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March 16, 2007 Edition

The White Elephant, by Sid Fleischman

Ever wonder about the term “white elephant gift”? It comes from the idea that, in ancient Siam, white elephants were sacred gifts from the gods, and unlike other elephants, weren’t allowed to work. So when Run-Run, whose life with his working elephant Walking Mountain is hard but happy, accidentally offends a prince and is given a white elephant, he discovers he’s in deep trouble. Sahib must be cared for as if he were an honored guest, he must be offered the best hay, the freshest fruit, and the sweetest sugar cane… and Run-Run can’t afford any of that. Fortunately, Sahib’s own elephant nature helps Run-Run find a way to stand up to the prince and create his own happy ending. (elementary school readers)

The Intruders, by E.E. Richardson.

Step-brothers share a nightmare about being hunted through their new house. Invisible cold fingers clamp around ankles, leaving bruises. Doors click closed by themselves, and then won’t open again. Joel, Cassie, and their new step-brothers Tim and Damon know their house is haunted but they can’t figure out what the ghosts want. Then there’s the night of the storm when all the questions are answered… (older elementary and middle school readers)

Bread and Roses, Too, by Katherine Paterson

Set during the 1912 Bread and Roses strike in a Massachusetts mill town, this is the story of how Rosa, the good and studious daughter of an Italian mill worker, meets Jake, an illiterate young Irish thief. When it looks like the strike is going to turn violent, Rosa and her little brother get put on a train to stay with another family till things calm down again. Jake convinces her to pretend he’s her big brother, and he finally gets the break he needs in his life. Paterson brings to life another little-known part of American history. (middle school and high school readers)

The Crazy Man, by Pamela Porter

When Emaline’s beloved dog, Prince, causes an accident that nearly loses her the use of her leg, it is the last straw for Em’s father and he leaves their farm in Saskatchewan for work in a railyard. Unable to manage the farm herself, Em’s mother takes in Angus, a patient from a nearby mental hospital, a controversial move that makes the town uneasy. Over the course of a year, however, Angus becomes part of the family, and after a heroic act during a blizzard, the rest of the townspeople come to accept him, too. The verse presentation enhances the stark but lovely setting of the book. (elementary and middle school readers)

The Heights, the Depths, and Everything In Between, by Sally Nemeth

Over the summer, Lucy’s sprouted up to 5’10”, while her best friend, Jake, who’s a dwarf, is still under 4’. Used to being teased, they are braced for anything on their first day of middle school – except what they get. They meet Gary, one of the tough guys in school, and the three hit it off right away. Jake finally feels like he’s not an outsider, and Lucy has her first crush, until life, parents, and cherry bombs start to muddle things up. (middle school readers)

Looking for Bapu, by Anjali Banerjee

8 year-old Anu spends his days with his grandfather, who immigrated to the US from India to take care of him, and the two are so close that when Bapu has a stroke and dies, Anu feels cut in half. Believing that the dreams he has of Bapu mean that his grandfather is unwilling to leave him, Anu tries an imaginative blend of Indian and American approaches to bring Bapu back. Set in post 9/11 Seattle, the narrative reveals quiet digs of prejudice towards non-whites, but its real focus is on grief and healing. (older elementary school readers)

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