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October 28, 2005 Edition
All his life, Ian has known that someday he would grow wings and fly. He writes about it in school assignments. He believes that Gravity is his snickering enemy. And sometimes he gets impatient and tries to force his wings to appear by diving off some high point. In alternating chapters, Ian and his brother Ben tell the story of the power of belief.
The twelve stories and three poems in this riveting collection were written by Africans and African-Americans to celebrate their homelands. Annette, a white teenager born and raised in South Africa, visits her father who runs a “reserve” for Bushmen, and finds a sense of belonging she’s never known before. An orphaned monkey wins the heart of an American woman in Liberia. And a former child-soldier from Sierra Leone finds peace and purpose in Los Angeles.
No one picked Ingrid up after her orthodontist appointment, and now she’s an 8th grade murder suspect. Calling on her mentor, Sherlock Holmes, Ingrid starts her own investigation into the murder of the woman who called a cab for her, all the while dodging tricky questions from the police, learning the title role in “Alice in Wonderland,” and trying to keep her grades up. The conclusion is perfectly satisfying, though some loose ends are left untied, perhaps in expectation of a sequel.
Soft Tidings bills itself as a messenger service with a personal touch: news is not delivered so much as told. The messengers, especially Heller, are very good at their jobs, which often involve bad news. Heller, nicknamed Angel of Death by his coworkers, is the lone cyclist in an office of skaters, has some clear goals: to win the Tour de France, to make the news he delivers bearable for the receivers, and to win over Sylvia, the waitress at his favorite coffee shop.
Over 8 million men died during World War I: one of those was John Kipling. Like his father, John had terrible eyesight that would have disqualified him for military service, but, like his father, John was desperate to fight for his country. And John’s father, Rudyard, knew all the strings to pull to make it happen. This is a fictionalized account of John’s last days alive, complete with the awful details of his wounds, but it is also the story of one boy’s search for his father’s approval, and the lengths to which a father will go to fulfill his own dreams.
Ruby is only 15, but she’s seeing a shrink because of her panic attacks, which are probably because her boyfriend dumped her for her best friend. Or maybe because her performance artist mother tells revealing stories about Ruby onstage. Or it could be the lacrosse game she lost, or the graffiti on the bathroom wall with her name on it. She’s had a tough two weeks, and this funny, articulate teen-angst novel tells all.
This German award-winner has been deftly translated for American readers of coming-of-age stories. Phil is 17, living with his twin sister Dianne and their mother Glass in a small German town, surrounded by a tight but eccentric network of friends and lots of secrets, when he falls in love with Nicholas. Through heartbreak and betrayal, Phil finds himself the inheritor of his family’s restlessness and makes some important and unexpected decisions about his life.