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Bullies, Zombies and Bears: New Books for Older Readers

bird kingThe Bird King: An Artist’s Notebook by Shaun Tan
Looking through this gorgeous (and beautifully reproduced) book is like peeking into the sketchbook and portfolio of Shaun Tan (The Arrival). His working method is to “just start drawing” and the book goes on to show everything from highly detailed doodles to painted storyboards. Most of his subjects are weird and fantastic, and there is also a section of drawings from life. There’s no story and not much description, but this is a wonderful book to browse through and be inspired by. (Grades 3 and up)

bully bookThe Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale
Eric Haskins has always been one of those kids who bumped along in the middle of the social order, but something has changed in 6th grade and he has become the target of the bullies. When he discovers that they are following a manual, he sets out to find out where it came from. This is a realistic portrayal of bullying from both sides, which can make it tough to read, and is a great start point for a discussion at home or school. (Grades 4 – 7)

navigating earlyNavigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
Newbery winner Vanderpool follows Moon Over Manifest with an atmospheric odyssey set at the end of World War II. After the death of his mother, Jack is moved to a boarding school in Maine. He feels unmoored, so he befriends an autistic boy, Early Auden, and follows him on a quest to track down a giant bear. This is an elegantly crafted novel of loss and connectedness, full of layers of metaphor and fable. (Grades 6 – 9)

one came homeOne Came Home by Amy Timberlake
Set in 1871 in the small town of Placid, Wisconsin, this is both a wonderfully detailed historical novel and a chilling mystery. Georgie’s sister, Agatha, has disappeared, riding off with some pigeoners and now the town sheriff has returned from the search for her with what is assumed to be her body. Georgie can’t believe it’s her sister and sets off to find her, and as the story goes along we find out much more about what’s driven Agatha away and why Georgie feels so guilty. Georgie’s unique character and voice make this a really special book. (Grades 5 – 8)

zombie makersZombie Makers: True Stories of Nature’s Undead by Rebecca L. Johnson
“There are…things…that can take over the bodies and brains of innocent creatures”, and this book sets out to give us the riveting details. From the rabies virus that turns creatures insane and make them want to bite other creatures – thus spreading the virus – to the truly stomach churning guinea worm that grows up to three foot long inside its host – a human. This is an exemplary science book, well-written and illustrated, but not for the squeamish! (Grades 4-8)

– Hayley

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