Wonder: R.J. Palacio

August Pullman considers himself to be ordinary.  Yet he is far from that.  He is a wonderful artist, great at science, and reads constantly.  He also has a genetic disorder that makes him  quite the sight to see.  'Auggie' Pullman and his family deal with his deformity on a daily basis, but up until now he has been home-schooled   His parents decide to start him at Beecher Prep, a middle school near their home.  This is their way of helping him join the real world, and no one is quite prepared for him.  

I LOVED this book.  The characters react in real human ways, and are as flawed as you and me.  

Grade Level: 4.8

Between Shades of Gray: Ruta Sepetys

Lina is a young girl living in Russia.  She hopes to become an artist someday, and is talented beyond compare.  SUddenly, her father goes missing, and she and her family are forced out of their home with less than an hour to pack.  They are taken by the KGB to a train that few people return on.  

To speak out against Stalin paints a target on your back.  As for your family, very few survivors make it out of the camps.  Lina and her mother and brother work to keep alive and to find their father.  They must survive harsh winters with little food, disease, and the abuse of the soldiers.  I recommend this novel to all of my girls in the 6th & 7th grade.  This is an excellent depiction of the Russian side of WWII.  I would only recommend this novel to my girls, because of some mention of issues that only girls would be comfortable with reading.  

Grade Level: 3.6

The Yellow Star:Carmen Agra Deedy

King Christian of Denmark is not happy about the German invasion of his beloved country.  But by standing up to the Nazis, he could risk the lives of his countrymen.  Everyday Christopher rides out, un-escorted, through the city of Copenhagen to meet his countrymen.  He is a symbol of confidence and pride for all of his subjects.  With the invasion of the Nazis and the Jews being forced to wear the Yellow star on their clothing, the country of Denmark is in a state of unrest.  This short story tells of the legend of King Christian and the Yellow stars.

Grade Level: 3.7

Fiddler's Gun: A.S. Peterson

This is not a children's book. 

    Fin Button is not your typical teenage girl.  She would rather go run and fight with the boys than wear dresses and brush her hair. Since birth, Fin has felt unwanted.  Her parents didn't want her, so they left her at the church to be cared for by the Sisters that run the orphanage.  Little does she know, God has her ever in His sights.
     As she grows up, Fin seems determined to escape from this dull lifestyle.  She soon realizes that people really do love her, despite her rough exterior and crude language.  Although she  still feels alone, she soon befriends cook, Bartimaeus, who teaches her to play the fiddle.  She also realizes that she is ready to grow up, move on, and marry Peter, her best friend since being left at the orphanage.   
     Life seems to be looking up, until spurts of fighting begin to break out in the nearby areas.  The new American Colonies are on the brink of war with England  and a sudden tragic turn of events sets Fin on a whirlwind of a journey aboard a pirate ship called The Rattlesnake. 
    After a series of violent raids, stormy weather, and a mutiny, Fin returns to a war ravaged homeland.  Will she find Peter waiting for her? Or does God have a different path in mind for her?
     This is not a book for children.  There are many violent scenes as well as severely crude language.  This story is riddled with Christian themes, and is an excellent read for adults.  It is the first book of two written by A.S. Peterson, the brother of Andrew Peterson, whom I have written reviews on previously.  Talented writing must run in this family!!