My Cousin’s Keeper

When the odd new kid at school turns out to be his cousin, Kieran feels embarrassed and resentful. But how far will he let the bullying go? Eleven-year-old Kieran wants to be part of the “in” group at school. He wants to be on the soccer team. He wants to fit in. But then his weird cousin Bon turns up, both at school and at home. Bon knows nothing about fitting in, with his long blond braid, babyish hand-knit hat, and funny, precise voice. Bon doesn’t play sports, and he likes to draw imaginary maps with stories about “Bon the Crusader” and “Kieran the Brave.” He’s an easy target for teasing, and Kieran has little patience for him. Even more irritating, Bon’s only friend is the other new kid, a cool girl named Julia who wears cowboy boots and has a confidence that fascinates Kieran. What could she and Bon possibly have in common? With unflinching honesty, My Cousin’s Keeper takes on childhood jealousy, family secrets, and unexpected kindness.

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

When We Wuz Famous

Francisco Ortiz, a handsome straight-A student and gifted basketball player from the barrio, wins a full scholarship to an elite boarding school. His future seems promising. But soon after Francisco moves into the dorm, his new classmates assume the worst of him: they pepper him with questions about drugs and gangs. It’s all so confusing, made even more complicated when Francisco realizes that back home in the hood, he no longer fits in, though his friends still rely on him to solve their problems. In a desperate attempt to help one of his homies, Francisco makes a terrible decision and becomes everything he fought so hard to rise against. Novel adaptation of the author’s feature film, “Up with me.”

I Am Thomas

The author of “Mahtab’s Story” and the author of “The Island “team up to bring young readers another powerful social justice-related work–an inspiring, thought-provoking picture book about finding one’s way in the world “”You must do as you’re told.”””” “”Let the army make you a man.”””” “”Your country needs your vote.”” As the voices in his life crowd in on him, Thomas looks for another way, refusing to conform to the expectations and demands of family and community. A loner, Thomas refuses to feel lonely, an inspiring choice in this masterful tale of questioning authority and resisting oppression. Powerful illustrations and a spare text make a parable of Thomas’s journey, which reflects the courage we all need to find our passion and be ourselves.

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

The Price Of Loyalty

When Manny moves on to Raleigh Middle School, he’s relieved that he’ll be with his other Latino friends from elementary school. Hanging out with his vatos is great; but before Manny knows it, kids are calling the clique the Emperors and saying that they are a gang. Gradually Alex, whose older brother is in prison, starts calling the shots; and the pressure is on Manny ”first to shave his head and eventually to get drugs for the vatos. Close calls with the authorities become more and more frequent, and Manny can see where it’s all headed. Does he have the guts to turn his back on his oldest friends so he can keep clean? This riveting novel about peer pressure and core values highlights a hot-button topic.

The F Factor

Javier Avila has a feeling tenth grade is going to be interesting. Forget the fact that everybody says sophomore year is so dull even the teachers get bored, and that at St. Peters High School sophomores are considered nobodies. But not Javier, because hes chosen against his will to be the first anchorman for the schools new program to televise school announcements. Javier wants the Media Broadcasting elective on his schedule to be a mistake. Hes a busy honor student who has spent years trying to live up to his smart-guy reputation, and he doesn’t have time for a useless class. And besides, who would choose to look stupid in front of the whole school every morning? And to make matters worse, the unconventional media teacher pairs Javier with Pat Berlanga, a guy who’d rather nap than talk. Javier is afraid to fail publicly, especially when he works so hard to hide his flaws from his friends and family. When everybody watches Javier Avila on the screen, will they see the face of a fraud?

I Lost My Mobile at the Mall

Elly Pickering is dreading telling her parents thats shes lost her mobile phone again what with the Global Financial crisis and everything. But losing her mobile is just the beginning. A series of technological happenings and manipulations leads Elly to question her priorities, her friendships, and Will, her fabulous she thought boyfriend. Is she facing certain social death? Or can a technological breakdown sometimes be kind of a good thing?