When a group of young Brooklyn students are given the opportunity to gather together in a safe, adult free classroom, they begin an explorative journey through dialogue, poetry, revelation, and storytelling. Jacqueline Woodson taps into the most current challenges that many our youth face today with such unbridled courage and sheer eloquence.
Title: Back Before Dark
Author: Tim Shoemaker
Summary: Gordy, Cooper, Hiro and Lunk rode their bikes to Walmart and promised to be back before dark. They take a break at Kimball Hill Park, and notice that riding bikes to Walmart was not a very good idea and very tiring. A mini van passes by with a book bag on the roof. Being boys, Cooper and Gordy make a bet. If Gordy caught up to the van before it reached the docks, Cooper would have to buy him Chicago style hot dogs at Frank’n Steins. Gordy got on his bike and flew across the sidewalk. The van stopped at the stop sign and Hiro noticed something strange. The book bag didn’t move. Was it taped on? Was it velcroed on? Was this a trap? Instantly terror filled Hiro, he yelled out Gordy’s name telling him to stop. Cooper and Lunk noticed it too. They tried warning their friend, but all he did was look back and grin. When he reached the van he went to get the book bag and it wouldn’t get down. He tried again. A man came out of the van and zapped Gordy with a taser. He threw Gordy in the van and sped down the road.
Cooper, Hiro and Lunk become desperate. Days pass and Gordy is nowhere to be found. Cooper thinks the worse for his cousin and comes up with an outrageous and reckless plan. Now the one who was set out to rescue his friend needs to be rescued himself. Sometimes rescuing a friend from darkness means going in after them.
Who will like this book?: Teens who enjoy crime series or mystery, and also thrill seekers
Where can I find a copy?: Paper copy available at Pequot Library. Digital copy downloadable from Hoopla through Fairfield Public Library.
Recommended by: Sophia, Middle School Teen Reader
Title: Code of Silence
Author: Tim Shoemaker
Summary: Gordy, Cooper, and Hiro, are a trio that are never apart. They were together the night of the attempted murder and robbery of Frank’n Steins Diner. In fact, they were together inside the diner. That robbery left the owner (Frank) in a coma. Cooper noticed that the guys were wearing cop pants, and one was wearing leather boots. Hiding behind that counter was one of the scariest moments of their lives. Somehow escaping and taking the surveillance hard drive, they ran for their lives. One of the men caught up to Cooper. The man took Cooper’s house keys, threatened him that if he told anyone anything he would find his house and kill his family. When people approached, the man convinced them that he was a police and sent Cooper home.
Now the trio had problems. They couldn’t go to the police because the guys were wearing cop pants, they had Cooper’s house keys. Telling the truth could kill them. But remaining silent could kill an innocent man. Is there ever a time to lie? And what happens when the truth is dangerous? The trio now has to make a choice. But both choices have their price. So right there, in Coopers backyard, they made a code of silence. They wouldn’t tell anyone about anything that happened that night. But living a lie, comes with a price.
Who Will like this book?: Teens who enjoy crime series or mystery, and also thrill seekers
If you like this, try reading?: Back Before Dark by Tim Shoemaker
Where can I find a copy?: Paper copy available at Fairfield Public Library and Fairfield Woods Branch Library. Digital copy downloadable from Hoopla through Fairfield Public Library.
Recommended by: Sophia, Middle School Teen Reader
Author: Jen Calonita
Summary: Twelve-year old Gilly isn’t a bad kid, she’s just done some bad things. Or, at least the rest of the Enchantasia thinks Gilly’s thieving ways are signs of a tween heading in the wrong direction. What they don’t take into account is that Gilly steals to keep her siblings fed and provide them with the occasional extra treat or gift. Unfortunately for Gilly, since motives don’t matter, when she is caught stealing for the third time she is immediately sentenced to the latest development for transforming wayward kids into upstanding citizens- Fairy Tale Reform School (“FTRS”).
FTRS was founded by Flora, the fairly-recently reformed and formerly wicked step-mother of Cinderella, upon realizing the error of her ways and wishing to make amends by helping mischievous youth. And, FTRS doesn’t just offer troubled youths a second chance, it’s also staffed by former villains like the Sea Witch and Big Bad Wolf. But with Pegasus riding, big prepared meals, new friends, and only having to share a spacious tower room with one roommate, Gilly is finding reform school really isn’t much of a punishment. In fact, if she didn’t have a family to worry about it’s the kind of place a kid could get used to. Then mysterious and dangerous events start to occur, and Gilly and her friends are beginning to wonder if all of their teachers have truly left their villainous ways in the past.
