ALAN Real Quick Picks – April 2016

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Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo (Random House, 2016)

Harper Scott is so caught up in her plan to join the San Francisco Ballet that when she doesn’t make the cut, she runs away to an internship at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. There she uses her winter on ice to reassess her career plans, her friendship with Kate (who does appear to have a future as a professional ballerina), and her romance with Owen, a game designer at LucasArts. This is a novel in which the settings are practically characters themselves, cosmopolitan San Francisco and the cold, dark heart of Antarctica.
-Anne McLeod

 

The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie Sue Hitchcock (Wendy Lamb Books, 2016)

Lovely debut novel, four interwoven stories of teens growing up in Alaska in 1970. Ruth, alienated from the grandmother who is raising her and her sister, becomes pregnant; Dora lives with a friend’s family because of her father’s abuse and her mother’s drinking; Alyce, is an aspiring ballerina who works on her divorced dad’s salmon fishing boat every summer; and Hank runs away from home with his two brothers, only to find himself in deadly danger. There are nuns and redemption, new beginnings, surprising recognition of love that’s been there all along. In short, this is a rich and brilliant story.  -Anne McLeod

 

 

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk (Dutton, May, 2016)

WOLF HOLLOW deals with bullies, strangers, and kindness. Annabelle must confront the bully, protect the stranger, and find the gumption to stand up against those who would jump to conclusions. – Teri Lesesne

 

 

 

 

Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee (Atheneum, 2016)

MAYBE A FOX blends the stories of two sisters, a fox family, and the tale of a hidden cave that holds secrets to the past. When her sister disappears forever, Jules is driven to discover the secrets of the cave. Maybe the new female fox holds a clue.- Teri Lesesne

 

 

 

Pax by Sara Pennypacker (Balzer + Bray, 2016)

Pax is told in alternating voices. One is Peter, a boy forced to abandon his pet wolf by the roadside. The other voice is that of Pax, the fox, searching for his human despite his inability to deal with the world of the wild. – Teri Lesesne

 

 

 

 

 

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell (Simon & Schuster, 2015)

THE WOLF WILDER  is the story of Feo and her grandmother who are in charge of transforming the discarded wolves that Russian aristocracy have kept as pets and training them to survive once again the wild. When the family’s home and living are threatened, it is up to Feo and her beloved and loyal wolves to escape and survive. – Teri Lesesne

 

 

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham (Scholastic, 2016)[Originally published by David Fickling Books, Oxford, England in 2015.]

The grandmother, Mary, suffers from dementia; the mom, Caroline, is resentful of her mother and controlling of her daughter; and the daughter, Katie, feels friendless and alone.  When Caroline assumes temporary care of Mary, Katie gets to know her grandmother. The past weaves with the present as Katie learns Mary’s story (and thus Caroline’s story and her own).  An impressive exploration of female relationships. – Wendy Glenn

 

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (Simon Pulse, 2016)

Harry Denton, dubbed “Space Boy” by his peers for obvious reasons, has the fate of the world in his hands. As the clock to the end of the world ticks down from its remaining 144 days, Harry looks for reasons to save it. That’s pretty heavy sledding, given the loss of his boyfriend, the bullying he endures, and his family challenges. As Henry imagines the many different ways life as we know it might end, others offer him reasons to live, providing reassurance that something better is surely coming and that we have choices about how we choose to live out the remainder of our days, no matter how few they may be. – Barbara A. Ward

 

Character, Driven by David Lubar (Tor Teen, 2016) 
Seventeen-year- old Cliff Sparks has experienced more than his share of romantic mishaps and he’s busy working two jobs to support his family. Still, hope springs eternal, and he wonders if things might be different with Jillian, his latest object of affection. Beneath his banter and his hopefulness, though, lie dark secrets about his home life and just how close to being driven over the edge Cliff actually is. This book, set in New Jersey, describes his descent into dark places and how he manages to back away from that edge. There are hints scattered throughout the book that help readers discern the truth from the lies. – Barbara A. Ward

 

 

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (Candlewick Press, 2016)

New York City is burning up during the summer of 1977 with a serial killer on the loose, rising temperatures, and arsonists roaming the city. Against a frantically pulsing disco beat, seventeen-year-old Nora Lopez isn’t sure what lies ahead for her after high school, but she knows she won’t find peace or happiness at home. As her mother struggles even to pay the rent on time, her younger brother Hector becomes increasingly abusive toward Nora and her mother. For the most part, Nora hides what’s happening in her apartment and forgets herself in work, a budding romance, and dancing the night away. But the dance clubs always close, leaving Nora to face her life’s harsh reality amid the morning light. -Barbara A. Ward

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