggests McKay strike up a conversation with Sabrina and work on her sympathy.  McKay hasn’t had a meaningful conversation with a girl since kindergarten so that may be quite a challenge.  Will algebra ever make sense, but most importantly will girls ever make sense?


Point Blank by Anthony Hororwitz  Grades 8-9
215 p., New York: Philomel Books, 2002.  039923621X.

 Alex Rider MI6 (British Intelligence’s) youngest agent is back on the case. Two wealthy important men have been killed recently.  One was a New York businessman dealing in electronics and the other was head of the Russian foreign intelligence services.  On the surface both deaths seem totally unrelated, however, British Intelligence is sure they are linked together and they are going to send Alex to find out.  So far the only link is that both men have teenage sons at a very exclusive school in France called Point Blanc.  The only way boys can get into this school is to come from very wealthy influential families and the boys must all be juvenile delinquents.  So, Alex’s assignment is to infiltrate Point Blanc posing as the son of a wealthy supermarket giant.  He is to try to fit into the group at the school as a surly, uncooperative and antisocial teen as well as try to get to know some of the other boys there.  Alex will be on his own at the castle on a mountain in France with no back up and no help.  Will he figure out what is going on at this creepy private school before they get to him too?


Pool Boy by Michael Simmons  Grades 8-9
164 p., Brookfield, CT:  Roaring Brook Press, 2003.  0761318852.

 Brett hates his dad and there is no way he’s ever going to forgive him for what he did to their family.  The day the copes showed up and arrested him by tackling dad right in their kitchen after he tried to run away was probably the worst day of Brett’s life.  It seems Brett’s dad has been doing some insider trading and he got caught.  Now he owes the U.S. government 10 million dollars.  That means Brett’s life as he knows it is over.  They have to sell the big house with the pool and the three cars.  Brett even has to give up his $5,000 stereo system.  But, what is worse is that they have to move to the wrong side of the tracks and go live with crazy Aunt Mary and both Brett and his mom have to get jobs.  Working at Fast Burger is no picnic.  Those people have no idea how to treat a guy decently.  The only saving grace is that none of his friends would eat at a dive like Fast Burger so he is spared the humiliation of having to wait on them.  Well, Fast Burger gets worse and worse till finally Brett can’t stand it any longer.  He rips off his apron, pulls off the dorky hat and tells his boss he’s outta here.  Luckily for hem his old bus drier and pool man Alfie has offered him a job cleaning pools.  How hard can it be?  Well, let me tell you, it is no fun cleaning your old pool and those of your friend’s families.  How will Brett ever land his true love Nicole?  What does he have to offer her?  He’s just a nobody Pool Boy!


The Presence: a Ghost Story by Eve Bunting  Grades 8-9
195 p., New York: Clarion Books, 2003.  0618269193.

 Catherine has been sent to California to spend Christmas with her Grandmother, since her parents will be in Europe.  Everyone is a little worried about Catherine.  She has seemed so fragile since the car crash where her best friend Kirsty was killed and somehow she survived.  So when she is at the church with her Grandmother and someone whispers her name Catherine is very frightened.  Who is there and who is calling her name.  Then there is an extra poinsettia plant that has a blank card on it, well the card looks blank to everyone else, but Catherine can plainly see what is written on it.  It says, “To Catherine from Noah.”  Who is this Noah, and why can no one else see the writing on the card?  Then Sunday morning Catherine gets to meet Noah at the church.  He is so very handsome and polite, yet everyone else just ignores him like he isn’t there at all.  How rude!  Noah tells Catherine he can help her talk to Kirsty.  He tells Catherine to come back in the afternoon and meet him in the church lobby and he will help her to contact Kirsty.  There is something strange about Noah and the way everyone else ignores him and acts like he isn’t really there.  Should Catherine trust him to help her contact Kirsty? Catherine needs to find out if Kirsty is angry with her.  She wants to be absolved from her guilt over the car crash.  How can she not trust Noah?


Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot  Grades 7-8
283 p., New York: HarperTrophy, 2000.  0380814021.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 920 Points: 14

 How would you feel if you woke up one morning out find out you really are royalty?  Mia is angry with her parents for keeping this secret from her for 14 years.  It’s not as if she doesn’t already have lots of things to worry about.  Not only is Mia flunking algebra, but now her Mom is dating her algebra teacher too.  Maybe it would be okay if she wasn’t flunking, but…  Mia doesn’t want anyone to know she is a princess, heir to the throne of Genovia.  It is going to take her awhile to adjust to this new role.  All she really wants to be is a normal teenager living in New York City attending private school.  How is she going to keep this secret from her classmates, especially her best friend Lilly, when her father who has come back from Genovia just to inform her she is royalty, insists she take a chauffeured limo to school every morning?  Yeah right, no one will notice that!  And by the way, Mia is the only person she knows who still doesn’t have a date to the cultural diversity dance.  Life is so unfair! 


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Quaking by Kathryn Erskine  Grades 7-10
New York: Philomel Books, 2007.  9780399247743

My face, my hair, my make-up, my clothes all say leave me alone.  I’ve been shuffled around all my life.  It’s a good thing I’ve got a lot of relatives, because I’ve been through most of them.  Too bad they’re all crazy. This new family isn’t going to be any better, I mean, they’re Quakers.  I thought Quakers were extinct or something, but apparently not.  Great.  A new little brother who’s got major problems, a new school filled with the same bullies I’ve met everywhere else, a teacher who’s just as bad as the bullies, and no one on my side but Sam and Jessica – and they’re Quakers, so they’re big on non-violence.  Somehow, I’ll have to find a way through all the fear that leaves me quaking, and then maybe I can find a little of Sam and Jessica’s peace.


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The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan  Grades 7-8
266 p., New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1999.  0689821409.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 830 Points: 16
Iowa Teen Award Nomination 2001-2002

 Marnie has no friends except the local priest Father Brannan and the wild boy the town folk call Raver.  Marnie moved to the remote fishing village of Torcurra with her new husband.  Two days after her marriage Marnie’s husband falls through the roof of thier cottage while trying to fix it.  He is killed instantly.  The villagers’ believe Marnie is a witch and that her husband died because she put a curse on him.  The only thing that is saving Marnie from being burned as a witch is the fact that Father Brannan, who has taken her under his wing, won’t let them.  The villagers get more suspicious as Marnie’s friendship with the crazy boy Raver grows.  Marnie finds out that he isn’t crazy, he’s just deaf, so he can’t speak or understand what anyone is saying.  She renames him Raven and together they create a language full of hand words.  This really scares the villagers.  They believe the local witch has possessed the crazy boy and makes him do her biding with magical hand gestures.  While Father Brannan is away visiting another village the townspeople decide it is time to make their move and get rid of that witch once and for all.  What will Marnie do?  Will she be able to save herself from people who just don’t want to understand?


Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg  Grades 10-12  Adult
217p., New York: Random House, 1995.  0679437452.

 “I can tell you how it happened. It’s easy to say how it happened.  He walked past a building, and a huge chunk of ice fell off the roof, and it hit him in the head.  This is Chaplinesque, right?  This is kind of funny.  People start to laugh when I tell them.  I see the start of their hand to their mouth, their poor disguise.  I laughed when I heard.  I thought after the doctor told me what happened that Jay would get on the phone and say, ‘Jeez, Lainey, come and get me.  I’ve got a goose egg the size of the world.  Come take me home.’  Only what happened wasn’t like Chaplin: Jay didn’t land on his butt with his legs sticking out at chopstick angles, twitch his mustache, get back up and walk away.  He landed on his side, and stayed there.”  Lainey’s husband Jay is now in a coma thanks to that chunk of ice.  Lainey has two young daughters to cope with as well as doctors that tell her, her husband won’t get better.  They basically tell her to fact the facts.  However, Lainey isn’t willing to give up on Jay.  She needs him and she will do whatever it takes to help him regain consciousness.  But, what can she do?


Raven’s Gate by Anthony Horowitz  Grades 8-9
254 p., New York:  Scholastic Press, 2005.  0439679958.

 Matt is in big trouble.  He and a friend are sneaking into a warehouse to steal DVDs when they are caught by the security guard.  Before Matt can do anything his friend plunges his knife into the guard and tries to run away.  They are quickly apprehended by the police and Matt is put in a detention center awaiting a court decision.  In a meeting with the police, a judge and his social worker, Matt finds out he is being sent into an experimental new program called the L.E.A.F. project where he will be sent home with a family to live and work with them for several years.  Matt’s new guardian is named Mrs. Deverill and she seems strict and mean.  She lives on a dumpy farm near the village of Lesser Malling in the middle of nowhere.  Matt hates it there, but what can he do?  The people in Lesser Malling are strange and there is no help for him there.  One night he wakes up and hears chanting and sees a glow coming from the woods near the farm. What is really going on here and what do these people want with him?  To find out, you’ll have to brave the Raven’s Gate.


The Recruit by Robert Muchamore
342 p., New York: Simon Pulse, 2004.  9780689877797.  Grades 8-10

 James is having a very bad day.  First he gets in a fight with a girl in his chemistry class, because she keeps making fun of his mom.  He finally loses his temper and pushes her against the wall where there is a nail that cuts her cheek.  He is so shocked by all the blood that he runs out of the school and heads home where his mom and step-dad are getting drunk in the living room.  At least his mom is too far gone to care why he is home early from school.  Since she is obviously in no shape to go pick up his little sister Lauren from school, James heads out to get her.  On their way back home he is pounced on by the bully of an older brother of the girl he hurt at school earlier that day.  It is an ugly fight and by the time it is all over James is really hurting bad.  As if things aren’t bad enough, later in the evening as James is heading to the bathroom he hears the T.V. still on in the living room and goes in to check on his mom.  There is something not right, she feels cold to the touch and James knows she is dead.  That is how James ends up at a foster home called Nebraska House.  Little does he know that while he is there, he is being evaluated to see if he will make a good agent for British Intelligence’s CHERUB unit.  To find out what CHERUB is and whether James has what it takes to become an agent, you’ll have to read Mission One: The Recruit.


Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings  Grades 8-9
209 p.,  New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2004.  0525473173. 

Have you ever had a day where you wished you could go back and just start over?  If you’d know how that day would change your life, you’d do it all differently.  Well, Brady still remembers that day so clearly.   He and his best friends J.T and Digger were waiting for his cousin Carl to stop by and give them a ride to school.  As they were waiting out by the road they saw their new neighbor Mr. DiAngelo head by down the river in his red kayak.  It was a cold April morning with a storm brewing. Brady wanted to call out a warning to Mr. DiAngelo, but Digger and J.T. told him to let it be.  Maybe Mr. DiAngelo could use a cold swim. Later that morning, Brady’s dad shows up at school to pull him out to help search along the river.  Although, not for Mr. DiAngelo like Brady had  thought, but for his wife and their three year old son Ben.  Mrs. DiAngelo is quickly rescued, but it takes a lot longer to locate Ben. Brady’s dog Tilly helps him locate the little boy.  However, they may be too late to save little Ben.  What happened to make them have such a terrible accident and how can you live with yourself knowing you might have prevented this tragedy?  To find out what happens, you’ll have to read the Red Kayak.

