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Staff Reviews by Sharyn Heili

Cover: 'Wish Upon a Sleepover'

"Wish Upon a Sleepover" by Suzanne Selfors

★★★★★ Leliani has only one friend, Autumn, and the popular group of Haileys at school look like they would be fun friends, so she decides to plan a sleepover and invite them. However, with her confused grandmother helping with the party, the kids on the “Do Not Invite” list get invited instead of kids on the  “Do Invite” list. So now she’s stuck with the...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Louisiana's Way Home'

"Louisiana's Way Home" by Kate DiCamillo

★★★★★ Louisana Elefante used to think that she knew who she was. She was told that she was the daughter of circus performers who died doing a trapeze act and she now lives with her grandmother. But when her grandmother awakens her in the middle of the night and tells her to get in the car, without her cat or dog or even saying goodbye to her friends in order to...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Cover: 'All the Things That Could Go Wrong'

"All the Things That Could Go Wrong" by Stewart Foster

★★★★★ Seventh-grade student Alex worries about everything, including worrying about worrying, but mostly about everyone dying and all the germs on people and surfaces everywhere. He always wears gloves and washes his hands compulsively, so much so that his skin is cracked, raw, and painful. Because of his OCD he is picked on at school and bullied repeatedly,...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Saving Winslow'

"Saving Winslow" by Sharon Creech

★★★★★ When his father brings home a sickly, half-dead baby donkey in the middle of winter, Louie, who has not had luck keeping things alive like goldfish, worms and bugs, is determined to do whatever it takes to save it.  Suffering the loss of his brother, Gus, who recently joined the army, having a baby donkey to love helps soothe Louie's lonely heart and...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'City of Islands'

"City of Islands" by Kali Wallace

★★★★ Orphaned as a child, twelve-year-old Mara works as a servant for the powerful Lady of the Tides by diving into the murky sea for ancient artifacts supposedly containing residual magic from the magical Founders who built their beautiful city thousands of years ago. While diving with her friend Izzy, Mara begins hearing songs reminiscent of the songs her...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'I Am Still Alive'

"I Am Still Alive" by Kate Alice Marshall

★★★★★ Jess Cooper is still alive, for now. Suffering from injuries from an accident that claimed the life of her mother, Jess is shuffled off to her only surviving relative, her father, who she hardly remembers, and who, she discovers, is living much further off-the-grid than she ever could have imagined. She hates it in the middle of nowhere and desperately...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Half-Witch'

"Half-Witch" by John Schoffstall

★★★★ Lizbet Lenz and her father Gerhard, a very unsuccessful magician, are always moving from town to town, usually quite speedily before being thrown out. Her father’s spells always seem to turn out wrong so they are forced to flee, but when they arrive in Abalia, Lizbeth, desperately tired of all the moving, really hopes they can stay. But after yet another...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Running Through Sprinklers'

"Running Through Sprinklers" by Michelle Kim

★★★★ Sara and Nadine have always had each other, since forever, or at least since they were small and both living on the same cul-de-sac, literally minutes away from each other. That is, until everything changed. It was seventh grade and they were both supposed to be starting together as they always did, until Nadine suddenly announces, almost right before...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Nightbooks'

"Nightbooks" by J. A. White

★★★★ Alex loves scary stories, the scarier the better. His favorite movie is Night of the Living Dead,  so when he sneaks out of his parent’s high-rise apartment, he is naturally drawn to an odd level apartment where he hears the movie playing. However, when Natacha invites him in, he discovers that there appears to be no way to escape. The apartment is...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker'

"The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker" by Matilda Woods

★★★★★ Alberto never really thought much about his life, but he certainly never would have imagined that his wife and children would all die of a sickness plaguing their beautiful town that left a purple mark on their necks. A master carpenter, he could not bear having them thrown into the sea as other deceased victims were, so he made wooden coffins and buried...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Roxie and the Hooligans at Buzzard's Roost'

"Roxie and the Hooligans at Buzzard's Roost" by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

★★★★ Nine-year–old Roxie loves her quirky, Uncle Dangerfoot,  so when he arrives from London and she discovers that she is going to go on vacation with him,  and her BFF Norman can come along, she is ecstatic. However, when they arrive at their destination, Windswept House near the ocean, they discover that the Hooligans—Helvetica, Simon, Freddy and...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Just Under the Clouds'

"Just Under the Clouds" by Melissa Sarno

★★★★★ Cora lives in Brooklyn and loves to climb trees. She was taught by the best, her father. Now with her father gone, her family is struggling and basically homeless, shuttling from one unsafe shelter to another. A middle schooler, Cora is responsible for looking after her younger sister, Adare, while her mother works. Adare is “special:" she was deprived of...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'The  Truth As Told by Mason Buttle'

