April 26, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Grade 5-8 Fiction | August 2013

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redstarDICAMILLO, Kate. Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. illus. by K. G. Campbell. 240p. Candlewick. Sept. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-6040-6. LC 2012947748.

Gr 4-6–Flora, obsessed with superhero comics, immediately recognizes and gives her wholehearted support to a squirrel that, after a near-fatal brush with a vacuum cleaner, develops the ability to fly and type poetry. The 10-year-old hides her new friend from the certain disapproval of her self-absorbed, romance-writer mother, but it is on the woman’s typewriter that Ulysses pours out his creations. Like DiCamillo’s The Magician’s Elephant (Candlewick, 2009), this touching piece of magical realism unfolds with increasing urgency over a mere few days and brings its somewhat caricatured, old-fashioned characters together into what becomes a supportive community for all. Campbell’s rounded and gentle soft-penciled illustrations, at times in the form of panel art furthering the action, wonderfully match and add to the sweetness of this oddball story. Rife with marvelously rich vocabulary reminiscent of the early superhero era (e.g., “Holy unanticipated occurrences!”) and amusing glimpses at the world from the point of view of Ulysses the supersquirrel, this book will appeal to a broad audience of sophisticated readers. There are plenty of action sequences, but the novel primarily dwells in the realm of sensitive, hopeful, and quietly philosophical literature.–Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC

redstarEDINGER, Monica. Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad. illus. by Robert Byrd. 64p. map. notes. Candlewick. Oct. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5038-4. LC 2012947752.

Gr 4-8–The events surrounding the abduction, mutiny, and legal trials of the Amistad Africans have been retold in a number of books, but few are told from the point of view of the children on the ship. In this novel based on the experiences of a real person, nine-year-old Magulu sails for seven weeks to Cuba on a slave ship. After being sold, she boards the Amistad. A rebellion leads to fighting and eventual jail time and several trials. Now 12 years old, she and the other children are finally declared free and allowed to return home. How she earns her passage and an education are part of this remarkable story of resilience, faith, and hope. Byrd’s ink and watercolor illustrations show lush green areas of West Africa; as Magulu travels, the colors darken until she is returned to Africa. Highly detailed illustrations contrast life and dress in Africa with those in Cuba and Connecticut. The maps and recurring dream scenes are lovely and intriguing. Interspersed throughout the book are primary-image sources. Edinger gives Magulu a voice of her own as she narrates her story. The child’s character is fleshed out as readers watch her grow from age nine when she is pawned during a drought to adulthood when she becomes a teacher in her beloved homeland. With more than 40 stunning illustrations, this unique narrative should find an appreciative audience.–Glynis Jean Wray, Ocean County Library, Toms River, NJ

redstarHARRINGTON, Karen. Sure Signs of Crazy. 282p. Little, Brown. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-21058-4.

Gr 6-9–Sarah Nelson is dreading the seventh-grade family tree project and hoping her alcoholic father, a college professor, will move them from Garland, Texas, by summer’s end. That has been their pattern whenever local acquaintances discover, usually through a resurfacing news story about two notorious court trials, that Sarah is the sole survivor of her mother’s attempt to drown her two-year-old twins 10 years earlier. With a plant as her only confidante, she conducts imaginary conversations with her dead brother and looks for signs of insanity in herself as she puzzles over the twice-yearly cryptic greeting cards from her mother, a patient in a home for the insane in Wichita. An end-of-sixth-grade letter-writing assignment has Sarah sharing her loneliness and confusion with an idealized father, Atticus Finch, from To Kill a Mockingbird. But at least her own father has agreed to spare her a boring summer with her grandparents in Houston, deciding instead to leave her in the charge of a college student. Charlotte’s romantic preoccupations, benign neglect, and attractive brother who shares Sarah’s love of words start her on a road to self-discovery and give her the courage to challenge her father’s well-intended but misguided attempts to shield her from her past. Sarah is an introspective protagonist whose narrative, interspersed with letters and word definitions, keeps readers absorbed. The horrific premise is not belabored, and the focus remains on the plight of a girl juggling the normal challenges of adolescence with a complex family situation. Secondary characters add interest and texture to this compelling novel.–Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

redstarKITTSCHER, Kristen. The Wig in the Window. 368p. HarperCollins/Harper. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-211050-3. LC 2012025337.

Gr 4-7–Twelve-year-old Sophie Young and her best friend, Grace Yang, have been sneaking out of their houses for midnight spy missions in hopes of catching criminals on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. What has seemed like a game suddenly becomes serious when they stumble through the yard of Sophie’s school counselor and witness her chopping wildly with a cleaver. Although it turns out that Dr. Agford was merely cutting up beets for her latest batch of pickled vegetables, Sophie and Grace still suspect that she is hiding something sinister. As the girls try to discern the truth, Sophie finds herself in situations both awkward and terrifying, and she wonders if her friendship with Grace will last through their investigation. This fast-paced, action-packed romp has all the ingredients of a great mystery, and it does not leave out the angst felt by so many middle schoolers. Readers will see themselves and their friends in Sophie and her classmates, and they will have a difficult time tearing themselves away.–Sarah Reid, Broome County Public Library, Binghamton, NY

redstarVANCE, Alexander. The Heartbreak Messenger. 288p. Feiwel & Friends. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-250-02969-0.

