unRequired Reading Blog

The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley

Cover to The Great Good Thing

There are many fantasy books that lead you to other places filled with wizards, royalty, and magical creatures. They provide an escape for their readers.  But what if the characters wanted to escape?  The Great Good Thing, by Roderick Townley, is about a princess who wants something more out of her fairy tale life—if only she can get the chance.  

For ages and ages, no one had opened the book. Just as Sylvia sat weeping in boredom by the edge of the lake, pleading for something to happen, a fan of light began opening in a corner of the sky, sending flashes of color across the water. "Rawwwk! Reader!" screamed an orange bird. "Boooook open! Ooopen! Boook open!" groaned a bullfrog.

The Magic Circle by Donna Jo Napoli

The Magic Circle

"Don't you love it, Mother? We can shut our eyes and pretend we live in a candy house. All candy. Everywhere."

The Ugly One in The Magic Circle by Donna Jo Napoli remembered how her child loved sweets. Asa was beautiful, and her mother tried to give her all the beauty she could though they were poor.

She worked as a midwife in the village where she was accepted for her healing gifts. She took simple things in exchange for her services: some food, a bit of wool, or perhaps a lovely ribbon for Asa's hair.

The hunchbacked woman was simply good, happy knowing that her talents were used to help others. Yet her neighbor Bala knew they would be rich if she could persuade the Ugly One to drive the demons from the burgermeister's son. The Ugly One protested. She was a midwife, an herbal healer sometimes, nothing more than God wished her to be. But when she saw the boy, yellowed and dying from a tormenting demon, she believed that God had given her another path.

In Darkness by Nick Lake

Cover of In Darkness by Nick Lake

"In Darkness I count my blessings like Manman taught me.
      One: I am alive,
      Two: there is no two."

In Darkness, by Nick Lake, is set in Haiti immediately after the devastating earthquake of 2010. It is the story of Shorty, a boy who has grown up in a violent slum of Port-au-Prince called The Site. But Shorty's life is somehow interwoven with the spirit of Touissant l'Ouverture, visionary leader of Haiti's slave revolution of 1791 to 1803.

The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

Darcy Jones has been bouncing from foster home to foster home around Chicago for most of her short life. She remembers nothing from her early childhood. She has finally managed to spend more than a year with a foster parent and finally has some friends at her high school.

Little does Darcy know that there is an alternate world just like this one as well as an alternate Chicago. But in that world, the Great Chicago Fire never happened. In that world, The Shadow Society remains a deadly threat.

When a mysterious new boy at school, Conn McCrea, captures Darcy’s attention... her heart soon follows. She is about to find out though that Conn is from that alternate world, and so is she.

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel

There's that familiar anecdote: a child gets a nice, big, expensive toy for his birthday. The parents have spent hours putting it together,. For all of their sweat, pain, and suffering they find that the child is most fascinated with the big cardboard box the toy came in.

Cardboard, by Doug TenNapel, is a clever variation on that premise. Mike, an out-of-work carpenter, has nothing for his son Cam's birthday. A strange old man approaches him with an offer. For just a handful of change, Mike can get his son an amazing gift. It may seem like an ordinary cardboard box, but whatever Cam makes out of the corrugated paper pulp comes to life.

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Seventeen-year-old Alex has had a rough time lately in Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick. First her parents tragically pass away in a helicopter accident, and then she is diagnosed with a brain tumor, which she dubs “the monster.” Fed up with managing the monster and all of its side effects like losing her sense of smell, she escapes to a campsite for a few days to think about her options. And then the whole world is turned upside down by an electromagnetic pulse that leaves much of the population dead or changed into flesh-eating zombies.

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.