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
Franny has plans for the summer, mostly to take care of all the animals in her barn. Since deciding to open her own Animal Hospital, everybody in town has been delivering hard-up animals on their last leg: abandoned baby mice, a turtle with a broken shell, some opossums and some baby birds.
The summer gets a little more interesting when the new neighbors move in. Lucas is a little older than Franny, and he’s a boy, but he’s interested in her animals and he’s fun to be around.
It’s kind of weird when Lucas and his mom paint over their name on their mailbox. Even weirder is Lucas’s reaction when Franny tells him there was a strange car in his driveway. “When? Who was in it?…What did he say? Did you talk to him?…Why didn’t you tell me Franny?”
The strange car, and the man in it, returns…and life for Lucas and his mom suddenly gets very hard. Franny’s parents try to help, but what do you do if the people you are trying to help say they don’t need any help? And what do you do if you think the people aren’t asking for help because they are too scared? Franny and her family face these tough questions as they try to reach out to Lucas and his mom. Author: Hannah McKinnon
Thirteen year-old Lucy’s mom is the American Ambassador to Ethiopia. You’d think Lucy’s life would be exciting, exotic and adventure filled. Instead, Lucy lives in the Embassy compound behind walls that separate her from the real Ethiopia. She’s bored! The prospect of a long, hot, boring summer is more than she can stand! Enter her friend Tana who is more than happy to arrange an evening “jail break” when Lucy’s mother is out of town.
The problem? There is a reason for those protective walls around the Embassy compound and one of those reasons snatches Lucy off the street and whisks her far away from everything and everyone she knows. Lucy finds herself tied up in a scrap-wood shack with nothing but a straw mat, a blanket, a kerosene lamp and a bucket.
Don’t let the cover fool you – this is a tense, breathless survival story that tells Lucy’s tale – how she figured out how to get out of the shack only to find herself lost in the middle of a forbidding jungle and how she uses her wits, her knowledge of the land and animals and her ability to calm herself to think her way out of a worst case scenario. It also helped to have some lions on her side. Yes, lions!
This story could have come right from today’s headlines, and in fact, it did! Escape from the Forever Sky is based on the story of a real 12 year-old girl who was kidnapped in 2005 in Ethopia and managed to escape and save herself, not only from the kidnappers, but from the harsh environment she escaped to. Author: Eve Yohalem
In 1975, toward the end of the Vietnam war, many children were airlifted away from the fighting in Vietnam and sent to The United States. Many of the children were orphans, but some of the children were put on the helicopters by their own parents, parents who hoped to keep their children from being hurt in the war.
Can you imagine how sad it would be to have to send your child to strangers in a strange land? And what if you were one of the children? Would you understand if your mom or dad sent you away, even it it was for a good reason?
all the broken pieces is the story of one of these children, Matt Pin, who still has nightmares about the war and carries in his heart a secret he is afraid to tell. It’s a secret he’s even afraid to think about too much.
Matt is 12 now and has loving adoptive parents here in The United States. He goes to school and he plays baseball. He is living the American dream his mother hoped for him when she put him on the helicopter to escape the war. But underneath the dream are Matt’s memories and the memories of what he left behind in Vietnam. These memories are too strong to ignore and too important to keep hidden.
I loved reading this story and watching Matt begin to reveal the pieces of his life he has kept secret. Matt’s story is the kind that makes you cry. Imagining yourself in his shoes, or in his Vietnamese mother’s shoes – that’s really hard. But Matt’s story also makes you feel good because you see the hope and goodness that grew out of a bad thing. That doesn’t mean the War didn’t cause a lot of pain, it just means that people survived the pain and made good things happen as they moved forward. That’s a really hopeful message. Author: Ann E. Burg
Annie never goes anywhere without being prepared. She wears a bicycle helmet, sometimes even when she’s not on a bicycle. She carries lots of band-aids. She checks for black widow spiders. She doesn’t ride her bike fast or climb too high and she always, always wears sunscreen. Annie even does research looking up the symptoms of diseases in the medical encyclopedia so she can know right away if she’s got something weird.
Annie knows there’s a lot of dangerous stuff in the world and if you don’t look for it, it might get you while you’re not paying attention. Annie wants no more surprises. She’s had one surprise and that’s enough. Her older brother Jared suddenly died from an undiagnosed heart problem. Her parents, her friends, even her friend’s dad who is a doctor…everyone keeps telling Annie not to worry so much, that she’s just fine. But they all thought her brother was just fine too.
The thing is, it’s hard to be so careful all the time and it isn’t any fun either. Annie can’t grow up covered in band-aids and walking around in a bicycle helmet. Luckily, she finds a kindred spirit in her new neighbor, Mrs. Finch, who has also lost a person close to her. Sometimes it takes a good friend who understands to help you find your smile and have fun again. Author: Lisa Graff