My Brother Charlie

Peete, Holly Robinson and Ryan Elizabeth Peete. My Brother Charlie. New York: Scholastic Press, 2010.

A heartwarming story about a brother with autism. In an afterword by the authors, the mother and twin sister of an autistic boy tell more about their own real-life experiences. Illustrated by acclaimed illustrator Shane W. Evans, this picture book is highly recommended for children 5 to 12 years old.

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My Brother’s Secret

Smith, Dan. My Brother’s Secret. New York: Chicken House, 2015.

Set in 1941 Germany, this story depicts the changes that happen when twelve-year-old Karl realizes that life is not so simple. After his father is killed on the Eastern Front and his family goes to live with his grandparents, he starts to see life differently. Is Hitler really a hero? Are the Nazis noble soldiers? Is his older brother Stefan’s decision to join an underground movement courageous? Does he himself have the courage to stand up against everything he has been taught at school? This novel by an award-winning British writer is recommended for readers 12 years old and up.

P.S. Every novel published by Chicken House is worth checking out. Every story is well-written and memorable for its hope in the face of hardships. 

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North to Benjamin

Cumyn, Alan. North to Benjamin. New York: Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2018.
Edgar is eleven years old. Not only enough to live on his own. But his mother has problems, which don’t disappear even once they move to Dawson, Yukon to start again. Only a dog named Benjamin is able to help rescue Edgar from certain disaster. This heart-breaking yet hope-filled novel by an award-winning Canadian writer is recommended for readers 11 to 16 years old.

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Houndsley and Catina and Cousin Wagster

Howe, James. Houndsley and Catina and Cousin Wagster. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2018.
Houndsley enthusiastically welcomes his adventurous cousin Wagster. But his feelings start to deflate when his best friend Catina turns her attentions to fun-loving Wagster. What will happen? Will Wagster ruin everything? This heart-warming story illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay is sure to appeal to readers 4 to 8 years old. 

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Dark Hours

Pausewang, Gudrun. Dark Hours. Toronto: Annick Press, 2006.
Sixteen-year-old Gisel and her younger siblings flee Russian soldiers during a cold winter in World War 2. Trapped underground after an air raid, Gisel calls on all her courage and ingenuity to enable them to survive. Brilliantly written by an award-winning German author and translated by John Brownjohn, this young adult novel is highly recommended for competent readers 12 years old and up.

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