Discussion Starters

aru shah book cover

What about Aru Shah?

This is a question we often get at Redeemed Reader. In fact, there's a whole comment thread asking if we've reviewed it. Part of the ...
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What about the Tuttle Twins?

Are the much-hyped Tuttle Twins books (and curriculum) profitable for Christian families? An education in economic freedom They’re talked up by talk-show hosts and Facebook ...
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Friends Forever by Shannon Hale

Shannon Hale wraps up her "Friends" trilogy with a heartfelt graphic memoir of eighth grade anxiety. Friends Forever by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham. First ...
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Dead Wednesday by Jerry Spinelli

"Dead Wednesday" is supposed to be the day middle-schoolers contemplate their own mortality, but for one 8th-grader it's a turning point in life. Dead Wednesday ...
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J. R. R. Tolkien for Kids by Simonetta Carr

An interactive biographical introduction to Tolkien with 21 activities, J. R. R. Tolkien for Kids is perfect for middle grade Tolkien enthusiasts. J. R. R. ...
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*Steeped in Stories by Mitali Perkins: a Discussion

Steeped in Stories is a winsome, thought-provoking celebration of some beloved classics: a Redeemed Reader discussion. *Steeped in Stories: Timeless Children's Novels to Refresh Our ...
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*Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn McEntyre

Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies makes readers think through how to be better stewards of words. *Caring for Words in a Culture ...
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Reading Afghanistan

For a country many of us can't even point to on a map, Afghanistan has held a consequential place in world history. This mountainous district ...
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On the Hook by Francisco X. Stork

The protagonist of Francisco Stork’s latest novel finds himself “on the hook” when his lust for revenge can’t be satisfied. On the Hook by Francisco ...
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My Tech-Wise Life by Amy Crouch and Andy Crouch

A teen challenges her fellow teens to make smart decisions about technology in My Tech-Wise Life. My Tech-Wise Life: Growing up and Making Choices in ...
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John Klassen and Proverbs: A Guest Post from Sarah Hartman*

John Klassen's Hat trilogy beautifully illustrates timeless truths from the book of Proverbs. I Want My Hat Back (2011), This is Not My Hat (2012), ...
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*Reading and Talking about Sexuality

*Note, this post engages with sexuality and includes conversation and books that are suitable for teens and adults. I was hiking in Europe. A French ...
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America My Love, America My Heart by Daria Riley

America My Love, America My Heart expresses complex emotions about the author's home country. America My Love, America My Heart by Daria Peoples Riley. Greenwillow, ...
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God Made Me for Worship by Jared Kennedy

Author Jared Kennedy uses Isaiah 6 as a model for explaining the liturgy, in God Made Me for Worship God Made Me for Worship: Helping ...
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The Overthrow Series by Kenneth Oppel: Bloom, Hatch, and Thrive

The fast-paced Overthrow sci-fi series by Kenneth Oppel raises interesting questions for young teens. The Overthrow Series by Kenneth Oppel. Knopf Books for Young Readers. ...
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2022 caldecott watercress

Picture Books about Refugees: Watercress, Yang Warriors, and The Suitcase

Two memoirs and one parable show children how to have sympathy for refugees, even within their own family. Watercress by Andrea Yang, illustrated by Jason ...
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Graduation Gift List

Need a graduation gift idea for a new or recent graduate? We've got you covered! 'Tis the season when many young men and women doff ...
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*Surviving Religion 101 by Michael Kruger

With Surviving Religion 101, a Christian father and scholar arms his daughter against attacks on Christianity from skeptical professors and students. *Surviving Religion 101: Letters ...
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*Proverbs For You and Solomon Says: 2 Books for Graduates

Two recent, excellent books on Proverbs offer biblical wisdom and counsel, perfect for new graduates. Note: both of these books target new adults (and up). ...
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Thought-Provoking YA Fantasy

Between the two, The Theft of Sunlight and Into the Heartless Wood take on fairytales, humanity, and the complex web of sex trafficking. Into the ...
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*Tell God How You Feel by Christina Fox

Tell God How You Feel equips parents and teachers to help kids with hard emotions from a biblical framework. *Tell God How You Feel: Helping ...
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*Amber & Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz

Amber & Clay is a fascinating immersion into classic Greek civilization, seen through the eyes of two children, Socrates the sage, and a host of ...
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The One Thing You’d Save by Linda Sue Park

The One Thing You’d Save asks middle-graders in a fictional classroom to consider the value they give material objects. The One Thing You’d Save by ...
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*10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) about Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin

With Christianity increasingly under fire, apologist Rebecca McLaughlin answers 10 questions every young Christian will have to confront. *10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and ...
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Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Ida Mae Jones is a true "flygirl" in this engaging historical fiction read for teens that examines issues of race, coming-of-age, and learning to fly. ...
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Gone to the Woods by Gary Paulsen

Gone to the Woods, Gary Paulsen’s third-person memoir, is the recollection of a gritty early life leavened by common grace. Gone to the Woods: Surviving ...
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Retro Review: *Let Justice Roll Down by John Perkins

The life of John Perkins offers the only true way to justice, reconciliation, and forgiveness for our tragic racist history. *Let Justice Roll Down by ...
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Class Act by Jerry Craft

Class Act picks up right where New Kid left off, offering insight with humor and great art. Class Act by Jerry Craft. Quill Tree Books, ...
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*Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt

Just Like That, Gary Schmidt's latest book for teens, humorously and poignantly explores love and loss. Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion, 2021. ...
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*Catherine’s War by Julia Billet

An excellent new graphic novel translated into English, Catherine's War tells the story of one Jewish girl’s life in occupied France, often through the lens ...
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*Creative God Colorful Us by Trillia Newbell

Creative God Colorful Us invites students to enjoy God's diverse family by loving God and their neighbor and celebrating God's human creation. *Creative God Colorful ...
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Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder

Raw, funny, and honest, Dancing at the Pity Party is a close look at grief after the loss of a mother. Dancing at the Pity ...
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2021 Newbery Buzz #5: Stamped by Jason Reynolds.

Continuing our discussion of possible Newbery winners, we pick up a book that has everybody talking: Janie: Betsy, there are two books that I think ...
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2021 Newbery Buzz #4: Everything Sad Is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri

We've been scanning the starred review lists and listening in on the chatter to tell you about the likely Newbery contenders for this year. So ...
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2021 Newbery Buzz #2: Chirp and The List of Things That Will Not Change

We're continuing our annual "Newbery Buzz" series today with round #2 for 2021. (We discussed King and the Dragonflies earlier this month.) As a reminder, ...
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Engage with Culture: Two Books for Parents

Mama Bear Apologetics and The Pop Culture Parent both aim to help parents interact with the culture surrounding their kids. Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your ...
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2021 Newbery Buzz #1: King and the Dragonflies

Betsy: Readers, we’re kicking off our annual Newbery Buzz discussion series with a book that has already garnered a major award: King and the Dragonflies, ...
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What Happens Next

A debut MG novel tackles eating disorders from the unique perspective of a younger sibling. What Happens Next by Claire Swinarski. HarperCollins, 2020. 256 pages. ...
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Chance: Escape from the Holocaust by Uri Shulevitz

In Chance: Escape from the Holocaust, a Caldecott-winning illustrator recalls his harrowing wartime childhood. Chance: Escape from the Holocaust by Uri Shulevitz. Farrar Strauss Giroux, ...
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Ancient Romans, Alphamaniacs, and Incredible Jobs

Three illustrated non-fiction books share fascinating information about ancient cultures, unusual wordsmiths, and careers you might not have considered. Ancient Romans and Their Neighbors: An ...
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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games Series)

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a disappointing prequel to the thought-provoking Hunger Games series. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins ...
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The Runaways by Ulf Stark

A boy and his crotchety grandfather hatch an elaborate escape plan to enjoy one last day together. The Runaways by Ulf Stark, illustrated by Kitty ...
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PB Roundup: Your Place in the Universe, If You Came to Earth, and I Talk Like a River

Three critically-acclaimed picture books tackle big subjects like the size of the universe, the scope of humanity, and the power of words. Your Place in ...
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*Everything Sad Is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri

In this one-of-a-kind, richly evocative memoir, "Everything Sad" disguises an otherworldly joy. *Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story) by Daniel Nayeri. Levine Querido, 2020, ...
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The Door on Half-Bald Hill by Helena Sorensen

Idris, Bard of Blackthorn, is on a quest for answers in this darkly brooding fantasy for teens and adults. The Door on Half-Bald Hill by ...
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Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley: a Discussion

Fighting Words takes on a difficult topic with a feisty, flawed, brave protagonist. Sometimes a novel appears that seems to require more than a simple ...
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*The View from Saturday by e. l. konigsburg (Book Club Edition)

*The View From Saturday by e. l. konigsburg. Atheneum, 1995. 176 pages. Reading Level: Middle grades, ages 10-12 Recommended For: Middle grades and up, ages ...
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Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson: A Discussion

Sometimes, we just have to "discuss" a book instead of merely write a review of it. Come eavesdrop as Betsy and Megan discuss Adorning the ...
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*Dorothy and Jack by Gina Dalfonzo

An excellent introduction to the friendship between C. S. Lewis and Dorothy Sayers. Dorothy and Jack by Gina Dalfonzo. Baker Books, 2020. 208 pages. Reading ...
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The Winter King by Christine Cohen

The Winter King by Christine Cohen. Cannonball Books, 2019. 360 pages. Reading Level: Young adult/teen, ages 12 and up Recommend For: Ages 12 and up ...
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Is The Kite Runner OK for 10th Graders?

