Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand

It took me awhile to get into the storyline of this book, but as in many more complex novels, once I did, I loved it! Finley is going to spend the summer at her grandparents’ house while her parents try to work through marital problems. However, Finley has never even been to her grandparents’, nor has she met her aunts and cousins. Why all of a sudden, are her parents insisting that she get to know her extended family now? Finley has a very active imagination, and she has created a story set in a magical place called Everwood. When Finley gets to her grandparents’, she realizes that Everwood is the woods right behind her grandparents’ house, and the people in her story are her cousins and neighbors. The children enjoy playing in Everwood, but unfortunately, there is some history with the neighbors, and Finley and her cousins are forbidden to talk to or play with the neighbor boys. What happened to cause the rift between the two families? What is the mystery in the burned-out house near both families? Why did Finely’s father leave never to return to his family?

Book Level 3.9
AR Points 10.0

House Arrest by K.A. Holt

It’s easy to condemn someone who has been convicted of a crime, but what if your family is extremely poor and you can’t afford your little baby brother’s medicine? What if your little brother would die without that medicine? Then how wrong would it be to steal just enough money to get that medicine? Timothy finds himself in just that position, and as a result, he ends up under house arrest. Another part of his punishment is that he has to write in his journal every week to explain why he stole, and that is how we get Timothy’s story.

Book Level 4.0
AR Points 4.0

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Ghost has been running his whole life, starting when he and his mother ran away from his father who was shooting at them. Ghost has always thought basketball was his game, but when he comes across a track team one afternoon, he sees that even the faster runners do not run that fast compared to how he can run. Ghost challenges one of the runners, and the coach quickly realizes the boy’s talent. However, will the coach be able to save Ghost from himself? One of my favorite quotes in the book comes from Coach who says he wants to “Show you that you can’t run away from who you are, but what you can do is run toward who you want to be.”

Book LEvel 4.6
AR Points = 6.0

The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz

This medieval tale is told by several travelers who have stopped at a small inn. Three very different children, Jeanne, a peasant girl who has visions, William, a monk who has super strength, Jacob, a Jewish boy who can quickly heal wounds using herbs, and a dog, who has come back from the dead, are all being pursued by the king and his soldiers. Why would a king stop everything else to chase after three children and a dog? Will the various storytellers be able to put the factions of this story together and make sense of it all?

Book Level 4.5
AR Points 11.0

Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott

 

 

Making a birthday card does not seem that difficult – unless you are in Auschwitz, it’s against the rules, and you can get killed for it. This is a story of how friendship triumphs over dictatorship. I love how the author chose to write this story (based on real events) in poem form. She used repetition and rhythm to show the reader how boring and tedious the work was for the prisoners of Auschwitz.

Book Level = 4.3
AR Points = 3.0

Serafina and the Black Coat by Robert Beatty

Serafina has spent most of her life living with her father in the basement of the Biltmore Estate. Her father has warned her not to let anyone know she exists. Serafina knows that she is different from other humans she has seen, but whenever she tries to ask her father about her mother, he will not speak about it. Can Serafina unravel the mysteries surrounding the Biltmore and also discover who she really is?

Book Level 5.9
AR Points 11.0