Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine is about Caitlyn, a girl who has been identified as having Asperger's Syndrome. Caitlyn's condition seems to be somewhat more severe and closer to moderate autism, however.
Identified as odd by her peers, Caitlyn's problems escalate upon the death of her brother. Caitlyn's brother had been acting as a behavioral aide for her and helped her to analyze different social situations. Social situations that may seem clear-cut to others are a maze for Caitlyn.
Caitlyn is mystified by how she "should be" experiencing the tragedy and by how her father is coping with the death. Meanwhile, the general community is coming to terms with the tragedy in relation to her brother's death. How can everybody find peace? How can Caitlyn find her own peace? Read this National Book Award winner to find out!
When You Reach Me (AR 6.0, Level 4.5) by Rebecca Stead is partially a tribute to Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. Stead's book won the Newbery Award in 2010. If you like science fiction, mystery and historical fiction, you will enjoy this unique story.
It is 1979 and Miranda is helping her mother to prepare for her appearance on The $20,000 Pyramid quiz show. Miranda, foundering after the loss of a friendship, finds new friends when she decides to work at the deli near her school. Soon, she starts to find mysterious notes with information that could have only have come from the future.
Miranda learns about racism, epilepsy, time travel, and friendship as she progresses through her sixth grade year. Do you think she will be able to help the person she is supposed to help? Read this and find out!
Pulling Princes by Tyne O'Connell caught my eye initially in the book, Royal Match. Royal Match is a reconfigured book that includes the first two titles in the Calypso Chronicles: Pulling Princes and Stealing Princes, which you can find on Link+.
If you are a fan of Louise Rennison's character, Georgia Nicholson, you may enjoy the British colloquialisms that run rampant. I enjoy reading books where characters are thrown into totally alien situations. I expected to see many funny situations with the main character, Calypso, who is from Los Angeles. However, Calypso has lived at the British boarding school for a few years, so the "fish out of water" humor never quite materializes. In fact, Calypso actually seems to use British slang, though she claims to have an American accent.
Calypso is an outsider at the posh boarding school, along with her best friend, Star. However, a fake boyfriend leads to opportunities and problems that she never foresaw. A gifted fencer, she soon finds that her hobby leads to the best opportunity of all!
The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez created a firestorm for the author when it was revealed that she had faked a pregnancy for her senior project. The book is an inspiring read about a teen who sought a way to give voice to a group of people who are often looked down upon by peers, teachers, and their families.
Teens are taught by adults that teen pregnancy should be frowned upon. Gaby has grown up in an economically-disadvantaged household where all of her immediate family have been teen parents. Gaby has seen first-hand how difficult it is to raise children as a teen through her mother and seven siblings. However, she also wonders if the very stereotypes about teens who become parents perpetuates the problem from generation to generation.
Gaby comes up with an innovative solution to this problem. She decides to fake a pregnancy to see how her family, friends, and teachers treat her, after they find out she is pregnant. Once she is done with the project, she will reveal the stereotypes she has seen and hopefully help teens who become pregnant.
As an honor student, she has been viewed as the hope for her family. However, there have been naysayers who say she will probably end up a teen mom as well. What happens when Gaby supposedly becomes pregnant? How will her friends and teachers react? How will her family react when they think that their one hope for future salvation is dashed?
Jennifer L. Holm is well-known for her Babymouse books, starting with Babymouse: Queen of the World (AR 0.5, Level 2.2). Ms. Holm takes a more serious tone in the Newbery Honor Book, Turtle in Paradise (AR 4.0, Level 3.7). Babymouse readers who are moving up to upper-elementary school reading will be pleasantly surprised by the likeable Turtle character.
Like the protagonist in The Absolute Value of Mike (AR 8.0, Level 3.9) by Kathryn Erskine, Turtle has a parent who is in an arrested stage of development. Like Mike, Turtle is sent off to a far away place while the parent is busy with work. In 1935 Florida, Turtle finds a different culture and bonds with her cousins, who run the Diaper Gang. Turtle finds a treasure map and seeks a way to get her family out of financial trouble. Does she succeed? Why has her mom's boyfriends shown up in Florida? Read it and find out!
Wonder Struck (AR 4.0, Level 5.4) by Brian Selznick is a beautiful book. This title follows the story of Ben and Rose. Ben's story unfolds in words and Rose's story unfolds in pictures. Both characters are connected by a desire to find people that are missing from their lives. After the death of Ben's mother, he yearns to find his father. Ben's mother, Elaine, has told him nothing about his father. However, after accidentally finding information that may lead to his father, Ben sets out for New York City, where his father last lived. Will Ben find his long-missing father?
Rose is desperately unhappy living with her father. She has been creating a scrapbook about the career of a mysterious actress, Lillian Mayhew. Feeling that Ms. Mayhew can help her, she sets off for New York City. What will she find there and how will Ms. Mayhew help her?
Both stories are set apart by fifty years. However, both characters are similar in that they are both deaf. What is truly remarkable about both characters is the lack of sadness or anger about their disabilities. Both courageously go to one of the largest cities in the world, sure of their purpose. The reader is immediately drawn into both stories because of the remarkably life-like drawings and compelling stories.
Brian Selznick, the Caldecott Medal winner for The Invention of Hugo Cabret (AR 4.0, Level 5.1) once again makes a movie-like book. Mr. Selznick has said that his interest in this story began when he learned about the new sound technology in 1927, which would affect the deaf community. Prior to 1927, both hearing and deaf people could enjoy the movies together. After 1927, deaf people were left out of the experience of enjoying film.