Many people believe that a boy and a girl cannot be the best of friends without some romantic entanglement. Maybe the two main characters, Macallan and Levi, can convince them otherwise. When Levi moves to Wisconsin from California, the first person he meets is Macallan. When they discover a shared love of an obscure British sitcom, they begin the process of becoming best friends. Through tragedy and romantic involvements, the two work hard to maintain their close relationship. The author Elizabeth Eulberg very effectively uses both of these characters' voices in her narration, which left me definitely routing for both of these likable characters. A much better story than your average chicklit!
2016 RI Teen Book Award nominee
The Story of Owen is exactly what the title says it is, the story of a young man named Owen growing up in Canada with many of the problems of any young adult, trouble with math and with girls. There is one large twist to Owen's world though: he is also the Dragon Slayer of Trondheim because in this alternative universe, dragons are attracted to carbon emissions. In a not-very-thinly-veiled allusion to industrial greed, the author tells the story of a familiar sounding recent history: World War II, the Persian Gulf War, and the Industrial Revolution especially in terms of the automobile industry. Using a young music student as a narrator, Johnston's addition of the dragons to this history makes for a very interesting read. While not my favorite of the RITBA this year as I tended to agree with the NY Times Book Review, I think this book will definitely appeal to students who like fantasy and good story telling.
RI Teen Book Award Nominee 2016
The Life and Times of Benny Alvarez by Peter Johnson is exactly what the title says, a snapshot of a middle school boy and the typical trials and tribulations that happen in a person's life. Benny has friends who are suddenly interested in girls, has a grandfather who is getting elderly, and has a conflict with a girl in his class. There are a lot of mini-plot lines, which generally makes a book that I find to be scattered, but it all works in this one. An enjoyable read for anyone who enjoys realistic fiction books.
Usually if a book is set in Rhode Island, I mention it first thing. Even though it is worth mentioning, the impact of the setting of this book is so minimal (except a potshot at RI drivers), that it could really have happened in any state. If you are looking for a book that is truly Rhode Island, then Swim That Rock is your "must read."
RI Teen Book Award Nominee 2016
Face recognition software is pretty fascinating. The fact that Google Pictures can recognize the seven-year old version of a seventeen year old is amazing.
Since I'm obviously interested in this particular computer function, I was definitely interested in the premise of Forget Me by K. A. Harrington. When Morgan's boyfriend dies in a hit and run, she decides to load his picture onto FriendShare (Facebook? Instagram?) as a way of saying goodbye. The website tags the picture as a boy who lives in another nearby town. I really wondered where the writer could go with this setup, and the mystery plot does not disappoint. There are many plot threads that the author manages to pull together in a very satisfying ending. A great story for those who like a good mystery with a little romance thrown in.
RITBA 2016 Award Nominee
Like stories of the paranormal? mysteries? historical fiction? war stories? medical dramas? romance? any of the above? How about a book that includes all of the above? In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters is a book that would appeal to many readers, and so far, it's my favorite book on this year's RITBA list. The novel is set during the World War I Spanish flu epidemic in California. Mary Shelley, named for the author of Frankenstein, is a scientist and skeptic of the Spiritualist movement that swept the United States during this difficult period of history. However, when she loses someone important to her, her contact with the afterworld shakes her analytical world.
2016 RI Teen Book Award Nominee
Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire is the story of two girls from the opposite ends of the social spectrum in Tsarist Russia who accidentally switch places. In an attempt to find their rightful place in the world, Elena and Ekaterina also have to find a way to save Russia from the weather catastrophe it is facing.
This young adult novel reminded me of the author's previous book Wicked in that it includes an element of fantasy. Elena and Ekaterina encounter some interesting Russian characters: Baba Yaga, an ice dragon, and matryoshka dolls.
Mrs. Carlino: librarian, technology teacher, intrepid reader, armchair (and real when I can swing it) traveler, vegetable gardener, and outdoor lover!
Some other sites where I have reviewed books:
Other lists of great reads:
A .pdf File from the MA Department of Eduction that outlines suggested reading for grade level. The authors that will help you be "well-read":
I found this nice list of classics for middle schoolers thanks to a teacher in New York. Thanks to Mr. Shapiro wherever you are!