Tag Archives: teens

Newer Reads for Teens in Sci-Fi and Fantasy

These are books from SimonSays.com, a website from Simon & Schuster. I found them by using the guide on the left, clicking on Teens at the top, and then on Science Fiction and Fantasy under “category.” They are the printers of many of the teen books available, and are a great way to find books for your kids, and they group then not only by teen, but by each grade level and by genre, series, etc. Most of these are published within the past year, or are yet to be published. Check the publication dates listed if you’re not sure, or can’t find it – it may be forthcoming. They are very exact about age grading, far more so than Amazon, although they ARE limited to the books they publish. But it’s a great place to start, since they are so precise in age ratings, and in how to find the exact type of book you’re looking for. So try some and see what you think. I tried to pick a representative selection. They also have a number of books for the younger set, 8-12, which I will cover next time. NOTE: These have NOT been read by either me or my kids, so I can’t vouch for them. But many have won awards, and those are listed. So be adventurous – try some.

Wake
By Lisa McMann
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: March 04, 2008
Our Price: $15.99
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Description

Not all dreams are sweet.

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people’s dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody- notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie’s seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.

She can’t tell anybody about what she does — they’d never believe her, or worse, they’d think she’s a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn’t want and can’t control.

Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else’s twisted psyche. She is a participant….

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments)
By Cassandra Clare
Cover by Cliff Nielsen
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: March 25, 2008
Our Price: $17.99
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Description

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City’s Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments)
By Cassandra Clare
Cover by Cliff Nielsen
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: February 19, 2008
Our Price: $9.99
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Description

Their hidden world is about to be revealed….

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder — much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Clary knows she should call the police, but it’s hard to explain a murder when the body disappears into thin air and the murderers are invisible to everyone but Clary.

Equally startled by her ability to see them, the murderers explain themselves as Shadowhunters: a secret tribe of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. Within twenty-four hours, Clary’s mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a grotesque demon.

But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know….

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The Past is Gone (The Time Jumpers)

By James Valentine
Cover by Tom White

This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: May 8, 2007

Ages: 8 – 12
Grades: 3 – 7

Description

The Adventure Begins….

When Theodore Pine Four suddenly appears in the bedroom of Genevieve Corrigan just as her friend Jules Santorini is about to ask her out on a date, the only thing they can all agree on is that it is highly unordinary. Things get even more complicated when we find out that Theo is a teenager from the year Fourteen Billion and Seventy-Three with multicolored hair, a talking coat, and the hottest new time machine on the market: the TimeMaster JumpMan Pro. And little do they know that this chance encounter is going to kick-start an epic adventure — one that will take Jules, Gen, and Theo through history, from the Big Bang all the way up to 14,000,000,073 and everywhere in between. Along the way, our heroes are going to have to figure out how to get Theo and his malfunctioning time machine back home without undoing the fabric of time itself. And, if he’s lucky, Jules might just manage to ask Gen on that date.

The Present Never Happens
The Present Never Happens (The Time Jumpers)
By James Valentine
Cover by Tom White

This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: July 10, 2007
Our Price: $5.99

Ages: 8 – 12
Grades: 3 – 7

Description

The Adventure Continues….

Rule One of TimeJumping was broken, but luckily disaster has been averted (at least for now), and Jules, Gen, and Theo are back. Their first adventure had them whisking through Time, talking to coats, and just managing to save Theo’s life — but that was just a warm-up. In the second chapter of the mind-bending TimeJumpers series, Jules and Gen (finally) go on a date, Theo turns out to be the biggest celebrity anyone in the year Fourteen Billion and Seventy-Three has ever seen, and we meet a peculiar and very irritating old man who has the strange idea that the entire history of the world is about to be overturned — and somehow Jules and Gen are involved. And that’s just the beginning. There are sinister forces at work, and Rule One is not just going to be broken, it’s going to be smashed apart.

The Future Is Unknown
The Future Is Unknown (The Time Jumpers)
By James Valentine
Cover by Tom White

This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 28, 2007
Our Price: $5.99

Ages: 8 – 12
Grades: 3 – 7

Description

The Adventure Ends.

In the third millennium, Jules is suddenly very popular, for reasons he doesn’t really understand. He should be happy, but all he can think about is Theo. Are Jules and Gen ever going to see him again? Meanwhile, in the fifteenth billennium, Quincy Carter One has disappeared after the world witnessed his aborted attempt to undermine the entire structure of Time. Not only that, TimeJumping has been all but outlawed on the Two Planets. And Theo can’t stop worrying about Jules and Gen — and what Quincy may be planning, wherever (or whenever) he is. It’s the thrilling conclusion of the TimeJumpers trilogy, and no one knows what’s going to happen next. Or before. But that’s what happens when you start fooling around with time.

Sky Inside
By Clare B. Dunkle
Cover by Sammy Yuen, Jr.
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: March 25, 2008
Our Price: $16.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Martin lives in a perfect world.

Every year a new generation of genetically-engineered children is shipped out to meet their parents. Every spring the residents of his town take down the snow they’ve stuck to their windows and put up flowers. Every morning his family gathers around their television and votes, like everyone else, for whatever matter of national importance the president has on the table. Today, it is the color of his drapes. It’s business as usual under the protective dome of suburb HM1.

And it’s all about to come crashing down.

Because a stranger has come to take away all the little children, including Martin’s sister, Cassie, and no one wants to talk about where she has gone. The way Martin sees it, he has a choice. He can remain in the dubious safety of HM1, with danger that no one wants to talk about lurking just beneath the surface, or he can actually break out of the suburb, into the mysterious land outside, rumored to be nothing but blowing sand for miles upon miles.

Acclaimed author Clare B. Dunkle has crafted a fresh and fast-paced science-fiction thriller, one that challenges her characters — and her readers — to look closer at the world they take for granted.

Pirate Emperor (The Wave Walkers)
By Kai Meyer
Translated by Elizabeth D. Crawford
Cover by Dominic Harman
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: January 08, 2008
Our Price: $5.99
Ages: 10 – 14
Grades: 5 – 9

Description

In the vast Caribbean Sea, pirates Jolly and Griffin are stranded on a tiny island where a peculiar architect is building an enormous bridge — but to where? Another world? Before they can find out, the bridge bursts into flames and the kobalins attack. Jolly and Griffin have nowhere to run until the Ghost Trader mysteriously appears and carries them off to the magical coral city of Aelenium. It is from Aelenium that Jolly and Munk are supposed to descend far, far into the deep to keep out the world-devouring Maelstrom.

But Jolly isn’t ready for that task. She wants to rescue Captain Bannon, the only father she’s ever known, so she steals the ghost ship and sets sail. Griffin follows her, until he is trapped by the man in the whale. Princess Soledad has her own plans — to kill Pirate Emperor Kendrick. But the truly terrifying cannibal king stands in her way. Is Soledad ready to become the new pirate emperor?

Trickery Treat (Charmed)
By Diana G. Gallagher
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: January 01, 2008
Our Price: $6.99
Ages: 16 and up
Grades: 10 and up

Description

Trickery Treat

A portal opened — as a means for amends,
Leaves a vengeful spirit to roam.
Helping him cross over is the only way,
To restore peace within the home.

It’s Halloween, and Piper is busy decorating the Manor, which has become the neighborhood hot spot on the most bewitching night of the year. Meanwhile, Paige decides to use the party as a chance to honor the dead. She casts a spell that creates a portal for a clan of leprechauns…and other wandering spirits.

The guests are thrilled and impressed with the realistic effects, but Phoebe, Piper, and Paige soon realize that they have a big trick to deal with: one not-so-friendly ghost going out of his way to turn the Manor into a haunted house. The Charmed Ones must stop this evil soul with a vengeance before he takes the life of one experienced ghost hunter who knows his story and has met him before….

The Water Mirror (The Dark Reflections Trilogy)
By Kai Meyer
Translated by Elizabeth D. Crawford
Cover by Melvyn Grant
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 01, 2006
Our Price: $7.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Awards:

Kansas State Reading Circle Senior High Titles
NYPL “Books for the Teen Age”
SLJ Best Book of the Year

Description

In Venice, magic is not unusual. Merle is apprenticed to a magic mirror maker, and Serafin — a boy who was once a master thief — works for a weaver of magic cloth. Merle and Serafin are used to the mermaids who live in the canals of the city and to the guards who patrol the streets on living stone lions. Merle herself possesses something magical: a mirror whose surface is water. She can reach her whole arm into it and never get wet.

But Venice is under siege by the Egyptian Empire; its terrifying mummy warriors are waiting to strike. All that protects the Venetians is the Flowing Queen. Nobody knows who or what she is — only that her power flows through the canals and keeps the Egyptians at bay.

When Merle and Serafin overhear a plot to capture the Flowing Queen, they are catapulted into desperate danger. They must do everything they can to rescue the Queen and save the city — even if it means getting help from the Ancient Traitor himself.

Stone Light (The Dark Reflections Trilogy)
By Kai Meyer
Translated by Elizabeth D. Crawford
Cover by Melvyn Grant
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 16, 2007
Our Price: $8.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Evil forces have invaded Venice – the city that Merle and Serafin call home. Luckily, the two friends hold secrets that just might stop the pharaoh from destroying their ancient city.

Merle has within her spirit of the Flowing Queen, a mysterious legendary force who serves as her guide. Indeed, the Queen’s voice has led Merle to Vermithrax, a winged stone lion. And together they are on a mission to Hell to enlist help from Lord Light.

Meanwhile, Serafin remains in Venice. He’s joined a group of rebel boys who are plotting to assassinate the pharaoh. But can a group so small really kill the biggest, most powerful man on earth?

Though they follow separate courses, Merle and Serafin will both encounter unexpected betrayals and startling revelations. And together they learn that evil takes many shapes in the world of Dark Reflections.

Glass Word (The Dark Reflections Trilogy)

By Kai Meyer
Translated by Elizabeth D. Crawford
Cover by Melvyn Grant
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: January 01, 2008
Our Price: $16.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

When they emerge from Hell, Merle, her friend Junipa who has mirrors for eyes, and Vermithrax the flying stone lion find themselves in Egypt. Of course the Flowing Queen is with them as well, since Merle swallowed her back in Venice. There is something very wrong in Egypt–it is freezing cold, and everything is covered in snow. Winter is here, looking for his lost love, Summer. And another creature is here as well–Seth, the highest of the Horus priests. Betrayed by the pharaoh and his sphinx henchmen, Seth is seeking revenge. Together they travel to the Iron Eye, the vast fortress of the sphinxes.But what does the Flowing Queen want Merle to do there?

Meanwhile Serafin, the master thief, the beautiful sphinx Lalapeya, and Eft, the mermaid, are also headed for Egypt. They are traveling underwater, in a submarine piloted by pirates. Serafin is not sure what they can do to the fight the pharaoh, but he knows surrender is not an option. Egypt has captured and enslaved his beloved Venice, and he and the others must fight the empire no matter what the cost. But the final battle will not be one that Serafin has even imagined–and the cost will be high indeed.

Here, There Be Dragons (The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica)
By James A. Owen
Illustrated by James A. Owen
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 23, 2007
Our Price: $9.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Awards:

ALA Best Books for Young Adults Nominee

Description

The Imaginarium Geographica

“What is it?” John asked.

The little man blinked and arched an eyebrow.

“It is the world, my boy,” he said. “All the world, in ink and blood, vellum and parchment, leather and hide. It is the world, and it is yours to save or lose.”

