Review: A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Gerta wakes up one morning to find that a heavily defended wall divides her country. Her father and brother are caught on one side of the Berlin Wall while she, her mother, and other brother, Fritz, remain at home in a land where even bananas are a freedom not to be had. Desiring a better life on the western side of the wall, Gerta and Fritz risk their lives to build a tunnel to freedom and their family. Along the way, they must reconcile white lies, true friends, and false enemies. The ending seems unrealistic even for historical fiction, but maybe I just need to read more about the Berlin Wall. I kept hoping for a slightly stronger historical background and faster-paced novel—there is a lot of digging—but overall, A Night Divided introduces young readers to a piece of history and feelings that they may not be familiar with. Kate…

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Miss Klute Is A Hoot (My Weirder School #11)

Some members of this Ella Mentry School class are struggling with reading. Their teacher, Mr. Mackay, decides to introduce the school to Miss Klute, a therapy Labradoodle. Miss Klute is the hit of the school, and all of the students want to read to her. A.J. and his classmates like some reading (they have good taste in Dan Yaccarino), but they especially like to make up their own stories when they get bored. The students worry that Miss Klute is also becoming uninterested and sad. A.J. comes up with a solution to take Miss Klute for a walk. Like A.J.’s usual luck, though, a squirrel runs by and the students lose Miss Klute in the chase. Chaos breaks out at the school and when they find Miss Klute, they have more of a mess than they bargained for. Meant for harder to engage readers, the My Weird School series (and its run…

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Book Review: Star-Crossed By Barbara Dee

Eighth-grader Mattie is struggling through the school year. Unlike her friends, Tessa and Lucy, she is not invited to Willow’s party. In an act of rebellion, Mattie disguises herself as Darth Vader and decides to attend anyway. Even though the night ends in disaster, Mattie begins to realize that she enjoyed her time with a girl, Gemma, more so than if she was with a boy. Mattie begins to spend more time with Gemma as they are cast together in the school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Although Mattie initially tries out for the part of Paris, she eventually finds herself as Romeo with Gemma as Juliet. The play as well as the upcoming Valentine’s Day dance forces Mattie to reconcile the unease she feels about her sexuality and decide whether or not to come out to her friends and Gemma. With heartfelt, realistic characters, Star-Crossed is a well-written and…

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