Romance laced with social issues and philosophical musings.
Recommended grade level: mature 8th graders and up
Pages: 348 (for ISBN 9780553496680)
Genre(s) and keywords: romance, realistic, diverse
Topics: Asian-Americans, African-Americans (sort of; she is technically Jamaican), undocumented immigrants
Themes: love, romantic relationships, fate, chance, finding meaning, preparing for the future
Summary: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story. Continue reading
An introduction to the world’s 5 largest religions: Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.
Recommended grade level: 4-8
Pages: 128 (for ISBN 9781619303058)
Genre(s) and keywords: nonfiction
Topics: religion, religious conflict, coexistence, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam
Themes: moral codes, God/gods, the purpose of existence, the origins of the universe
Summary: Over 7 billion people live on the earth, and 84 percent of them describe themselves as being religious. What does that mean? Few topics incite such passion as religion. Why are humans invested in ideas that may never be proved? Why has religion played such an important role in history? Continue reading
Two kids set out to solve a puzzle to answer a big question.
Recommended grade level: 4-8
Pages: 289 (for ISBN 9780316058292)
Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, mystery
Tone/Style: curious, rebellious
Pace: leisurely to moderate
Topics: searches, important objects, puzzles
Themes: death of a loved one, grief and loss, reconciling with the past, finding meaning
Summary: Twelve-year-old Jeremy receives a wooden box in the mail with the words, “The Meaning of Life—for Jeremy Fink to open on his 13th birthday.” He recognizes the box as his dad’s handiwork, although his dad passed away five years earlier. The box has four locks, requiring four keys. But the keys are missing. He and his best friend Lizzy set off on a quest through the streets of Manhattan to find the keys before time runs out. (Source) Continue reading
If you want issues, this book has got them. Lots of them.
Recommended grade level: 5-8
Pages: 256 (for ISBN 9780803738164 )
Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction
Tone/Style: resigned, exploratory
Topics: dogs, cancer, writing, magicians, libraries, adoptees, abuse
Themes: illness, belonging, finding meaning, grief and loss, death, change
Summary: Ben Coffin knows from foster care that people can leave you without a good-bye. That’s why he prefers to hide out in the Coney Island library with his sci-fi novels, until he rescues an abandoned dog from the alley next door. Scruffy little Flip introduces Ben to fellow book lover Halley—yes, like the comet. Some call her Rainbow Girl for her crazy-colored clothes, but for Ben it’s her laugh, pure magic, the kind that makes you smile away the stormiest day. Continue reading