Middle graders will laugh and cry with thirteen-year-old Vanessa Martin as she tries to be like Vanessa Williams, the first black Miss America. In this semi-autobiographical debut novel set in 1983, Vanessa Martin's real-life reality of living with family in public housing in Newark, New Jersey is a far cry from the glamorous Miss America stage. She struggles with a mother she barely remembers, a grandfather dealing with addiction and her own battle with self-confidence. But when a new teacher at school coordinates a beauty pageant and convinces Vanessa to enter, Vanessa's view of her own world begins to change. Vanessa discovers that her own self-worth is more than the scores of her talent performance and her interview answers, and that she doesn't need a crown to be comfortable in her own skin and see her own true beauty.
An action-packed, contemporary novel about surviving in the wilderness. Thirteen-year-old Karma is desperate to become a certified falconer. At her dad's bird education center, she helps give demonstrations to guests and can fly the birds. But when her favorite rescued falcon, Stark, hurts Karma, her parents insist that they return the bird to its previous owner -- in Canada. On the way to bring Stark back, a car accident in the middle of nowhere leaves Karma's dad trapped, and it's up to Karma to find a way to rescue him and her younger brother. When Karma loses her way trying to get help, she crosses paths with Cooper, a troubled teenaged boy. Lost for three days, the two figure out how to survive, and Karma teaches Stark to hunt like an actual bird of prey. Karma may be closer than she thinks to becoming a real falconer and having a real friend.