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Bang

Bang cover

Bang

By Barry Lyga

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: Parents/Siblings/Babies, Guidance/Health: Death, Personal Development: Loss, Personal Development: Character Development, Teen Life: Relationships/Sexuality, Teen Life: Family

Grades: 7 & up

Discussion Guide LB School Podcast

 

Sebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one–not even Sebastian himself–can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father’s gun.

 

Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend–Aneesa–to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past. It took a gun to get him into this.

 

Now he needs a gun to get out.

 

Unflinching and honest, Bang is as true and as relevant as tomorrow’s headlines, the story of one boy and one moment in time that cannot be reclaimed.

 

PRAISE

★ “Heartbreaking and brutally compelling. ” —Kirkus

 

★ “It’s a raw exploration of persistent social stigmas, a beautiful study of forgiveness, and an unflinching portrait of a parent’s worst nightmare.” —Publishers Weekly

 

★ “Lyga tackles a number of relevant issues in this heartbreaking novel, including gun control, suicide, and religious and racial prejudice. The pain and anguish Sebastian feels every day are raw and chafing, and the chemistry between Sebastian and Aneesa is tender and realistic.” —School Library Journal

Towers Falling

Towers FallingTowers Falling

By Jewell Parker Rhodes

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Personal Development: Diversity, Social Studies: America, Social Studies: Patriotism, Personal Development: Loss

Grades: 3 & up

 

Educator Guide

When her fifth-grade teacher hints that a series of lessons about home and community will culminate with one big answer about two tall towers once visible outside their classroom window, Deja can’t help but feel confused. She sets off on a journey of discovery, with new friends Ben and Sabeen by her side. But just as she gets closer to answering big questions about who she is, what America means, and how communities can grow (and heal), she uncovers new questions, too. Like, why does Pop get so angry when she brings up anything about the towers?

 

Award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes tells a powerful story about young people who weren’t alive to witness this defining moment in history, but begin to realize how much it colors their every day.

 

 

PRAISE

“History made personal—and what a person! Deja’s voice is real and memorable, her compelling story one of hope unmarred by sentimentality.” —Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park

 

“Once again, Jewell Parker Rhodes uses the power of story to help young people make sense of their world, even among the most confusing of circumstances. Towers Falling is a great book for pairing with history/social studies, and a great book to help young readers untangle the knots of growing up in America. Jewell’s powerful fiction is almost magical.” —James Blasingame, Associate Professor of English, Arizona Sate University

 

“Extraordinary…  Every teacher of elementary and middle schoolers should read the book as they prepare to discuss the events of 9/11/01 with their students who have no memories of those events. It is a book that they will want to share with their students and that parents will want to share with their children. But Towers Falling is not only the story of Deja’s confusion about the towers that once stood in NYC. It is also a rich story of a family living in poverty and the importance of family. It is a story of friendships that cross cultural and racial boundaries. And it is a story of a classroom of students taught by a teacher who wants them to better understand community.” —Ann Neely, Associate Professor of the Practice of Education, Vanderbilt University

 

“In connecting a nation-changing event to the lives of today’s middle-graders, Rhodes makes a valuable contribution to the 9/11 canon.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

 

“This tender retelling of tragedy is a solid vessel to help young readers understand the gravity of 9/11 and how it touches all Americans, no matter where we come from.” —Kirkus Reviews

 

“Rhodes approaches a complex, painful topic with insight and grace, providing context to an event distant to the book’s audience.” —Publishers Weekly

 

“A welcome contribution to children’s literature.” —School Library Journal

 

“Rhodes has a talent for teaching kids to care about major events…her emphasis on critical thinking would make Towers Falling at home on a Common Core curriculum…Rhodes has created a curious, resilient character whose journey can help other children process the horrible events that shape the world into which they are born.” —TIME

 

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

NPR’s Here & Now Interview

The Horn Book‘s Talks with Roger Interview

OverDrive’s Professional Book Nerds Podcast Interview

• The Nerdy Bookcast Launch Special: Books Help Teach Us How to Live, Part 1-3 

• TeachingBook.net Meet the Author

 

 

VIDEO

The Memory Book

memory bookThe Memory Book

By Lara Avery

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: Parents/Siblings/Babies, Personal Development: Loss, Teen Life: Relationships/Sexuality

Grades: 10th & up

 

Sammie McCoy is a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as possible. Nothing will stand in her way—not even the rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly steal her memories and then her health.

