Category Archives: Children & Young Adults

Shelley Pearsall. Jump into the Sky. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.

Jump into the SkyChange is nothing new to thirteen-year- old Levi Battle. He is well acquainted with getting passed around and traded off among relatives. His mother, Queen Bee Walker, a beautiful but demanding jazz singer, abandoned Levi as an infant in an old Ford in the parking lot of a jazz club because she was dissatisfied with her unglamorous lifestyle and the weight of her maternal obligations. His father, Charles Battle, left Levi behind to serve as an army lieutenant in World War II. By contrast to his family, Levi views himself as a person who sticks around, even though his relatives are constantly shifting.

In his father’s absence, Levi lived first in the custody of his grandmother. Upon her death, he was transferred to the care of his Aunt Odella. The novel begins in the spring of 1945. After three years of housing her nephew, Aunt Odella has decided that since the war is almost over, the time has arrived for Levi to depart Chicago and reconnect with his father who is stationed in Fayetteville. Truth be told, she is tired of her charge and wants a reprieve from her responsibility. For three years she has slept on a cot in her living room to make space for Levi in her cramped apartment. With the end of the war in sight, Aunt Odella sees the opportunity for her personal liberation too.

So Aunt Odella packs Levi onto a train from Illinois to North Carolina with a suitcase and a bag of fried chicken. Levi is panic-stricken. He fears that he will arrive at his father’s army post unwanted. As the train travels further South, Levi faces another unexpected trouble as well–racism. Before relocating, Levi was unaware of the full extent of regional differences toward race. He is unaccustomed to the open hostility that he meets in the South. On his route and upon his arrival to North Carolina, he makes a couple of honest faux pas that do not jibe with the laws of Jim Crow. In one hard lesson, a shopkeeper threatens Levi’s life when he asks for a Coca-Cola. Following that encounter, Levi understands Southern racial etiquette with greater clarity.

With a little bit of luck, Levi manages to arrive unharmed in Fayetteville only to discover that his father’s unit has moved out to a new, undisclosed location. Yet again, he has been deserted, albeit unintentionally. The people in Levi’s life do not appear to discard him totally out of malevolence. Outside factors seem to nudge between Levi and his family and snip the ties. During his time in North Carolina, Levi encounters an old sweetgrass basket weaver named MawMaw Sands who teaches him that at the center of every basket is “a knot of pain” that anchors its foundation. In MawMaw Sands’ opinion, pain and sweetness are interwoven in life. Levi’s life appears knotted with an especially large amount of pain. His challenge is to clutch at the sweetness he can find and braid it in, no matter the struggle.

Novelist Shelley Pearsall sends Levi on a journey to unexpected locations across the country in pursuit of his father. Family, is not so easily found or established, and, as Pearsall reveals, these bonds must sometimes be learned anew. This book is intended for children and young adults, however, Pearsall’s memorable characters and witty narrator could hook readers of any age. Additionally, the portrayal of racism from Levi’s adolescent and unfamiliar perspective is poignant in its genuine and innocent surprise.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Moore, Pearsall, Shelley, Piedmont

Roland Smith. Kitty Hawk. Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2012.

I, Q: Kitty Hawk*This blog post highlights the third book in an on-going series. Some of the information provided for context might contain spoilers for events that occurred in the previous two books.*

Quest “Q” Munoz and Angela Tucker are just your normal, everyday teenagers – with rock star parents and inside connections to Secret Service operations, of course. This is the third book in Smith’s action-packed I, Q series. The first two books, I, Q: Independence Hall and I, Q: The White House, were set in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. respectively. For this next installment, Smith selected the smaller, but still historic, town of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. His series is aimed toward younger readers, but people of any age could find interest in Smith’s colorful cast of characters.

At the start of the series, Q’s mom, Blaze Munoz, married Angela’s dad, Roger Tucker. Angela’s mother, Malak Turner, a former Secret Service agent, is dead, and Q’s father, Peter “Speed” Paulsen, is a limelight-loving rock star. The happy couple formed a new band called Match and released a hit single, which prompted a nation-wide tour. Step-siblings Q and Angela are along for the ride, which has proven much bumpier and more suspenseful than expected. In the first book, they meet Tyrone Boone and his huge, slobbery dog, Croc. Boone, a roadie, is charged with looking after Q and Angela. But Boone is more than an old roadie; he’s a retired CIA agent with his an independent team of agents called SOS, or Some Old Spooks. And Boone has plenty of suspicions surrounding Angela’s mother’s death. Or supposed death…

By the third book, Q, Angela, Blaze, Roger, and the SOS group are in Washington, D.C. for a special concert at the White House. But a terrorist ghost cell has kidnapped President J.R. Culpepper’s daughter, Bethany; they plan to use her in a hostage video against the U.S. government. So Q, Angela, and the SOS team chase the terrorists down I-95 to rescue the president’s daughter. Unfortunately, there is a brutal hurricane headed right in their direction. SOS has help from a few other sources luckily, including Angela’s very alive mom, Malak, who is working to infiltrate the terrorist group. Yet Boone and Croc have some eerie talents and are pretty capable of taking care of themselves.

