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I always enjoy Schmidt’s books, but The Wednesday Wars was absolutely wonderful. Schmidt begins with a simple enough story–Holling Hoodhood is convinced that his 7th grade English teacher hates him. But then, Schmidt takes this simple plot and pulls in Shakespeare, the Vietnam War, 8th grade bullies, architecture, cross country, baseball, parents, sisters, first dates and so much more into a fabulous tale that spans Holling’s 7th grade year. This is a must read for parents, students and teachers alike.

And a small plug for my alma mater: Schmidt, who is also a winner of the Newbery Honor for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI.

SieUpon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944gal writes powerfully of her experiences as a Jewish child in Hungary as Hitler came to power. The horror of the Nazi regime, and the power of love and family come to life.

Rules by Cynthia Lord

10th February 2008

Catherine is trying to balance the needs of her autistic younger brother with her desire to fit in Rules (Newbery Honor Book)with her middle school friends.  An honest look at the perils of middle school, and the joys and challenges of children with special needs.

LilLily's Crossing (Yearling Newberg)y’s summer is not turning out the way she imagined. Her father is shipped overseas, her best friend has moved away, and she is left spending the summer with her grandmother, and the strange boy who just moved in next door. A sweet story for younger readers, set during WWII, about the importance of being truthful with those you love.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

08th January 2008

Hattie was an orphan, who had always been bounced around from relative to relative. She longed to put down roots, but feared she would never be given the chance. A surprise letter changed everything. Hattie’s Uncle Chester died, leaving Hattie his claim–320 unproved acres in far-off Montana. Although only 16 years old, Hattie seized her chance for independence, and went at once to claim her unseen land.

I absolutely loved this book. Hattie is a strong, independent character. She is a true friend to those in need, and rises to meet any challenge head on. Larson spent three years researching and writing this book, and her efforts paid off. She weaves together the difficulties of homesteading, the challenges of WWI, and the bonds of friendship into a beautiful tale.

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