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Juvenile Fiction Selection: Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington

Mysti Murphy is starting seventh grade and so far nothing is turning out as expected.  Her best friend Anibal Gomez has blown her off to become a “hipster” and gain the attention of a pretty girl at school.  Meanwhile, Mysti has plenty of problems at home.  Her family has a secret; her mother is agoraphobic which means she never leaves the house.  Mysti and her sister keep this secret and their father takes care of everything that needs to be done outside of the house.  Things take a bad turn when her father falls and suffers an injury that lands him in the hospital for a long stay.  Now it is up to Mysti to move beyond her mother's projected fears and find the courage to help herself and her family.  With the loss of her best friend Mysti ends up at the “loser island” lunch table and eventually befriends a strong and sassy Rama Khan who helps her find that courage.  Mysti is a character that you'll be rooting for from beginning to end!  (Grades 5-8 School Library Journal)

"The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien

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This is the story of a reluctant adventurer who battles enormous forces. Bilbo Baggins, the protagonist, likes his creature comforts and is unsure as he sets out on an incredible journey to complete an important task. In order to succeed he needs to learn how to get along with others and stand up for what he believes in. It is an inspiring tale of adventure, fellowship, uncertainty, and strength.

I am Malala: the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

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This beautiful and absorbing book follows the life of a bravely determined young woman, Malala, living in the Swat Valley along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Malala publicly supported female education which was a strong defiant act toward the local Taliban.  With poise, strength, and courage Malala gives us a first person account of what it is like to live in current Pakistani society.  Her detailed narrative of being shot by the Taliban along with her miraculous recovery is truly moving.

Hellstrip Gardening by Evelyn Hadden

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The hellstrip—the space between a street and a public sidewalk which finally gains attention as a space to add curb appeal to your home.  This oft-ignored gardening space can be reclaimed as a small paradise with environmentally friendly plants that thrive in tough situations and with limited water needs. 

Gorgeous color photographs of hellstrip gardens offer inspiration and visual guidance to tackle this new gardening frontier.

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