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October 26, 2007 Edition

The Decoding of Lana Morris, by Laura and Tom McNeal

At the heart of this book are 13 wishes, carefully drawn on thick paper laced with red and pink fibers. Lana, 16, is trapped in a foster home run by Ice Queen Veronica and her handsome and charming husband Whit, and the Snicks, Veronica’s name for the special needs kids she fosters. When Lana sketches in the antique “Ladies’ drawing kit” she bought at a jumble shop, her sketches come true – her next-door-neighbor’s mole disappears and the Ice Queen loses an arm before Lana understands what’s happening. Once she does, she thinks very carefully before using the rest of her blank pages, but before this complex and insightful novel is over, she’s dealing with wishes gone wrong and trying to keep the Snicks and herself together as a family.

Megiddo’s Shadow, by Arthur Slade

War in the Middle East is nothing new: this wrenching story, based on Slade’s own family history, takes 16 year-old Edward from his farm in Canada to the battlegrounds of Palestine during World War I. After the death of his older brother on the German front, Edward’s anger compels him to leave his grief-stricken father and lie about his age in order to enlist and avenge his brother. His experience with horses gets him the relatively safe job of horse-breaker, but he chafes, anxious to get on with the fighting. He never makes it to Germany, instead, he’s sent to fight the Turks at Megiddo, with brutal consequences to his mind and body. Still, in the end, he is able to return home to his father, the farm, and a completely new outlook on life.

A Friend at Midnight, by Caroline B. Cooney

Lily is caught in a trap: she knows something terrible about her father, but has promised her little brother she’ll never tell. Now her big sister is getting married and can’t understand why Lily refuses to have anything to do with their dad. Lily’s relationship with God and her family are strained to the breaking point as she struggles to honor her promise to Michael without compromising her principles in this non-preachy story that is none-the-less grounded in Christian belief.

Lemonade Mouth, by Mark Peter Hughes

When freshmen Mo, Wen, Stella, Charlie, and Olivia wind up in detention together at Opequonsett High School, something happens that none of them expected. With Mo playing a rubber band, Charlie tapping out a rhythm on the desk, Stella strumming an old ukulele, Wen on kazoo, and Olivia singing the lines to a commercial, a band is born. And what a band! They sing about things no one else will even talk about: grief over dead cats, the unfairness of dress codes, organic lemonade vending machines, and more topics surprisingly near and dear to the student body’s heart. Their popularity surprises and buoys them, but the riotous response to their Halloween concert gets them banned from performing in the school talent show. Will their fans get Lemonade Mouth reinstated?

How to Get Suspended and Influence People, by Adam Selzer

Leon’s 8th grade gifted and talented class is making movies – specifically, educational films to show to the 6th graders. But “educational” is a pretty broad topic, and Leon feels that if his teacher didn’t want any films about puberty and masturbation, she should have said so in the beginning. Now he’s a celebrity of sorts, suspended before his film is even finished. While school officials and parents debate censorship issues and kids protest in the halls, Leon and his friends add the music, special effects, and kisses to “La Dolce Pubert” and scheme to find a way to show the film to its intended audience. .

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