 

So the memory book is born: a journal written to Sammie’s future self, so she can remember everything from where she stashed her study guides to just how great it feels to have a best friend again. It’s where she’ll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime-crush Stuart, a gifted young writer home for the summer. And where she’ll admit how much she’s missed her childhood friend Cooper, and the ridiculous lengths he will go to make her laugh. The memory book will ensure Sammie never forgets the most important parts of her life—the people who have broken her heart, those who have mended it–and most of all, that if she’s going to die, she’s going to die living.

 

This moving and remarkable novel introduces an inspiring character you’re sure to remember, long after the last page.

 

PRAISE

★ “[Sammie’s] narrative voice is sardonic, distinctive, wildly intelligent, and sometimes hilarious…  Readers will feel her mind and heart shifting with the illness. Indelible.” —Kirkus

 

★ “Avery crafts an emotionally charged story about a young woman who has kept her eyes trained on the future, only to learn that all she has is now…  Avery’s novel stands out for its strong characters, a heartbreaking narrative that shifts to reflect Sammie’s condition, and a love story that will leave many readers in tears.” —Publishers Weekly

 

★ “Sammie’s voice is a bright, relatable, and uncompromising one, and when her inevitable decline begins, readers will be surprised and pained by it, right along with the book’s fiercely undeterred protagonist. Strengths abound in Avery’s touching novel, and Sammie’s relationships, both friendly and romantic, are no exception.” —School Library Journal

 

★ “Avery brings an emotional honesty to Sammie’s narrative…  Teens will be inspired by Avery’s heart-rending story about a special and intelligent young woman coping with a devastating disease—a story buoyed by the strong love of family flowing through Sammie’s narrative and by an exquisite love story in which Sammie experiences happiness with Coop.” —VOYA

The Loose Ends List

Loose Ends ListThe Loose Ends List

By Carrie Firestone

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: Grandparents and Extended Family, Personal Development: Self-Discovery, Teen Life: Family, Teen Life: Relationships/Sexuality

Grades: 7th & up

 

Seventeen-year-old Maddie O’Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie’s closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie’s plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret “death with dignity” cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way—and give the O’Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.

 

Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness.

 

PRAISE

 

★ “While readers know from the very beginning how this story will end, they will be surprised to discover that the journey is far more about life than death. Maddie’s first-person account is filled with humor and fun, introducing readers to a raunchy, heartwarming, and endearingly dysfunctional family. The story is made all the richer by a cast of quirky supporting characters that includes her two gay uncles, a sweet and slutty cousin, her larger-than-life grandmother, and a small handful of terminal patients and their families who are celebrating and grieving alongside them. Best of all is the achingly romantic love story that unexpectedly blossoms between Maddie and a fellow shipmate and lends the story much-appreciated moments of passion and levity. A poignant and important story about compassion, love, and the decision to live life on your own terms—right up to the very last minute: all aboard.” —Kirkus

Mayday

maydayMayday

By Karen Harrington

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: Grandparents and Extended Family, Guidance/Health: Disease/Sickness, Personal Development: Loss

Grades: 3rd-7th

 

 

Wayne Kovok lives in a world of After. After his uncle in the army was killed overseas. After Wayne and his mother survived a plane crash while coming back from the funeral. After he lost his voice.

 

Wayne has always used his love of facts to communicate (“Did you know more people die each year from shaking a vending machine than from shark attacks?”). Without his voice, how will he wow the prettiest girl in school? How will he stand up to his drill-sergeant grandfather? And how will he share his hopes with his deadbeat dad? It’s not until Wayne loses his voice completely that he realizes how much he doesn’t say.

 

PRAISE

★ “Wayne’s convincing narration perceptively captures the tribulations of young teens, and even though his problems aren’t commonplace, surprisingly, the resolutions are. Perhaps best of these is Grandpa’s advice: ‘Before you go taking the bull by the horns, make sure it’s your bull.’ A fine character-driven tale that slowly grows to a crescendo of satisfaction. ” —Kirkus

 

★ “Compelling…  Harrington deftly depicts the delicate dance of family and friends trying to handle the aftermath of near tragedy, their efforts further complicated once Wayne uncovers an important secret his grandfather is keeping. Wayne is an appealing protagonist with a strong voice who develops believably over the difficult months, as do the other characters. A well-done book on all levels.” —Publishers Weekly

Girl in the Blue Coat

Girl in the Blue Coat

By Monica Hesse

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Social Studies; World History; WWII; Holocaust; Prejudice & Racism; Mysteries & Detective Stories

Grades: 7 & up

 

Educator Guide

 

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.

 

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person—a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.

 

PRAISE

Girl in the Blue Coat is a powerful, compelling coming-of-age story set against the dark and dangerous backdrop of World War II. It’s an important and page-turning look at the choices all of us—including young adults—have to make in wartime. A beautiful combination of heartbreak, loss, young love, and hope.”—Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale

 

“A tapestry of guilt and acceptance, growing responsibility, and reluctant heroism, Hanneke’s coming-of-age under heartbreaking circumstances is a jarring reminder of how war consumes and transforms the passions of ordinary life. Every devastating moment of this beautiful novel is both poignant and powerful, and every word feels true.” —Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Verity

 

★ “[An] affecting novel…that skillfully combines reality with fiction. Her characters come alive, and…Hesse’s pacing infuses her story with thriller suspense, enriching the narrative with dramatic surprises both small and large.” —Booklist

 

★ “Riveting… a gripping historical mystery.” —Publishers Weekly

 

★ “This fast-paced story is alternately touching, heart-pounding and wrenching-but always gripping. …a heartrending, moving story.” —VOYA

The Thing about Jellyfish

The Thing about Jellyfish

By Ali Benjamin

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Guidance/Health: Death, Guidance/Health: Emotions, Personal Development: Loss, Family Life: Divorce/Stepfamilies, Science: Animals/Insects/Pets

Grades: 5 & up

 

A stunning debut about how grief can open the world in magical ways.

 

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory– even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.

 

PRAISE

A 2015 National Book Award Finalist

 

★ “An uncommonly fine first novel.” – Booklist

 

★ “A painful story smartly told, Benjamin’s first solo novel has appeal well beyond a middle school audience.” – Kirkus Reviews

 

★ “A shining example of the highs and lows of early adolescence, as well as a testament to the grandeur of the natural world.” – Publishers Weekly

 

★ “Authentic and poignant.” – School Library Journal

 

★ “This novel has it all: just-right pacing, authentic voices and characters, beautifully crafted plot, and superb writing.” – Voices of Youth Advocates

 

VIDEOS

Minna’s Patchwork Coat

minnaMinna’s Patchwork Coat

by Lauren A. Mills

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: School, Family Life: Neighbors/Neighborhoods, Personal Development: Individuality, Personal Development: Friendship, Folk Tales/Fairy Tales/Classics: Native American Heritage, Guidance/Health: Death

Grades: 3-7

 

Educator Guide

 

In this charming historical novel, acclaimed artist Lauren A. Mills reimagines her beloved picture book, The Rag Coat, with fifty delicate pencil illustrations and an expanded story about a resilient little girl, her patchwork coat, and how the two bring a community together.

 

Minna and her family don’t have much in their small Appalachian cabin, but “people only need people,” Papa always reminds her. Unable to afford a winter coat to wear to school, she’s forced to use an old feed sack to keep her warm. Then Papa’s terrible cough from working in the coal mines takes him away forever, and Minna has a hard time believing that anything will be right again…until her neighbors work tirelessly to create a coat for her out of old fabric scraps. Now Minna must show her teasing classmates that her coat is more than just rags–it’s a collection of their own cherished memories, each with a story to share.

 

PRAISE

“Readers can immerse themselves in a culture and time where things moved at a slower pace and common sense values created from warmth and love are given room to exist and thrive. The delicate, ethereal pencil drawings provide an additional lens into this story. The emotions of the characters are sensitively rendered, and one can almost smell the pine-scented air and wood-burning fireplace. ” — School Library Journal

Wonder at the Edge of the World

wonder at the edgeWonder at the Edge of the World

by Nicole Helget

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Personal Development: Diversity, Personal Development: Friendship, Social Studies: African American Heritage, Adventure: Magic/Fantasy, Science: Biology

Grades: 3 & up

 

Listen to Author Interview Educator Guide

 

In this captivating quest that spans the globe, a young girl who wants to know everything challenges her assumptions about family, loyalty, and friendship as she fights to save her father’s legacy—and to begin creating her own.

 

Hallelujah Wonder wants to become one of the first female scientists of the nineteenth century. She knows every specimen and rare artifact that her explorer father hid deep in a cave before he died, and she feels a great responsibility to protect the objects (particularly a mesmerizing and dangerous one called the Medicine Head) from a wicked Navy captain who would use it for evil. Now she and her friend Eustace, a runaway slave, must set out on a sweeping adventure by land and by sea to the only place where no one will ever find the cursed relic….

 

PRAISE

★ “If ever a girl could make her mark on the world, it is Hallelujah Wonder… Brimming with spirit and gumption, Lu’s first-person narration is marked by her scientific mind and youthful naiveté, much like Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce; and Helget’s creative use of flashbacks and prognostication adds suspense to the tale. Though historical in setting, the questions of faith, science, and humanity raised remain relevant to modern times. With Hallelujah at the helm, Wonder is full-blown adventure tinged with mysticism, intelligence, and the spirit of discovery.”—Booklist

 

“History, science, adventure and fantasy combine in this tale that carries readers from the plains of Kansas to Antarctica…  Pulse-quickening exploits and taut descriptions will keep readers riveted…  Set against the growing-pains backdrop of pre-Civil War America, both reflecting and supporting Hallelujah’s coming-of-age story, Helget’s tale celebrates the curiosity and mystery of life.”—Kirkus Reviews

 

“Helget’s novel teems with historical information, most of which centers around abolition and the whaling industry. Wonder would thus work well as an extension to world history and natural sciences’ units…  Lu’s main focus is scientific exploration, and her informative musings will have readers wanting to do scientific research of their own. Even with so much background to incorporate, Helget’s novel includes enough exciting escapes from Greeney and agitated whales to keep the pages turning.”—School Library Journal

I Crawl Through It

crawlI Crawl Through It

By A.S. King

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Guidance/Health: Emotions, Personal Development: Individuality, Science: Biology

Grades: 10 & up

 

[button link=”https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/PR4625_LBYRBookClubHardTopics_7p.pdf”]Book Club Discussion Guide[/button]

Four teenagers are on the verge of exploding. The anxieties they face at every turn have nearly pushed them to the point of surrender: senseless high-stakes testing, the lingering damage of past trauma, the buried grief and guilt of tragic loss. They are desperate to cope, but no one is listening.

 

So they will lie. They will split in two. They will turn inside out. They will even build an invisible helicopter to fly themselves far away…but nothing releases the pressure. Because, as they discover, the only way to truly escape their world is to fly right into it.

 

The genius of acclaimed author A.S. King reaches new heights in this groundbreaking work of surrealist fiction; it will mesmerize readers with its deeply affecting exploration of how we crawl through traumatic experience-and find the way out.

 

PRAISE

★ “Characters unfold like riddles before the reader, while King uses magical realism and a motif of standardized testing to emphasize the flaw in obtaining answers without confronting reality’s hard questions. Beautiful prose, poetry, and surreal imagery combine for an utterly original story that urges readers to question, love, and believe—or risk explosion.”—Booklist

 

★ “King’s novel blends the magical and the mundane in a deadpan delivery that makes it difficult to tell one from the other. This, of course, is the point of her ambitious and affecting work, which suggests that the personal tragedies and trauma we internalize change the ways we see and operate in the world. The main characters have, the novel reveals, been transformed in distinct ways by tragedy, and the effects of these experiences are evident in the narrative, making the story itself a challenging one to discern. ‘Somewhere in every mind,’ the last pages of the book assert, ‘is an opening to crawl through.’ King’s latest novel demands that readers search for this opening.”—The Horn Book

 

★ “It’s bizarre, compelling, and not like anything else.”—Publishers Weekly

 

★ “King has crafted a universe within these pages full of surrealist characters and twists—inside-out humans and escapes to locations that may or may not be real. She achieves a fine, delicate balance through her gutting prose and ensemble cast of hurt-filled characters. The broken feeling of the protagonists carries through the length of the book, yet the ending still concludes with a tone of redemption. At once a statement on the culture of modern schools as well as mental health issues, this novel is an ambitious, haunting work of art.”—School Library Journal

 

★ “It is a story to which everyone can relate. Under all of the strangeness, magic, and metaphor, this is a story about fear, shame, guilt, lies, truth, trauma, escape, and rescue. It is a story about constantly seeking answers, even when you cannot articulate the questions. It is about trusting in things you cannot see, and understanding that safety is a lie, but so is the idea that someone is damaged beyond repair. And it is about the hardest test of all: surviving adolescence. Masterfully written and brilliantly bizarre, this is King at her most innovative yet.”—Voice of Youth Advocates