Is The Kite Runner OK for 10th Graders? "My 10th grader has to read The Kite Runner for school. Do you know anything about it? ...
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A Ceiling Made of Eggshells by Gail Carson Levine

A Ceiling Made of Eggshells is popular author Gail Carson Levine’s tribute to her own Sephardic-Jewish heritage. A Ceiling Made of Eggshells by Gail Carson ...
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Four Good Books for Littles

Young children need Truth, and it's never too early to begin. Board Books by Danielle Hitchen, illustrated by Jessica Blanchard. Baby Believer series. First Bible ...
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*When Stars Are Scattered by Omar Mohammed

The new graphic novel When Stars Are Scattered brings the refugee experience into sharp yet sympathetic focus. *When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and ...
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Wink by Rob Harrell

Wink, a highly-praised novel for middle-graders, offers a realistic yet engaging look at coping with cancer. Wink by Rob Harrell. Dial, 2020, 314 pages Reading ...
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Everybody Counts by Kristin Roskifte

Everybody Counts is more than a counting book: it includes big numbers and big thoughts. Everybody Counts: a Counting Story from 0 to 7.5 Billion ...
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1493 for Young People by Charles C. Mann

A fascinating historical look at globalization that covers botany, anthropology, politics, exploration, the slave trade, and more! 1493 for Young People: From Columbus's Voyage to ...
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The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman

The Blackbird Girls takes readers to the shadow of Chernobyl and the world's worst nuclear disaster. The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman. Viking, 2020, 334 ...
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*This Is Our Constitution by Khizr Khan

An immigrant-become-US-citizen offers a powerful, personal explanation of our nation's Constitution for middle grades and up. *This Is Our Constitution: What It Is and Why ...
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Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri

Ghetto Cowboy tells a heartwarming story of family, hard work, and horses in the midst of urban Philly. Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri and illustrated ...
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Books about Racism for Children and Teens

Books About Racism Are Important Books don't save. Only Jesus saves. But books can be terrific discussion starters, particularly when we want to discuss current ...
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*God’s Very Good Idea by Trillia Newbell and Catalina Echeverri

God's design for diversity was beautiful from the beginning but marred by sin, requiring a Redeemer to rescue us from our mess. *God's Very Good ...
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Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices, edited by Mitali Perkins

In Open Mic, ten writers of color team up to offer their experiences (or stories based on their experiences) in this frank, humorous collection for ...
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Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

Prairie Lotus, by Newbery author Linda Sue Park, offers a hopeful look at overcoming racism in the 19th-century American west. Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue ...
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Retro Reads: The Velveteen Rabbit and *Edward Tulane

The classic story of the Velveteen Rabbit and more recent story of Edward Tulane demonstrate the nature of true love. The Velveteen Rabbit, or How ...
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Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Mañanaland presents a dreamlike Latin-American landscape and a young boy taking a giant step toward adulthood. Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan. Scholastic, 2020, 247 pages. ...
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Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker

"The Real World" poses a creative challenge to a pair of enterprising middle-graders with conflicting motives. Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker. HarperCollins, ...
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*Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt

Turner comes to understand himself, his father, his peers, his town, and his world in this bittersweet coming-of-age story set in 1912 Maine. *Lizzie Bright ...
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Exploring the Bible Together by David Murray

Exploring the Bible Together launches families on a year-long journey through Scripture in a way that’s both practical and effective. Exploring the Bible Together: a ...
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Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots offers an accessible introduction to a controversial subject. Fact vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex. Nancy Paulson Books (PRH), ...
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Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes: a Discussion

Every now and then we read a book that seems to warrant more than a standard review—even a starred one. That was Janie and Betsy’s ...
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Sunnyside Plaza by Scott Simon

The mentally-challenged adults of Sunnyside Plaza step out of their comfort zone to solve a mystery. Sunnyside Plaza by Scott Simon. Little, Brown, 2020, 192 ...
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The Legacy of Mildred Taylor: Roll of Thunder and the Logan Family Saga

The Legacy of Mildred Taylor Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is a "must read." Truthfully, at Redeemed Reader, we resist telling you any book ...
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Fever Year by Don Brown

Don Brown tells the story of Spanish Influenza in three acts in this graphic novel format nonfiction book for young teens. Fever Year: The Killer ...
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From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

Zoe Washington's peaceful life is disturbed by word from her incarcerated father--who may be innocent. From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks. HarperCollins ...
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Leaving Lymon by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Leaving Lymon is the heartfelt story of a child who feels abandoned by irresponsible parents. Leaving Lymon by Lesa Cline-Ransome. Holiday House,  2020, 193 pages ...
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Everything Awesome about Dinosaurs by Mike Lowery

A fact-packed and tongue-in-cheek resource for dinosaur fans, with a distinct evolutionary slant. Everything Awesome about Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts by Mike Lowery.  Orchard ...
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Girl Under a Red Moon by Da Chen

Girl under a Red Moon depicts life under the worst totalitarian government in modern history. Girl under a Red Moon: Growing up During China’s Cultural ...
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It Rained Warm Bread by Moishe Moskowitz

The recollections of a 13-year-old Holocaust survivor find poetic expression in It Rained Warm Bread. It rained Warm Bread: Moishe Moskowitz’s Story of Hope by ...
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All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey

A foster child with a troubled past dares to hope for "Impossible Things" to change her course. All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey. Roaring ...
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Feed by M. T. Anderson

M. T. Anderson's Feed imagines what the world would look like if we all had "feeds" (like today's smart phones) implanted in our brains. Feed ...
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Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams

Genesis, a black girl, struggles with self-image, much of which is fostered by her own family. Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams. Caitlyn Dlough ...
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2020 Newbery Buzz #3: The Undefeated and A Place to Land

Every January, we love to discuss the merits (or demerits) of books we’ve seen getting “Newbery buzz” in the broader children’s literature world. The actual ...
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2020 Newbery Buzz #2: New Kid and Guts

Every January, we love to discuss the merits (or demerits) of books we’ve seen getting “Newbery buzz” in the broader children’s literature world. The actual ...
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Newbery Roundup #1: The Line Tender, Tristan Strong, and 1919

Newbery season is upon us, culminating in the American Library Association Youth Media Awards on January 27. We've been keeping an eye on books that ...
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*Her Own Two Feet by Meredith Davis

Her Own Two Feet is the true story of a severely disabled Rwandan girl who finds hope and healing through a Christian aid organization. *Her ...
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Is Dracula Worth Reading?

I am not a vampire fan. I am not a fan of weird Halloween decorations. It's downright creepy: ghouls, spider webs, zombie costumes, and, yes, ...
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White Bird by R. J. Palacio

In White Bird, a graphic novel, the best-selling author of Wonder traces the holocaust history of a Wonder character's grandmother. White Bird (a Wonder Story) ...
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Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

A displaced Muslim girl adjusts to America as a second, "Other Home" in this well-written verse novel. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga. Balzer ...
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Robin Hood: Twice Told

There’s something appealing about Robin Hood. —Maybe even more-so to American sensibilities.  Granted, we didn’t rob from the rich for the sake of the poor.  ...
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Titan and the Wild Boars by Susan Hood and Pathana Sorhiran

The true story of the daring rescue of the Thai Soccer team will bring its tension and drama home to young readers. Titan and the ...
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Breakthrough! by Jim Murphy

Three unlikely people team up to perform a dangerous new surgery in Depression-era times in this gripping nonfiction story. Breakthrough!: How Three People Saved "Blue ...
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*Super Jake and the King of Chaos by Naomi Milliner

An aspiring magician discovers the real magic in "Super Jake," his special-needs little brother. *Super Jake and the King of Chaos by Naomi Milliner. Running ...
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*Confronting Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin

Rebecca McLaughlin confronts some of the hardest questions faced by Christians today with thoughtful, engaging responses rooted in Scripture. *Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for ...
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Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai

With humor and heart, Pie in the Sky explores the experience of a young Asian immigrant with much more than assimilation on his mind. Pie ...
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Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen

Wren Clemmons learns much about herself, the desert, and true friendship during wilderness therapy camp in this engaging teen read about drug use. Wild Bird ...
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Swing and Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess

Swing and Solo: two novels-in-verse for teens that grapple with music (jazz and rock and roll), baseball, young love, and what's really important in life. ...
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Don’t Blame the Mud by Marty Machowski

Don't Blame the Mud introduces children to the concept of indwelling sin in a way that they can relate to and grasp. Don’t Blame the ...
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The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

Four homeless children in India find their own "bridge home" in this engaging novel for middle grades. The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman.  Random House ...
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*The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw (Retro Reads)

A middle grades novel packed with life in ancient Egypt and an orphan's adventure among the tombs of the dead. *The Golden Goblet by Eloise ...
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