Joanne likes fantasy, dystopia, mysteries, nonfiction and realistic stories.
JANUARY 22, 2021-- FIRST PICK OF THE NEW YEAR IS A POWERFUL YOUNG ADULT NOVEL:
While Gary D. Schmidt (Newbery Honor Winner and National Book Award Finalist) has set his latest young adult novel Just Like That in the 1960’s, the same time setting of The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now, it is a timeless story about Meryl Lee Kowalski, an eighth grader, having lost her best friend to a car accident, “beginning anew” at a girls’ private school in Maine. It is a story of Obstacles, Resolutions, Accomplishments, friendships, challenges, and clashing society norms told with the backdrop of the Viet Nam War, sit-ins, racial and economic inequality and heart-rending changes intertwined with Matt’s story of struggle, avoiding a cruel criminal and courage all resulting in walls being taken down and demons being faced and love.
Sometimes books haunt me long after I finish them and sometimes I have to immediately reread them once I finished them. This weeks' recommendation is one of them: Louise Penny's 16th novel, All the Devils Are Here, per usual, is so much more than a murder mystery. It is a story about family, love, misconceptions, hurts, love, secrets, history, devotion, intrique, slight of hand/eye/mind, family,and love. Louise Penny's language, subtle clues, intense emotions, heart-stopping events and characters with great strengths and human weaknesses and faults hold you from the opening line to the last word. A rereading illumiinated so many comments and clues once you know the events in chapters 41 to the end. Armand Gamauche is one of those characters whose actions, words, and foundational beliefs and morals haunt me, in a very good way, long after I finish the book.
The first Jordan Sonnenblick novel I read was Notes from the Midnight Driver. I was moved by the humor, the pain, the joy, the uncertainty, the unlikely friendship and the million of emotions faced by a changing teen. We have all known (or are) an Alex or Laurie. I was hooked and read his first novel Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie and then each new one when published and recommend them to readers of realistic novels who want to read about believable characters who are facing the same things they are. Here are a few . . .
Notes from the Midnight Driver for Grades 9. When scheming teen Alex is ordered to do community service at a senior center he is assigned to Solomon Lewis, a "difficult" senior with a lot of attitude, and through their relationship, both are profoundly changed.
Falling Over Sideways for Grades 6 - 8. Claire's life is a joke, but she's not laughing. When the joke becomes serious, the only way Claire, her family, and her friends are going to get through it is if they can find a way to make it funny again.
Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie for Grades 7. When his little brother is diagnosed with leukemia, thirteen-year-old Steven is forced to deal with his brother's illness, his parents' attempts to keep the family in one piece, his homework, the band, girls, and Dangerous Pie.
Zen and the Art of Faking It for Grades 7 - 9. When eighth-grader San Lee moves to a new town and a new school for the umpteenth time, he doesn't try to make new friends. Instead he sits back and devises a plan to be totally different.
Young people have been, are being, and will always be called to action to speak out, protest, work for change. In Kent State Deborah Wiles, using stunning, moving poetry, tells the haunting story of the murder of four students and wounding of 9 others on the college campus from every complicated angle, side and person giving a complete picture of the times, not just a “this is what happened on May 4, 1970” recounting. Whether you vividly remember this 50 year old tragedy or are, in these times of unrest, telling your grandchildren the history they must not forget, this book vividly makes us realize that we each must stand for truth and be brave in our commitment to the tenets of our democracy.
Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief novels star the most endearing, intelligent, mischievous, and incorrigible character, Eugenides the thief. This series for 12+ readers began with the Newbery winner "The Thief" in 1996 and includes political machinations and intrigue, intervention of the gods, battles of various kinds, dangerous journeys and multilayered alliances. You have time to read or reread the first 5 books in the series before the long awaited final comes out in October. Yea!
NONFICTION MUST READ! STAMPED: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by JASON REYNOLDS AND IBRAM X. KENDI. This says it better than I can: "Reynolds (Look Both Ways) lends his signature flair to remixing Kendi's award-winning Stamped from the Beginning...Told impressively economically, loaded with historical details that connect clearly to current experiences, and bolstered with suggested reading and listening selected specifically for young readers, Kendi and Reynolds's volume is essential, meaningfully accessible reading."—Publishers Weekly, starred review "Jason Reynolds has the amazing ability to make words jump off the page. Told with passion, precision, and even humor, Stamped is a true story-a living story-that everyone needs to know."—Steve Sheinkin, New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of Bomb and Born to Fly