When Mr. Dog Bites

All seventeen-year-old Dylan Mint wants is to keep his Tourette’s in check and live as a normal teen, but during a routine hospital visit he overhears that he is going to die, and in an attempt to claim the life he has always wanted he makes a list of “Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It” and sets out to have some fun.

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

My Name Is Blessing

Based on a true story about a young Kenyan boy whose mother left him but had named him Muthini which meant suffering because he was born with no fingers on his left hand and only two on his right. Many times he was made fun of or avoided which hurt him deeply. He lives with his very elderly grandmother, his Nyanya, along with many cousins whose parents had either died or left them. They are extremely poor and there is never enough money or food, but plenty of love. A difficult choice must be made and Muthini is the youngest child and needs to have a better chance in life, so his Nyanya takes him to an orphanage where he is blessed and his name is changed to Baraka which means blessing for he was a blessing just as his grandmother always knew.

Bluefish

Thirteen-year-old Travis has a secret: he can’t read. But a shrewd teacher and a sassy girl are about to change everything in this witty and deeply moving novel. Travis is missing his old home in the country, and he’s missing his old hound, Rosco. Now there’s just the cramped place he shares with his well-meaning but alcoholic grandpa, a new school, and the dreaded routine of passing when he’s called on to read out loud. But that’s before Travis meets Mr. McQueen, who doesn’t take “pass” for an answer—a rare teacher whose savvy persistence has Travis slowly unlocking a book on the natural world. And it’s before Travis is noticed by Velveeta, a girl whose wry banter and colorful scarves belie some hard secrets of her own. With sympathy, humor, and disarming honesty, Pat Schmatz brings to life a cast of utterly believable characters—and captures the moments of trust and connection that make all the difference.

The Art Of Miss Chew

Describes how a teacher named Miss Chew encouraged individuality, and accepted learning differences, and helped a young student with academic difficulties get extra time to take tests and permission to be in advanced art classes. Inspired by the author’s memories of her art teacher.

Out Of My Mind

Melody has a photographic memory. She remembers everything that has ever happened to her in precise, exact detail—from the words to a song she once heard when she was little to what she ate for a typical mundane breakfast. She also knows thousands and thousands of facts. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always—and there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school—but, NO ONE knows because she has virtually no way of communicating. Melody has cerebral palsy. All most people see is a special needs kid–never suspecting that trapped inside this eleven-year old girl is more information and insight than they ever imagined. Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is until she discovers a computerized talking device that will allow her communicate for the first time ever. A dream come true! At last, she’s able to talk, to be in a regular classroom, and have regular conversations! Melody even joins the Whiz Kids Quiz Team—and becomes one of their most valuable members. She’s showing everyone what she is really capable of and surprising even herself with the power of her computerized voice. But, what if people—teachers, classmates, friends—don’t want Melody to succeed? And what if Melody’s new voice isn’t loud enough to be heard over all her difficulties? From multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Melody is learning to communicate with the world…and teaching the world how to communicate with her. If you are brave enough, strong enough, if you can bear to listen, hers is a story you need to hear.

See the review at WOW Review Volume 5, Issue 4

Wonderstruck

Playing with the form he created in his trailblazing debut novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey. Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother’s room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing. Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories–Ben’s told in words, Rose’s in pictures–weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder. Rich, complex, affecting, and beautiful–with over 460 pages of original artwork–Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary.

See the review at WOW Review Volume 5, Issue 4

Wonder

I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse. August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

See the review at WOW Review Volume 5, Issue 4

Waiting For No One

Taylor Jane Simon is an eighteen-year-old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome who has a refreshingly different view of the people she encounters and the life she wants to have. Young adult readers will identify with Taylor’s struggle for independence and self-control, and empathize as she outlines the ways—both positive and negative– that her Asperger’s Syndrome affects her daily life. Connecting with a play by Samuel Beckett, Taylor explores a fear of solitary existence while reaching out to a world at times perplexing. Most important, Taylor wants to be seen as an individual, not as a stereotypical “person with special needs,” or a rare wild flower—images that haunt her from the past. A cameo performance by Taylor’s new gerbil — Harold Pinter– adds further emphasis to themes of existentialism and humour.

See the review at WOW Review Volume 5, Issue 4