Who will like this?: This light, quick read is a great selection for middle grade readers who enjoy fairy tale retellings.
If you like this, try reading: The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer, Ever After High series by Shannon Hale, and Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski.
Where can I find a copy?: Paper copy available at Fairfield Public Library and Fairfield Woods Branch Library, Digital copy downloadable from Overdrive through Fairfield Public Library, and audio copy downloadable from Hoopla through Fairfield Public Library.
Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Teen Librarian
Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Summary: Meet Dimple Shah. She just graduated high school and is ready to start proving to her tradition loving Indian parents that her future lies in coding and college- not marriage and tradition. Above all, she wants her parents to understand that an arranged marriage has no place in her life…ever. Considering her parent’s-particularly her mother’s- view on the necessity of a good Indian marriage, Dimple is shocked when they readily agree to her request to attend a prestigious summer program for aspiring web developers. The program will give Dimple a chance to get a leg up on developing her own app and put her in the running to win a chance to meet and collaborate with her idol app developer Jenny Lindt.
Now meet Rishi Patel. He also just graduated high school and comes from an Indian family deeply seated in tradition. However, Rishi embraces those traditions and looks forward to the day he is matched with a traditional Indian bride. With that in mind, despite almost no interest in web development, he accepts his parent’s proposal to participate in a summer coding camp that will allow him to meet the girl his parent’s hope to match him with, Dimple Shah.
When one person thinks they are meeting a potential partner for life and the other person thinks she is there to get a head start on an education and career opportunity- but instead finds out she is being manipulated by matrimony-obsessed mother- how can you expect anything but disaster? It may sound like it, but sometimes love works in unexpected ways.
Who will like this book?: There’s family, tradition, friendship and love all wrapped up in a tidy package in this book. So, high school and older readers who are looking for a fun summer beach read-for the fall or winter will certainly enjoy it.
If you like this, try reading: Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier, The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen, and Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock
Where can I find a copy?: Paper copy available at Fairfield Public Library, Digital copy downloadable from Overdrive through Fairfield Public Library, and audio copy downloadable from Hoopla through Fairfield Public Library.
Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian
Title: One of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M McManus
Summary: The set-up for this book is Breakfast Club meets Locked-Room Mystery. Five high school students walk into detention: Brownyn- the Brain, Addy- the Princess, Nate-the Criminal, Cooper- the Athlete, and Simon- the Outcast and creator of the school’s notorious gossip app. Unfortunately, only four students walk out of detention. It’s no spoiler to tell you, that before the end of detention Simon is dead and it doesn’t look like it was an accident. When the school gossip dies everyone seems to have a motive- especially the four students in the room when it happens. Because, as it just so happens the latest gossip Simon was set to post would have revealed each of their darkest secrets.
While the mystery is good, what truly sets this book apart are the author’s character development and her exploration of the dark secrets with which each character is struggling.
Who will like this?: Fans of mystery and suspense will fly through this one.
If you like this, read this: We Were Liars by E Lockhart, The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma, and Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Recommended by: Jen, Teen Librarian
Title: Boxers & Saints
Author/Illustrator: Gene Luen Yang
Summary: In this stunning masterwork, Gene Luen Yang tells an epic story across two books about young people facing the devastating consequences of war in 18th century China. Little Bao and Vibiana both live in the idyllic but impoverished rural countryside with families that are facing challenges. Soon, inspired and driven by the hidden magic surrounding them (Bao by the god-kings of Chinese mythology and Vibiana by the legend of Joan of Arc), they each embark on a journey through the rapidly-changing world around them, finding themselves as they endure the upheaval, war and devastation that comes when people with different points of view cannot coexist peacefully. When their paths finally cross, neither will be the same.
It probably doesn’t matter in which order you read these dual narratives, but I’d suggest you start with Boxers. You might not learn too much about this famous colonial-era Rebellion in your history classes, but this story will immerse you in the violent and bloody struggle between those who wished to reject foreign influence in China and others who welcomed it. You will be moved by both of these young people as they find themselves leading their people towards an unthinkable destiny, each believing they are right.
Who will like this book: Graphic n0vel readers. Fans of historical fiction and stories laced with magic and spirituality.
If you like this, try this: Yang’s Printz-winning work, American Born Chinese. Another fantastic graphic novel with a supernatural element, Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brogsol.For another era in Chinese history, take a look at Revolution is not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine. For more on the history of this era, read The Boxer Rebellion by Diana Preston.
Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian