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A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

tragic-kind-of-wonderfulA Tragic Kind of Wonderful

By Eric Lindstrom

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Social Issues: Friendship; Depression & Mental Illness; Family

Grades: 10 & up

 

For sixteen-year-old Mel Hannigan, bipolar disorder makes life unpredictable. Her latest struggle is balancing her growing feelings in a new relationship with her instinct to conceal her diagnosis by keeping everyone at arm’s length. But when a former friend confronts Mel with the truth about the way their relationship ended, deeply buried secrets threaten to come out and upend her shaky equilibrium.

 

As the walls of Mel’s compartmentalized world crumble, she fears the worst–that no one will accept her if they discover what she’s been hiding. But would her friends really abandon her if they learned the truth? More importantly, can Mel bring herself to risk everything to find out?

 

Seven Days of You

SevenDaysofYou_des.FINALSeven Days of You

By Cecilia Vinesse

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Love & Romance; Social Issue: Friendship

Grades: 10 & up

 

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Seventeen-year-old Sophia has seven days left as a student at the international school in Tokyo, Japan, before she moves back to the States with her family. One week to say good-bye to her friends, school, and–after a lifetime of moving around the globe–the closest thing to home she’s ever known. Sophia intends to make the most of every karaoke- and konbini-filled second. Until Jamie Foster-Collins reappears after three years away and ruins everything.

 

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak; one that Sophia thought was far behind her. She just wants to spend her remaining time with her wild best friend Mika and her eternal crush David. But as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were so stable begin to crash around her, and Sophia and Jamie forge a last-minute connection neither of them anticipated. When Sophia’s with Jamie, it’s as though she is seeing Tokyo again for the first time. Can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

 

Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, and Jenny Han, this debut novel from Cecilia Vinesse is a smart, swoony, funny, and believably complicated story of family, friends, and first loves.

Love and First Sight

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Love and First Sight

By Josh Sundquist

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Love & Romance; Social Issues: Bullying; Social Issues: Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance

Grades: 7 & up

 

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After a lifetime attending a school for the blind, sixteen-year-old Will Porter’s first day at a mainstream high school went about as well as he expected. He accidentally grazed a girl’s boob when reaching for a handrail on the stairs, he sat on another student in the cafeteria, and he somehow drove a new classmate to tears without saying a word. His high school career can only go up from there, right?

 

As Will starts to find his footing, he develops a crush on a charming, quiet girl name Cecily. And despite his fear that having a girlfriend will make him inherently dependent on someone sighted, the two of them grow closer and closer. Then an unprecedented opportunity arises: an experimental surgery that could give Will eyesight for the first time in his life. But learning to see is more difficult than Will could have ever imagined, and as he adjusts to his new sense, he finds the sighted world has been keeping more secrets from him than he realized. It turns out that the girl he’s been falling for doesn’t meet traditional definitions of beauty. In fact, everything he’d heard about her appearance now appears to be a lie engineered by their so-called friends to get the two of them together. Does it matter what Cecily looks like? No, not really. But then why does Will feel so betrayed?

 

Told in Will’s voice as he transitions from blind to sighted, this is a story about the nature of perception, love, trust, and romantic attraction. With moments of breathtaking poignancy, it’s about how we relate to each other and the world around us, and how true friendship is one thing you don’t need to be able to see to believe.

 

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The Thing about Jellyfish

Benjamin_TheThingAboutJellyfish_Finalist copyThe 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

 

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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

 

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Kissing Ted Callahan


kissing
Kissing Ted Callahan

(And Other Guys)

By Amy Spalding

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Teen Life: Relationships/Sexuality, Personal Development: Friendship, Personal Development: Character Development

Grades: 10-12

 

Sneak out. Make out. Rock out.

 

Riley and her best guy friend, Reid, have made a pact: they’ll help each other pursue their respective crushes, make something happen, and document the details in a shared notebook.

 

While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over a girl’s heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, the guy she’s been obsessed with forever. His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But between a chance meeting with a fellow musician in a record store and a brief tryst with a science-geek-turned-stud–not to mention Ted’s own tentative attentions–cute guys are suddenly popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! As their love lives go from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid’s pact may prove to be more than they bargained for.

 

Filled with cute dogs, cute boys, and a few awkward hookups, this hilarious tale from Amy Spalding chronicles the soaring highs and embarrassing lows of dating in high school.

 

PRAISE

“It’s refreshing to see a boy-girl friendship built on mutual support that doesn’t drift into romance…  [I]rreverent and funny.” —Publishers Weekly

 

“Recommended for teens looking for realistic stories without a hefty amount of drama.”—School Library Journal

 

“Riley and Reid are witty and believable, and Spalding’s story has tons of teen appeal.”—Voices of Youth Advocates

 

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A Million Miles Away

million milesA Million Miles Away

By Lara Avery

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

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

Grades: 10-12

 

Twin sisters Kelsey and Michelle Maxfield look identical — but they couldn’t be more different. Kelsey is the captain of the dance team and loves her cute college boyfriend, Davis. Michelle is a free-spirited artist and flits from one guy to the next, the latest a soldier recently deployed to Afghanistan. Despite their differences, Kelsey and Michelle can’t live without each other — until, in an instant, everything changes.

 

When Michelle dies in a car crash, Kelsey is left without her other half. As the only one who knows about her sister’s boyfriend, Peter, Kelsey takes it upon herself to find him and tell him what happened to Michelle. But when she finally connects with Peter online, he thinks that Kelsey is Michelle and says that seeing her is the one thing keeping him alive. Caught up in the moment, Kelsey can’t bear to break his heart with the truth, so she lets Peter believe that she is Michelle.

 

Kelsey keeps up the act, pretending to be her sister, and soon she can’t deny that she’s falling, hard, for the one boy she shouldn’t want.

 

Lara Avery delivers a breathtaking story of love and loss that is guaranteed to sweep you off your feet.

 

PRAISE

“It’s remarkably easy to suspend disbelief while reading this compelling romance, despite a plot with so many moments that defy logic. But love and grief aren’t logical, and Avery captures Kelsey’s dilemma with compassion and verisimilitude, pulling readers into both Kelsey’s complex emotional web as well as the rural Kansas landscape. This is definitely several steps above the standard romance; Avery is a voice to watch in this genre.” — Booklist

 

“This is not a simple story… the issues of sibling rivalry, family cohesion, grieving, and maturity provide great discussion topics in teen or cross-generation discussion groups.”— Voices of Youth Advocates

Those Girls

Those GirlsThose Girls

By Lauren Saft

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subjects: Teen Life: Peer Groups/Popularity/Cliques, Teen Life: Relationships/Sexuality

Grade: 10 & up

 

Some girls will always have your back, and some girls can’t help but stab you in it.

 

Junior year, the suburbs of Philadelphia. Alex, Mollie and Veronica arethose girls: They’re the best of friends and the party girls of the school. But how well does everybody know them-and really, how well do they know one another? Alex is secretly in love with the boy next door and has joined a band-without telling anyone. Mollie suffers from a popular (and possibly sociopathic) boyfriend and a serious mean streak. And Veronica just wants to be loved-literally, figuratively, physically…she’s not particular. Will this be the year that bonds them forever or tears them apart for good?

 

In a debut novel that is raw, honest, hilarious, and thought-provoking, Lauren Saft masterfully conveys what goes on in the mind of a teenage girl and how often even the closest of friends walk the thin line between love and hate.

 

PRAISE

“Saft has captured the darker side of female friendship and the redemption of forgiveness. Hand to fans of edgy chick lit.” — Booklist

 

“In this debut novel, Saft gives readers a look at the complicated relationships between high school girlfriends. The female characters she crafts are complex.” — School Library Journal

 

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Six Impossible Things

six impossibleSix Impossible Things

By Fiona Wood

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subjects: Family / Alternative Family; Social Issues / Adolescence; People & Places / Australia & Oceania

Grade: 7 & up

 

[button link=”http://www.slj.com/2015/07/interviews/loveozya-romance-and-hijinks-fiona-wood-on-six-impossible-things/#_”]Read author interview[/button]

1. Kiss Estelle.
2. Get a job.
3. Cheer my mother up.
4. Try not to be a complete nerd/loser.
5. Talk to my father when he calls.
6. Figure out how to be good.

 

Nerd-boy Dan Cereill is not quite coping with a whole heap of problems, including a reversal of family fortune, moving, new-school hell, a mother with a failing wedding cake business, a just-out gay dad, and a massive crush on Estelle, the girl next door. His life is a mess, but for now he’s narrowed it down to just six impossible things….

 

In this charming story of one guy’s efforts to get it together when his life is falling apart, award-winning author Fiona Wood introduces an irresistible voice and a delightfully awkward character who is impossible to forget.

