Maggie Kay Hall-Librarian, Mother, Life-Long-Learner and Literacy Advocate
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Klassen, J. (2011) I want my hat back. Penguin Random House: New York, NY. 1-40 pp.
In this book, a bear has lost its hat and wants it back. The bear goes around and asks all the animals it encounters whether they’ve seen it or not. When they all say no, the bear thanks them each, and then lies down feeling saddened. Soon after, a deer comes and asks what the hat looks like. As soon as the bear starts describing the hat it remembers where it has seen the hat. The bear jumps up and runs back until it meets the thief and recovers the hat. The book consists of many elaborate illustrations and very few words.
Shakespeare, W. & Wiegle, M. (2007). Romeo and Juliet. Spark Publishing: New York, NY. 1-225 pp.
No Fear Shakespeare Graphic Novels is a series based on the translated texts of the plays found in No Fear Shakespeare, making the more attractive to the young adult reader. Each of the titles is illustrated in its own style, but all are funky, and appealing to teen readers. This text offers helpful plot summary with line-by-line translations of the original play illustrations that show the reader exactly what's happening in each scene--making the plot and characters easy to understand.
Appelt, K. (2002). Poems from homeroom. Henry Holt and Company: New York, NY.
The poems here describe the lives and longings of high-school students. From having crushes to first learning how to drive, Appelt focuses on the dramas of teenage life. Her poems speak directly to her readers, who will also appreciate her suggestions, and her excellent bibliography of adult books on writing.
Hodgson, F. (1911). The secret garden. The Phillips Publishing Co: New York, NY. 1-375.
When Mary Lennox’s parents die of cholera, is sent to England to live at her Uncle Archibald’s house. She finds the bleak Yorkshire moors in winter a very different place to India. Used to her orders being obeyed, Mary is astonished by servants who answer back. Mary is soon intrigued by the tales that the maid Martha tells her of her life at home in a large, poor family, especially about her brother, Dickon, and his animals. When Martha tells her about the garden that was locked ten years ago by her absent uncle after his wife’s death there, Mary determines to find both it and the key. As spring approaches and she spends more time skipping in the gardens and talking to the elderly gardener Ben Weatherstaff, she begins to become a happier and healthier child. In the end, Mary brings the garden back to life. She helps to restore his health, and her friendship also improves his personality and outlook on life.
Pullman, P. (2005). The golden compass. Random House Publishing: New York, NY. 1-368.
This book as all the elements of fantasy with its multiple words and adventure missions. Lyra lives in a parallel world in which human souls take the form of lifelong animal companions called daemons. Dark forces are at work in the girl's world, and many children have been kidnapped by beings known as Gobblers. Lyra vows to save her best friend, Roger, after he disappears too. She sets out with her daemon, a tribe of seafarers, a witch, an ice bear and a Texas airman on an epic quest to rescue Roger and save her world.
Williams, S. (2013). Jump:Twinmaker #1. Balzer + Bray. New York, NY. pp. 1-496.
Clair lives in a world transformed a global teleport system which allows people to transport themselves instantaneously around the world. When a coded note promises Improvement - the chance to change your body any way you want, making it stronger, taller, more beautiful - Clair thinks it's too good to be true, but her best friend, Libby, is determined to give it a try. What starts as Libby's dream turns into Clair's nightmare when Libby falls foul of a deadly trap. With the help of Jesse, the school freak, and a mysterious online friend called Q, Clair's attempt to protect Libby leads her to an unimagined world of conspiracies and cover-ups. Soon her own life is at risk, and Clair is chased across the world in a desperate race against time.
Palacio, R.J. (2012). Wonder. Alfred A. Knoff Publishing: New York, NY. pp. 1- 320.
August Pullman is a ten-year-old boy suffering from severe birth defects, including a cleft palate, which have left him disfigured. His parents decide to enroll him at Beecher Prep middle school after years of homeschooling him. During a tour of the school, August meets Jack, Julian, and Charlotte. Jack is nice to him, and August believes he has found a friend. The book is a look into how our friendships can affect the quality of our lives, and it’s important that we look beyond physical appearances to find our friends. People who might look different can be some of the best friends that we will ever make.
Lowry, L. (2003). The silent boy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: New York, NY. pp. 1-193.
Set in a small Pennsylvania town in the early 1900s, this book tells the story of Katy Thatcher, a precocious doctor's daughter, and the unusual boy she meets on a nearby farm. Katy Thatcher always knew she wanted to be a doctor like her father. She joins him on his rounds and has a keen interest in the people around her. She's especially intrigued by Jacob, a gentle, silent boy who has a special sensitivity toward animals. While Jacob never speaks to or looks at Katy, they develop an unusual friendship and understanding. The townspeople dismiss Jacob as an imbecile. Katy just thinks of him as someone special who has a way of communicating with the animals through his sounds and movements. Only Katy comes to realize what the gentle, silent boy did for his family. He meant to help, not harm. It didn't turn out that way.
Lee, S. & McClelland, E. (2016). Every falling star: The story of how I escaped North Korea. Amulet Books Publishing: New York, NY. pp. 1-336.
This is the first book to portray contemporary North Korea to a young audience, is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who is forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. Sungju richly re-creates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang, his “brothers”; to be hungry and to fear arrest, imprisonment, and even execution. This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.
Stewart, M. (2012). National geographic readers: Titanic. National Geographic Society: Washington, DC. pp. 1-48.
This text includes exclusive in-depth coverage including Bob Ballard's 1985 discovery. Delve in to learn more about the passengers on board and how this terrible disaster could have been prevented. This book seems particularly accessible to beginning readers (ease of use). Clear photographs with informative, boxed captions; several numbered lists, such as “10 Cool Things About Titanic”; a timeline; and sidebars defining unfamiliar terms are nicely integrated with expository prose that describes the ship, briefly covers the voyage and disaster; rescue; and thoughts about how the disaster could have been averted.
Literature for a Diverse Society (Multi-cultural)
Quintero, I. (2014). Gabi, a Girl in Pieces. Cinco Puntos Press: El Paso, Tejas. pp. 1-208.
Our main character, Gabi is a 17-year-old Mexican American girl that is navigating considerable conflict both at home and in her social life: her father is addicted to drugs, while Gabi’s strict mother pressures her to conform to her own views of their heritage and values. Gabi, who seeks comfort through binge eating, wants to grow up on her own terms, and she explores her awakening romantic and sexual feelings by writing poetry. Gabi’s letters to her father are particularly moving, and her narration is fresh, self-aware, and reflective. The intimate journal structure of the novel is especially revealing as Gabi gains confidence in her own integrity and complexity: “I guess there is more to this fat girl than even this fat girl ever knew.”