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Dolls, Wishes, and Secrets: New Books for Older Readers

DollBonesDoll Bones by Holly Black, with illustrations by Eliza Wheeler
The co-author of The Spiderwick Chronicles series has crafted a truly creepy tale of an old bone-china doll and the three friends that she may or may not be haunting. Zach’s dad threw away his action figures, so he can no longer play the game that he and Poppy and Alice have been making up for years. And maybe he’s too old, anyhow? Determined to have one last great adventure, Poppy takes out her mother’s precious china doll, the one they have always called the Great Queen. She says the Queen was made from the bones of a real child and has told Poppy to bury her in her real grave, a few towns away. Part on-the-road adventure, part ghost story, Doll Bones delivers seriously spooky fun. (grades 4-8)

CenterofEverythingThe Center of Everything by Linda Urban
Ruby Pepperdine’s life is falling apart. Her best friend is angry with her, she can’t seem to do anything right in her new friendship with (gasp!) a boy, and she desperately misses her grandmother, who recently passed away. She sees only one way out of this mess: a one-in-a-million chance at a wish. It is said, if you toss a quarter through the doughnut hole in the founder’s statue, over your back, on your birthday, you’ll get your wish. And what Ruby wishes more than anything is for things to be what they are “supposed” to be. Urban has written a heartfelt tale of friendship, family, and finding your way that kids will relate to. (Grades 3-6)

house-of-secrets-cover_422x628House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
Director Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) has teamed up with young adult author Ned Vizzini to create an action-packed middle grade book that is overflowing with excitement. The three Walker children — eight-year-old Eleanor, 12-year-old Brendan, and 15-year-old Cordelia — know there is something not quite right about the old house they and their parents are moving in to. It’s suspiciously cheap, there’s a creepy neighbor who looks an awful lot like the ugly statue outside, and a library full of books written by the eccentric author who lived there years before. The very next day, the neighbor transforms into the Wind Witch and attacks the family, sending the house and children into the world of the old author’s books. The children work with characters from the books, including a World War I fighter pilot and a 10-story-tall giant, to fend off a gang of savages, a pack of wolves, a band of pirates, and more. The short chapters keep the action rolling at all times. (Grades 3 – 8)

primatesPrimates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks
This graphic novel tells the interlocking story of three extraordinary women who all studied apes in the wild as no one else did: Jane Goodall and her chimps, Dian Fosse and her gorillas, and Biruté Galdikas and her orangutans. Their inspiring stories translate well to the graphic format, giving a keen sense of the women’s passions for their subjects and a taste of their lives. The book starts by showing Goodall as a child, reading about Tarzan and “that other Jane.” The story continues through her education and meeting with Dr. Louis Leakey, who would become her mentor and sponsor, and later provide that same role for Fosse and Galdikas. We then learn of her life in Africa, living with the chimps. Part 2 shows the passionate and sometimes difficult Dian Fosse and her fight to conserve the wilderness for gorillas. Part 3 introduces Galdikas, another woman scientist recruited by Dr. Leakey, who studied orangutans in the wild and launched a movement to rehabilitate those great apes who had been captured. These three fascinating stories will spark an interest in kids, and the thoughtful references in the back of the book will direct them to more information. (Grades 6 and up)


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