Toten T. (2013). The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B. Doubleday Canada.
“I sweat terror, Robyn! I’m scared every single second about every single goddamned thing. I worry obsessively about being buried under an avalanche of fear. Jesus, Robyn, I’m scared like only the truly crazy can be.”
“But that, is the definition of courage: you go on despite the fear.”
Stress! Not only young adults who manage Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), as Adam, our protagonist, does are affected by it but also those who need to live through anything from a parent’s divorce, broken hearts, to blended families, as we see in the rest of the characters. Toten’s The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, winner of the Canadian Children’s Literature Award, is about an almost fifteen year-old boy who falls in love with a girl. Naturally, a few problems arise. Robyn is older and taller, and has OCD herself. Adam’s parents are divorced and have given him an annoying step-brother. Even though Adam struggles with a lot everyday, he still cares and worries about everyone else in his life. And even though Continue reading
Pfeffer, S. (2006). Life As We Knew It. FL: Harcourt.
Told through Miranda’s journal entries, we follow her life as it changes from a regular, suburban experience to a dystopian tale once a meteor collides into the moon, altering its course and pushing it closer to earth. Volcanic ash hangs in the air blocking the sun, tsunamis are blanketing the coasts, and families are hoarding supplies. Miranda’s modern blended family is surviving in their sun room, huddled around a heater.
Pfeffer’s storytelling style is emotional. This isn’t an adventure packed ride, but an even more terrifyingly psychological one that touches on the human condition.
”I don’t even know why I’m writing this down, except that I feel fine and maybe tomorrow I’ll be dead. And if that happens, and someone should find my journal, I want them to know what happened.
We are a family. We love each other. We’ve been scared together and brave together. If this is how it ends, so be it.
Only, please, don’t let me be the last one to die.”
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.
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
Roy, P. (2015). Eco Warrior. Vancouver: Ronsdale Press.
Eco Warrior by Phillip Roy is a wonderful tale about a sixteen year old boy named Alfred that pulls you in right away and keeps you reading from page one to the end. Alfred is traveling to Australia in a homemade submarine with his pet seagull and dog to learn how to be an environmentalist and save the oceans. On the way Alfred learns many life lessons and meets new friends for life. After Alfred arrives in Australia he’s mistakenly accused of sabotaging a tanker and has to make a daring escape with the help of a friend. Because of that Alfred makes his way over to Tasmania to see if he can help the Sea Shepherd Society battle tankers that supply Japanese whale hunters with fuel for their ships.
Eco Warrior is short book that outlines the dangers that our oceans are in and shows that it’s still possible for us to make a change. You do not need to read the previous six books in Continue reading