Fiction for children & youth

Wonder, by R. J. Palacio. A deformed face and hideous hearing aids mark August Pullman as a freak. Forced to leave homeschooling and be mainstreamed, August knows what’s coming: sneers, jokes, bullies. But an overnight field trip and a selfless actress set the stage for a welcome transformation. Ages ten and up.

Unstoppable, by Tim Green. The one piece of dignity Harrison still has is his name—and he will not be called Harry. Large but nimble, Har­rison has spent a lifetime dodging foster homes. His mother died an addict, and his foster fathers enforces discipline with a belt buckle. When Harrison is rescued by a compassionate caseworker, he finds himself on the field, carrying a football, running toward the goal line and away from anger. Ages ten and up.

Hidden, by Helen Frost. In a story written in free verse, Wren tells of being kidnapped when a man stole her mother’s car—with Wren hidden in the back. She stayed hidden for hours until, with the help of an unlikely accomplice, she escaped and the kidnapper was caught. Eight years later, at summer camp, Wren comes face to face with Darra, the kidnapper’s daughter, who blames Wren for ruining her life. Ages ten and up.

The Gathering Storm: The Katerina Trilogy, Vol. 1, by Robin Bridges. Vampires, wolves and a protagonist with a re­pulsive power provide the tension for this mystery set in 1880s St. Peters­burg. Packed with characters, this lengthy narrative gives young adult readers insight into a czarist Russian culture that promotes proper aristocratic marriages and forbids Duchess Katerina to study medicine. A family threat forces her into the arms of a debonair but deviant Prince Danilo. Ages 12 and up.

Lies Beneath, by Anne Greenwood Brown. Calder and his sisters (merman and mermaids) can dive deep to investigate sunken ships in Lake Superior or morph into human form and meander the streets of Bayfield, Wisconsin. Charged with luring Lily’s father to the water, Calder grapples with his sisters’ cruel intentions and Lily’s lovely aura. Within the conflict, readers find a refreshing twist on relationships. Ages 12 and up.

Between the Lines, by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer. This fairy tale has characters who live between the lines. The evil villain, when not on stage, likes to cook. Others play chess when their page is closed. Prince Charming feels trapped in his one-dimensional life until he and Delilah (the real human reading the tale) fall in love in the space that bridges fiction and fact. Delilah resolves to rescue her Prince Charming. Ages 12 and up.

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. High school students Hazel and Augustus both have cancer. They are in love, trying to enjoy life, avoid chemo and endure group sessions at the Cancer Kid Support Group. Hazel drags Augus­tus through Amsterdam to find the author who can bring closure to Hazel’s favorite novel. Ages 14 and up.

Irises, by Francisco X. Stork. Kate and Mary have grown up with a minister for a father—a loving but repressive man who has prevented his daughters from pursuing their dreams. Their mother is in a permanent vegetative state following a severe car crash. After the father’s sudden death, the girls are given 60 days to vacate the parsonage and find a home for themselves and their mother. Ages 14 and up.

Nancy Hull

Nancy Hull teaches at Calvin College. She is author of On Rough Seas, a novel for young adults.

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