Category Archives: Children & Young Adults

Elizabeth Janet Gray. Jane Hope. New York: Viking Press, 1933.

All her short life Jane Hope Kenard has heard about Chapel Hill, the Southern town where her mother grew up.  Now she is going to live there.  After her father’s death and the complicated problems with his estate, at last Jane Hope and her mother and siblings are moving from Philadelphia to live with her paternal grandparents in North Carolina. Jane Hope thinks she is off to a world of magnolias, persimmons, jasmine, and figs–and a great college that she hopes to attend.  Jane Hope will find Chapel Hill not the enchanted land of her dreams–the great college is just for boys and slavery is not the benign institution she’s been told it is–but she manages to find her way in this new world.  Jane learns to overcome her shyness, check her rashness, and open her heart to not just her grandparents, but her mother’s new husband too.  Although the novel depicts Chapel Hill on the eve of the Civil War, the novel is about the person–Jane Hope–more than the place.  Readers see a romantic, impetuous, tomboy grow into a kind, level-headed young woman.

The author lived in Chapel Hill during the 1930s  where she would have had easy access to the standard published sources about the university and the town and would have heard stories about Chapel Hill life “before the War”. Many readers have enjoyed this novel for its depiction of Chapel Hill places and people.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1930-1939, 1933, Children & Young Adults, Orange, Piedmont, Vining, Elizabeth Gray

Tessa Emily Hall. Purple Moon. Raleigh, NC: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, 2013.

    “…withpurple moonout the dark, we’d never see the stars. There also would be no use for the moon if there was never a night.”

Selena Taylor’s life has been pretty dark since the day her father kicked her and her mother out of his life. She can’t understand how he could go from being her best friend to not wanting anything to do with her. Eight years later, Selena’s dark night may just turn into the starlit fairy tale she’s always dreamed of. Moving in with her aunt’s family in Lake Lure, North Carolina is not what Selena planned to do this summer, but it might be exactly what she and her mother need.

Ever since they were kicked out, Selena has been taking care of her mom. But now an agreement has been made between the two: mom will go to rehab and Selena will stop smoking and drinking. Actually, Lake Lure isn’t looking too bad to Selena. She runs into someone she knew from when she was a kid, Austin Brewer, and he’s not such a nerd anymore, at least not to her. Austin and his sister Audrey soon talk Selena into joining in their church group activities. Of course she’s a little wary of church after how her hypocritical father, a preacher, behaved. Nevertheless, she goes with them and is soon having the time of her life with her new friends. Selena even begins to believe in God again. Now, if only she could avoid her cousin Whitney, then things might really start to look up.

When Whitney breaks up with her boyfriend, Richard, and he turns his attention to her, Selena thinks life can’t get much better. However, she’s breaking her promise to her mother as well as skipping out on the church skit that she agreed to do with her friends. Also, what about her feelings for Austin? In the end, will Selena be able to find the purple moon in the darkness of her life?

Purple Moon is Tessa Emily Hall’s first novel. The author wanted to write Christian fiction that would appeal to teenagers. She succeeded. Both Christian teens and those struggling with Christianity will be able to connect with Selena’s story–the struggle to run away or to trust in a being unseen.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Children & Young Adults, Hall, Tessa Emily, Mountains, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship, Rutherford

Lisa Ann Scott. School of Charm. New York: Katherine Tegen Books, 2014.

school of charmEleven-year-old Brenda Anderson, better known as Chip, has always been a daddy’s girl. After Daddy dies, Chip, her mom and two sisters must move down south to their grandmother’s house in Mount Airy, North Carolina. When her grandmother greets the group in high heels and pearls, Chip just knows she doesn’t fit in with this family of Southern belles. Grandmother Nancy was Miss North Carolina in 1939 and Chip’s mother was runner-up in 1961. Though Chip’s sisters, Charlene and Ruthie weren’t born in the South, the two are budding Southern belles themselves. They will both enter the Miss Dogwood 1977 pageant in the Miss and Little Miss divisions respectively.

Preferring to climb trees, work in the garden and save animals, Chip believes that she has nothing in common with her family. While out exploring the area, in order to escape from all the pageant plans in the house, Chip sees a sign for Miss Vernie’s School of Charm. She ventures in to discover whether this charm school is for magic or for beauty. Miss Vernie gives a confusing answer, but Chip decides to join anyway. Having been given a charm bracelet that must be worn at all times, Chip starts to think that she’s come to the wrong place for her.

