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The BFF List

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New books for teens and young readers about the challenges and rewards of friendship. And yes, the drama too, which always makes for good reading.
Surviving the City

Surviving the City

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Tasha Spillett’s graphic novel debut, Surviving the City, is a story about womanhood, friendship, colonialism, and the anguish of a missing loved one. Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan is Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Together, the teens navigate the challenges of growing up in an urban landscape – they’re so close, they even completed their Berry Fast together. However, when Dez’s grandmother becomes too sick, Dez is told she can’t stay with her anymore. With the threat of a gr …

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Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster

edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

A brand-new novel by one of today's most powerful storytellers, Sweep is a heart-rending adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and hope.

For nearly a century, Victorian London relied on "climbing boys"--orphans owned by chimney sweeps--to clean flues and protect homes from fire. The work was hard, thankless and brutally dangerous. Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow is quite possibly the best climber who ever lived--and a girl. With her wits and will, she's managed to beat the deadly odds …

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Excerpt

"Nan, tell us about the Sweep.”
It was dark in the coal bin, but Nan could tell it was Newt who was asking. Newt was newest to Crudd’s crew. He was barely six years old; he didn’t know all the rules. The first rule was you never asked another climber about his life Before.
There were five climbing boys in the coal bin: Newt, Whittles, Shilling-Tom, Roger, and Nan. Nan wasn’t a boy, but you’d never know that to look at her. She was as grimy as the rest of them. “Who told you about the Sweep?” Nan said. “Was it Roger?”
“Keep me out of it, Cinderella,” Roger muttered. He called Nan “Cinderella” because he thought it annoyed her. He was right.
“No one told me,” Newt said. “I dreamed about him. Last night I slept in your corner. I dreamed him and the girl were both singing to all the people. Only I woke up before I could hear the words.”
This was a thing that happened: the dreaming. Every so often one of the boys would say that he had dreamed about the Sweep. Nan couldn’t explain it. It seemed to happen whenever one of them fell asleep close to her. All she knew was that she didn’t like it. The Sweep was hers.
“It was about you, wasn’t it?” Newt whispered. “You’re the girl from my dream.”
“No,” Nan said. “I’m the girl who wants to go to sleep.” She’d spent fourteen hours climbing chimneys and knew there were more waiting for her tomorrow.
“You’re splashing in the wrong puddle, Newt,” said a raspy voice by the slat window. It was Whittles. He was only eight, but his voice sounded like an old man’s on account of breathing too much chimney soot. “Me and Shilling-Tom been dreaming about the girl and her Sweep for years. Not once have we gotten Nan to fess up that it’s her.”
“Aye,” said Shilling-Tom. He was Whittles’s best mate. “You might as well try to get a second helping from Trundle’s pot.” Trundle was the woman who cared for them. If you could call it that. “I won’t fess up because it’s nonsense,” Nan said. And it was nonsense. How could two people have the same dream?
“Is the Sweep a real person?” Newt asked. “He sounds lovely. Much nicer than Master Crudd.” He whispered this last bit. Just in case Crudd could hear him upstairs.
“Sweeps aren’t supposed to be lovely,” Nan said. “They’re grimy and tough as stone. Just like chimneys.” Maybe lovely was a fine thing to call a person in Newt’s old life, but he was a climber now. He wouldn’t last long if he kept using words like that.
She heard the boy move closer. “Please, Nan?” Her eyes had adjusted to the dim light, and she could see the outline of his head. With his curls shaved of, he really did look like a newt. They had named him well. “Just tell me if he’s real. I promise I won’t tell the others.”
“Don’t beg. A climber never begs.” That was another rule.
“Maybe I can sleep here next to you?” He clasped her arm. “Then I’ll dream about him all on my own?”
Nan knew what the boy was saying. He thought that some-how the dreams were coming from her, which was impossible. She pulled away. “Find your own corner.”
“Aw, go easy on the kid.” It was Whittles. “It’s only been a week since he . . . you know . . .” He didn’t say the rest. None of them knew what had happened to Newt’s family to have him end up here, but it had to have been bad. It was always bad.
“I’m not begging,” Newt said. “But it’s a true fact: I can’t sleep without a bedtime story. My mummy always says . . .” He corrected himself. “. . . always said . . .” His voice faltered. “It’s just I thought hearing a story about the Sweep might help me fall asleep.”
Nan remembered when she had felt the same way. That was a long time ago. That was Before.

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Bright Shining Moment

Bright Shining Moment

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Aline hides under the hay when her father takes her to school in their horse-drawn sled. She’s embarrassed that her mother raises chickens in their yard, and doesn’t want her school friends to find out that their family has taken in boarders for the extra money.

When she learns that her sworn enemy, Jeanine, can buy chewing gum, Aline is furious at the unfairness. She knows that Jeanine’s family is even poorer than her own. When Aline’s mother can’t spare any money for a charity drive a …

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The Thing You're Good At

The Thing You're Good At

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Jake's friend Maria is the daughter of undocumented immigrants who have been living and working in the country for a long time. But the new government has implemented a crackdown. Maria's parents are detained and quickly sent out of the country. Maria, who was born here, decides to hide out in Jake's basement rather than risk becoming a ward of the state. But when she returns to her old apartment to retrieve her hidden birth certificate, Maria is abducted by young men on the lookout for teenage …

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Dodger Boy

Dodger Boy

edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook

In 1970 Vancouver, thirteen-year-old Charlotte and her best friend, Dawn, are keen to avoid the pitfalls of adolescence. Couldn’t they just skip teenhood altogether, along with its annoying behaviors – showing off just because you have a boyfriend, obsessing about marriage and a ring and matching dining-room furniture? Couldn’t one just learn about life from Jane Austen and spend the days eating breakfast at noon, watching “People in Conflict,” and thrift-store shopping for cool castof …

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Excerpt

At that moment Dawn came back. She was with a boy who was just about as opposite from the be-in as you could imagine, a kind of anti-matter of hippie. He had very short, tidy hair shaved up the sides of his head, and he was dressed in crisp jeans and a white T-shirt. He was so clean that he seemed to have a little halo around him. How was he staying so clean?

The second he arrived at the blanket, the sun peeped out.

“This is Tom Ed,” said Dawn. “He’s from Texas. He’s a draft dodger.”

Later, when Charlotte saw those T-shirts that declared, Today is the first day of the rest of your life, she thought of that moment.

The damp blanket, her muddy toes, the music in her pores, the hippie-sweet air, and the tall, bright-faced Texan.

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Almost Invisible

Almost Invisible

edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover

Thirteen-year-old Jewel has been holding her life together ever since her older sister, Charmaine, suddenly left home with no forwarding address. She tried to find Charmaine once, but that only brought her family to the attention of the police. Now Jewel keeps her head down at school, looks after her special-needs brother as well as she can, tries to steer clear of her parents and their shady friends.

Until one of her father’s friends comes into her bedroom at night, and finally Jewel understan …

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Excerpt

All of a sudden I decided what I really, really wanted was a bath...

I heated water on the woodstove, four big pots, the most I could fit on top. I put more logs on the fire and left the door open so it was roaring. By the time the water was warm enough, the kitchen felt like a tropical paradise.

The dishpan was big enough for me to get both feet in. I wiped it out with snow and set it on the floor next to the stove. Then I half-filled it with hot water, cooled down with more snow so I wouldn’t scald myself ...

The one piece of soap left had teeth marks where the mice had been eating it. I soaped myself all over and used dish detergent for my hair. My breast still had a yellow bruise on it like a hand, and my ankle had gone black. I caught sight of myself in a little mirror hanging on the wall: a pale, skinny ghost with hollows for eyes.

I trickled a pot of warm water over my head and then another. It felt lovely...

And then I heard a noise.

Heavy footsteps crashed up to the door, like someone in an awful hurry. I grabbed my dirty T-shirt and wrapped it around me and crouched down in the dishpan. My back was to the door and I was too petrified to turn around.

They found me.

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Talking to the Moon

Talking to the Moon

edition:Paperback
tagged :

Deep roots. Last year in Social Studies, Miss Matattall got us to draw our family trees. Mine was the only one with no roots and just one full branch for me, plus a half branch for Moonbeam. Because maybe she's already dead, and that's why she didn't come back to get me.

Katie Dupuis Pearson wants to find her real mother; her only clues are her Lavender Lady, a piece of amethyst, and a bookmark from Lunenburg. While spending a month in lovely Lunenburg with her foster mother, Katie makes friends …

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Kasey & Ivy

Kasey & Ivy

edition:eBook

Through twenty-six letters to her friend Nina, twelve-year-old Kasey chronicles the often humorous observations and impressions of her unexpected, month-long stay in a geriatric ward for the treatment of a rare but treatable bone disease ("osteo-something-something-itis"). Kasey tries to make her life less dull by wearing her own nightgowns, surrounding herself with her favorite stuffies and developing an unusual exercise routine. Hospital food, insomnia and the germy communal bath are enduring …

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