Pictures of Hollis Woods

Hollis Woods is an 11-year-old orphan who loves to draw. She yearns for a real family but has run away from several barren foster homes. Hollis finds a new foster home living with Josie, a retired art teacher who carves statues from tree branches in her Long Island backyard. Alternating chapters move forward and backward from when Hollis meets Josie. Hollis says she wrecked everything with her preceding foster family, the Regans, the summer before. She clearly liked them, so the suspense builds as readers wonder what went wrong. Read more…

Granny Torrelli Makes Soup

For all of her 12 years, Rosie has been best friends with Bailey, the blind boy next door. Bailey often comes over when Rosie’s Granny Torrelli comes to stay while her parents go out. They usually cook together—soup one night, pasta another. Read more…

Because of Winn-Dixie

A lonely, 10-year-old girl named Opal moves to a trailer park in a small Florida town with her father, an introverted preacher. Opal keeps hoping that her mother, who left years ago, will return. When Opal finds a stray dog in a grocery store, she rescues him and names him Winn-Dixie after the store. It is partly through the dog’s comical exploits that she meets a curious assortment of characters, including two eccentric old ladies. Read more…

Night Wings

Near Mount Washington in New Hampshire, a gangly, 13-year-old, Native American boy moves into his grandfather’s trailer because his parents are soldiers now deployed to the Middle East. The boy’s American name is Paul, but Grampa Peter addresses him as Piel, his Abenaki name. Read more…

The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place

The Rose brothers, Morris and Alexander, are Jewish immigrants from Hungary who share a jewelry business and a house. They have also collaborated for 45 years on building three towers of scrap steel in their backyard. Now taller than any of the surrounding houses, the towers are decorated with thousands of pendants—gears from old clocks, shards of colored glass, bits of porcelain—that sparkle in the light and sing softly in the wind. Read more…

A Time of Angels

It is September 1918, near the end of World War I, and the life of a 14-year-old Jewish girl in Boston is about to be turned upside down. Hannah and her two younger sisters, Libbie and Eve, live in a basement tenement with their great-aunt Tanta Rose and her stern roommate Vashti, who practices herbal medicine. The girls’ parents are in Russia and have not been heard from in months. Read more…

Bread and Roses, Too

This absorbing novel takes place during the infamous 1912 “Bread and Roses” strike in the textile mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts. When the authorities resort to violence, some of the mill workers’ children are sent to volunteer hosts in Vermont to protect them until the strike is over. The two protagonists, Rosa and Jake, stay with a memorable older Italian couple, Mr. and Mrs. Gerbati. Read more…

A Long Way from Chicago: A Novel in Stories

In this historical novel of the Great Depression, Joe recalls how he and his sister, Mary Alice, traveled from Chicago to spend a week with their widowed grandmother in rural Illinois every August from 1929 (when Joey was 9 and Mary Alice was 7) through 1935. Grandma Dowdel is one tough cookie. She’s not intimidated by anyone or anything, from the local teen hoodlums to the sheriff or the rich banker and his high-society wife. “Tough as an old boot, or so we thought,” says Joey. A large, energetic woman with her hair in a bun at the back of her head, Grandma does her own baking, cans her own tomatoes and makes her own soap. She can grab a snake and break its neck with one quick snap. Read more…

Steal Away

This historical novel depicts a lifelong friendship between two 13-year-old girls who meet in 1855. Susannah is a white orphan uprooted from Vermont to her coldhearted uncle’s Virginia farm; Bethlehem is a slave there. Each miserable for her own reasons, they escape together and flee north. Their perilous journey is described in flashbacks as they take turns narrating it 41 years later in Toronto, where Bethlehem is dying of tuberculosis. Susannah has come from New York at her old friend’s request, and she has brought her granddaughter, Mary. Read more…

Seedfolks

Neighbors in a run-down, multiethnic area of Cleveland gradually transform a junk-filled vacant lot into a community garden. Thirteen fictional characters—linked by the garden and the neighborhood—tell their stories with voices spanning a variety of backgrounds, personalities and poignant personal situations. The youngest character is 9, the oldest is over 90, and there are plenty of appealing children, teens and adults in between. Read more…

Vet Volunteers series

Five preteen kids—Maggie, Sunita, Brenna, Zoe and David—tell their stories of volunteering at a veterinary clinic in Pennsylvania. The clinic is owned by Dr. J. J. MacKenzie, better known as Dr. Mac, the grandmother of first cousins Maggie and Zoe. The series offers a peek into what veterinary work is really like. Read more…