However, Chip reconsiders when she meets her classmates, Dana and Karen, and they all get to work cleaning bird feeders. Dana and Karen are at the school because they are entering the Miss Dogwood pageant. Constantly clashing with her grandmother leads Chip to consider entering the pageant herself, in order to become a brand-new Brenda who does fit in with her family. But, telling her family that she’s joined the pageant only gets her laughed at. Will brand-new Brenda be able to show her family that she is one of them? Which Anderson sister will bring home a crown? And is there hope for peace between nature-loving tomboy Chip and her pageant loving, bird-killing grandmother Nancy?

School of Charm is a young adult novel. But, this tale of a young daddy’s girl who has just lost her father and must now relearn how she fits into the family will touch the heart of any reader, whether younger or older.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Children & Young Adults, Mountains, Scott, Lisa Ann, Surry

Elizabeth Langston. A Whisper in Time. Contoocook, NH: Spencer Hill Press, 2014.

awhisperintimeSusanna Marsh is grateful that her boyfriend, Mark Lewis, rescued her from a life of servitude, but now she must learn the ways of a world two centuries apart from her own. An indentured servant from 1796, Susanna is not prepared for this world of freedom, nor its lax expectations for young adults of her age. Without identification Susanna can neither go to school, nor can she get a job. Unused to not having anything to do, Susanna is at a loss for what to do with herself and is having to depend upon others to survive.

On the other hand, Mark has much to do in his last year of high school. He has gained some new friends, is on the homecoming court and is trying to figure out what colleges he may be interested in attending. All he wants is to share his world with the young lady he loves. But first he must come up with a way to get her an identity within this century.

To give herself something worthwhile to invest her time in, Susanna seeks out information on those she left behind by combing through historical documents. She and Mark soon come upon journal written by her sister Phoebe. When she learns what Phoebe’s future holds, she can’t help but to act even though doing so bodes ill for her own happiness. Will Mark be able to save Susanna once again or will their lives be forever altered?

A Whisper in Time is the second book in the Whisper Falls series. Susanna and Mark first met in Whisper Falls, the first book in the series, and this novel continues their tale of a magical waterfall and a love that transcends centuries.

Check out this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Children & Young Adults, Historical, Langston, Elizabeth, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Wake

Antony John. Firebrand. New York, NY: Dial Books, 2013.

firebrand In a future post-apocalyptic world, Thomas and his friends have succeeded in saving their parents, the Guardians, from invading pirates. However, the pirates still have hold of Roanoke Island. Thomas’s group has commandeered the pirates’ ship and must now decide whether to move on and risk the loss of their powers over the elements, or stay within reach of the pirates and risk losing their lives.

Having been told all of his life that he did not have a power, Thomas is still learning what his power does and how to use it. When the use of his power allows him to hear a radio message calling for refugees to come to Fort Sumter, Thomas is convinced that they should take the risk of losing their powers and head to a safer place. It isn’t until a pirate’s arrow kills their leader, Kyte, that the Guardians decide to go along with this plan.

Fort Sumter will reveal answers to the questions that have plagued Thomas and his friends. What power do the pirates think Griffin possesses that would be worth enough to kill for? Are there other secrets that the Guardians kept from their young? And how has this colony on Fort Sumter survived so long without encountering the plague?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Children & Young Adults, John, Antony, Novels in Series, Science Fiction/Fantasy

Elizabeth Langston. Whisper Falls. Contoocook, NH: Spencer Hill Press, 2013.

whisperfallsMark Lewis is a young man dedicated to mountain bike racing. His constant training has just recently cost him his girlfriend. However, even this does not take away from his focus on training. It is while he is out training for a race that he sees a girl, Susanna Marsh, through the waters of Whisper Falls. Mark believes she is just standing on the other side of the falls until he tries to get through and the falls repel him. Even stranger is the fact that the girl doesn’t seem to know what a bike is and she claims that the year is 1796.

A few days go by without them seeing one another and the two begin to think that it must have been some illusion. Nevertheless, both are drawn back to the spot and the mystery of the falls. When next they meet, Mark has come prepared with a variety of questions. Susanna’s answers convince him that they are two hundred years apart. Continuing their meetings at Whisper Falls, Mark and Susanna soon become close friends. This is a treat for Susanna who is an indentured servant. Her master has forbidden her to have any friends. With friendship comes the intertwining of lives. Soon, Mark is so caught up in Susanna’s world that he starts missing out on training. This doesn’t bother him as much as what he finds out about what is in store for Susanna and those she loves.

Susanna’s indenture is coming to an end in a few months when she turns eighteen. Unfortunately, the cruelty of Susanna’s master, Mr. Pratt, may have arms long enough to reach to her sister Phoebe. Documents that Mark has found tell of a fate for Phoebe that is far worse than Susanna’s. Mark and Susanna set out to change Phoebe’s path. Doing so will alter the future forever, resulting in a consequence that will be unbearable for them both. Shall Phoebe be saved? Will Susanna? And will this budding romance be able to transcend a two-hundred year divide?

Check out this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Children & Young Adults, Historical, Langston, Elizabeth, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Wake

Laura S. & William L. B. Wharton. The Mermaid’s Tale. Mt. Airy, NC: Broad Creek Press, 2014.

themermaid'stale“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit” ~ Helen Keller

Jock Avery is back, along with his new friends Lynna and Chip Woodward. During their first summer together, the trio solved the mystery of Monsters Below Longleaf Lake in Moore County, North Carolina. Now there is a new mystery to discover. Seven-year old Chip, from his dock, has spotted a mermaid in the lake while Lynna and Jock are having a sailboat race. Lynna’s boat almost hit her! Although he suspects that they will never believe him, Chip still can’t help but to tell his friends what he’s seen. Jock quickly expresses his disbelief but is silenced by Lynna who defends her brother. This calls for an investigation!

The trio decide to search the lake using a grid pattern just like underwater archeologists. They draw out a grid in order to mark every spot they search and what they find there. The mermaid quest brings up some problems like their inability to dive but so deep. Soon, there is a discussion of deep sea divers and scuba tanks. Lynna and Jock have a contest to see who can hold their breath the longest underwater while Lynna and Chip’s mom times the two. Lynna wins! This leads Jock to want to join the swim team in order to improve his underwater breathing.

The search for the mermaid continues full force when Jock catches a glimpse of her at night–he no longer doubts Chip’s claim. However, will the grownups ever believe? Will the trio be able to find the mermaid in the lake? Jock turns to his favorite adventurer, Sam Justice, and his underwater adventures for inspiration on how to look for the mermaid. While the kids have a mission, the adults are planning an adventure of their own. The parents have been invited to a grand opening event and everyone is going. What surprise could be waiting for Jock, Chip, and Lynna at the event?

Co-authored by novelist Laura S. Wharton and her son William, The Mermaid’s Tale is the second book in the Mystery at the Lake House Series. This chapter book is intended for children aged 9-12; it includes lots of information on swimming, diving, fishing, and the importance of taking care of our water environments. Also included are instructions on how to build an underwater viewer, used by Chip in the book, and two interviews: one with the mermaid and one with William. This book encourages kids to believe in themselves and not be so quick to doubt others.  This is a book that kids will find enjoyable as well as informative.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Children & Young Adults, Moore, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Wharton, Laura S., Wharton, William L. B.

Gwenda Bond. Blackwood. Long Island City, NY: Strange Chemistry, 2012.

BlackwoodBearing the brunt of a centuries-long family curse in a small town isn’t easy, especially if you’re a seventeen year-old girl. Miranda Blackwood has gotten used to being called a freak and being treated like something of a leper, but that doesn’t mean she likes it. The Blackwood family has lived on Roanoke Island since the times of the original Lost Colony. Locals consider Blackwoods bad luck. Miranda mostly keeps to herself. She doesn’t want to draw attention or give credit to the family folklore. She interns as a set and costume lackey at the Waterside Theater, which puts on productions of The Lost Colony for tourists visiting the island.

One ordinary night, on what seems like a routine performance, Miranda notices something strange while she watches the end of the show with the stage manager, Polly. She sees a life-sized, black ship that is careening toward the performers. Nobody, not the performers nor the audience members, notices the ship, except Miranda. She watches as the ship approaches the stage. At the last second, on impulse, Miranda leaps onto the stage to throw herself at the seven-year-old actress playing Virginia Dare. Too bad no one else present understands Miranda’s actions. What was meant as a virtuous, self-sacrifice on Miranda’s part is chalked up by the cast and crew as the typical Blackwood weirdness. After the show, the director chews out Miranda’s unprofessional actions, questioning whether or not Miranda should participate in future performances.

Miranda heads home, haunted by the embarrassment and the phantom ship. She lives outside of the picturesque part of Manteo with her father, her golden retriever named Sidekick, and her old yellow car (complete with a dashboard hula girl) that she affectionately calls Pineapple. Since her mother’s death several years prior, Miranda has taken care of her father. Over time, her father’s alcoholism has grown worse. His skin is so ruddy from drinking that his odd, snake-shaped birthmark is almost obscured. Miranda crashes on the couch so she can greet her father when he returns home intoxicated and help him into bed.

