Most love stories don't end with a snowball to the face. Then again, this is no love story.
Empire State, by Jason Shiga, actually starts in the Golden State: Oakland, California. Jimmy works in a library and runs his own Web site. He finds inner peace through repairing books and geeking out over sci-fi movies. As he leaves work one day, we meet his friend Sara, who greets him...with an unprovoked punch in the arm.
Sara's sarcastic and unsatisfied world view is a million miles from Jimmy's acceptance of his uncomplicated life. Still, they both find some comfort and security in each other's presence. Unfortunately for Jimmy, Sara has a yearning to leave Oakland and enter New York City's publishing industry. When she receives an internship, the call is too powerful to resist.
It's Maggie's favorite day of the year in Wende and Harry Devlin's Cranberry Thanksgiving. She and her grandmother live on a New England cranberry farm. It's lonely and cold at the edge of the sea, but on Thanksgiving the house is warm with lots of good cooking. As part of their family tradition, Maggie and Grandma have each invited someone who otherwise would have to spend Thanksgiving alone.
Jumpy Jack and Googily, by Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall, is about the very special friendship of Jumpy Jack the snail and his pal, Googily. Jumpy Jack thinks there could be a monster behind every nook and cranny. Good thing he’s got Googily, who bravely investigates Jumpy Jack’s every fearful suspicion and reassures his friend that no monster could be lurking near. The humor in this sweet account of the exchange between two friends is that Googily himself is a monster, matching the exact description Jumpy Jack provides when he expresses the frightful possibilities his wild imagination creates.
Attention all dog lovers: Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog, by Ted Kerasote, is a must-read book about a dog and his human companion. This non-fiction tale takes the reader to the banks of the San Juan River where Ted, the author, finds Merle, a ten-month-old pup living on his own. Ted, who had been looking for a dog but never really felt connected to any of the dogs he had met, finds it impossible to leave this dog. Merle seems to also be looking for a companion and doesn't want to leave Ted's side either.
Merle and Ted strike up a relationship that any dog owner can understand. They share their lives together, all the while learning from each other. Merle teaches Ted how to navigate in nature and techniques for hunting, while Ted teaches about the ways of the human world. In actuality, Merle teaches Ted more about obedience and other dog behaviors than Ted teaches him. Ted uses his knowledge of Merle to translate dog behavior to human language. It's a fantastic relationship between dog and human.
A vacant lot, rat-infested and filled with garbage, looked like no place for a garden. Especially to a neighborhood of strangers where no one seems to care. Until one day, a young girl clears a small space and digs into the hard-packed soil to plant her precious bean seeds. Suddenly, the soil holds promise: To Curtis, who believes he can win back Lateesha's heart with a harvest of tomatoes; to Virgil's dad, who sees a fortune to be made from growing lettuce; and even to Maricela, sixteen and pregnant, wishing she were dead.
After passing a series of mind-bending tests, four children are selected for a secret mission that requires them to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules.