Sarah’s Daughter

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Bass, Ruth. 2007. Sarah’s Daughter. Great Barrington, MA: Gadd & Company Publishers. ISBN 978-9774053-4-3. $14.95. Softcover.



*Michelle Gillett, The Berkshire Eagle, Pittsfield, Massachusetts Available at

* has 7 customer reviews and also reviews by Judith Viorst (author) and a couple news anchors.

After her mother’s death, Rose must deal with school, raising her siblings and helping her father in 19th Century New England.

She’d taken to thinking of her mother by her first name in these days since Sarah Hibbard had been buried. It let Rose think about her without the word “Mother,” which popped tears out of her eyes and down her cheeks as quickly as her father extracted milk from a cow’s teats.

Ever since Sarah’s tragic death, Rose has taken over the household. It’s a rough job of cleaning, cooking, mending on top of going to school to work on fulfilling her goal of being a teacher. Growing up so fast leaves her with many questions. Why is father acting so strange? Is there anybody who can truely help? Will I be able to fulfill my life goals? Find out if Rose can accomplish her dreams and find herself in Sarah’s Daughter.


Water for Elephants

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Gruen, Sara. 2006. Water for Elephants. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books. ISBN 978-1-56512-560-5. $13.95. Softcover.

*2006 Quill Awards nominee for General Fiction
*2007 Alex Awards selection
*Entertainment Weekly Best Novel of 2006 nominee
*New York Times Best Seller list for 12 weeks in 2006
*Book Sense #1 pick for June 2006
*Winner of the 2007 BookBrowse award for most popular book

Jacob Jankowski remenisces about his time in the circus when he was younger and how the circus taught him about life and love.

She reached for something….I saw that she’d picked up an iron stake. She held it loosely, resting its end on the hard dirt. She looked at me again, bemused. Then her gaze shifted to the back of his bare head…..I stumbled forward, screaming, even though there was no hope of my voice reaching her. “Don’t do it! Don’t do it!“….In seventy years, I’ve never told a blessed soul.

Jacob is getting old, days pass slowly and sometimes get confused. He finds more joy in remembering how when all that he held dear was taken from him, he ran away and ended up joining the circus. What is the secret that Jacob is hiding? Will he ever find someone to share it with? Is there anyone who understands the joys and pains of his life? Find the answers in Water for Elephants.

The Color of Fire

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Rinaldi, Ann. 2005. The Color of Fire. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 078680938-8 $15.99.  Hardcover.



*Highly Recommended–Library Media Connection–Aug/Sept 2005

*School Library Journal–May 2005

Phoebe, a slave must make important choices about her loyalties when they are tested. Tells the tale of arson in New York in 1741.

For a slave, Phoebe has a good life. She lives in the house taking care of her mistress especially during her ‘spells’ and in return she is tutored and given lots of freedom. Lately this freedom has been restricted because of happenings in the town. A mysterious group is setting fire to barns in the area and the white folks are desperately looking for someone to blame.  When Phoebe’s fellow slave and friend, Cuffee is accussed, she must decide where her true loyalties lie and how far she will go to help a friend. Find out the shocking conclusion of ‘the great Negro plot’ in The Color of Fire.

The Man Who Was Poe

Avi. 1989. The Man Who Was Poe. New York: Avon Books. ISBN 0-380-71192-3. $3.50. Paperback.

*1990—Library of Congress best book

*1990 Edgar Allan Poe Award-Young Adult nominee

*Horn Book Magazine–Reviewed March 1990

*Recommended paperback for older readers by Horn Book Nov/Dec 1991.

*School Library Journal Review Sept 1989

Edmund is searching for his family and finds help in an unexpected place from a mysterious man.

“Every fear, every image,…has two sides.” Edmund learns the truth of this as he races through Providence, Rhode Island searching for his loved ones. They came in search of his mother, then his aunt went out and never returned and finally when Edmund went to buy food, Sis vanished from a locked room. While searching he comes upon a strange man, who introduces himself as Dupin. Others seem to know him as Poe. Who is he really and can he help Edmund find what he is searching for? Does he see Edmund as a person or just an idea for a story?

Poe gives voice to his writing motivations by saying, “What I believe,” he said finally, his voice strained,  “is that writers write about what they know best. And,” he concluded, “what some writers know best is what they fear.” Join Edmund on his search for his family and the truth and in the process discover, The Man Who Was Poe.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

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Schmidt, Gary D. 2004. Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. New York: Clarion Books. ISBN: 0-618-43929-3. $15.00. Hardcover.

WINNER 2005 – Michael L. Printz Honor
WINNER 2005 – Newbery Honor Book
WINNER 2005 – ALA Best Books for Young Adults
WINNER 2005 – ALA Notable Book for Children
WINNER – Kirkus Reviews Editor Choice Award
WINNER – School Library Journal Best Books of the Year – Children

Turner Buckminster moves to Phippsburg, Maine and meets Lizzie Bright from Malaga Island. The friendship that results teachers Turner about life and true friendship.

Turner Buckminster does not like his new home of Phippsburg, Maine. On the first day, he joins in on a baseball game and learns that even baseball is different in Maine as opposed to Boston. Most of the local boys do not like him in part because he is the new minister’s son. All Turner wants to do is survive his schooling from his father, make a friend or two and grow up so he can leave for the territories out west.

Lizzie Bright is from Malaga Island which is just a short boat ride from Phippsburg. She, her grandfather and the others on the island have lived there for generations. They do not know how they will cope if the Phippsburg men’s plan to kick them off the island and turn it into a resort actually happens. Lizzie meets Turner on the mainland and they become fast friends and even Turner being forbidden to visit the island will not stop them from meeting together. Turner must learn to take a stand against injustice and cope when his life is turned upside-down forever. Learn about a little known historical event from 1912 in Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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Alexie, Sherman. Ellen Forney (illustrator) 2007. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Little Brown & Company. ISBN: 0-316-01368-4. $16.99. Hardcover.

*2008 Washington Book Award – the Scandiuzzi Children’s Book Award for middle grades and young adults

*2008 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards for Excellence in Children’s Literature in Fiction

*2008 Pacific Northwest Book Award

*2008 American Indian Library Association American Indian Youth Literature Award

*2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

*School Library Journal Best Books of 2007

Junior, an Indian on the Spokane, Washington reservation must decide if he will stay content or take a risk and expand his horizons.

Since the day he was born, Junior has faced a lot of challenges. These challenges include the following.

1. “Born with water on the brain”

2. The variety of health challenges this poses.

3. Being somewhat wimpy and part of the “black-eye-of-the-month club”

4. Limited resources at school.

5. Being an Indian living on the Spokane reservation.

When inspired by his teacher, Mr. P to make something of himself, Junior decides to transfer to the neighboring farm town’s school. This choice brings about its own set of challenges.

1. Being seen as a traitor by his former classmates.

2. Being the only Indian besides the school mascot.

3. Sometimes having to walk the 22 miles to or from school.

4. Having his best friend get mad at him.

5. All the various tragedies that befall his family.

6. The basketball game with his old school.

With a good sense of humor and through his comics, Junior learns a lot about himself, his friends, his family and the choices he needs to make. To learn more about Junior pick up The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Saving Francesca

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Marchetta, Melina. 2003. Saving Francesca. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-82982-2. $15.95. Hardcover.

  • W.A. Young Readers Book Award (WAYRA) 2004  – Winner Older Readers
  • S.A. Festival Award for Literature 2004  – Short-listed Young Adult Division
  • CBC Book of the Year 2004  – Winner Older Readers
  • Young Aust Best Book Award (YABBA) 2004  – Short-listed Older Readers
  • Family Award for Children’s Books 2004  – Long-listed Older Readers
  • Kids Own Aust Literature Award (KOALA) 2004  – Short-listed Older Readers
  • COOL Award 2004  – Short-listed Older Readers
  • Parent’s Choice Gold Award 2004  – Winner
  • Bulletin Blue Ribbon 2004  – Long-listed

When her mother decides  not to get out of bed one morning, Francesca must learn to cope, help her father and brother and also find herself.

Do you ever wish you were something you are not? Francesca has this problem. She has a lot on her plate,  such as being one of thirty girls among seven hundred and fifty boys at a recently made co-ed school, St. Sebastian’s in Australia. She longs to be strong and confident like her mother, Mia. Then one morning, Mia stays in bed. So in addition to coping with a new school and finding new friends, Francesca must also pull herself together and rally her brother and dad together to get Mia out of bed.  In the end, Francesca learns a lot about life, her family, love and friendship. Watch her grow and become a confident young woman in Saving Francesca.