“The world can change in a minute, and at the same minute remain unchanged.” For Martha Boyle this summer is full of changes.
The First Change:
It began with a knock on the door, and women handing Martha a piece of paper. On it were words written by a dead girl. A girl Martha had not known well. Olive had been in Martha’s class but had died weeks earlier—hit by a car while riding her bike. The paper handed to Martha was one torn from Olive’s journal and on it Olive had written the following words
“I hope that I get to know Martha Boyle next year (or this summer). I hope that we can be friends. That is my biggest hope. She is the nicest person in my whole entire class.”
When Martha read those words everything began to change. Martha didn’t understand what she had ever said or done to make Olive think she was “the nicest person in the whole entire class.” And Martha couldn’t get over the fact that she an Olive had had so many things in common—things she never even knew. What, Olive wondered, could all this mean? The more she mulled over the coincides the more startling they became. Olive, and the coincidences that their lives shared, would haunt Martha all summer.

The Second Change
Her beloved Grandmother, Godbe, whom she visits every year at the ocean is getting older. In fact, Martha fears she may be dying.

The Third Change
Jimmy Manning. The same age as her brother—a year older than her, Jimmy suddenly seems less annoying…and, a lot more, well, cute…

The Fourth Change
Read from page 163…

When it is neither day nor night, when shadows lurk before darkness falls. This time, when almost anything can happen, is known as the dark thirty. You don’t want to find yourself alone during the dark thirty. For no one will believe you if you tell them what you saw. Did you actually see it? Those 30 minutes between day and night can be bewitching. It’s best to spend this eerie yet magical time with friends-sharing stories. Stories about the strange things that people have seen, stories about the supernatural. A man killed by the Klan returns to seek justice. A train that brings death if you hear its whistle. A man that can see the future sees a fiery demise for his family. The stories in this collection of spine tingling tales are inspired by African American history. They will make you shiver… They will make you wonder… And they are perfect for sharing during that time when anything can happen, during… The Dark Thirty.

Caleb Becker has spent the past year in juvenile detention. His crime? A hit and run while drunk driving. His Victim? Maggie Armstrong– who happened to be his twin sister’s best friend and also his next door neighbor.

It’s a year after the accident-Caleb has been released from lock up and Maggie is still learning how to walk again.

Two people, bonded together by tragedy, shunned by the rest of the world… What happens when the very person who hurt you becomes the only person you can trust?

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkes

*Notes on my categorization for the appropriate age levels for this book:

As always, the final decision about “appropriate age level” is hard to generalize…it ultimately depends on the reader. Although SLJ gave this book a 9+ recommendation for “mild cursing and some sexual scenes” I feel comfortable recommending it to several of my older middle school readers(7th and 8th graders) who have read/are reading The Gossip Girls, The Boyfriend List, and TTYL.

Josh Lewis’ best friend, techno-nerd Aaron Zimmer, has turned his computer into a wish-granting machine. The formula is not quite right however, and they repeatedly find themselves subject to the wishes of those that surround them. When it is the wishes of a snotty poodle, a boy crazy sister, and the oldest, meanest woman in New York City that are responsible for transporting you through space and time you never know where you will end up. Aaron and Josh must find a way to return to current space and time, fix the machine, avoid the bullies whose underwear they stole, and catch the Watcher, who has been tracking their every move...

Seventeen-year-old Alice Tully is finally starting to feel comfortable. She has a boyfriend, a job, a place to live with a kindly woman, and plans to attend college. But things haven’t always been so peaceful for her—in fact, Alice hasn’t always been Alice. Six years before, her name was Jennifer Jones, and she was convicted for murdering her best friend. The British press had been fascinated by her story and now that she has been released they want to find out where she is, and who she has become. Alice isn’t sure what she has become, or what she deserves. Does she deserve to be happy after what she did? As Alice tries to protect her new identity her past comes back to haunt her. Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy is a gripping and thought provoking thriller about who we are and what we can become.

*Librarians should be aware that there is some discussion of sex within the book.  Alice contemplates losing her virginity with her boyfriend and some passages describe their physical relationship. It is never gratuitous or too graphic but it is present.

Louise Collins is 13 years old when she is yanked out of school to protest desegregation in New Orleans. Instead of going to class, Louise spends her days helping out around the boardinghouse her mother runs. Her mother, Pauline, spends her days participating in protests down at the school. Pauline is one of the Cheerleaders, a group of women who lead the crowd in hate filled chants as 6 year old Ruby Bridges walks up the steps to the school every morning.. But Louise doesn’t really mind not going to school, and she doesn’t think much about the fact that her mother spends her mornings heckling a 6 year old girl.

“Looking back people tend to think that there were two sides of the line on the segregation issue in the Ninth Ward, but there weren’t, at least not where I lived. Not at the beginning, anyway. Just about everyone in the Ninth Ward believed in segregation, including the Negroes, It was one of those things that you assumed everyone agreed on or you didn’t think that much about. I was in the latter category. I never thought to think any other way.” (pg 53-54)

But when Morgan Miller, a man with a mysterious past comes to town everything Louise knows about her mother, her world, and herself changes—forever. An unflinching look at hate, violence, and courage—My Mother the Cheerleader is a tour de force that shows just how slow, confusing and dangerous change can be.

Recently orphaned Judith is sent to live with her Uncle outside of Charleston in South Carolina with only one instruction-she is not to bring anything that is green. While she finds the request a bit odd she is thankful that her Uncle is taking her in and leaves everything that contains the color green behind. Everything that is, except for a green silk picture frame that her mother had given her. Buried deep in her trunk Judith is sure that the picture frame won’t offend anyone—after all, no one will even know she has it. But then weird things begin to happen around the house. Unexplainable things. Frightening things.  As she tries to figure out what is going on, Judith learns about the houses horrid past and that she is not the first person to come and stay with her uncle, and his last guest… did not leave the house alive.  

An escaped, genetically engineer rat modified for intelligence and trained for espionage; a bored, lonely disobedient boy; and an evil robot meet on a space station. One of the three won’t survive.

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

October 28, 2007

Begin the booktalk with an excerpt from the story’s first two paragraphs on page 1:

 “I am running. This is the first thing I remember. Running . I carry something, my arm curled around it, hugging it to my chest. Bread, of course. Someone is chasing me. Stop! Thief! I run. People. Shoulders. Shoes. Stop! Thief!. “
Meet Misha. He’s a young boy with nothing left to lose. And when you have nothing to lose, you have nothing to fear. But fearcan keep you safe. It can keep you out of trouble.And it can keep you from getting killed. But Misha doesn’t know fear. He doesn’t know how dangerous  the Nazis are. And if Misha doesn’t know how much danger he is in, how can he survive it?

Hitler’s Canary

October 28, 2007

Bamse is a young Danish boy who is forced to grow up quickly. Bamse comes from a family of theater people. His mother is a famous actress, his father is a talented set designer and up until now he has lived in a wonderful world of make-believe. But there is nothing make believe about the Nazis who now rule the streets of Denmark or the fear that his Jewish friend feels. Bamse own family is torn on how to proceed. Should he lay low like his Mother and Father suggest and keep a low profile to protect his family?Or, like his older brother is doing, should he risk everything and take a stand against the German invaders? Nothing is clear to Bamse anymore. The one thing that Bamse is beginning to understand is perhaps the most confusing thing of all-that not all of the Germans are bad and not all of the Danes are good. There are just some good people and some bad people, and it isn’t always easy to tell the difference.

Will Bamse be able to make the decisions necessary to save both his family and his friends? Based on a true story Hitler’s Canary by Sandi Toksvig is both a funny and gripping novel about the extraordinary courage it takes to survive.