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An Emotion of Great Delight by Tareheh Mafi

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  The main character in An Emotion of Great Delight is a hard feeling girl. As a Muslim living in a post 9/11 world, she deals with the normal issues of a every teen ever and then some. A father who is dying, a brother already dead, a former best friend who seemingly now hates her, a mother who self harms, and now her friend's older brother might be in love with her? I am really curious to see how my students feel about this book. The title is kind of misleading-there's not that much happiness in this book at all! OR.... is there? It will be interesting to see the kids' take on whether or not simply making it through life's everyday struggles is enough to make oneself happy. Then again, is there a simpler happiness that comes with being comfortable in one's true identity? Perhaps that's the message here. -TK

Room Service by Maren Stoffels

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  Four friends gather at a luxurious hotel to celebrate a birthday. It's supposed to be a great night, but it quickly turns into a nightmare as they begin to receive note delivered to them mysteriously hinting that their friend's death a year ago on that same night was all their fault. Is one of them hiding something or are they all collectively to blame? Friendships will be tested, hearts will break, and the heartbreaking truth will all come out before the night is over.  This is a fast paced read that many will devour in a day or two. The twist at the end will certainly surprise you- I know I was not expecting it. As I read Room Service, I pictured it as a movie. There are definitely scenes throughout this story that would look really beautiful (and scary) if done right on the big screen! -TK

Easy Target by Tim Shoemaker

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  Easy Target is a book that I think my students will love. Set in nearby Rolling Meadows, Illinois, we meet Hudson, a previously homeschooled middle schooler who enters the world of public school for the first time. His dad warned him about bullying he might face, but Hudson thinks he's overreacting. Then, he encounters the lunchroom where it is clear that Carl Sandburg Junior High definitely has bullies. Hudson stands up to the bullies to try to protect two classmates, Pancake and Maggie (yes, there is a character nicknamed Pancake). This action puts a target on Hudson and the bullies certainly want payback. Hudson decides the school is in need of a culture change. He decides to exert pressure on the bullies in the hope that they stop being so malicious, but no matter how well intentioned Hudson is in his actions, things continue to escalate. Can Hudson and his friends make a positive social change or is the bullying in school simply beyond repair? This book raises a lot of quest

The Ivies by Alexa Donne

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  This book is awesomely twisted! The Ivies tells the story of a group of five classmates-can they really call themselves friends?- who will lie, cheat, steal, backstab, and do just about anything else the need to in order to better their standing among their competitors when it comes to applying to the most prestigious colleges. Each has been designated an Ivy League College to apply to and each has bent and broken more than her fair share of rules in order to get accepted. When one ends up dead after getting accepted, seemingly everyone on campus is a suspect, but none more-so than the Ivies themselves! Olivia, Avery, Emma, Sierra, and Margot seem to have it all. They are the queen bees of Claflin Academy. They know what they want and they will step on anyone to get it. Can they withstand a murder investigation of one of their own?  The twists and turns and the shocking truth will keep the reader not only guessing, but second and triple guessing until the very end. This book is a sur

Of Beetles and Angels by Mawi Asgedom

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  An autobiography of a boy who, at the age of three, fled civil war in Ethiopia by walking with his mother, brother and father to a Sudanese refugee camp where they stayed for 3 years, and later they moved to Wheaton, IL (about an hour from Waukegan). This true story gives insight into the lives of so many immigrants and their struggle to start over, fit in, and the difficulties of school life. He endured many tragedies throughout his life. However, this young man does not give up and he graduates college and gives the commencement speech at Harvard University to 30,000 people! This is a story of overcoming poverty, language barriers, cultural differences and personal tragedy. I dare you to read this book and not shed a tear and also smile when he shares some of his family stories and you indulge in his triumphs! -LB

Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers

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  This book is a best seller and once you read it, you’ll know why. The story is based on real events from the author’s life. He was very smart, but just never felt comfortable in the school setting. He was sometimes left out of outings with his classmates because he was Black. He was very impulsive--meaning he did things before thinking of the consequences. He did meet several teachers who he did connect with, but reading and writing were his way to escape his insecurities. How could he tell people he loved reading & writing when those two things are “not cool” and he lived in the hood? Being chased home by gangs became commonplace. This book gives insight to what many young people endure daily during their school years. He learned he’s not a failure, in fact, he grew up to become a famous bestselling author. Walter Dean Myers has written over 40 books for young people! Mrs. Banks

To Build a Fire by Jack London

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This is a short story written by Jack London about a man & his dog. The man decides to make a trip during extremely cold weather while living in the Yukon (near the Arctic Circle). He refuses to heed the warnings and advice of the local townspeople. Even the dog can sense the grave danger they encounter. This story has several themes, one: people are not more powerful than nature and two: people should listen to others who have more experience than they do. Can you think of any other themes after you read this engaging and exciting short story? By the way, the ending to this story may surprise you. Mrs. Banks