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Curiosity

Curiosity, by Gary Blackwood. Dutton, 2014, 310 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, Ages 11-12, Young Adult, ages 12-14 Maturity Level: 5 (Ages 12-14) Philadelphia, 1836: Rufus Goodspeed has led a sheltered life as the only child of his sheltered father, a Methodist minister. Partially crippled from birth (which birth also took his mother), Rufus feels […]

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Grandmaster

Grandmaster, by David Klass. Farrar Strauss and Giroux, 2014, 226 pages. Reading Level: Young Adult, Ages 15-18 Maturity Level: 6 (15-18) What if you discovered that your nerdy dad is a superhero? That’s what happens to Daniel Pratzer—sort of, though Dad doesn’t suddenly zoom across the sky in tights and a cape.  Daniel doesn’t make […]

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Seven Stories Up

Seven Stories Up, by Laurel Snyder. Random House, 2014, 229 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, Ages 8-10 Maturity Level: 3 (ages 8-10) Annie and her mom arrive in Baltimore on a sad mission: to say farewell to Annie’s grandmother, who is on her deathbed in the former luxury hotel built by her great-grandfather. Grandmother is […]

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What is War Good For?

How do you use the label “anti-war?” As in, “Saving Private Ryan is the best anti-war movie ever made, or “All Quiet on the Western Front ranks at the top of anti-war literature.” In 1969, Edwin Starr’s Motown song “War” became a huge hit. Its theme was simplicity itself: WAR!  What is it good for? […]

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The Warden and the Wolf King

The Warden and the Wolf King, by Andrew Peterson. Rabbit Room Press, 2014, 519 pages. Reading Level: Young Adult, ages 12-14 Maturity Level: 3 and up (from age 10) Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli are the children of Nia and Esben Wingfeather, though they never knew their father. Esben was once the High King of Anniera, […]

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The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya

The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya, by Jane Kelley. Feiwel & Friends, 2013, 201 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, Ages 8-10, Ages 11-12 Maturity Level: 3 For Zeno, it starts like any normal day, except that Dr. Asgard, his servant, seems to be taking a nap on the floor. None of the noises Zeno […]

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For the Birds

NOTE: Today we begin experimenting with new formats for our book reviews, in anticipation of some big changes ahead–and we need your feedback!  Please scroll down below the review for more. National Wildlife Federation World of Birds: a Beginners Guide, by Kim Kirki. Black Dog & Levanthal, 2014, 80 pages including glossary and index. Reading […]

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For the Birds II

Feathers: Not Just for Flying, by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen. Charlesbridge, 2014, 32 pages. Reading Level: Picture Book, Ages 4-8 Maturity Level: All “Birds and feathers go together, like trees and leaves, like stars and sky. All birds have feathers, but no other animals do.” And did you know . . . […]

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The Great Greene Heist

The Great Greene Heist, by Varian Johnson. Scholastic, 2014, 226 pages.  Age/interest level: 9-13. Everybody loves a con man, as long as they’re not the ones getting conned. Jackson Greene already has this reputation at Maplewood Middle School. If any elaborate pranks have been played, he was “allegedly” behind it. He comes by his talents […]

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Through Middle-Eastern Eyes: I Am Malala and Hidden Girl

Two real-life memoirs of girls living in a turbulent time and place: Hidden Girl: the True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave, by Shyima Hall, with Lisa Wysocky. Simon & Shuster, 2014, 232 pages.  Age/interest level: 12-up When we are young, it is often the emotion of an experience that stays with us the longest. […]

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On the Blue Comet

Caution: This book was moved from our Summer Reading Challenge because of profanity.  Please note we do not recommend it for young readers for that reason.  (For more info on how it came to be on our Summer Reading List in the first place, see Janie’s explanation.) On the Blue Comet, by Rosemary Wells. Candlewick, […]

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