Welcome to the May/June 2008 Reading Ahead edition of the Book Bag. We seem to be over-run with beach reading and chick lit these days. Good stuff, but the themes/plots are starting to sound alike. Here are some of the titles that separated themselves from the pack.
Bringing the Boy Home by N. A. Nelson There are two boys, both from the same Amazon tribe, who are beginning their quest toward manhood. I’m always on the lookout for books that have strong male characters, and I like the idea of traveling to another culture (as opposed to a galaxy far, far away!). (HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)
Chessie Bligh and the Scroll of Andelthor by Thora Gabriel. The premise is sad but intriguing … a young teen, essentially neglected by her parents, decides to trade places with a friend from boarding school. Who hasn’t wished they could trade places with someone? In this story, it looks like Chessie ends up in a different Universe. (iUniverse, 2007)
Declare Yourself: Speak. Connect. Act. Vote: More than 50 Celebrated Americans Tell You Why by Declare Yourself. This is a collection of essays. It is also one of the few get-involved type books for teens/Young Adults that has crossed my desk that I think actually may grab their attention. I like the fact that the cover is a “mirror” and the array of essayists from Molly Ivins (whom kids won’t know) to Romeo and America Ferrar (whom they will). The publisher bills this as a book for teens 14 and up, but the reading level is fourth grade. PERFECT for older reluctant and remedial readers who need more sophisticated content. (HarperCollins, 2008)
Discovery of Glow (Glowmundo Series) by Jennifer Jazwierska and Candice Bataille Popiel, illustrated by Thom Buchanan and Jill Haller. The cover is cool: a girl with two test-tupes. One has a rainbow, the other lightening. Given yet another recent report about girls and science, this illustrated, science-adventure novel looks like it might get their attention. (Glowmundo Creations, LLC)
Dodger and Me by Jordan Sonnenblick. The blue primate on the cover made me laugh out loud. Willie Ryan (fifth grader) is our narrator in this middle-grade novel. A boy, baseball, and humor. Looks like a home run to me. This is a book we picked up at Book Expo America. (Feiwel and Friends, an Imprint of Macmillan, 2008)
Shifty by Lynn E. Hazen. I’m not sure how to completely characterize it. My first thought is “urban,” because it talks about a teen in the foster care system. It looks like its got some cold, hard, realities-of-life elements that teens don’t often see (but maybe need to read more of). Looks like it could be a great conversation-starter. (Tricycle/TenSpeed Press, 2008)