Dan Gutman (author of "Babe and Me" and "Return of the Homework Machine") offers a humorous look at the lives of elementary age students in The Talent Show. After a tornado rips through the small town of Cape Bluff, Kansas, the residents need a way to raise money to rebuild their town and raise morale. The town decides to put on a talent show, with students from the elementary school providing the talent. Everyone wants to get in on the action, talent or no talent!
The story is an enjoyable dystopian fantasy centering around the city of Quill and the hidden magical city of Artimé. In the city of Quill, every year the thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the Wanteds – the strong, intelligent children that attend the University; the Necessary – the children who do manual labor; and the Unwanteds – the artistic, creative children who are sent to the “Death Farm”. Alex and Aaron Stowe are twins who are separated into different categories.
The new series TJ Trapper, Bully Zapper, by Lisa Mullarkey published by Magic Wagon is a nice addition to all of the anti-bullying material being published right now. In TJ Zaps the New Kid, said new kid Livvy is a social bully, who says and does unkind things to her classmates. When TJ tries to report Livvy's bullying to his teacher he is reprimanded for tattling, and TJ struggles to find another way to end Livvy's bullying.
Middle school student and troublemaker Donovan Curtis is well known for his pranks around school. Due to a big mistake and miscommunication, Donovan is transferred from his "normal" middle school to the "Academy for Scholastic Distinction" for highly gifted students. Multiple characters, including adults, take turns telling the story, and it becomes clear than Donovan doesn't belong at ASD due to his ungifted status, but could it be that the students at ASD need Donovan, as he slowly leads them to normalcy?
A story told from the animal's point of view, a female gopher snake is captured by a "filthy, fleshy human child" named Gunnar. The boy calls the snake "Crusher," and puts his new "pet" in a terrarium in his bedroom, next to cages occupied by wild animals that Gunnar has captured but since lost interest in. While looking for her chance to escape, Crusher observes Gunnar and his habits, his family, friends, and his love of video games.
The characters from Gordon Korman’s Swindle are back in Zoobreak, a novel about children fighting for animal rights. When the kids visit a floating zoo, they discover that the animals are living in deplorable conditions and decide to break out the animals and bring them to another zoo. A subplot featuring the disappearance of a main character’s pet monkey brings excitement to the story. This moving, yet funny story is recommended for 5th grade and up, and younger for reading aloud.