Battle of the Books

Before the Ever After

by Jacqueline Woodson

For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone's hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he is as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ's house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ's mom explains it's because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that--but it doesn't make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can't remember it. And most importantly, can those happy feelings ever be reclaimed when they are all so busy aching for the past? 

I Can Make This Promise

by Christine Day

All her life, Edie has known that her mom was adopted by a white couple. So, no matter how curious she might be about her Native American heritage, Edie is sure her family doesn’t have any answers. Until the day when she and her friends discover a box hidden in the attic—a box full of letters signed “Love, Edith,” and photos of a woman who looks just like her. Suddenly, Edie has a flurry of new questions about this woman who shares her name. Could she belong to the Native family that Edie never knew about? But if her mom and dad have kept this secret from her all her life, how can she trust them to tell her the truth now? 

In the Red

by Christopher Swiedler

Michael Prasad knows he should not go out on the Mars surface alone. It is dangerous. His parents have forbidden it. And the anxiety he feels almost every time he puts on a spacesuit makes it nearly impossible for him to leave the safety of the colony. But when his best friend, Lilith, suggests they sneak out one night, he can’t resist the chance to prove everyone—including himself—wrong. As the two ride along the Mars surface in a stolen rover, miles from the colony, a massive solar flare hits the planet, knocking out power, communication, and navigation systems, and the magnetic field that protects the planet from the sun’s deadly radiation. Stranded hours from home with an already limited supply of food, water, and air, Michael and Lilith must risk everything if they’re to get back to the colony alive. 

On Thin Ice

by Michael Northrop

Ked Eakins is about to lose everything. He's just discovered that his dad has gambled away their rent money, and they’re going to get kicked out of their home. Ked is determined to fight back. He hatches a plan to save their apartment by rebuilding a vintage minibike in his school's maker space, which he'll sell for a profit. The plan is a gamble of his own: Going to maker space forces Ked into the path of a school bully, who torments him about his progressive spinal condition. Can Ked, with the help of some unlikely new friends, find a way to fix the bike and save his family from going under before it's too late?

One Last Shot

by John David Anderson

For as long as he can remember, Malcolm has never felt like he was good enough. Especially not for his dad, whose competitive drive and love for sports Malcolm has never shared. That is, until Malcolm discovers miniature golf, the one sport he actually enjoys. Maybe it’s the way in which every hole is a puzzle to be solved, the whimsy of the windmills and waterfalls that decorate the course, or maybe it’s the slushies at the snack bar. Whatever the reason, something about mini golf just clicks for Malcolm. And best of all, it’s a sport his dad can’t possibly obsess over. Or so Malcolm thinks. Soon he is signed up for lessons and entered in tournaments. And yet, even as he becomes a better golfer and finds unexpected friends at the local course, he wonders if he might not always be a disappointment. As the final match of the year draws closer, will Malcolm be able to solve the puzzle of what really matters to him? 

Other Words for Home

by Jasmine Warga

Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives. At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved didn’t prepared her for starting school in the US. There are positive surprises too though – new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is. 

Remaking The John: The Invention and Reinvention of the Toilet

by Francesca DiPiazza

Everyone needs to go to the bathroom, and from the citizens of the world's earliest human settlements to astronauts living on the International Space Station, the challenge has been the same: how to safely and effectively dispose of human body wastes. In Remaking the John, you'll explore the many ways people across the globe and through the ages have invented―and reinvented―the toilet. Learn about everything from ancient Roman sewers to the world's first flush toilets to current efforts to engineer ecological, water-saving, inexpensive, sanitary toilets that will help cut down on the millions of people, most of them children, who die from diarrheal diseases every year.  

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

by Jason Reynolds and Ibram Kendi

Have you heard a lot about racism lately and wondered what it is, how it started, and what we can do about it? This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.

The Truth According to Blue

by Eve Yohalem

Thirteen-year-old Blue Broen is on the hunt for a legendary ship of gold, lost centuries ago when her ancestors sailed to New York. Blue knows her overprotective parents won't approve of her mission to find their family's long-lost fortune, so she keeps it a secret from everyone except her constant companion, Otis, an 80-pound diabetic alert dog. But it's hard to keep things quiet with rival treasure hunters on the loose, and with Blue's reputation as the local poster child for a type 1 diabetes fundraiser. Blue's quest gets even harder when she's forced to befriend Jules, the brainy but bratty daughter of a vacationing movie star who arrives on the scene and won't leave Blue alone. While Blue initially resents getting stuck with this spoiled seventh grade stranger, Jules soon proves Blue's not the only one who knows about secrets -- and adventure. Will Blue unravel a three hundred year-old family mystery, learn to stand up for herself, and find the missing treasure? Or is she destined to be nothing more than "diabetes girl" forever? 

The Witch Boy

by Molly Knox Ostertag

In thirteen-year-old Aster's family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn't shifted . . . and he's still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be. When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help -- as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself. 

Book summaries were found on Amazon.