Morning comes and Miranda’s father never comes back home. Confused, and slightly concerned, Miranda goes looking for him. She finds the town huddled around the police station.  Police Chief Rawling reports that around 100 people on the island went missing overnight. People have inexplicably vanished; leaving without any sign of intentional abandonment. The official number is later finalized at 114, coincidentally the same number of people missing several hundred years ago in the Lost Colony. Shaken by the sudden mass disappearances, Rawling calls his seventeen-year old son, Phillips, home.

Phillips Rawling thought he had escaped the island for good. Once he started hearing the voices, he made trouble to force his parents to send him away. Off the island, Phillips is normal, like any other teen, but on the island, he can’t shut out the voices of spirits. The clamor of the voices is enough to make him go crazy. He isn’t interested in returning home, but his father has already made arrangements. Police Chief Rawling doesn’t believe in supernatural occurrences and other fantastical nonsense, but something in his gut tells him that Phillips might be able to help. However, Phillips has his own agenda. If he’s forced to go back to Roanoke Island, then he’s bent on finding one person first: Miranda Blackwood. She’s a primary focus of the voices’ chatter, and none of it is any good.

Blackwood is novelist Gwenda Bond’s first young adult novel, published in 2012. In the interim, Bond has published another work, The Woken Gods, and her third novel, Girl on a Wire, is set to be released in October 2014. In Blackwood, Bond weaves together historical events (portrayed with fictionalized liberties), supernatural elements, and teen romance, all doused with a healthy dash of humor. The novel includes a concise summary of the Lost Colony to prime readers with background information before Bond’s story begins.  Bond infuses the original legend of the Lost Colony with quite a bit of imagination. Blackwood is perfect for readers on the look-out for an intelligent young adult novel.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Bond, Gwenda, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Dare, Historical, Romance/Relationship, Science Fiction/Fantasy

Trudy Krisher. Fallout. New York: Holiday House, 2006.

FalloutStarting high school can be an unnerving yet exciting experience, full of change. For Genevieve Hardcastle, a teen in the 1950s, starting high school is beyond intimidating. That feeling is made all the scarier by the fact that her only friend, Sally Redmond, has moved far away, up to New Jersey. Genevieve likes being a wallflower. Genevieve doesn’t want to be embarrassed, and attention is the surest route to embarrassment. Last year, Genevieve had a taste of gossip and backbiting when she helped Sally in her campaign for class secretary. After witnessing Janice’s smear tactics, the already shy and awkward Genevieve has become even more cautious. She aims not to stand out, lest Janice Neddeger or one of her sidekicks catch her in the crosshairs and single her out in front of everyone.

Her mother, Martha, wishes Genevieve was more of a “go-getter” kind of girl. Martha (a homemaker and president of the town of Easton’s Welcome Wagon) encourages Genevieve to make friends, but to no avail. Even if Genevieve wasn’t quiet, she blames her parents for making developing friendships a little difficult. Between the plastic-covered furniture, her mother’s over-eager, hyper-positive attitude, and her father’s suspicious lurking around the house, Genevieve observes that her family and its dysfunctions aren’t as wholesome as Ozzie and Harriet. Genevieve’s father, George, is a solemn actuary, obsessed with disaster and disaster preparations. He also hangs on Senator McCarthy’s every word.

The coastal town of Easton is used to its familiar, traditional ways. The locals, Genevieve included, know when to sense an impending hurricane and how to prepare, for instance. They’re pro-American and pro-atom, and anti-Red. But all that changes when a new family moves to town. The Wompers — Harry, Patricia, and Brenda — are from California, although from the way Easton folk receive them, it seems they might as well come from outer space. The townspeople of Easton are taken aback by the Wompers’ strange ideas and expressions – their belief in raw food, their decision to eliminate sugar from the drug store they purchased, their atheism, and, most of all, their challenge of the Civil Defense curriculum with claims that the atomic energy is dangerous.

The Wompers don’t fit the standard mold. Mrs. Womper is a physicist who gives little regard to dressing in the style of all the other housewives; she favors sandals over heels. Before they moved, Mr. Womper worked in Hollywood, in the film industry. Brenda is outspoken and brave. She isn’t afraid to question her fellow students, or even her teachers. The Wompers’ open-minded skepticism and differences are frowned upon by Easton, and by Genevieve’s parents. But the girls bond after Genevieve’s algebra teacher assigns Brenda as Genevieve’s tutor.  They’re a pair of opposites. Genevieve is mesmerized by Brenda’s straightforward bravery; she describes herself as a hermit crab, self-protective and scuttling out-of-sight. Brenda lives by a set of “Rules for Thinking,” to question any belief, whether seemingly true or false, with detachment. Her dogma prompts sensitive Genevieve to eventually challenge Brenda’s scientific view of the world.

