Reta Winters, 44-year-old successful author of light summertime fiction has always considered herself happy, even blessed. That is, until her oldest daughter, Norah, mysteriously drops out of college to become a panhandler on a Toronto street corner – silent, with a sign around her neck bearing the word “Goodness” E
Waiting for White Horses. Nathan Jorgenson.
The gentle morning breeze was beginning to blow the cloud of fog off the lake in puffs. Each small fragment of the fog seemed to tumble and gallop across the water before it disappeared. At first she didn't see it. 'He got me out of bed to watch fog,' she thought. For a moment she wasn't sure if he was serious. Then she saw the horses. E
A Walk in the Woods. Bill Bryson.
Three to four sentences into this book, you immediately get a hint of the humor that lies ahead, such as one of the innumerable reasons he longed to walk as many of the 2,100 miles of the Appalachian Trail as he could. "It would get me fit after years of waddlesome sloth". By the time our storyteller recounts his trip to the Dartmouth Co-op, suffering serious sticker shock over equipment prices, you'll be hooked. E
Water for Elephants. Sara Gruen.
A novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932. When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie.... LP, A, DA, E
We Need to Talk About Kevin. Lionel Shriver.
Two years ago, Eva Khatchadourian's son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker, and a popular algebra teacher. Telling the story of Kevin's upbringing, Eva addresses herself to her estranged husband through a series of letters.... E
We’ll be the Last Ones to Let You Down. Rachael Hanel.
At times heartbreaking and at others gently humorous and uplifting,We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Downpresents the unique, moving perspective of a gravedigger’s daughter and her lifelong relationship with death and grief. But it is also a masterful meditation on the living elements of our cemeteries: our neighbors, friends, and families—the very histories of our towns and cities—and how these things come together in the eyes of a young girl whose childhood is suffused with both death and the wonder of the living. What was Lost. Catherine O’Flynn.
Stirring and beautifully crafted, this debut novel recounts how the repercussions of a girl's disappearance can last for decades. In 1984, Kate Meaney is a 10-year-old loner who solves imaginary mysteries and guesses the dark secrets of the shoppers she observes at the Green Oaks mall. Fast forward to 2003, where it's revealed through Lisa, Adrian's sister, that Kate disappeared nearly 20 years ago, and Adrian, blamed in her disappearance, also vanished.
When the Emperor Was Divine. Julie Otsuka.
Julie Otsuka’s commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese internment camps unlike any we have ever seen. With crystalline intensity and precision, Otsuka uses a single family to evoke the deracination – both physical and emotional – of a generation of Japanese Americans. E
Wicked. Gergory Maguire.
When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum's classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? A
Wild: From lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Cheryl Strayed.
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor,Wildpowerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her. A, LP, E Wonder Spot. Melissa Bank.
A refreshingly honest interpretation of one young woman's journey into adulthood. As we follow heroine Sophie Applebaum through a comfortable, yet awkward childhood in suburban Pennsylvania to the challenges of finding love and a career in midtown Manhattan, The Wonder Spot is never guilty of the self-indulgent traps set by other members of the Chick Lit genre. A
The Worst Hard Time: the untold story of those who survived the great American dustbowl.. Timothy Egan.
The dust storms that terrorized America's High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since, and the stories of the people that held on have never been fully told. Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist and author Timothy Egan follows a half-dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region, going from sod homes to new framed houses to huddling in basements with the windows sealed by damp sheets in a futile effort to keep the dust out.... E
Year of Wonders. Geraldine Brooks.
When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated village, a housemaid named Ann Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna’s eyes, we follow the story of the fateful year of 1666, as she and her fellow villagers confront the spread of disease and superstition. As death reaches into every household and villagers turn from prayers to murderous witch-hunting, Anna must find the strength to confront the disintegration of her community and the lure of illicit love. A
Zeitoun. Dave Eggers.
Through the story of one man’s experience after Hurricane Katrina, Eggers draws an indelible picture of Bush-era crisis management. Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a successful Syrian-born painting contractor, decides to stay in New Orleans and protect his property while his family flees. After the levees break, he uses a small canoe to rescue people, before being arrested by an armed squad and swept powerlessly into a vortex of bureaucratic brutality. When a guard accuses him of being a member of Al Qaeda, he sees that race and culture may explain his predicament. E
Junior Books—Great Reading for Adult Groups, too!
Among the Hidden. Margaret Peterson Haddix and Cliff Nielsen.
Born third at a time when having more than two children per family is illegal and subject to seizure and punishment by the Population Police, Luke has spent all of his 12 years in hiding. His parents disobeyed once by having him and are determined not to do anything unlawful again.
Because of Mr. Terupt. Rob Buyea.
Only Mr. Terupt, the new and energetic teacher of seven 5th graders, seems to know how to deal with them all. He makes the classroom a fun place, even if he doesn’t let them get away with much . . . until the snowy winter day when an accident changes everything—and everyone. ABecause of Winn-Dixie. Kate DiCamillo.
When ten-year-old India Opal Buloni moves to Naomi, Florida, with her preacher father, she doesn’t know what to expect. She is lonely at first—that is until she meets Winn-Dixie, a stray dog who helps her make some unusual friends. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal begins to let go of some of her sadness and finds she has a whole lot to be thankful for. LP, A, E
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown. Maud Hart Lovelace.
Betsy, Tacy and Tib are twelve – old enough to do lots of things… even go downtown on their own. There they see their first horseless carriage, discover the joys of the public library, and see a real play at the Opera House. They even find themselves acting in one! Best of all, they help a lonely new friend feel at home in Deep Valley—the most wonderful place in the whole world to grow up. Ever since the first publication in the 1940s, the Betsy-Tacy stories have been loved by each generation of young readers.
Boston Jane. Jennifer Holm.
Sixteen-year-old Jane Peck has ventured to the unknown wilds of the Northwest to wed her childhood idol, William Baldt. But her impeccable training at Miss Hepplewhite’s Young Ladies Academy in Philadelphia is hardly preparation for the colorful characters and crude life that await her in Washington Territory. Thrown upon her wits in the wild, Jane must determine for herself whether she is truly proper Miss Jane Peck of Philadelphia, faultless young lady and fiancée, or Boston Jane, as the Chinook dub her, fearless and loyal woman of the frontier. A
Bridge to Terabithia. Katherine Paterson.
Jess Aarons is eager to start fifth grade. He's been practicing his sprints all summer, determined to become the fastest runner at school. All seems to be on track, until the new girl in class (who also happens to be Jess's new next-door neighbor), Leslie Burke, leaves all the boys in the dust, including Jess. After this rather frustrating introduction, Jess and Leslie soon become inseparable. Together, they create an imaginary, secret kingdom in the woods called Terabithia that can be reached only by swinging across a creek bed on a rope. But one morning a tragic accident befalls Leslie as she ventures alone to Terabithia, and Jess's life is changed forever. A
Bruiser. Neal Shusterman.
Sixteen-year-old Tennyson fumes when he learns his twin sister, Bronte, is dating Bruiser, the guy voted Most Likely to Go to Jail, but Bronte insists Bruiser is misunderstood. Tennyson is eventually won over and befriends Bruiser, and that’s when the twins notice something odd. Their cuts and bruises disappear overnight while Bruiser is a mass of new hurts; somehow he takes on the pain, both physical and emotional, of the people he cares for.
Bud, Not Buddy. Christopher Paul Curtis
It’s 1936 Flint, Michigan. Times may be hard, and 10-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy, but Bud’s gota few things going for him: 1. He had his own suitcase full of special things; 2. He’s the author of “Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself”; 3. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: posters of Herman E. Calloway and his band of renown, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression. Bud is sure those posters will lead him to his father. Once he decides to hit the road, nothing can stop him, not hunger, not fear, not would-be vampires, not even Herman E. Calloway himself. LP, A, E
Charlotte’s Web. E.B. White.
An affectionate, sometimes bashful pig named Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte, who lives in the rafters above his pen. A prancing, playful bloke, Wilbur is devastated when he learns of the destiny that befalls all those of porcine persuasion. Determined to save her friend, Charlotte spins a web that reads "Some Pig," convincing the farmer and surrounding community that Wilbur is no ordinary animal and should be saved. In this story of friendship, hardship, and the passing on into time, E.B. White reminds us to open our eyes to the wonder and miracle often found in the simplest of things.
