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8th Grade Summer Reading List

Required Reading

Units of Study Book Group- Read at Least 2 Books from a Group

Living Under Totalitarianism

Suggested Fiction
Revolution is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine
Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem
Cloud and Wallfish by Elizabeth Nesbitt
A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Graphic Novel)
Between Shades of Gray by Ruth Sepetys
The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford
Arcady’s Goal by Eugene Yelchin
Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin
Suggested Nonfiction
The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming
Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson
Red Scarf Girl: a Memoir of the Cultural Revolution by Ji-li Jiang
The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix

Civil Rights in the United States

Suggested Fiction
Seeds of America Trilogy (Chains; Forge; Ashes) by Laurie Halse Anderson
Jefferson’s Sons: a Founding Father’s Secret Children by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Lions of Little Rock by Kristen Levine
No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
The Glory Field by Walter Dean Myers
Revolution by Deborah Wiles
Suggested Nonfiction
Black & White: the Confrontation Between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor by Larry Dean Brimner
Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961 by Larry Dean Brimner
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery
Strong Inside by Andrew Maraniss
The Greatest: Muhammad Ali by Walter Dean Myers
Miles to Go for Freedom: Segregation & Civil Rights in the Jim Crow Years by Linda Barrett Osborne
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin
Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone
Little Rock Girl 1957: How a Photograph Changed the Fight for Integration by Tougas, Shelley

Immigrant Experience

Suggested Fiction
Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch
All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg
Illegal by Eoin Colfer (graphic novel)
The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz
Refugee by Alan Gratz
Uprising by Mary Peterson Haddix
Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
The Other Side of Truth by Beverly Naidoo
The King of Mulberry Street by Donna Jo Napoli
Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian
Trouble by Gary Schmidt
Habibi by Naomi Shihbab Nye
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Suggested Nonfiction
Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain by Russell Freedman
Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin
This Land is Our Land: a History of American Immigration by Linda Barrett Osborne
Outcasts United by Warren St. John
The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown (graphic novel) 

We highly recommend the following books.


Albert, Melissa         The Hazel Wood

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

Anderson, Laurie     Fever 1793

Meticulous research provides a wealth of vivid detail that brings all the energy and sophistication of post-colonial Philadelphia to life. Matilda Cook works hard to make the coffeehouse run by her grandfather and overly strict mother a success. The servant girl becomes sick first and then the mother, leaving Mattie to struggle on in the midst of a frightening yellow fever epidemic. This is the perfect companion to Jim Murphy’s nonfiction account of the plague, An American Plague.

Asher, Jay and Macker, Carolyn    The Future of Us

It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail, his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future. 

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.

Bauer, Joan   Peeled

Hildy Biddle is a high school newspaper reporter hoping to follow in the footsteps of her father, who was a newspaperman. She begins to investigate the link between the sale of many longtime apple farms in her upstate New York community and sinister headlines in the local newspaper. After she publishes one rebuttal, the school newspaper, called The Peel, is immediately shut down. Hildy and a few brave friends are then even more determined to find out the truth and print it.

Card, Orson Scott     Ender's Game

Could Ender Wiggin be the genius earth needs to defend itself from the next alien invasion? This novel is a winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards presented for excellence in science fiction.

Cisneros, Sandra      The House on Mango Street

Told in a series of vignettes stunning for their eloquence, this novel is Sandra Cisneros's greatly admired story of a young girl's growing up in the Latino section of Chicago.

Condie, Ally               Matched; Crossed; Reached

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. 

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Don’t miss the exciting sequel, Crossed and the thrilling conclusion, Reached.

Dessen, Sarah           Saint Anything

Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

Elliott, Laura M.       Under a War Torn Sky; A Troubled Peace

Henry Forester is a nineteen-year-old American flyer with the RAF during WWII. After being shot down behind enemy lines he begins a harrowing journey to freedom that takes him across France and back with the help of ordinary citizens and the French resistance. The story is based on the experiences of the author's father. In A Troubled Peace, Henry returns tries to help the wars survivors and regain the trust of the woman he loves.

Fforde, Jasper           The Last Dragonslayer

In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.

Gaiman, Neil             The Graveyard Book 

This winner of the 2008 Newbery Medal, is a winning fantasy that grows from a singularly disturbing beginning. Awakened when his family is murdered, a toddler wanders out of his house and into a nearby graveyard. There he is taken in by the cemetery's ghosts who protect and eventually rear him. The murderer, who unsuccessfully searches for the boy, vows never to give up his hunt. The child, named Nobody Owens by the graveyard ghosts, has an upbringing and education that is understandably bizarre, at times frightening, but also charming and filled with the sense of what a family should be. 

Hardinge, Francis    A Skinful of Shadows

This is the story of a bear-hearted girl . . .

Sometimes, when a person dies, their spirit goes looking for somewhere to hide.

Some people have space within them, perfect for hiding.

Twelve-year-old Makepeace has learned to defend herself from the ghosts which try to possess her in the night, desperate for refuge, but one day a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard.

And now there's a spirit inside her.

The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, and it may be her only defence when she is sent to live with her father's rich and powerful ancestors. There is talk of civil war, and they need people like her to protect their dark and terrible family secret.

But as she plans her escape and heads out into a country torn apart by war, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession – or death."

Hiaasen, Carl Skink:  No Surrender

Classic Malley—to avoid being shipped off to boarding school, she takes off with some guy she met online. Poor Richard—he knows his cousin’s in trouble before she does. Wild Skink—he’s a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, the unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators.

Carl Hiaasen first introduced readers to Skink more than twenty-five years ago in Double Whammy, and he quickly became Hiaasen’s most iconic and beloved character, appearing in six novels to date. Both teens and adults will be thrilled to catch sight of the elusive “captain” as he finds hilariously satisfying ways to stop internet predators, turtle-egg poachers, and lowlife litterbugs in their tracks. With Skink at the wheel, the search for a missing girl is both nail-bitingly tense and laugh-out-loud funny.

Hoffman, Mary         The Falconer's Knot

Four unexplained murders in a remote Italian friary implicate two men. Silvano, a handsome young noble already stands accused of the murder of a sheep farmer based on his courtly attentions to the deceased's pretty, but unsuitable, young wife. The other, known once as Comenico, is now called Father Anselmo. He is the Colour Master in charge of grinding the powders used in frescoes. The events of this historical thriller unfold through the watchful eyes of a young novice who has been confined to the neighboring convent against her will. The intricate plot and fine characterization make this book impossible to put down.

Johnston, E.K.          The Story of Owen (Dragon Slayer of Trondheim)

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. There have always been dragons. As far back as history is told, men and women have fought them, loyally defending their villages. Dragon slaying was a proud tradition. But dragons and humans have one thing in common: an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. From the moment Henry Ford hired his first dragon slayer, no small town was safe. Dragon slayers flocked to cities, leaving more remote areas unprotected. Such was Trondheim's fate until Owen Thorskard arrived. At sixteen, with dragons advancing and his grades plummeting, Owen faced impossible odds armed only with a sword, his legacy, and the classmate who agreed to be his bard. Listen! I am Siobhan McQuaid. I alone know the story of Owen, the story that changes everything. Listen!

Kadohata, Cynthia   Kira-Kira

This book is the winner of the 2004 Newbery Award. Katie, the middle daughter in a Japanese-American family, tells the story of their struggles to build a better life. She idolizes her older sister, Lynn, whose academic and social success she feels she can never hope to match. Lynn seems to have every gift but the one everyone takes for granted until it is not there.

Kidd, Sue Monk        The Secret Life of Bees

Maybe the last straw was being forced to kneel on the rough grits on the floor. Lily Owen knows that she cannot live with her father T. Ray anymore. The housekeeper Rosaleen, the only person who provides her with any mothering, is not safe in their town anymore. Lily plans their escape and together they head toward a town Lily knows only from a picture found among her mother's possessions.

