Title: Hold Fast
Author: Blue Balliett

This book is a mystery and a work of art.  The Pearl family experiences a huge upheaval and Early, the young protagonist, feels the urgency to not only solve the mystery of where her father has disappeared to, but hold her family (mom and brother) together in the Chicago homeless shelter scene.  Readers will get a pretty realistic look at the lives of those having to live in such shelters.  I'm interested now in checking out some Langston Hughes poetry.  Lots to talk about after reading this book.

Tormented by Fear

Author: Eugene Yelchin

Taking place in a span of only two days, this story is a quick read about Sasha who has been waiting his whole life to be a Young Pioneer.  On the eve of the ceremony when he officially receives his red scarf, displaying allegience to Stalin's Communist ideals, his world is turned upside down and inside out.  What he always believed to be true, may not be true.  Who he trusted before, may not be someone he can trust now.  Striking illustrations reinforce the tension and fears of all Russian people during Stalin's regime, and in the author's note, we find out much beyond Stalin's time.  This book was named a Newbery Honor Book.  I read it because it was recognized by the American Library Association and am glad I did.

Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

How To Steal A Dog

Author: Barbara O'Connor

Georgina and her family suddenly find themselves homeless. Living out of a car with her mother and little brother while her mother works two jobs makes Georgina think about what she can do to help the situation. She comes up with a wild idea to steal a dog and claim reward money after the owner posts reward signs for the lost dog. As the story unfolds, Georgina and the reader grow fond of a mysterious man named Mookie, an old woman named Carmella, and a little dog named Willy. Sometimes, the best lessons happen in the worst of times. Although the topic is sad, the story is told in a loving way that keeps the reader engaged throughout.

I recommend it for both boys and girls, grades 5-7.