In a book that is the very model of excellence in nonfiction, Rappaport dispels the old canard that the Jews entered the houses of death as lambs led to the slaughter.
Although "[t]he scope and extent of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust cannot possibly be contained in one book," Rappaport offers an astonishing and inspiring survey. By shining a spotlight on individuals and their involvement in given situations—Kristallnacht, deportations, guerrilla resistance, among others—throughout Europe, she creates intimate personal snapshots of the years of the Nazi occupation. She tells of people who committed acts of destruction as well as those whose resistance was in the simple act of celebrating and maintaining their faith in impossible conditions. Well-known events—the escape from Sobibor, the battle for Warsaw—share space with less-familiar ones. Short biographies introduce readers to those involved, some of whom the author has interviewed. Archival images help readers envision the people and places that are mentioned: partisan forest hideaways, concentration camps, the ovens, barracks, groups of people on their way to death, diagrams of camps and more.
Thorough, deeply researched and stylistically clear, this is a necessary, exemplary book.
(pronunciation guide, chronology, notes, bibliography, index)
(Nonfiction. 10 & up)
In this exciting first sequel to outstanding series opener Planesrunner (2011), 14-year-old science whiz Everett Singh continues to outthink his enemies while navigating the multiverse searching for his dad, lost in a parallel universe.
Everett’s enemies multiply in this installment. There's still the marvelously imagined villain Charlotte Villiers, with her impeccable 1940s style and the confidence of genius, but now Everett’s “alter,” Everett M, his double from another parallel-universe Earth, has been made into a cyborg instructed to eliminate Everett. Add to those a new threat: sentient advanced technology gone bad. The quirky crewmates on their rogue airship, especially Sen, the wonderfully original Airish girl with her enjoyably distinctive dialect, keep the conversations lively as they dodge death at every turn. McDonald roots Everett's heroism in his intelligence. Everett knows mathematics, physics and Punjabi cooking. He wins because he outthinks his rivals, not because he’s faster or stronger, like his alter. Stuffed with science, this series has the potential to fascinate young readers as William Sleator’s books did, tackling concepts on the slippery edge of current understanding. Science causes danger, but it’s also the weapon that combats those terrors. Smart, clever and abundantly original, with suspense that grabs your eyeballs, this is real science fiction for all ages.
When a summoning goes awry, Liyana must try to save her people and learn how to live for herself, in this sweeping adventure.
Chosen as a “vessel” to host the Goat Clan’s goddess, Bayla, and abandoned when Bayla doesn’t come, Liyana finds herself alone in the desert. Korbyn, god of the Raven Clan, rescues Liyana and provides her with a purpose: find the four other vessels who are also missing deities. Soon, Liyana and Korbyn pick up stalwart Fennik (horse god Sendar), princess-y Pia (silk goddess Oyri) and angry Raan (scorpion goddess Maara). Besides the desert’s many dangers, the ragtag group faces the massed army of the Crescent Empire, led by a young Emperor and his malicious magician, Mulaf. The tribes need their gods to save them from illness, starvation and drought, but the gods need to possess vessels to work magic—an arrangement whose logic several characters begin to question. Liyana is self-sacrificing but not a saint; stubborn, loyal and curious, she finds new reasons to live even as she faces death. Durst offers a meditation on leadership and power and a vivid story set outside the typical Western European fantasy milieu.
From the gripping first line, a fast-paced, thought-provoking and stirring story of sacrifice.
(Fantasy. 12 & up)
It’s nice guy Sean’s turn to shine in this hilarious follow-up to Swim the Fly (2009) and Beat the Band (2010).
Sean isn’t initially swayed by his crazy friend Coop’s idea to make himself, Sean and their third amigo Matt into millionaires by shooting a low-budget horror film. But after his parents announce that they are having another baby and there is no money for a bigger house, Sean decides to sign on as screenwriter to avoid moving into his mean twin sister’s room. However, writing the movie is the least of his problems. Sean also finds himself embroiled in a terrifying romantic four-way with his new, Swiss-cheese–smelling, stalker girlfriend Evelyn, his drama crush Leyna and his sister’s best friend, the enigmatic Nessa. Sean’s well-intentioned attempts to juggle his relationships, school and the movie shoot result in the kind of outrageous mishaps that fans have come to expect from author Calame, who once again does not disappoint, with grade-A gross-outs that include a colossal bird-crap bombing and a chorizo-and-chili projectile-vomiting incident.
Fearlessly foul, this consistently comical series should be required reading for all teenage boys and anyone else with a strong stomach and highly sensitive funny bone.
(Fiction. 14 & up)
Key (Alabama Moon, 2006, etc.) has crafted another powerful, riveting coming-of-age tale that doesn’t stint on violence to advance the action.
Middle schooler Foster and his mother have been barely getting by since his father’s death a year ago. The farm in Fourmile, Ala., is going to ruin around them without a man’s help, and now Mother has begun a relationship with dangerous, unpleasant Dax, a man she seems powerless to keep from abusing both Foster and his dog, Joe. Then Gary shows up, hiking along the rural road. He's a young man with a secret past but is nevertheless kind, hardworking and ultimately heroic. Foster, desperate to find some steady ground in his life, connects to Gary immediately, even though in his heart he’s aware that whatever is in Gary’s past likely dooms the relationship. After Foster’s mom spurns him, Dax begins an escalating and tragic campaign of retaliation. Foster’s first-person voice is richly authentic as he gradually acquires the wisdom that will eventually lead him to a believable though heart-wrenching resolution to some of the crushing conflicts in his life. Confrontations between Dax and Gary are vivid and violent enough to disturb some readers, the violence expertly serving to define yet distinguish their characters.
Deeply moving and fast-paced, this life-affirming effort is a worthy addition to the bookshelves of sturdy readers.
(Fiction. 12 & up)
The tragedy of discarded children is skillfully explored in this stunning novel in verse.
Angel, 16, pretends she lives at the mall, helping herself to shoes on display. She falls prey to a pimp named Call, who watches her shoplift, buys her meals and gives her “candy” (crack). Knowing that “it’s the ones from good homes / who follow orders best,” Call persuades Angel to do him a favor with chilling ease. Turning tricks on a street corner in Vancouver, she meets Serena, who teaches her to fend for herself with “dates” and encourages her to write her life. When Serena goes missing, Angel vows to clean up her act. Dope sick, she slowly wakes up to Call’s evil, weathering the torments of her captive life with courage. The deliberate use of spacing emphasizes the grim choice confronting Angel when Call brings home a new girl, 11-year-old Melli. Leavitt’s mastery of form builds on the subtle interplay between plot and theme. “John the john” is a divorced professor who makes Angel read Book 9 from Milton’s Paradise Lost, inadvertently teaching her the power that words, expression and creativity have to effect change. Passages from Milton frame the chapters, as Angel, in her own writing, grasps her future. Based on the factual disappearance of dozens of Vancouver women, this novel of innocence compromised is bleak, but not without hope or humor.
An astonishing, wrenching achievement.
(Fiction. 14 & up)
This is a book every bar-mitzvah boy will want to steal.
"What's the first thing you say up there onstage during your bar mitzvah?" asks Josh. Josh is holding his brother Isaac over his head. Josh is taking a break from his wrestling scholarship at NYU and taking care of Isaac while their parents are in Italy. Isaac is supposed to say, "Today, I am a man." They both think that's pretty stupid. "Are you a man?" Josh asks. Isaac: "Um...no?" Josh: "No, you're not. You're still a boy." This may be the least interesting statement in the book, because every bar-mitzvah boy already knows it. But no parent will ever give this book as a bar-mitzvah gift because of the bar fights, the strippers and the vomit. Josh has decided to turn his brother into a man, and he's decided to do it in the three weeks before Isaac turns 13. Isaac will meet Josh's friends: strippers, an African-American pool player in a porkpie hat and Patrick the Meth-Dealing Punk. Parents will expect a bar-mitzvah book to inspire their child, teach him something and make him proud to be Jewish. Surprisingly, this novel accomplishes two out of three.
This book won't make readers proud to be Jewish. It will make them proud to be a pool player in a porkpie hat, a tattooed punk or anyone who survives all the way to 13. Everyone should read it the moment he becomes a man. (Fiction. 13-17)
In this spellbinding, intricately layered novel, the Printz Honor winner (Tender Morsels, 2008) puts her unique spin on selkies—haunting, mysterious, seal-human shape-shifters in a world of hardscrabble fishing villages, lonely islands and cold, restless seas.
At the story’s heart is unattractive, abused Misskaella, whose harsh life on Rollrock Island changes when, at age 9, she awakens to powers that include an exhilarating, terrifying connection to the island’s seals. Left largely unguided to develop her gifts, Misskaella grows up unloved, unmarried and feared. A secret joy makes life bearable, but loss soon follows. When she learns to draw forth a beautiful woman from a seal, life changes again. Island men set aside their human wives—girls and matrons who once ridiculed Misskaella—and pay whatever she asks for seal wives. Beautiful, strange, sad, they’re truly loved by the husbands and sons who refuse to see their unhappiness. Earthy, vigorous characters and prose ground the narrative in the world we know, yet its themes are deep as the sea. Daniel, son of a human father and his seal wife, wonders why “whosoever’s pain I thought of, it could not be resolved without paining someone else.” Intentions and actions, cause and effect are untidy and complicated, raising questions that will require generations to answer.
Teenage hackers Noa and Peter band together for vengeance and discover an inconceivable conspiracy.
Sixteen-year-old computer whiz Noa Torson has escaped the Child Protective Services system by creating a fake foster family that includes a reclusive, freelance IT-guy of a father who draws a tidy salary working “from home”; she thinks she’s safe. When she wakes up in a hospitallike operating theater with no memory of how she got there, she doesn’t take the doctors’ lame explanation that she was in a car accident and uses her smarts to escape. Meanwhile, Boston child-of-privilege Peter pokes around his father’s files and is interrupted by armed thugs who break down the door and storm off with his computer (leaving a warning for his parents). Peter enlists his hacktivist group /ALLIANCE/ (of which Noa is a member) to, first, research the subject of those files and then to attack his attackers via the Net. The attack only serves to dig the teens in deeper when they uncover a frightening conspiracy of human experimentation and corporate malfeasance that could mean a quick death for them both. Adult author Gagnon’s YA debut is a pulse-pounding scary-great read. The strong characters and dystopian day-after-tomorrow setting will have teens begging for more. The slightly open end leaving the possibility (but not necessity) of a sequel will rankle some; others will just breathlessly smile.