 

PRAISE

★ “Told in Dan’s voice, the narrative reveals a young man whose sardonic view of himself and those around him provides an amused but angst-filled tone. There is situational humor, as well, in cinematic-like scenes, particularly in the classroom… Imagery is another of this novel’s strengths. Dan expresses his outsider status as being like a lemon rolling down an apple chute… The story’s charming and unique characters really carry the day. Readers will care about the teens who struggle to come of age.” —Voices of Youth Advocates

 

“Australian author Wood has created a pitch-perfect teen voice in Dan’s first-person narrative. He’s by turns sorrowful, impulsive, caring, and funny, with occasionally brilliant turns of phrase: “I feel like a lemon rolling down the apple chute.” It’s refreshing to see a romance from a teen boy’s perspective, and Dan is a Romeo to root for.” —Booklist

 

“With sensitivity and humor, Wood traces the roller-coaster life of a boy in the midst of significant upheaval. Dan’s honesty, smarts, and earnest efforts to do good may not earn him any popularity points at school, but they will win readers’ affection and admiration.” —Publishers Weekly

 

“School dances, first dates, and sneaking out are just some of the high school hijinks that are humorously depicted with a fresh perspective…Snappy dialogue, charming characters, even pacing, and poignant sentence-level writing make this offering a must-have.” —School Library Journal

Maniac Magee

maniacManiac Magee

By Jerry Spinelli

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum subjects: Teen Life: Family, Teen Life: Prejudice, Personal Development: Loss, Personal Development: Self-Discovery

Grade: 3-7

 

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He wasn’t born with the name Maniac Magee. He came into this world named Jeffrey Lionel Magee, but when his parents died and his life changed, so did his name. And Maniac Magee became a legend. Even today kids talk about how fast he could run; how he hit an inside-the-park “frog” homer and how no knot, no matter how snarled, would stay that way once he began to untie it. Little girls jumping rope chant, “Ma-niac, Ma-niac, he’s so cool. Ma-niac, Ma-niac, don’t go to school, runs all night, runs all right. Ma-niac, Ma-niac kissed a bull!”


But the thing Maniac Magee is best known for is what he did for the kids from the East Side and those from the West Side. He was special all right, and this is his story, and it’s a story that is very careful not to let the facts get mixed up with the truth. 

 

PRAISE & ACCOLADES

Winner of the 1991 John Newbery Medal

 

“The metaphorical style is a brave change from the realism of Spinelli’s other books, while fans of his earlier, tongue-in-cheek, streetwise tone will find it also an integral part of this story–ballast for the mythic, shifting picture of Maniac’s year on the run.” – Kirkus Reviews

 

“Humorous yet poignant look at the issue of race relations, a rare topic for a work aimed at middle readers…  Full of snappy street-talk cadences, this off-the-wall yarn will give readers of all colors plenty of food for thought.” – Publishers Weekly

 

“The book will stimulate thinking about racism, and it might help educate those readers who, like so many students, have no first-hand knowledge of people of other races. Pathos and compassion inform a short, relatively easy-to-read story with broad appeal, which suggests that to solve problems of racism, people must first know each other as individuals.” – School Library Journal

Not If I See You First

not if i see you first

Not If I See You First

By Eric Lindstrom

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Love & Romance; Social Issues: Death & Dying; Social Issues: Friendship; Social Issues: Diability

Grades: 9 & up

 

[button link=”https://www.scribd.com/doc/282397384/Not-If-I-See-You-First-Book-Club-Guide”]Educator Guide[/button]

The Rules:

Don’t deceive me. Ever. Especially using my blindness. Especially in public.

 

Don’t help me unless I ask. Otherwise you’re just getting in my way or bothering me.

 

Don’t be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I’m just like you only smarter.

 

Parker Grant doesn’t need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That’s why she created the Rules: Don’t treat her any differently just because she’s blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.

 

When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there’s only one way to react-shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that’s right, her eyes don’t work but her legs still do), doling out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn’t cried since her dad’s death three months ago. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened–both with Scott, and her dad–the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken.

 

Combining a fiercely engaging voice with true heart, debut author Eric Lindstrom’s Not If I See You First illuminates those blind spots that we all have in life, whether visually impaired or not.

 

PRAISE

★ “Lindstrom’s immersive portrayal of the dimension Parker’s blindness adds to both atypical and everyday angst imbues his protagonist with mature complexity. Like the Army vest covered in slogans or the colorful blindfolds she wears like a “Rorschach test,” Parker’s snarky bravado is not only for armor, but for input—a way to gauge other people’s capacity for honesty, critical for navigating her world. Parker herself does not escape analysis (or sympathy), ultimately confronting her problems through what others reveal. An unflinching exploration of trust, friendship, and grief.” —Kirkus Reviews

 

“Possesses crackling wit, intense teen drama, and a lively pace that pulls readers in, as do the everyday details of Parker’s world: spoken-word texts, clever methods of finding her way, and a guide runner who helps Parker when she considers joining the school track team. This unique coming-of-age tale is off and running from the start.” —Booklist

 

“In creating a heroine whose drive for independence brings both risks and rewards, Lindstrom adds a note of complexity to his gripping depiction of how Parker learns to trust and forgive.” —Publishers Weekly

 

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