An unusual murder brings together three strangers, John, Jack, and Charles, on a rainy night in London during the first World War. An eccentric little man called Bert tells them that they are now the caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica — an atlas of all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale. These lands, Bert claims, can be traveled to in his ship the Indigo Dragon, one of only seven vessels that is able to cross the Frontier between worlds into the Archipelago of Dreams.

Pursued by strange and terrifying creatures, the companions flee London aboard the Dragonship. Traveling to the very realm of the imagination itself, they must learn to overcome their fears and trust in one another if they are to defeat the dark forces that threaten the destiny of two worlds. And in the process, they will share a great adventure filled with clues that lead readers to the surprise revelation of the legendary storytellers these men will one day become.

An extraordinary journey of myth, magic, and mystery, Here, There Be Dragons introduces James A. Owen as a formidable new talent.

Search for the Red Dragon (The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica)
By James A. Owen
Illustrated by James A. Owen
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: January 01, 2008
Our Price: $17.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

“‘The Crusade has begun’…

“There’s an old myth in the Archipelago,” he went on softly, shaking his head. “A legend, really…I recall it mentioned a Crusade, but those events happened seven centuries ago. We always thought it was only a story.”

It has been nine years since John, Jack, and Charles had their great adventure in the Archipelago of Dreams and became the Caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica. Now they have been brought together again to solve a mystery: Someone is kidnapping the children of the Archipelago. And their only clue is a mysterious message delivered by a strange girl with artificial wings: “The Crusade has begun.” Worse, they discover that all of the legendary Dragonships have disappeared as well.

The only chance they have to save the world from a centuries-old plot is to seek out the last of the Dragonships — the Red Dragon — in a spectacular journey that takes them from Sir James Barrie’s Kensington Gardens to the Underneath of the Greek Titans of myth. With friends both familiar and new, they will travel through an extraordinary landscape where history, myth, and fable blend together to tell the oldest story in the world. And along the way, the Caretakers of the Geographica will discover that great deeds alone do not make heroes, and that growing up may be unavoidable…but growing old doesn’t have to be.

Quillan Games (Pendragon)
By D. J. MacHale
Cover by Victor Lee
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: December 26, 2007
Our Price: $8.99
Ages: 10 and up
Grades: 5 and up

Description

Let the Games Begin….
Quillan is a territory on the verge of destruction. The people have lost control of their own future and must struggle simply to survive. The only chance they have of finding a better life is by playing the Quillan Games. Hosted by a strange pair of game masters, Veego and LaBerge, the games are a mix of sport and combat. They use the people of Quillan as pawns for their amusement as they force them to enter competitions that range from physical battles, to impossible obstacle courses, to computer-driven tests of agility. To triumph in the games is to live the life of a king. To lose is to die.

This is the dangerous and deadly situation Bobby Pendragon finds on Quillan. He quickly realizes that the only way to save this troubled territory is to beat Veego and LaBerge at their own games and dismantle their horrible fun house. But there is more at stake for Bobby. The prize for winning the Quillan Games may be discovering the truth of what it really means a Traveler.

Raven Rise (Pendragon)
By D. J. MacHale
Cover by Dawn Austin
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: May 20, 2008
Our Price: $17.99
Ages: 10 and up
Grades: 5 and up

Description

This is where it begins. The showdown for Halla. At stake is nothing less than all that ever was and all that will be.

There’s only one thing missing–Bobby Pendragon.

While Bobby remains trapped on Ibara, the battle moves to his home territory: Second Earth. Mark Dimond and Courtney Chetwynde are left on their own to defend Second Earth against the forces of Saint Dane. They must face off against a charismatic cult leader who has risen to power by revealing a shattering truth to the people of Earth: They are not alone.

The Convergence has broken down the walls. The territories are on a collision course. The final phase of Saint Dane’s quest to rule Halla is under way.

And Bobby Pendragon is nowhere to be found.

The Time Thief (The Gideon Trilogy)
By Linda Buckley-Archer
Cover by James Jean
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: December 26, 2007
Our Price: $17.99
Ages: 10 and up
Grades: 5 and up

Description

What happens when a seventeenth-century bad guy has twenty-first-century technology?

An accident with an antigravity machine catapulted Peter Schock and Kate Dyer back to 1763. A bungled rescue attempt leaves Peter stranded in the eighteenth century while a terrifying villain, the Tar Man, takes his place and explodes onto twenty-first-century London. Concerned about the potentially catastrophic effects of time travel, the NASA scientists responsible for the situation question whether it is right to rescue Peter. Kate decides to take matters into her own hands, but things don’t go as planned. Soon the physical effects of time travel begin to have a disturbing effect on her. Meanwhile, in our century, the Tar Man wreaks havoc in a city whose police force is powerless to stop him.Set against a backdrop of contemporary London and revolutionary France, The Time Thief is the sequel to the acclaimed The Time Travelers.

Fall of a Kingdom
By Hilari Bell
Cover by Steve Stone
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: January 01, 2005
Our Price: $6.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Who was Sorahb?

Stories are told of a hero who will come to Farsala’s aid when the need is greatest. But for thousands of years the prosperous land of Farsala has felt no such need, as it has enjoyed the peace that comes from being both feared and respected.

Now a new enemy approaches Farsala’s borders, one that neither fears nor respects its name and legend. But the rulers of Farsala still believe that they can beat any opponent.

Three young people are less sure of Farsala’s invincibility. Jiaan, Soraya, and Kavi see Time’s Wheel turning, with Farsala headed toward the Flames of Destruction. What they cannot see is how inextricably their lives are linked to Farsala’s fate — until it’s too late.

In Fall of a Kingdom, the first volume of the Farsala Trilogy, Hilari Bell introduces readers to a world of honor, danger, and magic in this spellbinding tale of self-discovery.

Rise of a Hero (The Farsala Trilogy)
By Hilari Bell
Cover by Steve Stone
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: June 01, 2006
Our Price: $6.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

The Return of Sorahb?

Legend has it that when Farsala most needs a warrior to lead it, Sorahb will be restored by the god Azura. That time has come. After a devastating loss to the army of the Hrum, Farsala has all but fallen. Only the walled city of Mazad and a few of the more uninhabitable regions remain free of Hrum rule, and they seem destined to fall as well. Farsala needs a champion now.

Three young people are waging battle as best they can. Soraya, Jiaan, and Kavi, their lives decimated by the Hrum, are each in a personal fight against their common enemy. Apart, their chances are slim, as none of them is Sorahb reborn. United, perhaps they can succeed. But only Time’s Wheel can bring them together — if it turns the right way. If it doesn’t, Farsala is surely doomed.

In the sequel to the critically acclaimed Fall of a Kingdom (formerly titled Flame), the first book of the Farsala Trilogy, Hilari Bell draws readers deeper into the mythical land of Farsala and weaves an epic tale of destiny and danger.

Forging the Sword (The Farsala Trilogy)
By Hilari Bell
Cover by Steve Stone
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: December 26, 2007
Our Price: $6.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

The spirit of the ancient champion, Sorahb was reborn into the body of a deghan youth, who raised an army of peasants to resist their Hrum conquerors.

Sorya, Kavi, and Jiann do everything they can to keep control of what little land remains free from Hrum rule. They have most of the peasantry, a small, untrained army, and the Suud helping them, but there is still one important piece missing: a sword that is able to withstand the Hrum’s watersteel. Without it, Farsala will fall.

But what none of these young heroes can foresee is the growing desperation of the Hrum leaders. It will lead them to break some of their own laws and sacred pacts. It will also reveal truths about the nature of war, the nature of human beings, and — most important — themselves.

Sunlight and Shadow: A Retelling of “The Magic Flute” (Once Upon a Time)
By Cameron Dokey
Cover by Kinuko Y. Craft
Designed by Mahlon F. Craft
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: June 17, 2008
Our Price: $6.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

A new spin on “The Magic Flute” by an acclaimed author!

In a time when the world was young and many things were quite commonplace that are now entirely forgotten, Sarastro, Mage of the Day, wed Pamina, the Queen of the Night. And in this way was the world complete, for light was joined to dark. For all time would they be joined together. Only the ending of the world could tear them apart. In other words, in the days in which my parents married, there was no such thing as divorce….

Thus begins the tale of Mina, a girl-child born on the longest night of the darkest month of the year. When her father looked at her, all he saw was what he feared: By birth, by name, by nature, she belonged to the Dark. So when Mina turned sixteen, her father took her away from shadow and brought her into sunlight.

In retaliation, her mother lured a handsome prince into a deadly agreement: If he frees Mina, he can claim her as his bride.

Now Mina and her prince must endure deadly trials — of love and fate and family — before they can truly live happily ever after….

Sara’s Face
By Melvin Burgess
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: June 17, 2008
Our Price: $7.99
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Description

Fame, beauty, and face transplants

Sara wants to be famous, and when legendary rock star Jonathon Heat offers to take her under his wing and pay for her cosmetic surgery, it’s like a dream come true. But beauty comes with a hidden price tag. Is Sara willing to pay?

Unwind
By Neal Shusterman
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: November 06, 2007
Our Price: $16.99
Ages: 13 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Awards:

ALA Best Books For Young Adults
ALA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

Description

In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them

Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.

In Unwind, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award winner Neal Shusterman challenges readers’ ideas about life — not just where life begins, and where it ends, but what it truly means to be alive.

Clovermead: In the Shadow of the Bear
By David Randall
Cover by Steve Stone
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: December 01, 2005
Our Price: $5.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 6 and up

Awards:

NYPL “Books for the Teen Age”
Theodore H. White Lecturer/Joan Shorenstein Center, JFK School of Government/Harvard University (2002)
YALSA Teens Top Ten (TTT) Nominee

Description

Twelve-year-old Clovermead Wickward’s head is filled with stories of adventure. She dreams about the thrill of a sword fight and the excitement of heroic quests. The last thing Clovermead expects is for those dreams to come true. But it seems her father, Waxmelt, is not who she has believed hi to be. As she becomes aware of strange new powers within her, Clovermead realizes that her father is harboring secrest that threaten to tear their small family apart.

At the same time, the good nuns of Lady Moon are waging war again the evil bear-priests of Lord Ursus. Suddenly Clovermead and Waxmelt find themselves thrust into the middle of an epic battle.

Clovermead comes to understand that the clash between good and evil is raging not only on the battlefield but also within herself. Will she succumb to the temptation of evil, in the shadow of the bear, or will she fight for the salvation of good?

Chandlefort: In the Shadow of the Bear
By David Randall
Cover by Steve Stone
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: December 26, 2006
Our Price: $16.95
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

It has been just months since Clovermead Wickward discovered that she is really Demoiselle Cerelune Cindertallow — daughter of Lady Melisande Cindertallow, the sovereign of Chandlefort — and that the man she had called Father all her life was actually an embittered servant who stole her away when she was a baby. Since then, she has learned that she doesn’t wholly care for life inside the walls of Chandlefort, and that she doesn’t much like her mother’s expectations for how a Demoiselle should behave — especially the bit about not changing shape anymore. When you can turn into a bear, being forced to stay human can be deadly dull.

