Summary: Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?
Mrs. Lopez's Take: This is a great book that explores some heavy subjects but in a funny, light-hearted way. Jordan's journey through his first year in middle school is an experience that many kids can relate to. This book explores the idea of identity and how your identity can be disrespected, misunderstood, and also, appreciated. I recommend this graphic novel to everyone!
Summary: Fifteen-year-old Will shoved a gun in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As Will descends in the elevator, various people get on. These people make Will's trip very interesting.
Mrs. Lopez's Take: After reading Ghost, I wanted to read another Jason Reynolds book. This one is much more serious than his Running Series (to include the book Ghost). The story is very creative. This story is definitely for older students. The mature content could be too much for younger readers. None the less, this story was so intriguing with each chapter leaving you want to know more. The story is one that you need to figure out as you go along. It is not just a simple story of someone descending an elevator. The meaning is so much more. Written in poetry form, this story is a quick read. Another great story by Jason Reynolds.
Summary: Running. That’s all Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all started with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who sees something in Ghost: crazy natural talent. If Ghost can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed, or will his past finally catch up to him?
Mrs. Lopez's Take: Jason Reynolds is one of my very favorite authors. His writing is so real and authentic to his characters' experiences. Not only does this book present a very serious reality for Ghost, it does it with humor. At one point I was literally laughing out loud. This story is thoughtful and emotional. If it is written by Jason Reynolds it is sure to be a great read!
Summary: Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
Mrs. Lopez's Take: I loved this book and I love everything Jaqueline Woodson writes. She writes with precise details that really highlight her experience. This book is written in poetry format so I is a very quick read as well. A quick read that packs a punch.
Summary: Ben Ripley may only be in middle school, but he’s already pegged his dream job: CIA or bust. Unfortunately for him, his personality doesn’t exactly scream “secret agent.” In fact, Ben is so awkward, he can barely get to school and back without a mishap. Because of his innate nerdiness, Ben is not surprised when he is recruited for a magnet school with a focus on science—but he’s entirely shocked to discover that the school is actually a front for a junior CIA academy. Could the CIA really want him?
Mrs. Lopez's Take: This book was not only exciting, it was clever as well. Many of the events were unbelievable and over the top but I think that is why this story is so engaging. You just gotta know what is going to happen next to Ben Ripley.
Summary: Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school…again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’s master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’s stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.
Mrs. Lopez's Take: This is an exciting adventure, that surprisingly was a very humorous read. Percy Jackson has a quick wit which makes the adventure even more dramatic. The descriptions of Greek mythology we detailed and accurate, even though the gods and goddesses were inserted into our modern world. The ending inspires the reader to read the next book in the series. This was a very fun read and I can't wait to read more of Percy's adventures.
Summary: Eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Hunger Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute. The odds are against him. He mentors the female tribute from District 12. Their fates are now completely intertwined -- every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute... and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.
Mrs. Lopez's Take: If you enjoyed the Hunger Games series you are sure to enjoy this prequel. This story reveals how Snow came to be the ruthless leader of Panem. With the same amount of exciting twists and turns as the other books in the series, this book does not disappoint.
Summary: Hà has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope—toward America.
Mrs. Lopez's Take: The author writes from personal experience which gives this story an authentic perspective. It makes you think about the experience of an immigrant to our country and how we can do better welcoming them. It is written in poem format. That with its beautiful language, makes for a quick read.
Summary: When Lily's blind dog, Lucky, slips his collar and runs away across the wide-open blueberry barrens of eastern Maine, it's Salma Santiago who manages to catch him. Salma, the daughter of migrant workers, is in the small town with her family for the blueberry-picking season. After their initial chance meeting, Salma and Lily bond over painting bee boxes for Lily's grandfather, and Salma's friendship transforms Lily's summer. But when Salma decides to run in the upcoming Blueberry Queen pageant, they'll have to face some tough truths about friendship and belonging. Should an outsider like Salma really participate in the pageant -- and possibly win?
Mrs. Lopez's Take:: This book was a thought provoking story about identity and understanding prejudices by changing perspective. This was an interesting story of a developing friendship, with interesting characters. However, I do think it oversimplified the idea of overcoming prejudice by just scratching the surface of the issue.
Summary: Ten-year-old Comfort Snowberger has attended 247 funerals. But that's not surprising, considering that her family runs the town funeral home. And even though Great-uncle Edisto keeled over with a heart attack and Great-great-aunt Florentine dropped dead--just like that--six months later, Comfort knows how to deal with loss, or so she thinks. She's more concerned with avoiding her crazy cousin Peach and trying to figure out why her best friend, Declaration, suddenly won't talk to her. Life is full of surprises. And the biggest one of all is learning what it takes to handle them.
Mrs. Lopez's Take: This is a beautiful story with a fantastic main character that you cannot help but fall in love with. Comfort has a very witty take on life and the events around her. I found myself laughing at loud at some parts of the story.. Be warned! I sobbed like a baby and needed to take a break from the book at one point. I'm not a fan of books that make me sob, but because the rest of the book was so wonderful and well written, it was worth the twisting my heart and my stomach painfully.