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for preteens and teens, a surefire hit.
Debut author Kristoff’s steampunk adventure whisks readers to a Japanese dystopia where some mythological beings still exist, a few people have fantastical gifts, and all people live under tyranny.
Yukiko, 16, has an ability the shogun’s guild would punish with death: She can commune with animals. In a unique society woven from Japanese culture and history and the author’s ingenuity of mechanical invention and disease, living standards are rough; pollution and drug addiction proliferate under the rule of a corrupt shogun who seeks to win an admittedly nebulous war. When he commissions Yukiko’s father to catch an elusive arashitora, a creature part-eagle and part-tiger, Yukiko’s quest to survive becomes more challenging. Failure to find the arashitora means the end for Yukiko and her father. Indeed, death looms around every corner in this third-person adventure, as Yukiko meets defectors, rebels and others too scared to oppose the shogun. The book takes off in earnest when Yukiko meets an arashitora. She can communicate with it, and girl and beast grow through the bond they form in surprising and thoroughly convincing ways. Ultimately the fearsome pair takes on the regime, but not before Yukiko forays into the wilds of love.
Soars higher than the arashitora Kristoff writes about; superb.
(Steampunk. 12 & up)
1920s New York thrums with giddy life in this gripping first in a new trilogy from Printz winner Bray.
Irrepressible 17-year-old Evie delights in her banishment to her Uncle Will’s care in Manhattan after she drunkenly embarrasses a peer in her Ohio hometown. She envisions glamour, fun and flappers, but she gets a great deal more in the bargain. Her uncle, the curator of a museum of the occult, is soon tapped to help solve a string of grisly murders, and Evie, who has long concealed an ability to read people’s pasts while holding an object of their possession, is eager to assist. An impressively wide net is cast here, sprawling to include philosophical Uncle Will and his odd assistant, a numbers runner and poet who dreams of establishing himself among the stars of the Harlem Renaissance, a beautiful and mysterious dancer on the run from her past and her kind musician roommate, a slick-talking pickpocket, and Evie’s seemingly demure sidekick, Mabel. Added into the rotation of third-person narrators are the voices of those encountering a vicious, otherworldly serial killer; these are utterly terrifying.
Not for the faint of heart due to both subject and length, but the intricate plot and magnificently imagined details of character, dialogue and setting take hold and don’t let go. Not to be missed.
(Historical/paranormal thriller. 14 & up)
From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.
Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.
In late December 1938, German chemist Otto Hahn discovered that uranium atoms could be split, and just a few months later the race to build an atomic bomb was on.
The story unfolds in three parts, covering American attempts to build the bomb, how the Soviets tried to steal American designs and how the Americans tried to keep the Germans from building a bomb. It was the eve of World War II, and the fate of the world was at stake, “[b]ut how was a theoretical physicist supposed to save the world?” It’s a true spy thriller, ranging from the football stadium at the University of Chicago to the mountains of Norway, from the deserts of New Mexico to laboratories in East Tennessee, and all along the way spies in the United States were feeding sensitive information to the KGB. Groups of photographs are sprinkled throughout the volume, offering just enough visual support for the splendid character development in the writing, and thorough documentation is provided in the backmatter. It takes a lot of work to make a complicated subject clear and exciting, and from his prodigious research and storytelling skill, Sheinkin has created a nonfiction story young people will want to read.
A superb tale of an era and an effort that forever changed our world.
(source notes, quotation notes, acknowledgments, photo credits, index)
(Nonfiction. 10 & up)
An ancient Welsh king may be buried in the Virginia countryside; three privileged boys hope to disinter him.
Meanwhile, 16-year-old Blue Sargent, daughter of a small-town psychic, has lived her whole life under a prophecy: If she kisses her true love, he will die. Not that she plans on kissing anyone. Blue isn't psychic, but she enhances the extrasensory power of anyone she's near; while helping her aunt visualize the souls of people soon to die, she sees a vision of a dying Raven boy named Gansey. The Raven Boys—students at Aglionby, a nearby prep school, so-called because of the ravens on their school crest—soon encounter Blue in person. From then on, the point of view shifts among Blue; Gansey, a trust-fund kid obsessed with finding King Glendower buried on a ley-line in Virginia; and Adam, a scholarship student obsessed with his own self-sufficiency. Add Ronan, whose violent insouciance comes from seeing his father die, and Noah, whose first words in the book are, "I've been dead for seven years," and you've got a story very few writers could dream up and only Stiefvater could make so palpably real. Simultaneously complex and simple, compulsively readable, marvelously wrought. The only flaw is that this is Book 1; it may be months yet before Book 2 comes out.
The magic is entirely pragmatic; the impossible, extraordinarily true.
(Fantasy. 13 & up)