Gr 5-8–When his best friend’s brother wants to break up with his girlfriend but doesn’t know how, Quentin agrees to do it for him for $20. He never expects it to turn into a business, but after being successful and taking the ex’s advice to soften the blow with flowers and chocolate, he becomes the heartbreak messenger. Wanting to help out his car-mechanic mother with what he assumes are money problems, he takes on more breakups. However, most of them are not so simple. He gets punched by a girl, has to figure out how to break up with two girls at the same time without telling them about each other, and must comfort an enormous football player whose heart is broken. As he struggles to keep his business and his body safe from harm, he finds himself with conflicting feelings about his other best friend, Abby. When her boyfriend asks for his services, Quentin must decide about his true feelings for her. Quentin is a likable and funny narrator. His confusion over his feelings for Abby is authentic, and his decision that he is not ready to pursue a romantic relationship will strike a chord with other preteens. This clever read will find an audience with both boys and girls.–Kefira Phillipe, Nichols Middle School, Evanston, IL

The following titles are reviewed in the August 1, 2013 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Grades 5-8

ADA, Alma Flor & F. Isabel Campoy. Yes! We Are Latinos. illus. by David Diaz. 96p. bibliog. further reading. index. Charlesbridge. Aug. 2013. RTE $18.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-383-1; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-60734-618-0. LC 2012027214.

ANDERSON, John David. Sidekicked. 384p. HarperCollins/Walden Pond. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-213314-4. ebook available. LC 2012025495.

ANDERSON, T. Neill. City of the Dead: Galveston Hurricane, 1900. 131p. (Horrors of History Series). map. photos. Charlesbridge. Aug. 2013. RTE $16.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-514-9; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-60734-535-0. LC 2012024491.

APPS, Jerry. Letters from Hillside Farm. 160p. Fulcrum. 2013. pap. $12.95. ISBN 978-1-55591-998-6.

ATWOOD, Megan. Leaping at Shadows. Bk. 1. ISBN 978-1-4677-0930-9; ISBN 978-1-4677-1483-9; ISBN 978-1-4677-1627-7. LC 2012046156.

––––. Stolen Luck. Bk. 2. ISBN 978-1-4677-0931-6; ISBN 978-1-4677-1484-6; ISBN 978-1-4677-1628-4. LC 2012048710.

ea vol: 112p. (The Dario Quincy Academy of Dance Series). Darby Creek. Sept. 2013. lib. ed. $27.93; pap. $7.95; ebook $20.95.

BACIGALUPI, Paolo. Zombie Baseball Beatdown. 304p. Little, Brown. Sept. 2013. Tr $17. ISBN 978-0-316-22078-1.

BASKIN, Nora Raleigh. Runt. 208p. S & S. 2013. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5807-9. ebook available.

CALHOUN, Dia. After the River the Sun. illus. by Kate Slater. 368p. S & S/Atheneum. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-3985-6. ebook available. LC 2012023710.

CERVANTES, Angela. Gaby, Lost and Found. 224p. Scholastic. Aug. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-48945-4. ebook available.

CREECH, Sharon. The Boy on the Porch. 160p. HarperCollins/Joanna Cotler. Sept. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-189235-6; lib. ed. $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-189237-0.

DAHL, Michael. The Return of Abracadabra. Bk. 2. illus. by Lisa K. Weber. 208p. (Hocus Pocus Hotel Series). Capstone. 2013. Tr $10.95. ISBN 978-1-4342-4721-6; lib. ed. $23.99. ISBN 978-1-4342-4102-3.

DALTON, Michelle. Fifteenth Summer. 272p. S & S/Simon Pulse. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-7267-9; pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-7266-2; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-7268-6. LC 2012029540.

EDWARDSON, Åke. Samurai Summer. 256p. Skyscape. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4778-1654-7; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4778-6654-2.

ELAND, Lindsay. A Summer of Sundays. 384p. Egmont USA. 2013. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-030-6; ebook $15.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-413-7. LC 2012045141.

EPSTEIN, Adam Jay & Andrew Jacobson. Starbounders. illus. by David McClellan. 320p. glossary. HarperCollins/Harper. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-212022-9.

School Library Journal starred reviewsESTEP, Jennifer. Spartan Frost. 58p. (Mythos Academy Series). Kensington/KTeen. 2013. $1.99. ISBN 978-07582-9477-7.

FAGAN, Cary. Danny, Who Fell in a Hole. illus. by Milan Pavlovic. 116p. Groundwood. 2013. Tr $14.95. ISBN 978-1-55498-311-7; pap. $9.95. ISBN 978-1-55498-312-4; ebook $9.95. ISBN 978-1-55498-313-1.

FLETCHER, Susan. Falcon in the Glass. 320p. S & S/McElderry. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-2990-1; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-2992-5. LC 2012022468.