Smith sets a fast pace to the story. The book spans a single day with chapters segmented roughly into hour or two-hour blocks to keep the sense of urgency high. However, Smith cuts the tension with moments of humor, especially when Q’s father Speed shows up and almost derails the whole chase. With distractions like ostentatious rockers and violent hurricanes, Smith leaves his audience on the edge of their seats, turning page after page. Will Q, Angela, and the SOS team save Bethany in time? Or will the ghost cell succeed in their scheme?

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Dare, Novels in Series, Smith, Roland, Suspense/Thriller

Jennifer Estep. The Mythos Academy Series.

  • First Frost (e-novella). New York: Kensington Publishing, 2011.
  • Touch of Frost. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp., 2011. 
  • Kiss of Frost. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp., 2011.
  • “Halloween Frost” in Entangled, ed. Allison Brennan (e-short story). Authors4theCure, 2011.
  • Dark Frost. New York: Kensington, 2012.
  • Crimson Frost. New York, Kensington Publishing, 2013.
  • Spartan Frost. New York: Kensington Books, 2013.
  • Midnight Frost. New York: K-Teen, 2013.

Gwendolyn Frost is a normal teenaged girl– well, as normal as any of the teenagers attending Mythos Academy. High in the mountains of western North Carolina, the academy provides a safe place for teens like Gwen to get an education. Gifted with supernatural abilities, all of the students are the descendants of ancient warriors or mythical creatures. But Gwendolyn doesn’t think her powers are very exciting– sure, being a Gypsy with the power to find lost objects and read people’s thoughts has its uses, but it’s not like being a Spartan or a Valkyrie and being gifted with abnormal strength, speed, and agility. Gwen wishes she were as talented athletically as her peers, particularly because she has a crush on the school’s most popular and good looking boy.

Everything changes, of course, when a supernatural threat looms over the academy. Somehow Gwen finds herself at the center of the fighting– as the champion of the Greek goddess Nike herself. How does a simple Gypsy girl with no talent for swordplay become a goddess’s champion? And can she even survive? Find out in this exciting young adult series, reminiscent of Percy Jackson’s The Lightning Thief  and the 1981 film Clash of the Titans.

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, Buncombe, Children & Young Adults, Estep, Jennifer, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Series

Jen Calonita. The Grass is Always Greener. New York: Poppy, 2013.

thegrassisalwaysgreenerThe conclusion to Jen Calonita’s Belles series finds half-sisters Mirabelle and Isabelle Monroe each facing her own crossroads. The Monroe family is used to an easy life, but that changed when Isabelle “Izzie” Scott (in reality Monroe) arrived. Hailing from the nearby struggling community of Harborside, the daughter State Senator and family patriarch Bill Monroe never knew existed has certainly made life interesting in the affluent town of Emerald Cove. No one has felt the changes more than Izzie’s half-sister Mirabelle.

Originally a quiet conformist, Mirabelle has started to march to the beat of her own drum. She’s pursuing her own interests in painting, as well as a quirky, artistic boy named Kellen. Izzie has changed her life,  but nothing is perfect. Kellen is moving away, and Mirabelle’s novice artwork faces harsh criticism from a teacher. Will she stay true to her newfound path?

Although used to blazing her own trail, Izzie has trials to face as well. Shortly following the death of her beloved grandmother, an aunt Izzie never knew about arrives in town. Zoe Scott had a terrible falling out with her sister, Izzie’s mom, before Izzie was ever born. Now Zoe wants to make amends and take her niece away to live in California. Izzie isn’t sure if she wants her aunt in her life, much less if she wants to leave the Old North State. Additionally, Savannah Ingram, the alpha girl of Emerald Preparatory, looks ready to make Izzie pay for disrupting the status quo. Forced to work with the snobby queen bee on a project, Izzie is sure she’ll be miserable. But is Savannah really as bad as she thought? Torn between the lessons of her meager upbringing and the challenges of her new, shinier life, Izzie must decide what her future will hold.

Both girls are about to turn sweet sixteen, and at this rite of passage they must decide who they will be. But since Isabelle and Mirabelle Monroe first accepted one another as sisters, one thing is certain– whatever they face, they’ll face it together.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Calonita, Jen, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

C.K. Volnek. Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island. United States: Spark Books, 2011.

ghostdogofroanokeIt feels like fate when Jack Dahlgren’s family inherits his great-aunt Ruth’s home on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. His dad has lost his job, and all the family’s savings are gone. But twelve-year-old Jack doesn’t want to live on Roanoke Island, especially in a house that the kids at school say is haunted. He also feels responsible for his little sister’s accidental fall off of a nearby sea cliff, which put her in a hospital in Raleigh. On top of everything, a hurricane is bearing down on the Outer Banks, howling like a monster.

…Or is it a hurricane? There’s definitely some stormy weather, but there’s also something dark and scary living in the woods near the Dahlgrens’ new house. When Jack investigates, he finds a mysterious, vanishing mastiff, and something much wilder. Later, Jack meets and befriends their Algonquin neighbor, Manny Braboy, who explains it all– the evil living in Jack’s woods is a Witiku: a demon summoned by the natives of Roanoke Island in the sixteenth century to rid the island of all invaders. Incredibly, Manny tells Jack that he, Jack, must be the one to defeat the Witiku. The twelve-year old is skeptical, but when Manny takes him back to the sixteenth century to observe the events of the Lost Colony unfold, he begins to believe. Will Jack defeat the Wikitu? Will Roanoke Island finally be at peace? Will Jack ever be happy in his new home?

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Dare, Historical, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Volnek, C. K.

Kathleen Thomas. Blackbeard’s Treasure. Greensboro, NC: Tudor Publishing, 2009.

Blackbeard's TreasureMatthew and Lauren Bakker, and their cousins Haley and Luke Bakker, are all set for a fabulous six weeks of summer camp on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Everyone is excited about different parts of the camp, but Matthew is focused on one thing only: Blackbeard. The most infamous pirate to terrorize the coast of the Old North State, Blackbeard supposedly left mountains of treasure behind when his ship Queen Anne’s Revenge sank in 1718. Matthew has been reading a book about the bloodthirsty buccaneer, and it’s not long before his enthusiasm infects his sister and cousins. Incredibly, when the four children arrive at summer camp, they discover that an underwater archaeological expedition is in progress nearby to find and recover Blackbeard’s ship for a local university.

Unfortunately, more than one person is interested in the sunken pirate galley. A private collector thinks he can beat the academics to what could be the discovery of the century. He’ll stop at nothing to steal the priceless wreck from under their noses and sell its treasure on the black market. Yet, the children come to suspect that a modern-day privateer is the least of their worries. Could Blackbeard’s angry spirit be haunting the beaches and coves of the Outer Banks, as well? With the help of the archaeologists, their harried camp counselors, and a crusty local former sailor, the four young troublemakers are determined to protect the treasure and thwart the ghost…by hook or by crook.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Carteret, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Thomas, Kathleen

Shannon Greenland. The Summer My Life Began. New York: Speak, 2012.

summerElizabeth Margaret (“Em”) has her whole life in front of her–and every step of it has been mapped out by her high-achieving, status-seeking parents and maternal grandmother.   Advanced placement classes in high school, admission to Harvard, summer internships at dad’s law firm, a career in law or medicine.  Em and her sister Gwenny laugh at their parents’ pretensions but neither girl dares to jump off the path that their parents have charted for them.  But they do dream about it.

Em sees a chance to step off the treadmill for at least a few weeks when she receives an invitation to spend the summer with her Aunt Tilly on the Outer Banks.  The invitation unsettles Em’s mother and grandmother.   Aunt Tilly has never been mentioned by either woman.  After phone calls back and forth between Boston and the Outer Banks, a compromise is reached: Em can go south for a month, but she must come back to Boston to spend the second half of her summer vacation at the law firm.

Em doesn’t know what to expect, but she’s up for whatever it is. Or maybe not.  Aunt Tilly is as fun loving as her parents are uptight; the staff at the B&B that Aunt Tilly owns are like a family; Em gets a chance to practice her culinary skills; and there are not one but two handsome boys to hangout with.  But as Em spends time with her aunt and the B&B staff she learns how each got to this place, and not all the stories are happy ones.  Parents die, children are separated from their families, and not everyone who has a child is ready to be a parent.  This summer on the Outer Banks will change Em’s life forever.

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

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Filed under 2012, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Greenland, Shannon

Corrine Jackson. If I Lie. New York: Simon Pulse, 2012.

lieWhen you’re in high school, things can seem very black-or-white. Girl cheats on her boyfriend who is a Marine on duty in Afghanistan, she’s trash. When that boyfriend is MIA after a firefight, the whole town shuns her and calls her ugly names.  Since this girl is the child of a woman who ran off with another man, even her own father treats her with a cold disdain. Like mother, like daughter.

This is Sophie Topper Quinn’s life. Quinn–the name her father insists on–has learned to accept her father’s cold manner. In the years since her mother left, Quinn has wondered what role she might have played in her mother’s departure. She can’t say that her father’s behavior is unreasonable, but she is shocked to find herself so on her own after a photo surfaces on Facebook that shows her kissing someone other than Carey Breen. No one knows that Quinn turned to someone else after Carey told her her that he was gay and asked her help in covering that for him in their small military town.

To keep Quinn out of trouble, her dad arranges for her to volunteer at the Veterans Administration Hospital in nearby Fayetteville.  There she becomes friends with George Wilkins, a retired military photographer.  George recognizes Quinn’s talent and enlists her to work with him on the Veterans History Project. Quinn’s edgy defensiveness does not put off George and as their friendship grows, he helps her navigate additional curve balls–like her mother’s return–that come her way.

Although If I Lie focuses on how Quinn responds the turmoil in her life, readers also get a look into the lives of other characters, particularly George, Quinn’s mother, and Carey’s best friend, Blake.  All have behaved in ways that they regret, without mercy or grace to themselves or those closest to them. By placing this coming-of-age novel in a military town in the Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell Era, Corrine Jackson has produced a book that will engage both young adult and mature readers.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Jackson, Corrine, Onslow

Lisa Williams Kline. Winter’s Tide. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz, 2013.

winterstideStepsisters Stephanie and Diana have come to an uneasy truce over the last few years, but it’s still hard to get along. In Winter’s Tide, the fourth installment in the Sisters in All Seasons series, the girls face challenges within their two intertwined families and with each other.

When a popular girl walks by Diana in the hall at school and whispers that hateful nickname all the kids call her, “annnnnn-i-mal,” under her breath, Diana finally snaps. Both girls are suspended for fighting just before Christmas, and Diana’s mom and dad couldn’t be more disappointed. Stephanie feels terribly guilty, since it’s her fault that Diana gets called “annnnn-i-mal,” but she’s worried that if she reveals her secret, Diana won’t understand that it wasn’t intentional. Both girls are distracted, however, when tragedy strikes Stephanie’s side of the family.

First, Stephanie’s stepbrother from her mom’s re-marriage is driving drunk and gets into a car accident on Christmas Eve. Matt has always been mean to Stephanie, so she refused to say a prayer for him in church that night. Now this car accident feels like her fault, too. Next, Grammy Verra, Stephanie’s favorite grandparent, falls ill. Since it’s winter break, Stephanie, Stephanie’s dad, Diana, and Diana’s mom all drive down to Emerald Isle, North Carolina to stay near her. Diana is immediately entranced by the nearby animal life, including whales, horses, and even Grammy Verra’s dog, Jelly. When the girls meet a local boy, Jeremy, trouble begins: he takes them out on a secret trip on his dad’s boat to see the horses on Shackleford Banks, and everything goes wrong. Stephanie’s secret comes out, and the boat starts to float out to sea, potentially leaving them stranded. Will the sisters be able to reconcile, and will they find a way to get out of danger? If so, will Grammy Verra and Matt be OK? And will Diana finally be able to move past her bullies?

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Carteret, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Kline, Lisa Williams, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Wake

Jennifer Estep. Crimson Frost. New York: Kensington Publishing, 2013.

With the Norse chaos god Loki freed from his prison, Gwen Frost should be extra careful. Besides an evil god, she also has to look out for his Champion, a murderous girl called Vivian, and her army of Reapers. Life at the Mythos Academy, high in the supposedly peaceful mountains just outside of Asheville, has never been more dangerous. And yet, Gwen has never been so happy. Logan Quinn, the boy she’s had a crush on forever, has finally asked her out. He’s even given her a winter present– a beautiful snowflake necklace. They’re sitting together in a local coffee shop when Gwen’s reality finally comes crashing down around her. She’s arrested by the Protectorate, her world’s governing body, for the crime of…freeing Loki from imprisonment.

It all seems like some ridiculous joke. Gwen almost died in the attempt to keep Loki from being unleashed on the world, and now she’s being accused of helping him to escape? The Protectorate is very serious, however, in its accusation. Soon the entirety of Mythos Academy knows that Gwen is an evil Reaper, and they all want revenge. This would be uncomfortable in a normal high school, but at Mythos Academy, a training school for the descendants of ancient warriors, it’s definitely deadly. Will Gwen be able to survive not only Loki and his Champion, but the anger of her fellow students? Will she ever clear her name? And will Logan stand by her during her trial, even when his father is the head of the Protectorate?

Young adult readers ages 13 and up will enjoy the continuing adventures of Gwen and her friends in this fourth installment in the Mythos Academy Novels.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Buncombe, Children & Young Adults, Estep, Jennifer, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Science Fiction/Fantasy