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January 21, 2010 Edition
By the end of seventh grade, Trina’s class has had it with Carlos. Everyone dreads his Day Afters, when always-early Carlos shows up late to school, his hair in a tangled mess, falling out of his chair and getting the other kids in trouble for it. Once he told Trina that those are the days after the aliens visit him, but she’s sure that’s not true. There’s just something wrong with him, even on his good days. Secretly, she has a soft spot for the scrawny kid who’s an outsider everywhere, but when her friend Thea proposes a plan to get Carlos good while they’re on an overnight field trip, Trina can’t say no. As Carlos’ doom approaches, Trina feels worse and worse about what she’s agreed to, but she can’t get out of the plan without getting dumped by her friends. Trina is a brisk and clear-headed chronicler of the chaos, cruelty, and clique-ness that is middle school. (older elementary and middle school readers)
Young Pin Carpue is all alone in the world now that his mother has died and his father has disappeared. The only job he can find is at the local morgue, watching bodies to make sure they are dead before they are buried. One night Pin wakes from a drugged sleep to find three figures standing around the newest body: a bone magician and his young assistant are waking the dead woman so she can talk to her fiancé one last time. Pin soon finds himself living in the same boarding house as the magician and his assistant, the lovely Juno, and wondering whether the Silver Apple Murderer (so named by a popular local journalist) could possibly be his father. Along the way to answering that question, he finds his life intersecting with a potato-throwing dwarf poet, a hideous Gluttonous Beast in a cage, and a debonair phrenologist. Creepy and intriguing, this is a worthy companion to “The Black Book of Secrets.” (middle school readers and older)
Fans of fractured fairy tales ought to give this delightfully wicked story a try. When sorceress Lady Lamorna finds her coffers empty, does she cancel her order for a new velvet gown studded with skulls? No! Instead, to fill up her treasure chests, she hatches a plot to turn the area’s princes and princesses into frogs and blackmail their parents for their re-humanation. Ready to thwart her are sheltered but adventurous Prince Marcus, who escaped the enchantment by being grounded, and brave but small Gracie, who was rescued by a bat from her wicked stepfather and stepsister. (older elementary and middle school readers)
This amazing first novel takes readers straight into Sam Childs’ life as the younger son of a civil rights activist dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King’s principle of non-violence. But in Sam’s neighborhood, the protests and rallies aren’t bringing change quickly enough. People, even teens Sam’s own age, are being beaten in by the police at the slightest provocation and joblessness and poverty are wearing away the fiber of the community. There is a movement that is helping: the Black Panthers, a militant group that believes that they are entitled to act violently in order to protect the community, something that goes against everything Sam was brought up to believe. But when Sam and his girlfriend witness a friend being beaten, he wonders whether the time for peaceful resistance is past.