Friday, October 17, 2014

Finding Ruby Starling


by Karen Rivers

***Guest post by Amanda B.***

When you put a picture of yourself into Facetrace it scans the Internet and finds all the pictures of you. One day, almost-13-year-old Ruth Quayle uses Facetrace, which finds not only pictures of her but somebody who looks a lot like her, but clearly isn't. Ruth quickly realizes that she must have a twin sister named Ruby Starling in England whom she was separated from when she was adopted, and decides to e-mail her. While Ruby is hesitant at first, she too soon believes they are twins separated at birth, but her main question becomes why were they separated. Through e-mails between Ruth and Ruby, e-mails they share with their friends and family, poems Ruth posts on her Tumblr blog, and letters Ruby hand writes to her grandmother who passed away, this is the story of how one girl finds her twin and how they may be just what the other needed.

Finding Ruby Starling is a cute and delightful story for the digital age. This book is the companion novel to Encyclopedia of Me so while you could read both, you could read just this one and still understand the story. Though one may question why some of the interactions take place via e-mail, it is an engaging way to tell the story. Although readers will likely not relate to finding out they have a long lost twin, both Ruth and Ruby can be related to in other ways.
This book is appropriate for young teen readers.

Monday, October 13, 2014

No Place

by Todd Strasser

Dan, a senior in high school, seems to have it all: he's a baseball star, dating the most popular girl in school and everyone knows who he is. What they don't know is that his family is struggling financially, and eventually they have to live in a tent city. Dan can't believe what is happening to his family - to his life.
Life in the tent city is far from ideal, and it is set up to be a community. Dan finds out a lot of kids in his school are homeless and how he and many of his friends are uneducated about the problems that many of their community's families face. The man who started the tent city, Aubrey, is beaten in an out-of-place gang attack that seems to have been planned or contracted, and now Dan feels like he can find out how and why.
This is a serious book with a main character who is in a bad spot. The supporting characters are believable and the mystery part of the story adds a different layer of interest to a story of a teen surviving.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Red Pencil

by Andrea Davis Pinkney
with Illustrations by Shane W. Evans

Amira lives in a Sudanese village with her father, mother and little sister. She is jealous of her neighbor and best friend who is moving to the city and will attend a school for girls, which Amira's mother doesn't even like to talk about. Then, Amira's life is shattered.
Her father is killed when the Janjaweed militia comes through her village, slaughtering people and burning all of their possessions. She must leave with her mother and sister and their old neighbor on foot and make the perilous journey to a refugee camp. Even once they reach the camp, life is very hard. Amira still hopes and dreams about school, and is given a drawing pad and a red pencil by an aide worker, which only fuels her desire to learn.
This takes place in 2004, and could change your life. The novel is written in verse, which means that it is entirely written in poems, and much of it is heartbreaking. Amira has survived things you can't imagine, and has lived a thousand lifetimes in her short life. If you like Karen Hesse or like to learn about different cultures, you may really like this.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Friday, October 3, 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Skin I'm In

by Sharon G. Flake

Maleeka is ashamed of how dark skinned she is and that her mother makes her clothes. She makes a deal with Char, the meanest and most popular girl in her grade, that she'll do Char's homework in exchange for her protection. Maleeka then has to put up with all of Char's antics, and knowing all of the bad things that Char does, and going along with them, even if she feels like she shouldn't. When a new teacher comes to school who has a pigment disorder that makes her face skin very blotchy, Maleeka's ideas of shame and beauty are transformed. Will she be able to stand up for herself and her beliefs?
This is a very short story told in the first person. Maleeka is very introspective and loves to write poetry and stories. If you liked Almost Home by Joan Bauer or Miracle's Boys by Jacqueline Woodson, you'll like this story.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Butterfly Clues

by Kate Ellison

Lo, short for Penelope, has recently lost her brother, and now wanders outside of her Cleveland neighborhood looking for solace. Her OCD has gotten worse, and though she always collected things, she is now compelled to take more and buy more and collect more. When she wanders too close to a bullet one night, and then finds out that a girl was murdered with the bullet that she heard, Lo has to know more about the who, the why and the hows of the case. She befriends a boy who lives on the street, Flynt, and doesn't know if she can trust him, even though he likes her. In the end, Lo must find out who committed the murder and how everyone she meets might be connected to her brother.
This is a fairly violent book, and is probably not a great read for younger teens. That being said, Lo being a detective with some major OCD tics is interesting and she never lets it impede her investigation. She gets herself into some bad situations, and readers will definitely see where her judgement is lacking. This is a great read for people who like murder mysteries and thrillers.