The Mustang Book Award reading incentive program encourages students to read professionally
reviewed books that will hopefully spark an interest in reading and inspire them to read more.
by Vivian Vande Velde
By both society’s measure and her own, fifteen-year-old Zoe Mahar is pretty much a loser. Then one day, she ducks into Spencerport Savings and Loan simply to get out of the rain... and witnesses a bank robbery gone horrifyingly wrong. The good news is that Zoe has a unique ability: she can play back time and repeat events. But it's not an unlimited deal — she can only jump 23 minutes, and her first playback creates an even more disastrous outcome. Zoe has only ten tries to get it right before this particular 23 minutes becomes irreversible. But in the process of trying to become the heroine she doesn't believe she can be, Zoe will learn about herself — and realize that there is more to who she is than she thought.
An Elephant in the Garden
by Michael Morpurgo
Lizzie and Karl's mother is a zoo keeper; the family has become attached to an orphaned elephant named Marlene, who will be destroyed as a precautionary measure so she and the other animals don't run wild should the zoo be hit by bombs. The family persuades the zoo director to let Marlene stay in their garden instead. When the city is bombed, the family flees with thousands of others, but how can they walk the same route when they have an elephant in tow, and keep themselves safe? Along the way, they meet Peter, a Canadian navigator who risks his own capture to save the family.
As Michael Morpurgo writes in an author's note, An Elephant in the Garden is inspired by historical truths, and by his admiration for elephants, "the noblest and wisest and most sensitive of all creatures." Here is a story that brings together an unlikely group of survivors whose faith in kindness and love proves the best weapon of all.
Black Brother, Black Brother
by Jewell Rhodes
Framed. Bullied. Disliked. But I know I can still be the best. Sometimes, 12-year-old Donte wishes he were invisible. As one of the few black boys at Middlefield Prep, most of the students don't look like him. They don't like him either. Dubbing him "Black Brother", Donte's teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter-skinned brother, Trey. When he's bullied and framed by the captain of the fencing team, "King" Alan, he's suspended from school and arrested for something he didn't do. Terrified, searching for a place where he belongs, Donte joins a local youth center and meets former Olympic fencer Arden Jones. With Arden's help, he begins training as a competitive fencer, setting his sights on taking down the fencing team captain, no matter what. As Donte hones his fencing skills and grows closer to achieving his goal, he learns the fight for justice is far from over. Now Donte must confront his bullies, racism, and the corrupt systems of power that led to his arrest.
Powerful and emotionally gripping, Black Brother, Black Brother is a careful examination of the school-to-prison pipeline and follows one boy's fight against racism and his empowering path to finding his voice.
The Boy in the Black Suit
by Jason Reynolds
Just when 17-year-old Matt thinks he can't handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more - and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down - in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest. Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died - although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad's snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt's snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good.
Then Matt meets Lovey. She's got a crazy name, and she's been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She's tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he's drawn to her, and definitely why he can't seem to shake her. Because there's nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness - and who can maybe even help take it away.
by Lesley Choyce
Cameron has been in trouble with the law more than once for breaking and entering. After his latest conviction, he's sent to an outdoors program for young offenders rather than a standard juvenile detention facility. There he meets Brianna, a girl who has been caught selling drugs at her school. They bond quickly, and she convinces Cameron to steal two sea kayaks and head off with her into the wilderness of bays and coves of Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore. It's a fearless but ill-timed escape as a hurricane is about to pound the coast. They must use all their courage and newfound survival skills if they are going to make it back to shore alive. And Cameron suspects that Brianna may not be telling him the truth about her real plans.
The Canyon’s Edge
by Dusti Bowling
One year after a random shooting changed their family forever, Nora and her father are exploring a slot canyon deep in the Arizona desert, hoping it will help them find peace. Nora longs for things to go back to normal, like they were when her mother was still alive, while her father keeps them isolated in fear of other people. But when they reach the bottom of the canyon, the unthinkable happens: a flash flood rips across their path, sweeping away Nora's father and all of their supplies.
Suddenly, Nora finds herself lost and alone in the desert, facing dehydration, venomous scorpions, deadly snakes, and, worst of all, the Beast who has terrorized her dreams for the past year. If Nora is going to save herself and her father, she must conquer her fears, defeat the Beast, and find the courage to live her new life.
by Iain Lawrence
When Igor was five, his father witnessed a terrible crime. Ever since, his whole family has been hunted by a foreboding figure bent on revenge, known only as the Lizard Man. They've lived in so many places, with so many identities, that Igor can't even remember his real name. But now he's twelve years old, and he longs for a normal life. He wants to go to school. Make friends. Stop worrying about how long it will be before his father hears someone prowling around their new house and uproots everything yet again. He's even starting to wonder... what if the Lizard Man only exists in his father's frightened mind? Slowly, Igor starts bending the rules he's lived by all his life — making friends for the first time, testing the boundaries of where he's allowed to go in town. But soon, he begins noticing strange things around them — is it in his imagination? Or could the Lizard Man be real after all?
Eyes of the Forest
by April Henry
After a best-selling fantasy writer disappears, only his biggest fan believes he's in danger. Instead of rereading his books, she must venture into the real world to uncover the truth in this fast-paced mystery by New York Times best-selling author April Henry. Bridget is RM Haldon's biggest fan. She and her mom sought refuge in Haldron's epic fantasy series Swords and Shadows while her mom was losing her battle with cancer. When Bridget met Haldon at one of his rare book signings, she impressed the author with her encyclopedic knowledge of the fantasy world he'd created. Bridget has been working for him ever since as he attempts to write the final book in his blockbuster sword and sorcery series. But Haldon has gone missing, and Bridget is the only person who seems concerned. Can Bridget piece together Haldon's cryptic clues and save him before it's too late?
by Leslie McGill
Capital Central High School, or Cap Central as the students call it, is in the northeast quadrant of Washington, D.C. Any urban school faces broad challenges, and Cap Central is no different. But some tight-knit juniors meet the difficulties head-on with courage, friendship, determination, and hard work. Jair hated being short. Back in middle school, he’d figured he hadn’t hit his growth spurt.
But now he was a Junior at Cap Central. To compensate, he’d made sure everyone knew how tough he was. Every so often, he’d add to his reputation by punching someone. It had been a while since he had to school someone. But he knew that the new kid would get what was coming to him.
by Kimberly Bradley
Ten-year-old Della has always had her older sister, Suki: When their mom went to prison, Della had Suki. When their mom's boyfriend took them in, Della had Suki. When that same boyfriend did something so awful they had to run fast, Della had Suki. Suki is Della's own wolf — her protector. But who has been protecting Suki? Della might get told off for swearing at school, but she has always known how to keep quiet where it counts. Then Suki tries to kill herself, and Della's world turns so far upside down, it feels like it's shaking her by the ankles. Maybe she's been quiet about the wrong things. Maybe it's time to be loud.
In this powerful novel that explodes the stigma around child sexual abuse and leavens an intense tale with compassion and humor, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley tells a story about two sisters, linked by love and trauma, who must find their own voices before they can find their way back to each other.
by Paul Volponi
Julio Ramirez Jr. lives in the shadow of his famous father. Not just because Julio Senior is a pitcher for the Miami Marlins and famous for his scorching fastball, but because he defected from Cuba, leaving Julio and his sister and mother branded as the family of a traitor. Now sixteen, Julio has dreams of playing shortstop for Cuba's national team — until he's given the opportunity to sail to the U.S. Can he abandon his family, just like his Papi did? Is freedom worth the perilous journey and risking prison if he's caught? Will his Papi be waiting for him on the other shore — or, with the Marlins in the World Series against the Yankees, has Julio Senior forgotten all about his son?
Genesis Begins Again
by Alicia Williams
There are 96 reasons why 13-year-old Genesis dislikes herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list:
Because her family is always being put out of their house.
Because her dad has a gambling problem. And maybe a drinking problem, too.
Because Genesis knows this is all her fault.
Because she wasn’t born looking like Mama.
Because she is too Black.
Genesis is determined to fix her family, and she’s willing to try anything to do so... even if it means harming herself in the process. But when Genesis starts to find a thing or two she actually likes about herself, she discovers that changing her own attitude is the first step in helping change others.
The Ghost of Graylock
by Dan Poblocki
An abandoned asylum holds the key to a frightful haunting. Everyone's heard the stories about Graylock Hall. It was meant to be a place of healing — a hospital where children and teenagers with mental disorders would be cared for and perhaps even cured. But something went wrong. Several young patients died under mysterious circumstances. Eventually, the hospital was shut down, the building abandoned and left to rot deep in the woods.As the new kid in town, Neil Cady wants to see Graylock for himself. Especially since rumor has it that the building is haunted. He's got fresh batteries in his flashlight, a camera to document the adventure, and a new best friend watching his back. Neil might think he's prepared for what he'll find in the dark and decrepit asylum. But he's certainly not prepared for what follows him home...
Scary, suspenseful, and surprising, Poblocki's latest ghost story will keep you turning pages deep into the dead of night.
Legend - The Graphic Novel
by Marie Lu
Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a military prodigy. Born into the slums of the Republic’s Lake Sector, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives are not as sinister as they often they seem.
One day, June’s brother is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Now, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June tries desperately to avenge her brother’s death. And the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together and the lengths their country will go to in order to keep its secrets.
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
New York Times best-seller Jennifer A. Nielsen tells the extraordinary story of a Jewish girl's courageous efforts to resist the Nazis.
Chaya Lindner is a teenager living in Nazi-occupied Poland. Simply being Jewish places her in danger of being killed or sent to the camps. After her little sister is taken away, her younger brother disappears, and her parents all but give up hope, Chaya is determined to make a difference. Using forged papers and her fair features, Chaya becomes a courier and travels between the Jewish ghettos of Poland, smuggling food, papers, and even people.
Soon, Chaya joins a resistance cell that runs raids on the Nazis' supplies. But after a mission goes terribly wrong, Chaya's network shatters. She is alone and unsure of where to go. Then Esther, a member of her cell, finds her and delivers a message that chills Chaya to her core and sends her on a journey toward an even larger uprising in the works in the Warsaw ghetto. Though the Jewish resistance never had much of a chance against the Nazis, they were determined to save as many lives as possible, and to live — or die — with honor.
by Kiara Cass
For 35 girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape a rigid caste system, live in a palace, and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her, and competing for a crown she doesn’t want. Then America meets Prince Maxon, and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
by Roland Smith
Thirteen-year-old Chase and his dad are "storm runners", traveling across the country chasing hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. When disaster strikes, Chase's dad is always ready to lend a hand... or so it seems.
In the aftermath of the hurricane of the century, chase realizes his "disaster hunter" dad isn't the hero he makes himself out to be. It's up to Chase to do the right thing and rescue the father he once knew.
by M.J. McIsaac
Fifteen-year-old Nick Carver is tired of living in his older brother's shadow. Markus is the lacrosse team hero, love interest of Nick's longtime crush and now the recipient of a prestigious scholarship from the Philston Weiks Academy.
When a mistake at provincials results in Markus's goal being discounted, rumors start going around school that he cheated. Suddenly, Philston Weiks is "rethinking" Markus's scholarship offer. They've also invited other players, including Nick, to try out for Markus's spot. Nick is flattered but conflicted. He's pretty sure his brother didn't cheat. But can he prove it? And if he does, will he ruin his one chance to finally be in the spotlight?
by Jessica Brody
When Freedom Airlines Flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the 16-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage — alive — is making headlines across the globe. Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn't on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can't be found in a single database in the world. Crippled by a world she doesn't know, plagued by abilities she doesn't understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can't remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she's running out of time to answer them. Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?
From popular young adult author Jessica Brody, Unremembered is the start of a compelling and suspenseful new sci-fi series, set in a world where science knows no boundaries, memories are manipulated, and true love can never be forgotten.
by Rodman Philbrick
The smell of smoke. A layer of stinky fog dims the sky. Except along the horizon, which is suddenly flickering orange above the treetops. Wildfire, moving fast. Heading in our direction. Birds, deer, squirrels, and raccoons explode from the surrounding forest, racing to stay ahead of the flames. The message couldn’t be clearer. Run. If you want to live, run.
Rodman Philbrick pulls listeners through a nightmare that has become much too real in the US. In 2017-2018, wildfires broke out in all 50 states. During the 2018 California Camp Fire, CNN reported that at its fastest, flames “spread at more than a football field a second, or around 80 football fields per minute.” Wildfire. Will it be fact or fiction in your own life some day? For now, join Sam and his friend, Delphy, as they face dangers that have shaken the lives of so many people across our world — with no end in sight.