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May 12, 2006 Edition

The Book of Mordred, by Vivian Vande Velde

Mordred, the son of King Arthur, is usually portrayed as untrustworthy – a traitor, even. But here, in stories told by the women who knew him well, he emerges as an enigmatic hero: helping a mother rescue her kidnapped daughter whose dreams foretell the future; unraveling the mystery of the disappearance of young men from villages with the aid of Merlin’s lover, Nimue; and finally, ten years after the first story, becoming the champion of the young woman who dreams the future.

Siberia, by Ann Halam

Sloe and her mother have spent years in a prison camp in a bleak future world that has undergone severe climate change and lost much of its animal life. Sloe’s mother is a scientist who secretly harbors the seeds to renew life in the form of Lindquist kits. When Sloe accidentally betrays her, she is taken away and the kits become Sloe’s responsibility. Now it is up to her to make the long journey from the prison camp to the city many hundreds of miles away in order to save the Lindquist kits and the lives within them.

Young Warriors, edited by Tamora Pierce

This collection of fifteen short stories by various authors explores the question of what makes a warrior. The warriors here are mostly teens, and fight not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually, for what they believe. There is Helen of Troy, who tells another side to the story of her rescue, Maire, an Irish Catholic teen who helps a Jewish girl during World War II, and others, both girls and boys. Look for stories by Holly Black, Mike Resnick, and Pierce herself.

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

This is the story of a young girl in Germany during World War II as told by Death, who becomes infatuated with her when he comes to take her brother. At her brother’s funeral, Liesel steals her first book, a manual on gravedigging that she can’t read, but keeps it as a memento of the last time she saw her brother and mother. As the years go by, she steals more books, and Death continues to watch her, fascinated by the broken heart and beaten lungs within her. Don’t be daunted by the size of this book – you will quickly find yourself pulled into its depths and carried away.

New Boy, by Julian Houston

Unable to get the kind of education he needs in the segregated South of the 1950s, Rob Garrett goes to boarding school in Connecticut, the first black student to ever grace its halls. Rob never imagines it will be easy, but he’s not prepared for the ways it is hard to be away from home. He’s not the only one to suffer from prejudice at Draper, in fact, his only friend, an Italian boy, eventually leaves the school. And while Rob works hard to keep his grades up, he worries that he’s missing his chance to help make a difference in the civil rights movement brewing at home. Caught between his old life and loyalties and the chance to forge a new identity, Rob makes some difficult choices.

The Killer’s Tears, by Anne-Laure Bondoux

This unusual tale begins with the brutal murders of a husband and wife who live on a remote farm in Chile. Their murderer, a vagrant named Angel, spares their young son, Paolo, and keeps him as his own, and the two live quietly on the farm until a young, well-educated man arrives, seeking solitude. The three form an uneasy triangle, scratching a living out of the meager earth, until a badly-timed trip to the city for supplies splits them apart. Melancholy, but beautiful.

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