Wonder

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Title: Wonder

Author: R.J. Palacio

Summary: August Pullman loves Star Wars, his family and his dog Daisy. He is about to start a new school – his first one, really, since he’s been homeschooled. And while that is stressful for just about anybody, it will be even harder for Auggie. He was born with a genetic anomaly that has warped and twisted the features of his face. He has spent his life watching people stare, point, and even get frightened by how he looks. All Auggie wants is to be seen as just another kid, but he knows that it’s never going to be easy for him. You can probably figure out what life will be like for Auggie  in his first year of middle school, but you’ll be surprised by how he responds to it.

Told in the honest and heartfelt voices of Auggie, his sister Via and other people who get to know them, Wonder does a great job of telling what might be a familiar story in a new and exciting way. This isn’t a just story about the negative effects of bullying. Wonder is about how each of us have our differences and the ways we might choose to be kind instead of cruel and worry a little less about what ‘everyone’ else is thinking. Auggie is one of those great characters that you wish existed in the real world so you could hang out together.

Who will like this book?: It’s hard to think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this story. It’s something to be shared with everyone in the family.

If you like this, try this: My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Fault in Our Stars

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Title: The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green

Summary: Hazel is a miracle. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, she has survived longer than anyone expected. Now at 16, she spends her days watching marathons of bad reality TV, attending classes at the local community college and rereading her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction. When her mom forces her to go to a support group, she meets another young survivor named Augustus Wheeler, who would take her breath away if her damaged lungs could ever take in enough oxygen. It is clear that these two are soul mates. But first love is complicated enough without the big questions that dominate the life of any cancer patient, whether they are still sick or not.

Hazel and Gus are characters you’d want to know in real life. They might remind you of your best friend – or at least the kind of person you’d want to be your best friend or significant other: Funny, honest, warm and brave. As the improbable adventure of their romance grows, deepens and changes, you’ll find yourself considering the same ideas that they do: What gives a life value? How can you get up every day not knowing if it is the last one with the people you love? What happens when you die? This is another un-put-downable story by someone who just may be the best author writing for teens right now.

Who will like this book: Readers looking for a good, non-sappy love story. Yes, it’s a book about being sick, but it is not melodramatic (ahem, Lurlene McDaniel fans). People who like Jodi Picoult stories, but think they could be a little funnier. Deep thinkers. Nerdfighters, naturally.

If you like this, try this: Anything else by John Green. For younger readers, Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie and After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

 

Wonderstruck

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Title: Wonderstruck

Author and Illustrator: Brian Selznick

Summary: It is 1977. Ben likes to collect things. Some are treasures his mom has given to him. Others are things he has found growing up in Gunflint, Michigan. But Ben just lost his mom in a car accident and is living with his aunt and uncle. When he returns to his old home, he discovers in his mother’s things a book about the American Museum of Natural History called Wonderstruck, inscribed to someone David. Could this be the father he has never met? Ben decides to find out.

It is 1927. Rose lives a lonely, isolated life in Hoboken, New Jersey. She longs to cross the river into bustling New York City. She, like Ben, is missing something in her life and she is determined to find it. The way these two stories interweave, one in words, the other in pictures, will suprise and delight you.

I’ll admit it: I love The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It was Fairfield’s One Book One Town book a few years ago and it’s creator, Brian Selznick, might be the most charming author around. So I picked up Wonderstruck with a mixture of excitment and nervous anticipation. Would it be as good as Hugo? The answer is clear: Yes. Yes, yes, yes! Read this book right now.

Who will like this book?: Everybody. Seriously.

If you like this, try this: The Invention of Hugo Cabret, also by Selznick. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Pieces of Georgia by Jen Bryant.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Tom Thumb

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Title: Tom Thumb: The Remarkable True Story of a Man in Miniature

Author: George Sullivan

Summary: Charles Stratton was born in 1838 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was a big, healthy, happy baby – just what any parents would wish for. But when he turned one, he just…stopped growing. He was in perfect proportion: His arms, legs, and head were all the right size for his tiny body. When another Connecticut native, the soon-to-be legendary P.T. Barnum, was introduced to the five year-old Charley, both their worlds would be changed forever. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship that would make them both incredibly rich.

