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Escaped Prisoners, Grave Robbers, and Detectives: New Books for Older Readers

zebra-forest1Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz
Eleven-year-old Annie and her younger brother, Rew, live with their grandma in a run-down house at the edge of the forest. Gran tells them that their mother didn’t want them, and their father died in a fight with an angry man. Annie and Rew get the most joy reading Treasure Island under the birches and oaks in what they’ve named the Zebra Forest. Their lives take a drastic turn when inmates at a local prison escape, and one breaks into Gran’s house and holds them hostage. When the escaped inmate turns out to be their father, resourceful Rew creates a rescue plan and insists his sister help him to execute it, while Annie decides to use their time as hostages to get to know their father. Annie’s internal struggle between her strong desire to know her father and the situation she realizes can never last will captivate readers. Short chapters and Annie’s believable first-person voice make this is an accessible read and a great read-aloud for older children. (Grades 5 – 8)

Lincolns-Grave-Robbers1Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin
It’s 1876 and your best counterfeiter, Benjamin Boyd, has been sentenced to ten years in prison in Joliet. So what does ringleader (James “Big Jim” Kinneally) do to get Boyd back? He creates an elaborate plan to steal Abraham Lincoln’s body and ransom it to the government in exchange for Boyd’s release and $200,000. In this true and fascinating story, Sheinkin lays out the cast of characters and unfolds the action alternating among the conspirators, the Secret Service agents on their trail and the double agent who is the important link between the two groups. Readers will be astonished at how easily the plan was pulled off and will race to the finish to see what unfolds on election night. Gripping, fast-paced and true, kids will want to read more of Sheinkin’s narrative non-fiction when they finish this one. (Grades 5 – 9)

timmyTimmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephen Pastis
Timmy Failure: self-confident, imaginative, entrepreneurial, and friend to polar bears, especially Total, who happens to be his business partner. Timmy is CEO of Total Failure, Inc., the best detective agency in the nation or maybe even the world and which is sure to make him so much money his mom will no longer worry about paying the bills. Life would be perfect and business booming if Timmy’s nemesis “whose name shall not be uttered” hadn’t also opened a detective agency. Pearls Before Swine author Pastis’s hilarious and well-placed doodle drawings create an even funnier Timmy. Wimpy Kid fans will love this series. (Grades 3 – 8)

mirkaHereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch (Graphic Novel)
Mirka is back for another adventure after defeating the troll in Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword. Mirka is a bored teenager who lives in Hereville, an Orthodox Jewish community. She longs for a new adventure and goes back to the troll to retrieve her sword. Seeing troll again doesn’t go so well, and soon he’s released a meteorite that’s heading straight for Hereville. Mirka enlists the help of the Witch, who transforms the meteorite into Mirka’s identical twin. While the meteorite is thrilled and wants to prove that she’s the stronger twin, Mirka just wants her to return to the sky. Mirka must defeat the meteorite twin in a three-part challenge or be banished from Hereville forever. Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite is a great mix of real-world teen emotions, a glimpse of Orthodox Jewish life, and fantasy. Mirka is a heroine older readers will cheer for in all of her adventures. (Grades 4 – 7)

-Jessica

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