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The Alex Crow

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The Alex Crow Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780525426530
Availability: Special Order
Published: Dutton Books for Young Readers - March 10th, 2015

There's a bionic crow in Andrew Smith's latest novel--a crow formed out of old DNA and a new genetic process called "chipping." There's also a boy, Ariel, who has been adopted into a family in suburban West Virginia after a harrowing escape from a refugee camp and a litany of traumas. There's a woman--a kind of warped therapist figure--who distributes her book, "Male Extinction," at an all-boys summer camp. And I guess there's also a man who believes that Joseph Stalin whispers in his ear to make him do evil things.

On the simplest level, Smith's novel is the tale of Ariel, the refugee. It's the story of a boy trapped in a coming of age story into which he believes he does not fit: trapped in America, trapped in a weird summer camp, trapped into "bonding" with his new teenage brother--all of these things are surreal to Ariel, who is sick of being saved (or surviving) time and time again. But Smith's novel, which can be described as sci-fi, coming-of-age, and a critique of the patriarchy and Western humanitarianism all at once, quite deftly resists reduction to being any one thing. And perhaps this is appropriate, insofar as the novel seems to strive to articulate the sense that some stories cannot be simply told.

I loved that this book was exceedingly cerebral while still being so heartfelt and appropriately adolescent at times. Even with so many moving parts, Smith navigates the bizarre landscape of the summer camp and Ariel's history with an understated confidence that refuses to lose the reader's trust or attention. I wish I could give away all the reasons to love this book, but that would only do sophisticated teenage (and adult) readers a disservice. Smith is a game-changer for YA--and this novel truly showcases his strengths as a genre-bending storyteller. ~ Reviewed by Aubrey Restifo


Fred

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Fred Cover Image
By Inc Peter Pauper Press (Created by)
$15.99
ISBN: 9781441317315
Availability: Special Order
Published: Peter Pauper Press - April 20th, 2015

Sometimes growing up means trading our imaginary friends for human ones. But "Fred" reveals that through a touch of childhood whimsy, our old friends can reappear--having never truly left us. A touching debut marked by a clever use of color. Ages 3-7. ~ Reviewed by Aubrey Restifo


Octopuppy

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The Octopuppy Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780545751407
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scholastic Press - March 31st, 2015

Cartoony silliness captures an all-too-familiar childhood dilemma--you want one thing but get another. In "Octopuppy", McKenna's Jarvis (the eclectic octopus) is the very epitome of this NOT THE PUPPY I WANTED phenomenon. Well-placed microexpressions balance Jarvis' wild eccentricities to create one of the weirdest, best-composed picture books of the year. ~ Reviewed by Aubrey Restifo


To The Sea

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To the Sea Cover Image
By Cale Atkinson, Cale Atkinson (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781484708132
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - June 2nd, 2015

"Free Willy" meets picture book meets 2015. Even if you aren't a huge fan of whale books (as I am) you will not be able to deny the cuteness within. Tim's gigantic whale body and adorable little face will not get old; a solid friendship/journey story complete with many entertaining drawings of ways to get to the ocean. Delightful. ~ Reviewed by Aubrey Restifo


Hungry

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Hungry Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9781250063083
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Square Fish - June 16th, 2015

If you were to stick Legend, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and great writing in a blender, this book is what you'd end up with. The One World wants Thalia to drink her Synthamil and be quiet--just like everyone else. But when Thalia's stomach starts growling for real--and illegal--food, she must decide whether to stay and become a test subject or flee the world she knows. An unconventional story with a strong, skeptical heroine perfect for all readers who are not convinced by perfectly bad--or perfectly good--worlds. ~ Reviewed by Aubrey Restifo


Paper Things

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Paper Things Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780763663230
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Candlewick - February 10th, 2015

Many roadblocks conspire to keep 11-year-old Ari from getting into a prestigious middle school, but the biggest threat of all is the fact that she and her brother are now homeless. A heartfelt and perceptive look into a young girl's experience of running away from, and eventually towards, a new home. Perfect for 5th-7th graders looking for a read both serious and--ultimately--uplifting. ~ Reviewed by Aubrey Restifo


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