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Thousand Words

Thousand Words coverThousand Words

By Jennifer Brown

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Curriculum Subjects: Personal Development: Friendship, Teen Life: Personal Development, Teen Life: Relationships/Sexuality

Grade: 10-12

 

Educator Guide Book Club Discussion Guide

Ashleigh’s boyfriend, Kaleb, is about to leave for college. So at a legendary end-of-summer pool party, Ashleigh’s friends suggest that she text him a picture of herself—sans swimsuit—to take with him. Before she can change her mind, Ashleigh has snapped a photo and hit “send.”

 

But when Kaleb and Ashleigh go through a bad breakup, Kaleb forwards the text to his baseball team. Soon the photo has gone viral, attracting the attention of the school board, the local police, and the media. In the midst of the scandal, Ashleigh feels completely alone— until she meets Mack at community service. Not only does Mack offer a fresh chance at friendship, but he’s the one person in town who received the text of Ashleigh’s photo and didn’t look.

 

Acclaimed author Jennifer Brown delivers a gripping novel about honesty, betrayal, redemption, and friendship, as Ashleigh finds that while a picture may be worth a thousand words . . . it doesn’t always tell the whole story.

 

PRAISE

★ “Thousand Words is a powerful, timely, and compulsively readable story…This is an excellent choice for book discussions and a must-purchase for all libraries.” —VOYA

 

Little & Lion

Little & Lion cover

Little & Lion

By Brandy Colbert

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Mental Illness; LGBT; Alternative Family; Siblings; Girls & Women; Prejudice & Racism

Grades: 10 & up

 

When Suzette returns to Los Angeles from the boarding school where she was forced to spend the past semester, she’s uncertain of whether she wants to return to Massachusetts or stay in California. CA is where her friends and family are (as well as her crush, Emil); and her step-brother Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support. When Suzette and Lionel begin to fall in love with the same girl, however, Lionel’s disorder takes a turn for the worse and spirals out of control, forcing Suzette to confront her own demons. Having betrayed a secret girlfriend in her boarding school, allowing her to take the brunt of homophobic bullying, Suzette must face her own past mistakes, come to terms with her bisexuality, and find a way to help her brother, before he hurts himself–or worse.

The Unlikelies

The Unlikelies cover

The Unlikelies

By Carrie Firestone

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Humorous Stories; Romance; Social Themes: Class Differences; Diversity & Multicultural

Grades: 9 & up

 

Rising high school senior Sadie is bracing herself for a long, lonely, and boring summer. But things take an unexpected turn when she steps in to help rescue a baby in distress and a video of her good deed goes viral.

 

Suddenly internet-famous, Sadie’s summer changes for the better when she’s introduced to other “hometown heroes.” These five very different teens form an unlikely alliance to secretly right local wrongs, but when they try to help a heroin-using friend, they get in over their heads and discover that there might be truth in the saying “no good deed goes unpunished.” Can Sadie and her new friends make it through the summer with their friendships–and anonymity–intact?

 

This rich and thought-provoking novel takes on timely issues and timeless experiences with a winning combination of romance, humor, and wisdom.

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

The End of the Wild

The End of the Wild coverThe End of the Wild

By Nicole Helget

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: Cooking/Food, Family Life: Parents/Siblings/Babies, Guidance/Health: Death, Personal Development: Loss, Personal Development: Self-Discovery, Science: Environment

Grades: 3-7

 

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Eleven-year-old Fern’s rundown home borders a pristine forest, where her impoverished family hunts and forages for food. It’s also her refuge from the crushing responsibility of caring for her wild younger brothers and PTSD-stricken stepfather. But when a fracking company rolls into town, Fern realizes that her special grove could be ripped away, and no one else seems to care.

 

Her stepfather thinks a job with the frackers could help pull the family out of poverty. Her wealthy grandfather–who wants to take custody of Fern and her brothers–likes the business it brings to his manufacturing company. Facing adversity from all sides, can one young girl make a difference in the fate of her family and their way of life?

