About Me - New Books for Young Readers - Books for Young Readers
Books for Young Readers
(Sleeping Bear Press/October 2009)
Tales of Young Americans
Ella May lives on a plantation but she doesn't
live in the great house. She is a slave. It's
dark in the morning when Ella May heads to the
fields to pick cotton. And it's sunset when she
comes home. But her day isn't done, not yet.
Ella May still has important work to do. She's
got to listen. Each night Ella May and her
friends, Bobby and Sue, listen outside the
windows of their master's house. Acting as the
ears of their families, the children listen in
the hopes of gleaning information about their
fates and those of their loved ones. Who will be
sold? Who will stay? What is happening in the
rest of the country? The lives of slaves
depended on the whims and inclinations of their
owners. They had no control over the
circumstances of their daily lives or futures.
But they could dream. And when the promise of
freedom is spoken a, the children are the first
to hear it.
2010 USA Book News Honor finalist
WAITING FOR THE OWL'S CALL
(Sleeping Bear Press/October 2009)
Tales of the World
Eight-year-old Zulviya, her sister and her cousin, her mother and her grandmother, and their mothers and grandmothers before them…they all belong to the loom. For generations the women of Zulviya's family have earned their living by weaving rugs by hand. The rugs are beautiful and valuable, and the women are proud of their handiwork. But the work is hard. The wool must be scrubbed clean, carded between wire combs, and spun into thread, which must be dyed. Once on the loom, the work is even more laborious. It takes months to weave a rug, each one of which contains hundreds of thousands of knots. Before one workday has passed, Zulviya will tie thousands of knots. As she sits at her work, Zulviya weaves not one but two patterns. She weaves a second pattern in her mind. There she sees the green of the Afghani hills, the bright blue of the nearby lake, and the vivid orange of the setting sun. And Zulviya takes comfort in the landscape in her mind. The sights, sounds, and vibrant spirit of the Turkoman people come alive in this story of one day in the life of a young girl in Afghanistan.
2010 USA Book News Honor finalist
(Harper/Collins, June 2009)
It's the year 1900, the dawn of a new century for Verna and Carlie, whose mother died two years ago. They are headed to their new home-the grounds of an asylum for the mentally ill. Their father, a doctor, has been hired to treat its patients while the girls are under the strict and watchful eye of their aunt Maude. The towering asylum, the murmuring patients with their tormented pasts, the exquisite locked garden at the center of the grounds-Verna perceives forbidden mystery and enchantment everywhere. Even Aunt Maude's temper will not keep her from striking out on her own exciting adventures.
But is Verna ready to confront all the secrets and emotions that have been locked within-even those of her own heart?
"When her father, a well-known psychiatrist, accepts a position at a remote asylum in northern Michigan, Verna is reluctant to leave their home, which holds happy memories of her mother, who died two years earlier in 1898. Once settled into their cozy new house on the asylum grounds, though, Verna and her younger sister welcome their new life, particularly after the arrival of their young maid, Eleanor. Although she is a melancholia patient, Eleanor brings a warmth that contrasts sharply with the girls' guardian, Aunt Maude, who can be "as menacing as a hornet's nest." Tensions rise as Aunt Maude grows furiously jealous of the affection Eleanor shares with the girls, who, in turn, plot to send Maude packing. Descriptions of the sprawling, grand asylum and its mysteriously locked wings may lead readers to suppose that they've begun a gothic novel. They'll quickly realize, though, that the evocative setting is a backdrop to the sensitive, sometimes comedic family story filled with character lessons for Verna and compassionate questions about mental illness and its treatment."
Judo, origami, sushi, Samurai, Manga…with just a few words an immediate landscape is conjured: the country of Japan. Readers are invited to travel to faraway Japan and explore its rich history, traditions, and role in today’s world.
AFTER THE TRAIN
(Harper/Collins, February 2009)
"Peter Liebig can't wait
for summer. He's tired of classrooms, teachers, and the endless lectures
about the horrible Nazis. The war has been over for ten years, and
besides, his town of Rolfen, West Germany, has moved on nicely. Despite
its bombed-out church, it looks just as calm and pretty as ever. There
is money to be made at the beach, and there are whole days to spend with
Father at his job. And of course, there's soccer. Plenty for a
thirteen-year-old boy to look forward to. But when Peter stumbles across
a letter he was never meant to see, he unravels a troubling secret. Soon
he questions everything --- the town's peaceful nature, his parents'
stories about the war, and his own sense of belonging."
(Dial Press, June 2008)
"When the police break
into Silvia's home in Buenos Aires in 1976 and drag her beloved older
brother, Eduardo, 17, to prison, Silvia is willing to risk anything to
save him, even dating the powerful general's son, Norberto. She dreads
the idea that Eduardo will become one of los Desaparecidos (the
Disappeared) prisoners who are never seen again. For his part, Eduardo
endures torture and worries that Silvia will also be arrested. In terse,
alternating present-tense narratives, the siblings talk to one another
and reveal their secret thoughts. Most moving are their family
memories....readers will be held by the recent history -- many of the
victims are still Disappeared -- and the teen voices personalize the
political cruelty and courage."
"Gr 7-10 - A story set in
Buenos Aires in the late 1970s. Despite its peaceful facade, Argentina
is rife with guerrilla warfare and run by malevolent generals. Told in
alternating chapters by two teenage siblings, the novel relates how one
young person decides to stand up for his political beliefs and ideals
.... The deftly handled voices of Silvia and Eduardo follow the
well-intentioned, but often grievous, mistakes of youth. Their
compelling tale is a chilling account of the manipulative power of
YUKI AND THE ONE THOUSAND CARRIERS
(Sleeping Bear Press, April 2008)
A Junior Literary Guild Selection
2009 IRA Teachers' Choices List - Intermediate Category
"Part of the Tales of the
World fiction series, this picture book draws on seventeenth-century
Japanese history, traditional art, and haiku poetry to tell the story of
a young child on a 300-mile journey between the cities of Kyoto and Edo
(modern-day Tokyo). Yuki hates leaving her home in Kyoto, but when the
emperor summons her father, she and her mother must go, too, accompanied
by more than 1,000 carriers, Award-winning illustrator, Nascimbene stays
true to Yuki's childish perspective as she follows the family's journey
along the narrow path over the mountains and along the river and the
sea. Accompanying the simple prose narrative, are haiku, one or more on
each double-page spread, that express intense feelings in clear, casual
words: "Once outside the gate/ how will I find my way back? / Will home
disappear?" Children will recognize Yuki's longing, and then her joy
when she's able to stop looking back."
"...As Yuki's haiku acknowledge changes in the weather, the
topography, and her own moods, Yan Nascimbene's delicate watercolor
illustrations give readers visual images of the scenery, the inns and
villages on the route, and the long, long, line of carriers walking
ahead of her. ...The artist's flat washes and outlined shapes suggest
something of Hiroshige's woodcuts. The original art in Yuki won Nascimbe
a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators."
PARADE OF SHADOWS
(Harper/Collins, October 2007)
A PARADE OF SHADOWS tells one story and one lesson. It's 1907 and Julia Hamilton has talked her father into letting her accompany him on a secret mission for England's Foreign Service. They will journey to the Middle East: to Istanbul, Damascus, Palmyra and Alexandretta. Traveling with them is a young man from Oxford who supports the young Turks' efforts to overthrow the Sultan and his Ottoman Empire, a Turkish guide in the pay of the Sultan, a Frenchman who wished to acquire for France more than antiquities and a botanist whose collecting hides the biggest secret of all. There are sandstorms, travel of the Orient Express, Druse and Dervishes, a romance, a betrayal and a poisoning. There is also a lesson. You can trace today's headlines and much of today's violence in the Middle East to that time when greedy nations set out to grab for themselves their own bit of land. Turning the pages of a 1906 Baedeker's travel guide to Palestine and Syria I longed to joint those intrepid travelers. I used A PARADE OF SHADOWS to write my way there and to let others make the trip with me. When I set out I knew it would be an adventure. I didn't know it would be a lesson.
"Delivering a serious
indictment of European colonialism, Whelan supplies within her tale the
requisite background information to allow readers to sort through the
player' competing interests. Most importantly, she carries it off with a
whirl of intrigues, betrayals, attempted murder and of course, romance
that should render teen readers oblivious to the fact that they're also
getting a crash course in Middle Eastern history."
"This satisfying read
is a romantic adventure in the best tradition by a master of such
"Though it's an area
of the world with much history and culture, Julia's early concerns are
over what to pack and where she will wash her hair in the desert. The
carefree and romantic trip she had imagined turns into a life-changing
experience in a region in turmoil, with snakebites, a murder attempt,
spies, revolutionaries, conspiracy and passion. This engaging tale of
the Ottoman Empire prior to World War I teaches much history, mostly
through dialogue, and has clear historical lessons for today's readers
about greed and meddling in cultures without understanding them."
(Sleeping Bear Press, September 2007)
A Junior Library Guild Selection
Yatandou lives in a Mali village with her family and neighbors. It is dry and dusty; the red sand is everywhere. And though she is only eight years old and would much rather play with her friend, Yantandou must sit with the women from her village and pound millet kernels. To grind enough millet for one day's food, the women must pound the kernels with their pounding sticks for three hours. It is hard work, especially when one is eight years old. As they work the women dream - they dream of a wonderful machine that can grind the millet and free them from their pounding sticks. But the machine will only come when the women have raised enough money to buy it. Yantandou must help raise money, even if it means parting with something she holds dear. Illustrations are by Peter Sylvada whose A SYMPHONY OF WHALES was named a 1999 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book.
eight-year-old narrator of this lyrical first volume in the Tales of the
World series, spends long days at work in her village in Mali. As she
pounds millet kernels with a stick, she daydreams about going to school,
where she might 'learn book secrets like my brother did' and about the
day the village women save up enough money to buy a machine to grind the
millet....The text is set on a rich brick-colored background that evokes
the ever-present sand ('the desert lives with us,' says Yatandou) and
that successfully counterpoints the luminosity of Sylvada's
artwork, paired with Whelan's vivid, poetic prose, intensifies the
immediacy and emotion of Yatandou's first-person narrative and her
selfless, heartrending sacrifice."
"Summers on Turtle Island
have always been perfect, an idyllic escape for Belle (14), her three
siblings, parents and grandparents. Then, on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor changes everything. Her dad goes to work for
Ford; her mom returns to medical practice; and their teen cousin from
Paris comes to stay while her father works for the London Embassy. When
Caroline arrives wearing a dress and high heels, it's clear she doesn't
want to be there. Belle, Emily (12), Nancy (8) and Tommy (10) try hard
to include her in their summer fun and activities, but Caroline refuses
to join in, remaining sulky, condescending and obstinate. There are two
wars that summer - one remote and one on home territory - and both
change the lives of everyone on the island. Radio broadcasts keep the
overseas war distant, but the intensity of the familial one ties them
all in knots. Their paradise of summer living loses its innocence when
the harshness of war transforms the days that become bygone. Beautifully
measured writing captures the smell of lake breezes, the feel of sand
between the toes and emotional ache of growing up when change is not a
choice. An exception portrayal of how war becomes personal. (Historical
Selected as a 2007 Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan.
MACKINAC BRIDGE: THE FIVE MILE POEM
(Sleeping Bear Press)
The story of the
building of the Mackinac Bridge through the eyes of a young boy whose
family is changed forever by the miracle of the bridge.
LISTENING FOR LIONS
"*Starred Review* Gr. 6-9. In 1919, in British East Africa, 13-year-old Rachel loses her missionary parents during an influenza epidemic. When she turns to her English neighbors for help, the Pritchards ensnare her in a shocking, ill-intentioned scheme. Disowned by their rich family, they had planned to send their daughter, Valerie, to her grandfather's estate in England, where they hoped she would help to reinstate them in his will. But after Valerie dies of flu, the Pritchards conspire to send Rachel, whose red hair matches their daughter's. Whelan creates deliciously odious villains in the Pritchard parents, who, with shameless cunning, manipulate Rachel into agreeing to the deceit. Once in England, Rachel and the perilously ill grandfather develop a surprisingly strong, affectionate bond, although she continues the ruse, believing that "one more disappointment would be the end of the old man." In a straightforward, sympathetic voice, Rachel tells an involving, episodic story that follows her across continents and through life stages as she grapples with her dishonesty, grief for her lost parents and life in Africa, and looming questions about how to prepare for grown-up life at a time when few choices were allowed to women. Gentle, nostalgic, and fueled with old-fashioned girl power, this involving orphan story will please fans of Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic The Secret Garden (1912) and Eva Ibbotson's The Star of Kazan (2004). Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved."
FRIEND ON FREEDOM RIVER
(Sleeping Bear Press)
In December of 1850 the Detroit River would soon freeze, making it very
dangerous for boats to travel. A young boy, Louis, has been put in charge of things while his father is away. Before his father left, he instructed his son: "If you don't know what to do, just do what you think I would have done."
St. Petersburg Novels
ANGEL ON THE SQUARE
book's uncomplicated language and sensitive treatment of political issues
make it an excellent, vibrant introduction to the cause and effects
of Tsar Nikolai's fall."
THE IMPOSSIBLE JOURNEY
BURYING THE SUN
CHU JU'S HOUSE
When a girl is born to Chu Ju's family, it is quickly determined that the baby must be sent away. The law states that a family may have only two children, and Chinese tradition favors a son. Chu Ju, cannot bear to see the little sister she has grown to love, snatched away and sold like a bag of rice. Knowing that one girl must leave, Chu Ju sets out in the middle of the night. This is the story of her journey.
tale of survival and self-sacrifice gives a graphic portrayal of
authoritarian rule, but emphasizes the strength and compassion that can
endure even among the oppressed, and Whelan skillfully shows the
perspectives of both sides of the revolution. Facing one test of courage
after another, Chu Ju emerges as a heroine worthy of the rare and coved rewards
she ultimately receives."
tells a compelling adventure story, filled with rich cultural detail,
about a smart, likable teenage girl who overcomes society's gender
restrictions. Whelan skillfully weaves in just enough cultural context to
support the story, while her atmospheric details bring the green Chinese
landscape to life. Most compelling, though, is brave, clearly drawn Chu Ju,
who intelligence and good heart win her land, family respect, and the
promise of romance by the story's end."
FRUITLANDS: Louisa May Alcott Made Perfect
When Louisa May Alcott was eleven her parents joined a very strange group of people at a farmhouse called Fruitlands. The diary Louisa kept during the eight months at Fruitlands is missing. Based on research about those months I have imagined what that diary might have said about Louisa's amazing adventures.
is a fine work of fiction, very close in spirit and substance to young
Louisa's experience at Fruitlands. Gloria Whelan's moving portrayal
is quite true to the original."
May Alcott fans will relish this fictionalized account of the Alcotts'
stay at Fruitlands, a commune where Louisa's transcendentalist father
and his friend, Mr. Lane, conducted their famous not-so-successful experiment
in forming a perfect community. Whelan (Angel on the Square; Homeless
Bird) structures the novel as two sets of journal entries based on Alcott's
own childhood writings: "In the first diary there will be Louy, who
will try to be just what Mother and Father would wish. In the second
diary there will be Louisa, just as she is," a sentiment that will vindicate
many an aspiring journal-keeper. The first-person narratives vividly
capture Louisa's wit, feisty spirit and keen powers of observation.
The entries intended to be shared with Mother and Father give an insightful
overview of the commune, where naturalists gather to better themselves.
They also reveal Louisa's ongoing struggle to meet the commune leaders'
lofty expectations by denying herself small pleasures: "We are not to
eat butter or rob hens of their eggs. I will do all that I can to curb
my coarse appetites." The private pages, penned in the "leafy tent"
of a willow tree, offer a more in-depth study of commune members' quirks
and foibles, as well as a hilarious critique of others' success or failure
in practicing what they preach. ("Mr. Lane is to teach us all how we
are to improve ourselves. I watched him stride along behind the wagon,
his head up, his chin out, proud of walking while others rode. He did
not look like a man who thought he needed improvement"). This meticulously
researched book reveals Whelan's depth of understanding and respect
for Louisa May Alcott's outlook on life and relationships with others.
A marvelous companion for the 19th-century author's semi-autobiographical
Little Women. Ages 8-12."
JAMS AND JELLIES BY HOLLY AND NELLY
(Sleeping Bear Press, September 2002)
There is no money for Holly's winter coat. Mama says, "When I was Holly's age I missed school half the winter, Ever since, my learnings got big holes in it. I'll find the money somewhere."
Papa throws her a look. "You going to hunt for it in the woods?" "Yes, sir," Mama says, snappy-like. "There's plenty in the woods free for the taking." Join Holly and Nellie in the woods and see what they found.
"K-Gr. 2. A beautiful
story with threads of family devotion, love of learning, and perseverance
woven through it like shot silk. There's no money on the northern Michigan
farm for Holly to get a warm coat and boots, but Holly's mother is determined
that Holly will go to school during the winter. From spring to late
summer, Holly and her mother pick wild strawberries, Juneberries, raspberries,
blueberries, and blackberries, turning them into jam and jelly. Holly
works alongside her mom, noticing the waxwings and the dragonflies,
the milkweed and the butterflies. Dad builds a stand to sell the wares;
just before school, the shelves are empty and the money jar is full.
The coat keeps Holly warm while waiting for the school bus, but so do
the memories of summer picking and the scent of berries. The artist
has painted each picture full-bleed across the double-spreads, using
saturated colors and patterned brushstrokes that echo Impressionists
Monet and Renoir as well as the golden landscapes of Dutch painters."
National Parenting Publications 2003 Honors Award
Finalist 2003 Great Lakes Booksellers Award
Merit Award Winner 2003 Midwest Independent Publishers Association
When HOMELESS BIRD received the National Book Award, the citation read: Married at thirteen to a dying child she has never met, Koly's life begins a seemingly inexorable downward spiral into poverty and isolation. Abandoned in a city of temples and white sari-clad widows, the young girl discovers opportunities and savage crimes, those who would help her and those who would exploit her. It is a story told clearly and without extravagance, somber in the way in which it confronts the difficulties of Koly's life, and yet radiant with hope.
insightful, beautifully written, culturally illuminating tale of universal
feelings in which riches are measured not in monetary wealth but in
happiness and personal fulfillment."
ONCE ON THIS ISLAND
In the summer of 1812 British soldiers take over Mackinac Island from the Americans. Mary O'Shea and her sister, Angelique, her brother, Jacques and their friend White Hawk must find a way to survive the rugged land and the enemy soldiers. FAREWELL TO THE ISLAND and RETURN TO THE ISLAND tell the further adventures of Mary and her friends. Harper Collins.
smooth writing, vivid characters, and strong sense of place make this
a good choice for libraries and a treasure for ones in the Great Lakes
FAREWELL TO THE ISLAND
(Thunder Bay Press)
|Mary sets out on an adventurous trip across the Atlantic, upsetting the
captain, winning surprising friends among the crew and ending up in a
"Though her writing might at first seem to be the simple telling of an interesting tale for young adults, there is, beneath it all, a far more complex story about a strong young woman finding her way through class and racial prejudices, making choices that will ultimately bring her happiness."
- Traverse City Record Eagle
RETURN TO THE ISLAND
Will Mary choose a life of elegance in England with James or will she
remain on her beloved Mackinac
Island and wait for White Hawk?
plot gets most interesting when a suitor Mary met in her travels comes
to the island with the hope of winning her heart; readers are kept
wondering if the adventurous young woman will choose to stay home
with a native leader or return to England to marry the son of a duchess."
THE PATHLESS WOODS: Ernest Hemingway's Sixteenth Summer in Northern Michigan (Thunder Bay Press)
Ernest Hemingway's sixteenth summer at Walloon Lake in northern Michigan
brings changes that will last
him the rest of his life. Camping out in the woods across the lake, he confronts poachers, fights a
forest fire, and struggles for independence from his family.
"A rich relevant book that successfully weaves personal, literary and natural history." The Detroit
News. "Whelan's smooth writing makes for smooth reading. Perceptive unobtrusive observations, such as those about the bravura of adolescent boys and the truth behind it, make the book particularly unusual and valuable."