Fallout is set against the political atmosphere of the Cold War and the constant threat of an atomic bomb scare, and the literal atmosphere of a coastal North Carolina town during the thick of hurricane season. Trudy Krisher wisely plays the political and meteorological atmospheres against the distress and distrust of new people and new ideas in a traditional small town. The novel develops Genevieve’s character believably. At the beginning of the novel she’s a shrinking violet. By the end she isn’t fearless, but she’s less afraid, and her awareness of the world and powers of introspection have been honed. While the book cover indicates that Fallout is marketed for young adults, Trudy Krisher’s novel is a thought-provoking read, perfect for the upcoming summer.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Historical, Krisher, Trudy, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Diana L. Sharples. Running Lean. Grand Rapids, MI: Blink, 2013.

Running LeanCrazy Stacey bubble butt.
Never keeps her big mouth shut.
Chubbikins, Chubbikins.
How much does she weigh?

Voices from Stacey Varnell’s childhood still haunt her, even into high school. Stacey struggles to see herself as she is now, a pretty, talented teen. As a child, Stacey’s overprotective parents focused an unrelenting eye on her due to her health problems and a series of heart surgeries. Stacey’s mother forbade her to exert herself physically and she kept Stacey indoors, fearful of her health and fragility. Classmates taunted Stacey about her weight. Their teasing sparked Stacey’s obsession with dieting and calories. No matter how much weight Stacey drops though, she sees a chubby version of herself staring back in the mirror. Surprisingly, Stacey’s helicopter parents don’t seem to notice her compulsive habits (she’s a master at shuffling food around her plate), and her friend Zoe reinforces Stacey’s dangerous behavior.

The only person who seems to notice is Stacey’s boyfriend, Calvin Greenlee. Eight months ago, he and Stacey became smitten with each other; she was the new city girl who had just relocated with her family to the country. Over the course of several months, their courtship developed slowly – first a youth event at Calvin’s church, then Homecoming. When Calvin’s brother Michael died in Afghanistan, Stacey supported Calvin through his pain. He felt as if Stacey understood his grief naturally, unlike any of his other friends. In spite of Stacey’s artistic temperament, she’s consistent. She is always there for Calvin. Lately, however, her behavior has started to alarm Calvin. Stacey complains of dizziness and she looks sickly. He doesn’t like or trust her friend Zoe, and the feeling is mutual. Zoe badmouths Calvin to Stacey, calling him a “farm boy” and other insults. Stacey and Calvin’s relationship grows tenser as Stacey’s mental and physical health deteriorates.

Calvin’s other main devotion is his vintage Yamaha Enduro motorcycle that has seen better days. He loves his bike. His friends, the ugly duckling turned swan, Tyler, and the tomboyish Flannery enjoy motorcycles and outdoor activities. Stacey’s insecurities cause her to suspect that Flannery dislikes her. She fears that Flannery and Calvin’s friendship will develop into a more serious relationship. Stacey sees flirtations where Calvin insists there are none. Ironically, as much Stacey feels left out, Calvin feels equally shut out when he tries to express his concern about her health. Stacey isn’t sure how to communicate her problems to Calvin.

After Stacey becomes more erratic, Calvin seeks his friends’ advice. Observing Stacey closely and piecing together all the evidence, Calvin stumbles upon the truth. He feels daunted by Stacey’s eating disorder, a disorder that she won’t even admit to. Some web research shows Calvin that they aren’t the only couple out there battling this problem, but it doesn’t give him any clear answers or the promise for a cure. Calvin tries to encourage Stacey to eat better and reassure her flagging sense of self-worth. He tells her that she’s smart and beautiful, and the single object of his affections.

Despite Calvin’s well-meaning attempts, Stacey can’t shut out her obsessive thoughts about her appearance or stop her harmful actions. Her past has fueled her poor self-esteem and distorted self-image. All she wants is to hang on to Calvin, but Stacey’s fixation on thinness, perfection, and control threaten their relationship, and even worse, her life. Will Calvin be able to rescue Stacey from her internal torment, or will he lose her just like his brother?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Children & Young Adults, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship, Sharples, Diana L.