27 terms

Battle of the Books Descriptions 2015-2016

STUDY
PLAY
The Crossover
Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection.
Sugar Changed the World
From 1600 to the 1800s, sugar drove the economies of Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa and did more "to reshape the world than any ruler, empire, or war had ever done." Millions of people were taken from Africa and enslaved to work the sugar plantations throughout the Caribbean, worked to death to supply the demand for sugar in Europe.
The Nine Pound Hammer
It occurs to 12-year-old Ray that his younger sister will have a better chance at adoption if he disappears from the orphan train that is taking them to good homes. All he takes is the special stone left by his father. Ray connects with a traveling medicine show, where, despite the many strange personalities, he feels at home. It is after leaving them that he discovers possible links between some in the show, his father's disappearance and a force of evil seeking dominance.
Code Talker
Sixteen-year-old Ned Begay detested life in the Navajo mission school where he was sent. However, in one of the greatest ironies in American history, when WWII broke out, Navajos—victims of the US Army effort to destroy them in the 1860s and the harshness of the mission schools in the 20th century—were recruited by the Marine Corps to use their native language to create an unbreakable code.
Wild Things
After the death of her mentally ill mother, Zoë is adopted by her paternal uncle, artist Henry Royster, and with his help moves toward a more conventional life.
Etiquette and Espionage
Sophronia, infamous in her family for disassembling dumbwaiters and falling into custard, is horrified when she is sent to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. But school isn't the dreadfully boring disaster Sophronia anticipates. In the academy—a collection of interlaced dirigibles—the girls learn music and intelligence gathering, cooking and defense against vampires, dance and rudimentary seduction.
Diamonds in the Shadow
A middle-class family in Connecticut agrees through their church to shelter an African refugee family, never noticing abundant clues that the Amabos aren't a real family and that they have a dangerous past that has followed them from Africa.
Out of My Mind
Melody, diagnosed with cerebral palsy, cannot walk or talk. Despite her parents' best efforts, the outside world has defined her by her condition. Melody's life changes when inclusion classrooms are introduced in her school, and she interacts with children other than those in her special-needs unit. To these children, Melody is "other," and they are mostly uncomfortable with her sounds and jerky movements. Normal problems of school friendships are magnified. Preparation for a trivia competition and acquisition of a computer that lets her communicate her thoughts reveal Melody's intelligence to the world.
Incarceron
Finn cannot remember anything before awakening in the vast sentient prison called Incarceron, but he is sure that he comes from outside its hellish confines. Claudia has known nothing but luxury as the daughter of Incarceron's Warden; but she dreads her imminent marriage to the caddish prince of the Realms, which are trapped in a static reenactment of a pre-technological past.
Phineas Gage
An explosion blew a 13-pound iron rod through railroad worker Gage's head. Not only did he survive, he never even lost consciousness, going on to become a medical marvel and to live almost another dozen years.
The Graveyard Book
Gaiman's riff on Kipling's Mowgli stories never falters, from the truly spine-tingling opening, in which a toddler accidentally escapes his family's murderer, to the melancholy, life-affirming ending. Bod (short for Nobody) finds solace and safety with the inhabitants of the local graveyard, who grant him some of the privileges and powers of the dead—he can Fade and Dreamwalk, for instance, but still needs to eat and breathe.
Dead End in Norvelt
The gore is all Jack's, which to his continuing embarrassment "would spray out of my nose holes like dragon flames" whenever anything exciting or upsetting happens. And that would be on every other page, seemingly, as even though Jack's feuding parents unite to ground him for the summer after several mishaps, he does get out. He mixes with the undertaker's daughter, a band of Hell's Angels out to exact fiery revenge for a member flattened in town by a truck and, especially, with arthritic neighbor Miss Volker, for whom he furnishes the "hired hands" that transcribe what becomes a series of impassioned obituaries for the local paper as elderly town residents suddenly begin passing on in rapid succession.
One for the Murphys
Carley is a modern-day Gilly Hopkins, bright and strong, angry and deeply hurt. She's torn between her love for her mother and her memory of the fight that sent her to the hospital, when her mother caught and held her for her stepfather. Her foster-care placement is terrifying.
