Birdland – Tracy Mack
Swirling riffs of language and a propulsive beat set this gritty, transcendent novel in motion.
Amid the sparkle and hum of a New York City winter, Jed and his best friend, Flyer, are filming a documentary of their neighborhood. All around them are images that Jed’s older brother Zeke wrote about: drummers, drunks, dog walkers, and the beautiful water towers that dot the city’s skyline. But what Jed is really in search of is Zeke, a poet who loved jazzman Charlie “Bird” Parker and who left behind his CDs, a notebook, and a lot of unanswered questions.
When Jed encounters a mysterious homeless girl he thinks holds the key to connecting him to Zeke, it could be his only way to unlock his deepest sorrow and discover how to be—who to be—on his own.
Carry Me Down – M.J. Hyland
John Egan is a misfit, a twelve-year-old in the body of a grown man with the voice of a giant. He has been able to detect lies for as long as he can remember and diligently keeps track of them, large and small, in a log of lies. With an obsession for the Guinness Book of World Records, a keenly inquisitive mind, and a kind of faith, John is like a tuning fork, sensitive to the vibrations within himself and his family’s shifting dynamics.
From his changing voice, body, and psyche to his parents’ disheartening marital difficulties, this is a trying year in a fragile young boy’s life, and when his sanity reaches near collapse, a frightening family catastrophe threatens to ruin what little they have.
Carry Me Down is a restrained, emotionally taut, and sometimes outrageously funny portrait whose drama drives toward, but narrowly averts, an unthinkable disaster.
Discovering Pig Magic – Julie Crabtree
Winner of the Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature
Mattie, Ariel, and Nicki are fast friends facing the pitfalls of life at thirteen. Mattie’s kitschy pig collection and agoraphobic mother might completely derail her social life. Ariel’s attempts to follow in Rachel Ray’s culinary footsteps have landed her in hot water. And Nicki is carrying a secret that threatens to cut her off from her best friends. After discovering a mysterious book of spells and performing a ritual, the girls leave their troubles far behind — or so they think.
Julie Crabtree’s wonderfully funny novel captures the everyday lives of three quirky, engaging girls, and shows that some wishes may be better left unfulfilled.
Huge – James W. Fuerst
This audio book contains mature language and themes, and may not be suitable for kids under fifteen years of age. For precocious twelve-year-old Eugene Smalls, growing up isn’t easy. His bad reputation precedes him, public school considers him a lost cause, and his own family seems out to get him. He’s got a temper, so don’t dare call him “Genie!” He insists on being called “Huge,” and though small, he’s tough and hard-boiled, just like his heroes, pulp detectives Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade, who taught him everything he knows about crime solving. When the nursing home where his grandmother stays is vandalized, she hires him to solve the case. But he misreads clues, misinterprets motives, and mistakes mundane incidents for diabolical schemes as only an inexperienced adolescent with a restless imagination can. His search for “whodunit” turns into a search for self in this coming-of-age story set in 1980s suburban New Jersey.
The King of Slippery Falls – Sid Hite
An ordinary boy, a mysterious letter, a royal birth, a giant trout, a near-death experience, and an unexpected romance magically come together to create a touching and good-hearted novel about the search for self and the power of belief.
Lewis lives in the small town of Slippery Falls, Idaho, where for some time he has dreamed of catching an enormous trout that lives in a small pool behind a waterfall. But on Lewis’ sixteenth birthday, his adoptive parents hand him a letter that his real mother left with him in his baby basket. Lewis is shocked to discover that he is French and seemingly linked to French royalty.
For Lewis, now unsure of his origin, fishing for the trout becomes a quest to discover who he really is. Just as he is about to nab his fish, he accidentally falls into the water and nearly dies.