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Recent Staff Reviews

Not sure what to read next? Check out what the staff at WPL have been reading. You might get some ideas! Click the title of each book to check its availability in the WPL catalog.

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Book Cover The Beginning of After
Jennifer Castle

Laurel's life changes drastically when her parents and brother are killed in a car accident. At school, she feels like she is in a fishbowl and that no one in town will ever treat her the same. She has to figure out how to handle her new life with the support of her best friend and a therapist. Her understanding grandmother allows her to make her own decisions while helping with daily life. Watching how Laurel functions under these extreme circumstances offers an honest portrayal of grief and maturity for ages 12 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Castle
Reviewer: Alice J.   (3/26/12)

 

Book Cover Starcrossed
Elizabeth Bunce

Digger is a street thief with just three rules: stay alive, don’t get caught, and don’t get involved. Then, in the wake of a robbery gone wrong, she escapes from the city with Meri, a wealthy girl who takes her on as a maid. At first, life in Meri’s remote castle seems comfortable, if a bit boring. Soon, however, Digger finds that life in the castle is more than it seems, and all three of her rules are about to be tested. Recommended for grades 7 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Bunce
Reviewer: Keren J.   (3/5/12)

 

Book Cover Jefferson's Sons
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

All of Jefferson's slaves knew the big secret that Sally Hemings' children were fathered by Master Jefferson. Both Sally and her children had more privileges than others. Three of the four were so light-skinned that when freed at the age of 21, they would be able to "pass" for white. This story is told by her sons and another young slave at Monticello. An insightful view of our country's history for ages 10 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Bradley
Reviewer: Alice J.   (2/21/12)

 

Book Cover A Monster Calls
Patrick Ness

The monster in Conor’s bedroom can’t believe that Conor’s not scared of him. But Conor has lots more to be worried about than a monster, especially one who just seems to want to tell stories. His mother is dying of cancer, his father only cares about his new family, and his crotchety grandmother is taking over. At school, the only people who seem to see him at all are his annoying neighbor and the class bully. And at night, the real nightmare comes. This book will have you thinking about family, friendship, and the power of a good story. Recommended for grades 6-9.

WPL Call Number: Y Ness
Reviewer: Keren J.   (2/14/12)

 

Book Cover The Emerald Atlas
John Stephens

Kate, Michael, and Emma don’t know their parents. They don’t even know their last name. Only Kate remembers the Christmas Eve when their parents disappeared, after telling her to take care of her siblings and promising that the family would be together again one day. Since then, the three children have been shuffled from one orphanage to another, each one worse than the last. Their newest home, however, is the oddest that any of them can remember. For starters, they are the only children in it. The owner is a sorcerer. And, oh yeah, there’s a magic book in the cellar that allows them to travel through time. Solving the mystery of their new home and its reclusive owner may just bring Kate, Michael, and Emma one step closer to the truth of their own past. This book is part mystery, part adventure, part fantasy, part family drama, and all fun. Recommended for grades 5-8.

WPL Call Number: Y Stephens
Reviewer: Keren J.   (2/6/12)

 

Book Cover Under the Mesquite
Guadalupe Garcia McCall

This novel in verse describes Lupita's life as a Mexican-American in a Texas border town. As the oldest of eight children, she has many responsibilities around the house. When her mother is diagnosed with cancer and undergoes treatment, Lupita tries to help her close knit family while keeping up her grades in school. This warm family saga is based on the author's life. A heartbreaking story for ages 12 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y McCall
Reviewer: Alice J.   (2/5/12)

 

Book Cover The Whole Story of Half a Girl
Veera Hiranandani

Sonia isn't sure if she is black or white. Her dark skin looks more like her Indian father rather than her Jewish mother. When her father loses his job and she switches to public school, Sonia is not sure where she fits in the middle school social life. All of these changes confuse Sonia. This is a biracial family story for ages 10 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Hiranandani
Reviewer: Alice J.   (2/3/12)

 

Book Cover Bluefish
Pat Schmatz

Travis is not looking forward to the start of eighth grade. His dog is missing, Grandpa has stopped drinking but is as grouchy as ever, and most of all Travis is terrified that someone in his new town will find out that he can’t read. But with the help of some unlikely friends – including his reading teacher, the class brain, and a girl named Velveeta with secrets of her own – he begins to discover his own strengths. Recommended for grades 6-9.

WPL Call Number: Y Schmatz
Reviewer: Keren J.   (1/25/12)

 

Book Cover Okay for Now
Gary Schmidt

Doug doesn't have much going for him. His older brothers have made a habit of beating up on him. His abusive father got himself fired from his job and the family has to move away to a small town. The new town feels unfriendly and their new home is very shabby- a "dump." But one day Doug goes to the library. On display there under glass is a huge book, open to a picture of a bird, falling- "the most terrifying picture I had ever seen. The most beautiful." The sight of this picture, by Audubon, begins a transformation in Doug's life. This is a complex story about change and hope. Doug's voice is likeable, believable, and very funny. Recommended for boys and girls 5th grade and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Schmidt
Reviewer: Joanna N.   (1/17/12)

 

Book Cover Ultraviolet
R. J. Anderson

One second, Alison is having a fight with her school rival, Tori. The next, Tori has disintegrated before her eyes. It doesn't make sense, but it's the only way Alison can explain it. Now, Alison has been sent to a mental institution, where the only person who doesn't think she killed Tori is a visiting scientist who has big secrets of his own. I *loved* this book. Not only is it full of intrigue and beautiful figurative language, but it keeps surprising you as Alison's special abilities and the true nature of Tori's disappearance are revealed. Highly recommended for imaginative readers grades 7 and up who appreciate divergences from "normal" life.

WPL Call Number: Y Anderson
Reviewer: Lisa B.   (1/12/12)

 

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