Ms. Ryan is reading five books right now…

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Whew! It’s one of those seasons where there are WAY too many great books to read and WAY too little time. So I’m reading these five right now: Masterpiece because it’s supposed to be an awesome mystery (by the author of Shakespeare’s Secret); Candyfloss because at least fifteen girls (who all love realistic fiction) have recommended it to me; Dragon’s Keep because it’s on CD, so I can listen to this fantasy in my car; Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker because I need some non-fiction in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s coming birthday; and Broken Soup because it’s supposed to be the best, most tear-jerking teen novel ever (at least for right now). I’ll let you know how they all turn out…

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Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson

feathers.jpgIt’s winter. It’s dreary. Frannie’s life is pretty ordinary. She walks to school with her brother Sean, avoids Trevor, the classroom bully, and stares out the window whenever things get too dull in Math class. Then Jesus Boy comes. He’s the new kid, practically the only white kid in school. Everyone says he looks like Jesus, and Frannie’s friend Samantha thinks he might even be Jesus. But why would Jesus show up at their school? And why does Jesus Boy – with his translucent skin and pale hair – keep saying he isn’t white? And why does he use sign language to speak to Frannie? Does he somehow know her brother is deaf? Suddenly, Frannie’s life seems more full of questions than answers. Nothings seems solid anymore. Is this what growing up means? Over the course of one quiet winter, Frannie confronts the uncertainty, fear, and – most importantly – hope that accompany the end of childhood and the mysterious journey into the future.

Drums Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonneblick

drums.jpgIf you’re one of those readers who likes “sad” books, then this novel is for you! For years, 14-year old Steven has been irritated with his handsome, angelic, perfect little brother. Where Steven is awkward and ordinary, Jeffrey is sweet and adorable. Just ask any random stranger on the street. Just ask Steven’s own parents!

But there’s no such thing as a charmed life, not even for a beautiful 5-year old boy, and one day, Jeffrey gets sick, really sick. Now, Steven has to deal with his brother’s physical breakdown, his parents emotional breakdowns, and his own dark fears about the future. It’s a good thing he has drum lessons to distract him from all the heaviness at home, right? There’s nothing like music, Steven notices, to comfort a suffering soul. Well, that, and girls. Speaking of which, Renee Albert, whom Steven has liked since Kindergarten, is suddenly acting, all interested in him. Why? Could Steven’s exhausted brain just be imagining something too good to be true? Or does he really have a shot? Grade eight may have started out like any other year, but Steven is in for a series of life-changing experiences that will require all his new-found strength and grace to handle.

The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman

otherside.jpgAt first this might seem like yet another story with a creepy, overbearing government  controlling the minds and lives of its citizens (think The Giver, The Declaration, The White Mountains, The Matrix), but The Other Side of the Island is full of original language, plot twists, and an impressive, believable cast of characters. In the eighteenth year of Enclosure, way after the flood, a girl named Honor moves with her parents to the Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea. There, she learns about Earth Mother and her glorious plan to regulate the weather and maintain peace among her people. Earth Mother is even building an enclosure over the land so that no more storms can decimate the population as they did during the great flood.

But as always in this sort of novel, there’s a group of secret resistance fighters who don’t want Earth Mother to control them; they don’t trust her and they don’t believe she really has their best interests at heart. Among these fighters are Honor’s parents who, to her horror, refuse to follow the strict rules of this society and even have a second child when only one per family is permitted. To compensate, Honor tries to be the perfect student and citizen, earning all A’s in school and obeying every command her teachers make. Unfortunately, Honor’s efforts to fit in aren’t enough to save her parents. One day when she comes home from school, the house is empty. Her parents are gone. And people who disappear on Island 365 don’t ever come back.