unRequired Reading Blog

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman gives readers a look at America’s past while at the same time encouraging them to take a hard look at its present. The novel centers around a 13-year-old girl named Sophie who lives with her recently divorced mother in New Orleans, Louisiana. The story opens with Sophie being taken to a rural part of Louisiana to spend the summer with her maiden aunt and ailing grandmother at the family’s crumbling plantation house while her mother stays in the city and studies to become an accountant.

Cafe Book Drew Middle School: Top Teen Picks 2013

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25

Drew Middle School's 7th and 8th graders have made their voices heard. They voted on the top picks of this year's Cafe Book titles to determine which ones are their favorites.

Top Pick:

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

Michael Vey seems like an ordinary teenager, but he has a unique power. After his mother is kidnapped he and his friends have to find his mother and fight the hunters to save other kids with the same powers.
 

Other Favorites:

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson Everneath by Brodi Ashton The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness Outlaw by Stephen Davis Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Outlaw by Stephen Davies

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

If you think you might like one of these titles, click and request it!

Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

A Covenant and a Code

In Sherwood Smith’s Crown Duel, it’s been hundreds of years since the mysterious Hill Folk went to war with the people of Remalna to defend their groves of colortrees, whose rich hues of blue and red and gold made them valuable for trade. The Hill Folk fought back with their all of their magical powers and easily defeated their foes. At last a truce was reached. The Remalnan settlers would cut no more wood, and in exchange the Hill Folk would give magical Fire Sticks to last them the winter.

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95

Moonbird, by Phillip Hoose, is the story of an incredible bird, B95. Through his story, we learn about an amazing species of tiny shore bird, the Rufa Red Knot. The size of a robin, this bird has one of the longest distance migrations of any animal — more than 18,000 miles in a round trip. B95 has made that trip 20 times, flying the equivalent of the distance to the moon and halfway back, earning him the nickname Moonbird.

Cafe Book H. H. Poole: Top Teen Picks 2013

Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson

The votes are in and the 7th and 8th grade students from H.H. Poole Middle School have selected their favorites from the titles presented at this year's Cafe Book program.

The Top Pick is :

Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson
Almost seventeen-year-old Alison, who has synesthesia, finds herself in a psychiatric facility accused of killing a classmate whose body cannot be found.



Other Favorites are:

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson True Blue by Deborah Ellis Starters by Lissa Price

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

True Blue by Deborah Ellis

Starters by Lissa Price

Cafe Book Heim Middle School: Top Teen Picks 2013

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

The votes are in and the students at Shirley Heim Middle School have chosen their favorite titles from the books presented during this year's Cafe Book program.

Top Pick:

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans
Michael Vey seems like an ordinary teenager, but he has a unique power. After his mother is kidnapped he and his friends have to find his mother and fight the hunters to save other kids with the same powers.

 

Other Favorites:

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson Apothecary by Maile Meloy Cold Cereal by Adam Rex

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs Curveball: The Year I Lost my Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Apothecary by Maile Meloy

Cold Cereal by Adam Rex

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Curveball: The Year I Lost my Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde

What's wrong with this story:

A father tells the authorities his daughter can do impossible things AND the authorities believe him. 
A soon-to-be bride promises to give her future baby away to a TROLL. 
Said bride agrees to marry the man who's threatened to kill her if she can't keep doing the impossible. 
What would a troll do with a baby anyhow, and why would he give her all that spun gold for a tiny ring? 
Why doesn't the heroine do ANYTHING to get herself out of this predicament?!

This old fairy tale is such a ridiculous story that the author wanted to fix it. So Vivian Vande Velde set out to do so six different ways in The Rumpelstiltskin Problem. The characters never come out the same in these retellings. The troll in "A Fairy Tale in Bad Taste" has gruesome appetites. "Straw Into Gold" has our beauty and her father resorting to an elaborate con game to keep from starving to death in the days before Social Security or insurance.

Legend by Marie Lu

Legend by Marie Lu
Following The Hunger Games is a tall order, but many authors are jumping onto the dystopic bandwagon these days with some spectacular results. As this is the first book in a planned trilogy (with movie rights!) and #3 on the 2012 YALSA Teens' Top Ten list, Legend by Marie Lu is a must-read that both guys and girls will enjoy.
 
Author Lu takes us to a future where the U.S. has been torn apart. A western portion of the country, the Republic, has broken away and battles for independence from the Colonies. The Republic is essentially a dictatorship, with sharp distinctions between the haves and have-nots and frequent outbreaks of the plague. Meanwhile, all teens in the Republic must endure a Trial. If they pass, they are trained to enter the military and support the war effort. If they fail, they enter "labor camps," which turn out to be something even more horrible.

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

He was happy enough to share his dinner with the lanky man as they were both seekers. He sought the beauty of the Wisconsin countryside in the early autumn. The fellow who sat down beside him, his wool shirt buttoned tight though the day was a warm one, sought the relief of his misery in the beginning of The Illustrated Man, a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury.

At last he stripped off his shirt in the heat.

"…he was a riot of rockets and fountains and people, in such intricate detail and color that you could hear the voices murmuring small and muted, from the crowds that inhabited his body. When his flesh twitched, the tiny mouths flickered, the tiny green-and-gold eyes winked and the tiny hands gestured. There were yellow meadows and blue rivers and mountains and stars and suns and planets spread in a Milky Way across his chest. The people themselves were in twenty or more odd groups upon his arms, shoulders, back, sides, and wrists, as well as on the flat of his stomach. You found them in forests of hair, lurking among a constellation of freckles, or peering from armpit caverns, diamond eyes aglitter. Each seemed intent upon his own activity; each was a separate gallery portrait."

He was an Illustrated Man, he explained tiredly. A witch from the past and future had stitched the glowing colors into his flesh forty years ago. He had wanted it done so he could always find a job at a carnival, but the pictures, all eighteen of them, came with a curse, and ultimately no traveling show would hire him and no man or woman would be his friend.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

What Lyra enjoyed most was scrambling across the rooftops of Oxford, committed to the serious fun of war that raged amongst the children of all the colleges and the townies in between. There were pummelings with armfuls of rock-hard plums, mud fights, and even the occasional kidnapping. Yet for all of her wild behavior, Lyra was not an ordinary child. She was a lonely, genius child with aristocratic blood in her veins, and every so often some unfortunate young Scholar would be dispatched by the Master of the College to round her up for a hot bath and tedious lessons at the start of The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman.