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 seemingly 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.
Glaser, M. (2017). The Book Jumper. NY: Feiwel & Friends.
This is one you’ve got to read if you’re a bibliophile and you liked the concept of Inkheart. In The Book Jumper, Amy Lennox and her mother pick up and travel from Germany to her grandmother’s house on the Scottish island of Stormsay. She’s not looking forward to it, and upon arrival her grandmother already has one rule in place – she must read. Except Amy discovers she has the power to jump into books and interact with the characters! In fact, she discovers her family shares this skill and they are also keepers of an antiquated library. Amy quickly learns that a book jumper’s duty is to insure important ideas aren’t stolen from books; indeed, there is a book thief on the prowl. She meets another book jumper, Will, and together they travel from world to world, meeting famous characters and fighting to save crucial ideas before the books themselves are lost forever.
Incredibly crafted and plot-driven, this story is unique enough to keep you happy. I especially found myself wrapped up in the Gothic island setting.
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.
Engle, M. (2015). Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Through verse, Engle tells how she and her family used to travel from home in California to her mother’s native Cuba where they spent gorgeous summers. With the onset of the Bay of Pigs in 1961, their trips to Cuba abruptly ended along with the ties to her mother’s family, Cuba’s culture, and language. Engle’s poetry shows us travel between countries, travel between two sides of her family, and eventually travel from childhood to young adulthood.
Lin, G. (2016). When the Sea Turned to Silver. New York: Little, Brown and Company.
Folk tales are told through the spine-tingling adventures of Pinmei and her trusted family friend, Yishan. When the Sea Turned to Silver opens with Pinmei and her grandmother, the village’s storyteller, talking at home one night. Her grandmother tells Pinmei that even though she is a very quiet child, when it is time for you to do something, you will do it. Later that night, soldiers burst into their hut to kidnap the grandmother! Pinmei and Yishan urgently set off for one escapade after the next in a venture to find and bring her home.
This instant classic holds so much substance; it begs to be read and reread, saved in a special spot up on the bookcase. Each chapter heading has an illustration relating to one of the fifteen 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