Three Rancheros: a series by Kate DiCamillo

Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2019

The third in a trilogy about three friends, Beverly, Right Here tells the story of fourteen-year-old Beverly who runs away from home and gets a job in a neighbouring town.

Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2016

The first in the series was Raymie Nightingale, about a girl who misses her father, who hopes if only she can win a beauty contest, he will come home.

Somerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press, 2018

The second story was Louisiana’s Way Home in which the main character’s grandmother wakes her in the middle of the night to tell her they’re leaving town right now and never coming back.

Three elegantly written novels, set in Florida, with a consistent theme:
Life is not always the way it should be. Your parents may not have enough energy or interest to properly care for you. The people you depend on may not always be dependable. You probably will have to make important decisions all on your own. But there is hope. Someone will come along – even if only for a moment – to give you words of encouragement and wisdom. Life will never be the way you’d hoped it would be, but it will still be good. And remember: you are loved.

Highly recommended for readers 10 to 14 years old.

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How I Became a Spy

Hopkinson, Deborah. How I Became a Spy. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2019.
In World War 2 London, thirteen-year-old Bertie tries to solve a mystery: what has happened to the owner of a coded notebook? Eleanor, an American girl, and David, a Jewish refugee, join him and his dog Little Roo as they race to prevent a double agent from telling secrets to the Nazis. Told from the first-person point of view, this surprisingly cheerful story will appeal to readers 11 to 13 years of age.

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Two Roads

Bruchac, Joseph. Two Roads. New York: Puffin Books, 2019.
Twelve-year-old Cal and his father, homeless, travel across America by rail. It’s 1932, in the middle of the Great Depression, and countless poverty-stricken men are clambering onto freight trains, hoping not to be caught by the guards. But Cal is caught – by a surprise. His father tells him that they are Creek Indians. And now he is going to join a demonstration in Washington, D.C. to defend the rights of World War I veterans, so Cal is being dropped off in Oklahoma to stay at a residential school for native Americans.  Joseph Bruchac, author of numerous novels and picture books, skilfully tells a story of grief and hope. Recommended for readers 11 years old and up.

Note: All books published by Puffin are well-written. All stories by Joseph Bruchac are worth reading.

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The Explorer

(Div. 6-3: Do the work listed in this page: Jan. 13)

Rundell, Katherine. The Explorer. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017.
Fred, Con, Lila and Max were supposed to be flying from Brazil to England. But their plane has crashed into the Amazon rainforest. They’re all alone. Except for the snakes and the monkeys and the caimans. Except for an explorer hiding in a ruined city deep within the jungle.  More fast-paced than Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson and more fantastical than Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, this wildly adventurous tale will appeal to readers 10 to 14 years old looking for a new survival story. 

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All of Katherine Rundell’s novels are full of mysterious events. If you like stories that mix the possibly-real with the truly-real, read more of her stories. Then, if you are at least 12 years old, try novels by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

The Triumphant Tale of the House Sparrow

Thornhill, Jan. The Triumphant Tale of the House Sparrow. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2018.
For over 100 years, little brown house sparrows have been at home here in British Columbia. They enjoy living near people, near a steady supply of food. So it is not surprising that over 10,000 years ago, when people started settling down and growing grain in the Middle East, sparrows started settling down, too, making their homes inside human dwellings. As human settlements spread, the house sparrow travelled along until now it can be found almost all around the world.
Jan Thornhill, acclaimed Canadian author and illustrator, tells the story of this lowly bird in a fascinating and exquisite picture book accompanied by a world map, a life cycle chart, a glossary, a list of other wild animals that live near people, and a list of related websites. Too detailed to be a read-aloud but highly recommended for curious readers – 11 years old and up – as a book to not only borrow but buy!

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The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts

Avi. The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts: being an absolutely accurate autobiographical account of my follies, fortune, and fate: written by himself. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Young Readers, 2017.
In 1724 England, life is perilous. Twelve-year-old Oliver’s mother died when he was born. His older sister moved from their home in Melcombe Regis, Dorset to the big city of London. And now his father has mysteriously disappeared in the middle of the night. Oliver is on the run, escaping the cruelty of the poorhouse. Quickly-paced in an old-fashioned swashbuckling style, this 313-page novel by the inimitable Avi will undoubtedly appeal to adventure lovers 11 years old and up.

Avi. The End of the World and Beyond: Continues The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts: Being an Absolutely Accurate Autobiographical Account of my Follies, Fortune & Fate Written by Himself. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Young Readers, 2019.
In this sequel, Oliver suffers the horrors of transport from England to America before being sold into servitude to a violent man and set to work with a black slave in the fields outside the town of Annapolis. How will Oliver survive? Will he escape? Will he ever be reunited with his sister and father? Full of historical details, this action-packed novel will appeal to readers whether or not they have read the previous novel.

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A Wolf Called Wander

Parry, Rosanne. A Wolf Called Wander. New York: Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2019.
Heart of a Shepherd , about the son of a soldier in Iraq, and Written in Stone , about an indigenous girl during the 1920s, are hauntingly memorable novels by Rosanne Parry: easy to read but hard to forget. A Wolf Called Wander is another remarkable story by the same author. This time, the protagonist is a wolf, Swift, who is separated from his pack and forced to find a new home far from his old territory. Based on the true story of a wolf who travelled 1,000 miles throughout the Pacific Northwest, this first person account – told from Swift’s point of view – will appeal to animal lovers and environmentalists 10 to 15 years old. A map and additional information about wolves and other animals of the Pacific Northwest are included at the end of the novel. 

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