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Library Media
Reading Lists by Genre - Historical, Humor, Mystery/Suspense

Fiction: Historical

Recommended titles

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac
The Winter People by Joseph Bruchac
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.
Echohawk by Lynda Durant.
Shakespeare Stealer by (Medieval)
A Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman (Medieval)
The Borning Room by Paul Fleischman (Underground Railroad)
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (Dust Bowl)
Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen (Slavery)
Under the Blood-Red Sun by Graham Salisbury (WWII)
The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen (Holocaust)
Soldier's Heart by Gary Paulsen (Civil War)
Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards (Johnstown Flood, 1889)


Reviewed titles

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin

Ten-year old Sasha has wanted to be a Young Pioneer since he was little. But once terrible things start happening to his family, he begins to realize that Stalin may not deserve his worship. This is a gripping example of the fear that evolves from indoctrination. For mature readers.

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

It's 1962, and Franny lives with her family outside of Washington, D. C. Her school is a designated bomb shelter, and she and her fellow students must practice drills in case of a nuclear war. Her shell-shocked Great-uncle Ott can be very embarrassing to have around, and the world around her becomes imminently threatening with the Cuban Missile Crisis, especially because her father is a pilot for the President.  Wiles intersperses her story with photographs, lyrics, brief biographies, quotations, and other original documents of the time to convincingly portray a sense of time and place to the modern reader. First of the 60s trilogy.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Just before her owner dies, Isabel and her little sister, Ruth, learn they will be given their freedom. But freedom is snatched just as quickly as it is granted and the two are whisked away to New York City to work for the family of Loyalist Elihu Lockton. Isabel must get used to her harsh owners and life in New York where Loyalists and Patriots are both trying to seize power. Isabel soon learns to trade secrets in hopes of gaining freedom with dire consequences. For mature readers.

Ringside 1925 by Jen Bryant

The Scopes Monkey Trial is covered in this free verse novel from the many perspectives of the townsfolk and players who witnessed it.

Elephant Run by Roland Smith

Bombs have just destroyed Nick Firestone's apartment in England during World War II. His mother sends him to Burma to his father's teak plantation. But now the Japanese are closing in on the British colony. Nick will be thrust into a high adventure including escaping through the Burmese jungle on an elephant. This is a tense and exciting historical adventure from a point of view that is rarely explored.

Penny from Heaven by Jennifer Holm

In 1953, eleven-year-old Penny is surrounded by two sides of her family. Her father has been dead since she was little and his Italian mother is still wearing black. His entire family treats her like a princess which irks her delinquent cousin, Frankie, who is her best friend. She lives with her mother and grandparents and the two families rarely speak to each other. What's worse, her mother is dating the milkman! A major accident causes both families to finally deal with her father's tragic death. Holm does a fine job of capturing the flavor of the Fifties while highlighting the prejudice towards Italian American immigrants during the time period. The book is a Newbery Honor winner.

The Trial: A Novel by Jen Bryant

Young Katie Leigh Flynn gets to witness the Lindbergh baby kidnapping-murder trial. She describes its impact on the townspeople in this moving free verse novel set in the Depression era. Themes include the criminal justice system, the death penalty and the influence of the media -- all topics reflective of modern times as well.

Worth by A. La Faye 

After his leg is crushed in a farming accident, Nathaniel is forced to go to school while his father secures John Worth from the Orphan Train to help with the Nebraska farm. John, a city boy, feels as clumsy on the farm as Nathaniel does in school. Eventually they discover each others worth. This tightly-written historical fiction novel is rich in metaphor. Winner of the Scott Odell Award for Historical Fiction.

Crispin by Avi

A fast-paced novel set in fourteenth century Europe. A thirteen-year-old's mother dies and soon he learns she was banished to their poor village years before. As the mystery unfolds, Crispin is being chased relentlessly by his enemies, framed for crimes he didn't commit and hidden by a big, burly man named Bear. Avi evokes a feel for the times, especially as it relates to corruption in the Church, while developing Crispin's character from a listless peasant to a questioning, and finally, confident young man.

Lord of the Nutcracker Men by Iain Lawrence

Set during World War I, young Johnny is transported to the country to live with his aunt when his father goes to the front lines and later, his mother works at an ammunition factory. Johnny’s father is a toymaker and whittles crude soldiers in the trenches to mail to his son with news about the war. Action on the front eerily mirrors Johnny’s play. The re-enactments give the boy the taste of a ruler’s power and the horrible consequences for the soldiers in the trenches and the loved ones at home.

A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Harry Mazer

Adam Pelko and his family moved to Hawaii just months before December 7, 1941. His father is a Navy man and stationed on the USS Arizona. Adam finds it difficult to make friends due to all the family moves. Tension builds when Adam makes friends with David Mori over his father’s implied order not to make friends with the Japanese. On a Sunday morning, Adam defies his father’s wishes and goes on a fishing trip with his friends where he finds himself in Pearl Harbor bay on the most tragic day of his life. Amidst the explosions and resulting turmoil, Adam gets taken for a serviceman and helps search the waters for live men. Mazer’s writing is both vivid and powerful as he recounts the events of Pearl Harbor through the eyes of Adam, whose young life is forever transformed.

Trapped Between the Lash and the Gun by Arvella Whitmore

Jordan Scott is about to be initiated into a street gang when he is transported suddenly back in time, sent to the plantation where his ancestors were slaves. The author sets up a striking analogy between Civil War era slavery and modern day gangs. 

