Pennypacker S. (2016). Pax. New York: Balzer + Bray.
A beautifully crafted tale with incredible illustrations by Jon Klassen, Pax is a wonderful story that pulls you in and keeps you reading until the last page. Pax was an orphaned fox cub when his ‘boy,’ Peter, found him by the side of a road. Since then, they’ve been inseparable. Wherever Peter has gone Pax has gone; it feels like they’ve been together forever. Pax was there for Peter when his mom died, and Peter has always been there for Pax. Everything was perfect. Until one day. With the war coming, Peter’s father has signed up for the army. To Pax’s surprise, on the way to Peter’s grandfathers house they stop by the side of a large forest and get out of the car. Peter is crying and Pax can’t figure out what’s wrong. Then Pax is left behind on purpose in the wild and Peter is delivered to live at his grandfather’s house so his father can go to the war. But immediately, Peter is wracked with guilt over allowing his father to convince him to leave a tame fox in the woods, and he embarks on a long, challenging journey through the wild. This sparks two heart wrenching tales, one of a tame fox’s adventures in the wild and the other a story of a boy trying to find his fox.
Nielsen, J. (2016). The Scourge. New York: Scholastic.
In a country named Keldan, a plague wipes out over one-third of the population, effectively shattering the economy and creating a divide between townsfolk and the river people, where the plague is believed to have originated. Nearly three centuries later, the Scourge strikes again, only this time, deadlier. To prevent a catastrophic collapse, Governor Felling randomly pulls people out of their lives for testing to weed out the sick and prevent further contamination. If the test results end up positive, the victim gets shipped off to a quarantined Colony on an isolated island. Ani Mells, our heroine and main protagonist, is separated from her family when she gets plucked from her life among the river people and carted away for testing along with her best friend Weevil. Ani is certain of the fact that she isn’t sick and is desperate to get back home to her family. But when her test ends up showing positive for the plague she is swept up into a twisting plot Continue reading
Brown, P. (2016). The Wild Robot. New York: Little, Brown and Company.
Peter Brown’s art has come to middle grade fiction, and combined with his equally bare bones writing style, he has created a meditation on nature versus technology, a philosopher’s handbook, if you want to go that far.
After falling off a cargo ship and bobbing along in the ocean, Roz reaches the shores of an island where otters manage to open up her shipping box and activate her. Roz opens her eyes, looks around this place – the only place she’s ever known – and even though she is indeed a robot, she considers it home. However, survival quickly becomes her primary focus, when a storm sweeps her down in a mudslide, angry bears chase her, and a mama bird makes sure Roz lands with a clank out of a tall and sticky pine tree. Intriguingly, Roz begins to observe the island’s animals and learn their ways and their language. The line between real and robot is tenuous and appealing in Continue reading
Prendergast, G. (2016). Pandas on the Eastside. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers.
A little book with a fun design on the cover caught my eye, and it was so easy to delve in and imagine East Vancouver during 1972, I had finished the story of Journey Song before I knew it. Part historical fiction, part alternate reality, it’s the story of a wilful and cheeky girl, Journey, and a wide cast of characters who live in Vancouver’s downtown Eastside when two giant pandas were gifted to the American people from the Chinese government. In reality, the transportation of the pandas went smoothly and didn’t stop in Canada, but Prendergast imagines a world where the United States and China have a spat and the pandas are delayed indefinitely in a warehouse in Vancouver; a stop in the trip that never actually happened.
Journey becomes concerned about the pandas’ living conditions in the warehouse Continue reading
Reynolds, J. (2016). As Brave As You. NY: Atheneum Books.
Coretta Scott King Honor for Author 2017
Though Jason Reynolds is known for his young adult books set in gritty, urban settings, As Brave As You is a departure from that template, following two young brothers who leave behind their Brooklyn neighbourhood for the country to spend the summer with grandparents they barely know.
As Brave As You is a slow unfolding of characters with a large focus on relationships. This is the summer Genie, faced with new experiences, does a lot of growing up. His journal of questions is a nice way to read his thoughts and see him work through issues. Most surprisingly is that Grandpop is blind! The two bond once they begin a late-night ritual of Continue reading
Gino, A. (2015). George. NY: Scholastic Press.
Stonewall Book Award for Children’s (2016)
California Book Award Gold Medal for Juvenile (2015)
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Middle Grade & Children’s (2015)
This is an easy read that could be started and finished in a day, but that’s in order to find out more about George, not only because it’s a thin book! So who is George? She’s physically a boy, but thinks … What if I’m a girl?
Navigating third grade proves to be sticky at times while George is trying to figure everything out and fend off typical bullies at school at the same time. It’s awesome that her bestie, Kelly, is by her side. Kelly is the epitome of a friend who truly listens and embraces the truth, She even celebrates it. George’s family is great, too.
George could make a fantastic handbook for how one is suppose to behave when someone they love thinks they’re transgender. George has an older brother who respects who George is. “Oh. Ohhh. Ohhhhhhhhh,” he Continue reading
Nielsen, J. (2015). A Night Divided. New York: Scholastic.
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2017)
Top Mighty Girl Books for Teen and Tweens List (2015)
Double Whitney Award winner: Best Middle Grade book and Best Overall Youth Novel (2015)
It took Jennifer Nielsen a mere six short weeks to write A Night Divided. The story of Gerta, a twelve year old girl living in East Berlin under the realm of the Iron Curtain, was begging to be told. During this time of political chaos, Greta’s family becomes dramatically split in two when the first installation of the Berlin Wall was erected overnight. Gerta, her older brother, Fritz, and their mother are left to stay in their apartment, learning to survive while at the same time grappling with tough questions of right versus wrong, and planning a daring escape.
Who doesn’t love a suspenseful escape story with a smart girl leading the charge?! It’s incredible that Continue reading