"By the time I was fifteen years old, I had been in jail nine times."
~ from Lynda Blackmon Lowery's Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom
The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden & the Trial of the Century by Sarah MillerNonfiction. Gruesome hatchet murders are usually the subject of mysteries or horror stories, but the bloody tale of Lizzie Borden is 100% true. Or is it? Newspaper accounts of the 1892 slaying of Andrew and Abby Borden, Lizzie's father and stepmother, were so sensational that it was hard to tell fact from fiction. Lizzie's suspicious behavior, which led to her trial for the murders, only led to more rumors and misinformation. This intriguing book presents the evidence from the Borden case in you-are-there detail, allowing fans of courtroom drama and true crime to cut through the hype and draw their own conclusions about these famous -- and still unsolved -- murders.
Going Where It's Dark by Phyllis Reynolds NaylorFiction. The most important rule of cave exploration is to never go alone, but since his best friend and caving partner David moved away, 13-year-old Buck has no one to join him on his trips into the newly discovered tunnels beneath his rural hometown. Buck carefully hides his solo caving from his family, just like he hides the fact that he's viciously bullied at school because of his stutter. Both situations are dangerous, and when one of them turns almost deadly, Buck has no one to rely on but himself. If you're moved by this emotionally authentic survival story, you might also enjoy Dan Gemeinhart's The Honest Truth; if you want another take on growing up with a stutter, check out Vince Vawter's Paperboy.
The Night Parade by Kathryn TanquaryFantasy. Though Saki Yamamoto would much rather be back in Tokyo with her friends, her family insists that she travel to her grandmother's remote village for the Obon festival honoring the spirits of their ancestors. As if being stuck without a decent phone signal wasn't enough of a nightmare, Saki accidentally brings down a death curse on her family. To break it, she'll have to join the supernatural Night Parade and follow three guides -- a four-tailed fox, a raccoon-like tanuki, and a feathery tengu -- into the perilous spirit world. With "an entertaining mix of Japanese folklore and teen angst" (School Library Journal), The Night Parade will charm readers of all kinds.
The Rosemary Spell by Virginia ZimmermanFantasy. Named after a line from Shakespeare's Hamlet, Rosemary "Rosie" Bennett has grown up surrounded by books, and has always longed for the magical adventures inside them. Her reality is certainly more challenging than it used to be: her dad has left, and her friend Shelby seems to be drifting away. So when Rosie and Adam, Shelby's brother, discover an old book of spells, they eagerly give it a try -- and accidentally cause Shelby to vanish. An "addictive flow of magic and suspense" (Kirkus Reviews) will keep book lovers and fantasy fans turning pages as Rosie and Adam desperately piece together the literary puzzles that will help them reverse the spell.
Books You Might Have Missed in 2015
The Underground Abductor: An Abolitionist Tale by Nathan HaleGraphic Biography. She would later become a nurse, a spy, and an abolitionist, but first, Araminta Ross had to survive an enslaved childhood in 1820s Delaware. Growing up to be brave and determined, Ross risked her life to escape to the northern U.S., where slavery was illegal. Once she was finally free, however, she felt compelled to return in secret, guiding others out of slavery on the Underground Railroad. She also changed her name to one you might recognize: Harriet Tubman. Like the other books in the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series, The Underground Abductor uses a funny frame story to help you understand how the life of one bold American fits into the nation's complicated history.
The Forget-Me-Not Summer by Leila HowlandFiction. Even without TV, internet, or phone reception, it's hard for the Los Angeles-dwelling Silver sisters -- 12-year-old Marigold, 11-year-old Zinnia, and five-year-old Lily -- to be upset about spending the summer with their Aunt Sunny on Cape Cod. Zinnia and Lily ease right into lazy, sunshine-drenched days on the beach, while the more motivated Marigold makes plans to further her blossoming acting career (and her first crush). If you love upbeat realistic fiction with a sweetly nostalgic feel, don't miss this 1st book in the Silver Sisters series (and keep an eye out for the next book, The Brightest Stars of Summer, due out in May 2016).
Paper Things by Jennifer JacobsonFiction. Eleven-year-old orphan Arianna knows that she's too old to play with paper dolls. Still, she finds comfort in her beloved paper "family," because the only relative she's got left is Gage, her 19-year-old brother. But Gage doesn't have a job or an apartment, which means that he and Ari are constantly couch surfing or sneaking into shelters. As the stress of hiding their situation begins to strain her friendships and her schoolwork, Ari is forced to consider how much she's willing to lose to stay loyal to her brother. Those who enjoy this honest, bittersweet story about family homelessness may also appreciate Katherine Applegate's Crenshaw.
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery as told to Elspeth Leacock and Susan BuckleyMemoir. The youngest person to complete the Selma-to-Montgomery March in 1965 Alabama, Lynda Blackmon Lowery was one of many students who risked her own safety to participate in the American Civil Rights Movement. She relates her experiences through words, photos, and illustrations, using an easy, matter-of-fact style to describe brutal beatings and grueling imprisonment as well as the warmth of a strong community with a common cause. Ending with an epilogue about current voting rights in the U.S., this award-winning book provides vivid insight into the past and perspective on the present.
Contact your librarian for more great books!