Leavitt, Martine       Keturah and Lord Death

In this gripping fantasy, Keturah weaves a spellbinding story that seems all too real. Requested to tell a story, she describes how she becomes lost in the woods for several days and bargains with Death when he comes for her. If given a chance to return home for a day she promises to return with a love story that can defeat death.

LeGuin, Ursula         Gifts 

In this haunting, beautifully told tale, the clans of the Uplands are each distinguished by unique, powerful, destructive powers that they use defensively to maim, unmake, dispossess, or control. Orrec and Gry are reluctant inheritors of their clans' gifts. As they reflect on the past, and try to imagine a future together, they unconsciously search for a shared destiny different from the one their gifts would bestow. 

L’Engle, Madeleine  And Both Were Young

This wonderfully written romance is set in a boarding school in the Swiss mountains near Montreux, circa 1948. Flip, a new student from the United States, has reluctantly agreed to enroll while her father, an artist, travels widely on a new book assignment. Recovering physically and emotionally from a car accident, she meets Paul whose foster family lives nearby. He is struggling with war experiences so painful that he cannot remember who he is. The two friends find ways to help each other and Flip puts herself in serious danger to uncover the truth about Paul's past.

Levine, Kristin         The Lions of Little Rock

Two girls separated by race form an unbreakable bond during the tumultuous integration of Little Rock schools in 1958

Twelve-year-old Marlee doesn't have many friends until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is bold and brave, and always knows the right thing to say, especially to Sally, the resident mean girl. Liz even helps Marlee overcome her greatest fear - speaking, which Marlee never does outside her family.

But then Liz is gone, replaced by the rumor that she was a Negro girl passing as white. But Marlee decides that doesn't matter. Liz is her best friend. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are willing to take on integration and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families.

London, Jack            White Fang

Part wolf and part dog, the small puppy born in a cave is the only one of his litter to live. Seemingly marked as being different from the beginning by his appearance, strength, and intelligence, White Fang struggles to survive in a brutal world. Forced to fight other dogs by his cruel owner, he is saved by the interference of a young man who believes in him.

Mass, Wendy            A Mango-Shaped Space

Mia Winchell sees the world differently. In an embarrassing moment at school, she realizes that no one else sees colors for numbers and letters. She keeps her unusual ability secret for a long time, but now that her schoolwork is more complex, Mia is forced to seek help for her increasing confusion.

Mikaelsen, Ben         Touching Spirit Bear

Always in and out of scrapes, Cole has finally reached the end of his chances to escape punishment when he physically attacks a classmate. His parole officer offers him an alternative to jail by arranging for his rehabilitation under the Native American system of Circle Justice. Is Cole ready to face his problems during a year of isolation on an Alaskan island?

Myers, Walter Dean             The Glory Field

Myers chronicles 250 years of African-American history through six members of the Lewis family, each drawn from a different generation. The saga begins in 1752 with Muhammad Bilal who is forcibly brought from Sierra Leone to the American colonies to work on a plantation in South Carolina. The family moves to Chicago in the 1930s and then to Harlem in the 1990s where the story ends with Malcolm Lewis, a young musician who is getting ready to travel back to the Carolinas for a family reunion. This gripping tale has been described as a Roots (Alex Haley) for teens and as an absolute must read.

Oh, Ellen       Prophecy (The Dragon King Chronicles #1)

The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms... is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

Oppel, Kenneth        This Dark Endeavor

The purest intentions can stir up the darkest obsessions.

In this prequel to Mary Shelley’s gothic classic, Frankenstein, 16-year-old Victor Frankenstein begins a dark journey that will change his life forever. Victor’s twin, Konrad, has fallen ill, and no doctor is able to cure him. Unwilling give up on his brother, Victor, his beautiful cousin Elizabeth, and best friend Henry begin a treacherous search for the ingredients to create the forbidden Elixir of Life.

Impossible odds, dangerous alchemy, and a bitter love triangle threaten their quest at every turn.

