Save Me a Seat

by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan


On his first day of fifth grade in an American school, Ravi is relieved to see one other Indian face in his classroom—that of an American-born boy named Dillon. A popular and good student back in India, much-loved by his parents and grandparents, Ravi is confident he will make friends and shine like the sun he was named for.

By contrast, Joe is not so confident. Wearing earplugs because of his auditory processing disorder, he knows Dillon to be a bully and a petty thief. Told in alternating voices, this story of one crazy week at school captures the dislocation both boys feel. By the end, they each have learned something valuable about themselves.

A satisfying story, fun and accessible, with a much-needed message.  In today's America, it's more important than ever for kids to reach out across cultural divides and befriend others who have different backgrounds. 

Click these links to find out more about Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Wolf Hollow

by Lauren Wolk, ages 10 and up, a 2017 Newbery Honor book

WolfHollow-201x300Wolf Hollow deserves the many awards and accolades it won as the best children’s book of 2016. Haunting and disturbing, it harkens back to what many think of as a simpler, more innocent era, the 1940s, in a bucolic setting of western Pennsylvania.

But there is nothing innocent about the mean-hearted girl who moves up from the big city, and there’s nothing simple about the thick-bearded veteran who roams the hills with three rifles on his back. Eleven-year-old Annabelle learns hard lessons about uncovering evil and protecting the wrongly accused.

Highly recommended for readers ready for complexity.

For more about the author, Lauren Wolk, here is her website. 

The War that Saved My Life

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, ages 9 – 12,  A Newbery Honor book in 2016

The War That Saved My LifeThis compelling story kept me reading late into the night—partly because awful things happened and partly because I cared so much. When the story begins, in a grim flat in London just as war with Hitler begins, Ada and her brother live with their mother, Mam. Ada has a clubfoot, and Mam won’t let her leave home or even walk with crutches. That seems so cruel!

But when London children are evacuated to the countryside, Ada and her little brother get on the train and have to go live with strangers in a place safe from Hitler’s bombs. In a village in Kent, they are placed with Susan, a cranky woman who does not want children. But Susan, who wrestles with her own demons, provides food, baths, clean sheets, patience, and eventually love. An ill-kept pony, a mangy cat, a nearby airfield, and, yes, bombing by the Germans bring the story to life.

She persisted. She stood up for herself. And she found where she belonged.  An inspiring and lovable tale!

Eager to see the sequel, The War I Finally Won, coming in October 2017. More at

Epitaph Road

by David Patneaude, a young adult novel, now available in Kindle format


Imagine a future world run by women: no war, no violence, almost no crime. The military budget has been diverted to support infrastructure, and the jails have been converted to schools and libraries. But the cost was high: A terrible plague has wiped out most of the male population, and strict population controls limit the males to three percent. Kellen is a fourteen-year-old boy living in this future society, and he misses his dad.

Underlying this utopian but regimented world lies a disturbing secret. When Kellen and two girls uncover it, they set off on a bicycle journey to warn his dad. The tension ratchets up as they discover a secret underground lab where an even darker evil is being hatched.

Compelling and gripping, David Patneaude’s stunning story draws you in with both cinematic action and heartfelt poetry. Each chapter opens with an epitaph written by a woman or girl for the man or boy she lost in the plague. The premise—a world run by women—fires the imagination, and the ending will keep you pondering long after you have finished reading. 

More about Dave at 

Inside Out & Back Again

Inside out & back again.jpg

by Thanhha Lai, ages 8 – 12,   a 2012 Newbery Honor book and 2011 National Book Award Winner

Delightful verse brings you right inside the head of a girl who has always lived in Saigon with her mother and brothers. Her vivid descriptions of papaya trees and mopeds and water spinach and hammocks illustrate how much she loved her life there. In 1975, as the war ends badly, we follow young Ha as she boards an overcrowded boat, “trapped in putrid, hot air made from fermented bodies and oily sweat” as their country, South Vietnam, disappears.

A man she thinks is a cowboy rescues them from a refugee camp in Florida, but life in Alabama is hard. At school, classmates tease her with whispers of “Boo-Da,” and a bully she calls Pink Boy torments her. Her brothers save her more than once, by bicycle or motorcycle. The family gets by.

This story is based on the author’s own experience, moving from Vietnam to America, so it rings with authenticity and lyrical grace. Highly recommended—even for those who think they don’t like books in verse.   The author's website is here

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