 

PRAISE

A 2018 Charlotte S. Huck Award Honor Book
NSTA-CBC 2018 Outstanding Science Trade Books
for Students K-12
NSTA-CBC 2018 Best STEM Trade Books for Students K-12
★ “An uncommonly fine account of perseverance and understanding in the face of adversity.” —Booklist

 

★ “Fern’s first-person voice is completely convincing. Her vocabulary and phrasing is rural Midwestern, and her imagery comes from the natural world she loves. The sense of place is palpable. The author demonstrates the poverty of Fern’s family and friends (including a Muslim family from Somalia) with telling detail, and the tension and action arise naturally…  This nuanced take on a pressing issue is an important one. Middle-grade readers will find much to think about in this beautifully written story.” —Kirkus

 

★ “Helget confronts substantial subjects like poverty, environmentalism, and mental illness, injecting humor and hope to provide balance. Without lecturing, she encourages readers to be thoughtful and curious.” —Publishers Weekly

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 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

Silence is Goldfish

Silence is GoldfishSilence is Goldfish

By Annabel Pitcher

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: Parents/Siblings/Babies, Teen Life: Personal Development, Personal Development: Friendship

Grades: 7th & up
[button link=”http://littlebrownlibrary.com/lb-school-podcast-annabel-pitcher/”]LB School Podcast[/button]

Fifteen-year-old Tess doesn’t mean to become mute. At first, she’s just too shocked to speak. And who wouldn’t be? Discovering your whole life has been a lie because your dad isn’t your real father is a pretty big deal. Terrified of the truth, Tess retreats into silence.

 

Reeling from her family’s betrayal, Tess sets out to discover the identity of her real father. He could be anyone–even the familiar-looking teacher at her school. Tess continues to investigate, uncovering a secret that could ruin multiple lives. It all may be too much for Tess to handle, but how can she ask for help when she’s forgotten how to use her voice?

 

In a brilliant study of identity, betrayal, and complex family dynamics, award-winning author Annabel Pitcher explores the importance of communication, even when we’re faced with unspeakable truths.

 

PRAISE

★ “Tess’s silence presents myriad challenges, including the loss of a best friend and some intense bullying, but it also brings new confidence…  It’s a painful but rewarding story of an insecure teen finding her voice.” —Publishers Weekly

 

★ “Stream-of-consciousness narration revealing Tess’ internal struggle gives way to silent dialogue with a goldfish-shaped flashlight in her pocket. ‘Mr. Goldfish’ becomes her confidant and anchor as she tries to pinpoint signs of Jack’s unfatherly behavior, ‘swimming’ through the air in her imagination and providing enthusiastic commentary. Tess, a big—some might say fat—white girl, invites readers into her alienation with a sort of savage intimacy. Pitcher delivers a story of betrayal and miscues among family and friends with a realistic blend of humor and gravity as Tess slides toward mental instability. An unflinchingly honest portrayal of anguish.” —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

Every Exquisite Thing

Every Exquisite Thing coverEvery Exquisite Thing

By Matthew Quick

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Teen Life: Personal Development & Identity; Poetry; Vocabulary; Mental Health

Grades: 10th & up

 

<a class=”lb-school-library-button” href=”http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/podcasts/index.html?channel=5&podcast=536″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Listen to Author Interview</a> <a class=”lb-school-library-button” href=”https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/PR4664_EveryExquisiteThing_EG_Final.pdf” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Educator Guide</a>

Nanette O’Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hardworking student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bubblegum Reaper–a mysterious, out-of-print cult classic–the rebel within Nanette awakens.

 

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young but troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that rebellion sometimes comes at a high price.

 

A celebration of the self and the formidable power of story, Every Exquisite Thing is Matthew Quick at his finest.

 

PRAISE

★ “Quick continues to excel at writing thought-provoking stories about nonconformity.” —Publishers Weekly

 

★ “This will find a dedicated audience among teen readers.” —School Library Journal

 

★ “All of the elements of this novel work together to make this an outstanding coming-of-age story…This is a book that readers will want to read twice to take it all in.” —VOYA

 

VIDEO