Victor knows he must not fail. But his success depends on how far he is willing to push the boundaries of nature, science and, love -- and how much he is willing to sacrifice.

Owen, James A.        Here, There Be Dragons

Mystery, fantasy, and action adventure combine in this edge of your seat tale of three young Oxford scholars, based on J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams, who become caretakers of a magical atlas. Every fantastical creature in myth and legend is engaged in an epic battle over the Imaginarium Geographica. Either they are desperately fighting to save the atlas from the Winter King, or they are a part of his evil plans to alter the very nature of life.

Parker, Natalie C.                 Seafire

After her family is killed by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets, Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course on the dangerous and deadly seas. She captains her ship, the Mors Navis, with a crew of girls and women just like her, who have lost their families and homes because of Aric and his men. The crew has one mission: stay alive, and take down Aric's armed and armored fleet.

But when Caledonia's best friend and second-in-command barely survives an attack thanks to help from a Bullet looking to defect, Caledonia finds herself questioning whether to let him join their crew. Is this boy the key to taking down Aric Athair once and for all . . . or will he threaten everything the women of the Mors Navis have worked for?

Preus, Margi Heart of a Samurai: Based on the True Story of Manjiro Nakakama

In Heart of a Samurai, a 2011 Newbery Honor Book, first time author Preus fictionalizes the life of Manjiro Nakahama. Manjiro was a poor Japanese fisherman who was lost at sea when he and his friends are picked up by a passing whaling ship. At this time Japan was a closed society and foreigners were considered to be devils and not to be trusted. Majiro quickly starts to learn English and the customs of the “barbarians.” Manjiro travels to America with the ship’s captain and spends several years in America before returning home to Japan where he is met with suspicion and thought to be a spy.

Reeve, Philip Fever Crumb

In what would seem to be a prequel to the Mortal Engines series, Fever Crumb is the ward of an engineer in a dystopian future world. When she is selected to help an archeologist with his studies of a more technologically advanced previous age, she becomes aware of her unusual ability to see and understand more of the past than others. When recognized as a descendent of previous rulers, she becomes hunted and must quickly unravel her secret past to save her own life.

Reeve, Philip Here Lies Arthur

Gwyna is just a small girl, a mouse, when she is bound in service to Myrddin the bard - a traveller and spinner of tales. But Myrdin transfroms her - into a lady goddess, a boy warrior, and a spy. Without Gwyna, Myrddin will not be able to work the most glorious transformation of all - and turn the leader of a raggle-tagglear-band into King Arthur, the greatest hero of all time.

Reynolds, Jason       Miles Morales: Spider-Man

"Everyone gets mad at hustlers, especially if you're on the victim side of the hustle. And Miles knew hustling was in his veins."

Miles Morales is just your average teenager. Dinner every Sunday with his parents, chilling out playing old-school video games with his best friend, Ganke, crushing on brainy, beautiful poet Alicia. He's even got a scholarship spot at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy. Oh yeah, and he's Spider Man.

But lately, Miles's spidey-sense has been on the fritz. When a misunderstanding leads to his suspension from school, Miles begins to question his abilities. After all, his dad and uncle were Brooklyn jack-boys with criminal records. Maybe kids like Miles aren't meant to be superheroes. Maybe Miles should take his dad's advice and focus on saving himself.

As Miles tries to get his school life back on track, he can't shake the vivid nightmares that continue to haunt him. Nor can he avoid the relentless buzz of his spidey-sense every day in history class, amidst his teacher's lectures on the historical "benefits" of slavery and the importance of the modern-day prison system. But after his scholarship is threatened, Miles uncovers a chilling plot, one that puts his friends, his neighborhood, and himself at risk.

It's time for Miles to suit up.

Riordan, Rick            The Hammer of Thor: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2

Thor's hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon--the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn't just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can't retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer's return is the gods' worst enemy, Loki--and the price he wants is very high.

Rushdie, Salman      Haroun and the Sea of Stories

In this modern day fable, a gifted storyteller is baffled when he suddenly loses his talent for telling stories. He feels that his inspiration is blocked and he no longer can tap into the Ocean of the Stream of Stories from which all tales come. His son, Haroun, feeling responsible, sets off on a quest to discover the source of the problem.

Sanderson, Brandon           The Rithmatist

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

Schmidt, Gary           Trouble 

Set outside of Boston in the 1970s, this story of Henry Smith could just as easily happen today. Henry's parents have given their children a seemingly perfect life, well insulated from trouble. When trouble finds them, Franklin, the oldest son is severely injured by a pick-up truck which strikes him while he is jogging. The many strengths of this richly complex novel include its portrait of the family's grief, Henry's friendship with his wisecracking classmate, a rescued dog's healing powers, the dangers of unchecked prejudice and unwarranted assumptions, and Henry's journey out of his brother's shadow. 

Smith, Alexander McCall    The #1 Ladies Detective Agency

When her father dies, Precious Remotswe decides to sell her inheritance of goats and land so that she can set up a detective agency. She applies a highly refined talent for common sense to each case and becomes an almost instant success in her homeland, Botswana. Move over Sherlock Holmes.

Smith, Sherri L.       Fly Girl

There is no easy resolution in this compelling story of a young Women's Air Force Service Pilot. Jonsey learned to fly a small dustcropper from her father, a berry farmer in Louisiana. She also inherited from him the light skin of his French Creole ancestors. Her love of flying drives her to sign up for the WASP, which means hiding her African American descent and rationalizing the deceptions this requires. The success she achieves as a pilot during WW II never eases the internal conflict she feels between her true identity and her career.

Sonnenblick, Jordan           Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip        

Sometimes, the greatest comebacks take place far away from the ball field.

Meet Peter Friedman, high school freshman. Talented photographer. Former baseball star. When a freakish injury ends his pitching career, Peter has some major things to figure out. Is there life after sports? Why has his grandfather suddenly given him thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment? And is it his imagination, or is the super-hot star of the girls' swim team flirting with him, right in front of the amazing new girl in his photography class? In his new novel, teen author Jordan Sonnenblick performs his usual miraculous feat: exploring deep themes of friendship, romance, family, and tragedy, while still managing to be hilariously funny.

Sonnenblick, Jordan           Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie; After Ever After

Thirteen-year-old Steven’s life is complicated enough but it gets even more complicated when his little brother is diagnosed with leukemia. This beautifully written novel looks at how Steven and his family are affected by this life changing diagnosis. The sequel, After Ever After follows Stevens little brother as he prepares to graduate from eighth grade.

Van Draanen, Wendelin     The Running Dream

Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?

As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.

With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her.

Venkatraman, Padma         Climbing the Stairs

Set in India at the outset of World War II, this completely absorbing story is told by Vidya, the daughter of a medical doctor who is severely injured during a protest against British rule. Once her father becomes incapacitated, her family's life changes dramatically. Although she is wracked by remorse over the part she inadvertently plays in this disastrous turn of events, she never gives up her determination to pursue a different future than that ordained by the conservative views of her father's Brahmin family. 

Weeks, Sarah            So Be It: A Novel

Heidi's last name is It because her mother, who is developmentally disabled, refers to herself as So Be It. Mother and daughter are unofficially cared for by their kindly next door neighbor, Bernadette. As Heidi's mother experiences ever more debilitating headaches, Heidi acts on the few clues she has to their identity, to track down her mother's past.

Wolff, Virginia Euwer         Make Lemonade

LaVaughn at fourteen knows that she will go to college. It is what she and her mother both want. LaVaughn hopes that her mother will let her earn a little extra money for tuition by taking a job babysitting the children of a single mother. LaVaughn knows that if her mother fully understood the responsibilities that she is shouldering, the shaky permission she has won might be withdrawn.

Yelchin, Eugene       Breaking Stalin’s Nose

Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six: The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism. A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience. A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings. But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry. He breaks a classmate's glasses with a snowball. He accidentally damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway.  And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested just last night.  This moving story of a ten-year-old boy's world shattering is masterful in its simplicity, powerful in its message, and heartbreaking in its plausibility.


Bascomb, Neil          The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi

A thrilling spy mission, a moving Holocaust story, and a first-class work of narrative nonfiction.

In 1945, at the end of World War II, Adolf Eichmann, the head of operations for the Nazis' Final Solution, walked into the mountains of Germany and vanished from view. Sixteen years later, an elite team of spies captured him at a bus stop in Argentina and smuggled him to Israel, resulting in one of the century's most important trials -- one that cemented the Holocaust in the public imagination.

Caputo, Philip           10,000 Days of Thunder

The author is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and a lieutenant in the Vietnam War. His experience brings an immediacy to his writing, and a deeper understanding to his explanations of the context, the politics, and the times.

Fleming, Candace                The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia

Here is the tumultuous, heartrending, true story of the Romanovs—at once an intimate portrait of Russia's last royal family and a gripping account of its undoing. Using captivating photos and compelling first person accounts, award-winning author Candace Fleming (Amelia Lost; The Lincolns) deftly maneuvers between the imperial family’s extravagant lives and the plight of Russia's poor masses, making this an utterly mesmerizing read.

Fleming, Candace                Presenting Buffalo Bill: The Man Who Invented the Wild West

Everyone knows the name of Buffalo Bill, but few these days know what he did or, in some cases, didn't do. Was he a Pony Express rider? Did he ride with Wild Bill Hickok? Did he "scalp" countless Native Americans, or did he defend their rights?

This, the first significant biography of Buffalo Bill Cody for younger readers in many years, explains it all. With copious archival illustrations and a handsome design, PRESENTING BUFFALO BILL makes the great showman—perhaps our first true global superstar—come alive for new generations.

Freedman, Russell   Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Branded as a traitor to his class by wealthy entitled Americans, revered as a symbol of hope and social justice by the masses, FDR is one of the most intriguing and controversial of presidents. Wonderfully illustrated with photos from the National Archives, Bettmann Archive, and Library of Congress, this engaging biography is written with a reporter's flair for vividly capturing the flavor of each moment.

Freedman, Russell  The War to End All Wars: World War I

Over 100,000 Americans died in the war to end all wars. Freedman looks at the tragic mistakes that led to the start of World War I and the recounts the harrowing stories of the men who fought in the trenches. He shows how the advent of new technology changed war forever and how men tried to cope with the brutal conditions in which they were forced to live.

Golabek, Mona         The Children of Willesden Lane

The author writes movingly about the experiences of her mother who escaped from Nazi Germany on a Kindertransport to England. Her parents had only one ticket for their three children. They made an impossible choice by giving the ticket to the child who had a special gift that they hoped would sustain her. They also hoped that this gift would find nourishment and perhaps public recognition in London. She fulfilled their every wish.

Heiligman, Deborah            Charles and Emma: The Darwin's Leap of Faith 

This biography, published in the 200th year after Darwin's birth and almost 150 years after The Origin of the Species, examines the creative tension between religion and science that existed in Darwin's marriage and his own beliefs. Well researched and engagingly written, the narrative captures the times, the personalities, and the issues.

Heiligman, Deborah            Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers

The deep and enduring friendship between Vincent and Theo Van Gogh shaped both brothers' lives. Confidant, champion, sympathizer, friend, Theo supported Vincent as he struggled to find his path in life. They shared everything, swapping stories of lovers and friends, successes and disappointments, dreams and ambitions. Meticulously researched, drawing on the 658 letters Vincent wrote to Theo during his lifetime, Deborah Heiligman weaves a tale of two lives intertwined and the love of the Van Gogh brothers.

Hoose, Phillip           Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice

On March 2, 1955, an impassioned teenager, fed up with the daily injustices of Jim Crow segregation, refused to give her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of being celebrated as Rosa Parks would be just nine months later, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin found herself shunned by her classmates and dismissed by community leaders. Undaunted, a year later she dared to challenge segregation again as a key plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle, the landmark case that struck down the segregation laws of Montgomery and swept away the legal underpinnings of the Jim Crow South.

Based on extensive interviews with Claudette Colvin and many others, Phillip Hoose presents the first in-depth account of an important yet largely unknown civil rights figure, skillfully weaving her dramatic story into the fabric of the historic Montgomery bus boycott and court case that would change the course of American history.

Kraft, Betsy Harvey Theodore, Roosevelt: Champion of the American Spirit

An English diplomat who was a friend of T.R. said, "You have to remember, the president is about six." (Kraft, p. ix) Working from this premise the author captures the whirlwind that was the twenty-sixth president. Wonderful anecdotes and well told historical narrative bring Roosevelt's outsized enthusiasm, boundless energy, and crusading spirit to life. This biography is as dynamic as its subject.

Murphy, Jim             An American Plague

This historical narrative about the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia is perfect to read along with Laurie Anderson's novel Fever: 1793. At the time, Philadelphia was the capital of the United States and its largest city. Murphy's detailed history captures the panic caused by unexplained death, the efforts of many to fight the disease, and the conditions that lead to the epidemic.

Myers, Walter Dean             The Greatest: Muhammad Ali

This biography describes the boxing career of Muhammad Ali and sets it against the political and social scene of the 1960s and 1970s. The author captures Ali's struggles with discrimination, the Vietnam War, and Parkinson's disease.

Nelson, Peter            Left for Dead: A Young Man's Search for Justice

At the end of WWII the USS Indianapolis was carrying the atomic bomb for the Enola Gay. The ship was torpedoed and sank. Many questions were unanswered about the incident. A student named Scott Hunter, who was working on a project for his school history fair, decided to research this event because the sailors were attacked by sharks when they left the ship. He then got caught up in his research and tried to exonerate the ship's captain who had been unfairly court-martialed.

Partridge, Elizabeth             This Land Was Made for You and Me

This biography of Woody Guthrie is equally a saga of the Great Depression and the war years at home. The photographs and other documents illustrating the biography are well placed and thoughtfully chosen. Primary source materials have clearly been put to good use. The narrative never lags and is crammed full of anecdotes and interesting detail. There is an honesty to the text that mirrors the author's sense of the man.

Philbrick, Nathaniel Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex

The Whaleship Essex out of Nantucket was rammed by an eighty-two foot long sperm whale--twice--and immediately sank in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The crew managed to get themselves into three small, open whaling boats in an amazingly short time. Also they were able to quickly rescue some hardtack, fresh water, and navigational tools. Afraid of nearby, unexplored islands, they attempted a 3000 mile trip back to South America. Few survived. Accounts of this incident spread and inspired Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

Sheinkin, Steve        Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War

From Steve Sheinkin, the award-winning author of The Port Chicago 50 and Bomb comes a tense, exciting exploration of what the Times deemed "the greatest story of the century": how Daniel Ellsberg transformed from obscure government analyst into "the most dangerous man in America," and risked everything to expose the government's deceit. On June 13, 1971, the front page of the New York Times announced the existence of a 7,000-page collection of documents containing a secret history of the Vietnam War. Known as The Pentagon Papers, these documents had been comissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Chronicling every action the government had taken in the Vietnam War, they revealed a pattern of deception spanning over twenty years and four presidencies, and forever changed the relationship between American citizens and the politicans claiming to represent their interests. A provocative book that interrogates the meanings of patriotism, freedom, and integrity, Most Dangerous further establishes Steve Sheinkin as a leader in children's nonfiction.

Sheinkin, Steve        The Notorious Benedict Arnold : A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, & Bravery

A biography of the man whose name is now synonymous with traitor. Arnolds life was full of adventure and heroism. He was one of George Washington’s most trusted generals but he was a spiteful and jealous man who believed he never received the credit he deserved. Sheinkin brings to life this complex and flawed man in this brilliant book that reads like an adventure novel full of battles, treachery and twists and turns.

