Catherine, Called Birdy

Normally, I am not a fan of diary-form fiction, but I am making an exception for Karen Cushman's excellent book Catherine, Called Birdy. Birdy is an energetic, sharp-tongued girl living in medieval England.  She hates wearing skirts, hemming sheets, spinning, and needlepoint - basically everything about being a daughter of a knight.  She is especially... Continue Reading →

Shadow of a Bull

Manolo has grown up in his father's shadow.  His father, the great bullfighter Juan Olivar, was killed during a fight when Manolo was just a small child.  But Juan is never far from Manolo's thoughts - the old men in his village won't let him forget.  He must always remember his father was the greatest... Continue Reading →

The Lion Who Stole My Arm

Pedru lives in the African bush.  He and his friends fish for their families every day, and his village grow crops for food. He and his friends and neighbors also live in fear... of lions. One day, Pedru makes an impulsive, and foolish, decision, which costs him his arm.  He wants to take revenge on... Continue Reading →

The Giver

Jonas' world sounds perfect.  Everyone realizes when they've given offense, and apologizes.  Those who've been offended always accept the apology.  Each evening over dinner, Jonas' family discuss their feelings, and every morning over breakfast, they discuss their dreams. Their lives are regimented.  Controlled.  Everyone does what he or she is supposed to do.  Jonas knows... Continue Reading →

Night of the Twisters

Dan and his friends live the ideal small-town life in Grand Island, Nebraska.  They swim, ride bikes, hang out together. When a severe thunderstorm alert is issued for that evening, Dan doesn't think much of it.  It's a common occurrence in Nebraska. But what happens next is not. Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman... Continue Reading →

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Mrs. Frisby, a timid, widowed mouse, has a dilemma.  And it’s dire.  Her youngest son, always weak, has taken seriously ill.  Thankfully, he’s recovering, but he cannot move to their summer home before the plow comes through the garden and wrecks their winter home. What can she do? Courageously, she seeks advice from some unlikely... Continue Reading →

The Case of the Deadly Desperados

P.K. Pinkerton is in deep trouble... in more ways than one.  He is at the bottom of a silver mine, trying to figure out a way to outwit Wittlin' Walt, the Very Bad Man after his inheritance. This is where we find P.K. at the beginning of The Case of the Deadly Desperados, by Caroline... Continue Reading →

Words in the Dust

What is truly amazing about Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy is that this young man could write such a beautiful book from the first-person perspective of a young Afgani girl. Zulaikha (thankfully, there’s pronunciation guide in the back of the book) loves her family, especially her older sister and her father.  They don’t... Continue Reading →

Keeping Score

Maggie Fortini listens to every game her beloved Brooklyn Dodgers play, usually at the firehouse with her father’s former co-workers.  When Jim joins the firehouse, she is shocked to discover he is a huge fan of the Dodgers arch-rivals, the New York Giants.  She determines to never be his friend. But slowly, he wins her... Continue Reading →

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