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My Near-Death Adventures by Alison DeCamp

My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!) by Alison DeCamp. Crown, 2015. 252 pages Reading Level: Middle grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-12 (especially boys) Bottom Line: Stanley Slater’s 99% true adventures in a Michigan logging camp, ca. 1880, are a bit short on plot but long on laughs. “I’m a whiz at not dying, I […]

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The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan & John Park Davis

The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis, illustrated by Todd Harris. Little, Brown, 2014. 433 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-14 Bottom Line: The Map to Everywhere offers an action-packed fantasy quest in which protagonists must find and assemble the pieces of a map. Fin, formerly […]

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The Well-Gifted Grad

Our favorite graduation gift is, of course, books—whether timely, practical, inspirational, or scholarly. We would never recommend sending a young person off to college (or even out the door to start a career) without some heart-and-head grounding in the essentials of the faith. Ideally, most of this takes place before graduation day, in ordinary conversation […]

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Story Thieves by James Riley

Story Thieves by James Riley. Simon & Shuster (Aladdin), 2015. 383 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-14 Bottom Line: This action-packed fantasy-within-a-fantasy puts characters into their favorite stories, but also raises questions about authorship, fate, magic, and science. The only excitement Owen has in his life is breathlessly following each […]

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*Finding Truth by Nancy Pearcy

*Finding Truth: Five Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes by Nancy Pearcey. David C. Cook, 2015. 383 pages Reading Level: Young Adult, ages 15-18 Recommended for: ages 16-up Bottom Line: Finding Truth offers a way for older teens to examine the presuppositions and errors of the intellectual culture around them and strengthen […]

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Masterminds by Gordon Korman

Masterminds by Gordon Korman. Balzer & Bray, 2015, 336 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 12-15 Bottom Line: Masterminds raises some interesting ethical questions in the midst of a fast-moving thriller that pits kids against grownups. Who would want to live anywhere but Serenity, New Mexico? Yes, it’s small, and kind […]

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*Red Butterfly by A. L. Sonnischen

*Red Butterfly by A. L. Sonnischen. Simon & Shuster, 2015, 392 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 12-15 Bottom line: In Red Butterfly, a Chinese girl raised by American parents must figure out who she really is after discovering she has no official identity. Kara, age 11, speaks English as well […]

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Paper Things by Jennifer Jacobson

Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. Candlewick, 2015, 376 pages Reading Level: Middle grades ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-14 (especially girls) Bottom Line: The protagonist of Paper Things struggles to be loyal to her brother and her guardian as she endures a season of homelessness. For four years, ever since Arianna’s mother died, Ari […]

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You Have a Brain by Ben Carson, M.D.

You have a Brain: a Teen’s Guide to THINK BIG by Ben Carson, M. D. (with Gregg and Deborah Lewis). Zondervan, 2015. 281 pages Reading Level: Young Adult, ages 12-15 Recommended for: ages 13-18 Bottom Line: Ben Carson has achieved an amazing resume of accomplishments in his lifetime, but he claims anyone can accomplish much, […]

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Where Does the Magic Come From?

In 2008, a middle-grade novel called Savvy swept numerous awards lists and was anointed with the silver medallion of Newbery runner-up. The first-time author, Ingrid Law, soon followed up with a well-received sequel (Scumble, 2010), and is certain to make a splash with Switch this September. Savvy has certain elements of a particular genre: a […]

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Lucky Strike by Bobby Pyron

Lucky Strike by Bobby Pyron. Scholastic (Arthur Levine), 2015. 263 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10 Recommended for: ages 8-12 Bottom Line: A “lucky” lightning strike changes a lonely boy into a celebrity, with results no one would have predicted. Nate Harlow figures he’s the unluckiest boy on the whole Gulf Coast, starting when […]

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