The Button War

Avi. The Button War. Somerville, Massachusetts. Candlewick Press, 2018.
Anything written by Avi is worth reading. Anything published by Candlewick is worth considering. And this World War I story is absolutely riveting: the animosities among a group of boys in Russian-occupied Poland during the summer of 1914 are revealed by a competition to collect military buttons. This intense 229-page novel is not for readers looking for a light-hearted read but rather for thoughtful readers – 11-years-old and up – who understand how fierce rivalry can lead to betrayal and violence.

More stories set in Europe

More stories about World War 1

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Finding Langston

Dear Reader,

Have you ever felt alone? Have you ever felt misunderstood by those who love you? Have you ever found hope in unexpected places? Then you know how the main character feels in this outstanding novel for readers 9 years old and up. Told in present tense from the first person point of view, the sentences come alive with the cadence of the main character’s Southern speech. If you like stories by Patricia MacLachlan, you will love this 104-page novel. 

Cline-Ransome, Lesa. Finding Langston. New York: Holiday House, 2018.

After the death of his mother in 1946, eleven-year-old Langston moves with his father from Alabama to Chicago. Living in a lonely apartment building and bullied at school, Langston finds refuge in the school library where he discovers the magical poetry of Langston Hughes.

More stories of moving

More stories about bullying

More stories set in the past

More stories about people of African heritage

Poetry by Langston Hughes

A post about the power of poetry

Happy reading!

Ms. R. 

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The Rescuers

Dear Reader,

Do you have time to enjoy a classic novel of courage and adventure? Do you have the imagination to enjoy a tale of brave and noble mice? This 149-page story will capture your heart with its quietly lovely sentences. And the endearing characters will remind you that at any moment you, too, could be called on a mission to selflessly help others. 

Sharp, Margery. The Rescuers. New York: New York Review Books, [2012], c1987.

“Miss Bianca, a white mouse of great beauty and self-confidence, travels with the ambassador’s son to Norway on behalf of the Prisoner’s Aid Society in a perilous mission to rescue a poet imprisoned in the dreadful Black Castle.” – CIP This edition is exquisitely illustrated by Garth Williams, the famed illustrator of countless classic stories. 

More great novels for readers 8 years old and up.

More stories of adventure

Happy reading! 

Ms. R. 

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Peg Kehret

Dear Middle School Reader,

If you like realistic novels,
straight-forward stories that don’t have all sorts of hidden allusions which you are supposed to discover,
if you prefer easy-to-read novels that are filled with action,
you might like stories by Peg Kehret…


 

My favourite novel by Peg Kehret is Escaping the Giant Wave. Thirteen-year-old Kyle and his younger sister have to rescue themselves after a tsunami strikes the Oregon resort where they’re staying with their parents. If you like detailed stories that let you follow – step-by-step – exactly what is happening, you’ll like this realistic novel.

 

 

If you like biographies, you might like these two books. In Small Steps, Peg Kehret describes her childhood fight – when she was in grade seven – against a disease we rarely see today due to life-saving vaccinations.  And in Animals Welcome, she humorously describes some of the animals she has rescued during her adult life. Both of these books are heart-warming and inspiring. You’ll feel happy after reading them!

“No matter how sad you feel, plan something special that you want to do each day, even if it’s only taking a bubble bath or watching a movie. Set a date to visit a friend, or order a book you want to read from the library. Always have something to look forward to.” – Stolen Children   

Happy reading! 

Ms. R. 

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Too Young to Escape

Imagine being left behind when your parents move to another country. That is what happened to young Van. She was left behind when her parents and older siblings fled from the communist rulers in Vietnam. Happily, Van was eventually able to rejoin her family in Canada. 

The large print and widely spaced lines make this 142-page book – illustrated with photographs – easy to read, but the story itself is not so easy to read.  Recommended for brave readers with compassionate hearts.

Ho, Van and Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. Too Young to Escape: A Vietnamese Girl Waits to Be Reunited with Her Family. Toronto: Pajama Press, 2018.

More stories about refugees

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Happy Easter!

Easter is a time to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But Jesus does more than come back to life.  He brings new life for everyone!

Happy Easter! 

Easter Stories

“Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord’s Prayer is about.” – N.T. Wright

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Cinnamon Moon

Dear Reader,

Ailis and her brother are orphans living in a boarding house in Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871.

If you’ve read Sweep by Jonathan Auxier, you’ll remember how children were snatched by unscrupulous men to work as chimney sweeps.  In this novel, children are also enslaved, this time by devious men who force them to work as rat-catchers in the sewers of Chicago. But twelve-year-old Ailis is fiesty and brave. She is determined to save herself and her brother from a grim future. 

Cinnamon Moon is not a difficult novel to read as far the reading level is concerned.  The narration is written in present tense and from the first person point of view, so the story feels up-to-date in its style. Furthermore, the font is a comfortable size and the lines of print are well-spaced. But the story itself is serious and based on historical facts which are explained at the back of the book. However, rather than being discouraging or depressing, this novel is filled with humour and hope. I think the history will interest you and the ending will inspire you.

Hilmo, Tess. Cinnamon Moon. New York: Margaret Ferguson Books/Farrar, Straus Giroux, 2016. 

P.S. Always watch for books by Tess Hilmo: they’re invariably well-written. 

More historical novels

More novels set in specific American states

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