The Reader by Traci Chee (2016)

Beautiful language and a complex story woven of many threads mark this book designed for book lovers.

Recommended grade level: 8 and up

Pages:   442 (for ISBN 9780399176777)

Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy, diverse

Tone/Style: lyrical

Pace: leisurely

Topics: books, pirates, past trauma, fugitives, magic

Themes: reading, friendship

Summary: A stunning debut set in a world where reading is unheard-of, perfect for fans of Inkheart and Shadow and Bone.

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

 

With overlapping stories of swashbuckling pirates and merciless assassins, The Reader is a brilliantly told adventure from an extraordinary new talent. (Source)

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Front Lines by Michael Grant (2016)

frontThis book feels a lot like historical fiction–but it’s not.  A novel concept make this one memorable.

Recommended grade level: 7-12

Pages:   576 (for ISBN 9780062342157)

Genre(s) and keywords: historical fiction (not exactly, but historical fiction fans should like it), adventure, war

Tone/Style: thoughtful, despairing, gritty
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Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (2013)

counting

This sad and thoughtful book has enjoyed great popularity in the last few years.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages: 380 (for ISBN 9780803738553)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, diverse, African-American protagonist

Tone/Style: precise, melancholy

Pace: leisurely

Topics: orphans, gifted students, surrogate families

Themes: grief and loss, being different, finding family, moving on

Summary: Counting By 7s is the story of Willow Chance, a twelve-year old girl who has been identified at an early age as ‘gifted’. Willow lives in Bakersfield, California and comes home from school one day to the news that her parents have been killed in a traffic accident. Continue reading

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff (2015)

lost

A melancholy tale of a boy who acts out because of guilt, loneliness, and low self-esteem after causing the accidental death of a peer.

Recommended grade level: 5-8

Pages: 304 (for ISBN 9780399164064)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic

Tone/Style: melancholy

Pace: leisurely

Topics: causing an accidental death, emotional problems, divorced parents, lost friendships, new friendships, brothers

Themes: reasons for misbehavior, coping with guilt, managing anger and other emotions, opening oneself to be helped by others, coping with feelings of inadequacy, earning trust

Summary: Seven months ago, a freak accident on Cedar Lake left one kid dead, and Trent Zimmerman with a brain full of thoughts he can’t shake. Continue reading

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston

story ofThis quirky modern dragon story is more about politics than fighting.

Recommended grade level: 6 and up for content, 8 and up for interest

Pages: 312 (for ISBN 9781467710664)

 Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy, modern fantasy, Canadian author, international, North America (Canada)

Tone/Style: sensible, humorous

Pace: leisurely

Topics: dragons, music, storytelling, rural communities, government programs, friendship, politics

Themes: truth vs. fiction, being born into a role vs. choosing it, defying tradition

Summary: Listen! For I sing of Owen Thorskard: valiant of heart, hopeless at algebra, last in a long line of legendary dragon slayers. Though he had few years and was not built for football, he stood between the town of Trondheim and creatures that threatened its survival. Continue reading

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin (2015)

51WLo5tAs3L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_This National Book Award finalist about a girl coping with grief is a thematically challenging read, but full of insight.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages: 352 (for ISBN 9780316380867)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, award winner

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The Island of Beyond by Elizabeth Atkinson (2016)

51K4jXIefsL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

A thoughtful middle grade book about finding friends and pushing one’s boundaries on a summer trip to a rural Maine island.

Recommended grade level: 4-6

Pages: 288 (for ISBN 9781467781169)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction

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