Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The GiverReading level: young adult

Publisher: Delacorte Books

Paperback: 208 pages

Newberry Award: 1994 medal winner

Genre: science fiction

Synopsis: from Publisher Weekly

In the “ideal” world into which Jonas was born, everybody has sensibly agreed that well-matched married couples will raise exactly two offspring, one boy and one girl. These children’s adolescent sexual impulses will be stifled with specially prescribed drugs; at age 12 they will receive an appropriate career assignment, sensibly chosen by the community’s Elders. This is a world in which the old live in group homes and are “released”–to great celebration–at the proper time; the few infants who do not develop according to schedule are also “released,” but with no fanfare. Lowry’s development of this civilization is so deft that her readers, like the community’s citizens, will be easily seduced by the chimera of this ordered, pain-free society. Until the time that Jonah begins training for his job assignment–the rigorous and prestigious position of Receiver of Memory–he, too, is a complacent model citizen. But as his near-mystical training progresses, and he is weighed down and enriched with society’s collective memories of a world as stimulating as it was flawed, Jonas grows increasingly aware of the hypocrisy that rules his world.

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Missing May by Cynthia Rylant

Missing MayReading Level: Ages 9-12

Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks

Paperback: 112 pages

Newberry Award: 1993 Medal Winner

Genre: Family drama

Synopsis: from Publisher’s Weekly

This short novel is a study of grief–chiefly, that felt by Summer after her foster mother’s sudden death, but also her sorrow at witnessing the grief of Ob, her foster father–she realizes that she herself may not be reason enough for him to go on living. And for several months it seems as if he may not in fact go on, until Summer and Ob take a short car trip that somehow transforms their lives.

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Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Maniac MageeReading level: Ages 9-12

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Paperback: 180 pages

Newberry Award: 1991 medal winner

Genre: contemporary realism

Synopsis: from Amazon

Maniac Magee is a folk story about a boy, a very excitable boy. One that can outrun dogs, hit a home run off the best pitcher in the neighborhood, tie a knot no one can undo. “Kid’s gotta be a maniac,” is what the folks in Two Mills say. It’s also the story of how this boy, Jeffrey Lionel “Maniac” Magee, confronts racism in a small town, tries to find a home where there is none and attempts to soothe tensions between rival factions on the tough side of town. Presented as a folk tale, it’s the stuff of storytelling.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Number the starsReading level: Ages 9-12

Publisher: Laurel Leaf

Paperback: 136 pages

Newberry Award: 1990 medal winner

Genre: Historical fiction

Synopsis: from Amazon

The evacuation of Jews from Nazi-held Denmark is one of the great untold stories of World War II. On September 29, 1943, word got out in Denmark that Jews were to be detained and then sent to the death camps. Within hours the Danish resistance, population and police arranged a small flotilla to herd 7,000 Jews to Sweden. Lois Lowry fictionalizes a true-story account to bring this courageous tale to life. She brings the experience to life through the eyes of 10-year-old Annemarie Johannesen, whose family harbors her best friend, Ellen Rosen, on the eve of the round-up and helps smuggles Ellen’s family out of the country.

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