Book of the Week: See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

See You in the Cosmos, Jack Cheng
Realistic fiction

Alex Petroski has big plans. He’s going to take an Amtrak to New Mexico to go to a rocket launching convention. He’s going to launch his homemade rocket all the way into space. And he’s going to attach the Golden iPod: a recording he’s been working on. When aliens find his rocket – and Alex is sure they will – they’ll be able to find out what life was like on Earth from listening to Alex’s recorded conversations.

But like most things in Alex’s life, his plans don’t work out the way he expected. And before long, he and his Golden iPod and his dog Carl Sagan are off on the world’s unlikeliest road trip with a con artist and a silent Zen master. Alex makes friends, uncovers family secrets, and eats some extremely delicious hamburgers – and records it all on his Golden iPod, so that we get to read all about his epic road trip.

And so the aliens can hear about it too, of course.

The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

The Land of Forgotten Girls, Erin Estrada Kelly
Realistic fiction

Sol and Ming are sisters, and five years ago, after their other sister drowned and their mother died, they moved from the Philippines to Louisiana with their father and wicked stepmother. And then their father abandoned them too, leaving the girls all alone with evil Vea, who never wanted them at all.

Well: not all alone. They still have each other. And they have their mother’s stories. She used to tell them amazing stories: about a tall man in their town who used to be a string bean, about talking animals, and most of all, about their Aunt Jove, a woman who’d been to every country and ridden an elephant and danced with the Queen of England.

Sol is twelve, and she knows her mother’s stories aren’t real. But six-year-old Ming starts to believe that they’re really in a story, that they are sister princesses, and that Aunt Jove is going to come rescue them from their stepmother.

What Sol doesn’t realize is that her mother’s stories aren’t real, but they do have power. Aunt Jove isn’t going to save them, but if they listen close, they can learn how to save themselves.

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart

Some Kind of Courage, Dan Gemeinhart
Historical fiction

After his mom and sister die of typhoid and his father is killed by a runaway covered wagon, Joseph is all alone in the world – except for his horse, Sarah. Sarah has been with his family since he was only five years old, and now she is the only family he has left. So when Joseph’s guardian, Mr. Grissom, sells Sarah to a passing horse trader, Joseph has no choice but to go after her – even if it means risking his own life.

On his journey, Joseph joins up with a boy named Ah-Kee. They don’t share a language, but Joseph knows that, just like him, Ah-Kee is all alone and searching for something important. As they travel through the wild west, the boys face untold dangers, from whitewater rapids to grizzly bears to murderous outlaws. Will Joseph ever be able to track down his beloved horse? Will Ah-Kee find the people he’s searching so desperately for? Win or lose, they’re in for the adventure of a lifetime.

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova


Awkward, Svetlana Chmakova
Realistic fiction/Graphic novel

On Penelope’s very first day at her new school, she just wants to blend in and maybe make a friend. Instead, she trips in the hallway and spills all her stuff, and when a boy stops to help her, the school bullies — you can always spot ’em — start calling her his nerd girlfriend. She gets flustered and pushes the boy away, and even though she feels bad, she can’t find a way to say she’s sorry.

Pretty quickly Penelope joins the art club and makes friends there. Unfortunately, though, it turns out that the art club and science club are archenemies, competing against each other for one table at the school’s annual club fair. And Jaime, the boy she pushed? Yeah. He’s in the science club.

He’s ALSO her new science tutor, assigned by her teacher. And she keeps running into him in the hallway, and the library, and on field trips…and she STILL can’t figure out how to apologize. It’s just too awkward.

But maybe she can figure out how to be his friend. And maybe if they work together, they can find a way for BOTH of their clubs to be successful. This graphic novel is funny, awkward (of course), and perfect for fans of Smile and Roller Girl.

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar


Fuzzy Mud, Louis Sachar
Action/Adventure

Tamaya and Marshall already have enough problems. Tamaya’s life is split between her mom’s house and her dad’s two hundred miles apart, so she misses out on half of both her lives. Marshall made an enemy of new kid Chad during the first month of school, and now he spends his days in silence because no one – not even his best friends – will talk to him.

And life is about to get much, much worse.

First, Chad tells Marshall to meet him at the street corner after school so they can fight. Then, Marshall decides to take a shortcut home through the woods, and Tamaya goes with him. Then, Chad follows them and confronts Marshall, and Tamaya smashes a handful of mud into his face.

But it’s not just regular mud. Before long, Tamaya’s hand turns red and prickly. Then it starts to blister, burn, and bleed.

And then they realize it’s contagious.

Something strange is happening in the woods, and they’ve just stumbled upon it. The conspiracy behind this “fuzzy mud” goes all the way to the top, and it will have deadly consequences for their entire town.

Book of the Week: Menace from the Deep by Michael P. Spradlin


Menace from the Deep, Michael P. Spradlin
Science fiction

Emmet Doyle has already had enough change. He’s moved four times in the last six years, and last year his mom passed away. And now he’s being uprooted yet again to Florida, near the Everglades, where his biologist dad will be studying endangered species. Florida smells weird and is hot and rainy, which is bad enough, but Emmet has no idea what dangers are really in store. Deep in the Everglades, something terrible lurks.

The real reason Emmet’s dad has been sent to Florida is that a strange new creature was found dead in the swamp. It looks like an alligator, but it’s bigger, more aggressive, and extremely deadly – and DNA testing reveals something else. This creature isn’t some undiscovered species, and it didn’t evolve from other alligators: it is a man-made genetic hybrid – a killing machine. And there are more of them out there. And whoever created this deadly new creature has big plans: plans that will put Emmet and his dad in mortal danger.

Book of the Week: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill
Fantasy

Newbery Medal winner!

Every year, the people of the Protectorate – a walled gray city surrounded by a dangerous magical forest – sacrifice a baby to the Witch. They believe this sacrifice allows them to live in the city without the Witch’s interference, and so no one ever fights back against this cruel tradition.

What they don’t know is that there really is a Witch, and that she rescues those babies and carries them through the forest to safety in other cities. Until one year, when the Witch decides to keep the baby – a girl she calls Luna. And when she grows up, Luna will be the one to change things forever.