City of Ember. Jeanne Duprau.
It is always night in the city of Ember. But there is no moon, no stars. The only light during the regular twelve hours of "day" comes from floodlamps that cast a yellowish glow over the streets of the city. Beyond are the pitch-black Unknown Regions, which no one has ever explored because an understanding of fire and electricity has been lost, and with it the idea of a Moveable Light. " But now there are more and more empty shelves--and more and more times when the lights flicker and go out, leaving them in terrifying blackness for long minutes. What will happen when the generator finally fails? A, E
Eleven. Lauren Myracle.
Winnie knows that change isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially when it means her best friend, Amanda, might be dropping her for someone else. Throw in a grumpy teenage sister, a cat who gets trapped in the wall, and a crush who has pinkeye, and you’ve got one big mess—one that Winnie’s not going to clean up! Winnie’s decided that she’s going to remain exactly the same, no matter what the rest of the world does. But every month brings crazy adventures. A lot can change in a year . . .maybe even Winnie.
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat. Lynne Jonell.
Emmy's world has turned upside down. Since her family inherited a fortune, her parents have become obsessed with status and money, her teachers and fellow students ignore her, and her welfare has been left in the hands of her coldhearted nanny, Miss Barmy. Now, she can hear the class pet, a rat, talking. What's going on?
Firegirl. Tony Abbott.
Tom, a seventh grader, tells about the arrival of Jessica, a new student who was badly burned in a fire and is attending St. Catherine's while she gets treatments at a local hospital. The students in Tom's class are afraid of her because of her appearance but little by little he develops a friendship with her that changes his life. A
Football Genius. Tim Green.
Troy White is every football team's dream…even if they don't know it yet. Although he's in middle school, he is a great quarterback on his rec team, and he's got a secret talent—he can watch any football game and, after a few plays, he can call the subsequent plays before they happen. When Troy's mom, Tessa, gets a job as PR assistant for the Atlanta Falcons, Troy thinks he'll get the chance to use his gift and help his favorite team to a winning season. The boy finally manages to convince the star player of his hidden talent, but when it rubs the team's defensive coordinator the wrong way, Tessa's job is threatened. The race is on to try to save the Falcons' season as well as Tessa's job. AShow More
Freaky Friday. Mary Rodgers.
A truly funny story about a 13-year-old girl who awakens one morning in her mother's body, and during an incredible day of revelation and opportunity sees herself as others see her. A
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. E.L. Konigsburg.
When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn't just want to run from somewhere she wants to run to somewhere--to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and preferably elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City where she uncovers a mystery to be solved. A
The Giver. Lois Lowry.
Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12, he is singled out to receive special training from the Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. It is time for Jonas to receive the truth. LP, A, E
Gregor the Overlander. Suzanne Collins.
What if Alice fell down an air vent in a New York City apartment building instead of down a rabbit hole? Collins considers a similar possibility in her exceptional debut novel, a well-written, fast-moving, action-packed fantasy. Eleven-year-old Gregor expects a long, boring summer of baby-sitting his two-year-old sister, Boots, and his senile grandmother. Distracted with thoughts about his father, who disappeared three years ago, Gregor belatedly notices that Boots has crawled into an air vent in the laundry room… A
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. J.K. Rowling.
Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That's because he's being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he's really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny. LP, A, E
Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother has give him as a present—and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart ever since his parent’s divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self-pity, or despair – it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive. A
Holes. Louis Sachar.
Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the warden makes the boys “build character” by spending all day, every day, digging holes: five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment – and redemption. A, E
Homework Machine. Dan Gutman.
Brenton is a computer genius, but the other three members of his work group think he's a nerd. So, when he tells them that he has invented a machine that does homework, they taunt him until he agrees to demonstrate. The machine actually works, and Kelsey, Sam, and Judy convince him to let them use it. At first, they are delighted with their freedom, but things quickly get out of hand.
A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt. C. Coco DeYoung.
