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96 Miles


Author: J.L. Esplin

Genre: Realistic Fiction; Adventure

Target Ages: 8-14

Prime Audiences: Survivalists; Close Siblings; Diabetics

Publisher: Starscape

Publication Year: 2020


What does it mean to be "Battle Born"?  For John Lockwood and his brother Stew, it means surviving a blackout in Nevada while Dad is hundreds of miles away and without any contact with him.  It means getting to the Brighton Ranch, 96 miles away, as soon as possible.  It means helping strangers you meet along the journey.  And it means doing it all with limited supplies after being robbed of almost everything Dad had stored up for such a moment of need.


J.L. Esplin's debut novel 96 Miles is a survival story about family and friendship and going the distance (literally and metaphorically) in the midst of a crisis.  John, the elder Lockwood brother and the narrator, must prove himself responsible and capable in leading and taking care of his brother (and others, for that matter), and his struggle is his coming-of-age experience.  Told partially in flashback, John and Stew's journey is full of hardships and surprises, and the events that test them truly make the Lockwood brothers and another pair of siblings with them "Battle Born," the motto on the Nevada state flag that hangs in John's bedroom.  For readers who like survival stories and for those who like stories about siblings— their close ties, their conflicts with each other, and their triumphs together— 96 Miles is a 272-page adventure that will leave its mark on their own reading journey!



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Southwest Sunrise


Author: Nikki Grimes

Illustrator: Wendell Minor

Genre: Picture Book

Target Ages: 3-6

Prime Audience: Children Who Like Nature and the Outdoors; Children Moving to a New Place; Fans of New Mexico and the American Southwest

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Year: 2020


Moving from the home you've always known is difficult, much more so when you're moving across the country, and much more than that when you're moving away from the bright lights and tall buildings of New York City to the wide, natural expanse of New Mexico.  But once Jayden gets to know his new home a little better, he realizes the move isn't so bad in Nikki Grimes and Wendell Minor's Southwest Sunrise. 


If you've traveled the American Southwest and if you've been to New Mexico, you'll smile as Grimes by her poetic lines and Minor by his colorful palette display the beauty of the land and of its creatures and of its cultural aesthetic.  Grimes's descriptive narrative contrasts Jayden's familiar yet busy (and not always safe) former home with his new and unfamiliar yet peaceful home.  And while not much happens action-wise, a lot happens in Jayden's attitude and outlook, encouraging those experiencing the new by a choice not of their own to look around them— they might find themselves smiling when and where they didn't think they would!



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