"The Truth As Told by Mason Buttle" by Leslie Connor

★★★★★ Mason Buttle appears to have almost all the cards stacked against him. He’s taller and bigger than all the other kids in his seventh grade class. He sweats profusely, so much so that he brings another shirt to school with him every day to change into later in the day.  He has trouble with words, writing them and reading them. He lives in a ramshackle...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'The Wild Robot Escapes'

"The Wild Robot Escapes" by Peter Brown

★★★★★ Author Peter Brown left us with hints of impending doom for our robot friend, Roz and her family, near the end of the previous book, The Wild Robot. At the very least we were fairly certain that changes were ahead for the characters we, (okay I), had grown to love, and of course these play out in this sequel. Roz has been brought to the mainland and is...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Bob'

"Bob" by Wendy Mass, Rebecca Stead

★★★★★ Bob’s been waiting for Livy for five, very long boring years at her grandmother’s house, exactly as she told him to do. When Livy finally returns to her grandmother’s house in Australia to stay for a while, she strangely remembers nothing about ever being at her grandmother’s house before, yet it feels like she has forgotten something very important. Then...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Hope in the Holler'

"Hope in the Holler" by Lisa Lewis Tyre

★★★★★ Wavie’s mom had a plan for her after her impending death from cancer, but ending up in in Conly Hollow, her family’s Appalachian home, was never intended to be a part of it. But when her alleged aunt shows up after her mom’s death and takes her there to live, she has no choice. What Waivie gets is a filthy home with garbage strewn everywhere, in a dirt-poor...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Hello Lighthouse'

"Hello Lighthouse" by Sophie Blackall

★★★★★ This beautifully illustrated children's picture book traces the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his wife in a lighthouse on a very tiny island in the middle of the sea. We see the keeper doing his daily chores such as polishing the lamp’s lens, filling the oil and trimming the wick to keep the lighthouse lamp lit. We experience the birth of their...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Shadow Weaver'

"Shadow Weaver" by Mercy Kate Connolly

★★★★ Emmeline has never been alone. Ever since her best friend Dar, her shadow, spoke to her when she was a baby, she has always had her trusted best friend with her. With her unique gift, Emmeline is able to conjure up and weave shadows together whenever she desires. Her magical talent is threatened when it is discovered by Lady Aisling who threatens to take...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Granted'

"Granted" by John David Anderson

★★★★ Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets lives an idyllic sort of life in the Haven where all the fairies have a special job to do. She is a Granter. This means that it is her job to grant the wish of one human person from one of the twelve fallen leaves (wishes) of the over five million on the large Great Tree. Unfortunately, with less world magic available less wishes...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'The Sky at Our Feet'

"The Sky at Our Feet" by Nadia Hashimi

★★★★ When two men, who do not look like customers, start talking to his mother at work in New Jersey, Jason is terrified that his mother will be sent back to Afghanistan since she is not a U.S citizen. Remaining hidden he watches the frightening scene unfold, and when he finally sees his mother riding away with these men, he knows he has to flee and try to...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Dear Pope Francis'

"Dear Pope Francis" by Pope Francis

★★★★★ This book is a delightful and refreshingly candid look at Pope Francis and the children from around the world who had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write a letter and ask the leader of the Catholic Church any questions they wished. The questions they ask are honest, surprising, and ones that people of all ages would be interested in hearing his...

Audience: Children | Genre: Nonfiction

Cover: 'Frogkisser!'

"Frogkisser!" by Garth Nix

★★★★★ Anya is a princess in a tough situation but with quite a gift. She is the Frogkisser. When Rikard, her evil, power-hungry, sorcerer stepfather takes over the kingdom of Trallonia and begins transforming people that get in his way into frogs, lizards and other critters, Anya discovers she has a magic gift all her own. With some magic lip balm and the...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Goldeline'

"Goldeline" by Jimmy Cajoleas

★★★★★ Goldeline is called ghost girl because of her long, flowing white hair, making her a frightening distraction for the robbing bandits she helps in the magical Hinterlands, and who are the only "family" she has known since her momma was accused by the Preacher of being a witch and burned at the stake. However, during one of their jobs she discovers a young...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Lucky Broken Girl'

"Lucky Broken Girl" by Ruth Behar

★★★★★ Ruthie Mizahi is the “lucky broken girl,” at least that’s what they call her after the multiple car accident in which she survived but several other people died. Being new in America from Cuba, she learned just enough English to graduate from the fifth grade "dumb class” at school, and just received her very own dream pair of go-go boots. Now she has to lie...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Just Like Jackie'

"Just Like Jackie" by Lindsey Stoddard

★★★★★ Robinson (Robbie) has finally had enough taunting from the fifth grade school bully, Alex, punches him in the nose, and ends up in the principal’s office with her grandfather. She knows her grandfather will be angry with her for not doing what Jackie Robinson, her namesake, would have done--nothing. She helps her grandfather in his auto repair shop, with...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

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