‘Surface Tension’ by Mike Mullin Is that Book You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

surface tension

I’ve realized how to know when I’m reading a book I’m just not that into. When I find myself playing Words With Friends for 30 minutes instead of reading, I know that the book I’m reading has just not enthralled me. That’s how I knew that I was loving “Surface Tension” by Mike Mullin; I couldn’t put it down. I started the book in the morning and had finished it by evening. I read every spare minute because I was dying to know what was going to happen next.

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‘Drawn Together’ by Minh Lê and Dan Santat Is a Picture Book About the Power of Art (and Love) to Break Barriers

drawn together

“Drawn Together” by Minh Lê and Dan Santat is a truly touching, beautifully written and brilliantly illustrated picture book about bridging the gap that language and generations can cause. The story is simple; the presentation is not.

The first three pages of the story have no text, but none is needed. A boy visits his grandfather. He does not look happy to be there, but they bow politely to each other. The grandfather smiles widely and invites his grandson in, and the next page shows the meals they are eating.

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‘Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind’

write to me

A beautifully written, touching picture book about a shameful period of American history is “Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind” by Cynthia Grady and illustrated by Amiko Hirao.

The book includes pictures from that time of children wearing identification tags and families with their belongings (they were only allowed to bring what they could carry). At the heart of the story is Clara Breed, a children’s librarian in San Diego County where many Japanese American families lived. She formed relationships with her patrons, and when they told her that they were going to be imprisoned because they were of Japanese descent, she gave them postcards so they could keep in contact with her.

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‘Then She Was Gone’ by Lisa Jewell Is a Dark and Emotional Suspense

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In “Then She Was Gone,” author Lisa Jewell takes readers on a dark ride into the minds of some pretty crazy people. Laurel Mack is the mother of three children, one of whom disappeared — into thin air — one afternoon on the way to the library. That was ten years ago. Now Laurel’s life has changed. She’s alienated the two children she has left as well as her husband. They divorced, and she has just met a man who seems to be too good to be true.

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‘Welcome to Wonderland: Sandapalooza Shake-Up’ by Chris Grabenstein is the 3rd book in the Wacky Wonderland Motel series

sandapalooza

Move aside, Disney World! Here comes the Wonderland Motel in “Sandapalooza Shake-Up,” the third book in the humorous mystery series by clever children’s author Chris Grabenstein. Fans of the series know that P.T. and his friend Gloria solve mysteries while having a great time in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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‘Captain Superlative!’ by J. S. Puller; ‘Life is too Short to be Anything Less…’

captainsuperlative

“Captain Superlative!” is not the main character in this middle grade novel by J. S. Puller. She is, however, the inspiration and cause for the change Janey, a quiet, shy, and practically invisible middle school student, experiences over the course of this beautifully written and moving novel.

Janey’s mother died when she was nine, and since then she’s pretty much existed by drifting through school and not getting noticed. She narrates that she is “as unimportant as air. And equally invisible.” Someone who is not invisible at school is Dagmar, the soccer champion who plays so hard she wears the bruises to prove it. Dagmar is not only an expert at playing soccer, she’s truly an expert at being cruel. Her favorite target is Paige, who is as short and dark as Dagmar is tall and blonde. The interactions that Janey witnesses and narrates are terrible.

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‘My Red Velvet Cape’ by Dana Sullivan Is a Marvelous Mixup for a Superhero-Loving Child

redvelvet

A picture book that will cheer up any prospective birthday boy or girl is “My Red Velvet Cape” by fabulous author/illustrator Dana Sullivan. There is so much to love about Sullivan’s newest picture book including the misunderstanding (Sullivan loves misunderstandings, just check out “Ozzie and the Art Contest“), the incredibly hip mom and grandma (go hip grandmas!), the bright and colorful watercolor and ink illustrations, and the sweet ending.

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‘Ozzie and the Art Contest’ by Dana Sullivan

ozzie

In “Ozzie and the Art Contest,” Dana Sullivan teaches young readers some very important life lessons. Ozzie, a bright blue dog, is very excited when his teacher announces that there will be an art contest. Ozzie loves to draw and he is sure he will win.

He quickly reads the instructions on the way home and uses his skills in folding paper to make a paper airplane out of the instruction sheet. Once home, he begins to draw his picture of a goat. His good friend agrees to model for the picture. Ozzie just knows he’ll win the contest — he knows a lot about goats!

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‘The Summer of Broken Things’ by Margaret Peterson Haddix Illustrates What Makes Family in this Touching Young Adult Novel

broken things

In “The Summer of Broken Things,” Margaret Peterson Haddix departs from her beloved sci-fi stories, and she includes no hidden children, just two teenagers from very different families — and very different socio-economic backgrounds — who are going to spend the summer together in Spain. But there is something hidden from their past.

Although Avery and Kayla have known each other since birth, it hasn’t been a close relationship. Originally, Avery was told that Kayla’s mother was friends with her nanny. But even after Avery no longer needed the nanny, Kayla’s mother still brought gifts for Avery at holidays. When Avery’s dad is going to Spain for the summer, he suggests that Avery and a friend go with him. She’s stunned that the person accompanying them isn’t really a friend, it’s Kayla Butts from the middle of nowhere.

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