The Book Critic

Come get ideas of books to read. Tell us what you thought about the books in your class.



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Picture of Bethany Stoppel

Bethany Stoppel

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

A 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor book, and recipient of the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature.

In this New York Times bestselling novel, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.

A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galluzzo, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?

There were witnesses: Quinn Collins—a varsity basketball player and Rashad’s classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan—and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his savior could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team—half of whom are Rashad’s best friends—start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.

Written in tandem by two award-winning authors, this four-starred reviewed tour de force shares the alternating perspectives of Rashad and Quinn as the complications from that single violent moment, the type taken directly from today’s headlines, unfold and reverberate to highlight an unwelcome truth.

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

Debra Driza's MILA 2.0 is the first book in a gripping Bourne Identity–style trilogy about a girl who discovers she is actually an android.

Mila was never supposed to remember her past, or know what lurked beneath her synthetic skin. She was never meant to learn that she was "born" in a secret computer science lab and programmed with superhuman skills. But when a group of hooded men show up on her doorstep, hoping to strip her of her advanced technology, she has no choice but to run for her life. In every direction there are dangerous people, hunting her down. They will do whatever it takes to capture Mila, including hurting the people she cares about most.

Filled with secrets, action, and even romance, MILA 2.0 is perfect for readers who love sci-fi thrillers like the Partials series and I Am Number Four.

Spacer and Rat by Margaret Bechard

Jack knows who belongs out in the Black. And who doesn't -- until Kit comes walking into the pub and changes everything he believes about the Black, about the people who live there, about what it takes to be a human being. Margaret Bechard set out to write an adventure story with laser guns ad spaceships. Then, she says, "there was a big step and a long fall off a cliff while I realized that my characters didn't want to do the stuff I had in my mind; they had plans of their own." The result: a fast-paced space adventure and a short story about human feeling and growing up -- science fiction for those who love SF; riveting fiction for those who don't.

Sylvia and Aki by Winifred Conkling

Young Sylvia Mendez never expected to be at the center of a landmark legal battle. Young Aki Munemitsu never expected to be sent away from her home and her life as she knew it. The two girls definitely never expected to know each other, until their lives intersected on a Southern California farm in a way that changed the country forever. Who are Sylvia and Aki? And why did their family stories matter then and still matter today? This book reveals the remarkable, never-before-told story—based on true events—of Mendez vs. Westminster School District, the California court case that desegregated schools for Latino children and set the stage for Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education at the national level.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

The children of world leaders are held hostage in an attempt to keep the peace in this “slyly humorous, starkly thought-provoking” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) novel.

Greta is a Duchess and a Crown Princess. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Start a war and your hostage dies.

The system has worked for centuries. Parents don’t want to see their children murdered.

Greta will be free if she can make it to her eighteenth birthday. Until then she is prepared to die with dignity, if necessary. But everything changes when Elian arrives at the Precepture. He’s a hostage from a new American alliance, and he defies the machines that control every part of their lives—and is severely punished for it. His rebellion opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the rules they live under, and to the subtle resistance of her companions. And Greta discovers her own quiet power.

Then Elian’s country declares war on Greta’s and invades the prefecture, taking the hostages hostage. Now the great Talis is furious, and coming himself to deliver punishment. Which surely means that Greta and Elian will be killed...unless Greta can think of a way to break all the rules.

Picture of Joseph Giganti

Joseph Giganti

Jurassic Park book review.

Even though I am not in this course, I have read this book. It is about a guy who tries to create an amusement park, but with dinosaurs. He invites guests over, because, an employee died there, and he needs prove that it is safe. Everything goes wrong, and their are a lot of deaths. This is a good book, but Violent. It is also very disturbing, and a little creepy. I suggest 6th grade, or, even 7th grade and up.

Picture of Rebecca Vonesh

Rebecca Vonesh

A Certain Ambiguity

Required Book: A Certain Ambiguity by Gaurav Suri and Hartosh Singh Bal 

A Certain Ambiguity

About Gaurav Suri and Hartosh Singh Bal

Where to find it

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

 

Optional Book: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain

Reading Level: Grades 5 and Up

ConnecticutYankee

About Mark Twain

Where to find it

A Fire Upon the Deep

Required Book: A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

A Fire Upon the Deep

About Vernor Vinge

Where to find it

A Little Piece of Ground

Choice Fiction Book: A Little Piece of Ground by Elizabeth Laird

Reading Level:Grades 4 and Up

A Little Piece of Ground

About Elizabeth Laird

Where to find it


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