The Finisher by David Baldacci: This is fantasy, fully packed with action, the first in a new series by Baldacci written for young adults. The heroine, Vega Jane, and her mentally handicapped best friend Delph conjure comparisons to Katniss and Peeta of the Hunger Games. They are in constant danger, on the run, and at one point must even participate in a village contest that takes place yearly in their home town Wormwood. As the story unfolds, we begin to wonder where town’s people are disappearing to, and are they protecting themselves from outside enemies or creating a prison for themselves so they can’t ever leave. Monsters and magic will keep young readers entertained to the last page. Although I had some trouble connecting to the characters initially (this book reminds me of so many other fantasies combined!), but by the end I was hooked!
The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabstein: Grabsein is at it again as he creates a world where literary characters actually come to life. Billy Gillfoyle has to spend the summer at a recluse cabin in the woods by a lake. As Billy investigates the cottage he is staying in, he finds a treasure, a bookcase loaded with classic children’s tales such as Robinhood, Tom Sawyer, and Hercules. The problems begin when Billy goes to investigate an island located in the middle of the lake and finds that the characters from these books he has been reading while at the cottage are coming to life on the island. Will he be able to get off the island? Will this summer end?
The Way Home Looks Now- This is a touching story of a 12 year old Chinese American boy that loves baseball and loves his family. But his family is grieving the loss of his older brother and can’t seem to find their way back to living life. Can a simple thing like little league baseball awaken the family and help them heal? Wendy Wan-Long Shang weaves a wonderful story of loss, friendship, and hope all centered around the Great American sport of baseball. Sports lovers will enjoy this read –probably best suited for grades five and up.
Serafina and the Black Cloak- by Robert Beatty is an edge of your seat, magic mystery! Set in the late 1800s at the famous Biltmore mansion in North Carolina, twelve year old Serafina lives a hidden life in the basement of the mansion with her father who runs all the “Modern” machines of the estate! Children of the estate begin to mysteriously disappear and only Serafina and her one and only friend Braeden Biltmore know that the man in a black cloak is magically stealing away the souls of the missing. How can they stop this evil being? Who will believe what they have seen? This is a suspenseful read, a little scary possibly for younger readers because of the sorcery and death, but definitely for intermediate and upper grade readers.