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Reviews by Lisa B.

Titles are listed alphabetically by the author's last name. You can click the title of each book to check its availability in the WPL catalog.

Book Cover The Loud Silence of Francine Green
Karen Cushman

The year is 1949, and eighth grader Francine is interested mainly in movie stars, dancing, and staying out of trouble. Then she makes friends with Sophie, a girl who is determined to ask questions and exercise her Freedom of Speech at every opportunity, even when her views aren't proper or popular. But growing fears about communism and nuclear war with Russia are making it dangerous for Americans to speak up for what's right; people thought to sympathize with the Russians lose their jobs, are ostracized by the community, or worse. Soon Sophie's family is affected. What will it take for Francine to break her silence and speak her mind? Beautifully written, The Loud Silence of Francine Green is powerful, thought-provoking, and relevant to events in the world today. Francine is a humorous and thoughtful narrator with real depth, and many readers will recognize themselves in her. Highly recommended historical fiction for grades 6 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Cushman
Review Date: 11/10/06


Book Cover Riding the Black Cockatoo
John Danalis

Growing up, John never wondered where the Aboriginal skull on his white family's mantelpiece came from -- the skull his family called "Mary." He didn't think about the racism that had taken Mary and countless other Aboriginal remains from their resting places. Years later, John begins to learn the truth. In this moving true story, John goes through the complex process of sending Mary home, confronting his own racial prejudice in the process. Highly recommended nonfiction for grades 7 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y p DA
Review Date: 6/10/11


Book Cover Mare's War
Tanita S. Davis

Octavia and Tali do not want to spend their summer stuck in a car with their weird grandmother, Mare. But it turns out there's more to Mare than they ever expected. When she was just 16, Mare was one of the first African-American women to join the Women's Army Corps during World War II. Mare tells of her journey from an abusive situation in small-town Alabama, to training camps in Iowa and Georgia, to stations in Great Britain and France, with plenty of interesting experiences along the way. This is a fascinating look at a piece of history most people don't know about. Highly recommended for grades 6 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Davis
Review Date: 8/27/09


Book Cover OyMG
Amy Fellner Dominy

Ellie Taylor wants nothing more than to win a scholarship to Benedict so she can be on their ultra-competitive speech team. But there’s a problem. Ellie’s Jewish, and Devon Yeats – Ellie’s biggest rival, maybe-crush, and grandson of the woman who picks the scholarship winner – has warned Ellie that Mrs. Yeats is “a little weird about the Jewish thing.” Can Ellie make her dream come true without betraying her family? Humorous and thoughtful, this novel will appeal to fans of realistic fiction in middle school and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Dominy
Review Date: 9/28/11


Magic book The London Eye Mystery
Siobhan Dowd

Ted and Kat's cousin Salim is visiting them in London, and he wants to go up in the London Eye, the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe. When a stranger offers them one free ticket at the head of the line, Salim goes alone. Ted and Kat watch the wheel go around, but when the ride is over, Salim is nowhere to be seen! Was he kidnapped, did he run away, or has something even worse happened? I recommend this great mystery and moving family story to readers 5th grade and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Dowd
Review Date: 6/20/08


Book Cover Out of My Mind
Sharon M. Draper

Melody was born with cerebral palsy. She's incredibly smart, but most people can't see past her wheelchair or the fact that she can't talk. They act as if she's stupid or doesn't have any feelings. Then Melody gets a computer that allows her to talk. It looks like her whole life is going to change for the better! Melody is ready to make new friends and show the world just how smart she is, but it turns out not to be that easy. Melody is a relatable, gutsy, and funny narrator. As well as being a plain old good story, this sensitive novel invites readers to think good and hard about the way we make assumptions about other people, especially those with obvious differences. Highly recommended for grades 4 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Draper
Review Date: 7/14/10


Book Cover Into the Wild
Sarah Beth Durst

Julie has always felt left out when her mother Rapunzel’s friends get together. They’re all fairytale characters who escaped the Wild, where fairytales grow, and settled down in Massachusetts to have a normal life. Julie, on the other hand, is just an ordinary kid – well, a kid whose job is to keep what’s left of the Wild safe (and small) under her bed. But then a terrible wish made at Grandma’s Wishing Well Motel brings the Wild back, and it’s quickly devouring Julie’s town, trapping Rapunzel and all the other fairy tale characters inside. It’s up to Julie to delve into the tricky, dangerous Wild, to save her mom, her friends, and the world. This book is a wonderful blend of magic, adventure, and humor, turning familiar fairytales on their heads. It’s a shame that the hard cover’s design is so “girly”; this fantasy would appeal to boys as well as girls. Highly recommended for readers grade 5 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Durst
Review Date: 7/27/07


Book Cover This Is What I Did
Ann Dee Ellis

Since moving to a new house across town, eighth grader Logan has been the target of cruel and violent bullying. Why has he been targeted this way? Why are terrible rumors about him flooding the school and scaring off his new classmates? It must have something to do with the terrible thing that prompted Logan’s family to move – the terrible thing that Logan saw but did nothing to stop. What will it take for Logan to set the record straight and move on? Fast-moving, suspenseful, and written in a combination of short paragraphs, transcripts, and classroom notes, this book is good choice for reluctant readers grades 6 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Ellis
Review Date: 10/5/07


Book Cover Offsides
Erik Esckilsen

Tom could be the star player of his new high school's soccer team, except for one problem: the team mascot, an Indian warrior. Tom, a Mohawk Indian, believes the mascot is insulting to his people and would rather give up his sport than accept it. Then the soccer coach makes a bet with him. If Tom's unpracticed pick-up team can beat the school team, the coach will change the mascot; otherwise, Tom will be stuck playing as a "Warrior" until he graduates. Not just for sports fans, this book moves quickly and has a variety of interesting characters. The story is often thoughtful but never heavy, as Tom defines honor (honoring ancestors, honoring agreements, etc.) for himself. For grades 6 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Esckilsen
Review Date: 11/30/05


Book Cover The Sea of Trolls
Nancy Farmer

Jack is a Bard's apprentice, but he has only just begun to learn magic when Viking berserkers attack his village and kidnap Jack and his sister Lucy. Olaf One-Brow, the Viking captain, takes Jack for his personal bard, but Lucy is turned over to Queen Frith, a shapeshifting half-troll who rules her country with an iron fist. The only way for Jack to save Lucy and return home is to embark on a dangerous quest into the land of trolls. This book is full of exciting adventures, colorful characters, and funny dialogue. You never know what will happen to Jack next or what unusual friends (and enemies) he will make on the way. Junior high lovers of fantasy shouldn't miss this one!

WPL Call Number: Y Farmer
Review Date: 10/24/05


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