GOELMAN, Ari. The Path of Names. 339p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-47430-6; ebook $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-54014-8. LC 2012030554.

GOO, Maurene. Since You Asked…. 262p. Scholastic. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-44821-5. LC 2012034891.

HALE, Bruce. Playing with Fire. Bk. 1. illus. by Brandon Dorman. 320p. (School for S.P.I.E.S. Series). Hyperion/Disney. 2013. RTE $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-6850-8; ebook $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-8124-8.

HIGGINS, Joanna. Waiting for the Queen. 247p. bibliog. Milkweed. Sept. 2013. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-57131-700-1. ebook available.

HOWSON, Imogen. Linked. 359p. S & S. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-4656-4; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-4657-1.

JINKS, Catherine. How to Catch a Bogle. illus. by Sarah Watts. 335p. glossary. Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-08708-8.

JINKS, Catherine. Saving Thanehaven. 375p. Egmont USA. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-274-4; ebook $17.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-284-3. LC 2012046190.

KAPLAN, Bruce Eric. Cousin Irv from Mars. illus. by author. 40p. S & S. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-4923-7; ebook $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-4924-4. LC 2011043872.

KLINE, Lisa Williams. Seasons of Change. Bk. 5. 240p. (Sisters in All Seasons Series). Zonderkidz. 2013. Tr $10.99. ISBN 978-0-310-74007-0.

LUBAR, David. Numbed! 144p. Millbrook. Oct. 2013. RTE $15.95. ISBN 978-1-4677-0594-3; ebook $12.95. ISBN 978-1-4677-1699-4. LC 2012048863.

MARCIANO, John Bemelmans. The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield. illus. by Sophie Blackall. 144p. Viking. Oct. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01406-4. LC 2012048448.

MARUNO, Jennifer. Kid Soldier. 208p. photos. Dundurn Press. Sept. 2013. pap. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4597-0677-4; ebook $8.99. ISBN 978-1-4597-0679-8.

MORIARTY, Chris. The Watcher in the Shadows. illus. by Mark E. Geyer. 326p. Houghton Harcourt. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-46632-3. LC 2013003919.

MULDER, Michelle. Not a Chance. 145p. Orca. 2013. pap. $9.95. ISBN 978-1-4598-0216-2. LC 2012952943.

PAULSEN, Gary. Vote: The Theory, Practice, and Destructive Properties of Politics. 144p. Random/WendyLamb. 2013. Tr $12.99. ISBN 978-0-385-74228-3; lib. ed. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-375-99053-3; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-307-97452-5. LC 2012023059.

PRINEAS, Sarah. Summerkin. 262p. HarperCollins/Harper. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-192106-3. LC 2012026751.

SALANE, Jeffrey. Lawless. Bk. 1. 277p. (Lawless Series). Scholastic. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-45029-4.

SHAKESPEARE, William. Romeo & Juliet. adapt. by Dominique Marion.tr. from French by Susan Allen-Maurin. illus. by Martina Peluso. 40p. Auzou. 2013. Tr $14.95. ISBN 978-2-7338-2119-0.

SNOW, Alan. Worse Things Happen at Sea!: A Tale of Pirates, Poison, and Monsters. illus. by author. 340p. S & S/Atheneum. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-689-87049-1; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-6823-8.

SODERBERG, Erin. The Quirks: Welcome to Normal. illus. by Kelly Light. 225p. Bloomsbury. 2013. Tr $13.99. ISBN 978-1-59990-789-5; ebook $13.99. ISBN 978-1-61963-052-9. LC 2012031892.

STRYKOWSKI, Marcia. Call Me Amy. 180p. Luminis. 2013. Tr $24.95. ISBN 978-1-935462-76-7; pap. $14.95. ISBN 978-1-935462-75-0; ebook $9.95. ISBN 978-1-935462-77-4.

SUTCLIFFE, William. The Wall. 304p. further reading. Walker. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-8027-3492-1. LC 2012032047.

TATULLI, Mark. Desmond Pucket Makes Monster Magic. illus. by author. 224p. Andrews McMeel. Oct. 2013. Tr $13.99. ISBN 978-1-4494-3548-6. LC 2012956051.

VALENTINE, Allyson. How (Not) to Find a Boyfriend. 304p. Philomel. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25771-1. LC 2012019316.

WEATHERLY, L. A. Them. 74p. Stoke. 2013. pap. $6.95. ISBN 978-1-7811-2185-6.

WEINER, Ellis. The Templeton Twins Make a Scene. Bk. 2. illus. by Jeremy Holmes. 272p. Chronicle. Oct. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-1184-1.

WERLIN, Nancy. Unthinkable. 400p. Dial. Sept. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3373-2. LC 2012050174.

WESTRICK, A. B. Brotherhood. 368p. Viking. Sept. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01439-2.

ZETTEL, Sarah. Golden Girl. Bk. 2. 308p. (The American Fairy Trilogy). Random. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-375-86939-6; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 978-0-375-96939-3; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-375-98319-1. LC 2013006238.