Reading Ahead – Books for Ages 9 to 12 (July/August 2008)

The bookshelves continue to fill up with largely fantasy and science fiction … all of which are one volume or another of a series. Specific plot elements and character names aside, they are running together. Here’s what looks cool … and distinguishes itself because it’s NOT in that mix.

Man in the Moon by Dotti Enderle This is a story set in Texas in the summer of 1961. What catches my eye about it is this part of the blurb: “When Ricky takes sick, really sick…Janine feels powerless to help her brother, but Mr. Lunas has a plan.” More and more, kids are having to deal with seriously ill relatives. This may be a story that helps them understand life. (Delacorte Press, an Imprint of Random House, Inc., 2008)

Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin, illustrated by Wendell Minor. I am always happy to highlight potentially great books that are (a) non-fiction and (b) books that can engage boys. This illustrated biography (reading level 6.1) looks like it could be perfect for reluctant and remedial readers. (Collins, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)

Listen! by Stephanie S. Tolan. There are lots of books about kids and pets, but usually they’re for younger kids. This is the story of a young girl who, while dealing with her own pain, crosses paths with an abused dog. It’s nice to see something that ISN’T princess or intergalactic! (HarperTrophy, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)

Out of Bounds; Seven Stories of Conflict and Hope by Beverely Naidoo. We loved Web of Lies, and this collection of short stories looks like they could be as equally compelling as that novel was two years ago. These are stories about apartheid in South Africa, in a “youth voice.” HarperTrophy, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)

Ghost Files by the Ghost Society Just thumbing through this book is neat. There are pages within pages, tabs to pull, and things to move as you learn about ghosts and ghost-lore. The reading level is grade 8, so it offers something for kids who want/need to keep busy while they read. NOTE: The book will be available next month (which in reality is next week). (HarperCollins Publisher, 2008)