Charles Stratton, renamed Tom Thumb by Barnum, was the first celebrity performer in U.S. history. He traveled the world, showed off for kings and queens and his marriage to another little person, Lavinia Warren, even preempted coverage of the Civil War. But he never had a true childhood or much time out of the public eye. Was he exploited by Barnum for his size or did he triumph despite of it? This fascinating biography will let you find your own answer to these questions.

Who will like this book?: This is a terrific book for anyone interested in people who have triumphed over adversity.  It is also an important piece of local history – Charley was born and is buried in Bridgeport, CT.

If you like this, try this: The Great and Only Barnum by Candice Fleming. For older readers, The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Pop

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Title: Pop

Author:  Gordon Korman

Summary:  In the dead of summer, Marcus is uprooted by his mother and moved to the small town of Kennesaw.   The one saving grace of the move is that Marcus will have the chance to try-out for the championship winning Raiders, the local high school football team.  With dreams of making it on the team, Marcus heads to the local park every day to practice his quarterbacking skills.   One day during his solitary practice, Marcus meets an older man, Charlie, who behaves a bit bizarrely but is the best football player Marcus has ever seen.  Charlie teaches him to embrace the “pop” that comes from a good tackle and how to pull off some amazing pranks. 

It isn’t until school starts that Marcus learns his new practice friend is Charlie Popovich or “The King of Pop” as he was nicknamed during his career as an NFL linebacker.  Unfortunately, by that time Marcus has already clashed heads with the starting quarterback of the Raiders and son of Charlie, Troy Popovich.  Troy wants Marcus to stay away from his Dad, his team, and his ex-girlfriend Alyssa.  Marcus fights for his position on the team and keeps practicing with Charlie.  But Marcus has figured out there is a secret about Charlie that his family is desperate to hide.  Marcus wants to help his friend, but is he willing to risk everything to do it?

Who will like this?:  While football is prominently featured in this story, a love of the game or even an understanding of it, isn’t necessary for enjoyment of the story.  It is the characters of Marcus and Charlie that are truly the center of this story.   There are serious issues presented in this book, but Korman injects some humor into the story. 

If you like this, try this: Anything else by Gordon Korman or Mike Lupica

Recommended by:  Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin

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Title: The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin

Author: Josh Berk

Summary:  Self-deprecating, incredibly witty, bright, and highly observant are just a few words that describe Will Halpin.  However, as the new kid at Carbon High Will Halpin is defined only by his hefty size and his inability to hear.  Luckily, Will is not the type of guy to let others define him or control his actions.  So, when the star quarterback is pushed down a mine shaft on a class field trip it is Will Halpin who secretly steps up to solve this murder mystery.  Will finds himself teamed up with the second least popular kid in school, Devon Smiley, to solve a crime where everyone is a suspect, including the porkrinds-eating bus driver, the ever-inappropriately dressed young math teacher, the most beautiful girl in school, and the weird kid who talks to his fingers.

Who will like this book:  While this is a mystery, the real draw of this book are the characters.  Readers who enjoy a clever outsider-type character who possesses a sardonic wit will appreciate Will Halpin and his side-kick, Devon.   

If you like this, read this:  Any book  by Jordan Sonnenblick. Going Bovine by Libba Bray.  Repossessed by A.M. Jenkins.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

Handle With Care

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Title: Handle With Care

Author: Jodi Picoult

Summary: With the recent movie version of My Sister’s Keeper, everyone has been in the library looking for books by Jodi Picoult. And while readers might want to read the book of the movie, I suggest you try this one, her latest, instead. It is a more mature story with the same gripping medical drama and intense relationships.

Five year-old Willow is a wonderful child – bright, funny, kindhearted and incredibly smart for her age. She was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease: Stumbling could mean a broken leg, coughing could break her ribs. She will need medical care and supervision for her whole life. Her mother Charlotte decides to sue her doctor, who is also her dearest friend, for ‘wrongful death,’ meaning that if Charlotte had known Willow would be born with a debilitating disease sooner in her pregnancy, she might have chosen not to have her. Told in the voices of Charlotte, her best friend, husband, lawyer, and other daughter Amelia, this wrenching story tackles the complex idea of who should decide if a life is worth living.

Who will like this book: Mature readers who enjoy dramatic stories about families and friendship.

If you like this, try this: My Sister’s Keeperby Jodi Picoult. All We Know of Heavenby Jacqueline Mitchard.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian