The Great Gilly Hopkins
Middle Grade / Juvenile / June 16, 2016

Author: Katherine Patterson. Summary: Watch out world! The Great Gilly Hopkins is looking for a home. She’s a foster kid who’s been angry, lonely, and hurting for so long that’s she’s always ready for a fight. Be on the lookout for her best barracuda smile, the one she saves for well-meaning social workers. Watch out for her most fearful look, a cross between Dracula and Godzilla, used especially to scare shy foster brothers. Don’t be fooled by her “Who me?” expression, guaranteed to trick foster parents, teachers, and anyone who gets in her way. (Goodreads Summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: 18 hell, 10 d***, 10 exclamations of ‘God’, 1 bloody. One suggestion of a derogatory term – leaving a blank space in a rhyming lyric. Violence: Character snatches a ball and starts a play-ground scuffle.

Hope Was Here
Middle Grade / Juvenile / June 16, 2016

Author: Joan Bauer. Summary: When Hope and her aunt move to small-town Wisconsin to take over the local diner, Hope’s not sure what to expect. But what they find is that the owner, G.T., isn’t quite ready to give up yet – in fact, he’s decided to run for mayor against a corrupt candidate. And as Hope starts to make her place at the diner, she also finds herself caught up in G.T.’s campaign – particularly his visions for the future. After all, as G.T. points out, everyone can use a little hope to help get through the tough times… even Hope herself. (Goodreads summary.) My Thoughts: This was a fun, refreshing read. I’ve never read a book before where a character was proud of being a waitress, but it was cool having her professional. Hope Was Here is a straight-forward read about an adolescent girl struggling to hold onto hope through difficult circumstances, and teenagers pulling together to help the community. Content Review: Sexual content: MC’s mother says she doesn’t know who the father was. One kiss. Language: 2 exclamations of ‘God’ Violence: Off-screen, a man is jumped and beaten up – a couple of ribs broken.  

Red Scarf Girl
Middle Grade / Juvenile / June 16, 2016

Author: Ji-li Jiang. Summary: On Ji-li’s twelfth birthday, her world changed, although she didn’t realize it at the time. The cultural revolution in China had begun, and the abolishment of the “Four Olds” began to pick up momentum. This non-fiction biography of one child’s experiences from twelve to fourteen in China is a moving personal portrayal of a historical period. My Thoughts: I found this documentary very down-to-earth and moving. The horrors of the revolution are presented simply, through a child’s eyes. In a way, this book shows what true heroism is; it follows a young girl who does not fight in a grand resistance, doesn’t go on secret night missions, doesn’t even understand really what’s going on around her and why it’s happening. Confused and alone, she still tries to support her blacklisted family, refuses to break from them, and remains silent in the face of interrogation. This, I think, is real-life heroism. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: 10 d***, 1 derogatory term. Violence: Houses are forcibly searched, certain kinds of goods destroyed. Young men force an old man to kneel in the sun until he faints. Character hears the news that a woman jumped out a window…

The Green Glass Sea

Green Glass #1. Author: Ellen Klages. Summary: Dewey Kerrigan is tired of secrets, but she has learned to live with them. At eleven years old in 1943, she has accepted that much of her father’s life is classified, for he is at work on “The Gadget”, a project so secret the military base they live on officially doesn’t exist. Fascinated by science and mechanics, she has always been something of a loner. Suzie never wanted to be a loner. Isolated as she is on the military base, she tries to be friends with the “popular girls” equivalent, but their personalities just don’t mesh. She’s a little bit curious about ‘Screwy Dewey’, as the other girls call her, but she’s not going anywhere near her, lest the other girls reject her. Until the two girls are thrown together in a surprising turn of events… and meanwhile, almost unbeknownst to the children, their parents are changing history as they create the top secret Gadget. My Thoughts: Because Suzie and Dewey are isolated from the war in a remote research base, and know very little about their fathers work, the war does not form a major part of the story despite the time-period….

A Glory of Unicorns
Middle Grade / Juvenile / June 11, 2016

Author: Collected by Coville. Summary: A beautiful collection of unicorn stories. Clean and sparkling for little girls, to be sure, but these are not namby-pamby rainbow pets. These unicorns blaze like fire and run like the wind, and humans who dare touch them burn and bleed, taste heartbreak and loss, and are changed forever. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: Low, non-graphic.