Now Clovermead must confront dangerous secrets from her family’s troubled past when a mysterious stranger appears in Chandlefort. Perhaps he is the old friend of Clovermead’s real father, as he claims to be — or perhaps an old enemy of the Cindertallows who seeks a final revenge. When Clovermead unintentionally puts her mother’s life in mortal peril, her only chance to make amends and save the mother she has just begun to know is to set off on a dangerous journey to a distant abbey. The life of her mother, the salvation of Chandlefort, and the freedom of the bears enslaved by the overwhelming power of Lord Ursus all depend on Clovermead

In this intense and compelling sequel to Clovermead, David Randall explores the strength of love, courage, and forgiveness in the battle of good and evil.

Sorrel: In the Shadow of the Bear
By David Randall
Cover by Steve Stone
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 23, 2007
Our Price: $16.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

The fight against the evil Lord Ursus continues, and the fate of the battle lies in the hands of fifteen-year-old Clovermead Wickward. Chandlefort’s army is in need of reinforcements, and Clovermead is charged by her mother, Lady Cindertallow, to seek allies among the nomadic Hordes of the Tansy Steppes. At the same time, Lord Ursus has dispatched Clovermead’s old enemy Lucifer Snuff to contest her. A battle of diplomacy ensues, and it is only one of many struggles that Clovermead must face.

First, Clovermead must choose between her mission to the Hordes and the pleas of her best friend, Sorrel. All the while the survival of Chandlefort is pitted against Clovermead’s promise to free Lord Ursus’s enslaved bears. But the most painful choice of all awaits Clovermead in a face-to-face confrontation with Lucifer Snuff. In the end, Clovermead must decide between the logic of war and her heart’s instinct for mercy, relying on her sacred gifts — the ability to shift into bear-form and to speak the bear-language — to have even the slightest chance at victory.

In an epic tale of honor, love, and redemption, David Randall follows Clovermead and Chandlefort with an adventure determining the fate of nations and human souls.

Questors
By Joan Lennon
Cover by Jon Foster
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: September 11, 2007
Our Price: $16.99
Ages: 10 – 14
Grades: 5 – 9

Description

Three worlds, held in perfect balance. Nothing can change that. Well, nothing except a cataclysmic disruption in the Space-Time Continuum…

Luckily the people in charge have a plan: Create three perfect Heroes, the best of each world, and send them on a quest to find the Objects of Power that will restore the balance. But things go wrong when the Heroes are needed ten years earlier than expected, and three confused kids set off to save the worlds. Madlen, Bryn, and Cam have no idea what they’re looking for or where they’ll find it. What they do know is that to fail would mean unthinkable disaster.

It’s a pity, then, that someone is determined to stop them…

From the icebound city of the dragons to the magical kitchen of The London House, Joan Lennon has crafter a highly inventive story that is fast-paced, fantastical, and funny.

Bloodtide
By Melvin Burgess
Cover by Cliff Nielsen
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: May 22, 2007
Our Price: $7.99
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Description

PART I

London is in ruins, a once highly advanced city now a gated wasteland. Within its walls, a bloody war rages between two clans. Hope is sparse, but the people believe the gods have risen from the dead.

Odin himself has come to play a part in the lives of two twins, a brother and sister from the Volson clan. Siggy and Signy must come to grips with their destiny as London’s future teeters on the edge of a knife….

Bloodsong
By Melvin Burgess
Cover by Cliff Nielsen
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 28, 2007
Our Price: $7.99
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Awards:

ALA Best Books For Young Adults

Description

PART II

Fifteen-year-old Sigurd, son of King Sigmund, is the last surviving member of the Volson clan. His father’s kingdom — the former city of London — is gone. And his father’s knife, a gift from Odin himself, has been shattered to dust.

Now, Odin’s eye is upon him. Armed with a powerful sword forged from the remnants of his father’s knife, Sigurd will face death, fire, and torment. He must travel through Hel and back…to unite his country once again.

She’s a Witch Girl
By Kelly McClymer
Cover by Kirsten Ulve
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 21, 2007
Our Price: $8.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Prudence Stewart is FINALLY getting her witch on at Agatha’s Day School. Sadly, her love life isn’t quite so charmed. Boy trouble is lurking, big-time:

• First, there’s Angelo, Pru’s adorable crush-next-door. When he shows up at Agatha’s, it spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E for Pru. Especially when it comes to…

• Samuel, Pru’s best bud and tutor in all things magical. For Angelo and Samuel, it was loathe at first sight.

• And then there’s Daniel, the bad boy with wicked talent — who also happensto be the great-great-great-great-grandson of Pru’s nemesis, Agatha herself.

With all this boy drama, it’s all Pru can do to prep for the national cheerleading competition — the one that will bring her broomstick-to- spirit-stick with her former squad AND her boy-stealing ex-BFF.

A little magic just might come in handy right now….

Skin Hunger (A Resurrection of Magic)
By Kathleen Duey
Cover by David Ho
Illustrated by Sheila Rayyan
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: July 24, 2007
Our Price: $17.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Awards:

Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best
National Book Award Finalist

Description

Sadima lives in a world where magic has been banned, leaving poor villagers prey to fakes and charlatans. A “magician” stole her family’s few valuables and left Sadima’s mother to die on the day Sadima was born. But vestiges of magic are hidden in old rhymes and hearth tales and in people like Sadima, who conceals her silent communication with animals for fear of rejection and ridicule. When rumors of her gift reach Somiss, a young nobleman obsessed with restoring magic, he sends Franklin, his lifelong servant, to find her. Sadima’s joy at sharing her secret becomes love for the man she shares it with. But Franklin’s irrevocable bond to the brilliant and dangerous Somiss traps her, too, and she faces a heartbreaking decision.

Centuries later magic has been restored, but it is available only to the wealthy and is strictly controlled by wizards within a sequestered academy of magic. Hahp, the expendable second son of a rich merchant, is forced into the academy and finds himself paired with Gerrard, a peasant boy inexplicably admitted with nine sons of privilege and wealth. Only one of the ten students will graduate — and the first academic requirement is survival.

Sadima’s and Hahp’s worlds are separated by generations, but their lives are connected in surprising and powerful ways in this brilliant first book of Kathleen Duey’s dark, complex, and completely compelling trilogy.

Guide to the Uglies
By Scott Westerfeld
Cover by Carissa Pelleteri and Howard Pyle
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 21, 2008
List Price: $8.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Not available yet, but keep an eye out!

Z for Zachariah
By Robert C. O’Brien
Cover by Sammy Yuen, Jr.
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: July 10, 2007
Our Price: $6.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Is anyone out there?

Ann Burden is sixteen years old and completely alone. The world as she once knew it is gone, ravaged by a nuclear war that has taken everyone from her. For the past year, she has lived in a remote valley with no evidence of any other survivors.

But the smoke from a distant campfire shatters Ann’s solitude. Someone else is still alive and making his way toward the valley. Who is this man? What does he want? Can he be trusted? Both excited and terrified, Ann soon realizes there may be worse things than being the last person on Earth.

Dream of the Stone
By Christina Askounis
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: April 10, 2007
Our Price: $8.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Someone is following Sarah Lucas. When she peers down from her apartment window late one night, she sees him hovering in the shadows. And what about the other strange things that have been happening to her? The old woman who appears every so often to give Sarah a cryptic piece of advice and then vanishes? The mysterious gleaming stone that turns up in the mail, a universe of tiny stars suspended in its depths?

But there’s no one Sarah can trust with her story. Her journalist parents have been killed in a freak plane crash, and her older brother, Sam, a scientific genius, has disappeared under suspicious circumstances from the top secret institute where he works.

Sarah couldn’t be more alone in the world, until the day she meets Angel Muldoon, a half-Gypsy stable boy who carries a secret of his own. Together they will begin an incredible journey to another world, where they must return the stone to its rightful place and keep the forces of unimaginable evil at bay.

Turnabout
By Margaret Peterson Haddix
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: March 27, 2007
Our Price: $5.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

In the year 2000 Melly and Anny Beth had reached the peak of old age and were ready to die. But when offered the chance to be young again by participating in a top-secret experiment called Project Turnabout, they agreed. Miraculously, the experiment worked — Melly and Anny Beth were actually growing younger every year. But when they learned that the final treatment would be deadly, they ran for their lives.

Now it is 2085. Melly and Anny Beth are teenagers. They have no idea what will happen when they hit age zero, but they do know they will soon be too young to take care of themselves. They need to find someone to help them before time runs out, once and for all….

Virtual War (The Virtual War Chronologs)

Gloria Skurzynski

Reading level: Young Adult

Mass Market Paperback: 160 pages

Publisher: Simon Pulse (February 1, 1999)

Language: English

Book Description

Imagine a life of virtual reality — a childhood contained in a controlled environment, with no human contact. Corgan has been genetically engineered for quick reflexes, high intelligence, and physical superiority. He is unbeatable in battle. But he lives his life in a lonely module. What is a real sunset like? Or a friend?

When he meets fellow teens Sharla and Brig, Corgan begins to doubt the Federation, whose decisions he has unquestioningly obeyed. Life outside virtual reality may be for him. His fourteen years of training are about to end as the real challenge approaches. But he can’t lose focus now: He must win a virtual war, or the Western Hemisphere will be lost forever.

The Virtual War Chronologs--Book 2 (The Virtual War Chronologs)

Clones (The Virtual War Chronologs)
By Gloria Skurzynski
Cover by Barry David Marcus
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: May 03, 2007
Our Price: $10.95
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Book Description

Clones are supposed to be identical…aren’t they?

Corgan, hero of the Virtual War, has been living a blissful, if placid, life on the Isles of Hiva, his reward for winning the War with Sharla and Brig. But what he doesn’t know is that Brig died soon after the War, and yet is not truly gone. Sharla had saved some of Brig’s DNA and has created clone-twins with it. Corgan’s world is disrupted when Sharla brings one of the clone-twins, Seabrig, to him to raise on the island, while she keeps the other, Brigand, with her in the Domed City. However, when circumstances force Sharla to bring Brigand to the island, they find that while the boys may look identical, their temperaments are not. Brigand is haughty, willful, power hungry, and despises Corgan because of his relationship with Sharla. And, as a result of the cloning process, both boys are growing at an astonishing rate. In what may or may not have been an accident with his clone-twin, Seabrig is badly injured and must be airlifted from the island to receive medical treatment in the Domed City. This leaves Corgan alone with an increasingly dangerous and unstable Brigand, who is now his size, and looking to get rid of Corgan once and for all.

A gripping sequel to Virtual War that could be ripped straight from the headlines — in eighty years….

Revolt (The Virtual War Chronologs)
By Gloria Skurzynski
Cover by Michael Frost
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: June 01, 2005
Our Price: $16.95
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

What do you do when someone truly hates you?

Corgan is used to being the hero. Leader of the team that won the Virtual War, he chose for his reward to live on the Isles of Hiva, in an idyllic paradise. Idyllic until the clones, Brigand and Cyborg, arrived, that is. Life hasn’t been the same for Corgan since.

Now he’s lucky if his former fans even remember his name. But more worrisome is that he has an enemy, a mortal enemy in the form of Brigand, who has taken over not only Corgan’s mantle as the most well-known person in the Domes, but has taken Corgan’s girlfriend, Sharla, away too. When Brigand tried to kill Corgan back in the Wyo-Dome and failed, Corgan thought he would be free of Brigand at last. But now the power-obsessed Brigand has followed him to Florida, determined to rule the Domes and finish Corgan off for good. Corgan escaped from Brigand once, but can he do it again? And more importantly, does he even want to escape this time?

So now Corgan’s got two choices. He can fight and risk getting killed or, worse, captured by Brigand. Or he can walk away and take Sharla with him…if he can figure out how to use a spacecraft that hasn’t been flown in more than fifty years.

Picking right up from where The Clones left off, this fast-paced sequel will not disappoint Gloria Skurzynski’s eager fans.

Choice (The Virtual War Chronologs)
By Gloria Skurzynski
Cover by Big Sesh Studios
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 10, 2006
Our Price: $16.95
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 –

Book Description

The Final Battle

Ever since Corgan escaped his mortal enemy, Brigand, by fleeing the Florida domed city, he’s felt haunted. He’s haunted by the fact that Brigand is still in power in Florida, torturing innocent citizens (including Corgan’s friend Thebos), but above all by the bitter memory that he ran away from Brigand rather than staying to fight. Corgan believes he made the right choice at the time, but now he wants to face Brigand in one final battle.

His passengers in the stolen zero-gravity spaceship-Sharla, Ananda, and Cyborg-have different ideas. Tired of arguing, Corgan chooses to land the ship in the only place he has ever been happy. But even there disaster follows him, until Sharla reveals a secret that gives him hope-hope that he can once again become the hero he was meant to be. This time, Corgan intends to stand up to Brigand, win or lose, in a fight to the death.

This thrilling sequel and conclusion to the Virtual War Chronologs has been eagerly awaited for by Gloria Skurzynski’s many fans.

Salem Witch Tryouts
By Kelly McClymer
Cover by Kirsten Ulve
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 01, 2006
Our Price: $8.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Prudence Stewart had it all at Beverly Hills High: straight A’s, the cutest crush, and a sweet gig as captain of the cheerleading squad. Then poof! Mom and Dad announce they’re moving to Salem, Massachusetts. Turns out, Pru comes from a long line of witches and it’s time for her to learn the craft. Buh-bye, Beverly Hills High — hello, Agatha’s Day School!

But Pru’s not about to trade in her spirit stick for a broomstick! She’s sure she can keep her kewl at her new school — until she discovers it’s all magic, all the time, and she’s failing Witchcraft 101. Worst of all, even the cheerleaders bring a special “spirit” to their routine. As in, triple-back-somersault-with-a-twist kind of spirit.

It’s time for Pru to cast a spell and prove she’s just as enchanting as the next girl — and somehow make cheering tryouts a flying S-U-C-C-E-S-S!

Fallen
By Thomas E. Sniegoski
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: October 01, 2006
Our Price: $6.99
Ages: 16 and up
Grades: 10 and up

Description

Aaron Corbet isn’t a bad kid — he’s just a little different.

On the eve of his eighteenth birthday, Aaron dreams of a darkly violent landscape. He can hear the sounds of weapons clanging, the screams of the stricken, and another sound he cannot quite decipher. But gazing upward at the sky, he suddenly understands. It is the sound of great wings, angels’ wings, beating the air unmercifully as hundreds of armored warriors descend on the battlefield.

Orphaned since birth, Aaron is suddenly discovering newfound — and sometimes supernatural — talents. But it’s not until he is approached by two men that he learns the truth about his destiny, and his role as a liaison between angels, mortals, and Powers both good and evil, some of whom are hell-bent on his destruction….

Everlost
By Neal Shusterman
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 01, 2006
Our Price: $16.95
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Awards:

School Library Journal Best Books of the Year

Description

Nick and Allie don’t survive the car accident…

…but their souls don’t exactly get where they’re supposed to get either. Instead, they’re caught halfway between life and death, in a sort of limbo known as Everlost: a shadow of the living world, filled with all the things and places that no onger exist. It’s a magical, yet dangerous place where bands of lost children run wild and anyone who stands in the same place too long sinks to the center of the Earth.

When they find Mary, the self-proclaimed queen of lost kids, Nick feels like he he’s found a home, but allie isn’t satisfied spending eternity between worlds. Against all warnings, Allie begins learning the “Criminal Art” of haunting, and ventures into dangerous territory, where a monster called the McGill threatens all the souls of Everlost.

In this imaginative novel, Neal Shusterman explores questions of life, death, and what just might lie in between.

Rash
By Pete Hautman
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: June 01, 2006
Our Price: $16.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Awards:

ALA Best Books for Young Adults Nominee
Great Lakes Great Books Master List (MI)
Hal Clement Golden Duck Award
Keystone to Reading Book Award Master List (PA)
Minnesota Book Awards Finalist
New York Times Book Review Notable Books
Texas 2×2 Reading List
Texas Tayshas High School Reading List
Thumbs Up! Award Master List (MI)

Description

“Of course, without people like us Marstens, there wouldn’t be anybody to do the manual labor that makes this country run. Without penal workers, who would work the production lines, or pick the melons and peaches, or maintain the streets and parks and public lavatories? Our economy depends on prison labor. Without it everybody would have to work — whether they wanted to or not.”

In the late twenty-first century Bo Marsten is unjustly accused of a causing a rash that plagues his entire high school. He loses it, and as a result, he’s sentenced to work in the Canadian tundra, at a pizza factory that’s surrounded by hungry polar bears. Bo finds prison life to be both boring and dangerous, but it’s nothing compared to what happens when he starts playing on the factory’s highly illegal football team. In the meantime, Bork, an artificial intelligence that Bo created for a science project, tracks Bo down in prison. Bork has spun out of control and seems to be operating on his own. He offers to get Bo’s sentence shortened, but can Bo trust him? And now that Bo has been crushing skulls on the field, will he be able to go back to his old, highly regulated life?

Pete Hautman takes a satirical look at an antiseptic future in this darkly comic mystery/adventure.

Sharp North
By Patrick Cave
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: April 01, 2006
Our Price: $16.95
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Description

In a futuristic world, will everyone be replaceable?

Mira had always lived quietly until the day a stranger is shot and killed in front of her. The woman’s body is quickly removed, leaving bloodstained snow and a crumpled piece of paper on the ground as the only clues to her murder. Mira discovers that the paper contains a list of names, including her own — but why? Terrified, she begins to view everyone with suspicion, and attempts to follow the clues that the dead woman left behind, unaware of the danger she is stumbling into.

For Mira lives in an environmentally damaged and socially dangerous Great Britain that is ruled by the caste of the Great Families, forming a society where reproduction is strictly limited and where families keep illegal clones — or “spares” — of themselves, just in case a replacement is ever needed….

Fast paced and suspenseful, Sharp North is the story of Mira’s search for the truth about her own identity and her attempts to find goodness in her strange world.

Sign of the Raven
By Julie Hearn
Cover by Marc Yankus
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 01, 2005
Our Price: $16.95
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Mind the gap.

Something odd is going on in the basement of an old house in London. An inexplicable gap has formed, a gap in time that links the present to the past. And twelve-year-old Tom, who discovers the gap while on a visit to his grandmother, is torn between both worlds.

Lured by a mysterious voice, Tom leaps into the early eighteenth century, to a time when circus “freaks” like the Bendy Man and the Gorilla Woman appeared at Bartholomew Fair. The voice he hears belongs to Astra, a tiny changeling child, whose limbs are no bigger than a man’s thumb. She has called him into the past, because she is convinced that Tom is the only one who can help her and her friends from danger. Doctors are paying a high price for unusual bodies to dissect, and Astra and her friends are prime subjects.

But Tom is dealing with difficulties of his own. His mum has cancer and is constantly fighting with his gran. And then he discovers a dark secret in his family’s past…a secret that pulls the strands of time together and might just close the gap forever.

Apocalypse
By Tim Bowler
Cover by Cliff Nielsen
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: September 01, 2005
Our Price: $16.95
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Kit and his parents are out sailing when things go horribly wrong. Fog rolls in; the compasses won’t work; weird cries come from the sea. Then squalls force their boat against a giant rock. They manage to get to shore, but the dismal, almost barren island they’re on provides no comfort. The only inhabitants are a brutal group of fundamentalists whose ancestors settled there long ago. For some reason they hate Kit the moment they see him.

But Kit has glimpsed someone else, a girl who seems to be wild. He’s also seen a strange man who looks just like him, only older, with the same birthmark on his face. Kit goes in search of the girl, looking for answers to the eerie goings-on. He returns to find his parents gone and their tents torn to shreds. Have the islanders killed them? Kit sets off in a desperate search for them as he struggles for his own survival. Will the girl help him? And will he be able to escape the islanders, who clearly want to kill him?

Journey on a startling voyage into the unknown, where an ordinary teenage boy faces a world filled with malice and a terrifying vision of the future, in this haunting thriller from award winner Tim Bowler.

Well, this is all from SimonSays for teens that is fairly current. Next time it’s on to the Pre-teens, and then on to the next publisher…

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Classic Reads for Pre-teens and Teens – some old, some new Part II

This is a list of classic books, both old and new or “instant classics” for the younger set. Some are suitable for reading aloud (esp. the ones marked as best for 4-8 yr olds), and all are suitable for most ages over 8. Even older teens might like the ones marked for younger readers. Because these are “classics,” the age boundaries are more for reading/comprehension level, rather than a guide to content, with some noted exceptions.

I invite you to look through the list, and find some that might make suitable reading or read-a-loud stories to share. Check Scholastic.com for many reprints of classics. They are one of the biggest publishers out there for these books, and for that they should be commended. Part III will be coming soon.

The Seventeenth Swap by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

2008-02-25-1006-39_edited

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Ages 9-12. “Eric Greene needs $17.99 fast. He wants to buy his young crippled friend Jimmy a pair of outrageous red cowboy boots that are on sale for one week.

But how can Eric get the cash that quickly? He has no money, but he does have a plan. He can swap for the boots. So he begins a series of wheelings and dealings with some fascinating people.

And along the way, Eric learns some very surprising things about himself – and that makes the seventeenth swap the best swap of all.” Book Description

Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James

Ages 9-12. “Smoky knows only one way of life: freedom. Living on the open range, he is free to go where he wants and to do what he wants. And he knows what he has to do to survive. He can beat any enemy, whether it be a rattlesnake or a hungry wolf. He is as much a part of the Wild West as it is of him, and Smoky can’t imagine anything else.

But then he comes across a new enemy, one that walks on two legs and makes funny sounds. Smoky can’t beat this enemy the way he has all the others. But does he really want to? Or could giving up some of his freedom mean getting something in return that’s even more valuable?” Book Description

“There have been many horse stories. But not one of them can compare with this book.” New York Times Book Review

“One of the finest horse stories ever told.” Herald Tribune

White Fang by Jack London

White Fang (Scholastic Classics)

Ages 12 and up. “Gr. 6-8. Ed Young, whose haunting illustrations of the wolf made his Caldecott- winning Lon Po Po (1989) so memorable, was well chosen as the illustrator for the Scribner Illustrated Classics edition of White Fang. Jack London’s 1906 novel. As many will remember, London tells the story of a wolf-dog who endures great cruelty before he comes to know human kindness. The 12 pastel illustrations illuminate the text with their dramatic use of light and dark, sensitively delineated forms, and soft, subtle shades of color. A handsome new edition of a longtime favorite.” Booklist

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

The Call of the Wild

Ages 12 and up. “First published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is regarded as Jack London’s masterpiece. Based on London’s experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, The Call of the Wild is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike.” Book Description

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

Ages 9-12. ” On an island off the coasts of Virginia and Maryland lives a centuries-old band of wild ponies. Among them is the most mysterious of all, Phantom, a rarely seen mare that eludes all efforts to capture her–that is, until a young boy and girl lay eyes on her and determine that they can’t live without her. The frenzied roundup that follows on the next “Pony Penning Day” does indeed bring Phantom into their lives, in a way they never would have suspected. Phantom would forever be a creature of the wild. But her gentle, loyal colt Misty is another story altogether.

Marguerite Henry’s Newbery Honor Book has captivated generations of boys and girls both with its thrilling descriptions of true incidents from the tiny island of Chincoteague, and its realistic yet wonderfully magical atmosphere. This story of an animal brought into captivity poignantly reveals the powerful opposing forces of humans and nature. Wesley Dennis’s pen-and-ink ponies are masterfully depicted with rippling muscles, shaggy coats, and free spirits. (Ages 9 to 12).” Amazon

Stormy, Misty’s Foal by Marguerite Henry and Wesley Dennis

Stormy, Misty's Foal

Ages 9-12. “A raging storm slashes across Assateague and Chincoteague islands. Water is everywhere! The wild ponies and the people must battle for their lives.

In the midst of the storm, Misty-the famous mare of Chincoteague-is about to give birth. Paul and Maureen are frantic with worry as the storm rages on… will Misty and her colt survive?

This is the thrilling story of the hurricane that destroyed the wild herds of Assateague, and how strength and love helped rebuild them.” Book Description

Sea Star: Orphan of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry and Wesley Dennis

Orphan of Chincoteague

Ages 9-12. “Movie men have come to Chincoteague to film the annual Pony Penning, and Paul and Maureen are thrilled — until they learn that the producers want to buy their beloved Misty. Reluctantly, they agree to sell in order to send their uncle to college. But how will they ever fill the lonely place that Misty leaves behind?

Finding an orphaned colt helps Paul and Maureen deal with their loss, and they soon discover that little Sea Star needs them just as much as they need him.” Book Description

King of the Wind: The Story of the Goldophin Arabians by Marguerite Henry and Wesley Dennis

King of the Wind

Ages 9-12. “Grade 4-8-The Newbery Medal-winning tale about a stallion, a stable boy, and their globe-spanning adventures.” School Library Journal

Brighty: Of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry

Ages 9-12. “Grade 3-6-Marguerite Henry’s book (Rand McNally, 1953) is based on actual incidents in the life of a Grand Canyon burro. Brighty loves his life of independence along the Bright Angel Creek for which he was named, going to the rim in the summer and down to the canyon floor in winter. He is present as President Theodore Roosevelt discusses the beauty and grandeur of the Canyon and how it should be preserved for the American people. Brighty is the first to walk the historic bridge connecting the north and south rims. Befriended by prospectors, government men and campers, Brighty alternately helps his friends and runs free as the spirit moves him. His friend and companion, Old Timer, a prospector, is murdered by a claim jumper. A saddened Brighty searches for the killer, an adventure which runs through the book.” School Library Journal

Justin Morgan Had A Horse by Marguerite Henry

Ages 9-12. “Joel’s face suddenly lit up as if he had thought of something for the first time. He spoke now to the horse, as though he were the one that mattered. “Why, come to think of it, you’re just like us, Bub. You’re American! That’s what you are. American!”

In 1791 a Vermont schoolmaster by the name of Justin Morgan comes home with a two-year-old colt named Little Bub. Taken as payment for an outstanding debt, the little colt doesn’t seem like he is worth much, but the kindly teacher asks one of his students, Joel Goss, to train him. Joel knows the horse has great potential, and soon word about Little Bub spreads throughout the entire Northeast for his ability to outwork, outrun, outtrot, and outwalk any horse in the area.

This is the extraordinary tale of a little workhorse, who, after being born in obscurity, becomes one of the greatest breeding stallions of all time. In this true story Newbery Medal-winning author Marguerite Henry and artist Wesley Dennis celebrate the life of the only horse ever to establish a breed all by himself — the Morgan.” Book Description

“…a thing of beauty in every respect and a treasured addition to the home library.” Washington Post

Born to Trot by Marguerite Henry

Ages 9-12. “Gibson can hear the beat of the horses’ hooves against the track. Trotter are the world to him.

But all he ever does is practice. He’s still too young and inexperienced to drive in a real race.

Only he knows he’s ready for the big league. If people would give him a chance, then they would know it, too.

Gib’s chance comes in a filly named Rosalind. Now Gib can prove that he’s man enough to train a

champion. But does he really have what it takes? Can he and Rosalind go all the way to win the Hambletonian, the greatest race of all?” Book Description

“…packed with information as well as vivid accounts of exciting races.” The New York Times

Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard

Big Red

Ages 9-12. “From the moment Danny sees the beautiful Irish setter, he knows Red is the dog for him. Fast and smart, strong and noble, Red is the only dog Danny wants by his side. Soon, neither boy nor dog can stand to be apart. Together Danny and Red face many dangers in the harsh Wintapi wilderness that they call home. But the greatest test of their courage and friendship will come from an enemy more cunning than any they’ve known before–a bear who is the undisputed king of the wilderness, a savage killer called Old Majesty.” Book Description

Irish Red by Jim Kjelgaard

Irish Red

Ages 9-12. ”

For all his champion Irish setter blood, Mike was a misfit. Danny Pickett and his father tried everything to train him, but it was the pup himself who finally proved that he was a champion.” Book Description

“A worthy sequel…a rousing story.” —Library Journal

Outlaw Red by Jim Kjelgaard

Ages 9-12. “He was Sean, a champion, the biggest, handsomest son of Big Red, the famous Irish setter. Bursting with hunting instincts, he fretted under his pampered kennel life, and longed for the wilds. Then suddenly his life changed. He found himself on his own in the Wintapi wilderness, lost, his human protectors gone. An outlaw, he was hunted and shot at by the hill men. How Sean learned to survive amidst constant danger, how he challenged a coyote killer to save his mate, is a stirring tale of bravery and an exciting wilderness adventure. It is also the heartwarming story of another unwilling outlaw–the boy who loved Sean and wanted him for his own.” Book Description

Gentle Ben by Walt Morey

Ages 9-12. “The Alaskan wilderness is a lonely place for Mark Andersen, especially after the death of his brother. But Mark finds a friend named Ben, who happens to be an Alaskan brown bear. Ben and Mark form a special bond, but the townspeople are determined to destroy it. It is only through the strength of an enduring friendship that Ben—and Mark—have a chance of being saved.” Book Description

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Ages 9-12. “Forced to leave her sunny Caribbean home for the bleak Connecticut Colony, Kit Tyler is filled with trepidation. As they sail up the river to Kit’s new home, the teasing and moodiness of a young sailor named Nat doesn’t help. Still, her unsinkable spirit soon bobs back up. What this spirited teenager doesn’t count on, however, is how her aunt and uncle’s stern Puritan community will view her. In the colonies of 1687, a girl who swims, wears silk and satin gowns, and talks back to her elders is not only headstrong, she is in grave danger of being regarded as a witch. When Kit befriends an old Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, it is more than the ascetics can take: soon Kit is defending her life. Who can she count on as she confronts these angry and suspicious townspeople?

A thoroughly exciting and rewarding Newbery Medal winner and ALA Notable Children’s Book, Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond brings this frightening period of witch hysteria to life. Readers will wonder at the power of the mob mentality, and the need for communities in desperate times–even current times–to find a scapegoat. (Ages 9 and older).” Amazon

Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare

Ages 9-12. “In the year 1754, the stillness of Charlestown, New Hampshire, is shattered by the terrifying cries of an Indian raid. Young Miriam Willard, on a day that had promised new happiness, finds herself instead a captive on a forest trail, caught up in the ebb and flow of the French and Indian War. It is a harrowing march north. Miriam can only force herself to the next stopping place, the next small portion of food, the next icy stream to be crossed. At the end of the trail waits a life of hard work and, perhaps, even a life of slavery. Mingled with her thoughts of Phineas Whitney, her sweetheart on his way to Harvard, is the crying of her sister’s baby, Captive, born on the trail. Miriam and her companions finally reach Montreal, a city of shifting loyalties filled with the intrigue of war, and here, by a sudden twist of fortune, Miriam meets the prominent Du Quesne family, who introduce her to a life she has never imagined. Based on an actual narrative diary published in 1807, Calico Captive skillfully reenacts an absorbing facet of history.” Book Description

“Vital and vivid, this short novel based on the actual captivity of a pre-Revolutionary girl of Charlestown, New Hampshire, presents American history with force and verve.” Kirkus Reviews
“Superior historical fiction.” Horn Book
“Convincing historical romance set during the French and Indian War.” Booklist, ALA

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Ages 9-12. “In all Mildred D. Taylor’s unforgettable novels she recounts “not only the joy of growing up in a large and supportive family, but my own feelings of being faced with segregation and bigotry.” Her Newbery Medal-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry tells the story of one African American family, fighting to stay together and strong in the face of brutal racist attacks, illness, poverty, and betrayal in the Deep South of the 1930s. Nine-year-old Cassie Logan, growing up protected by her loving family, has never had reason to suspect that any white person could consider her inferior or wish her harm. But during the course of one devastating year when her community begins to be ripped apart by angry night riders threatening African Americans, she and her three brothers come to understand why the land they own means so much to their Papa. “Look out there, Cassie girl. All that belongs to you. You ain’t never had to live on nobody’s place but your own and long as I live and the family survives, you’ll never have to. That’s important. You may not understand that now but one day you will. Then you’ll see.”

Twenty-five years after it was first published, this special anniversary edition of the classic strikes as deep and powerful a note as ever. Taylor’s vivid portrayal of ugly racism and the poignancy of Cassie’s bewilderment and gradual toughening against social injustice and the men and women who perpetuate it, will remain with readers forever. Two award-winning sequels, Let the Circle Be Unbroken and The Road to Memphis, and a long-awaited prequel, The Land, continue the profoundly moving tale of the Logan family. (Ages 9 and older)” Amazon

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

Ages 9-12. “Told in the form of a recollection, these “confessions” cover 13-year-old Charlotte’s eventful 1832 transatlantic crossing. She begins her trip a prim schoolgirl returning home to her American family from England. From the start, there is something wrong with the Seahawk : the families that were to serve as Charlotte’s chaperones do not arrive, and the unsavory crew warns her not to make the trip. When the crew rebels, Charlotte first sides with the civilized Captain Jaggerty, but before long she realizes that he is a sadist and–the only female aboard–she joins the crew as a seaman. Charlotte is charged with murder and sentenced to be hanged before the trip is over, but ends up in command of the Seahawk by the time it reaches its destination. Charlotte’s repressive Puritanical family refuses to believe her tale, and the girl returns to the sea. Charlotte’s story is a gem of nautical adventure, and Avi’s control of tone calls to mind William Golding’s 1980s trilogy of historical novels of the sea. Never wavering from its 19th century setting, the novel offers suspense and entertainment modern-day readers will enjoy. Ages 11-13.” Publishers Weekly

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

Ages 9-12. “Grades 4-8–This beautifully written novel offers valuable insights into the difficulties faced by families and communities caught up in the political, economic, and personal upheavals of war. The events of the Civil War unfold Across Five Aprils (Berkley Pub., 1986) in this moving story by Newbery Award winner, Irene Hunt. It is set in southern Illinois where Jethro Creighton, an intelligent, hardworking boy, is growing into manhood as his brothers and a beloved teacher leave to fight in the Union and Confederate armies. Hunt presents a balanced look at both sides of the conflict, and includes interesting information on lesser-known leaders and battles. Of course, Abraham Lincoln is a frequent topic of conversation, and Jethro even receives a letter from his fellow Illinoian.” School Library Journal

Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs

Ages 9-12. “The fascinating life of Louisa May Alcott, from her happy childhood to her successful career as a writer. Children who loved Little Women will enjoy reading about the real-life Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.” Book Description

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois

Ages 9-12. “Professor William Waterman Sherman intends to fly across the Pacific Ocean. But through a twist of fate, he lands on Krakatoa, and discovers a world of unimaginable wealth, eccentric inhabitants, and incredible balloon inventions. Winner of the 1948 Newbery Medal, this classic fantasy-adventure is now available in a handsome new edition.” Book Description

“William Pene du Bois combines his rich imagination, scientific tastes, and brilliant artistry to tell a story that has no age limit.” The Horn Book

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord

Ages 9-12. “Shirley Temple Wong sails from China to America with a heart full of dreams.Her new home is Brooklyn, New York. America is indeed a land full of wonders, but Shirley doesn’t know any English, so it’s hard to make friends. Then a miracle-baseball-happens. It is 1947, and Jackie Robinson, star of the Brooklyn Dodgers, is everyone’s hero. Jackie Robinson is proving that a black man, the grandson of a slave, can make a difference in America and for Shirley as well, on the ball field and off, America becomes the land of opportunity.” Book Description

Firework-Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman

Ages 9-12. “A thousand miles ago, in a country east of the jungle and south of the mountains, there lived a firework-maker called Lalchand and his daughter, Lila.”

