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Friends with Books #1

The Summer/Fall 2010 Edition

In my first edition of "Friends with Books" I am spotlighting Mark Peter Hughes, Brian Lies, G. Neri, and Mitali Perkins.

Mark Peter Hughes

Mark is a friend from New England SCBWI. I am especially excited to see his newest book, A Crack in the Sky, because I had an opportunity to critique an early draft and found it to be an amazing story with timely environmental themes. Recommended for kids who enjoy dystopic stories like The Giver or The Hunger Games.

A Crack in the Sky
Delacorte Press, 2010

The world is overheated. The last of humanity struggles to survive in a world devastated by disease and violent storms. While nomadic savages run wild in the wasteland beyond the dome-protected cities, inside the artificial city of Providence thirteen-year-old Eli and his brain-boosted mongoose are unaware of the dangers that lie just outside their synthetic world with its cooling systems, air purifiers, and electronic sky.

When Eli starts to uncover the truth, he learns that being a child of privilege won’t be enough to save him from losing everything that he loves—maybe even his own life.

Brian Lies

Brian is a friend from New England SCBWI. My family attended his book launch at the Marshfield Fair, where Bats at the Ballgame is set–and we were excited to see that Brian brought his "BATSmobile" to the fair. I would recommend his newest book to parents who love baseball and want to share a well-told story with young children who love baseball.

Bats at the Ballgame
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010

You’ll never forget your first game: the green so green, the presence of heroes past, and togetherness with family and friends, rooting for the home team.

But you think humans are the only ones who enjoy America’s favorite pastime? Grab your bat—the other kind—and your mitt, and join these captivating bats as they flutter off to watch their all-stars compete. How about a mothdog? Or some Cricket Jack?

In sweeping compositions that transport fans to the right-side-up and upside-down world of bats at play, Brian Lies treats us to a whole new ballgame.

G. Neri

Greg was my classmate in the Class of 2k7 group of debut authors, and we presented a panel together at the SCBWI annual conference in 2007. Greg writes provocative, edgy stories for reluctant readers, especially urban boys. I recommend his graphic novel, Yummy, to reluctant readers and enthusiastic readers alike.

Lee & Low Books, 2010

In August of 1994, 11-year-old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer—nicknamed for his love of sweets—fired a gun at a group of rival gangmembers, accidentally killing a neighborhood girl, Shavon Dean. Police searched Chicago's southside for three days before finding Yummy dead in a railway tunnel, killed by members of the drug gang he’d sought to impress. The story made such an impact that Yummy appeared on the cover of TIME magazine, drawing national attention to the problems of inner city youth in America.

YUMMY: THE LAST DAYS OF A SOUTHSIDE SHORTY relives the confusion of these traumatic days from the point of view of Roger, a neighborhood boy who struggles to understand the senseless violence swirling through the streets around him. Awakened by the tragedy, Roger seeks out answers to difficult questions—Was Yummy a killer or a victim? Was he responsible for his actions or are others to blame?

Mitali Perkins

Mitali is a friend from New England SCBWI. She writes multicultural fiction, often about characters caught between cultures. She also maintains an amazingly informative blog for anyone interested in multicultural issues in fiction. I recommend her book to teens looking for a thought-provoking read.

Bamboo People
Charlesbridge, 2010

Chiko isn’t a fighter by nature. He’s a book-loving Burmese boy whose father, a doctor, is in prison for resisting the government. Tu Reh, on the other hand, wants to fight for freedom after watching Burmese soldiers destroy his Karenni family's home and bamboo fields. Timidity becomes courage and anger becomes compassion as each boy is changed by unlikely friendships formed under extreme circumstances.

This coming-of-age novel takes place against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma. Narrated by two fifteen-year-old boys on opposing sides of the conflict between the Burmese government and the Karenni, one of the many ethnic minorities in Burma, Bamboo People explores the nature of violence, power, and prejudice.

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