Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Shadow Project by Herbie Brennan

When Danny breaks into a house he finds more than he bargained for. Danny was just planning to find a few things to sell but instead he stumbles into a top secret government facility working on a new way to spy on terrorists. Teens are hooked up to machines that help them to leave their bodies and go anywhere in the world in spirit form to locate terrorists. While they are in their "second body" they are invisible and undetectable to the bad guys - or so they thought. But on the day Danny breaks in the organization discovers that operative Opal has somehow been captured and can't return to her real body. Without meaning to Danny has indicated that he is especially attuned to this spirit world and he is quickly drafted to join the Shadow Project and help save Opal.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Vampire Rising by Jason Henderson

Alex Van Helsing was thrown out of his last school for fighting. Now he is at a boarding school in Switzerland and is plagued by the same prickly feelings on the back of his neck around certain people that led to his last fight. All his life Alex's father has told him that things like vampires and werewolves do not exist. But while out one night he runs into a girl with the whitest skin and sharpest fangs he has ever seen and Alex manages to kill her to save his life. Although he is still in denial about what he has seen, Alex finds he is not all that surprised when one of his teachers tells him about a secret organization dedicated to fighting vampires and other creatures. They are not surprised that Alex seems to sense the creatures since he is a relative of the original Van Helsing who killed Dracula. Alex isn't sure why his father has deliberately kept their family legacy from him but he has no choice about getting involved when two of his friends are taken by Icemaker, a centuries old poet vampire.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

They Never Came Back by Caroline Cooney

When she was 10 Murielle's parents stole millions of dollars from their clients and left the country. Although Murielle was supposed to go with them she was left behind and ended up in foster care. Now 15 she has changed her name and is living her life as Cathy when her cousin Tommy recognizes her at summer school. Suddenly she is the center of attention again and is being pursued by the FBI agent who has been trying to use her to locate her parents and bring them back to the United States for trial. Murielle/Cathy is torn between her love for her parents and her desire to help out the people they hurt, including her.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Delphine and her two younger sisters go to Oakland, California to visit their mother who abandoned them when the youngest sister was only a few weeks old. They arrive expecting a warm welcome from the mother they barely know but Cecile tells them the visit wasn't her idea, bans them from ever entering the kitchen, takes all the money they brought for trips to Disney, and refuses to cook them anything. Instead, she sends them out each morning to the breakfast and education classes from the Black Panthers while she works on her poetry. At first Delphine is sure that they will be leaving Cecile any day but while they save up enough money to make the phone call home they find some new friends and new ways to deal with their uninvolved mother.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Palace Beautiful by Sarah Deford Williams

Sadie and her family move to Utah after her mother's death in childbirth a few years before. Sadie's stepmom is now pregnant and Sadie is worried that she will have problems as well. After moving into their new home Sadie, her sister Zuzu, and their new neighbor Bella discover a small room in the attic with the words "Palace Beautiful" written over the door. Inside, they find a journal written by a girl their age in 1918. Enchanted by the journal they take turns reading the entries which become increasingly tragic and seem to mimic some events in their own lives.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

The author of The Lightning Thief is back with a whole new series and a whole new set of gods and goddesses! Siblings Carter and Sadie Kane have lived apart since the death of their mother several years before. But during a visit to London their father takes them both to the British Museum where he performs a ceremony that releases five Egyptian gods and blasts the Rosetta Stone into dust. With their father gone and the police questioning Carter and Sadie they are taken out of the country by their uncle and immersed in a world of mythology and magic. Just like his other books, this series is full of action and adventure.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle

In 1851 author Fredrika Bremer visited Cuba for the first time and wrote about the slavery that was still practiced there. In particular, she was moved by the plight of her translator, Cecilia. Cecilia was 14, married to a boy she hardly knew, pregnant, and a slave with no hope of buying her own freedom. Margarita Engle has taken the writings of Bremer and made a story of three women dealing with slavery in Cuba in their own way. One of the voices is Fredrika's who is enchanted by the island but unable to understand the ugliness of slavery. One is Cecilia who finds her world being opened up by Fredrika's visit. Cecilia worries about her unborn child and wishes there was a way to buy freedom for the baby so that it will grow up free. The third voice in the story is Elena who is the daughter of Cecilia's owner. Although she is "free", Elena finds herself with very few options for her future since she is a girl.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Skin I'm In by Sharon Flake

Maleeka has been teased all her life because of her high grades, homemade clothes and dark skin. In order to fit in she has joined the group of the most popular, and meanest, girl in school. When Miss Saunders takes over their English class Maleeka doesn't want anything to do with her. Miss Saunders is short, fat and has a white patch on her face and Maleeka feels sure that the teacher will be even more of an outcast than she is. But for some reason Miss Saunders feels perfectly at home in her own skin and encourages Maleeka to accept herself too.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Melody is 11 and billiant but she has not been able to say a word her entire life. Melody has cerebral palsy which prevents her from talking to others. Luckily for her, her family and neighbor never gave up on her and recognized her intelligence. Unfortunately, the students in her school are not as understanding. But now, with the help of her new computer that allows her to talk, Melody is finally able to show everyone how smart she is. With lots of help studying from her family Melody is working to join the school's academic quiz bowl team against all odds.

Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman

Shawn is brilliant and has a photographic memory. Unfortunately, he also has cerebral palsy and has no control over any muscle in his body so he is unable to communicate with the outside world. Doctors, teachers and his family all assume that he has the intelligence of a baby only four months old. The strain of caring for Shawn caused his parents to divorce when he was young. After writing a poem about Shawn and their lives Shawn's father won the Pulitzer Prize and now is a famous author. Shawn is relatively happy with his life even though he can't communicate to anyone that he understands everything happening around him. Recently though Shawn has become worried for his safety because whenever he is alone with his father, his dad talks about killing Shawn to "put him out of his misery". With no way to let anyone know that he can think and feel and no way to defend himself, Shawn is stuck with whatever decision his father makes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Jade Green by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Judith is an orphan who has had the good luck to be taken in by her uncle. She is happy that she has a place to stay but is puzzled when her uncle sends word that she cannot bring along anything green. Judith gets rid of everything she owns that is green except for a picture frame given to her by her mother. After arriving at her new home she hears that a poor girl with no home named Jade Green lived at the house a few years before but committed suicide. Within days of arriving Judith begins to notice strange happenings. Things that she was sure she had stored away are left out. On the stairs to the attic she finds a bloodstain where Jade died. Then, a few days later, she finds a glove on the stairs. Eventually she even sees Jade's dead hand crawling around the house. Meanwhile, Judith is being threatened by her cousin who is worried that she will take all of his inheritance. Trapped between her mean cousin and the ghost of Jade Green, Judith fears that she is losing her sanity.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Marching for Freedom by Elizabeth Partridge

In 1965 in our country black men and women in the south were not able to vote. Although all adults were legally entitled to vote, the governor of Alabama helped enforce tests and fees for black voters that were not applied to white voters. Any African-American adult who wanted to register to vote also had to have someone vouch that they were a "good Negro" before they were even allowed to take the required tests. Outraged at the inequality blacks in Alabama began staging nonviolent protests with the help of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Although the protests were remarkable all by themselves, what made these different from others was that many of the protesters were children and teens who could march and not jeopardize their family income by losing jobs. Marching for Freedom describes the many nonviolent protests and marches that were met with beatings and prison. And yet as the movement grew more and more people came to help defeat the unfair practices. A great description - with lots of amazing pictures - of a time in our country's history that is not as far in the past as you would think.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Payback by Rosemary Hayes

This book is based on the true story of Halima, an obediant Muslim girl from Pakistan. When Halima was about 11 years old her father moved the entire family to London. After spending years in western society and learning English, Halima has dreams for her future including becoming a politician. When she starts college Halima also meets a nice man she thinks she could love. Even better, he is from a good Muslim family and she feels certain that her father will approve of the match and arrange the marriage between them. But all of her plans are shattered when she learns that her father has promised her as a wife to a man living in Saudi Arabia. When Halima was just 8 her father had some problems back in Pakistan. In order to solve his problems he had to ask for help from another man and in exchange for his help he promised to give Halima to the man's son as a wife. Since honor is an important part of her culture and even more important to her father, Halima knows that there is no way out of this marriage unless she leaves all of her family behind permanently. But even then there is the danger of her father or the other man sending someone to kidnap her to make her comply.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Borderline by Allan Stratton

Sami has felt left out most of his life since he is Muslim. His only good friends are Andy and Marty but after a problem at school his father moved him to a private academy where he knows no one. Worse, the biggest bully in school is one of the principal's favorite students so he gets away with tormenting Sami constantly. Sami's relationship with his father is also rocky since his dad is very strict. When his dad proposes they take a long weekend together in Canada Sami is willing to give it a try but his father cancels at the last minute and goes on his own. Suspicious and hurt, Sami does some investigating and finds out that his father was lying about his plans. Sami believes that his dad might be having an affair but he finds out that things are much worse than that when the FBI breaks into his house and arrests his father for international terrorism. Despite his problems with his dad Sami can't imagine that he is a terrorist and decides that he is the only one who can clear his father's name.

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Finn lives in Incarceron which is a prison unlike any other. Incarceron was set up to be a paradise for those living there. There are no cells but no one comes in and no one ever leaves. Although there is a warden, Incarceron itself takes care of any problems in the prison since it is capable of thinking and acting. When animals or people die their biological matter is recycled to make new creatures. But over the years Incarceron has become filled with gangs and violence and a legend has begun about a prisoner who found a way out of the jail. Finn has dreams and visions and he believes that he lived a life outside of Incarceron even though he can't remember that time. Because of his visions he is trying to escape the prison. His best opportunity comes when he finds a crystal key that allows him to communicate with Claudia who lives in the real world. Claudia is the daughter of the warden and is engaged, against her will, to the next king of the country. With her tutor she is determined to find something to save her from her fate. After breaking into her father's study one day she discovers a desk that opens when she says the password "Incarceron". She finds her own crystal key and believes that Finn may just be the young prince who supposedly died in a horse-riding accident. Both Finn's and Claudia's destinies rest with them being able to break Finn out of Incarceron.