Category Archives: New Books



We have a new writer on the block!  Welcome to  LIZ COHEN, invaluable (read indispensable) member of our Winston community! Liz will be sharing some thoughts on books she is reading that she thinks many of our students will enjoy.  Liz has a soft spot for zombies, so wait for her rave reviews on those despicables. 


Review by LIZ COHEN

Polaris by Michael Northrop

(Scholastic, 2017)

Do you like an adventure tale? Swashbuckling sailors? Adventure on the  high seas?  Maybe?! How about this: do you like a science fiction story? People running from monsters? Maybe?! How about this: do you like a murder mystery? Scientists and sailors struck down by
the unknown? Maybe?! How about this: do you like an all-boy book? Or an all-girl book? Hang onto your backpacks because this book has it all!

The Polaris is a sailing ship on a mission to the Amazon jungle looking for new plant-life. The botanist finds something else, and brings it back to the ship. What is in the trunk stored in the hold of the ship? Before you can find out, half of the ship’s crew dies, and the other halfabandon ship while trying to blow it up! The only people left are the cabin boy, the botanist’s assistant, and some deck hands, and none of them are older than 12. How will they get back to
America? They will have to sail the ship back while fighting stormy seas and the mysterious thing in the hold.

This book would be great for a book report, a diorama, a poster, or just a good read.
(Best for 5th and 6th graders.)

Ready to Fall: Being stronger means letting go

Ready to Fall by Marcella Pixley

2017, 360 pgs. , 14 and up novel,

Too many books and too little time, so I am shamelessly posting a Kirkus Review of this book. Ready to Fall is worth checking out.  Marcella Pixley  is a true and masterful tale teller and writes what she understands.  It comes as no surprise that she teaches eighth-grade English.

Ready to Fall

Kirkus Review, August 2017:

Desperate to cling to something of his mother’s after her death, 16-year-old Max believes he has invited her tumor into his brain and that it is slowly killing him.

Max is increasingly withdrawn, lost, and strange. His father, desperate to help him with his grief, enrolls him in an exclusive school filled with eccentric artists. There, Max meets Fish, a bubbly girl with pink hair, and her band of misfit friends. Max also meets the curmudgeonly creative-writing teacher, who uses unorthodox methods to force Max to talk about his pain. He has a breakthrough during a staging of Hamlet, in which each cast member is forced to confront his or her own ghosts. Max’s tightrope walk between sanity and insanity will resonate with anyone suffering from a loss. While he must find a way to live again, it takes the combined efforts of his wild friends, his devoted family, and a few dedicated and eccentric teachers. Lyrical prose, fresh and compelling images and unforgettable characters create an experience that will stay with readers far past the last page. The principals are white and Jewish, but the school boasts students of many races, religions, and sexual orientations.

Grief becomes something oddly beautiful—and beautifully odd. (Fiction. 14-18)



The Icarus Show: Do you believe a boy can fly?

The Icarus Show 

By Sally Christie

Recommended for Upper Elementary through Middle School

 217 pgs. I

“Alex has worked out a foolproof plan to avoid being picked on. Don’t react. It’s so simple, it just might work.”  

David Marsh, on the other hand, has chosen his own relentless path, and will suffer for it.  Alex who can be such a wuss agonizing over some bully creeps is nonetheless intrigued by David and finds himself drawn into his company.  Alex lands up helping David build his project.  The plot unfolds towards a dark revelation when Alex comes to understand something about David’s motives. This read gets tense. I think you will enjoy it!

The myth of Icarus: “Icarus and his father attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax. Icarus’ father warns him first of complacency and then of hubris, asking that he fly neither too low nor too high, so the sea’s dampness would not clog his wings or the sun’s heat melt them. Icarus ignored his father’s instructions not to fly too close to the sun; when the wax in his wings melted he tumbled out of the sky and fell into the sea where he drowned.”  Wikipedia





Tell someone, and don’t wait!

The Summer of Owen Todd by Tony Abbott

What do you do when the only way to help a friend may also hurt him?

“Children should always speak up, no matter how it might hurt to do so… Better to lose a friend than lose a life.” Abbott

  217 pages

I read this in one shot, and it was both gut-wrenching and heart-breaking. That is the author’s intent. I can’t get my head around recommending this to its stated audience, namely eight year old kids and up,  but the truth is that child abuse is an appalling reality for some very young people.  Abbott directs his strong message to those who know something bad is happening to a friend. The message is to speak up and tell a trusted adult.  Secrets, he shows, are often destructive, because the perpetrators threaten and menace the victim, and threats add layers of terror and guilt to the act of child-abuse itself.

The message unfolds in a strong story with believable characters and, ironically,  a lot of normal life going on around.  One doesn’t let up and relax to enjoy.  The menace is prevalent throughout. This book will make you sad and angry, but it is a necessary message for all.

Tony Abbott is a skillful and prolific writer of fantasy, adventure and other genres, and you’ll do yourself a favor by visiting his website to see what else he writes.