Sheinkin, Steve        Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian Football Team

Jim Thorpe: super athlete, Olympic gold medalist, Native American.

Pop Warner: indomitable coach, football mastermind, Ivy League grad.

Before these men became legends, they met in 1907 at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, where they forged one of the winningest teams in the history of America’s favorite sport. Called “the team that invented football,” Carlisle’s innovative squad challenged the greatest, most elite teams—Harvard, Yale, Army—audaciously vowing to take their place among the nation’s football powers.

This is an astonishing underdog sports story—and more. It’s an unflinching look at the U.S. government’s violent persecution of Native Americans and the school that was designed to erase Indian cultures. It’s the story of a group of young men who came together at that school, the overwhelming obstacles they faced both on and off the field, and their absolute refusal to accept defeat.

Singh, Simon            The Code Book

Secret codes bring to mind danger, spies, critical information, and intellectual challenge. Here are all the famous code breakers, the challenging codes they cracked, and those moments in history that hung on the success or failure of encryption. Singh also provides suggestions on how to go about trying to crack codes, admitting that an educated guess can be essential.

Tougas, Shelley        Little Rock Girl 1957: How a Photograph Changed the Fight for Integration

Nine African American students made history when they defied a governor and integrated an Arkansas high school in 1957. It was the photo of one of the nine trying to enter the school a young girl being taunted, harassed and threatened by an angry mob that grabbed the worlds attention and kept its disapproving gaze on Little Rock, Arkansas. In defiance of a federal court order, Governor Orval Faubus called in the National Guard to prevent the students from entering all white Central High School. The plan had been for the students to meet and go to school as a group on September 4, 1957. But one student, Elizabeth Eckford, didn’t hear of the plan and tried to enter the school alone. A chilling photo by newspaper photographer Will Counts captured the sneering expression of a girl in the mob and made history. Years later Counts snapped another photo, this one of the same two girls, now grownup, reconciling in front of Central High School.

Walker, Sally M.       Written in Bone 

Using local historical sites along the Chesapeake Bay as examples, the author describes the work of forensic anthropologists, archeologists, and other scientists seeking to add to the colonial historical record. The narrative reads much like a detective novel as scientists study skeletons that are many centuries old to establish identities, causes of death, burial practices, and lifestyles. 

Wilborn, Hampton  War in the Middle East

The author, a former United Press International foreign correspondent, is now an editor of The New York Times. In September 1970, he was sent to cover the hijacking of four passenger jets--three of them held in Jordan with passengers aboard--by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Here he describes his work, his assignment, and two major events in the ongoing Middle East conflict that he covered.

Graphic Novels

Brown, Don  Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina's monstrous winds and surging water overwhelmed the protective levees around low-lying New Orleans, Louisiana. Eighty percent of the city flooded, in some places under twenty feet of water. Property damages across the Gulf Coast topped $100 billion. One thousand eight hundred and thirty-three people lost their lives. The tale of this historic storm and the drowning of an American city is one of selflessness, heroism, and courage—and also of incompetence, racism, and criminality.

Faulkner, Matt         Gaijin: American Prisoner of War

With a white mother and a Japanese father, Koji Miyamoto quickly realizes that his home in San Francisco is no longer a welcoming one after Pearl Harbor is attacked. And once he's sent to an internment camp, he learns that being half white at the camp is just as difficult as being half Japanese on the streets of an American city during WWII. Koji's story, based on true events, is brought to life by Matt Faulkner's cinematic illustrations that reveal Koji struggling to find his place in a tumultuous world-one where he is a prisoner of war in his own country.

Lewis, John   March Trilogy

Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president.

Now, to share his remarkable story with new generations, Lewis presents March, a graphic novel trilogy, in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell (winner of the Eisner Award and LA Times Book Prize finalist for Swallow Me Whole).

March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.

Book One spans John Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.

Many years ago, John Lewis and other student activists drew inspiration from the 1950s comic book "Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story." Now, his own comics bring those days to life for a new audience, testifying to a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations.


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