The School for Good and Evil

Chainani S. (2013). The School for Good and Evil. NY: HarperCollins.

What if all the fairy tale villains and heroes that we all love and hate come from one place? And what if that place was a school where the heroes and villains trained 16248113to be good or bad and where they learned chivalry and hexes. What if that place was called The School for Good and Evil? Sophie and Agatha are best friends. Sophie is the ‘princess,’ pretty, kind, energetic, and beautiful. Agatha is the hag, the witch’s daughter, ugly, and sour. They live in a village where every year two children are kidnapped. One is a good person that everybody loves and the other is the ugly, unlikeable person that nobody likes. And every year the village receives new fairy tale picture books that sometimes have characters inside that look uncannily similar to children kidnapped years ago. So when it’s Sophie’s and Agatha’s year to potentially be kidnapped, Sophie is sure that she’ll be put into the School for Good and Agatha will be put into the School for Evil. Sure enough, one dark night Sophie and Agatha get kidnapped. But somethings strange happens, Continue reading

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Fourth Dimension

Walters E. (2018). Fourth Dimension. NY: Penguin Teen.

Emma thinks that moving into a new city in a new condo is the worst of her problems. Her ex-marine mother has recently gone through a divorce and to make up for the move35135782.jpg and the drama, she decides to bring Emma and her brother on a camping trip to one of the nearby islands just offshore. Emma, being the typical 15 year old she is, doesn’t want to go, but eventually relents. As Emma, her mom, and her brother are making their way down to the water with their canoe and supplies, a huge power outage hits the whole city. Emma’s mother decides that this won’t impede their camping trip and that they can wait it out on the island, away from civilization. This decision saves their lives. Because as the days pass with no sign of the power returning and cell phones, cars, and computers all around dead, Emma and her family watch from afar as the city descends into chaos. Emma’s mother has a very tough choice to make about what to do and this decision will decide whether Continue reading

Steelheart

Sanderson B. (2013). Steelheart. NY: Delacorte Press.

David was just a child when the first Epics came. A huge object called Calamity appeared in the sky, and only a year later, select people all around17182126.jpg the world gained supernatural powers and abilities. Unfortunately the power corrupted, driving the Epics to greed and power. Steelheart is one such Epic whom David had the misfortune to meet one fateful day at a bank. It was two years after the Calamity and the world was mostly the same. David was at the bank with his father when an Epic named Deathpoint strolls in and claims the city, telling everyone that he rules over them. Just seconds later, however, an invincible, incredibly powerful Epic named Steelheart comes flying in to confront Deathpoint. Steelheart  reclaims the city for himself and gives Deathpoint a choice, serve him or die. As the government soldiers come crashing through the door and chaos ensues, something incredible happens: Continue reading

The Rule of Three

Walters E. (2014). The Rule of Three. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR).

The Rule of Three dictates that you can last three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. It’s a harsh, yet realistic survival rule that normal people don’t 17934467.jpghave to worry about on a day to day basis. Adam, the main character of this book, is a rule abiding student at his high-school working on a paper with his best friend Tom when the power goes off. What he and everybody else naturally thinks is a power-outage quickly escalates into a bigger problem as other people realize that not only are phones dead but cars as well. In his rush to get home and pick up his little brother and sister in his super old car that’s somehow still working, Adam realizes that anything at all with a computer in it is broken. As more and more other people realize this, chaos escalates as people rush to gather supplies and valuable items. Once Adam gets home he sees his neighbour Herb who quickly tells Adam to drive him to a store so he can buy chlorine tablets. Confused, Adam does so and it’s only until afterwards on their way home that Herb tells him the purpose of the chlorine tablets. Herb explains that Continue reading

Orphan Island

Snyder, L. (2017). Orphan Island. MA: Walden Pond Press.

On a special island, only orphaned children live, dropped off one by one, once a year A  green boat arrives on the shores, always through thick mist, and drops off the youngest islander and orphanislandtakes away the oldest. The island itself is a safe paradise where no one ever gets hurt by an animal or anything else. The kids may squabble, but nothing major ever happens

The eldest of the nine children living there has the responsibility of teaching the newest arrival. Throughout the story, Jinny, the eldest, is guiding little Ess. When it is Jinny’s turn to board the green boat that arrives as sure as the sun Continue reading

Bud, Not Buddy

Curtis, C. (1999). Bud, Not Buddy. NY: Delacorte Books for Young Readers .

John Newbery Award, 2000
Coretta Scott King Award, 2000

Set against the historical backdrop of the Jazz Era during the Depression, Bud will have you howling out loud with laughter, talking back to the book, and cheering on ten-year 368468old Bud Caldwell. Bud (NOT Buddy – there’s a lot to a name!) has been bounced from home to foster home since his mama died when he was six. He’s never known his father, but he has himself convinced his dad must be the famous jazz musician, Herman E. Calloway, because his mama always kept posters of his band. When Bud finds himself on the lam from the Home, he sets off through cardboard jungles and goes on the rails to search for his father. Bud is fortunate enough to own his own suitcase (all the other boys at the Home have to put their belongings in a paper bag or pillow case) where he carefully stores the posters, along with a blanket, and other important necessities that make for a travelling home.

Bud’s sense of humour shows periodically; “Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things to have a Funner

Continue reading

Refugee

Gratz, A. (2017). Refugee. NY: Scholastic Press.

Following three children from different places and different time periods in history, Refugee is a gripping and suspenseful story that takes the brave spirit of these seemingly33118312.jpg unrelated children and swirls them around in the ocean as they all flee their homelands by boat, then follows them as they struggle to survive, fight to belong, and grapple with issues such as invisibility.

Everything is connected. Josef is escaping a budding Nazi Germany, Isabel flees Castro’s Cuba in the 1990’s, and Mahmoud is running from Syria in present day, yet their journeys tie together in the end. An incredibly timely middle school read,  may readers question if we have learned from history or if today’s refugees be treated in the same appalling manner.

Historically accurate, thrilling, and heartbreaking, Refugee will bring you another perspective.