Alternate Booktalk:
Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings  Grades 7-11
New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2004.  9780525473173

Read p. 3-5.

It comes down to a choice – do you say something, or not?  And if you don’t, and something horrible happens, what do you say then?  Do you speak up?  Who will it help, who will it hurt?  Find out what Brady chooses to say when he finds out about the Red Kayak.


Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin  Grades 8-10
259 p., New York:  Dial Books, 2006.  0803730012.

 Everything changed the day they met Murdoch McIvans.  Only Matt didn’t know his name at the time.  It was only later that they found out who he was.  Matt and Callie had gone down to the store on the corner for a moment of blessed air conditioning when the witnessed Murdoch stand up for a little boy whose big father was about to beat him right there in the store.  After watching Murdoch step in and rescue the boy Matt knows he has to meet this man.  Murdoch could help protect them from Nikki, their mother.  She is crazy and unpredictable and most frightening, she is dangerous.  They never know what her moods will e like and the moods change so quickly.  Well, it is no place to raise their little sister Emmy.  But, how can they get out of this situation?  No one will believe what their mother is really like.  She puts on a good show for others.  Murdoch is the key to escape but how will Matt be able to find him?  To find out what happens to Matt, Callie and Emmy, you’ll have to read Rules of Survival.


Rules of the Road by Joan Bauer  Grades 8-9
201 p., New York: Putman’s, 1998.  0399231404.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 850 Points: 9

 Jenna Boller has had her driver’s license six months and she knows it is her ticket to freedom.  Jenna has a great job working at Gladstone’s Shoe Stores, and she is a born shoe saleswoman.  Her goal is to save enough money to buy a red sports car.  So, when her father comes stumbling drunk into Gladstones to see her, Jenna knows without a doubt she has lost her job.  Even Mrs. Gladstone who owns the chain of Gladstone’s Shoe Stores was there to witness Jenna’s humiliation.  Imagine Jenna’s surprise when Mrs. Gladstone tells her that she wants Jenna at her house at 7:00 am sharp the next morning to try out to be her driver for the summer.  So begins a tenuous relationship with Mrs. Gladstone and her huge white Cadillac.  Mrs. Gladstone’s slimy son Eldon is trying to take over the company, so she and Jenna set out on a cross-country trek to try and stop him.  Follow Jenna as she learns the Rules of the Road.


Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen  Grades 6-8
250p., New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.  9780375835223.

Holly is fed up with her life.  She hates the way the kids at school treat her like dirt and how the teacher plays favorites.  If only everyone didn’t know her background.  She and her mother were homeless living on the streets until Holly’s mom died of a drug overdose.  Now Holly is living in foster care with the Benders.  They are a mean spiteful couple.  When they think Holly is being bad they lock her in the laundry room to sleep, with a bucket to use for the bathroom.  They also don’t feed her when they are mad, which is all the time.  School is almost out for the summer and Holly can’t stand the thought of three months locked in the laundry room with no food.  That is when she formulates her plan.  She is going to run away and live like a gypsy.  She wants to go to California where it is warm and live by the ocean and swim with the dolphins.  However, it is pretty hard to travel under the radar as a twelve-year-old girl alone with only and backpack and no money.  How will Holly survive on her own?  Life as a runaway is very lonely and scary. 

Alternative Booktalk:
Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen  Grades 8-11
250 p., New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.  9780375835223

Read p.1-2, May 17th entry

Holly can’t take any more from her abusive foster family.  She’s finally going to get away.  But life on the road isn’t much easier.  She’s hiding out from the cops and the overzealous social workers, scrounging for meals and rides, and defending herself from creeps and crazies.  This journal becomes her lifeline as she searches for a place to call home.


Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix  Grades 6-7
184 p., New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1995.  0689812361.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 730 Points: 12

 Jessie lives with her family in the frontier village of Clifton, Indiana in 1840.  There is a diphtheria outbreak in her village and it seems like the serum just won’t arrive.  After several deaths, Jessie’s mom takes her aside and tells her a very dangerous secret.  It is not 1840, it is actually 1996 and Jessie and her family are living in a reconstructed village.  Tourists come very day to watch them living in the past.  What a shock this is for Jessie.  Can you imagine people watching your every move all day long?  Jessie’s mom tells her that there is a medicine on the outside that can save those who are deathly ill with diphtheria.  Evidently the people who run Clifton Village don’t want to save the people who are sick and dying.  Jessie’s mom then gives her her old clothes from when she first came to the village and shows Jessie how to sneak out without anyone seeing her.  It is up to Jessie to find someone who can help the sick people in Clifton before they all run out of time.


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Sammy Keyes and the Curse of Moustache Mary by Wendelin Van Drannen  Grades 6-7
239 p., New York: Dell Yearling, 2000.  040416434.

 Imagine a little old woman dressed all in black with a fuzzy black hat walking a big black pig with a big black satin bow attached to its collar.  Now that would be a sight to see along the side of the road.  This is how Sammy Keyes first meets Lucinda Huntly and her pig Penny.  Lucinda tells Sammy and her friends about her great-grandmother Moustache Mary who came out west on a wagon train disguised as a man.  Mary got in a feud with the Murdocks, another family on the wagon train and since they both settled in the same area the feud has continued on for generations.  When Moustache Mary’s pioneer cabin burns to the ground, Lucinda is convinced the Murdocks are behind the horrible act of arson.  Sammy and her friends aren’t so sure.  Then Penny the pig goes missing.  It is time for Sammy to get to the bottom of this mystery and there is definitely more doing on than what meets the eye. 


Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen  Grades 6-7
163 p., New York: Knopf, 1998.  0679892648.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 840 Points: 9

 Grams has told Sammy over and over that using the binoculars to stare at people is going to get her in trouble.  Sammy just doesn’t believe her.  So, when Sammy is watching out the window of the senior’s high-rise at the Heavenly Hotel across the street, she can’t believe what she sees through the binoculars.  It is a man hurrying around on of the rooms and he is wearing black gloves.  She sees him digging through a purse, take out a big wad of money and stuff it into his jacket.  While Sammy is trying to get a better look at his face he looks up and sees her.  Now, what should she have done?  She should have ducked down and run.  What Sammy did instead was wave at him.  Now the guy really knows she saw him and he knows where she lives.  Sammy decides she should tell the police what she has seen, only they don’t believe her.  After all she is just a snot nosed kid.  Now Sammy is worried that the Hotel Thief will find her and she has a niggling thought in the back of her mind that he looks really familiar and she should know who he is. Now let me tell you, that’s not a very comforting thought.


Sammy Keyes and the Search for Snake Eyes by Wendelin Van Draanen  Grades 6-7
277 p., New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.  0375811753. 

Trouble just seems to find Sammy Keyes.  While Sammy is at the arcade with her best friend Marissa, trouble just bumped into her, literally.  Sammy was standing there watching Marissa play when a girl with a big red and white Sears bag backs into her.  The girl doesn’t even say she’s sorry.  In fact she just continues to back up.  She is so scared she’s shaking and she keeps looking at the front door of the arcade and saying, “oh no, he’s going to kill me.  He’s going to kill us.”  Then she turns to Sammy and asks her to hide her.  When Sammy suggests going to mall security the girl just gives her a sad smile and tells Sammy to keep the Sears bag safe for her and not to call the police.  She says she will meet Sammy back at the mall at 7:00 pm.  Then she sneaks out of the arcade before Sammy can stop her.  Sammy then sees the guy who had the girl so worried.  He has hatred for eyes and steel for a mouth and a snake with eyes like dice tattooed on his arm.  He almost doesn’t look human he’s so mean.  When he finally slinks out of the arcade, Sammy pulls herself together and checks in the bag.  What she sees scares her almost as much as Snake Eyes.  Can you guess what was in the bag?  A baby.  What is Sammy going to do with a baby?  The girl told her not to talk to the police, but what will she do if the girl doesn’t show up at 7:00?  How will Sammy be able to find her and most importantly, what is the deal with Snake Eyes?


Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta  Grades 8-11
243 p., New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003.  9780375829826

Francesca’s life only seems to get harder by the day. She’s started a new school this year – St. Sebastian’s, which used to be an all boys school.  The only girls there aren’t exactly what she’d choose for friends, if she had any others to choose from – and as for the boys, well, musical burping’s just not Francesca’s thing.  She finds herself somehow attracted to senior Will Trombal, but the whole situation is extremely confusing.  And then there’s her mom, whose normally strong personality is crushed under a depression so deep, she hasn’t gotten up from bed in weeks.  How much more can Francesca take before she finds someone – anyone – to reach out and save her?


The Schernoff Discoveries by Gary Paulsen  Grades 6-7
103 p., New York: Delacorte Press, 1997.  0385321945.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 1,030 Points: 6

 One day Harold told me he had decided he needed to learn how to fish.  “Fishing is a manly art,” he said and he felt he needed to be more manly.  I protested, knowing Harold was not an outdoorsman.  He got a sunburn walking across the yard on a cloudy day.  Harold persisted, so the next morning we met at his house to begin our fishing lessons.  Harold looked like something out of Field and Stream in hip waders, an old felt hat and one of those vests with lots of pockets.  We then headed down to the stream to start fishing.  I showed him how to bait the hook with worms and to cast the line just so.  Then he reached into the bucket and pulled out a glob of worms, stuck them on the hook and started to cast.  It looked great except he forgot to unlock the reel, so the whole mess came back and caught him square in the mouth.  On the next try he remembered to unlock his reel and managed to catch me in the back of the head with the mess of worms, as it whipped back around.  At that point I decided it was safer to hide behind a bush while Harold was learning to cast his line, and pray I survived the experience. 


Schooled by Gordon Korman  Grades 7-8
208 p., New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2007.  9786856923.

 Capricorn Anderson feels like he has just been transported to a strange new planet where nothing makes sense anymore.  This new planet is the Claverage Middle School and he’s in way over his head.  It all started when Cap’s grandmother Rain fell out of the plum tree and broke her hip.  Until that time Cap has lived with Rain at Garland Farm, an old hippie commune.  They are the only people who live there.  Rain home schools Cap and there is no radio or television, so unless they go to town for supplies Cap doesn’t interact with other people.  When Rain breaks her hip, she must stay in the hospital for rehab which means Cap is sent to foster care until she recovers enough to go home.  Now Cap is enrolled in public school for the first time in his live and it is an eye opening experience.  1,100 students pushing, shoving, yelling and talking on cell phones.  On the other hand, none of the kids at “C Average” Middle School have seen anything like Capricorn Anderson either.  He has wild blond hair, tie died t-shirts, homemade woven sandals and a cluelessness that goes beyond anything anyone has ever seen.  It’s open season on the new kid and Cap is in for the school experience of his life.  No one has ever been Schooled like this!

Alternative Booktalk:
Schooled by Gordon Korman  Grades 6-8
208 p., New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2007.  9780786856923

“The teacher gazed around at the spectators.  ‘Any witnesses?’  Nobody said a word.  ‘Come on, who saw what happened?’
‘I did,’ I volunteered.
‘Buttwipe wanted to know what jerkface was looking at, and jerkface wanted to know what buttwipe was looking at.’  I turned earnest eyes on the bloody and dirt-smeared brawlers. ‘You were barely three inches apart.  Couldn’t you see that you were both looking at each other?’
The teacher reddened.  ‘Who do you think you are, Jerry Seinfeld?’
‘You must have me confused with another student,’ I told him.  ‘My name is Capricorn Anderson.’ (From Schooled, p.19)

Capricorn Anderson has spent his whole life at the Garland Farm Commune with his hippie grandmother, Rain.  An accident on the farm lands Rain in the hospital and Cap in foster care, and for the first time, in public school.  Those tie-dye shirts are a great big multi-colored target marking Cap as the school’s new chief nerd, and therefore candidate for eighth grade class president.  But Cap Anderson is different from anyone who’s ever been to Claverage Middle school, and he may just change everyone’s mind about the class president’s job – and him.  Everybody has a bit of learning to do in Gordon Korman’s Schooled.


The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman  Grades 8-9
228 p., New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2004.  0525471820.

 There is something very strange about Calvin Schwa.  It is almost like he is so forgettable he is invisible.  Antsy and his friends can’t decide about the Schwa.  What is it that makes him so strange and practically invisible to everyone?  That is when the guys come up with an idea to experiment on the Schwa to find out if he really is as invisible as he seems.  They call it “The Schwa Effect.”  Here’s what they decide to do.  They put 9 people in a classroom with the Schwa and then ask 20 other students to walk in the room and count heads.  15 said there were only 9 people in the room, 4 counted 10 and one said there were 17.  The guys think he counted the hamsters and guinea pig too.  So according to their experiment 4 out of 5 people do not see the Schwa in your standard classroom.  Antsy decides to capitalize on this phenomenon and market the Schwa to do things that you would need an invisible person to do, like listen in on the conversations in the teacher lounge.  The Schwa also takes dares.    It is one of those dares that will change the lives of Antsy and the Schwa.  To find out about life after the dare you’ll have to read The Schwa Was Here.

Alternative Booktalk:
The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman  Grades 7-9
228 p., New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2004.  9780525471820

Functionally invisible – it’s like people look right through me, and they can barely remember me when they’ve just finished talking to me.  My friend Antsy (that’s Anthony Bonano) came up with the name for my condition.  He’s also helping me research exactly what it all means and how we can turn it to our advantage.  It’s cool to have a friend, even though sometimes I can tell he doesn’t see me either – the “Schwa effect” at work.  But somebody has to remember me, or I might disappear for good, like my Mom did.  Somebody has to.  They call me the Schwa and I AM HERE!


Scorpia by Anthony Horowitz  Grades 7-8
312 p., New York:  Philomel Books, 2004.  0399241515.

 “Go to Venice.  Find Scorpia.  And you will find your destiny…”  These words spoken by Yassen Gregorovich as he lay dying continue to haunt Alex Rider.  What did Yassen mean by this?   Alex knows that his father was an assassin working for Scorpia one of the worlds largest and most deadly criminal organizations.  Finally Alex knows that he won’t be able to rest until he finds out more about Scorpia for himself.  So, when his friend Tom invites him to go to Italy to visit his older brother Alex jumps at the chance.  Maybe now he can find out a little more about Scorpia and his father.  Of course, how does one go about finding out about a very secretive criminal organization?  Scorpia won’t be listed in any phone book nor will they have brochures available.  In Venice a small silver scorpion on one of the boats in the canal catches Alex’s eye.  He follows it to a beautiful villa and from a lady down the street finds out that there will be a huge costume party that evening.  Alex sees his chance to get in and do some investigating.  He comes disguised and manages to sneak into the party, but gets caught while going through the owner’s desk.  Now he is locked in a room below the house with more questions than answers.  To make matters worse the water is steadily rising.  There seems to be no way out.  Will Alex drown without finding the information he is seeking or will he manage to escape from this watery prison?


Scribbler of Dreams by Mary E. Pearson  Grades 8-9
223 p., San Diego: Harcourt, 2001.  0152023208.

 Is there anything you hate with every fiber of your being?  Kait Malone has been raised to hate the Crutchfields.  It is a family fight that goes back generations and it is the way things have always been, hating the faceless Crutchfield monsters.  Kait’s father has been sent to prison for involuntary manslaughter when he gets in an argument with a Crutchfield and the Crutchfield is killed.  So, money is pretty tight around the Malone house.  This means that Kait and her sister now have to go to public school, a Crutchfield school instead of the private school they have always attended.  At this new school, they are registered under the last name of Hampton, their mom’s maiden name.  So no one will know they are Malones.  Things will be easier that way.  Kait is a very quiet reserved person so going to a new school is very hard for her.  She loves nothing more than writing in her journal so, at lunch Kait avoids the overcrowded cafeteria in favor of a shady courtyard.  While she is sitting there writing she notices a guy sketching in a notebook.  He has the most beautiful piercing blue eyes and she finds out his name is Bram.  He is there everyday at lunch and Kait gets to know Bram better.  He is the only thing that makes going to this new school bearable.  Kait knows she is falling in love with Bram so imagine her shock when she finds out that he is a Crutchfield, one of the monsters she was raised to hate.  What is she going to do now?  Her family will never understand.  Will Bram understand if he finds out she is a Malone, someone he has been raised to hate?  How will she keep him from finding out the ugly truth?


Secret of the Mezuzah by Mary Reeves Bell  Grade 7
196 p., Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1999.  1556615493.

Who has ever been to a foreign country?  Don’t you think it would be exciting to live outside of the United States?  Well, Con thinks it is so boring living in Vienna, Austria.  Nothing exciting ever happens there.  When the local bakery owner tells Con that one in ten people living in Vienna is a spy, Con decides to take a closer look at everyone.  He and his friends make a list of the people they know who might act like a spy.  They then decide to watch these people and see what happens.  Everything is going along smoothly until Con and his family takes a trip back to the village where they used to live.  Con visits his old landlord Herr Donner and Donner gives Con a mezuzah.  A mezuzah is a small Jewish parchment scroll inscribed with Bible verses tucked inside a case.  Suddenly after Donner gives the mezuzah to Con he becomes very angry and tries to get it back.  Con’s mom is just as determined to keep the mezuzah and they sneak out of town before Donner can force them to give it back.  Does this mezuzah have any link to the spies Con is looking for?  What is the power of this mezuzah and why does everyone want it?


Secrets of a Civil War Submarine:  Solving the Mysteries of the H.L. Hunley by Sally M. Walker    Grades 6-8
112 p.,  Minneapolis, MN:  Carolrhoda Books Inc., 2005.  1575058308.

 During the Civil War, the Union blockade of the southern port in Charleston was really hindering the South’s efforts.  The Confederate navy needed a better way to deliver a torpedo to Union boats so they could get their ships and goods out of the harbor.  Horace Hunley and James McClintock worked together to create a submarine that would meet these requirements.  The first submarine was very small, just 4 feet tall by 40 feet long, with room for 7 crew members to sit and crank the crankshaft to make the submarine move.  There was also space at the front for a captain to stand and steer the vessel.  The Hunley, as it was known performed well on its test runs, but sank on both of its voyages.  Then on its final voyage it managed to torpedo the Union ship the USS Housatonic killing 5 sailors, and that was the last anyone saw of the Hunley or its crew.  Many people searched for the sub, but no one was able to locate its whereabouts.  Then in May of 1995 after more than 130 years underwater, divers finally located the wreck.  After lots of careful planning they brought it to the surface and into the laboratory.  What will the wreck tell scientists?  Will we ever know what really happened on that fateful voyage?  To find out you’ll have to check out the Secrets of a Civil War Submarine.


Send One Angel Down by Virginia Frances Schwartz  Grades 7-8
163 p., New York: Holiday House, 2000. 0823414841.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 610 Points: 10
Iowa Teen Award Nomination 2002-2003

 To really understand what slavery was like, you have to hear the stories from the slaves themselves.  During the 1930’s the Federal Writer’s Project interviewed many former slaves about their experiences and stories.  Send One Angel Down is Abram’s story.  Abram is born into slavery on Master Turner’s plantation in Alabama.  There he grows up helping Granny tend the babies in the breeder’s cabin and trying to be invisible so the master doesn’t notice him.  Having new babies means more money for the master.  Either the babies grow up to pick cotton on the plantation or they are sold for money.  Abram is so excited when his cousin Eliza is born.  He knows she will be something special.  It is his sacred duty to protect Eliza from the harsh lives the slaves endure.  As Eliza grows up, all the slaves notice that Eliza is different.  Her skin is lighter than everyone else’s and her eyes are blue.  These differences are going to cause lots of trouble for Eliza as she grows older.  Will Abram be strong enough to protect his cousin?


Serendipity Market by Penny Blubaugh  Grades 8-10
New York: HarperCollins, 2009.  9780061468759

Mama Inez has sent out her birds.  The world is out of balance, and she needs stories to put things to rights again.  So the birds call them to the Serendipity Market at the end of the world – young and old, human, beast and elf, princes and peasants – to tell their stories.  Their tales are familiar, yet extraordinary, timeless and fresh.  So slip into the tent, grab a pillow and a spot at a table, gather round and listen to the storytellers at the end of the world, in the Serendipity Market.


Shadowland by Meg Cabot  Grades 8-11
287 p., New York: HaperCollins, 2000.  0060725117

Read p. 25-26 to “They always do.”

Moving to California should be a great change for Suze – she actually likes her new stepdad, and the new step-brothers could be worse.  But she can’t seem to get away from her night job: acting as “mediator” between the dead and the living, helping ghosts to move on to whatever comes next.  But this new ghost Jesse might not be so bad: he seems well adjusted, looks incredibly hot, and lives in her bedroom.  What could possibly go wrong with that?   Well, it turns out he’s not the only ghost around…..  First in the six-book Mediator series.


Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge  Grade 8
116 p., Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2003.  0763621161.

 Meet 14-year-old Kevin Boland.  All he thinks about is baseball and girls, until he is diagnosed with mono.  Now he is forced to spend several months at home recovering.  That means no baseball and no girls.  What is he going to do?  His father, who is a writer, gives Kevin a journal which he isn’t all that thrilled with.  Then he starts to experiment with this journal and even borrows a book on poetry from his dad’s collection.  He starts to use different types of poetry such as haiku, sonnet and pastoral to express his feelings on getting sick, losing his mom, baseball and you guessed it, girls!  How much longer will it be before he’s back on the ball field?  Hopefully none of the other guys on the team will find out about this journal!


The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood  Grade 7
216 p., New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 1998.  0525458638.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 840 Points: 12

Widge is a prentice which is little more than a slave in England during the 1500’s.  A prentice is still not a bad position for an orphan boy.  He works for a doctor/minister who has taught him several unusual skills.  Widge knows how to read and write English and Latin.  He has also mastered a complicated form of shorthand that helps him write as fast as a person speaks.  (example on page 13)  This makes Widge very valuable to a man named Simon Bass who buys Widge from the doctor.  It is not until Widge gets to Mr. Bass’ house that he finds out what he is to do.  Simon Bass owns a theater troupe and he needs some new material to perform.  He gives Widge the job of going to London and transcribing the entire play of Hamlet written by Shakespeare while the actors are performing it at the Globe Theater.  This seems fairly simple unitl Widge gets too caught up in the play to remember to write things down.  Now he must try again or face the wrath of Falconer whom Simon Bass has sent to watch over him.  So, Widge joins the actors to get away from Falconer.  Now he has created a real mess.  He knows Falconer will come after him to get the play, but if he copies the play or steals the playbook he will hurt his new found friends, the actors.  What will Widge decide to do?


