Hero is starting sixth grade in a new school. She’s used to it, the starting over, but being used to it doesn’t make it any easier. Having a weird first name doesn’t help either. On the first day of school when the teacher calls Hero’s name, somebody shouts out, “that’s my dog’s name,” which begins Hero’s downward slide into misery at school.
Things take a turn for the better when Hero meets her elderly neighbor, Mrs. Roth, who just happens to be friends with the cutest boy in the eighth grade, Danny Cordova. What Hero doesn’t know is that Mrs. Roth has a secret, a big secret. The secret is sparkly, large, can be made into jewelry…and is worth a fortune. The thing is, Mrs. Roth doesn’t know exactly where it is, all she has is a clue. Mrs. Roth decides that Hero and Danny are just the people to take the clue and launch an investigation of their own. But finding the diamond is only part of the mystery, because Mrs. Roth isn’t the only one with a secret, the diamond has one too. Author: Elise Broach
12 year-old Julian is stuck at his Aunt and Uncle’s house for the summer while his mom is working in China. What’s worse, they are planning to send him to math camp…not regular summer camp or boy scout camp…math camp. Julian hates math. Julian gets the distinct impression that the purpose of math camp is to get him out of the house and somebody else’s problem.
When Julian meets an internet pen pal who is trying to keep his Uncle Sibley from cutting down a grove of redwood trees, Julian secretly heads to the redwoods instead of boarding the bus to math camp. Julian and his new friend Robin hatch a daring plan to save the redwoods from Julian’s Uncle’s company. If Julian thought he and his Uncle didn’t get along much before, just wait until they square off in the woods over some very, very valuable trees!
This one is a great kids against the establishment adventure. Julian and his friends find the right ways to fight against something they believe is wrong. How great that part of the fight is staying in a treehouse 30 feet off the ground and only accessible by ropes and pulleys! Author: S. Terrell French
After I read Operation Redwood I liked reading Redwoods by Jason Chin, a book that tells all about coastal redwoods. They are really unbelievable, mammoth trees that grow from a teeny, tiny seed. Some redwoods are over 2,000 years old. That means their seeds sprouted during the Roman Empire! If you like reading about kids making an effort to help the environment, try Scat and Flush – both very funny too. Judy Moody is a little bit younger kid trying to do the same thing.
4th grader Allie is excited when she finds out there is a new girl in her class. The new girl’s name is Cheyenne and she’s from Canada – which makes her sound kind of exotic and interesting. She’s interesting all right. And bossy. And mean. Cheyenne immediately collects a group of friends – her clique – and labels anyone she hasn’t chosen “immature”. Then she starts a kissing game at recess and begins insisting that the boys and girls pair up and start “going with” each other. Allie wants to know…what does “going with” even mean? Dealing with Cheyenne, and having the courage to stand up to her, helps Allie add another rule to her list of school survival tips: “Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good.” Anybody who has ever had to deal with a controlling, bossy mean girl will cheer outloud for Allie and her friends.
Lina is having a really tough year since her Mom died. Lina’s best friend is having a tough year too since her Dad up and left. The girls cope by keeping busy playing volleyball, doing homework and talking about cute boys. Plus, they have each other. It always helps to have a friend that understands.
Lina’s Dad and Vanessa’s Mom aren’t doing so good. Lina’s Dad is an English Professor and spends his time with his nose buried in a book – so much time that he forgets about Lina sometimes. Vanessa’s mom spends her time obsessively making Cascarones – hollow eggs filled with confetti. She makes so many that the eggs are piling up all over Vanessa’s house. The irony is Cascarones are “good luck eggs.” You crack one over somebody’s head to give them good luck. Eggs need cracked over everyone in these two families.
The best part about this book is the adults. Lina’s Dad and Vanessa’s mom are very real characters. They aren’t stereotype parents. You can feel their pain and you can understand the reasons they are acting so strangely. I liked watching these two families work through tough times. The characters in Confetti Girl show you how important family and friends are during hard times and how important it is to lean on them instead of pushing them away. Sometimes, it’s important to let people help you.
Things at Harper’s house are different since her Daddy drove away. There had been fighting and he had been drinking too much and this time, after he drove away, he never came back home again. It’s quieter now. There’s no shouting. But Harper’s mom is having a hard time paying the bills and paying the rent. One day, Harper returns from school and sees that all of their belongings are sitting in their front yard. The landlord has kicked the family out. With nothing but the necessities that will fit in their car the family heads to a motel for shelter and to figure out what to do next. Harper’s dreams of finally having her poetry noticed at her school’s annual poetry contest are dashed when the “what to do next” means Harper babysitting her little brother instead of going to school.
Spending her days at the motel with Hem, her little brother, Harper slowly begins to meet the other people that are also living in the motel or in a tent city in the woods behind the motel. What do they have in common? Homelessness. This ragtag group, united as they face common enemies (poverty, unemployment, illness, homelessness) turns out to be the rock Harper and her family have been looking for. You can make a home…wherever your friends and family are, even if that home is in a motel, a shelter or a tent.
Harper is smart and self-reliant. She has a good head on her shoulders. She thinks about her family’s problems a lot, but not in a way that is whiney or all doom and gloom. She thinks about the problems so that she can problem solve. She comes up with ideas and strategies to make their situation better. This makes her a great team player within her family. Author: Ann Haywood Leal