Adventures and Mockingbirds: New Books for Older Readers

mockingbirdI Kill the Mockingbird, by Paul Acampora
Didn’t you know that it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird? So who is trying to kill the mockingbird? And why? First in West Glover, Connecticut, then across states and online: Harper Lee’s beloved book, To Kill a Mockingbird, is disappearing from bookshelves. In it’s place is a flier that looks like a ransom note: “I KiLL thE MoCkInGBiRD.” Literary terrorists Lucy, Michael and Elena started this underground project to spark people’s interest in their favorite book before they start high school. But what happens when their plan becomes known as the “summer reading sabotage”? This short novel is ideal for fans of Carl Hiaasen’s novel, Hoot, and middle graders who enjoy realistic fiction. It has themes of activism, going against the grain, friendship, and handling the uncontrollable parts of life with the people you love. Last but not least, it will inspire you to read one of the greatest pieces of American literature! (ages 10-14)

beckyThe Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher by Jessica Lawson
Becky Thatcher is a cherry spittin’, overall wearing, bold young girl who is as superstitious as she is a darn good friend. She throws spitballs at Tom Sawyer for being a goody-goody, and sneaks out in the dead of night to meet the notorious Old Widow “witch” of the neighborhood. Becky has a promise to keep to her deceased brother Huckleberry: to go on wild adventures with his marbles in her pocket. But what happens when Becky’s adventures meet the Pritchard Brothers, the infamous, grave robbing, and murderous outlaws? Written in an old-timey Southern dialect of the 1860’s, The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher is ideal for readers who appreciate a strong female character. An interesting twist on the American classics Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, this story presents the so-called “real” versions of the people who inspired Mark Twain’s stories, who are vastly different from their more famous counterparts. This historical fiction novel is set in Mississippi and has strong themes of loyalty, navigating grief, and being your true and honest self. (ages 8-12)

savinglucasbiggs-typeSaving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
When Margaret O’Malley’s father is wrongfully accused of murder and sentenced to death by the hardened Judge Biggs, Margaret knows she has to do something, even if it means using the forbidden family trait: time travel. With the guidance of her best friend’s Grandpa Joshua, Margaret will use her time traveling gift to save more than just her dad. She is also trying to save Judge Biggs, who was once an idealistic boy who stood in solidarity with the oppressed people of the local mining corporation, and who saved Grandpa Joshua’s life. What happens to Luke Agrippa during these years will change him forever, into the cold and resentful Judge Lucas Biggs who is too bitter to see the truth. But Margaret is about to discover that time does not like to change. With a combination of historical fiction, adventure and a dash of magic, this versatile book should suit many reader’s fancies. Written from multiple perspectives, this book does a fantastic job of showing how important it is to walk in another person’s shoes. Full of empathy, collective consciousness, politics, and history, it would not surprise me if this novel won a Newbery Award. (ages 9-13)

forbidden libraryThe Forbidden Library by Django Wexler
Everything went downhill when Alice hid in a closet and saw a fairy threatening her father. She thought there was no such thing as fairies. Suddenly her father has vanished, supposedly killed on a shipping expedition, and now she must live with her mysterious but kind Uncle Geryon. When Alice meets a blasé cat who lets her in to her uncle’s forbidden library, she discovers that her family has kept her in the dark about what she is. Alice is a reader. When Alice reads the lines of special books, she finds herself in the book. The only way out is to defeat a character in a book, imprisoning them within her. Alice can use the character as a weapon forever when she is back in the real world. But nonetheless, the creature is a prisoner. Are readers the good guys or the villains? This fantasy novel is very action oriented, and will suit readers who like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books. The Forbidden Library ends with a cliffhanger, leaving the reader yearning for more!

-Courtney