Shelter by Harlan Coben  Grades 9-12
New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011.  9780399256509

Mickey Bolitar is having a bad year.  First, he saw his father die in a car wreck.  Then he watched his mother self-destruct and end up in rehab.  Next he moved in with his estranged uncle Myron – and started a new high school.  He starts out by making enemies, then makes friends with the school’s outcasts, although he does meet an incredible girl – who disappears after he’s known her only a few days.  The more he digs into the mystery surrounding Ashley, the more he realizes she wasn’t what she appeared to be – and the more questions he finds about his own past.  What does Ashley have to do with his father’s last job, and what is the meaning of the butterfly symbol he keeps seeing everywhere?  Mickey Bolitar will have to decide how far he’s willing to go to be a Shelter for the people who matter most to him.


The Shrouding Woman by Loretta Ellsworth  Grade 7
151 p., New York: H.Holt, 2002.  0805066519.

 Evie is not at all excited to have her Aunt Flo come live with them.  Evie’s mother died of consumption a few months ago, so Aunt Flo is moving in with them to help take care of things.  Not only is Aunt Flo moving in and taking over her mother’s place in their family, but Evie has heard that Aunt Flo is a shrouding woman.  Evie isn’t quite sure what exactly a shrouding woman is, but she knows it has to do with death and Evie wants no part of that.  There has already been too much death in her family.  Now Evie’s traitorous little sister has taken to Aunt Flo, showing her around and helping her out.  Evie on the other hand tries to stay as far away as possible spending most of her time working in the garden.  What really spooks Evie about Aunt Flo is the odd brown box she keeps under her bed.  She always takes it with her when she is going to do a shrouding.  There is something inside the box that rattles and it gives Evie the willies.  Then one evening Aunt Flo is called out to help a family whose daughter has died during childbirth.  Aunt Flo is tired and needs help.  Evie’s father asks her to go along and help with the shrouding.  Will Evie be able to handle it?


The Silent Boy by Lois Lowery  Grade 7-8
178 p., Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.  0618282319.

 The first time Katy Thatcher saw the silent boy was when she went with her father to pick up their new hired girl Peggy.  Jacob, the silent boy is Peggy’s younger brother.  Jacob never talks nor will he look anyone directly in the eye.  The men who work at the mill say that he is an idiot, but Katy has heard he is touched.  Only, what does that mean?  Touched by what or whom?  Katy keeps seeing Jacob’s dog outside their barn, so she knows he has come all the way into town to see her family’s horses.  Jacob has a way with animals and he has the ability to imitate any sound he hears.  Jacob and Katy form a friendship of sorts when she goes out to the barn to see what he is doing.  Often they sit in the barn in companionable silence.  Then one night something horrible happens.  Jacob disappears and the whole town is looking for him.  Only Katy knows where he is.  Should she tell or just stay silent? 


Silent to the Bone by E.L. Konigsburg  Grade 8
261 p., New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000.  0689836015.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 810 Points: 12
Iowa Teen Award Nomination 2002-2003

 On Wednesday, November 25, at 2:43 p.m. eastern standard time, Bramwell Zamborska is struck dumb.  The reason we have the exact time is that when he dialed 911 he either couldn’t or wouldn’t speak.  The reason Bramwell dialed 911 was because his 6 month old baby sister Nikki was breathing funny and was unresponsive.  When it becomes obvious that Bramwell can’t say anything the British au pair Vivian takes over and tells the 911 operator that Bramwell has dropped the baby and that she is unresponsive.  Because of what happened Bramwell is sent to the county juvenile behavioral center and Nikki goes to the county hospital.  Bramwell’s dad asks his best friend Connor to visit him at the behavioral center.  Connor takes it upon himself to help Bram talk or at least figure out the events leading up to that fateful 911 call on November 25th.  Something must have happened that has rendered Bram speechless and Connor feels it is his duty to find out.  Only how can he communicate with someone who can’t talk?  Connor comes up with an idea of making up cards with certain words on them and then pointing to them until Bramwell blinks at the one he wants.  Then Connor will use that information to try to piece together the events leading up to the 911 emergency call.  Will Connor be able to help Bramwell or will he stay Silent to the Bone?

 Words to go on cards for visual:

Blue Peter    Margaret    SISA    The Ancestors    Vivian    Day Care    Tape    Bathroom


SilverFin: a James Bond Adventure by Charlie Higson  Grades 7-8
355 p., New York:  Miramax Books, 2005.  0786838663.

Going to school at Eaton is like visiting an alien planet.  Sometimes James is afraid that he’ll never figure it all out.  He had been schooled at home by his aunt until recently and now she had decided he would learn more at Eaton, the prestigious all boy preparatory school outside of Windsor, England.  Pritpal has the room next to James and he tries to show him the ropes as well as teaching him where everything is located and all the words they use only at Eaton.  However, even Pritpal can’t help James when he makes an enemy in one of the older boys.  George Hellebore takes an immediate dislike to James and tries his hardest to make James miserable at Eaton.  Then George’s dad who is very wealthy sponsors an athletic event that consists of a shooting contest, swimming contest and a cross country race.  James decides to enter.  He’s never really shot before, or done much swimming but he can run faster and longer than anyone else at Eaton.  He might as well give George a run for his money.  James knows that George’s dad makes his money in arms dealing but there is something very sinister about him and the way he pushes George.  If George weren’t so mean to James, James would almost feel sorry for him.  What is going on with the Hellebore family?  What are they trying to hide?    James decides he will just have to take the challenge and find out what is going on with the Hellebores.  Will he figure out what is going on before they get to him?


Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares  Grade 8
294 p., New York: Delacorte Press, 2001.  0385729332.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 600 Points: 14
Iowa Teen Award Nomination 2003-2004 

Four best friends, the Septembers, born in the same month of the same year.  They have been best friends since infancy.  Lena, Bridget, Tibby and Carmen all have very different personalities, but instead of driving them apart it brings them together.  Normally they all spend each summer together hanging out and catching up after a wild school year, but this summer will be different.  Each of them will be going their separate ways.  Lena will be going to Greece to visit grandparents she doesn’t even know, Bridget will be going to Baja, California for soccer camp, Carmen is spending the summer with her father in South Carolina and Tibby is stuck at home in Washington D.C. working at Wallman’s Drug Store all summer long.  None of them quite know how to deal with this change.  Meanwhile, Carmen buys a pair of pants at the thrift store without even bothering to try them on first.  While they are having a group packing session someone notices the pants and all four friends try them on.  Amazingly enough, the pants look fabulous on each of them.  This is the beginning of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  They all decide that they will share the pants all summer mailing the pants back and forth as a way to stay in touch and feel connected.  It is going to be one interesting summer.  Not like anyone imagined.


Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac  Grades 6-7
114 p., New York: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2001.  0060290757.

 Doesn’t it sound nice to have the house all to yourself for a while?  No parents telling you what to do or to eat your veggies.  Well, that’s what happens to molly.  Her parents go out on Saturday night and when she wakes up Sunday morning they are still gone.  This is so unlike them, but Molly knows they will be back.  But, then on Monday they still aren’t back, not on Tuesday either and now she is really worried.  Something terrible must have happened, but surly she would have heard some news.  Social Services finds out she has been abandoned and they come in with a relative to take care of her.  This is a big surprise to Molly since she didn’t know she had any relatives close by.  She is taken to meet this tall elderly man who gives her the creeps.  He is so thin he looks skeletal and he won’t let her get a good look at his face.  There is no way she is going to go anywhere with him but the lady from Social Services won’t listen to her.  After all, he is her uncle.  Now she is at his old creepy house where he locks her in her room every night.  What is going on?  Where are her parents?  Molly is sure her uncle holds the key, but what does this Skeleton Man really want?


Skellig by David Almond  Grade 7
182 p., New York: Delacorte Press, 1999.  038532653X.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 490 Points: 8
Iowa Teen Award Nomination 2002-2003

Michael’s family has just moved into a new house in a new neighborhood.  While out back exploring the rickety old garage, Michael finds this person, at least he thinks it is a person.  At first Michael thinks he is dead, sitting with his legs stretched out and his head tipped back against the wall.  He is covered in dust and webs like everything and his face is thin and pale.  Dead bluebottles are scattered on his hair and shoulders, and he has a hump in the back of his coat right across his houlder blades.  When Michael shines his flashlight on the creature’s face he says, “What do you want?” So, Michael knows he is definitely alive.  But, Michael doesn’t know what else to think.  He doesn’t want to tell his parents who are too wrapped up in the new baby and fixing up the house.  None of his school friends live close anymore.  The only person Michael feels he can show this creature to is Mina the girl who lives across the street.  When Michael takes her to the garage, will she see this creature too, or is Michael just imagining the whole thing?  If he isn’t, what is this creature and where did it come from?


So B. It by Sarah Weeks  Grade 8
245 p., New York: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2004.  0064410471.

 How would you feel if you didn’t know anything abut yourself or your family?  Heidi doesn’t even know when her birthday is.  What she does know is that she has a mom who has a bum brain, in other words, her mom is mentally handicapped.  Also, she knows what their nest door neighbor Bernadette tells here.  And that is, that Heidi’s mom showed up on her doorstep 12 years ago with a baby Heidi in her arms and that they have been living in the apartment next to Bernadette ever since.  Her mom only knows 23 words and that her own name is So B. It.  One of those 23 words really bothers Heidi, and that word is soof.  What does it mean?  What is her mom thinking of when she says soof?  Heidi tries to figure it out, but there is no rhyme nor reason as to why or when her mom uses that word.  Heidi is convinced it is the key to unlocking the past, but how will she ever find out what it means?  Then one day, cleaning out a drawer Heidi runs across a camera with film in it that needs developed.  Developing those pictures will change Heidi’s life.  They send her on a cross country quest for answers.  But, will she be able to live with what she finds out?  Whatever she finds, So B. It.


So Totally Emily Ebers by Lisa Yee  Grades 6-7
280 p., New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007. 9780439838474.

 How can Emily’s mom be so mean?  Why does she have to move them clear across the country to Rancho Rosetta, California?  Emily is leaving behind her home in New Jersey and her best friends and her dad, just because her parents are getting a stupid divorce.  Why did her mom have to pick this place anyway?  Emily decides she is going to write a journal of letters to her dad so they can stay close even though he is on the road with his band.  The guys have decided to do a reunion tour which is so cool.  But, it is hard when he never calls and she doesn’t know where to call to talk to him.  Just when things can’t get much worse, Mom or Alice as she now wants to be called, signs Emily up for summer volleyball.  Sports are not Emily’s thing and to be stuck on the team all summer will be pure torture.  Then Emily’s dad sends her, her very own credit card.  It’s just for emergencies, but still……  Who do you know in the entire 7th grade who has her won credit card?  Dad is so cool, and this is going to be so much fun.  Emily also meets a girl at volleyball and they hit it off right away.  Her name is Millicent Min and it’s like they’ve been friends forever they click so well.  Still, how is Emily going to make it through the summer, not speaking to her mom, not hearing from her dad, lots of volleyball to go, and oh yeah, trying to get to know that cute guy, Stanford Wong.  This is So Totally Emily Ebers.


Sold by Patricia McCormick  Grades 10-12
263 p., New York: Hyperion, 2006. 978078651713.

 “My name is Lakshmi.  I am from Nepal.  I am thirteen years old.”  Lakshmi and her family live in a remote section of Nepal near the mountains.  They grow rice and work hard to survive.  Her stepfather spend his days at the tea shop gambling while she and her mother work to keep things together. There are so many things they need that they just can’t afford.  Most importantly they need a new roof made of tin for their hut.  They also need cloth for clothes and food for the baby if he is to survive.  It has been a bad growing season and most of the rice has been lost.  That is why Lakshmi is excited when her stepfather says she will go to the city to work as a maid.  Now she can earn money to help her family have all the nice things they need.  Everyone will be so proud of her. But when the lady takes her away to the city, it isn’t for a job as a maid.  When Lakshmi arrives in India at Happiness House she finds out that she has been sold into prostitution.  What can Lakshmi do now?  How will she survive?  How can she possibly help her family from here?  Will she ever be able to see them again and is there any chance she will be able to escape from this waking nightmare?


Someday by Jackie French Koller Grade 8
215 p., New York: Orchard Books, 2002.  0439293170.

 Someday always seems like a long way in the future.  Not anything to worry about right now.  For everyone in the small town of Enfield, Mass. someday is finally here.  For as long as she can remember Celie Wheeler has known that someday her town will be gone.  Enfield and three other small towns in the valley have been slated for demolition to build a large reservoir for Boston.  The construction of the dam has been going on for so long it just seems like part of the background noise.  Then everyone receives the notice in the mail that they will have to sell their property and be out by April 1st.  That means that Celie won’t be able to graduate from the 8th grade in the only school she known with all of her friends and classmates.  They will probably all be splitting up and moving to different towns, so Celie may never see them again.  When Celie’s Grandmother reads the letter she states that she will not sell the house and she will continue to live there no matter what.  She also petitions to see that Celie and her classmates get to stay in Enfield till they graduate.  It is hard to concentrate on classes when kids keep moving and buildings are being torn down.  What are Celie and her family going to do when they are finally forced to leave their family home and Grandmother refuses.  Someday is most definitely here!


Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman  Grade 8
262 p., New York: Hyperion, 2002.  0786807695.

 You know how you have the feeling that things that go on in your family don’t happen to other people.  Your home life is just a little different.  Vince knows his family is very different after all, few other kids can say their dad is a mob boss.  Vince tries really hard to have nothing to do with his dad’s line of work, but they always seem to get mixed-up.  Like when he gets arrested because the car he got for his 16th birthday present turns out to be hot, he swears things have to change.  Vince has $3,000 saved so he can buy his own car.  A Mazda Protégé isn’t a Porsche, but it isn’t stolen either.  No more stolen goods for Vince if he can help it. There are other little peculiarities that make Vince pretty sure his family isn’t the Cleavers.  He used to think it was funny that every night before they went to bed his dad would look at the ceiling light fixture and say, “Good-night Agent Needlenose.”  Only later does Vince learn that their house has been bugged by the FBI for years.  His dad’s line of work interferes with everything, but Vince finally gets fed up and takes mattes into his own hands when the mob starts to mess up his dating life.  That is just the last in a long line of injustices.  How do you handle it when you are the Son of the Mob?


Son of the Mob: Hollywood Hustle by Gordon Korman  Grade 8
268 p., New York: Hyperion, 2004.  0786809183.

 Vince is on his way to film school in California.  It is a far away from his family in New York as he can get.  He and his girlfriend Kendra and his best Alex are making the cross country road trip to go to college.  Well, at least Vince thinks he’s getting away from his family by going to college.  That ends when he opens his suitcase in the motel room and slams it back shut.  Yep, you guessed it, there are no neatly packed clothes in this suitcase.  No, it is neatly packed with hundred dollar bills rubberbanded together.  Humm, you can run but you can’t hide from the mob.  It seems the business is following Vince to California.  And that is just the beginning.  Vince knows something must be up when his older brother Tommy moves into the dorm with him swearing he has decided to go straight.  Then some of the Uncles start trickling in cause they all need a vacation in sunny California. These are the guys that have never left New York in their lives, so what really gives here.  Vince has a sinking feeling that whatever it is he will end up in the middle of it.  You can leave the mob but it won’t leave you.


Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson  Grade 8-9
198 p., New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999.  0374371520.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 690 Points: 8
Iowa Teen Award Nomination 2001-2002

 Melinda is having a very bad school year.  She is failing most of her classes, cutting class and is considered worse than a communicable disease to everyone else in school.  She is trying her hardest to become a non person and disappear.  What happened to make everything so terrible?  Right before the school year started Melinda went to a big party with her friends.  At that party she had a couple of beers and then something so awful happened to her that she can’t speak about it to anyone.  She called the police from the party and got everyone busted.  Now she is hated by the entire student body.  Will Melinda ever find her voice to speak out about what happened to her that night or will she remain silent forever?  To find out what happens read Speak.


Spy High: Mission One by A.J. Butcher  Grade 8
214 p., New York: Little Brown and Company, 2003.  0316737593.

 Senior Tutor Grant is having second thoughts about the group of student he has hand picked for Bond Team.  It is a prestigious honor to be chosen to attend the Deveraux Academy; affectionately called Spy High by all the former students.  At Deveraux students are taught the latest in spy training from martial arts to complex computer programs.  Spy High is the best at training the next generation of spies to protect the world.  However Bond Team seems to be having trouble catching on to their training.  They have failed the virtual reality Stromfield program twice.  They only get three chances.  If they don’t pass the third time they will be expelled and their memories of Spy High erased.  This is unacceptable to several member of Bond Team, especially since all the other teams have already passed.  But, they are still having trouble getting along and being a team.  That is when Senior Tutor Grant decides to send the six members of Bond Team on a camping trip/mission to help build their team spirit.  Little do Ben, Lori, Jake, Jen, Cally and Eddie know what they will be getting into.  This trip may be as dangerous as any of the virtual programs they have worked with, only this time it is for real!


Spying on Miss Muller by Eve Bunting  Grades 6-7
179 p., New York: Clarion Books, 1995.  0395691729.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 710 Points: 11

 All was dark and quiet in the girl’s dormitory, everyone was in bed where they were supposed to be.  All of a sudden, the air raid sirens go off.  The drill is a familiar one, after all, this is Belfast, Ireland in the middle of World War II.  As the girls struggle out of their beds and grab coats and suitcases, they hear the sound of bombs falling in the distance and gunfire.  This is for real, it is not a drill. The Germans are bombing the city.  As the girls stagger down the hallways and stairs to the air raid shelter in the basement, Jessie has a horrible thought.  That very night they had seen their German teacher Miss Muller leave the dormitory wearing dark clothes and heading up to the roof.  Could she be a German spy?  Could she be the one signaling the Germans so they know where to drop the bombs?  Jesse hopes not, because Miss Muller is her favorite teacher.  However, there is only one way to find out what is going on and that is by Spying on Miss Muller.


The Square Root of Murder by Paul Zindel  Grade 8
131 p., New York: Volo, 2002.  0786815884.

 Professor Dunaway is the world’s meanest, toughest calculus teacher.  She makes all of her tests very difficult and she seems to enjoy humiliating each and every student in her class.  No one is immune from the sting of her words, not even little Bernie Lello child genius.  Both P.C. and Mackenzie are having major second thought about taking this college math class at Columbia University.  Is it really worth all this stress to make their high school transcripts look good?  Things get pretty interesting when right before class one afternoon P.C., Mackenzie and Bernie Lello are studying together.  They hear a thunk and a scream come from their classroom.  When they run into the classroom a grisly sight meets their eyes.  Professor Dunaway has been impaled on an arrow from a crossbow stuck to the blackboard where she had been working out a math problem.  Who killed Professor Dunaway?  Better yet who didn’t want to kill Professor Dunaway?  Does the math problem on the board hold any clue to the killer’s identity?  It is up to P.C. and Mackenzie to try and solve this horrible murder before the killer skips out scott free.


Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time by Lisa Yee  Grades 6-7
296 p., New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005.  0439622476.

 This is going to be the perfect summer.  Not only has Stanford been chosen to be on the Rancho Rosetta Middle School Basketball A Team, his parents have okayed his going to Alan Scott’s summer basketball camp.  Stanford knows that after camp he will be the best basketball player in Rancho Rosetta.  Then on the last day of school his English teacher Mr. Glick tells Stanford that he got an F in English class.  That means that Stanford will not be eligible for the basketball team now.  When Stanford’s father find out about his English grade, he hits the roof.  Basketball camp is no longer an option and to make matters even worse, he is going to have to take English in summer school.  This is horrible.  What if his friends on the basketball team find out?  They would all make fun of him, so there is no way he is going to tell anyone.  But, how can he keep this a secret?  Everyone is going to want to know why he isn’t going to camp and where he is every morning.  Then as if the summer isn’t already horrible, his parents hire Millicent Min, nerdling genius to tutor him in English.  His humiliation is complete.  Please, please, please, please let no one find out that Stanford Wong Flunked English big-time!


Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli  Grades 7-8
186 p., New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.  0679886370.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 590 Points: 11
Iowa Teen Award Nomination 2002-2003 

Have you seen her?  Have you seen her?  Who?  Stargirl.  It is the name on everyone’s lips the first day she arrives at school.  She is the most unique person anyone at Mica High has ever seen.  She has long hair the color of sand and wears long pioneer type dresses, has a huge bag with a hand painted sunflower on it and a ukulele strapped to her back.  In her bag lives a rat named Cinnamon who even comes to school with her.  Stargirl drapes curtains around her desk in each class and tops it with a vase with a flower in it.  The rumor is that she was home schooled until this year, or that she might be an actress or a plant.  Stargirl is always bringing holiday treats for those in her homeroom class and she plays the ukulele at lunch in the cafeteria.  Everyday she seems to know whose birthday it is and serenades them with Happy Birthday during lunch.  At first everyone is fascinated yet horrified by Stargirl.  That can’t believe the way she acts.  Then the tide starts to change and everyone wants to be like Stargirl and to be her friend.  What will happen if the tide changes again?  Mob mentality can get pretty ugly.


Steal Away Home by Lois Ruby  Grades 6-7
192 p., New York: Macmillan, 1994.  0027778835.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 890 Points: 9

 Dana Shannon and her family have just bought an old house in Lawrence, Kansas.  While Dana is helping peel off wallpaper she finds a door to a hidden room.  Once they pry open the door they find a skeleton in the room.  Also in the room is an old diary.  With the help of the diary Dana finds out that the skeleton, which is over 130 years old, belonged to a former slave named Lizbet Charles.  As Dana continues to read she finds out about the family that built her house and how they helped runaway slaves escape on the Underground Railroad.  She also learns about Lawrence at the start of the Civil War and all the fighting that took place there.  But, what happened to Lizbet that got her locked up in that secret room to die?  What happened to the family that was trying to help her?  To find out, Steal Away Home.


Sticks and Stones by Beth Goobie  Grades 8-9
86 p., Custer, WA: Orca Book Publishers, 2002.  1551432137.

 Slut, yeah, you heard me right, slut.  What do you think of when you hear that word?  How does it make you feel?  Have you ever been called a slut, or maybe called someone else a slut?  Jujube has a date to the dance Friday night with Brent.  She has liked Brent for a long time.  She likes the way he jokes when he is nervous.  At the dance Jujube finds out that Brent has a nickname, “Warp Speed.”  Her friend Carlos tells her to be careful around Brent, but she just blows him off.  Later that evening, Brent tells her he needs help getting some equipment for the band out of his car.  It’s just an excuse to get her in his backseat.  They stay out there for a long time talking, laughing, and kissing.  When they return to the dance others have noticed how long they were gone.  By Monday, the rumors have started circulating about how easy Jujube is.  Then she hears the word slut linked with her name.  She knows that it isn’t true, but what can you do when everyone else believes it? Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can always haunt you.


Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz  Grade 8
192 p., New York: Puffin, 2002.  0698119347.
Iowa Teen Award Nomination 2004-2005

 Alex knows something is very wrong when he is told his Uncle Ian has been killed in a car accident.  The police told Alex his uncle wasn’t wearing his seat belt, and Uncle Ian was always a stickler for wearing them.  Alex is overreacting since his uncle was his only living relative.  When Alex sneaks into the junkyard to checkout the silver BMW he finds out what really happened to his uncle.  There is a spray of bullet holes along the driver’s side of the car.  What was Uncle Ian involved in?  Obviously, he wasn’t the banker that Alex was always told.  When Alex is invited to the bank to meet with Uncle Ian’s boss, he takes it as a chance to snoop in Uncle Ian’s office and find out what he was really up to.  When Alex finally sneaks into the office he is met by Uncle Ian’s boss who offers him a deal.  He tells Alex the real story.  Ian Rider didn’t work for any bank, he was a British Intelligence officer working for MI6.  He was killed looking into the Stormbreaker project and now MI6 wants Alex to take his place.  No one would ever suspect a 14 year old boy of spying for Britain.  The Stormbreakers are super computers that are being given to every school in the country as a gesture of goodwill by an Egyptian businessman, but there is a catch somewhere and Alex must figure out what is really going on.  Will he get to the bottom of this puzzle in time?


The Storyteller’s Daughter by Cameron Dokey  Grade 8
224 p., New York: Simon Pulse, 2002.  0743422201.

 Once upon a time there lived a king whose heart was heavy.  You see, he had uncovered a plot to kill him.  Two of the people he thought he loved the most and trusted were behind this evil plot, his wife and his best friend.  He was able to stop them before they could carry out their evil scheme, however he wasn’t left unscathed.  As she lay dying his wife cursed him killing something deep within: his ability to love and trust.  Because his heart had been turned to stone by the deception of those close to him, he made a terrible decision.  Once a month at the full of the moon the King will take a wife.  But, lest she plot against him, as the one before her had, she will be his wife for only one night.  On the morning following the wedding night, she will lose her life.  This course will the King follow each month for as long as his reign lasts save for this thing only, “If a maiden will come forward to wed him of her own free will, she alone will know the direst consequence.  All those who follow her will only be confined.  They may keep their lives but give up the outside world forever.”  As the full moon approaches everyone in the kingdom wonders what will happen when Shaharazad, the storyteller’s daughter steps forward to wed the King.  Will Shaharazad lose her life, or does she have a plan to save herself as well as the King and his heart.  To find out Shaharazad’s story, read The Storyteller’s Daughter


Stumptown Kid by Carol Gorman and Ron J. Findley  Grades 7-8
224 p., Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers, 2005.  1561453374.

 It is the summer of 1952 and Charlie Nebraska’s hopes have just been dashed.  He has dreamed of making it on the Wildcats baseball team this summer for as long as he can remember.  However, the coach just doesn’t seem impressed with his pitching.  Charlie’s best friend Will makes the team so Charlie is happy for him, but it still hurts.  On his way home from tryouts, Charlie meets Luther Peale who is new to town.  Luther tells Charlie that he watched the tryouts and then gives Charlie some pointers on better pitching and follow-through.  Charlie gives them a try and Luther’s suggestions really do work.  When Charlie asks Luther how he knows so much about baseball, Luther tells him that he used to play for the Memphis Mockingbirds which is a team with the Negro Baseball League.  He says he hurt his arm and can’t play anymore, so he hopped a train and got off in Holden.  Now he’s looking for a job and a place to stay.  But, is Holden, Iowa ready for Luther Peale?  It has been a long time since anyone in town has seen a black man and most folks don’t trust Luther.  What is going on?  Why is he in their town and is he telling the truth?  Luther has become Charlie’s good friend and it makes Charlie mad that they can’t accept Luther for who he is without judging him by the color of his skin.  What can Charlie do, he’s just a kid from Stumptown?


Sunshine Rider: The First Vegetarian Western by Ric Lynden Hardman  Grade 8
343 p., New York: Delacorte Press, 1998.  0385325436.

 I’m sure you’ve known someone like Wylie Jackson.  He is self assured, jumps in without asking and takes charge of any situation whether he really knows what is going on or not.  This kind of attitude can get you in a lot of trouble, especially when it is your first cattle drive and you are the cook’s assistant.  Wylie is already considered an outsider because he promised a girl named Alice Beck from back home that he would deliver her Cattalo to Alice’s Aunt in Enid Oklahoma.  Do you have any idea what a cattalo is?  Rosella is half buffalo and half cow, and she is pretty funny looking.  Alice gives Wylie a pair of her drawers, or underwear as we would call them to make Rosella follow Wylie around.  Rosella loves the smell of those drawers so much that she starts cavorting around Wylie while he is checking the herd one evening.  All of Rosella’s antics scare the cattle and start a stampede.  Wylie is so scared they will find out he is responsible for the stampede and worse yet that they will find Alice Beck’s drawers in his saddle bags that he steals a horse from the owner of the herd and he and Rosella set out on their own, thus beginning their life of crime.  Will Wylie and Rosella ever make it to Enid? Will they be caught and hung for horse stealing?  To find out, read Sunshine Rider.


Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie Tolan  Grades 7-8
216 p., New York: HarperCollins, 2002.  0066236029.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 820 Points: 12

 The Creative Academy is Jake’s last hope.  He has been kicked out of every other school he has attended.  He burned down his school in Rhode Island and during that time his parents were sent to jail for selling marijuana.  So, Jake is sent to live with his grandfather in Traybridge, North Carolina.  In three weeks flat he gets kicked out of Traybridge Middle School, which has never been done in living history.  Out of desperation Jake’s grandfather takes him to the Applewhite farm where their home school is known as the Creative Academy.  It is like no school anyone has ever heard of.  There are no real teachers, and everyone chooses their own curriculum and when to study it.  Throw in an adoring Bassett hound, two crazed goats, a swearing parrot and a family full of artist types and Jake is wondering if it wouldn’t be safer for him in juvenile detention.  Will he be able to survive the Applewhite family or will they just make him crazy too?


Switching Well by Peni Griffin  Grade 6
218 p., New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 1993.  0689505817.

 In 1891 Ada is tired of watching her younger brothers and sisters.  She wishes she could do more things and that girls had more freedom.  In 1991 Amber wishes that things were uncomplicated and that she lived in a time when parents didn’t get divorced.  She wishes that she lived 100 years in the past.  Ada wishes she lived 100 years in the future.  Both girls think things will be better for them in the different times.  Well, they are in for a rude shock when their wishes come true and they switch places.  Both girls end up in orphanages and have to live by their wits in this strange time while trying to figure out how to get back to their own times.  Follow them on their adventures and see how they learn to appreciate what they have and see that getting what you wish for is not always what you want.  How are they going to get back to their own times? And how do their families feel about them disappearing?


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Tadpole by Ruth White  Grades 7-8
198 p., New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003.  0374310025.

 Let me tell you the story of how Tadpole got his name.  You see, it is just a nickname, his real name is Winston Churchill Burch.  Anyway, he was out damning up the creek with two of his cousins when he told them he was so hungry that he could eat a mess of tadpoles.  You guessed it, they dared him to swallow a tadpole live, and he did.  Then about an hour later he threw it up and it as still alive!  So Winston Churchill Burch has had the name Tadpole ever since.  Tadpole is an orphan, so that means he is shuttled around from relative to relative.  His favorite place to stay is with his Aunt Serilda Collins and her four daughters.  Unfortunately, as much as Aunt Serilda would like to keep Tadpole she can’t afford another mouth to feed since her husband left her alone with four girls.  The girls love it when Tadpole comes to visit.  He sings, plays the guitar and tells them outrageous stories that make them laugh.  But, then Tadpole is adopted by his Uncle Matthew Birch and the Collins girls don’t get to see their favorite cousin anymore.  It is an unexpected surprise when Tadpole shows up on their front porch one day.  He has run away from Uncle Matthew.  What has happened to make him run, and will they be able to protect Tadpole?


Taken by Edward Bloor  Grades 8-10
247 p., New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007.  9780375836367

It happens every day in her world – kids taken from their homes and held for ransom.  Charity Meyers lives in an ultra-secure housing development, even that’s not enough to keep her from being kidnapped.  She’s been trained on how to handle situations like this: don’t panic, go somewhere in your mind when you were happy and remember it to the minutest detail.  As she thinks back over her holiday memories from the last couple of months – Thanksgiving and Christmas 2035 – Charity begins to question if she was really happy, or if there’s more she wanted from life.  As the clock ticks down and her situation spins out of control, Charity wonders whether or not she’ll get another chance.


The Taking of Room 114:  A Hostage Drama in Poems by Mel Glenn  Grades 8-10
182 p., New York: Lodestar Books, 1997.  0525675485.

It seemed like an ordinary day toward the end of school, or is it?  As the seniors file into Mr. Wiedermeyer’s history class things take a sinister twist.  What is really going on in Room 114?  As the students are trapped in the classroom they start thinking back about their years in high school.  On the outside, the principal sweats bullets.  What is he going to tell the press as they hound him for details?  How will he convince parents that his school is a safe haven for students?  The police ponder how to defuse the situation.  Parents and friends are milling around in the street worrying too.  The one thing that is on everyone’s mind is, is this the end of the school year, or is this the end of their lives?  To find out what happens read The Taking of Room 114.


The Teacher’s Funeral by Richard Peck  Grades 8-10
190 p., New York: Dial Books, 2004.  0803727364.