Elijah of Buxton
Middle Grade / Juvenile / June 9, 2016

Author: Christopher Paul Curtis. Summary: Eleven-year-old Elijah is the first child born into freedom in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves just over the border from Detroit. He’s best known for having made a memorable impression on Frederick Douglass, but that changes when a former slave steals money from Elijah’s friend, who has been saving to buy his family out of captivity in the South. Elijah embarks on a dangerous journey to America in pursuit of the thief and discovers firsthand the unimaginable horrors of the life his parents fled–a life from which he’ll always be free, if he can find the courage to get back home. My Thoughts: This is an excellent historical fiction in the juvenile section, and I should think older readers will also find it interesting. The child’s voice is consistent and believable, and because of the setting in a freed-men’s town, it manages to portray some of the treatment and horror of slaves without overwhelming the younger audience it is aimed at. Content Review: Sexual content: School-children misread a board that reads “familiarity breeds contempt” as saying “family breeding contest” which leads to some interesting speculation. Language: 1 d***, 1 derogatory term Violence: Man…

Dragon Run
Middle Grade / Juvenile / May 28, 2016

Author: Patrick Matthews. Summary: Testing Day is supposed to be a day of celebration for Al Pilgrommor. Born into a wealthy family, he expects to follow in his successful father’s footsteps. Of course, that all depends on the rank number Al receives at the testing. The higher the rank he has tattooed onto his neck, the better his life will be. To his surprise and horror, Al is revealed to be rank zero, the lowest of the low. He’s now not only an outcast — he’s also a danger to his entire family. So Al goes on the run, fleeing the brutal Cullers, men who hunt down zeroes . . . and put them to death. Cast out of his home, cut off from his friends, and armed with only a sword and his wits, Al is reduced to just surviving. As he meets other outcasts, however, he begins to suspect that he is a pawn in a larger game — and that he might have the power to tip the scales in a high-stakes struggle between man and dragon. Content Review: Sexual content: Rank ones are not allowed to father children. Character wonders what it would be like to…

Bad Magic
Middle Grade / Juvenile / May 20, 2016

Bad #1. Author: Pseudonymous Bosch. Summary: Magic is BAD. As in fake. Cheesy. Unreal. At least, that’s what Clay, who has seen one magic show too many, thinks. When words from his journal appear mysteriously on his school wall as graffiti, he never imagines that magic might be to blame. And when the same graffiti lands him at Earth Ranch, a camp for “troubled” kids on a remote volcanic island, magic is the last thing he expects to find there. But at Earth Ranch, there is one strange surprise after another, until Clay no longer knows what to expect. Is he really talking to a llama? Did he really see a ghost? What is the scary secret hidden in the abandoned library? The only thing he knows for sure is that behind the clouds of vog (volcanic smog), nothing is as it seems. Can he solve the riddle of Earth Ranch before trouble erupts? (Goodreads summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: Character says “Well, she’s got a good looking side, anyway. Two of them, front and back.” Language: There is some talking about “bad words” and some use of symbols (@#$$%!) but beyond one use of ‘bloody’ there is no actual…

Island of Dragons
Middle Grade / Juvenile / May 18, 2016

Unwanteds #7. Author: Lisa McMann. Summary: Head mage Alexander Stowe and his friends successfully fended off the latest threat to their magical world of Artimé with the help of a surprise ally. But old enemies have secretly been plotting against them. Now Alex must lead his people in a final epic battle, one they can’t hope to win alone. Will Artimé finally know peace or will all they’ve fought for be destroyed forever? Content Review: Sexual content: Some brief kissing. Language: 2 crud Violence: An eel attacks a sea-dragon and whale, and after some fighting a head is bitten off. A boy caught in the fight is nearly drowned. There is one battle where all the rest of the violence takes place; there is flaming tar balls flung at an inhabited island, hand-to-hand fighting both with swords and with magic spells, more fighting with eels, and some characters burned alive, dead in seconds, by dragons.

Black Unicorn

Unicorn Series #1. Author: Tanith Lee. Summary: Nobody knew where it had come from, or what it wanted. Not even Jaive, the sorceress, could fathom the mystery of the fabled beast. But Tanaquil, Jaive’s completely unmagical daughter, understood it at once. She knew why the unicorn was there: It had come for her. It needed her. Tanaquil was amazed because she was the girl with no talent for magic. She could only fiddle with broken bits of machinery and make them work again. What could she do for a unicorn? My Thoughts: Black Unicorn has the taste of a fairy tale; with dreamy landscapes, magical creatures, and set-piece characters intermixed with interesting dimensional characters. It has a simpler story line, with much detail on immediate settings but little over-all world building. While many of the minor characters are undeveloped set-pieces, the main character is an independent multi-dimensional girl with a will of her own and the perseverance to go after what she wants. A good tale for younger readers, as it is quite clean and fairly straight forward, with a fun world and strong protagonist. I think older readers with an inclination to fairy-tales or a certain type of fantasy…