Maybe A Fox

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Title: Maybe a Fox

Authors: Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee

Summary: Sylvie and Jules Sherman are sisters who live with their father in the Vermont woods. Each day, they take the bus to school and sit, crammed three-to-a-seat with their best friend and neighbor Sam. All three love the woods that separate their houses, spending their time exploring every nook and cranny, and tossing wish rocks, with their burning desires written on them, into the Slip, a wondrous and dangerous natural formation that alters that path of the local river. Jules hasn’t found her wish yet, but Sylvie’s wish is to run – faster, faster, and faster while Sam wishes for the return of the catamount – a rare, wild thing. All three have been touched by grief: Sylvie and Jules lost their mother years ago, and Sam’s brother Elk has just returned from war but is changed – his best friend Zeke did not survive. One winter’s day before the bus arrives, the unthinkable happens to the Sherman family.

A fox is born in the deep woods. Senna is no mere fox, however: She is Kennen, alive with a thousand years of fox-knowledge in her bones and a sense that she is meant to find someone, and that someone is the girl crying and screaming a name into the trees. And a voice insider her head is always urging her to fun, faster and faster.

This is a lyrical story about loss, unbearable grief, the way we sometimes wish for impossible things and the unknown magic that animates our lives . Co-written by authors Appelt and McGhee, this books features gorgeous, stop-you-in-your-tracks writing in service of a simple and truth-filled tale that will stick with you for a long time.

Who will like this book: This is a great book for all ages. Readers who like stories that make them cry. People living with grief. Animal lovers.

If you like this, try this: Pax by Sara Pennypacker. See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles. Harvey: How I Became Invisible by Herve Bouchard.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Dare to Disappoint

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Title: Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey

Author/Illustrator: Özge Samancı

Summary: Özge grew up in a small village on the Mediterranean sea in Turkey, a proud and ancient nation with a tumultuous recent history. While she treasured her dreams of becoming an actress, or an adventurer, or even an underwater explorer like her idol Jacques Cousteau, she also knew that she had an obligation to her family and to herself to study as hard as she could and enter a profession that would allow her to support herself in a time when such opportunities were rare, especially for girls. So at a young age, Özge sets her dreams aside in order to devote herself to one goal: Getting in to the best college possible so she can study the most challenging subjects so she can get a great job to guarantee her future. Will she succeed? Is it worth it? What will she find out about herself along the way?

This bright and charming graphic memoir was written and designed by Samancı, who is now a professor living in Chicago. While it offers a detailed and lighthearted look at growing up in Turkey, what makes it truly fascinating is its terrific depiction of living through the stress of expectations, be they of your family or your society in general, and how it is truly universal, whether you live in the United States today or grew up halfway around the world 30 years ago. Heartfelt and unexpectedly sensitive, this book is well worth your time.

Who will like this book?: Fans of books set in other countries. Memoir readers. Anyone who likes beautiful illustrations – these pages are full of creative and clever visuals.

If you like this, try this: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. For more on Turkey, try Blue Voyage by Diana Renn.

I’ll Give You the Sun

Title: I’ll Give You the Sun

Author: Jandy Nelson

Summary: Vibrant, outgoing Jude and shy, artistic Noah are twins. They may not be identical, but they have been together forever. Despite petty jealousies over their parents’ affection, their mother’s ambition for both of them to attend a prestigious art academy, or the attention of local bullies, Jude and Noah can always find their way back to each other. When the unthinkable happens, their bond is shattered and their roles seem to reverse, leaving the twins isolated from each other and their true selves. Brother and sister each have a piece of the whole story of what happened, but because of their grief and guilt, neither of them will share it or begin to help the other heal.

As we learn about these fully realized, complex characters – Noah narrating from age 13 and Jude from three years later, readers see how it all fell apart. This Printz Award-winning book will stick with you for a long time – it is literally gorgeous to read, especially the chapters from Noah’s perspective. It can be heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny, often in the same paragraph.

Who will like this book: Fans of literary fiction. GLBT readers. People who like stories that make you put the pieces together.

