Christina lives in a stone mansion in a forest surrounded by a 20 foot barbed wire fence. The fence is electric and has signs that say “Trespassers will be boiled.” The only other buildings inside the fence are Loompski Laboratories, where her father works (and where her mother died in a lab explosion) and an orphanage full of kids Christina is not allowed to meet. With binoculars Christina can watch the kids at Dorf Elementary school play at recess, but she’s never been to school herself.
While playing in her yard one day Christina is surprised to meet an orphan boy named Taft who is collecting trash on the other side of the fence. He urgently whispers, “have you found the tunnel yet?” Now here’s something worth investigating. Could the rumor of the tunnel in the stone mansion actually be true? It can!…and it leads straight to the orphanage where Christina rescues her orphan friend and finds out more than she ever wanted to know about Loompski Laboratories and what the orphans are used for.
Christina and Taft discover hidden inventions built and abandoned by the missing founder of Loompski Laboratories (a kid-sized, kid-powered two seater airplane for one!) and use them to bring down the current owner of the lab, expose his sinster plan and free the orphans. A great adventure story fueled by friendship and the pursuit of happiness and justice! Author Lynne Jonell
Molly’s a pitcher. Her eighth grade year she does something a little different. She tries out for the boys baseball team instead of the girl’s softball team. When she shows up for try-outs, Molly brings her secret weapon, a weapon that comes as a suprise to the other boys trying out as well as her coaches. Molly can throw a floating knuckleball (a butterfly). And she can throw it hard.
But this story is about much more than a girl trying out for a usually all-boys team. Boys’ baseball isn’t the only thing different about Molly’s eighth grade year. This year, she has to learn how to do everything, including baseball, without her Dad, who died in a car accident before the school year began. Molly’s Mom is barely holding it together herself, which is hard, because now it’s like Molly’s lost both parents.
Molly is pretty honest about how she feels about her Mom. At one point Molly imagines telling her, “I love you and all that, but right now everything about you bothers me.” And it isn’t that Molly doesn’t love her Mom, it’s that her Mom isn’t her Dad, and the Mom she once knew is now different. The best part about this book is how intensely honest Molly is. She also has a best friend, Celia, who is the same way and is the only person Molly knows who still treats her like Molly, not like “Miss Difficulty Overcome.” It’s Celia that keeps Molly talking about her feelings so that she can deal with them. It’s Celia that nudges Molly and her Mom toward each other again.
To make the story even better, the baseball part is realistic – the boys are competitive and the games are intense. Some of the boys are not happy at all about Molly making the team. When Lonnie steps forward to give Molly someone to pitch to, he turns out to be a really good friend too. Author: Mick Cochrane
Hector, Terrence and Dee find out their lunch lady can sling more than mystery meat. When their favorite teacher mysteriously stops showing up for class the kids take a look at their new substitute and decide there’s something just not quite right about him. When that same substitute refuses to eat the Lunch Lady’s famous French toast sticks, she decides there’s something not quite right too.
The kids follow the substitue after school. The Lunch Lady follows the substitue after school. Where does he go? Straight to a secret warehouse to meet his evil genius boss. Will his evil plan work?
Not if it’s up to this Lunch Lady who’s got exploding chicken nuggets and fish stick nunchucks hidden in her apron pockets. With her gadget making sidekick Betty, she keeps order in her cafeteria…and in the world.
Nick Rostov lives in Las Vegas. His Dad is a magician and performs his show of mediocre tricks all over town. Nick’s actually a little embarrassed by it. But on his 13th birthday, Nick learns that he isn’t just the son of a marginally talented trickster…he’s actually descended from a long line of Russian magicians on his mother’s side of the family – the real kind. No illusions here just powerful, real magic. Nick’s relatives “blend in” by doing a show in Las Vegas. The audience dcesn’t know it, but their show is the real deal.
Nick is invited to join his newfound family to learn about his talents and practice them in their Vegas show. He also begins to learn about his Russian heritage and try more new things than just magic, like beet soup and cavier (that’s fish eggs!). During has magic lessons Nick finds out this his family members are known as “Magickeeprs.” Their job is to keep ancient magical objects safe from the evil “Shadowkeepers.”
It isn’t too long before the “Shadowkeepers” arrive and will stop at nothing to get an ancient hourglass that has the power to stop time. Author: Erica Kirov
Look insideMagickeepers: The Eternal Hourglass Book One
In Book 1: Gods of Manhattan, we found out that 13 year-old Rory can see impossible things…a cockroach riding a rat like a horse, American Indians, and lots of people who have been dead for two hundred years! Rory is a “Light,” one of the few mortals who can see the spirit world, the Gods of Manhattan, who live in his city. Rory can see and talk to the spirits of Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Walt Whitman and many more people from New York history. He can also see the Munsee Indians whose spirits are trapped inside Central Park. To understand how Rory came to know he is a “Light” and understand how our world and the spirit world co-exist, I think it would be good if you started with book 1. There are a lot of characters to meet who all play important roles as the story moves along – a lot like all the characters in the Percy Jackson stories.
In Book 2: Spirits in the Park, Rory, his little sister Bridget (aka “Malibu Death Barbie”), his dog, some teenage Spirit friends and a couple cockroach warriors take on some of the most powerful and sinister figures in New York history. The kids and their cockroach warriors want to free the Munsee Indian spirits trapped in Central Park . When they find out that freeing the Indians could start a war between the Indians and the Gods of Manhattan, the kids need to get to the bottom of who trapped the Indians in the first place, and why. The answers are not at all what they expect. Can they free the Indians and prevent an all-out war at the same time? Author: Scott Mebus; Series: Gods of Manhattan
Like I said, you probably want to start with Book 1: Gods of Manhattan. Then, read the book Duel! It tells the story of the longstanding feud between Alexander Hamilton and Aarron Burr. Really, this is historically real…and the two guys appear in Spirits in the Park still hating each other. Knowing their real story will help you understand the conflict in Spirits in the Park. Plus, Duel! is a great book itself. Then, if you like the idea of a spirit world co-existing with ours, try The Night Tourist and of course, the all-time favorite, The Lightning Thief.