Remember the Alan Gratz book your grade level read for summer reading? His latest book, Allies, published in October 2019, is the story of one 24-hour period in history: D-Day, June 6, 1944. We usually think about and hear and see the soldiers coming off those boats along the coast of Normandy, France, the bombardment they faced from the Germans, and the incredible loss of life when we learn about D-Day. But the invasion wasn't just getting up onto that beach. Many others were coordinating efforts behind the scenes with paratrooper air drops in the early morning hours, the French Resistance cutting telephone wires and blowing up train tracks, female news reporters and medics who tried to save lives on the beach, and so much more. Gratz weaves the stories of all these characters into his novel about the invasion, giving insight about all the events of that day. As a bonus, listen to Alan Gratz tell about these different events he researched in his own words.
Try this Hogwarts Digital Escape Room created by Sydney Krawiec, Youth Services Librarian at Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, PA. Suitable for Grades 5 and up.
Sepetys writes about those little-known periods of history that really should be brought to light. Her latest book is set in Madrid, Spain in 1957 under the rule of ruthless dictator Francisco Franco. The wealthy flood to this seemingly sunny land in search of a good time while life is anything but for most Spaniards. Eighteen-year-old Daniel has traveled from Texas with his parents, his father - an oil tycoon and his mother who is anxious to visit the country of her birth. Daniel’s father expects him to enter the family business, but Daniel’s passion is photography and he sets out to capture the heart of Spain in photos and win a college art scholarship. Ana is a maid at the Hilton Hotel where Daniel’s family is staying and is assigned to “serve” his family. Her father was killed and her mother imprisoned by Franco for working with the resistance movement. Trying to keep her head down, she needs this job to support her siblings, but she finds herself trying to help Daniel with his photography and eventually getting drawn into dangerous activities, losing her job. Mystery, the dark side of this period of Spain’s history, and forbidden romance all make this novel a delicious read for high school students.
The longest Muiriel has stayed in one foster care placement is eleven months. That was in 3rd grade, when the mom and dad wanted to adopt her. But Muir couldn’t stand being the only child in the house, which led to the inability to sleep, and eventually, a move to a new foster home. Since then, Muir has asked to leave a home whenever things have gotten too comfortable.
Now 17-years-old, Muir is taken to Francine’s, a 60ish-year-old woman who lives alone on an island thirty minutes from Seattle. Muir’s social worker, Joellen, asks Muir to try her best to last her entire senior year in this home before she ages out of foster care. Likewise, Joellen has asked Francine to take in just one more teen before retiring from foster care parenting. What will it take to keep Muir in one place for a year? And what can Francine provide that other foster parents could not?
Twelve-year-old Olympia is a budding artist. That’s no surprise since her father restores art pieces with his business partner, Apollo, and her mother is a sculptor. Ollie lives a pretty normal life in SoHo (New York City) in 1981 when her life falls apart. Her dad leaves in the middle of the night leaving only a cryptic message for Ollie, her mom has gone to bed and won’t get up, and there are strangers knocking at the door inquiring about a missing piece of art. Ollie knows the answer to this mystery lies with her father, if she could only find him. Hiding her problems from best friends Alex and Richard, she manages to get herself to school, complete projects, exist on cans of soup, and try to solve the mystery, all while begging her mother to get up. It isn’t until tragedy strikes the neighborhood that Ollie learns she can’t solve the problems on her own. This story of friendship will appeal to any student artist as well as middle school students who may have a family member dealing with depression.
Liv’s older brother shot himself. It was an accident. Always the dare devil, Jonah picked up the gun, pointed it at his head, and pulled the trigger. Now he is in a vegetative state with round the clock care by a team of nurses, Dr. Kate, Liv and their mother. Jonah’s friend and neighbor, Clay, tried to stop Jonah from playing around with the gun that belonged to Clay’s father. Now the neighboring families are caught in a lawsuit over negligence and payment for skyrocketing medical bills, and Liv finds herself falling for Clay – the enemy.
Summer vacation, and twelve-year-old Leah is feeling lost. Ever since her life changed drastically the year before, her friends have abandoned her and her parents seem to no longer be able to parent. They are just as lost. At first, Leah spends her long, lonely days in bed, in front of the TV, in her pajamas. When Leah finally decides to get dressed and leave the house, she heads to a favorite quiet place, only to find it occupied by a new girl, Jasper. Despite appearing to be a confident fourteen-year-old, there is something mysterious about Jasper. Leah soon discovers Jasper is just as lost as her own family. As Leah learns part of Jasper’s secret, they form a deep friendship. But when Leah is forced to tell her parents Jasper’s story, it doesn’t look like the friendship can survive.
It started with a pen pal assignment when Caitlin was 12 years old, living in Pennsylvania. She had to pick a country, and unlike her classmates, she decided to pick a country she knew nothing about – Zimbabwe. Her letter went to 14-year-old Martin, because he was the top student in his class in Mutare, Zimbabwe. And so began a letter-writing relationship that lasted many years. Caitlin was from an American family that never had to do without education or food. Martin’s family on the other hand, didn’t always have the money it took to send him to school. Food was scarce and the Ganda’s home was just the opposite of Caitlin’s. When Martin finally shares the struggles of his family, explaining he has to wait until he earns money for a postage stamp before he can send a letter, Caitlin’s family jumps into motion providing money for food, rent and Martin’s education. Chapters alternate between the two teens’ perspectives, but the bond that forms between the two families is genuine and provides life-changing opportunities for a teen from Zimbabwe.
Are you looking for a good fantasy series? The Seven Realms series might be what you are looking for. The Demon King, the first of 4 books set in the Queendom of the Fells, stars Han Alister and Princess Raisa. Han is in trouble after confiscating a magical amulet that he learns has an evil history and once belonged to the Demon King, who almost succeeded in destroying the world 1,000 years ago. Princess Raisa, raised in tightly controlled court life that feels like a cage, is determined to break out and save her starving and rebellious people. Meanwhile, the wizards’ power is growing. The two main characters, leading very different lives, team up to save Fellsmarch from destruction.
Mercy Wong has faced discrimination and poverty living in San Francisco’s Chinatown her entire 15 years. Determined to get the best education possible, she sets her sights on an all-white girl’s school, St. Clare’s, and manages to get accepted with a little bit of deceit and bribery. More discrimination by the school’s wealthy white girls rules each day, until the historic San Francisco earthquake of 1906 destroys the school, the city and Mercy’s home. Now, all the girls are on an even playing field as they must wait in the local park for days to reunite with any surviving family members. But Mercy isn’t good at waiting, especially when fires are raging and collapsed buildings and roads are everywhere. Always self-driven, Mercy sets out to help restore order and help those who are suffering, drawing forth admiration from those who formerly handed out only discrimination.