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July 8, 2005 Edition

Dancing in red shoes will kill you, by Dorian Cirrone

Well-endowed Kayla has been dancing her whole life, with dreams of a future in ballet. But she’s just landed the role of an ugly stepsister instead of the lead in her high school’s spring ballet and she knows it’s because of her chest measurements. Her feminist older sister is appalled that Kayla’s considering plastic surgery, and the whole school divides into those who would “save the hooters” and those who vote for “reducing the rack.” Mix in a mystery involving threatening notes in ballet shoes, a little romance with the new guy, and a controversial art project and you’ve got a great rainy day read.

Bras and Broomsticks, by Sarah Mlynowski

Life can be so unfair! Rachel’s little sister Miri is a witch just like their mother, but Rachel’s inherited nothing but good math genes. Fortunately, she and Miri want to use Miri’s powers for the same thing: to stop their father from marrying his girlfriend. And maybe boost Rachel’s popularity. Oh, and help her win her best friend back. And find a date for the dance… Once you start the magic, how do you go back to being ordinary again?

Shackleton’s Stowaway, by Victoria McKernan

As Shackleton’s ship sails away from Buenos Aires on its historic trip to Antarctica, all the crew but one is on deck to watch the land recede. That one is Perce Blackborow, a stowaway bent on accompanying Shackleton and his men. He expects an adventure and he gets more than he could ever have imagined. Forced off the Endurance with the rest of the crew when the ship is crushed by ice, Perce and the others drag their lifeboats and gear across ice floes and spend months marooned on an island while 5 of the crew go for help. Eventually they are rescued: not a single life was lost. Read “Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World” and “Ice Story” for the non-fiction details of this fascinating story of survival and perseverance.

Doormat, by Kelly McWilliams

Jaime often feels like a doormat for her friends, lending lunch money and taking the rap for things, but when she finds herself in Walgreens buying a pregnancy test for her best friend, she knows her doormatism has gotten way out of control. They are only fourteen and the results of the test are something neither knows what to do with. Well, Jaime’s got some ideas, but all of her suggestions infuriate Melissa. No adults. No names. No Planned Parenthood. What’s left?

Acceleration, by Graham McNamee

What happens to all those things that get left behind in buses and subways and trains in Toronto? Duncan knows. He’s got a boring summer job in the lost and found department, fifty feet underground, when he finds a small brown leather notebook full of someone’s cruel experiments on animals. Things go from dull to disturbing when Duncan realizes the list of names in the back of the book are potential human victims. He tries to hand the book in to the police, but when they don’t take it seriously, decides to track the killer down himself in this grim and gritty novel.

I am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak

Ed Kennedy is a loser with no prospects, an underage cabbie who shares a rundown apartment with his loyal but smelly dog, when he accidentally foils a bank robbery. The publicity he gets brings a playing card in the mail, an ace with three addresses and times and nothing more. Curious, Ed visits each and finds himself being a superhero to a woman and her daughter, visiting an old woman and pretending to be “Jimmy,” and buoying a runner’s spirits. Suddenly, Ed’s life is full of meaning and purpose - but what the heck is going on with the cards?

Quicksilver,” by Stephanie Spinner

Hermes, the immortal son of Zeus, is renowned for his quick feet and quick wit, and as one of Zeus’s favorites, is often called on to help his father out of sticky situations such as the one with Hades, Kore, and the pomegranate, and the time Hermes lent Perseus his sandals so he could present Medusa’s head to Polydectes. But one day things go too far and the Trojan war erupts, leaving Hermes working guiltily for peace once again.

Girl, 15, Charming but Insane, by Sue Limb

Jess doesn’t need help complicating her life; her overactive imagination and questionable judgment do that for her quite nicely. There’s the trouble with Bonnie and Clyde and the minestrone soup, and the crush she’s got on god-like Ben (who’d notice her if only her best friend Flora weren’t so blindingly gorgeous) to deal with, along with her mother’s new life and her father’s text-messaged horrorscopes. This first of a trilogy is a laugh-out-loud read for aficionados of Louise Rennison and Meg Cabot.

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