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February 20, 2009 Edition

Cybele’s Secret, by Juliet Marillier

No one knows exactly what Cybele’s Secret is, but scholarly Paula and her merchant father Teodor are determined to find and acquire it. They travel to Istanbul, where Paula is subject to the rules of Islam, which curtail her investigation somewhat. Fortunately, she befriends a woman scholar of much influence who is helpful, though perhaps not entirely trustworthy. Readers of Marillier’s “Wildwood Dancing” will recognize Paula and Teodor and their world, and be ready for the undercurrents of magic that begin to surface as they make their way around the ancient city.

Peeled, by Joan Bauer

Hildy is her high school newspaper’s star reporter, and she longs to be the one to break a big story someday. The problem is that her hometown is a small farming community whose big stories deal mostly with homecoming queens and apple harvests. Until, that is, the town’s newspaper starts running stories about the old Ludlum place and its ghosts. Suddenly, everyone is seeing ghosts, and several people turn up dead. Sharp-witted and sharp-tongued Hildy is sure that the stories are all exaggerations meant to drum up business for the town, but can she prove it? And even if she can, will anyone listen?

Mexican White Boy, by Matt de la Pena

Danny’s a great baseball player – he’d be scoutably great, if only he didn’t choke on the mound. And he’s smart and good in school. But he looks like his dad, who’s gone home to Mexico, and in San Diego that means Danny often finds himself stuck with negative stereotypes before he can say “no habla Espanol.” When his blond, blue-eyed mom sends him off for the summer to stay with his dad’s family in another part of town, Danny sees his chance: maybe when his insides match his Mexican outside, his dad will come back for him. It can’t hurt to try. Raw emotions permeate this intense novel, from Danny’s confusion about his place in the world, the love he feels when he first meets Liberty, and anger at his parents’ silence on a vital matter.

The Big Game of Everything, by Chris Lynch

Jock is looking forward to a fun-filled summer working on his grandfather’s golf course – no, really, the golf course is one of his favorite places! But this summer, something’s off. It’s not the clash between his business-minded grandfather and his hippy-dippy parents – that’s old news. It’s not that Grampus made Jock’s little brother get a shave, while Jock only had to get a haircut. Nope, it’s Grampus himself. Always a little on the nutso side, he’s suddenly gotten more so. It’s going to take more than Jock and his siblings to make things right – suddenly, the whole family is drawn together in this laugh-out-loud novel.

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

When a murderer intent on his job leaves the front door ajar, a toddler wanders out into the graveyard next door. He’s found by the graveyard’s residents, ghosts of the long dead, and is adopted by Mrs. and Mr. Owens, who never had children of their own in life. Aided by the graveyard’s caretaker, who is neither living nor dead, the Owens raise little Nobody Owens lovingly, teaching him the how to safely navigate the graveyard and the worlds leading off it. But being safe in amongst the dead doesn’t mean Bod is safe in the wider world: the murderer, Jack, is still out there, still wanting to complete the job. Bod is ready to broaden his horizons and step out into the world of the living, but will that mean the end of his life?

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