 When Russell hears that their teacher Miss Myrt Arbuckle has died, he can’t think of a better time for it to happen.  It is the middle of August, so there is a good chance that the school board won’t be able to find a replacement.  If that happens there will be no school this fall!  That means he will have a better chance of following his dreams to the Dakotas where he will join the harvesters using new all steel threshing machines.  There is one big problem with Russell’s dream.  He isn’t old enough to leave school unless the school board can’t find that replacement teacher.  He overhears the school board meeting the next night and has the sinking feeling that they have indeed found a teacher.  The next morning Russell finds out his worst nightmare has come true.  The school board did find that new teacher and she is none other than his older sister Tansy.  Miss Myrt may have been mean and she may have had a switch hanging above the door at school so it was handy to whip everyone but…  With Tansy as the new teacher there goes Russell’s chance of sneaking off to the Dakotas.  Not with Tansy’s eagle eyes on him all the time.  How is he going to survive this year of school with Tansy being the teacher?  This may be even worse than having Miss Myrt and she was mean through and through.  What is a boy to do?


Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper  Grade 8
162 p., New York: Atheneum, 1994.  0689318782.

 We had just won our basketball game so everyone was pretty hyped.  Andy had put about 4 six packs in the trunk of his car to cool off.  So, when we headed out we had a couple each to celebrate.  Andy was driving his car and Rob was sitting in the front seat with his feet up on the dash because he’s too tall for Andy’s little car.  We were just driving down the road laughing and talking, having a good time, weaving just a little.  Then out of nowhere this wall came up at us.  When I came to I was lying on the pavement and you could smell gas really strong.  I pulled Andy out of the car and then we heard Rob yelling for help.  All we could see were his feet sticking out of the windshield with blood running down his new Nikes.  We tried to open his door, but it was smashed shut.  Andy got on the hood to try and pull him through the windshield and then there was this big thud like an explosion in a closed room that knocked Andy off the hood.  We grabbed Andy to hold him back cause the whole car was in flames.  We could hear Rob inside screaming, “Andy!  Andy!  Help Me – Help Me!  Please don’t let me die like this!  Andy!”


Teen, Inc. by Stefan Petrucha  Grades 6-8
244 p., New York: Walker & Company, 2007.  9780802796509

Jaiden Beale looks like a normal kid, but his family is anything but normal.  His parents were killed by faulty kitchen equipment, and as part of the reparations, the corporation that made the equipment adopted him.  So instead of “Mom and Dad,” Jaiden has a department that manages him, complete with PowerPoints on his social life, Human Resource evaluations, and a legal department that is determined to sabotage any hope he has of having fun.  When rumors start swirling about less-than-ethical acts committed by his “parent corporation,” Jaiden has to decide just how loyal he should be to his family… and his friends.


Teenage Mermaid by Ellen Schrieber  Grades 6-8
150 p., New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2003.  9780060082048

I was drowning.  One minute I’m surfing and the next minute, BAM, I’m going down thinking, “I’m too young to die!”  And then it happened.  It was so incredible, I’m still not sure if it was a dream.  This amazing, beautiful, sparkling girl kissed me and saved my life.  Right before I blacked out, I saw something really strange, and I’d be sure I was hallucinating, except for this necklace I’m holding.  I’ve just got to find her again.

I can’t believe I did that.  It’s completely forbidden to even go near an Earthee, much less let one see you, much less touch one.  And I kissed him!  But I couldn’t just let him die.  And now I’ve lost my priceless heirloom necklace that I wasn’t supposed to be wearing.  I’ve got to get it back somehow, no matter what it takes.  And I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing that handsome Earthdude again.

They’re from two different worlds.  Is there any way for Spencer and Waterlilly to get together?  Find out in Ellen Schrieber’s Teenage Mermaid.


Tell No One by Harlan Coben  Grades 10-12  Adult
339 p. New York: Delacorte Press, 2001.  0385335555.

 Tomorrow would be the 21st anniversary of their first kiss.  However, Dr. David beck will be celebrating it alone.  His wife Elizabeth was brutally killed eight years ago on their anniversary.  Beck still isn’t quiet sure what happened that night.  They were swimming in the lake when Elizabeth got out on the dock and they both heard a car door slam.  Beck immediately started swimming for sore when he heard her scream.  By the time Beck finally reached the tock and tried to climb out someone was waiting for him with a baseball bat.  Five days later he comes to in the hospital to find out that Elizabeth is dead, killed by a vicious serial killer.  Beck is lucky to be alive.  Beck is working at the hospital the day before their anniversary when he receives a strange email.  He doesn’t recognize the sender but the subject line catches his full attention.  Subject: E.P. + D.B. ///////////////////// (21 slash marks) with a message that says, “Click on this hyperlink, kiss time, anniversary.”  No one knows about kiss time but Elizabeth.  What does this email mean?  She’s been dead for 8 years, why now?  Beck knows he will do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this and find out who the sender is.  What will he find?


The Terrorist   by Caroline B. Cooney  Grades 7-8
198 p., New York: Scholastic, 1997.  0590228536.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 710 Points: 11
Iowa Teen Award Nomination 2000-2001

 Laura William’s family has moved from Boston to London, England because of her dad’s job transfer.  She and her little brother go to a school for international students.  Most of the kids are there for political reason and are unable to return to their home countries.  None of that matters to Laura, she doesn’t’ care where anyone is from or why they are there.  All that matters to Laura is having lots of friends and finding a date to the next dance.  Everything changes when someone hands a package to her little brother in the subway on his way to school.  Inside that package is a bomb, and when that bomb explodes Laura’s life is changed forever.  Suddenly she does care why everyone is at her school.  She vows to find her brother’s killer and she is sure it must be someone from school!


Things Left Unsaid: a novel in poems by Stephanie Hemphill  Grades 8-10
261 p., New York: Hyperion, 2005.  0786818506.

 Sarah is tired of being the good girl.  She’s tired of always getting good grades, worrying about her SAT scores and pleasing her parents.  She’s tired of her same old friends; Amanda who is such a goody two shoes and Gina who can be so cruel.  Then at a party Sarah meets Robin, Robin who is trying on Sarah’s jacket.  Robin who grabs Sarah by the arm and drags her out back to take Tiki torches and use them like javelins.  Robin who is so very different from anyone else Sarah has ever known.  Now Sarah spends all her time with Robin meeting at the diner and skipping the Saturday SAT review class.  Sarah slowly changes her look and attitude.  Her wardrobe loses all of its color.  Sarah wanted to be different than she was last year and she most definitely is.  But, is she really asserting herself, becoming a different Sarah, when she’s just Robin’s sidekick?  How far will Sarah let things go?  How long will she let Robin take charge of their lives?  How much will Sarah leave unsaid? 


Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements  Grades 8-9
251 p., New York: Philomel Books, 2002.  0399236260.
Iowa Teen Award Nomination 2004-2005
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 690 Points: 15

 Start by reading page 1 and the first two paragraphs of page 2 ending with the sentence “So I panic, and I wrap the towel around my waist, and I go to tell my mom and dad.” 

Bobby is invisible?  What caused it?  What is he going to do?  It’s not like he can go to school or do anything that he normally would.  What will happen when people start questioning where he is?  Will he ever get his life back?  To find out, check out Things Not Seen.


13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson  Grades 8-9
317 p., New York: HarperCollins, 3005.  0060541415.

 Ginny has always been responsible.  She doesn’t do crazy things.  That is what Aunt peg is for.  She is irresponsible, artsy and always doing off the wall stuff.  Well, take the fact that she up and moved out of her apartment in New York City and didn’t leave any forwarding address.  No one heard from her in over a year.  That is definitely not something Ginny would do.  Now she has a letter in her hands from Aunt Peg with some wild instructions.  Even though Ginny knows Aunt Peg died several months ago in England, having this letter makes it feel like she’s just around the corner.  Peg has sent Ginny $1,000 to buy a plane ticket to London, but there are a few catches.  Ginny can only take what will fit in the backpack Aunt Peg provides.  She cannot bring maps, guidebooks or phrase books, no journals, extra money or credit cards either.  She is also not supposed to have any phone or Internet contact with anyone back home.  There are a total of 13 little blue envelopes and Ginny may only open the next one after she has completed the task outlined in the previous letter.  Is shy quiet Ginny up to this challenge?  If so, she’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes away from the adventure of a lifetime.


Three Black Swans by Caroline Cooney  Grades 7-10
New York: Delacorte Press, 2010.  9780385738675

“But the future isn’t a hat full of little shredded pieces of the past.  It is, instead, a whirlpool of uncertainty populated by what the trader and philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls “black swans” – events that are hugely important, rare and unpredictable, and explicable only after the fact.” –Wall Street Journal

Missy Vianello and Claire Linnehan are cousins and best friends.  They like the same things, hang out together all the time, and have a “strong family resemblance.”  Missy gets assigned to attempt a hoax for her biology class, and she convinces Claire to pose as her long-lost identical twin.  Their prank is successful – too successful – and suddenly Missy and Claire are asking difficult questions that will change their lives forever.  A long-held secret and a Youtube video of their “reunion” are part of a series of rare and unpredictable events have led them to this point in their lives.  Two black swans are rare enough… but three?  By the author of “The Face on the Milk Carton.”


Three Clams and an Oyster by Randy Powell  Grades 8-10
216 p., New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2002.  0374375267.

 Three Clams and an Oyster is the name of their four man flag football team as dreamed up by their founding member Glen Como.  The season is just about to start and the team captain Flint knows they are going to have some problems.  Their hiker, the oyster, Cade is out of control.  He is unreliable, parties too much gets drunk and is occasionally stoned.  The other three team members are very serious about the team so Cade’s devil may care attitude drives them crazy.  After he stands them up for the second practice game in a row the rest of the guys have to decide if they are going to keep Cade and try to help him work through his problem or ditch him and ask Rachel Summerfield to join the team instead.  Rachel is one of the best, most focused athletes they have ever seen, but are they ready to change their ways and add a girl to their roster?  Can they deal with Rachel who challenges their traditions and way of thinking?  How will they let Cade down if they agree to accept Rachel?  He’s been a part of the team since it started.  By the way, what’s the deal with Rachel’s leg hair?  Doesn’t she shave? 


To JayKae:  Life Stinx by Jean Davies Okimoto  Grades 8-9
186 p., New York: Tor, 1999.  0312867328.

 Jason’s life really stinks.  His parents are divorced and his dad is getting remarried to a woman that looks like Miss Piggy.  Not only will Miss Piggy be moving into Jason’s house, but she will be bringing her son Josh who is a basketball star and looks like Leonardo DiCaprio.  No one can measure up to perfect Josh.  Jason’s Dad thinks Josh is the greatest and Jason just gets yelled at.  Things start looking up for Jason when he meets a girl named Allison Gray in a chat room.  He makes up stuff about himself to seem more interesting and even sends her a picture of Josh instead of himself.  Will Jason ever get up the courage to tell Allison who he really is?  Will Allison still want to talk to him?  How long will Jason’s life continue to stink?  To find out what happens read To JayKae:  Life Stinx.


Together Apart   by Dianne Gray  Grades 8-10
193 p., Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.  0618187219. 

It all started when Hannah saw the handbill at Fowler’s Store.  It asked for a “Clever and Forward-Thinking Young Person.”  Hannah decides right then and there that she is going to apply for the job.  When she goes to the house listed on the handbill she meets a most intriguing woman.  Eliza Moore answers the door and invites Hannah into her beautiful home.  Eliza informs Hannah that she has just filled the position that morning, but she can always use more help.  She then tells Hannah she can start the next morning on a trial basis and all Hannah has to do is answer one question.  “If suddenly you found yourself quite alone in the world, your only assets a grand house and quickly dwindling funds, what clever, yet tasteful, endeavors might you undertake to support yourself?”  Hannah tosses and turns all night trying to come up with a good answer when inspiration strikes her.  The next morning she is ready to give Eliza her answer when in walks the other person Eliza had hired to fill the position.  It is Isaac Bradshaw, the one person her father has told her to stay away from.  The one boy Hannah has liked ever since they survived the horrible blizzard of 1888 together.  What is Hannah to do?  Should she follow her head and quit this job before she has even started, or should she follow her heart and help Eliza and Isaac?


Travel Team by Mike Lupica  Grades 7-8
274 p., New York: Philomel Books, 2004.  0399241507.

 Danny Walker knows he is short but that doesn’t mean that he can’t play basketball with the best of them.  That is why he is devastated to find out that he hasn’t been picked to play on the Vikings 7th grade travel basketball team.  It is the same team that his dad played on and took all the way to the national championship when he was 12.  Middletown has never forgotten that moment in the spotlight or that their own hometown hero Richie Walker who went on to play at Syracuse and then for the Warriors in the NBA.  That was before the car accident that ended his career.  Then he walked out on his family.  Now Richie Walker is back in town and back in Danny’s life.  Richie can’t believe his son with so much talent has been cut from the team.  Maybe it is because Richie’s old team rival is now the coach of the travel team.  Richie and Danny decide to form their own team to compete in the tri-valley league.  The only problem is who is there left to join their team?  How will this rag-tag group of “rugrats” really become a team that can compete with the others?  Will Danny get a chance to really play basketball?


The Tree Shepherd’s Daughter by Gillian Summers  Grades 9-12
331 p., Woodbury, MN: Flux, 2007.  9780738710815

Keelie Heartwood’s world just fell apart.  Her mother died, and she’s been forced to move away from California to live with a father she barely remembers.  And here’s the kicker – he lives at a Renaissance faire.  Keelie doesn’t fit in to that kind of world, and she wants out – now – but her dad wants her to at least give the faire – and him – a chance.  She makes a few friends and a few enemies, but then things really start to get interesting.  Handsome Sean o’ the Woods shares a secret with her dad that will change her life forever.  Her so-called “allergy” to wood turns out to be something a lot more powerful.  Keelie quickly learns that at the Faire, nothing is quite what it seems to be, and the world she’s found may be just as interesting as the one she left behind.


The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle   by Avi  Grades 7-8
215 p., New York: Orchard Books, 1990.  053105893X.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 740 Points: 13
Iowa Teen Award Nomination 1993-1994

 Thirteen year old Charlotte Doyle is preparing to sail across the Atlantic Ocean in the summer of 1832 in order to be reunited with her family.  Charlotte has stayed in England to finish her schooling while the rest of her family returned to New England.  Her father prepared a passage on a ship accompanied by a respectable family.  Imagine Charlotte’s unease as they get closer to the Seahawk which is the ship and the sailors refuse to take her baggage when they hear the name of the captain and the ship she will be taking.  The sailors warn her away from barding the Seahawk.  In spite of all the warnings Charlotte goes on board the ship.  She really has no choice since the man chosen to take her to the ship forces her to board since he does not want to be bothered with a silly girl.  Then Charlotte finds out the other family decided not to travel on the Seahawk, so Charlotte is the only passenger and only female on the ship.  Next she bumps into an old black sailor named Zachariah who gives her a knife and tells her some terrible stories about the captain of the ship. Who should Charlotte trust, Zachariah who is just an old sailor, or the captain, who reminds Charlotte of her father? 


The True Meaning of Cleavage by Mariah Fredericks  Grades 8-9
211 p., New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2003.  0689850921. 

Sari and Jess are the best of friends.  They share everything except a fear of what their freshman year at Eldridge Alternative will bring.  Jess is quiet, shy, artistic and a huge science fiction buff.  Sari is bold, outspoken and beautiful.  Jess dreads what the new school year holds.  She is not sure if she can handle anymore classes with Erika and the Prada Mafia.  Jess is afraid of all the changes going to a new school will mean.  Little does she have any idea what this year will bring, and how it will test her friendship to the limits.  Early on in the year Sari falls madly, psychotically in love with a senior; handsome, bad boy, soccer jock David Cole.  The only problem is that he is one half of the perfect couple.  He and Thea are legendary in the school.  They have been together forever.  How can he have any interest in Sari who is just a freshman?  How far will Sari go to make David notice her, and what will Jess do caught in the middle of this storm?


Truth by Tanya Lloyd Kyi  Grades 8-9
108 p., Custer, WA: Orca Soundings, 2003.  155143265X.

 Truth, does Jen know the truth, or does she really not want to know anything at all?  The police seem to think she knows more than she is telling them.  They have questioned her several times about the Ted Granville murder.  Yeah, she and her best friend were at the party at Ian’s house when it happened.  When the girl ran down the stairs screaming and everyone ran up to see, but he was already dead.  It looked like someone beat him up pretty bad, but she didn’t see anything.  Jen is pretty sure that if she tried she could figure out what happened and who is responsible.  However, this might have bad implications for people close to her.  Ms. Chan who is the teacher in charge of the student run news and sports hour on the local cable channel wants Jen to start working on more serious stories.  She tells Jen to dig for the truth.  Jen knows the Granville murder is big time, but does she really want to dig deeper and find the truth?


The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen  Grades 10-12
374 p., New York: Speak, 2004.  0142406252.

 Everything is fine, just fine.  That is how Macy answers anyone’s questions every since her father died.  She has built a facade of perfection.  She tries to be the daughter her mother wants and the perfect girlfriend for Jason.  But, Macy still isn’t good enough.  When Jason goes to brain camp for the summer he leaves Macy in charge of his job at the library information desk.  She emails him to tell him how things are going and how the other girls at the desk treat her like she is an idiot.  Then she ends the email by telling him she misses him and that she loves him.  This prompts a reply from Jason saying that they both need to focus on their goals for their lives and that they should take a break from their relationship until the end of summer.  Macy is shocked.  Is he backing away because she lost control of her emotions and told him she loved him?  What can she do, and does she really care?  As she is driving around trying to get a handle on things she sees the Wish Catering truck.  When Wish catered an event for her mom they offered her a job if she ever wanted one.  Maybe this is a sign.  She follows the truck to the mansion where they are catering an event, and steps into a world very unlike her own.  This is a world where nothing runs like clockwork, no one is perfect and everything is chaos.


Truth or Dairy by Catherine Clark  Grades 8-10
268 p., New York: HarperTempest, 2000.  0380814439.

 Is there a worst time to break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend?  Well, Courtney is sure that right before the start of her senior year has to rank up at the top of really bad times.  She can’t believe that her boyfriend of a year, Dave has broken up with her.  Now everyone will know and they will all look at her in a pitying sort of way as she walks down the halls of school.  What a lame reason to break up.  Just because he’s going away to college is not a good reason.  It’s not like he’ll be across the country or something.  He’ll just be 30 minutes down the highway in Boulder at the University of Colorado.  So, Courtney makes a vow that she will not date any boys for her entire senior year and she will start keeping a diary.  Courtney’s friends are scared at this change and try all kinds of things to help her get over the breakup.  When Courtney starts seeing Dave’s friend Grant pop up all over she is convinced he is following her and spying on her for Dave.    Is Grant really spying or might there be a better explanation for this?  To find out the truth, read Truth or Dairy.


Turnabout by Margaret Peterson Haddix  Grade 8
223 p., New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2000.  0689821875.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 690 Points: 12 

Try to imagine what your grandparents were like when they were your age.  Hard to imagine isn’t it?  Melly and Anny Beth are given the chance to be young again.  At the age of 99 while she is in the nursing home, Melly is approached by several doctors to be in an experimental group called project Turnabout.  When she wakes up she finds that she has been given drugs to help her unage.  Melly has a chance to live life again backwards.  It is now 2085 and Melly has just turned 16 again.  She has started to wonder what will happen when she and Anny Beth become too young to care for themselves.  The agency who began their unaging process claimed to have an antidote to stop their aging whenever they want.  When the first person tried the antidote he died and the agency has never been able to fix the problem.  Melly and Anny Beth don’t want to depend on the agency or ever have to go back, so they need to find someone to take care of them.  Who will believe their fantastical story and not tell the media?

Alternative booktalk:
Turnabout by Margaret Peterson Haddix  Grades 7-9
223 p., New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2000.  9780689821875

Read p. 24 “Anny Beth lost interest…” through p. 27

Would you want to be younger?  When Melly and Anny Beth said yes, they were both old women near death in a nursing home.  The medication that was supposed to stop the “unaging” process turned out to be deadly, so now that eighty-five years have passed, they’re teenagers again.  Will they find a way to live this crazy backwards life before their time runs out?


24 Girls in 7 Days by Alex Bradley  Grades 8-9
265 p., New York: Dutton Books, 2005.  0525473696.

 “The fantastic transgenic forces of springtime are surging around us.”  How could Pamela Brown turn down Jack Grammar for the prom with a pick up line like that?  There are only 7 days left before prom and Jack still doesn’t have a date.  That’s when Jack’s well meaning friends spring into action and put a personal ad in the school newspaper.  It reads like this:  “Jack Grammar would never try to fondle your butt during a slow dance.  Jack Grammar is a gentleman, owns his own tux and has superb taste in corsages.  Jack Grammar is looking for a prom date.  Could it be you?  Email MyNewPromDate@yahoo.com.”  Rumor has it that over 200 girls have responded to this ad.  Jack’s friends Natalie and Percy sift through all the responses and come up with 24 possibilities.  Now Jack has 7 days to date them all and pick his perfect prom date.  It seems simple, what could happen in 7 days?  You have no idea….


The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine  Grades 7-8
241 p., New York: HarperCollins, 2001. 0060293252.
Scholastic Reading Counts! Lexile: 570 Points: 13

 Two sisters couldn’t be more different.  Princess Addie is shy and fearful of everything.  Princess Meryl is brave and bold.  Addie depends on Meryl to help her and take care of problems.  Meryl saves Addie from everything from spiders to specters they might meet outside the castle.  Then Princess Meryl is stricken with the gray death.  There is no cure for it that anyone knows about.  The gray death saps the strength and then the person has wracking coughs and then the sick go into a coma from which they never awake.  The whole ordeal usually lasts no more than a month.  It is well known that specters and dragons know how to find the cure for the gray death but no one in the kingdom of Bamarre has been brave enough to go on a quest to find the cure.  Princess Addie is terrified of both specters and dragons, but an even more frightening prospect is to live the rest of her life without Meryl.  So, Addie decides she must swallow her fears and she sets out on a journey to try and find the cure for the gray death.  Will Addie be successful and most importantly will she find the cure in time to save her beloved sister.  To find out if she is successful, read The Two Princesses of Bamarre.


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The booktalks and lists are for educational purpose only.  They may be copied or adapted by any individual wishing to use them for booktalking.  They may not be copied in whole or reprinted on another website or in a book without the written permission of the creator.  To contact Carrie Falk, please e-mail
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