Restart by Gordon Korman

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“‘It’s the craziest feeling. I remember how to remember, but when I actually try to do it, I’m a blank. I’m like a computer with its hard drive wiped clean. You can reboot it and the operating system works fine. But when you look for a document or file to open, nothing’s there.

Not even my own name.”

Korman, Gordon. Restart.  Scholastic, 2017. 243 pages. Hardcover. $16.99, ISBN 978-1-338-05377-7

What if you couldn’t remember your whole life – all thirteen years of it? What if people acted really strange when they were near you, like almost afraid of you? What if you found out that you were responsible for doing some really awful things? What if you weren’t that person any more and had a second chance to be better? That’s what happened to Chase. The new Chase wouldn’t dream of doing the things the old Chase did. The new Chase has made friends with some of the very people he bullied in the past. But – has he really changed? Can he make the right decisions? Will he make the most of his second chance? You’ll have to read to find out. I loved everything about this story. It will make you laugh and it will make you mad. I was rooting for Chase, will you be?

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When by Victoria Laurie

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“‘I’m not exactly sure when I first started seeing the numbers. My earliest memories are filled with snatches of familiar and unfamiliar faces, each with a set of small black digits floating like shadows just above their foreheads.

Laurie, Victoria. When.  Hyperion, 2015. 323 pages. Hardcover. $17.99, ISBN 978-148470008-2

Maddie can see numbers on people’s foreheads. She can see them if she gets close enough. She can see them in a photo. The first time she knew what those numbers really meant was the day her father died. That’s when she knew she was seeing the person’s death date. After her father died, her mother started drinking – heavily –  and lost her job. To make extra money, her mom hires Maddie out reading death dates for people. This has gotten her the title of witch at school. She has one true friend – Stubby – who stands by her no matter what. Things start to go really bad when Maddie predicts the death date of a boy who goes missing and is later found dead. The FBI are called in and think that Maddie had something to do with it.  When Maddie sees that the death date of a cheerleader that Stubby has a crush on is the following week, Stubby tries to warn her. When she goes missing and is later found dead, the FBI start looking at Stubby. There is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence against Stubby – it is all explainable – but still enough for Stubby to be arrested and put into jail. Will Maddie be next? Can she convince the FBI that she and Stubby aren’t involved? What about the real serial killer?
HRS Black-Eyed Susan

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When is a Grades 6-9 nominee for the 2016-2017 Black Eyed Susan Award. For more information go to the Maryland Association of School Librarians.

 

 

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Almost Home by Joan Bauer

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“I sighed. Sugar isn’t the easiest name to be slapped with, I’ll tell you. I was supposed to get named Susannah. I was supposed to be born in a hospital, too, but my whole life started as one big surprise when I got born in the back of a Chevy in the parking lot of the Sugar Shack in Baton Rouge in a rainstorm so bad, my parents couldn’t make it to the hospital. When I popped out and Reba saw the Sugar Shack sign, she felt it was a sign from God; right then I got my name. At least God told her to stop at Sugar. Sugar Shack Cole would have been a chore to live with. As for Mr. Leeland, he got the thrill of helping me be born, and believe me, he hasn’t done squat to help since.”

Bauer, Joan. Almost Home.  Viking, 2012. 264 pages. Hardcover. $16.99, ISBN 978-0-670-01289-3

Sugar Cole calls her parents Reba and Mr. Leeland. Mr. Leeland has a gambling problem and is gone way more than he’s around. He also spends more of Sugar and her mom’s money than he contributes. Sugar Cole is a character – she is always writing – and she never forgets all the advice her grandpa gave her over the years before his death. She is strong and doesn’t let the bullying at school get her down. She befriends her English teacher, Mr. Bennett, who encourages her to keep writing and is always lifting her up (don’t we all need someone like that?). Reba and Sugar get evicted from their home and find themselves in a new town and homeless. This is the breaking point for Reba and she ends up in the hospital. Sugar ends up in a foster home and learns what it’s like to live in a stable environment. She loves her new home but she loves her mom. You’ll have to read for yourself to see what happens. I think you’ll like it. This story is full of letters and e-mails written by Sugar, Mr. B, and her mom. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. Give it a try.

 

Want to watch an interview with Joan Bauer? Here it is:

 “Almost. It’s a big word for me. I feel it everywhere. Almost home. Almost happy. Almost changed. Almost, but not quite. Not yet. Soon, maybe.” 
― Joan BauerAlmost Home

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Schooled by Gordon Korman

HRS Schooled

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“‘I was thirteen the first time I saw a police officer up close. He was arresting me for driving without a license. At the time, I didn’t even know what a license was. I wasn’t too clear on what being arrested meant either.”

Korman, Gordon. Schooled.  Disney-Hyperion, 2008. 224 pages. Paperback. $5.99, ISBN 978-1423105169

Cap – short for Capricorn – has always lived on Garland Farm Commune, population two, with his grandmother, Rain. The only time he has left the farm is to pick up supplies. When Rain falls out of a tree and has to go to rehab, Cap is forced to live with a social worker, Florimunda, who just happened to live at the commune as a child. Cap is also enrolled in middle school for the first time ever. Imagine Cap – long hair – tye-dyed t-shirts – homemade sandals – being thrown into middle school. He’s never eaten pizza, watched TV, or played a video game. He practices tai chi on the school’s front lawn. Zach, big man on campus, is out to get him by getting him elected president, so that he can humiliate him. Can Cap survive middle school? What’s going to happen to him?

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Available in:

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Fight Back by Brent R. Sherrard

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“There are two ways to handle being picked on. One is to lie down and give up. The other is to get angry and fight back. Not against my dad, because he would’ve killed me. But anyone else who ever messed with me only did it once

Sherrard, Brent. Fight Back. James Lorimer & Company Ltd., 2014. 174 pages. Paperback. $9.95, ISBN 1-4594-0858-6

Tyler has had a rough life – really rough. When he was eleven, his mother left with his sister for a drive and never came back. Tyler was left with an angry drunk father who took his anger out on the only person left – Tyler. From here, Tyler was taken in and subsequently kicked out by his grandmother. What now?  Where would Tyler go? Tyler is taken in by the Conley’s who give him something he’s never had before – a safe and loving home. He even starts boxing to help control his anger. Will this be enough? Will he be able to let go of all the anger that has been building up for years? Will he be able to trust this new family? What about his father? Read this awesome book to find out.

 

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Courtesy of Writers Federation of New Brunswick

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Want to learn more about Brent R Sherrard? Click here to learn more.

© Chris Peeler 2013