- School Library Journal
FORGIVE THE RIVER, FORGIVE THE SKY
Twelve-year-old Lily Star loves the Sandy River, which flows through the
small northern Michigan town where she has lived all of her life, but she can't forgive the river.
She is angry at the river because it was where her father died -- and
after that her whole life changed.
"Lily is as irresistible as a force of nature."
- Kirkus Reviews
(Thunder Bay Press)
In 1838 families of slaves have found a welcome in the southern Michigan
town of Marshall. Based on a true story the Crosswhites must find
a way to escape from the slave catchers who come from Kentucky to
take them back to slavery.
A finalist for the Midland Authors' Award
THE MIRACLE OF ST. NICHOLAS
On the day before Christmas in a small Russian village Alexi's babushka
tells him what Christmas was like when she was a girl -- before the
soldiers came. "Our church was a crowded as a pod full of peas. Candles
made the church as bright as the sunniest day. Watching over us was the
blessed icon of St. Nicholas." His babushka tells Alexi it would
take a miracle to re-open the church, but that doesn't stop Alexi.
"Religion and history unite in this inspiring story about the rebirth of an abandoned church."
- Publishers Weekly
SPRING AN ORIOLE
NIGHT OF THE FULL MOON
SHADOW OF THE WOLF
THE INDIAN SCHOOL
It is the autumn of 1839 and Lucy, an orphan, has come to live with her
aunt and uncle, who run a mission school for Indian children. Aunt
Emma is STERN and has rules for everything; she gives the students
American names and dresses them in drab mission clothes. Uncle Edward
tells them that the old ways are gone, and now they must fit into
the white man's world. Lucy cannot understand why the Indians are
the ones who must do the changing.
"Teachers in search of fiction tie-ins to Native American units will welcome this."
THAT WILD BERRIES SHOULD GROW
Illness sends fifth-grade Elsa away from her home in the city to spend
the summer with her German grandparents on the shores of Lake Huron.
She must learn to find excitement in "empty" places. She tends
her own garden, fishes on the big lake, explores a mysterious gully, learns
to walk barefoot and to pick wild berries and makes a good friend.
The country is no longer an empty place.
"Images shine like spots of color: the girl dancing to her grandfather's violin; the taste of wild berries, and potatoes fried with bacon; the smell of fish on her hands. The drama here is that of days passing and of Elsa growing to understand more of the world and the people around her. A gentle, authentic slice of childhood with the timeless feel of summer."
- School Library Journal
A TIME TO KEEP SILENT
Thirteen-year-old Clair Lothrop's world is falling apart. Her mother has
died, and her father is taking her from her school and all of her
friends to the woods of northern Michigan. Clair is so angry she
stops talking. But everything changes when Clair discovers a wonderful
new friend her own age, Dorrie, who lives alone in the woods to avoid
her alcoholic father.
A Children's Choice Book
Mai and her family must flee Vietnam, first on foot through the swamplands
of the Mekong Delta, and then by sea, in a tiny boat crowded with
other refugees and threatened by pirates. Once in Hong Kong they
must survive the crowded refugee camp and the threat of being returned
"Readers will be introduced to elements of a new culture and made painfully aware of social conditions in other parts of the world."
- Publisher's Weekly. Starred review.
Nine-year-old Hannah would do almost anything to go to school but the
year is 1887, Hannah is blind, and her parents keep her home. Then
a strong-minded teacher comes to town.
"A touching, believable story with strong characterization and sense of place."
- The HORN Book
Rachel dreams of racing huskies one day, just like her father. When he
gives her a tiny puppy for her birthday she vows to make him the
fastest lead dog in Alaska. Then one day her puppy disappears. Rachel
sets out to find him in a snow storm. An eerie howling breaks the silence.
Rachel realizes she is tracking a wolf!
"Whelan's vivid words of a child's view of an Alaskan winter are complemented by Marchesi's affectionate illustrations. Though an easy chapter book, Whelan's mature tone will also appeal to older and perhaps reluctant, readers."