RUBY IN THE SKY
When twelve-year-old Ruby Moon Hayes and her mother move to Vermont, Ruby’s goal is to stay as silent and invisible as a new moon in the frozen sky. She doesn’t want kids at school asking about her missing father or discovering that her mother has been arrested. But keeping to herself isn’t easy when Ahmad Saleem, a Syrian refugee in her class, decides he’s her new best friend. Or when she meets “the Bird Lady,” a recluse named Abigail who lives in a ramshackle shed near Ruby’s house. No one in town understands Abigail — people whisper about her, about her boarded-up house and the terrible secrets she must be hiding.
As Mom’s trial draws near and Abigail faces eviction, Ruby is forced to make a choice: break her silence or risk losing everyone she loves. Ruby’s story is about the walls we hide behind and the magic that can happen when we are brave enough to break free.
Ruby in the Sky has won the SCBWI Work-in-progress Award for Middle Grade Fiction (2016), the PEN-New England, Susan Bloom Discovery Award (2016), the Tassy Walden, New Voices in Children’s Literature Award (2015), and the Ruth Landers Glass Scholarship at the spring NE-SCBWI annual conference (2016).
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A GALAXY OF SEA STARS
Sometimes, the truth isn’t easy to see. Sometimes you have to look below the surface to find it.
Eleven-year-old Izzy feels as though her whole world is shifting, and she doesn’t like it. She wants her dad to act like he did before he was deployed to Afghanistan. She wants her mom to live with them at the marina where they’ve moved, instead of spending all her time on Block Island. Most of all, she wants Piper, Zelda, and herself—the Sea Stars—to stay best friends, as they start sixth grade in a new school.
Everything changes when Izzy’s father invites his former interpreter’s family, including eleven-year-old Sitara, to move into the marina’s upstairs apartment. Izzy doesn’t know what to make of Sitara, with her hijab and refusal to eat cafeteria food, and her presence disrupts the Sea Stars. But in Sitara, Izzy finds someone brave, someone daring, someone who isn’t as afraid as Izzy is to use her voice and speak up for herself. As Izzy and Sitara grow closer, Izzy must make a choice: stay in her comfort zone and risk betraying her new friend, or speak up and lose the Sea Stars forever.
A Galaxy of Sea Stars is the second novel from Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo, and a heartwarming story about family, loyalty, and the hard choices we face in the name of friendship.
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STARDUST & OTHER STUFF
Eleven-year-old Ana would rather spend her days on Stardust Mountain with Wildcat–a feral Maine Coon—than face her classmates at school. On the mountain, no one points at the scar that runs across her chin, or asks why she keeps her right thumb hitched in her jeans’ pocket. On the mountain, no one asks why her mother doesn’t get out of bed or reminds her that her father is in prison because of her. Plus there’s the legend about how the mountain grew from a shining shower of stars said to have fallen there. If you reach its summit, the legend claims, you will find the stardust which has magical powers.
Eleven-year-old Rosine, and her family, have resettled in the northwest hills of Connecticut as refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. War-weary and bearing her own scars, Rosine wonders if their move to America has actually resulted in a better situation than the one they left behind. Her one solace is Stardust Mountain, where she retreats to escape memories of the refugee camp and the war her parents can’t seem to forget.
When Ana finds notes that Rosine has left in a wooden box inside a cave on the mountain, their lives intersect. Rosine doesn’t seem to care about Ana’s scars or her missing father. And Ana understands Rosine’s broken English just fine, and doesn’t ask about her scars either. Together, the new friends, along with Wildcat, create a safe place on the mountain that allows them to finally open up about their respective sadness.
When Ana learns that her father will be released from prison, she decides to run away from home. Remembering the legend of the mountain, Rosine joins her. Together, they forge a plan to reach the summit of Mount Stardust and find the magic hidden there, in hopes that it will give them the power they need to survive. But what the girls discover on their journey, makes them realize how far they’ve already come, and that the magic they seek can be found in the strength and determination they already possess.
STARDUST AND OTHER STUFF is a story about strength, resilience, friendship, and the power that comes when we realize we truly are made from the same stuff as stars.
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THE REAL PETRA CZECH
It’s 1989 and twelve-year old Petra Czech knows what’s real and what isn’t—after all, her Uncle Vojtech keeps telling her. She knows that Vojtech saved her life when he rescued her from behind communist Czechoslovakia’s Iron Curtain. She knows her mother—whom she still sees in her dreams—was not so lucky; she was captured and died in prison. Most of all, she knows that even though there is no escape from the loneliness she feels inside her Uncle’s isolated and often paranoid world, he keeps her safe. So Petra has learned to accept his reality, no matter what her heart, or her dreams, keep telling her.
Then Petra receives a cryptic message addressed to “Petra Baníkova” about “diamonds and cut glass” from a woman purporting to be her mother, and her world is turned upside down. Believing that everything Vojtech has told her—including her name and what happened to her parents—is a lie, Petra writes to the address in Czechoslovakia, hoping to reach the mother whom she now trusts is alive. However, unbeknownst to Petra, her letter sets in motion a series of events from which even Vojtech can’t protect her.
Now on the Communist’s radar, Petra is swiftly deported to the country she can’t remember to meet the mother she knows only from her dreams. Instead, Petra is met by Baník, a man who claims to be her father. Although Baník, an interpreter with the Czech government, maintains that he’s been desperately searching for Petra for “all these years,” he has “much business to attend to,” and quickly abandons her to his assistant, “John Lennon,” a Romani boy, who wears rose-colored glasses and has his own plan for escape.
But Baník isn’t the only person who has been looking for Petra. The Secret Police have a great interest in finding a pair of blue diamonds that went missing from Prague around the same time Petra did, and she feels their watchful eyes everywhere. As Petra tries to decide whether she can trust Baník, or John Lennon, her dream of finding her real family slowly begins to unravel.
Then Baník disappears. As Petra and John Lennon search for her mother, Petra begins to uncover the secrets about her parents and herself. Now, for the first time, she has to trust herself to determine what is real and what isn’t—what is diamond and what is merely cut glass. Only then will she find the truth. Only then will she find the real Petra Czech.