unRequired Reading Blog
In the dark of night, a monster approaches Conor’s bedroom window. The massive, human-like gnarl of branches with its thunderous voice fails to frighten the boy. You see, Conor has already glimpsed the source of his personal terror. It lives in his nightmares.
A Monster Calls was written after Patrick Ness used outlines and ideas from the British writer Siobhan Dowd, a Carnegie Medal-winning author who died of cancer in 2007. The final product is a taut, suspenseful reflection on losing a loved one, accompanied by the message to be honest with one’s self.
Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engel is a historical novel in verse about holocaust refugees in Cuba. Daniel is a thirteen year old Jewish boy. His parents can only afford one ticket out of Germany and they give it to their child in hope that he will be able to escape Nazi Germany. They send him on a ship out of Germany, hoping that they will be able to meet him in New York City one day once they have saved enough money to pay for their tickets.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love. (Amazon.com)
For more from John Green (including lots of hilarious videos) check out his web site johngreenbooks.com.
Years ago, three-year-old Gerald was left home alone in an apartment where a fire broke out. When authorities discovered that Gerald was home by himself, he was removed from the custody of his substance-addicted mother Monique and sent to live with his aunt. While living with his Aunt, Queen, Gerald is happy. After his aunt dies when he is nine, his mother returns but now she has a new husband, Jordan, and a daughter, Angel. Gerald goes to live with them, but he soon learns that all is not well. Jordan works sporadically and is abusive towards Angel and Monique. Monique does not stand up to Jordan--in fact she spends most of her time trying to please him. Jordan's abusive behavior towards Angel is a constant source of distress for Gerald. Soon the problems escalate to a point that force Gerald's hand in Forged by Fire, by Sharon Draper.
Do you remember Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet? Well, perhaps that storyline is not true, and Juliet did not kill herself. Perhaps Romeo Montague killed Juliet Capulet. It was he, her soul mate and new husband, who committed a terrible crime. Romeo gave up Juliet to the hands of the Mercenaries, demons who seek to destroy love and separate soul mates. Juliet Immortal, a fantasy by Stacey Jay, retells the story of what happened between Shakespeare’s famous lovers.
Juliet has spent seven hundred years working for the Ambassadors of Light after Nurse, her Ambassador guide, saved her soul on the night Romeo killed her. At that moment, Juliet pledged allegiance to the Ambassadors’ cause, which is to bring soul mates together and make sure that their love blooms. She now spends much of her time in a dark mist, from which she is only taken out by the Ambassadors of Light to return to Earth, shift into a borrowed body, and assist soul mates. However, Romeo is working against her, and his allegiance to the Mercenaries makes Romeo and Juliet immortal enemies.
The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss takes a look into the lives of middle-school girls and the cliques that can rule their relationships. This novel uncovers the world of bullying by presenting a first-person view from each of the five girls involved in the lost friendship. Throughout the text Koss digs deep into the workings of bullying and also gives hope to those that might experience bullying themselves.
Maya, Rene, Breanna, Darcy, and Candace have promised to be friends forever. But this all changes one day when Candace decides that Maya is no longer welcome to hang out with the girls. Maya is unaware of the girls’ change of heart. She calls to invite her friends to go to an amusement park with her, but for some reason none of the girls wants to go. She soon finds out that the others are having a party, and no one even thought to invite her. This wouldn't be such a big problem except for the fact that the five of them usually do everything together.
Phineas Gage was truly a man with a hole in his head. Phineas, a railroad construction foreman, was blasting rock near Cavendish, Vermont, in 1848 when a thirteen-pound iron rod was shot through his brain. Miraculously, he survived to live another eleven years and become a textbook case in brain science.
What an amazing story! The pictures and illustrations add to the narrative, and the cover photograph of his skull is very thought-provoking. Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story, by John Fleischman, approaches Phineas’s life after the accident from a scientific and psychological viewpoint. Fleischman includes interviews with people who knew Gage before his accident as well as after and observed the changes in his behavior. The author also presents notes from the doctors who treated him over the eleven years following his accident. It is an amazing story of survival and the resilience of the human brain. Who would have thought that anyone could have survived even a little while--let alone talk, walk and function after such an event?
The Underdogs by Mike Lupica
Small but fast twelve-year-old Will Tyler, an avid football player in the down-and-out town of Forbes, Pennsylvania, takes matters into his own hands to try and finance the city's football team, giving the whole community hope in the process.
If you like sports be sure to check out our "In the Game" book list for more great reads.
The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt is a coming-of-age story in which Drew, the female protagonist, matures into a teenager experiencing both a new love and parental disputes. Drew is a thirteen-year-old girl who spends most of her time with her mother at their cheese shop, unlike most of the girls at her school who spend most of their time angry with their mothers and completely boy-crazy. This makes her less popular with others at her school. Her life basically revolves around the cheese shop where her friend Suwuzie, a middle-aged woman going through a divorce, and Nick, her crush who is a surfer turned pasta maker, work for her mom. School is about to end and she intends to spend the entire summer at the cheese shop.