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Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Addie and her brother Ian used to be two peas in a pod – they always had each other’s backs.  Until the Horrible Thing that happened just a couple of weeks ago with Cubby, Ian’s football teammate and Addie’s secret maybe-boyfriend, leaving Addie broken-hearted and Ian furious and completely unable to stop badgering Addie that she has to tell her parents what happened.  But the thing is, Addie can hardly even stand to think about it on her own, much less talk about it with anyone, especially her parents, and Ian just can’t seem to stop nagging.  When their latest argument about it ends up with both of them at the bottom of a cliff (well, maybe more of a very steep hill) in Ireland at their aunt’s destination wedding at the Cliffs of Moher, their mom puts her foot down.  If they can’t stop fighting for the rest of their vacation, Addie’s out of soccer (in other words, all her scholarship opportunities dashed) and Ian’s off the football team (same).

Except Ian doesn’t seem to be too worried about football, which is weird, because Ian is the star player on the team – his whole world is football… right?  And then Addie catches Ian sneaking out of the hotel and getting into a very derelict and extremely sketchy car with a super-cute Irish boy Addie’s never heard of.  There’s no way Addie is letting anything crazy happen – not with soccer on the line – so she goes with them, in spite of Ian’s very loud protests.

What happens next is a whirlwind road tour of Ireland (and more than a few not-so-lucky-mechanical setbacks), the Irish music scene, and Addie and Ian’s dreams about the future – which, it turns out, aren’t quite what either of them thought.

If you read Jenna Evans Welch’s first NYT bestseller Love & Gelato, you’ll be happy to know that Addie’s BFF Lina and her super swoon-worthy Italian boyfriend Ren drop in for a cameo in Love & Luck too!  Light, sweet, fun, full of music, friendship, family drama and love, and a whole lot of Irish green, this book is just the sunshine I needed after a looooong winter.  And, if you’re working on the April Reading Challenge, there’s a square or two this’ll help you mark off too!

Edison: The Mystery of the Missing Mouse Treasure by Torben Kuhlmann

Have you ever wondered where Thomas Edison got the idea for his lightbulb design? It turns out he may have had a little help…

Young mouse Pete has a mystery to solve, and he knows just who to ask for help – the Professor at the University of Mice.  Pete’s many-greats-grandfather boarded a ship to cross the Atlantic with a mysterious treasure generations ago, and was never heard from again.  He left no trace behind – only an ancient piece of paper that tells the tale of a sea voyage and a great treasure.

With the help of a little research and a magnifying glass, Pete and the Professor discover that the ship, the H.M.S. Atlantis, went down in a tragic accident.  All the human passengers were saved – bit what became of the mice, and all their belongings?  With that, Pete is off on a great scientific quest – to find a way to get to the bottom of the ocean and search the wreck of the Atlantis for his family treasure.  But can the two mice find a way to build an underwater submersible that will take them to the ocean floor, allow them to explore the deepest depths, evade the sea’s largest and most terrifying creatures, and make it safely back home again?  With a little ingenuity and a lot of scientific perseverance, Pete and the Professor are sure to find a way.

The third in Torben Kuhlmann’s marvelous series of books celebrating exploration and innovation, Edison is the perfect mix of history, the science of invention, the thrill of exploration, and, of course, mice making their way in a human world.  Gorgeously detailed illustrations reveal the wonder and beauty of the world through the eyes of small, clever creatures, making this hybrid picture/chapter book an adventure story perfect for all ages.  Shared aloud or pored over on your own, no matter how old you are, make sure you explore a little bit of mouse history with Pete and the Professor this spring.  And, once you’ve hunted for treasure with Pete for awhile, make sure you take a trip to the skies in Lindbergh, and then even further to the moon with Armstrong!

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Xiomara Batista is a girl who isn’t sure where – or how – she belongs.  A twin and one half of her Dominican parents’ miracle, Xiomara is everything her devout mother is afraid of – full of questions, especially when it comes to faith, possessed of fierce fists she learned how to use a long time ago to protect her twin brother, and with a body she always feels takes up too much space, especially when boys and men are always calling attention to it.  She’s also a girl who loves words and loves to write, her most prized possession a journal her twin, Xavier, gave to her on her birthday.

When her new English teacher, Ms. Galiano, invites Xiomara to join her after-school slam poetry club, Xiomara knows she can’t go.  Confirmation class is at the same time, and there’s no way Mami will allow her to switch it up, even though Xiomara isn’t too sure she’s ready to be confirmed yet – she’s full of too many questions that no one seems to want to hear, much less answer.

But a friendship – and maybe more, although there’s no way Mami will allow her to date – with a boy in her bio class starts to change the ways Xiomara tries to fit in to her world.  Aman feels like the first person to really listen to her – listen, and not judge.  Listen, with respect.  Listen, and understand.  Listen, and give words back to her.  As Xiomara fills up the pages of her journal with poetry, she starts to move toward becoming a girl who can let her words out – and even be proud of them.  But when something happens that sends her words up in smoke, can she be brave enough to keep working her way toward herself?

This book has been on my radar for months, so, after it basically picked up All The Awards this year, I knew I had to take a break from my annual Harry Potter re-read and make some time for Elizabeth Acevedo’s debut novel.  And OH WOW am I glad I did.  Beautiful, compelling, heart-breaking, raw and emotional, and stunning in its expression of one girl’s truth, this has got to be one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read.  Written in free verse, The Poet X is the story of Xiomara’s sophomore year of high school – the story of how one girl finds the words inside herself and uses them to set her true self free.