George
By:
Alex Gino
January 2, 2016
Reviewed by: Kris

We are seeing an emergence of children’s books about a child who struggles with gender identity. George knows he is supposed to be a girl. His class is putting on the play, Charlotte’s Web. He knows he would make the perfect Charlotte. If he could only play Charlotte, his mother would finally see that he is really a girl. Full of endearing characters, George is an important book for children having the same experiences.

The Marvels
By:
Brian Selznick
December 7, 2015
Reviewed by: Kris

The Marvels is as magical and wondrous as Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck. The first part of the story is told entirely in drawings which chronicles a family of actors. The story picks up in 1990 when a child connects with an uncle he’s never met in a house that can be only described as magical. I loved Hugo Cabret but I daresay I loved The Marvels even more.

Goodbye Stranger
By:
Rebecca Stead
November 13, 2015
Reviewed by: Kris

Bridge is an accident survivor and this story takes place after her physical recovery from being hit by a car. She has taken to wearing cat ears all of the time which her new friends, Emily and Tabitha, find odd but they go with it. She also has a new friend, Sherm. It's fun to watch their relationship blossom from platonic to possibly something more. Stead weaves a second story with an unnamed character who is struggling with something that she did. As I read her story, I felt her pain. I was especially moved when this girl asked herself, “Who’s the real you?

Echo
By:
Pam Munoz Ryan
October 9, 2015
Reviewed by: Kris

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan is a beautifully crafted fairy tale and historic fiction novel rolled into one. We begin with a tale of three princesses who are trapped by a witch. To free them, a messenger must save three lives with a harmonica. The three lives are very different people around the time of World War II. Young readers will learn about orphanages, Nazi Germany and the Japanese Internment Camps. All three stories weave together to a satisfying conclusion. Adults will enjoy this read as well.

Saving Mr. Terupt
By:
Rob Buyea
September 28, 2015
Reviewed by: Kris

This is the third book in the Mr. Terupt series. His students are starting middle school which means they are without their beloved teacher. Middle School means new social rules and the group is struggling to survive. However a scare for Mr. Terupt could be the glue that brings them back together. This series is a great read alike for fans of Wonder.

Fuzzy Mud
By:
Louis Sachar
August 24, 2015
Reviewed by: Kris

A quick, inventive read for middle schoolers. Tamaya and Marshall walk to school together every day but after they deal with a bully, they decide to go through the creepy woods. Something is lurking there that is more dangerous than any monster they can imagine. Things go from bad to worse when they get lost and the bully finally comes looking for them. Then the government gets involved and things get really crazy. This story is mostly about friendship with plenty of action and will appeal to both boys and girls.

The Jewel
By:
Amy Ewing
July 29, 2015
Reviewed by: Kris

For fans of The Selection by Kiera Cass and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Violet is from the lost circle in society and will be sold to a royal family to help them reproduce because she is a surrogate. For an unknown reason, the royalty cannot reproduce on their own and need girls like Violet to carry the children. She will live in the lap of luxury, have fabulous clothes and attend many parties however, is essentially a slave.

The Royal We
By:
Heather Cooks and Jessica Morgan
July 9, 2015
Reviewed by: Kris

Royal watchers will love this one. The Royal We is loosely based on the romance of William and Kate. Rebecca Porter is an American studying at Oxford. Becoming royalty was the furthest thing from her mind when she met Nick, aka Prince Nicholas, heir to the throne. Falling in love with the future monarch is anything but a fairy tale. This is a fun and compelling read.

Gracefully Grayson
By:
Ami Polonsky
June 15, 2015
Reviewed by: Kris

Grayson is a 12-year-old boy with a secret. He knows deep in his heart that he is really a girl. He would love nothing more than to wear dresses and use his sparkly markers in public. Grayson knows that revealing his true self will only invite ridicule but he is dying to break free. When he auditions for the school play he makes a bold move, trying out for the female lead. Gracefully Grayson is a great read alike for fans of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder.

And We Stay
By:
Jenny Hubbard
June 8, 2015
Reviewed by: Kris

2015 Printz Honor book, And We Stay is a brilliant story of loss, feeling lost and building yourself back up. The story begins as Emily is starting a new boarding school. She was sent there because her boyfriend, Paul, killed himself in front of her in the school library at her old school. The story is told in Emily’s voice as she is now and in flashbacks to what happened and what lead up to the shooting. She spends much of the story stuck in the in-between space between what happened to Paul and building a future for herself.