In John Wilson's The Flags of War, Walt, from Canada, and Nate, from South Carolina, are cousins but have never met. Nate knows he must fight in the Civil War, but his friendship with Sunday, a slave, makes him question what is right. When Sunday runs away, he makes the acquaintance of Walt, but when an oversee from Nate's farm comes to capture Sunday, he also takes Walt back and sells him into the Confederate army. There is a lotof action and adventure, like all of Wilson's books, but I found this one slightly harder going for some reason. Maybe flipping between Walt and Nate was hard to follow for me. There is a sequel to this; Battle Scars. Both are popular with my students.
Pierdomenico Baccalario's The Door of Time was hard to follow, and I chalked that up to the translation from the Italian, but Ring of Fire (also translated by Leah Janescko) was pretty good. Four children from different countries meet in a hotel in room and are thrown together due to overbooking. Or are they? Each of them was born on February 29th, and strange things start happening to them. Light bulbs explode, it snows in Rome, and a strange man thrusts a briefcase at them. This briefcase has a set of objects that lead the children around Rome in search of the Ring of Fire, which will help avert a world-ending tragedy that only the children can solve. That part made me stop and think-- are we really constantly under threat from unseen mystic evil forces and being saved by 13-year-olds on a regular basis? If you read young adult literature enough, you'd definitely enroll your children in some good martial arts classes. That aside, this was full of action and adventure, and the pictures and maps of Rome were really fun. My principal graciously donated this one; it is the first book in a projected four book series.
Readers' input needed: I would like to do a grade 5-8 literature update for my school system's waiver day. Along the lines of "100 books I've read, but you probably haven't". I was planning a power point of the covers (all published April 2009-April 2010) with a brief genre heading, an excel spreadsheet with author, title, genre, description and room for comment in the order of the power point (but would e mail people copies they could sort), and then when I gave the power point, would briefly mention what students might like to read it, and what was great about it. Came up with 75 books just from my reading log.
Would something like this be helpful to teachers and librarians? What's a better title?