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February 17, 2006 Edition

Hitch, by Jeanette Ingold

Moss Trawnley is 17, homeless, jobless, and in line at the soup kitchen with everyone else he knows when he hears about President Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps. He signs up for six months and finds his life irrevocably changed, from the hot food on the table and the sheets on the beds to the new responsibilities he earns and the self-control he learns. An excellent time machine into the Great Depression, and a wonderful look at a teenager becoming an adult.

Black Taxi, by James Moloney

Even though her beloved granddad is in jail for a “little bit” of criminal activity, 16 year-old Rosie still feels lucky: she’s got his cell phone and the keys to his black Mercedes. Every so often, someone calls on the cell to ask her to run an errand in the Mercedes, but mostly she uses it to land hot dates. Until the first threatening call, that is. Somewhere, a jewelry heist has gone wrong, and even though Paddy’s still in jail, the voice at the other end thinks he’s involved. It’s up to Rosie to solve the mystery before someone (probably her) gets hurt.

Magic or Madness, by Justine Larbalestier

This Australian import is the first in a trilogy featuring Reason Cansino, who’s been living life on the run for years with her mother, Sarafina, terrified of falling into her grandmother’s clutches. Now her mother has had a mental breakdown, and Reason is being sent to live with Esmerelda, who Sarafina always claimed was a witch. When Reason arrives in Sydney, she is wary of everything about her grandmother, and finds her mother’s claims backed up by solid evidence when she digs up a dead cat in the basement. Deftly written and intricately plotted – readers will be anxiously awaiting the sequels.

The Witch’s Boy, by Michael Gruber

This story of an abandoned baby called Lump, his rescuer the Witch, and her cat named Falance can be read on many levels. Part human, part goblin, Lump is nurtured by a bear and tutored by a djinn while his mother the Witch does her part to make sure their part of the world runs smoothly. But her work makes her an indifferent mother, and Lump becomes a spoiled and angry boy. When disaster strikes and Lump and the Witch are forced out into the wider world, they learn to move beyond their selfish and introspective selves to learn the truth about each other.

24 Girls in 7 Days, Alex Bradley

Self-described geek Jack Grammar is sure he’s the laughingstock of the school: after he’s cut down by his only prom prospect, his two best friends take matters into their own hands and post an extremely embarrassing personals ad in the school paper under his name. But to his surprise, the response is positive – Jack’s faced with over 200 girls who all want to date him! There are only 7 days till Prom and the plan is for Jack to go on a few trial dates and then pick one for the big night. Will any of them be the right girl for him?

Pretty Things, by Sarra Manning

Brie, Charlie, Daisy, and Walker are enmeshed in a conflicted love rectangle. Brie’s in love with her best friend Charlie, but Charlie’s after Walker, who’s after Daisy, whose girlfriend is confusing her. It’s Summer Theater time in North London, and the four teens take turns telling the story in their own, very distinct, voices. Realistically, none are completely likeable, but there’s enough background on each to draw readers in and sympathize with them.

Funny Little Monkey, by Andrew Auseon

Arty and his twin Kurt are freshmen in high school and deeply scarred in different ways by their father’s desertion in this dark and surreal comedy. Arty has Growth Hormone Deficiency Syndrome and is 4’2” to Kurt’s 6’3” and has played punching bag to his big brother’s violent bullying for years. So when he is offered the chance at revenge by the school’s underground resistance group, he jumps at it without considering the consequences. In over his head, Arty finds that there’s still a little room for brotherly love in his heart.

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