Soldier X by Don Wullfson

At the height of World War II, sixteen-year-old Erik Brandt is told he must join the German forces to fight in Russia. Erik's mother is a Russian immigrant so he speaks fluent Russian and is used as an interrogator. When Erik finds himself trapped behind enemy lines, he trades uniforms with a dead Russian soldier in order to survive a war which he does not want to fight. Based on a true story, the horrors of war are graphically described as are the absurdities inherent in conflict.

Fiction: Humor

Recommended titles

S.O.R. Losers by Avi
The Pushcart Wars by Jean Merrill
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

Reviewed titles

Schooled by Gordan Korman

Capricorn Anderson has been home-schooled his entire life by his grandmother on what's left of a hippie commune. When his grandmother needs hip replacement surgery, Cap is forced to attend eighth grade in the local public school. Immediately, he gets set up to run for class president, an honor given to the most clueless kid in school. Naive Cap Anderson with his anti-violence mantra needs to learn quickly what "school" is all about. Very enjoyable.

Travis and Freddy's Adventures in Vegas by Henry Johnson and Paul Hoppe

Travis, the athlete, and Freddy, the computer whiz, are unlikely best friends. When Travis's dad gambles away the family home, the two friends take on Las Vegas to win the quarter million dollars it will take to save it. But being dangled out the window of a Vegas hotel/casino by a mobster may be too high a price to pay. This is a humorous adventure that should capture the attention of reluctant readers.

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen 

A boy starts out mowing a few lawns during the summer. He works hard and invests his money with a "stockbroker" in the neighborhood. The neighbor coaches him on the principles of capitalism as his business expands. Before you know it, he has a fleet of employees and a stake in the career of a prizefighter. Very fun introduction to the basics of economics that is short and easy to read.

Gotta Get Some Bish Bash Bosh by M.E. Allen

A fourteen-year-old boy gets dumped by his girlfriend for being boring. His sudden attempt to ratchet up his cool factor becomes quite funny. This British import was written by a mother/son team and includes a glossary for American teens.

The Stupendous Dodgeball Fiasco by Janice Repka

Many kids dream of running away to be in the circus but eleven-year-old Phillip's family is in the circus. His Dad's a clown and his mother is the fat lady. Phillip just wants to be a normal kid. He gets his chance to move in with relatives and attend regular school. But when he learns that dodgeball is the only choice in gym, and the play is brutal, he initiates change. This highly humorous story entertains while exploring the dark side of bullying in sports.

Molly McGinty Has a Really Good Day by Gary Paulsen

Molly McGinty keeps her life well-organized in a color-coded spiral binder. She is lost without it. Then one day she does lose it and on the very same day that her free-spirited grandma comes to Senior Citzen's Day at school. Molly soon finds herself getting detention, having half her hair set on fire and the other half in tiny braids held together by someone's rubber bands for braces, and other mayhem.

Never Mind!: A Twin Novel by Avi and Rachel Vail

The story of twins is told in alternating chapters by two authors. Meg is the popular twin and her brother, Edward, is not. Meg can be a little condescending and Edward loves to irk his sister to keep the image she has of him. But things get out of hand when he tries to impersonate the hunky lead in a rock group at a big party for his sister's friend. He can't sing. And a record producer will be coming after hearing the hype. Lots of hilarious predicaments. A delicious read.

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1 by Lemony Snicket

“Dear Reader:
I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children.”
The author, Lemony Snicket, goes on to outline for the reader all the ghastly events that take place in the lives of the Baudelaire siblings. Almost from the beginning, they receive the terrible news that their parents have died in a disastrous fire, they encounter a greedy and repulsive villain and there’s a plot to steal their fortune. While it is true that things look pretty bleak, Mr. Snicket’s writing is reminiscent of Roald Dahl in its black humor.

.Fiction: Mystery and Suspense

Recommended titles

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
Wolf Rider by Avi
Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac
The Trap by Joan Lowery Nixon
The Trouble With Lemons by Daniel Hayes
Who Killed Olive Souffle? by Margaret Benoit
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Reviewed titles


A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Inspired by the beginnings of a story by Siobhan Dowd, Patrick Ness describes the torment afflicting Conor as his mother undergoes cancer treatment and he is haunted by the dark. This sad and poignant story will touch all readers.

Peeled by Joan Bauer

Hildy Biddle is a high school reporter from a small town in the middle of a patchwork of apple orchards. Hoping to follow in her deceased father's footsteps, Hildy is a dedicated journalist out to get to the truth of any story. But when an unscrupulous town editor fuels speculation of a ghost and possible murder, Hildy discovers just how hard the job can be.

Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez

Teenage cheerleaders are being sucked of their souls and it is up to new recruit, Daisy and her psychic family, to help police solve the mystery.  A fun look at vampires and the paranormal.

Shakespeare's Secret by Elise Broach  

Hero, the new girl in town, truly feels like a misfit when she enters her sixth grade class. When she tells the teacher her name, a classmate pipes up that that's her dog's name! Her father, a Shakespeare scholar, has named his two girls after characters in Much Ado about Nothing. Life does take an interesting twist for Hero, however, when she learns that a mysterious diamond is hidden in her new house. She teams up with an elderly neighbor and the cutest, most popular boy in eighth grade, Danny Cordova, to find this treasure.  

See also:

             Cultures/Adventure/Survival, Animals, Fantasy
             Science Fiction, Sports