Desmond and the Very Mean Word

When Desmond takes his new bicycle out for a ride through his neighborhood, his pride and joy turn to hurt and anger when a group of boys shout a very mean word at him. He first responds by shouting an insult, but soon discovers that fighting back with mean words doesn’t make him feel any better. With the help of kindly Father Trevor, Desmond comes to understand his conflicted feelings and see that all people deserve compassion, whether or not they say they are sorry. Brought to vivid life in A. G. Ford’s energetic illustrations, this heartfelt, relatable story conveys timeless wisdom about how to handle bullying and angry feelings, while seeing the good in everyone.

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen

 Thirteen-year-old Henry’s happy, ordinary life comes to an abrupt halt when his older brother, Jesse, picks up their father’s hunting rifle and leaves the house one morning. What follows shatters Henry’s family, who are forced to resume their lives in a new city, where no one knows their past. When Henry’s therapist suggests he keep a journal, at first he is resistent. But soon he confides in it at all hours of the day and night.

In spite of Henry’s desire to “fly under the radar,” he eventually befriends a number of oddball character, both at school and in his modest apartment building. And even though they know nothing about his past–at least, not yet–they help him navigate the waters of life after “IT.”

 

 

Fishtailing

Teen violence, bullying and the burning quest to fit in are presented in the poems of four unforgettable high school students: Natalie, Kyle, Tricia, Miguel. Their stories unfold in this explosive new book told in free verse. A story of teen angst like no other, it is based on fictional characters but is rooted in the realities of the teen experience. When Natalie moves to a new high school she befriends three unwitting victims into her spider-web of manipulations, lies and deceit. Through the poetry and assignments of an English class we glimpse the world of the four teens. Natalie, whose alcoholic parents, years of neglect and ultimate rape by her father’s friend has shaped her into a cruel and manipulative teen; Tricia, dealing with her blended family, is drawn into Natalies’ forbidden world of partying and rebellion; Kyle, a would-be musician is in love with Tricia and Miguel who lusts for Natalie while hiding the secrets of his family. The story weaves us through their poetry, their lives and culminates at a party where the four lives fishtail out of control. English class will never be the same.

Inside Out And Back Again

No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama. For all the ten years of her life, HÀ has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by . . . and the beauty of her very own papaya tree. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. HÀ and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, HÀ discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape . . . and the strength of her very own family. This is the moving story of one girl’s year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 4, Issue 3

Desperate Measures

Vicky has always felt responsible for her mentally disabled twin sister, Rhianna, and their feisty little brother, Jamie. So when the foster care system threatens to split them up, they all run away together, heading for a distant relativeÕs home. After a difficult journey, they arriveÑonly to find strangers living there. With nowhere else to go, they hide in a cave, and must survive by their wits. By the end of their adventure, Vicky is surprised to find that the sister she thought she was protecting is the one who saves her. This touching, funny, fast-paced novel was short listed for the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize. Vicky and Rhianna’s engaging dual-perspective narration offers a refreshing view of people with disabilities, and their wild adventure and fierce family bond will resonate with readers.

Fatty Legs

The moving memoir of an Inuit girl who emerges from a residential school with her spirit intact.Eight-year-old Margaret Pokiak has set her sights on learning to read, even though it means leaving her village in the high Arctic. Faced with unceasing pressure, her father finally agrees to let her make the five-day journey to attend school, but he warns Margaret of the terrors of residential schools.At school Margaret soon encounters the Raven, a black-cloaked nun with a hooked nose and bony fingers that resemble claws. She immediately dislikes the strong-willed young Margaret. Intending to humiliate her, the heartless Raven gives gray stockings to all the girls — all except Margaret, who gets red ones. In an instant Margaret is the laughing stock of the entire school.In the face of such cruelty, Margaret refuses to be intimidated and bravely gets rid of the stockings. Although a sympathetic nun stands up for Margaret, in the end it is this brave young girl who gives the Raven a lesson in the power of human dignity.Complemented by archival photos from Margaret Pokiak-Fenton’s collection and striking artwork from Liz Amini-Holmes, this inspiring first-person account of a plucky girl’s determination to confront her tormentor will linger with young readers.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 4, Issue 2