The Book Bag, Books for ages 9 to 12, March/April 2008

Before we jump into the Book bag to talk about some of our favorite Tween and YA books, I want to let you know about a new blog we’ve found. Fusion Stories is the place to go find new novels with Asian American protagonists that aren’t immigrant stories nor set in Asia.

All We Know of Heaven; A Novel by Jacquelyn Mitchard. I had the chance to read this one myself. I’m not one to seek out “chick lit,” but I am glad I read this one. You can read my personal review at What Happens Next. Click the title to see the Reading Tub review. (HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)

The Curse of Addy McMahon by Katie Davis. Kids and parents (especially those who “fondly” remember sixth grade) will enjoy this humorous, wholesome journey with Addy, who learns that life is about choices, not curses. “Very clever! The story is engaging, with great characters. The author has done an incredible job allowing Addy to lead the story, but leaving plenty of room for the other characters to be equally rich and offer their views of the events.” If you are looking for a good book for reluctant readers, DEFINITELY check this one out. (HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)

How to Be Bad; A Novel by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Myracle. Parents of teen girls — don’t let the title scare you away. This is a YA novel with strong characters and a solid plot. We loved how each of the characters gets to tell her view of events as the story moves along. (HarperCollins, 2008)

Galahad 2: The Web of Titan by Dom Testa. This fantasy adventure has a spaceship of teens in a race to save their universe. Rare is the time when get a reviewer who writes “The reader will be hooked by the end of the first paragraph.” I don’t think there’s anything else I could add! (Profound Impact Group, 2006)

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr. This is a captivating story told by Jenna Vaughn, a teen who “reinvented” herself after her best and only friend disappeared in fifth grade. Her birthday always takes her back to her “former” life and all the unanswered questions. The book covers a lot of ground, but a lot of the usual teen stuff (boyfriends, school, popularity) is part of the scenery, not central to the two main characters. This is a “soft” way to introduce teens to what abuse and the cycle of abuse look like. (Little, Brown, and Company, 2008)

Gone by Michael Grant. In one minute, we’re listening to a teacher drone on … in the next minute, the teacher and every person 14 and older has disappeared. There is no simple way to describe this book. It’s captivating, wonderful, and frightening all at the same time. Even if you aren’t a YA sci-fi fan, you will get wrapped up in this story. (HarperCollins, 2008)

The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West by Sid Fleishman. If you know anything about Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain), you know he is a character as colorful as those he created in his stories. This is an illustrated biography (every 3 pages there is a full-page picture) that looks like it will be perfect for reluctant readers, remedial readers, and those of us who love Mark Twain. (HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)

Girls Rule …. A Very Special Book Created Especially for Girls by Ashley Rice. Our student reviewer at Northumberland Elementary School declared that this book was “awesome.” She is a reluctant reader, but she liked it so much that she would buy one for her sister. (Blue Mountain Arts, Inc., 2002)

Crafty Inventions: Great Inventions by Gerry Bailey. Whenever we can, we try to sprinkle in some non-fiction books. Our student reviewer at Northumberland Elementary School gave this one two thumbs up because it was fun and taught him about how to make the inventions. He even picked it up more than once! (Mercury Junior, 2004)

Here are the books we’re going to be reading.