The Great Greene Heist
Trying to go straight, troublemaker Jackson Greene succumbs to the lure of the con when it appears Maplewood Middle School's student-council election is being rigged against his friend Gaby de la Cruz. Although Gaby's been angry at Jackson for more than four months, the two could be more than just friends. And her twin brother, Charlie, Jackson's best friend, is worried about her electoral chances.
Death Cloud
Sherlock and his orphaned friend, Matty, probe two strange deaths associated with the appearance of a mysterious cloud.
White Fang
Two men are out in the wild of the north. Their dogs disappear as they are lured by a she-wolf and eaten by the pack. They only have three bullets left and Bill, one of the men, uses them to try to save one of their dogs; he misses and is eaten with the dog. Only Henry and two dogs are left; he makes a fire, trying to drive away the wolves. They draw in close, and he is almost eaten, saved only by a company of men who were traveling nearby.
Under the Mesquite
Lupita's first-person tale captures pivotal moments of her high-school years in the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, with glimpses back at her first six years in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. During her freshman year, Lupita discovers that her mother has cancer. While her mother fights the disease and her father struggles to support the family financially. As she worries about food and money, Lupita experiences the typical troubles and triumphs of a teenage girl; her drama teacher, Mr. Cortez, helps her find an outlet for her talent and her pain.
Cinder
Long after World War IV, with a plague called letumosis ravaging all six Earthen countries, teenage Cinder spends her days in New Beijing doing mechanical repairs to earn money for her selfish adoptive mother. Her two sisters will attend Prince Kai's ball wearing elegant gowns; Cinder, hated because she's a cyborg, won't be going.
Stones in Water
Roberto, a Venetian boy who is about to graduate from middle school, is so eager to attend a rare American movie that he makes a worrisome bargain with a boy who is always in trouble. On top of this small sin, he attends the movie with a Jewish boy, Samuele, an unwise idea when restrictions and dangers are multiplying. German soldiers enter the theater and capture all the boys; at first, Roberto can't make sense of what is happening to him.
Left for Dead
On July 30, 1945, after transporting the atomic bomb to Tinian for the Enola Gay, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed in shark-infested waters and sunk. In the largest wartime loss of life for the navy, 880 of the ship's 1,197 men found themselves in the water, 250 miles from the closest land. When they were eventually rescued, only 317 men had survived.
Rebels of the Kasbah
Tariq is a street-wise orphan from Tangier who has spent his life just trying to survive. Just as he has finally found joy in the care of the kind Zijuan, slave traders kidnap him and sell him as a slave to the ruthless Caid Ali Tamzali.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered "peculiar spirits" (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight.
The Wednesday Wars
It's 1967, and on Wednesdays, every Jewish kid in Holling Hoodhood's class goes to Hebrew School, and every Catholic kid goes to Catechism. Holling is Presbyterian, which means that he and Mrs. Baker are alone together every Wednesday—and she hates it just as much as he does. What unfolds is a year of Wednesday Shakespeare study, which, says Mrs. Baker, "is never boring to the true soul." Holling is dubious, but trapped.
Between Shades of Gray
On June 14th, 1941, Soviet officers arrest 15-year-old Lina, her younger brother and her mother and deport them from Lithuania to Siberia. Their crammed-full boxcar is labeled, ludicrously, "Thieves and Prostitutes." They work at a frigid gulag for eight months—hungry, filthy and brutalized by Soviet officers—before being taken to the Siberian Arctic and left without shelter. Lina doesn't know the breadth of Stalin's mass deportations of Baltic citizens, but she hears scraps of discussion about politics and World War II.
Everlost
Nick and Allie have never met, but both are involved in a fatal car accident. They find they are neither living nor spirit; they now exist in Everlost. Learning to cope with their new state of being, they arrive in New York City, where a band of lost children have taken up residence in the Twin Towers, which still stand tall in Everlost. Led by Mary, the Queen of Snot, threatened by the Great McGill and his pirate band, these children have come to accept that this is where they belong and will always be.
Counting by 7s
Twelve-year-old genius Willow Chance was adopted as an infant by her "so white" parents (Willow is mixed race) and loses them both in one afternoon in a convenient (plotwise) car accident. Outside of her parents, she has a hard time making friends since her mishmash of (also convenient, plotwise) interests—disease, plants and the number seven—doesn't appeal to her fellow middle-grade students. Losing her parents propels her on her hero's-journey quest to find belonging.
Brown Girl Dreaming
Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah's Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother.