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The Porcupine Year by Louise Erdrich

porcupine-yearSummary: In 1852, forced by the United States government to leave their beloved Island of the Golden Breasted Woodpecker, fourteen-year-old Omokayas and her Ojibwe family travel in search of a new home. 193 p., HarperCollins Publishers.

Find it at WCPL

The Magic Half by Annie Barrows

magic-halfSummary: Eleven-year-old Miri Gill feels left out in her family, which has two sets of twins and her, until she travels back in time to 1935 and discovers Molly, her own lost twin, and brings her back to the present day. 211 p., Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

Find it at WCPL

Science Fair: A Story of Mystery, Danger, International Suspense, and a Very Nervous Frog by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

science-fairSummary: The president of Kprshtskan is plotting to infiltrate the science fair at Hubble Middle School in Maryland in order to take over the United States government, but when Toby Harbinger, an ordinary student, makes up his mind finally to win the fair, the terrorists’ plans go awry. 394 p., Disney Editions.

Find it at WCPL

Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka

knucklehead2Summary: How did Jon Scieszka get so funny? He grew up as one of six brothers with Catholic school, lots of comic books, lazy summers at the lake with time to kill, babysitting misadventures, TV shows, and jokes told at family dinner. 106 p., Viking.

Find it at WCPL

Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris by R.L. LaFevers

theodosia3Summary: When mummies go missing all over London, eleven-year-old Theodosia puts aside her fight against the Serpents of Chaos to save her father, who is suspected in the thefts, all the while avoiding a string of new governesses. 387 p., Houghton Mifflin Co.

Find it at WCPL

Our Fourth Short List

At our last meeting we nominated our second top three books of the year, so now each of us has nominated six titles in total. Several of the titles were nominated by multiple people, but every book on the list was one of the top six favorites of at least one of our club members. We will be discussing these titles in depth, plus reading the last few new books published at the end of the year, from now until we choose our Mock Newbery winner and honor books on Friday, January 23.

  • Big Mouth by Deborah Halverson
    “Writing was fabulous… I stayed up for 17 hours to finish it!” – M.
  • The Boy Who Dared by Susan Bartoletti
    “Good writing style… found it cool that it was real.” – A.
    “I like how it is told partly with flashbacks…” – Z.
  • Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkowski
    Unique fantasy plot…” – J.
    “Very descriptive, yet not boring… you can visualize being there.” – R.
  • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
    “Realistic, likeable characters…” – R.
    “The writing really carried the theme out well.. there were so many types of ‘chains’ in the book…” – L.
  • Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson
    Fun, fast-paced, always keeps you interested. Funny writing style. You learn to love the characters.” – B.
  • The Dead & the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
    This is the 1st book in a long time where I felt the characters were so real…” – L.
    It made you feel like you were there...” – J.
  • Diamond Willow by Helen Frost
    I like that you can get so much of the character’s feelings in the slight verse...” – R.
    I really like the writing style – sparse, but still descriptive and not choppy. I love how the words in bold cut down to Willow’s rawest emotions...” – M.
  • A Difficult Boy by M. P. Barker
    “Three-dimensional characters alone make this a contender… also interesting plot… ended realistically.” – E.
  • Every Soul a Star by Wendy Maas
    “Characters are down-to-earth; the book gives 3 points of view; beautiful flowing story…” – A.
  • The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman
    It is very fun, had great characters, and the plot is awesome with an unexpected twist.” – J.
    Combination of strong plot line and good descriptive writing kept the story moving...” – A.
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
    “Found it original… glad ending was realistic.” – A.
    “Interesting page-turner…” – T.
  • Grow: A Novel in Verse by Juanita Havill
    “Uses verse in an interesting style that makes you remember this story. This plot is beautiful.” – C.
  • Hummingbird by Kimberly Green Angle
    “Symbolism behind the hummingbird was amazing…”
    – R.
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
    Fantastically written with excellent attention to detail without it being redundant, good character development, and a feeling of suspense that never leaves…” – T.
    A story of loyalty, believing and depending on others. It was so dramatic, my sister and I were both in the middle of it and couldn’t decide who got to finish it first. So we read 150 pages out loud!” – M.
  • In Mozart’s Shadow by Carolyn Meyer
    Very original and unique perspective…” – L.
    “I liked hearing a less common point of view…” – E.
  • Jimmy’s Stars by Mary Ann Rodman
    I could relate to the characters. I could feel what they felt…” – C.
    The time period was described very well through the music, slang, games, events, etc., there was a whole cast of well developed characters, and the book had a very satisfying resolution for one of this type.” – L.
  • Masterpiece by Elise Broach
    The family of beetles characters made it work! They are uniquely charming.” – A.
    “Although he was a bug, he was a very sweet bug…” – A.
  • Otherworldlies by Jennifer Kogler
    Very different vampire book… this would be my #1 pick so far this year.” – Z.
  • Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata
    This makes you think about it after you finish reading it…” – A.
    “Amazing and heartfelt story… something in the writing that allows you to really understand the characters…” – R.
  • The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante
    This impacted me greatly.” – E.
    “Two points of view… they are experiencing the same things on the outside, yet have very different internal battles going on.” – Z.
    “Has a TON of raw human emotion…” – A.
  • Ravenheart by Kendra Thomas
    “Simply amazing… easy to read but still depth to the story…” – B.
    “Unique idea combined with exciting fantasy plot and good writing…”-L.
  • Savvy by Ingrid Law
    I can relate to the characters emotionally…” – M.
    “Full of well-defined characters with unique personalities…” – B.
  • Seer of Shadows by Avi
    Very interesting subject and fast-paced plot… very descriptive and pictured the setting well.” – B.
    Avi manipulates you cleverly into believing this to be possible.” – R.
  • Shooting the Moon by Frances O’Roark Dowell
    This book has all year remained at the top of my list, and the details are still fresh in my mind.” – B.
    “I loved how she saw everything from inside the army. It was neat to see the difference between the letters to the parents and then the pictures to her.” – L.
  • Sky Village by Monk & Nigel Ashland
    Well-formed writing style that impeccably blended two plot sequences… and it had demons fighting!” – T.
    I experienced sensations that at times made me feel like saying ‘Don’t do that or you will get hurt!‘” – J.
  • Smiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli
    “Characters seemed so real they could come out of the book…very real, current problems they worked through…” – J.
    You can’t go wrong with this gem.” – E.
  • Snow Falling in Spring by Moying Li
    Left a huge impact on me...” – C.
    “Even though it’s non-fiction, it reads like fiction.” – M.
  • Stolen Children by Peg Kehret
    “Fast-paced storyline that makes it unpredictable and great… ” – T.
  • Tennyson by Leslie M. M. Blume
    A quality story that blends history with fiction… the way that dreams and poetry are combined keeps my interest throughout every page.“-E.
    I really like the dreams. The ending is fitting and seems realistic..“L.
  • Things That Are by Andrew Clements
    “Very good ending…” – A.
  • Trouble by Gary Schmidt
    Very thought-provoking book. I felt as if I could have no idea how the characters felt, but was in their shoes at the same time… a really stunning book.” – M.
    The writing style was beautiful and the themes were very well developed.” – L.
    “Racial issues were very thought provoking…” – R.
  • The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
    The overall way of telling the story is beautiful and poetic. Definitely unforgettable.” – L.
    It made me feel as if I were there, very emotional about the characters, and the two intertwined stories came together well.” – B.
    The writing hooked me from the very first page…” – C.
  • Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor
    The way the main character finds beauty in ordinary people really struck me…This book talks about real life, not a sugar-coated version of it. I was enthralled by this story and the ending made me cry.” – E.
    I could sympathize with the main character.” – L.
    Great story about friendship…” – A.
  • Where the Steps Were by Andrea Cheng
    Very heartfelt plot… interesting how it incorporated all the different characters’ points of view. I think you can really understand emotions better in verse.” – R.
  • Write Before Your Eyes by Lisa Kline
    “Very good visual images…” – A.

Big Mouth by Deborah Halverson

big-mouthSummary: Fourteen-year-old Sherman Thuff, a student at the tomato-obsessed Del Heiny Junior High, has his hopes set on being a competitive eater, but when his training regimen begins to seriously interfere with his enjoyment of life and he even starts losing his friends, he decides he should rearrange his priorities. 342 p., Delacorte Press.

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