In 1933, eleven-year-old Margo Bandini, her parents and young brother, Charlie, face losing their house if they do not find a way to pay back the bank loan used to cover hospital expenses for Charlie's emergency leg operation. In a letter, Margo appeals to Eleanor "Everywhere" Roosevelt, the person she admires most, for help.
Little House on the Prairie. Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The Adventures continue for Laura Ingalls and her family as they leave their little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin and set out for Kansas. They travel for many days in their covered wagon until they find the best spot to build their little house on the prairie. Soon they are planting and plowing, hunting wild ducks and turkeys, and gathering grass for their cows. Pioneer life is hard, but Laura and her folks are always busy and happy in their new little house.
The Lightning Thief. Rick Riordan.
Mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking out of the pages of twelve-year-old Percy Jackson's textbooks and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Now, he and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. A, E.
Little Women. Louisa May Alcott.
In picturesque nineteenth-century New England, tomboyish Jo, beautiful Meg, fragile Beth, and romantic Amy come of age while their father is off to war. A, E
Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Kate DiCamillo.
Edward Tulane is an exceedingly vain, cold-hearted china rabbit owned by 10-year-old Abilene Tulane, who dearly loves him. Her grandmother relates a fairy tale about a princess who never felt love; she then whispers to Edward that he disappoints her. His path to redemption begins when he falls overboard during the family’s ocean journey. A, E
Mother-Daughter Book Club. Heather Vogel Frederick.
Four sixth-graders sign up for a book club, in which they'll read Little Women with their moms. In alternating chapters, each of the four girls describes a meeting. There is aspiring poet Emma, whose librarian mother started the group; Jess, Emma's best friend, who lives on an organic farm; hockey-playing Cassidy, daughter of a former supermodel; and popular Megan. Despite their initial resistance to the club, the girls experience joys and sorrows and develop a closer bond, just like the characters that they grow to love.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Robert C. O’Brien.
There's something very strange about the rats living under the rosebush at the Fitzgibbon farm. But Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with a sick child, is in dire straits and must turn to these exceptional creatures for assistance. Soon she finds herself flying on the back of a crow, slipping sleeping powder into a ferocious cat's dinner dish, and helping 108 brilliant, laboratory-enhanced rats escape to a utopian civilization of their own design, no longer to live "on the edge of somebody else's, like fleas on a dog's back."
My Side of the Mountain. Jean Craighead George.
Every kid thinks about running away at one point or another; few get farther than the end of the block. Young Sam Gribley gets to the end of the block and keeps going--all the way to the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. There he sets up house in a huge hollowed-out tree, with a falcon and a weasel for companions and his wits as his tool for survival.
No Girls Allowed (Dogs Okay). Trudi Strain Trueit.
Scab knows exactly what he wants: a dog. But if his “smart times ten” twin sister, Isabelle, keeps tattling on him, he’s never going to get his pet. The sister repellant spray he invents is effective and profitable—until a broken bottle spells mega-stinky disaster. A Penny from Heaven. Jennifer Holm.
Holm’s semiautobiographical story of 1953 Brooklyn. It's the summer Penny Falucci turns 12. Although she lives with her plain, ordinary mother, grandparents, and poodle, Scarlett O'Hare, she spends a lot of time with her deceased father's large, loving Italian-American family as she tries to know the father she can't remember. A
The Phantom Tollbooth. Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer.
"It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time," Milo laments. "[T]here's nothing for me to do, nowhere I'd care to go, and hardly anything worth seeing." This bored, bored young protagonist who can't see the point to anything is knocked out of his glum humdrum by the sudden and curious appearance of a tollbooth in his bedroom. Since Milo has absolutely nothing better to do, he dusts off his toy car, pays the toll, and drives through. What ensues is a journey of mythic proportions, during which Milo encounters countless odd characters who are anything but dull. A, E
Sarah, Plain and Tall. Patricia MacLachlan.
In the late 19th century a widowed midwestern farmer with two children--Anna and Caleb--advertises for a wife. When Sarah arrives she is homesick for Maine, especially for the ocean which she misses greatly. The children fear that she will not stay, and when she goes off to town alone, young Caleb--whose mother died during childbirth--is stricken with the fear that she has gone for good. But she returns with colored pencils to illustrate for them the beauty of Maine, and to explain that, though she misses her home, "the truth of it is I would miss you more." The tale gently explores themes of abandonment, loss and love. A
Savvy. Ingrid Law.
Thirteen is when a Beaumont’s savvy hits—and with one brother who causes hurricanes and another who creates electricity, Mibs Beaumont is eager to see what she gets. But just before the big day, Poppa is in a terrible accident. And now all Mibs wants is a savvy that will save him. In fact, Mibs is so sure she’ll get a powerful savvy that she sneaks a ride to the hospital on a rickety bus with her sibling and the preacher’s kids in tow. After this extraordinary adventure—full of talking tattoos and a kidnapping—not a soul on board will ever be the same. A Secret of the Old Clock. Carolyn Keene.
Nancy Drew's keen mind is tested when she searches for a missing will. A
Small Steps: the year I got polio. Peg Kehret.
This heartfelt memoir takes readers back to 1949 when the author, at age 12, contracted polio. Using fictionalized dialogue, she describes her seven-month ordeal--her diagnosis and quarantine, her terrifying paralysis, her slow and difficult recuperation--and the people she encountered along the way.
Stargirl. Jerry Spinelli.
"She was homeschooling gone amok." "She was an alien." "Her parents were circus acrobats." These are only a few of the theories concocted to explain Stargirl Caraway, a new 10th grader at Arizona's Mica Area High School who wears pioneer dresses and kimonos to school, strums a ukulele in the cafeteria, laughs when there are no jokes, and dances when there is no music. E
Tale of Despereaux. Kate DiCamillo.
The Tale of Despereaux tells the story of several unlikely heroes: Despereaux, a brave mouse banished to the dungeon for speaking with a human; Roscuro, a good-hearted rat who loves light and soup, but is exiled to darkness; Pea, a Princess in a gloomy castle who is prisoner to her father's grief; and Mig, a servant girl who longs to be a Princess, but is forced to serve the jailer. LP, A, E
The Trouble with Chickens. Doreen Cronin.
J.J. Tully is a former search-and-rescue dog who is trying to enjoy his retirement after years of performing daring missions saving lives. So he’s not terribly impressed when two chicks named Dirt and Sugar (who look like popcorn on legs) and their chicken mom show up demanding his help to find their missing siblings. Where the Red Fern Grows. Wilson Rawls.
Billy and his precious coonhound pups romp relentlessly through the Ozarks, trying to "tree" the elusive raccoon. In time, the inseparable trio wins the coveted gold cup in the annual coon-hunt contest, captures the wily ghost coon, and bravely fights with a mountain lion. When the victory over the mountain lion turns to tragedy, Billy grieves, but learns the beautiful old Native American legend of the sacred red fern that grows over the graves of his dogs. A, E
Word Eater. Mary Amato. Life is miserable for sixth-grader Lerner Chanse at her new school, where the MPOOE (Most Powerful Ones on Earth) Club ruthlessly rules over the SLUGs (Sorry Losers Under Ground). Then Lerner accidentally discovers that her pet worm Fip eats paper - with startling results...When he eats a label with the words "Mack's Thumbtacks", all Mack's thumbtacks instantly vanish and papers slip from bulletin boards everywhere! It seems that if Fip eats a word, that item simply disappears from the world - forever. Now that Lerner knows about Fip's magic, she has some extraordinary powers of her own - and some big decisions to make. Should she eliminate crime? Her mean neighbour Bobby Nitz's evil dog? Or simply wipe Cleveland Park Middle School off the face of the earth? Or will destroying anything cause effects that she can't imagine or predict? Lerner soon discovers that extraordinary power brings extraordinary responsibility - but will she learn her lesson in time?
A Wrinkle in Time. Madeleine L’Engle.
Meg Murray, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their mother are having a midnight snack on a dark and stormy night when an unearthly stranger appears at their door. He claims to have been blown off course, and goes on to tell them that there is such a thing as a “tesseract,” which, if you didn’t know, is a wrinkle in time. Meg’s father had been experimenting with a time-travel when he suddenly disappeared. Will Meg, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin outwit the forces of evil as they search through space for their father? A