Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
F&P Level: U

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

Includes a discussion of dangers faced by African Americans in 1960s and ’70s America. Recommended: 11+

Pages: 336


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The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only IvanThe One and Only Ivan
Author: Katherine Applegate
Grade: 4
F&P Level: T
Lexile: 570

When Ivan, a gorilla who has lived for years in a down-and-out circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant that has been added to the mall, he decides that he must find her a better life.

Pages: 305


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The Tale of Despereaux

Tale of DespereauxThe Tale of Despereaux
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Grade: 4
F&P Level: U
Lexile: 670

The adventures of Despereaux Tilling, a small mouse of unusual talents, the princess he loves, the servant girl who longs to be a princess, and a devious rat determined to bring them all to ruin.

Pages: 267

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Never Fall Down

Never Fall DownNever Fall Down
Author: Patricia McCormick
Courses: English 9 & 9H

Based on the true story of Cambodian advocate Arn Chorn-Pond, and authentically told from his point of view as a young boy, this is an achingly raw and powerful historical novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace. It includes an author’s note and acknowledgments from Arn Chorn-Pond himself.

When soldiers arrive in his hometown, Arn is just a normal little boy. But after the soldiers march the entire population into the countryside, his life is changed forever.

Arn is separated from his family and assigned to a labor camp: working in the rice paddies under a blazing sun, he sees the other children dying before his eyes. One day, the soldiers ask if any of the kids can play an instrument. Arn’s never played a note in his life, but he volunteers.

This decision will save his life, but it will pull him into the very center of what we know today as the Killing Fields. And just as the country is about to be liberated, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier.

Pages: 224

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A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named DesireA Streetcar Named Desire
Author: Tennessee Williams
Course: English 12H

It is a very short list of 20th-century American plays that continue to have the same power and impact as when they first appeared—57 years after its Broadway premiere, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desireis one of those plays. The story famously recounts how the faded and promiscuous Blanche DuBois is pushed over the edge by her sexy and brutal brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski. Streetcar launched the careers of Marlon Brando, Jessica Tandy, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden, and solidified the position of Tennessee Williams as one of the most important young playwrights of his generation, as well as that of Elia Kazan as the greatest American stage director of the ’40s and ’50s.

Pages: 224

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Wy the Caged Bird SingsI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Author: Maya Angelou
Courses: English 9 & 9H

Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.

Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.

Pages: 304

 

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The Left Hand of Darkness

left hand.jpgThe Left Hand of Darkness
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Courses: English 10 & 10H

When the human ambassador Genly Ai is sent to Gethen, the planet known as Winter by those outsiders who have experienced its arctic climate, he thinks that his mission will be a standard one of making peace between warring factions. Instead the ambassador finds himself wildly unprepared. For Gethen is inhabited by a society with a rich, ancient culture full of strange beauty and deadly intrigue—a society of people who are both male and female in one, and neither. This lack of fixed gender, and the resulting lack of gender-based discrimination, is the very cornerstone of Gethen life. But Genly is all too human. Unless he can overcome his ingrained prejudices about the significance of “male” and “female,” he may destroy both his mission and himself.

Pages: 336

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What is the What

WhatWhat is the What
Author: Dave Eggers
Course: English 12H

Separated from his family, Valentino Achak Deng becomes a refugee in war-ravaged southern Sudan. His travels bring him in contact with enemy soldiers, with liberation rebels, with hyenas and lions, with disease and starvation, and with deadly murahaleen (militias on horseback)—the same sort who currently terrorize Darfur. Based closely on actual experiences, What Is the What is heartrending and astonishing, filled with adventure, suspense, tragedy, and, finally, triumph.

Pages: 560

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People of the Book

PeoplePeople of the Book
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Course: English 12H

In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed manuscript, which has been rescued once again from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with figurative paintings. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair—she becomes determined to unlock the book’s mysteries. As she seeks the counsel of scientists and specialists, the reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its creation to its salvation.

Pages: 396

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