The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Boarding School Rules! Drools! - October 2014

Selected and annotated by Alice Mitchell


Baer, Marianna. Frost. Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2011. 396p. Gr. 9-12.
Leena’s friends at Barcroft Academy are more her family than her actual parents. Then the dean adds troubled Celeste to the Frost House, forcing Leena to play intermediary.  As Leena’s anxiety grows, dangerous thoughts lead her to isolate herself more and more from the other girls.

Burns, T. R. Merits of Mischief: The Bad Apple. Aladdin, 2012. 337p. Gr. 5-8.
After accidentally killing a substitute teacher in a food fight, Seamus is sent to Kilter Academy for Troubled Youth.  It turns out that Kilter doesn’t try and stop bad behavior, but instead encourages and rewards it.  Though Seamus tries to hide his past, he finds he has a gift for getting into trouble.

Carriger, Gail. Etiquette & Espionage. Little, 2013. 307p. Gr. 7- 12.
Rule-breaking Sophronia is sent to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, not expecting to be taught skills for spying.  In between learning how to use fans and poison drinks, Sophronia tries to make friends and please her mother.  Everything halts, however, when the school is attacked and the students must uncover a conspiracy and protect themselves.

Chainani, Soman. The School for Good and Evil; illus. by Iacopo Bruno. Harper/HarperCollins, 2013 488p. Gr. 5- 8.
In a town where children are kidnapped to become heroes and villains, princess-like Sophie is determined to get kidnapped.  When she and her friend Agatha are taken, they are surprised that, despite their self-perceptions, Sophie is put in the School for Evil and Agatha is put in the School for Good.  Although they try and correct what they believe to be a mistake, they start fitting in and their friendship starts falling apart.

Cook, Eileen. The Education of Hailey Kendrick. Simon Pulse, 2011. 256p. Gr. 8-10.
When Hailey’s father backs out of plans for Hailey to spend her last summer at home together, her perfectionism melts away and she starts acting out at school.  After damaging a statue, she is put to work with the school’s cleaning crew until she can pay off the damages.

Cook, Kristi. Haven. Simon Pulse, 2011. 401p. Gr. 9-12.
After her father’s death, Violet enrolls at Winterhaven at her aunt’s insistence.  All the students there felt the same compulsion to enroll as Violet did, and all of them have strange, supernatural gifts.  She starts dating Aidan, but their relationship is strained when Aidan is revealed as a vampire, Violet proves to be a vampire slayer, and another vampire plans to use Violet to kill Aidan.

Daugherty, C. J. Night School. Tegen/HarperCollins, 2013. 424p. Gr. 9-12.
Allie’s most recent run-in with the cops is the last straw, and her parents send her to Cimmeria Academy.  She starts to make friends and enjoy school, despite the many strict rules, but her friends are a secretive group; the school’s mysteries grow when one of Allie’s friends is murdered.

Edwardson, Debby Dahl. My Name Is Not Easy. Cavendish, 2011. 244p. Gr. 5-9.
In the 1960s, Luke and his brothers Bunna and Isaac are sent to a boarding school for Eskimo and Native American students to learn white customs and values.  Isaac turns out to be too young for enrollment, so he is put into the foster system.  Bunna and Luke attempt to escape but are convinced to give the school another try, despite the growing racial tensions there.

Funke, Cornelia. Ghost Knight; tr. from the German by Oliver Latsch; illus. by Andrea Offerman. Little, 2012. 330p. Gr. 5-8.
Jon’s valiant effort to sabotage his mother’s new relationship results in his enrollment at Salisbury Cathedral School.  When he arrives, a group of ghosts with a grudge against his family begins bugging him.  At the urging of his new friend Ella, Jon contacts the ghost knight, William Longspee, for aid.

García, Cristina. Dreams of Significant Girls. Simon, 2011. 238p. Gr. 8–12
Vivien, Ingrid, and Shirin couldn’t be more different, but they spend three summers as roommates at a Swiss boarding school in the early 1970s.  Life is anything but easy for these girls as they mature together, but the bonds that grow between them last a lifetime.

Gensler, Sonia. The Revenant. Knopf, 2011. 315p. Gr. 8-12.
Instead of returning home from boarding school at the summons of her mother, Willemina steals a classmate’s identity and begins teaching at the Cherokee Female Seminary, where there are whispers and rumors among the students about a drowned classmate.  Willie discovers a note leading her to suspect that girl’s death wasn’t an accident.

Hawkins, Rachel. Hex Hall. Disney/Hyperion, 2010. 323p. Gr. 7-10.
Having grown up not knowing she was a witch, Sophie has no magical training.  When a spell of hers spell goes poorly very publicly, she is sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for rebellious Prodigium (magical creatures).  She has trouble making friends, save for her vampire roommate who has just been accused of attacking students.

Healey, Karen. Guardian of the Dead. Little, 2010. 345p. Gr. 9-12.
Ellie has a normal boarding school life of friends, crushes, and homework, before Mark, a mysterious bad boy, shows up and changes everything.  She is thrown into a life of magical attacks and near-death experiences as M?ori myths come to life and a fairy-like race plots mass murder in order to attain immortality.

Hubbard, Jenny. And We Stay. Delacorte, 2014. 221p. Gr. 7-10.
Filled with grief and guilt, Emily is sent to boarding school to recover from her boyfriend’s recent suicide.  On the grounds of Emily Dickinson’s alma mater, Emily starts writing poetry and connects with classmates in the process of growing up and healing.

Hubbard, Jenny. Paper Covers Rock. Delacorte, 2011. 181p. Gr. 7-10.
Alex and his friends were just looking for a night of fun when they got drunk by the river, but when Thomas drowns and the boys hide the real reason for his death, Alex is guilt-ridden.  Glenn forces Alex to stay silent as they lay most of the blame on Clay, but a teacher who witnessed the incident might ruin their plan.

Johnson, Maureen. The Name of the Star. Putnam, 2011. 372p. Gr. 8–12.
When Rory arrives in London to attend school at Wexford, she expected British pleasantries instead of “Rippermania,” the result of a Jack-the-Ripper-copycat murder. When Rory sees someone near the scene of a murder, she is overwhelmed by questioning government officials and ghost-hunting bodyguards.

Kimmel, Elizabeth Cody. The Reinvention of Moxie Roosevelt. Dial, 2010. 248p. Gr. 5-8.
Determined not to be just the invisible good girl, Moxie creates different types of personalities and tries them out at her new boarding school.  While her piano skills are improving, she’s having trouble in an elective stand-up comedy class and with her roommate’s friend, who instantly dislikes her.

Knight, Karsten. Wildefire. Simon, 2011. 393p. Gr. 9–12.
Ashline was worried about being the only Polynesian girl at school, but when she transfers to Blackwood Academy to escape her violent older sister, it turns out she has much bigger things to worry about.  All of the students there are gods and goddesses from various cultures, drawn to this boarding school by a siren . . . and Ash’s sister won’t give up on the quest to see Ash dead.

Konigsberg, Bill. Openly Straight. Levine/Scholastic, 2013. 320p. Gr. 9-12.
Sick of being labeled the gay kid, Rafe decides to move to boarding school across the country and go back into the closet.  He enjoys exploring other identities and becomes close friends with Ben, eventually falling in love with him.  At that point, he realizes that his dishonesty is keeping them from being truly close.

Miranda, Megan. Hysteria. Walker, 2013. 323p. Gr. 8–10.
After Mallory kills her violent boyfriend, his mother begins stalking her and Mallory believes his spirit is following her, prompting her parents to send her to boarding school.  The headmaster’s son, Jason, is involved in a plot involving three girls who instantly dislike Mallory and accuse her of murder after Jason turns up dead, too.

Mitchell, Todd. The Secret to Lying. Candlewick, 2010. 329p. Gr. 9-12.
James leaves his boring life for a science and math-focused boarding school where he reinvents himself with a wild and dangerous backstory.  While he starts dating Jessica, he also starts having nightmares and gets instant messages from a person who knows too much about him.  As his stress increases, he begins self-harming and realizes that being the cool kid might not be worth it.

Sala, Richard. Cat Burglar Black. First Second/Roaring Brook, 2009. 126p. Gr. 4-7.
In this graphic novel, K. Westree hoped that her move to Bellsong Academy for Girls would let her life of crime stay in the past, but this school is extremely odd, with only three other students and a creepy faculty.  The students—all criminally trained—and the headmistress let K. in on the mission of the school: to rob three neighboring houses of clues to a secret treasure.

Saunders, Kate. Beswitched. Delacorte, 2011. 244p. Gr. 4–7.
When Flora arrives at boarding school, three students from 1935 accidentally summon her using a book of spells, pulling her back in time and swapping her with another girl named Flora.  She becomes friends with these girls, now her roommates, before realizing that she is supposed to help her friend “Pete,” who vacillates between happy and meanly self-absorbed, in order to return home.

Vasey, Paul. A Troublesome Boy. Groundwood, 2012. 225p. Gr. 8-10.
Teddy’s last school year convinced his mother’s boyfriend to send him to the abusive St. Ignatius Academy, a Catholic boys’ boarding school.  While Teddy still gets in trouble, his friend Tim has a much larger problem, having caught the predatory attention of Father Prince.  Tim then commits suicide, prompting Teddy to turn in Tim’s diary as incriminating evidence against Father Prince.

Vaughn, M. M. The Ability; illus. by Iacopo Bruno. Simon, 2013. 330p. Gr. 5-7.
When Christopher’s mother becomes inconsolable after the death of his soldier father, Christopher accepts an invitation to attend a new boarding school.  He realizes that the school is for students with psychic powers, but it also harbors a secret as to its closure decades before.  When people associated with the tragic event start losing their minds, Christopher and his friends go after the mysterious culprit.

Walker, Brian F. Black Boy White School. HarperTeen, 2012. 246p. Gr. 7-10.
Ant escapes his dangerous Cleveland neighborhood to Belton Academy, a boarding school with mostly white students.  He finds it difficult to adjust to the racially charged environment, with his classmates tense about a wave of Somali immigrants, his girlfriend getting into debates with the school’s basketball star, and his stereotyping as a violent black man after he responds to some hazing.

Wallace, Jason. Out of Shadows. Holiday House, 2011. 276p. Gr. 9–12.
Jacko resents his family’s move to Zimbabwe in 1983, where he attends a newly integrated boarding school in the aftermath of the war that brings Robert Mugabe into power.  Racial tensions within the school are prominent, as all of the boys have suffered losses and seen violence in the war, and these tensions escalate, turning violent and deadly.

Warman, Jessica. Where the Truth Lies. Walker, 2010. 308p.  Gr. 8-12.
As the headmaster’s daughter, Emily grew up at Stonybrook Academy—and she loves it, until everything changes in her junior year.  She winds up falling for bad boy Del, resulting in a secret pregnancy.  But she also discovers that her seemingly perfect parents have been keeping secrets from her, too—secrets about where she came from.

Warman, Jessica. Breathless. Walker, 2009. 311p. Gr. 8-12.
Katie loves her brother, Will, and swimming above all else, but when Will publicly attempts suicide, he is institutionalized, and Katie is sent to boarding school, where she lets everyone think that her brother is dead.  Now that Katie’s captain of the swimming team with a sweet boyfriend and part of the popular crowd, Katie’s secret seems closer to revealing itself.

Whitney, Daisy. The Mockingbirds. Little, 2010. 335p. Gr. 9-12.
Themis Academy believes that their students are pure to the point where they can do no wrong.  After Alex wakes up naked in a stranger’s bed, Alex’s roommate and sister help Alex piece together that night enough to know that she was sexually assaulted.  Alex gets help from the Mockingbirds, a semi-secret organization meting out justice to the student body.