If you like this, try this: The Sky is Everywhere, also by Nelson. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. All We Know of Heaven by Jacqueline Mitchard.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Fangirl

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Title: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Summary: Cath is into Simon Snow. Really, really into it. She spends a lot of her free time writing slash fiction about Simon and his roommate Baz as they study at an enchanted school for magicians. Cath might be painfully shy, but her posts online gather thousands of hits and sometimes it seems like she has as many fans as the actual author of the Simon Snow stories. She used to write with her twin sister, but as they head off to college for freshman year, Wren has been drifting away: She cut her hair and left Cath to dorm with a stranger. As if leaving home and having to deal with all sorts of new people weren’t bad enough.

As Cath progresses through freshman year, her life is constantly thrown into disarray – her sister seems to party all the time, her dad is more manic than usual, her brash roommate insists that she eat in public with her and two boys vie for her attention. The one thing that keeps her focused – her epic, two-years-in-the-making fic – needs to be finished before the final Simon Snow book comes out in the spring. Cath is a queen of the fandom – but can she thrive when the computer is off? This book caps off a remarkable year for author Rainbow Rowell, and like her wildly popular Eleanor and Park, this is a beautiful, funny and deeply-felt story that will have you laughing and crying in equal measure.

Who will like this book: Fangirls, of course. Anyone who has spent even a bit of time inserting themselves into the Harry Potter stories. Romance readers.

If you like this, read this: Eleanor and Park, also by Rowell. OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Ask the Passengers

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Title: Ask the Passengers

Author: A.S. King

Summary: Astrid Jones has a secret, one that she can’t even really define. What she needs is someone to talk to, but who? Her mother has been obsessed with keeping up appearances since the family relocated from the city to the small, close-minded town of Unity Valley. Her dad is busy bouncing from job to job and getting stoned in the attic. And her sister is the perfect, popular small-town girl who their mom has always dreamed of – basically, everything Astrid isn’t. She can’t even really talk to her best friend Christina, who uses her cover as another perfect Unity Valley girl to hide the fact that she is gay. So Astrid lies on the picnic table in her backyard and watches the planes overhead, sending all her love up to the strangers flying through the sky. After all, she feels like she has no one to share it with on the ground.

As Astrid begins her senior year, she is feeling pressure from all sides:  Her mom wants her to date and keeps pressuring her friend Christina to find her a guy, while her co-worker and maybe-girlfriend Dee wants her to come out to her family and friends. But even the idea of calling herself either gay or straight seems dishonest. Taking inspiration from her philosophy class and the great thinkers she is studying, Astrid must begin to take her eyes off the sky and navigate her world here on Earth. With insight from the airline passengers themselves, this honest and beautiful story about coming to terms with who you are and not letting other people tell you what you should be will move you. Readers will want to see Astrid’s story to the end and close the book with a sense of hope and joy in their heart.

Who will like this book?: People who likes stories about how friendships can shift and change over time. Teens who are questioning – their sexuality, the reasons why we do the things we do, or just life in general. Readers who feel the pressure to be perfect. Anyone who has looked at a plane in the sky and wondered about the people on it and where they were headed.

If you like this, try this: The Difference Between You and Me by Madeline George. Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin. The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Princess of the Midnight Ball

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Title: Princess of the Midnight Ball

Author:  Jessica Day George

Summary:  After twelve years of war, the country Westfalin has finally managed a victory.  It’s a grim victory with the country deeply in debt to her allies and many soldiers lost.  As the King attempts to raise the spirits of his countrymen, a palace mystery begins to create more strife for the entire country.  It has been discovered that every third night the King’s twelve daughters disappear for hours and return exhausted with worn out dancing slippers.  Unbeknownst to all,  the princesses have been cursed to travel deep into the earth and dance with the King Under Stone’s twelve sons .  Cursed so that they are unable to speak about the forced midnight balls, the princesses must continue to dance through exhaustion and illness. 

In hopes of winning the hand of one of the princesses, princes from neighboring countries travel to Westfalin to try to solve the mystery.  All who try meet with failure and the future for the princesses looks bleak as they are now forced to dance every night.  But then a brave young soldier, Galen, comes to town and starts work in the king’s garden.  There he meets the eldest princess, Rose, and is moved to action by her misery.  Armed with an invisibility cloak, enchanted silver knitting needles, and a little magically assistance Galen attempts to solve the mystery and break the curse that holds the princesses enslaved. 

Who will like this book?  Fans of fairy tales and romantic adventures.

If you like this, try this:  Beastly by Alex Flinn, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by Kate Dicamillo, Zel by Donna Jo Napoli, Beauty by Robin McKinley, and The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

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