Oh, I just read Boy Meets Boy. It was such a sweet story but then, I’ve always been a sucker for a teen romance.
I also read My Contract with Henry by Robin Vaupel in which a group of high schoolers build a cabin in the woods ala Henry Thoreau to try to understand what he experienced at Walden Woods.
Acceleration by Graham McNamee
Duncan’s working in the lost and found when he comes across a journal outlining a psychopath’s journey from torturing animals and setting fires to his current plan to kill one of three women. And so begins his quest to find this potential murderer and possibly lay some of his own demons to rest. Great for those interested in FBI profiling and forensic psych, plus Duncan and his friends go to the library and find useful information. Yeah!
Utterly Me, Clarice Bean by Lauren Child
The first chapter book featuring the Clarice Bean character from Child’s picture books, this story is utterly charming. There is bouncy text and lots of little pictures and perfect for those pre-teens who’ve outgrown Junie B., Judy Moody and Ramona.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
In a retelling of a Grimm fairy tale, misfit Princess Ani’s must leave home to fulfill an arranged marriage to a neighboring prince (and thereby, eliminate the threat of war with the country). Betrayed by her lady-in-waiting, Ani ends up disguising herself, living and working as a goose girl, until she can find a way to reclaim her rightful place, stop the marriage of the prince to the false princess and prevent a war. And of course, there is romance and happy endings and the villans get theirs in the end. This is a beautifully told story and the girls who are into Meg Cabot are eating it up.
Don’t Panic: Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Neil Gaiman
I love the Hitchhiker’s Guide series as well as just about everything else Douglas Adams has done so I thought I’d give this one a whirl. It’s a biography, of the Hitchhiker series in all its media formats (radio, tv, film, plays, etc.) and to a lesser degree of Adams himself. Not a must read, but if you are curious about how it all came about, it’s not too bad. And there’s some great one-liners as well.
Crum, Shutta. Spitting Image. Clarion, 2003. ISBN 978-0618234776 218 pp. $
Spitting Image by Shutta Crum is my most recent read. I loved it and this is why:
a. Great main character, Jessica “Jessie” Kay Bovey, a tomboy with a sense of justice who has no qualms about bearing her fists to defend her best friend Robert Ketchum. They don’t make’em more loyal and honest than Jessie.
b. It’s southern fiction. Love the locale, the language and the locals.
c. Bad guys who drink and smoke and wave their guns around
d. Ol’ One Eye, the evil rattlesnake
e. Quiet kind old Lester
f. Jessie’s Mom calls Jessie “the light of her life.” What a beautiful thing for a mom to call her daughter.
g. The grandmother who drives a white Thunderbird and changes her hair color as often as she changes husbands.
h. The jacket is awesome!
Read it and you’ll love it!
Calhoun, Dia. Aria of the Sea. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. ISBN 978-0374404543 272 pp. $
Cerinthe Gale, a talented ballet dancer and trained healer, is fulfilling her mother’s last wish by attending a prestigious school for dancers. In spite of misgivings about her chosen career, she moves to a city far from her seaside home, where she can longer hear the sweet song of the Sea Maid. Once she has secured a position as a student, Cerinthe finds herself being dangled like a carrot before the nose of the school’s prima donna, to motivate her adversary Elliana to realize her own talents to her best ability. Their rivalry comes to a head after a performance for the royal family, in which Cerinthe is given a lead and Elliana is her understudy. Elliana challenges Cerinthe to a private competition that leaves Elliana hurt with the same injury that was fatal to Cerinthe’s mother, and Cerinthe must face her demons, and decide if she is on the right path to her destiny after all.
Dia Calhoun’s writing is beautiful, her fantasy world realistic and structured, and the characters she peoples it with complex. The plot has depth, neatly layering Cerinthe’s obstacles until they meld into one issue that is gracefully resolved. Calhoun’s timing is perfect. In one stunning scene, Elliana shines like a star, ruins her chances for a marriage she didn’t want, and sabotages the possibility of becoming a acolyte in the temple, and only Cerinthe recognizes how deliberate her acts are. In another, a nervous Cerinthe is first late for her cue, then early, then finally, right on time, creating humor in the midst of her angst.
This fantasy has wide appeal not only for girls who love ballet, but also for general readers. The ethereal cover art will be a huge draw for those not familiar with Calhoun’s novels. Fans of Gail Carson Levine will especially enjoy the hardworking, passionate and strong-willed Cerinthe and her fantastic world. Highly recommended for purchase.
Brooks, Martha. True Confessions of a Heartless Girl. Harper Teen, 2004. ISBN 978-0060594978 216 pp. $
It is hard to write anything that does any justice to the lyrical beauty of Martha Brooks’ True Confessions of a Heartless Girl. This is the first book of hers that I have read and I can tell you that I have just about all of her others on hold right now and I am playing eeny meeny miney mo to decide which ones to bring on the plane home with me next week.
This book follows an exciting trend I have noticed lately (and maybe it has been written about in SLJ or VOYA or Horn Book) of awesome adult characters in teen literature. Some authors are acknowledging the fact that there are some cool adults out there who are experienced in the ways of the world and capable of understanding what a trouble teenaged soul is going through. Take Noreen, for example. She’s an angstful teen–and rightly so with Stupidhead the step-father and her mom, “Amazing” Grace. She shows up in the small town of Pembina Lake without a hope in the world and is taken in by some of the locals: Lynda, Dolores, Del, Seth and the dog, Tessie.
Despite the fact that everything Noreen touches turns into a huge disaster, these strangers want to help her. They refuse to not help her. That’s not to say they aren’t human, they talk about the fact that Noreen is such trouble. And worry about her. But due to each of the adult character’s own regrets, burdens, and tragedies, they realize that this girl needs help and they stand by her. The characters are deep and true and human. Noreen is a gem. This book is for your YA patrons.
Recent Picture Books that I have LOVED:
- Diary of a Worm by Doreen Crum, illus. by Harry Bliss
- Yikes!!! by Robert Florczak
- Love is a Handful of Honey by Giles Andreae (illus. by Vanessa Cabban, one of my brother’s high school classmates)
- Read Anything Good Lately? by Susan Allen, illus. by Vicky Enright
- Crazy Hair Day by Barney Saltzberg
Hay, Elizabeth. Garbo Laughs. McClelland & Stewart, 2004. ISBN 978-0771037931 384 pp. $
Posted on behalf of the lovely Marcella:
I just finished Garbo Laughs—which I LOVED–by Elizabeth Hay. Quiet yet powerful novel centered around one family and neighbourhood in Ottawa during the big ice storm (big for us. not sure if it was for you guys too) and in particular one woman who ‘lives’ through movies-particularly old movies–her emotional life really revolves around the stars and plots and so she tunes out of her real life for her reel life–oh the cliche, marcella! anyway–I loved the language and storyline and I think you will too!
Halpern, Jake. Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Locales. Mariner, 2004. ISBN 978-0618446629 256 pp. $
If home is where the heart is, then what ties to a person to a certain physical space, especially when that place has been destroyed by natural or man-made disaster? The author travels to some interesting places (a flood plain town swept away by water, a house on lava fields) to interview individuals making a stand to stay in a near-uninhabitable place they call home.
This is fascinating armchair travel that also raises issues of retribution and isolation as well as home.
Parker, Daniel. Trust Falls (The Wessex Papers). Harper Teen, 2002. ISBN 978-0064408066 272 pp. $
This 3-volume series is about a boarding school and it’s prestigious clique of children of former students, known as the ABs (Alumni Brats), several of whom are caught up in a school blackmail scandal. Flaky Mackenzie begins dating prep boy turned wigga rapper Hobson, preppy Sunday hooks up with a newbie basketball player Fred, and Nicole Kidman look-a-like Allison is attracted to fat slob and financial mastermind Winnie. Subplots include worrying about getting into college and adding entries to the Wessex Time Capsule, a collection of candid essays by graduating students.
Language and sexual situations are mostly tame and appropriate for age 12 & up. The characters are pretty one-dimensional and there is a heavy reliance on pop culture references, brand names and description of characters based on which celebrities s/he looks like, but the writing has a good pace, the inclusion of essays and letters and emails and memos is fun, and the book fits mystery requests. Better than Gossip Girls but not as good as the Jonah Black series, The Wessex Papers are likely to be moderately popular for middle school and up.