Lila, the heroine of Philip Pullman’s charming fable, was, as a baby, “a cross little thing, always crying and refusing her food, but Lalchand built a cradle for her in the corner of the workshop, where she could see the sparks play and listen to the fizz and crackle of the gunpowder.” Once out of her cradle, she showed a marked talent for pyrotechnics, even inventing her own fireworks with names like Tumbling Demons and Shimmering Coins. Nevertheless, when Lila tells her father she’d like to become a master firework-maker, he’s shocked. Firework-making is no job for a girl, he tells her; besides, with her burned fingers and singed eyebrows, he’s afraid he’ll never be able to find a husband for her.

If Lalchand is horrified by Lila’s ambitions, his daughter is equally appalled by the prospect of a husband. Instead, she decides to run away to Mount Merapi, where every firework-maker must go to claim some of the royal sulphur from Razvani the Fire-Fiend. Lila’s adventures on the road to Merapi alternate with those of her best friend, Chulak, and his talking white elephant, Hamlet, who set out after her when they learn something that could mean life or death for Lila. Along the way, they meet pirates, wild animals, and supernatural beings of every stripe until, at last, Lila must face the scariest obstacle of all: her own fear. Pullman invests The Firework-Maker’s Daughter with wit, wonder, and more than a few goose bumps. The charm of the prose is reflected in the black and white illustrations by S. Saelig Gallagher that punctuate this slim novel. Though not as sophisticated as Pullman’s remarkable fantasy novels The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife, this engaging story does share a courageous heroine, an exciting adventure, and a singular philosophy that ties everything together in a deeply satisfying denouement. (Ages 9 to 12).” Amazon

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

Ages 9-12. “Nearly a hundred years after its original publication, The Railway Children is still one of E. Nesbit’s most beloved and delightful stories. Roberta, Peter, and Phyllis were very happy living in a comfortable house surrounded by a cook and servants and two loving parents, until one evening when there was a knock at the door and their father was mysteriously taken away by two men. Suddenly alone, their mother moves the family to a small cottage in the countryside. There, the children begin a series of exciting adventures, from saving a train filled with passengers from a landslide, to rescuing a baby from a fire, to aiding a penniless Russian exile, to eventually unraveling the mystery of their father’s disappearance. Featuring a new jacket illustration by Caldecott medalist Paul O. Zelinsky, as well as all nineteen of the original black-and-white line drawings by C. E. Brock, this classic story is perfect for home and classroom libraries.” Book Description

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

The House of the Scorpion

Ages 12 and up. ”

Fields of white opium poppies stretch away over the hills, and uniformed workers bend over the rows, harvesting the juice. This is the empire of Matteo Alacran, a feudal drug lord in the country of Opium, which lies between the United States and Aztlan, formerly Mexico. Field work, or any menial tasks, are done by “eejits,” humans in whose brains computer chips have been installed to insure docility. Alacran, or El Patron, has lived 140 years with the help of transplants from a series of clones, a common practice among rich men in this world. The intelligence of clones is usually destroyed at birth, but Matt, the latest of Alacran’s doubles, has been spared because he belongs to El Patron. He grows up in the family’s mansion, alternately caged and despised as an animal and pampered and educated as El Patron’s favorite. Gradually he realizes the fate that is in store for him, and with the help of Tam Lin, his bluff and kind Scottish bodyguard, he escapes to Aztlan. There he and other “lost children” are trapped in a more subtle kind of slavery before Matt can return to Opium to take his rightful place and transform his country.

Nancy Farmer, a two-time Newbery honoree, surpasses even her marvelous novel, The Ear, The Eye and the Arm in the breathless action and fascinating characters of The House of the Scorpion. Readers will be reminded of Orson Scott Card’s Ender in Matt’s persistence and courage in the face of a world that intends to use him for its own purposes, and of Louis Sachar’s Holes in the camaraderie of imprisoned boys and the layers of meaning embedded in this irresistibly compelling story. (Ages 12 and older).” Amazon

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

Pictures of Hollis Woods

Ages 9-12. “Giff (Lily s Crossing; All the Way Home) again introduces a carefully delineated and sympathetic heroine in this quiet contemporary novel. Artistically talented Hollis Woods, age 12, has made a habit of running away from foster homes, but she s found a place on Long Island where she wants to stay for a while. She immediately bonds with Josie, her new guardian, who is a slightly eccentric, retired art teacher. Yet Hollis is far from content. She worries about Josie s increasing forgetfulness, and she sorely misses her last foster family, the Regans, whom she left under tense circumstances that are only gradually made clear. Giff intersperses tender scenes demonstrating Hollis s growing affection for Josie with memories of the Regans, whose images Hollis preserves in her sketchbook. Pictures of motherly Izzy Regan, her architect husband and their mischievous yet compassionate son, Steven, sensitively express the young artist s conception of a perfect family. As readers become intimately acquainted with Hollis, they will come to understand her fears, regrets and longings, and will root for her as she pursues her dream of finding a home where she belongs. Ages 8-13.” Publishers Weekly

The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr

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Ages 9-12. “”I’ve always been fond of birds, poultry in particular.” From that first sentence, readers will gobble up Karr’s (Oh, Those Harper Girls!) hilarious novel of a boy who resolves to walk 1000 turkeys from the Show-Me state to Denver, Colorado. Simon, who’s 15 and newly graduated from the third grade, may not be too bright, but he figures he can make his fortune by buying Mr. Buffey’s bronze turkeys for a quarter apiece and selling them in Denver for $5 each. With his schoolteacher as an investor, Simon picks up a former drunk and a runaway slave to be his partners, and starts herding those turkeys 900 miles down the road. In their travels, they encounter a raging river and a swarm of locusts, each of which the turkeys conquer. But peskiest of all, they’re tailed by Simon’s no-good father, a circus strongman, who decides he wants in on the deal. The gifted Karr has a cheerful, sassy down-home writing style and a perfect pitch for dialogue (she also has an authoritative knowledge of poultry, having grown up on a New Jersey chicken farm). A bonus: the tale is based in truth?there really were turkey drives in the American West. Ages 10-up.” Publishers Weekly

Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

Ages 9-12. “When a novel like Huckleberry Finn, or The Yearling, comes along it defies customary adjectives because of the intensity of the respouse it evokes in the reader. Such a book, we submit, is Old Yeller; to read this eloquently simple story of a boy and his dog in the Texas hill country is an unforgettable and deeply moving experience.

With Old Yeller,Fred Gipsin secured his place as one of the finest novelists in America. The book was published to instant acclaim and has become one of the most beloved children’s classics ever written. Since its publication in 1956, Old Yeller has won countless awards, including the 1957 Newbery Honor. Mr. Gipson’s other works include both fiction and non-fiction. He grew up in the Texas hill country and died in 1973.” Book Description

Lad: A Dog by Albert Payson Terhune

Ages 6 and up. “First published in 1919, Albert Payson Terhune’s Lad: A Dog is actually a collection of immensely popular magazine stories. The hero is an extraordinary collie named Lad, “a thoroughbred in spirit as well as in blood.” In each tale, Lad exhibits his pure strength of character as he fights off burglars, rescues an invalid child from a poisonous snake, wins ribbons in dog shows, and otherwise leads a dog-hero’s life. This is a period piece–a threatened puppy is described, for example, as “a blinking pygmy who gallantly essayed to growl defiance”–and that touch of fustian is all part of Terhune’s enduring charm. Because the stories didn’t originally appear together, there’s considerable repetition: nearly every story with a fight scene has the same authorial mini-lecture on the difference in fighting technique between collies and bulldogs. But Lad is a character who has poked his muzzle into a million hearts, and new generations of dog lovers will also appreciate his loyalty and courage. As Terhune himself wrote, “few… bothered to praise the stories, themselves. But all of them praised Lad, which pleased me far better.” (Ages 6 and older).” Amazon

Lassie Come-Home by Eric Knight

Ages 9-12. “Lassie is Joe’s prize collie and constant companion. But when Joe’s father loses his job, Lassie must be sold. Three times she escapes from her new owner, and three times she returns home to Joe, until finally she is taken to the remotest part of Scotland-too far a journey for any dog to make alone. But Lassie is not just any dog. First published in 1940, Lassie Come-Home has become one of the best-loved dog stories in the world.” Book Description

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Ages 9-12. “Author Wilson Rawls spent his boyhood much like the character of this book, Billy Colman, roaming the Ozarks of northeastern Oklahoma with his bluetick hound. A straightforward, shoot-from-the-hip storyteller with a searingly honest voice, Rawls is well-loved for this powerful 1961 classic and the award-winning novel Summer of the Monkeys. In Where the Red Fern Grows, Billy and his precious coonhound pups romp relentlessly through the Ozarks, trying to “tree” the elusive raccoon. In time, the inseparable trio wins the coveted gold cup in the annual coon-hunt contest, captures the wily ghost coon, and bravely fights with a mountain lion. When the victory over the mountain lion turns to tragedy, Billy grieves, but learns the beautiful old Native American legend of the sacred red fern that grows over the graves of his dogs. This unforgettable classic belongs on every child’s bookshelf. (Ages 9 and up).” Amazon

The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford

Ages 9-12. “Instinct told them that the way home lay to the west. And so the doughty young Labrador retriever, the roguish bull terrier and the indomitable Siamese set out through the Canadian wilderness. Separately, they would soon have died. But, together, the three house pets faced starvation, exposure, and wild forest animals to make their way home to the family they love. The Incredible Journey is one of the great children’s stories of all time–and has been popular ever since its debut in 1961.” Book Description

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Ages 9-12. “Because of Winn-Dixie, a big, ugly, happy dog, 10-year-old Opal learns 10 things about her long-gone mother from her preacher father. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal makes new friends among the somewhat unusual residents of her new hometown, Naomi, Florida. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal begins to find her place in the world and let go of some of the sadness left by her mother’s abandonment seven years earlier.

With her newly adopted, goofy pooch at her side, Opal explores her bittersweet world and learns to listen to other people’s lives. This warm and winning book hosts an unforgettable cast of characters, including a librarian who fought off a bear with a copy of War and Peace, an ex-con pet-store clerk who plays sweet music to his animal charges, and the neighborhood “witch,” a nearly blind woman who sees with her heart. Part Frankie (The Member of the Wedding), part Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird), Opal brings her own unique and wonderful voice to a story of friendship, loneliness, and acceptance. Opal’s down-home charm and dead-on honesty will earn her friends and fans far beyond the confines of Naomi, Florida. (Ages 9 and older).” Amazon

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

The Borrowers

Ages 9-12. “Anyone who has ever entertained the notion of “little people” living furtively among us will adore this artfully spun classic. The Borrowers–a Carnegie Medal winner, a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award book, and an ALA Distinguished Book–has stolen the hearts of thousands of readers since its 1953 publication. Mary Norton (1903-1993) creates a make-believe world in which tiny people live hidden from humankind beneath the floorboards of a quiet country house in England.

Pod, Homily, and daughter Arrietty of the diminutive Clock family outfit their subterranean quarters with the tidbits and trinkets they’ve “borrowed” from “human beans,” employing matchboxes for storage and postage stamps for paintings. Readers will delight in the resourceful way the Borrowers recycle household objects. For example, “Homily had made her a small pair of Turkish bloomers from two glove fingers for ‘knocking about in the mornings.'”

The persistent pilfering goes undetected until a boy (with a ferret!) comes to live in the country house. Curiosity drives Arrietty to commit the worst mistake a Borrower can make: she allows herself to be seen. This engaging, sometimes hair-raisingly suspenseful adventure is recounted in the kind, eloquent voice of narrator Mrs. May, whose brother might–just might–have seen an actual Borrower in the country house many years ago. (Ages 9 to 12).” Amazon

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Ages 9-12. “Maniac Magee is a folk story about a boy, a very excitable boy. One that can outrun dogs, hit a home run off the best pitcher in the neighborhood, tie a knot no one can undo. “Kid’s gotta be a maniac,” is what the folks in Two Mills say. It’s also the story of how this boy, Jeffrey Lionel “Maniac” Magee, confronts racism in a small town, tries to find a home where there is none and attempts to soothe tensions between rival factions on the tough side of town. Presented as a folk tale, it’s the stuff of storytelling. “The history of a kid,” says Jerry Spinelli, “is one part fact, two parts legend, and three parts snowball.” And for this kid, four parts of fun. Maniac Magee won the 1991 Newbery Medal.” Amazon

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Ages 9-12. “The evacuation of Jews from Nazi-held Denmark is one of the great untold stories of World War II. On September 29, 1943, word got out in Denmark that Jews were to be detained and then sent to the death camps. Within hours the Danish resistance, population and police arranged a small flotilla to herd 7,000 Jews to Sweden. Lois Lowry fictionalizes a true-story account to bring this courageous tale to life. She brings the experience to life through the eyes of 10-year-old Annemarie Johannesen, whose family harbors her best friend, Ellen Rosen, on the eve of the round-up and helps smuggles Ellen’s family out of the country. Number the Stars won the 1990 Newbery Medal.” Amazon

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater

Ages 6-10. “More than 60 years have not dated this wonderfully absurd tale–it still makes kids (and parents) laugh out loud. Poor Mr. Popper isn’t exactly unhappy; he just wishes he had seen something of the world before meeting Mrs. Popper and settling down. Most of all, he wishes he had seen the Poles, and spends his spare time between house-painting jobs reading all about polar explorations. Admiral Drake, in response to Mr. Popper’s fan letter, sends him a penguin; life at 432 Proudfoot Avenue is never the same again. From one penguin living in the icebox, the Popper family grows to include 12 penguins, all of whom must be fed. Thus is born “Popper’s Performing Penguins, First Time on Any Stage, Direct from the South Pole.” Their adventures while on tour are hilarious, with numerous slapstick moments as the penguins disrupt other acts and invade hotels. Classic chapter-a-night fun. (Ages 5 to 10).” Amazon

Holes by Louis Sachar

Ages 9-12. “If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy.” Such is the reigning philosophy at Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention facility where there is no lake, and there are no happy campers. In place of what used to be “the largest lake in Texas” is now a dry, flat, sunburned wasteland, pocked with countless identical holes dug by boys improving their character. Stanley Yelnats, of palindromic name and ill-fated pedigree, has landed at Camp Green Lake because it seemed a better option than jail. No matter that his conviction was all a case of mistaken identity, the Yelnats family has become accustomed to a long history of bad luck, thanks to their “no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather!” Despite his innocence, Stanley is quickly enmeshed in the Camp Green Lake routine: rising before dawn to dig a hole five feet deep and five feet in diameter; learning how to get along with the Lord of the Flies-styled pack of boys in Group D; and fearing the warden, who paints her fingernails with rattlesnake venom. But when Stanley realizes that the boys may not just be digging to build character–that in fact the warden is seeking something specific–the plot gets as thick as the irony.

It’s a strange story, but strangely compelling and lovely too. Louis Sachar uses poker-faced understatement to create a bizarre but believable landscape–a place where Major Major Major Major of Catch-22 would feel right at home. But while there is humor and absurdity here, there is also a deep understanding of friendship and a searing compassion for society’s underdogs. As Stanley unknowingly begins to fulfill his destiny–the dual plots coming together to reveal that fate has big plans in store–we can’t help but cheer for the good guys, and all the Yelnats everywhere. (Ages 10 and older)” Amazon

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Ages 9-12. “When an eccentric millionaire dies mysteriously, sixteen very unlikely people are gathered together for the reading of the will . . . and what a will it is!” Book Description

“A supersharp mystery . . . Confoundingly clever, and very funny.” Booklist, starred review

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Ages 9-12. “As in his Newbery Honor-winning debut, The Watsons Go to BirminghamA1963, Curtis draws on a remarkable and disarming mix of comedy and pathos, this time to describe the travails and adventures of a 10-year-old African-American orphan in Depression-era Michigan. Bud is fed up with the cruel treatment he has received at various foster homes, and after being locked up for the night in a shed with a swarm of angry hornets, he decides to run away. His goal: to reach the man, he on the flimsiest of evidence, believes to be his father, jazz musician Herman E. Calloway. Relying on his own ingenuity and good luck, Bud makes it to Grand Rapids, where his “father” owns a club. Calloway, who is much older and grouchier than Bud imagined, is none too thrilled to meet a boy claiming to be his long-lost son. It is the other members of his band Steady Eddie, Mr. Jimmy, Doug the Thug, Doo-Doo Bug Cross, Dirty Deed Breed and motherly Miss Thomas, who make Bud feel like he has finally arrived home. While the grim conditions of the times and the harshness of Bud’s circumstances are authentically depicted, Curtis shines on them an aura of hope and optimism. And even when he sets up a daunting scenario, he makes readers laugh, for example, mopping floors for the rejecting Calloway, Bud pretends the mop is “that underwater boat in the book Momma read to me, Twenty Thousand Leaks Under the Sea.” Bud’s journey, punctuated by Dickensian twists in plot and enlivened by a host of memorable personalities, will keep readers engrossed from first page to last. Ages 9-12.” Publishers Weekly

Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Ages 9-12. “When 11-year-old Marty Preston chances upon a mistreated beagle pup in his hometown of Friendly, West Virginia, he is not prepared for the ethical questions he has to face. Should he return the dog to its owner, only to have the animal abused again? Should he tell his parents? Should he steal food to help the poor creature? Marty’s efforts to cope with these questions provides the moral backbone for this story, which is presented in a language and manner that will be understood by third- and fourth-grade readers. The heart and beauty of this 1992 Newbery Medal winner lies in lessons children will take away with them. Amazon

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Ages 9-12. “When James drops magic crystals by the peach tree, the toy peach starts growing, and before long, it’s as big as a house, with a secret entranceway.” Book Description

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Ages 9-12. “Mistress Mary is quite contrary until she helps her garden grow. Along the way, she manages to cure her sickly cousin Colin, who is every bit as imperious as she. These two are sullen little peas in a pod, closed up in a gloomy old manor on the Yorkshire moors of England, until a locked-up garden captures their imaginations and puts the blush of a wild rose in their cheeks; “It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of roses which were so thick, that they matted together…. ‘No wonder it is still,’ Mary whispered. ‘I am the first person who has spoken here for ten years.'” As new life sprouts from the earth, Mary and Colin’s sour natures begin to sweeten. For anyone who has ever felt afraid to live and love, The Secret Garden‘s portrayal of reawakening spirits will thrill and rejuvenate. Frances Hodgson Burnett creates characters so strong and distinct, young readers continue to identify with them even 85 years after they were conceived. (Ages 9 to 12). Amazon

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Ages 9-12. “Sara Crewe is a gifted and well-mannered child, and Captain Crewe, her father, is an extraordinary wealthy man. So Miss Minchin, headmistress of Sara’s new boarding school in London, is pleased to treat Sara as her star pupil–a pampered little princess.

But suddenly, one dreadful day, Sara’s world collapses around her. All of her lovely things are taken from her and she is forbidden to associate with her friends. Her father has died penniless in India.

Miss Minchin can now show her greedy and meanspirited nature to its fullest. The little princess is reduced to a shabby drudge. But Sara does not break, and with the help of a monkey, an Indian lascar, and the strange, ailing gentleman next door, she not only survives her sufferings but help those around her.” Book Description

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol

Ages 9-12. “Leroy Brown, aka Encyclopedia Brown, is Idaville neighborhood’s ten-year-old star detective. With an uncanny knack for trivia, he solves mysteries for the neighborhood kids through his own detective agency. But his dad also happens to be the chief of the Idaville police department, and every night around the dinner table, Encyclopedia helps him solve his most baffling crimes. And with ten confounding mysteries in each book, not only does Encyclopedia have a chance to solve them, but the reader is given all the clues as well. Interactive and chock full of interesting bits of information—it’s classic Encyclopedia Brown!” Book Description

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Ages Y/A. “Since its publication in 1946, George Orwell’s fable of a workers’ revolution gone wrong has rivaled Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea as the Shortest Serious Novel It’s OK to Write a Book Report About. (The latter is three pages longer and less fun to read.) Fueled by Orwell’s intense disillusionment with Soviet Communism, Animal Farm is a nearly perfect piece of writing, both an engaging story and an allegory that actually works. When the downtrodden beasts of Manor Farm oust their drunken human master and take over management of the land, all are awash in collectivist zeal. Everyone willingly works overtime, productivity soars, and for one brief, glorious season, every belly is full. The animals’ Seven Commandment credo is painted in big white letters on the barn. All animals are equal. No animal shall drink alcohol, wear clothes, sleep in a bed, or kill a fellow four-footed creature. Those that go upon four legs or wings are friends and the two-legged are, by definition, the enemy. Too soon, however, the pigs, who have styled themselves leaders by virtue of their intelligence, succumb to the temptations of privilege and power. “We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of the farm depend on us. Day and night, we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.” While this swinish brotherhood sells out the revolution, cynically editing the Seven Commandments to excuse their violence and greed, the common animals are once again left hungry and exhausted, no better off than in the days when humans ran the farm. Satire Animal Farm may be, but it’s a stony reader who remains unmoved when the stalwart workhorse, Boxer, having given his all to his comrades, is sold to the glue factory to buy booze for the pigs. Orwell’s view of Communism is bleak indeed, but given the history of the Russian people since 1917, his pessimism has an air of prophecy.” Amazon

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Ages Y/A. “William Golding’s classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island is just as chilling and relevant today as when it was first published in 1954. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires. Overseeing their efforts are Ralph, “the boy with fair hair,” and Piggy, Ralph’s chubby, wisdom-dispensing sidekick whose thick spectacles come in handy for lighting fires. Although Ralph tries to impose order and delegate responsibility, there are many in their number who would rather swim, play, or hunt the island’s wild pig population. Soon Ralph’s rules are being ignored or challenged outright. His fiercest antagonist is Jack, the redheaded leader of the pig hunters, who manages to lure away many of the boys to join his band of painted savages. The situation deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall away, until Ralph discovers that instead of being hunters, he and Piggy have become the hunted: “He forgot his words, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet.” Golding’s gripping novel explores the boundary between human reason and animal instinct, all on the brutal playing field of adolescent competition.” Amazon

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Ages Y/A. “Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with “cynical adolescent.” Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.”

His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.” Amazon

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Ages Y/A. ““When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow…. When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.”

Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus–three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up.

Like the slow-moving occupants of her fictional town, Lee takes her time getting to the heart of her tale; we first meet the Finches the summer before Scout’s first year at school. She, her brother, and Dill Harris, a boy who spends the summers with his aunt in Maycomb, while away the hours reenacting scenes from Dracula and plotting ways to get a peek at the town bogeyman, Boo Radley. At first the circumstances surrounding the alleged rape of Mayella Ewell, the daughter of a drunk and violent white farmer, barely penetrate the children’s consciousness. Then Atticus is called on to defend the accused, Tom Robinson, and soon Scout and Jem find themselves caught up in events beyond their understanding. During the trial, the town exhibits its ugly side, but Lee offers plenty of counterbalance as well–in the struggle of an elderly woman to overcome her morphine habit before she dies; in the heroism of Atticus Finch, standing up for what he knows is right; and finally in Scout’s hard-won understanding that most people are essentially kind “when you really see them.” By turns funny, wise, and heartbreaking, To Kill a Mockingbird is one classic that continues to speak to new generations, and deserves to be reread often.” Amazon

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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Ages Y/A. “Novella by John Steinbeck, published in 1937. The tragic story, given poignancy by its objective narrative, is about the complex bond between two migrant laborers. The book, which was adapted by Steinbeck into a three-act play (produced 1937), earned him national renown. The plot centers on George Milton and Lennie Small, itinerant ranch hands who dream of one day owning a small farm. George acts as a father figure to Lennie, who is large and simpleminded, calming him and helping to rein in his immense physical strength. When Lennie accidentally kills the ranch owner’s flirtatious daughter-in-law, George shoots his friend rather than allow him to be captured by a vengeful lynch mob.” Merriam Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

Ages 12 and up. “According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser. This classic, written by S. E. Hinton when she was 16 years old, is as profound today as it was when it was first published in 1967.” Amazon

The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Ages Y/A. “The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway’s most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal — a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the classic theme of courage in the face of defeat, of personal triumph won from loss. Written in 1952, this hugely successful novella confirmed his power and presence in the literary world and played a large part in his winning the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature.” Book Description

Stuart Little by E. B. White

Ages 9-12. “How terribly surprised the Little family must have been when their second child turned out to be a small mouse. Apparently familiar with the axiom that “when in New York City, anything can happen,” the Littles accept young Stuart into their family unquestioningly–with the exception of Snowbell the cat who is unable to overcome his instinctive dislike for the little mouse. They build him a bed from a matchbox, and supply him with all of the accoutrements a young mouse could need. Mrs. Little even fashions him a suit, because baby clothes would obviously be unsuitable for such a sophisticated mouse. In return, Stuart helps his tall family with errant Ping-Pong balls that roll outside of their reach.

E. B. White takes Stuart on a hero’s quest across the American countryside, introducing the mouse–and the reader–to a myriad of delightful characters. Little finds himself embroiled in one adventure after another from the excitement of racing sailboats to the unseen horrors of substitute teaching. This is a story of leaving home for the first time, of growing up, and ultimately of discovering oneself. At times, doesn’t everyone feel like the sole mouse in a family–and a world–of extremely tall people? (Ages 9 to 12).” Amazon

The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker by Cynthia DeFelice

The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker

Ages 9-12. “Gr. 5-8. Lucas’ entire family has died, one by one, of tuberculosis, known as consumption in the mid-1800s. Wandering through the Connecticut countryside in grief, Lucas ends up becoming the new apprentice to Dr. Uriah M. Beecher, also the local dentist, apothecary, barber, and undertaker. Lucas’ new community is being decimated by consumption, and the local people want to try a technique rumored to work: digging up the remains of the first family member to die, removing and burning the heart, and breathing in the smoke. Dr. Beecher is certain this is useless at best, but Lucas feels sure it is worth a try. DeFelice skillfully gives readers enough historical information to see the reasoning behind the macabre practice and creates in Lucas a flesh and blood boy going through a most difficult time. Hand this title to students who have been assigned historical fiction and consider olden times to be boring.” Booklist

The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman

Ages 9-12. “When California Morning Whipple’s widowed mother uproots her family from their comfortable Massachusetts environs and moves them to a rough mining camp called Lucky Diggins in the Sierras, California Morning resents the upheaval. Desperately wanting to control something in her own life, she decides to be called Lucy, and as Lucy she grows and changes in her strange and challenging new environment. Here Karen Cushman helps the American Gold Rush spring to colorful life, just as she did for medieval England in her previous two books, Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife’s Apprentice, which won Newbery Honor status and a Newbery Medal respectively. For ages 8-12.” Amazon

The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop

Ages 9-12. “Grade 4-6 A satisfying quest fantasy with a strong element of modern realism which will appeal to a wide range of readers. Ten-year-old William is so distraught at the idea of his beloved housekeeper/nanny Mrs. Phillips returning to England that, with the aid of a magic token, he shrinks her into the size of the toy knight which inhabits a wooden castle that has been passed down in her family for generations. To undo his rash deed, William must be miniaturized himself and accompany the silver knight, Sir Simon, on a quest to overthrow Alastor, a wicked magician who long ago usurped the throne of what should have been Sir Simon’s kingdom. William’s pure and gentle heart enables him to triumph over both the magician and his own childish yearning to possess Mrs. Phillips. The plot is carefully constructed. William’s real-life situation is a strong component of the story rather than a device whereby he can enter the fantasy world. His too-busy parents and his struggle to be mature enough to let Mrs. Phillips go are juxtaposed with his quest and struggle to defeat Alastor. Both William and Mrs. Phillips are sympathetic, well-developed characters. In contrast, William’s pediatrician mother and architect father are sketchy, both in William’s emotional life and in the author’s realization of them. Adults may find the theme that a pure heart can triumph over evil is a bit overstated, and fantasy buffs may desire a more fully developed fantasy world, but for young readers new to fantasy this will be successful.” School Library Journal

Crispin : The Cross of Lead by Avi

Ages 9-12. “Set in 14th-century England, Avi’s (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle) 50th book begins with a funeral, that of a village outcast whose past is shrouded in mystery and whose adolescent son is known only as “Asta’s son.” Mired in grief for his mother, the boy learns his given name, Crispin, from the village priest, although his presumably dead father’s identity remains obscure. The words etched on his mother’s treasured lead cross may provide some clue, but the priest is murdered before he can tell the illiterate lad what they say. Worse, Crispin is fingered for the murder by the manor steward, who declares him a “wolf’s head” wanted dead or alive, preferably dead. Crispin flees, and falls in with a traveling juggler. “I have no name,” Crispin tells Bear, whose rough manners and appearance mask a tender heart. “No home, no kin, no place in this world.” How the boy learns his true identity (he’s the bastard son of the lord of the manor) and finds his place in the world makes for a rattling fine yarn. Avi’s plot is engineered for maximum thrills, with twists, turns and treachery aplenty, but it’s the compellingly drawn relationship between Crispin and Bear that provides the heart of this story. A page turner to delight Avi’s fans, it will leave readers hoping for a sequel. Ages 8-12.” Publishers Weekly

A Long Way From Chicago

Ages 9-12. “Newberry Award winner! National Book Award Finalist! A novel in stories. Joey remembers the days of childhood when he and his sister, Mary Alice, visited their grandmother.” Book Description

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

Ages 9-12. “Grandma Dowdel’s back! She’s just as feisty and terrifying and goodhearted as she was in Richard Peck’s A Long Way from Chicago, and every bit as funny. In the first book, a Newberry Honor winner, Grandma’s rampages were seen through the eyes of her grandson Joey, who, with his sister, Mary Alice, was sent down from Chicago for a week every summer to visit. But now it’s 1937 and Joey has gone off to work for the Civilian Conservation Corps, while 15-year-old Mary Alice has to go stay with Grandma alone–for a whole year, maybe longer. From the very first moment when she arrives at the depot clutching her Philco portable radio and her cat, Bootsie, Mary Alice knows it won’t be easy. And it’s not. She has to sleep alone in the attic, attend a hick town school where in spite of her worn-out coat she’s “the rich girl from Chicago,” and be an accomplice in Grandma’s outrageous schemes to run the town her own way–and do good while nobody’s looking. But being Grandma’s sidekick is always interesting, and by the end of the year, Mary Alice has grown to see the formidable love in the heart of her formidable Grandma.

Peck is at his best with these hilarious stories that rest solidly within the American literary tradition of Mark Twain and Bret Harte. Teachers will cherish them as great read-alouds, and older teens will gain historical perspective from this lively picture of the depression years in small-town America. (Ages 12 and older).” Amazon

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Ages 14 and up. “Grade 8-12 Brian Robeson, 13, is the only passenger on a small plane flying him to visit his father in the Canadian wilderness when the pilot has a heart attack and dies. The plane drifts off course and finally crashes into a small lake. Miraculously Brian is able to swim free of the plane, arriving on a sandy tree-lined shore with only his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother had given him as a present. The novel chronicles in gritty detail Brian’s mistakes, setbacks, and small triumphs as, with the help of the hatchet, he manages to survive the 54 days alone in the wilderness. Paulsen effectively shows readers how Brian learns patienceto watch, listen, and think before he actsas he attempts to build a fire, to fish and hunt, and to make his home under a rock overhang safe and comfortable. An epilogue discussing the lasting effects of Brian’s stay in the wilderness and his dim chance of survival had winter come upon him before rescue adds credibility to the story. Paulsen tells a fine adventure story, but the sub-plot concerning Brian’s preoccupation with his parents’ divorce seems a bit forced and detracts from the book. As he did in Dogsong (Bradbury, 1985), Paulsen emphasizes character growth through a careful balancing of specific details of survival with the protagonist’s thoughts and emotions.” School Library Journal

“This Newbery Honor book is a dramatic, heart-stopping story of a boy who, following a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness, must learn to survive with only a hatchet and his own wits. Ages 12-up.” Publishers Weekly

The River by Gary Paulsen

Ages 10 and up. “In a boxed review, PW praised the “terse, heart-stopping prose” of this follow-up to Hatchet : “The new adventure is as riveting as its predecessor . . . the psychological terrain of the sequel is fresh and distinct.” Ages 10-14. Publishers Weekly

This sequel to Gary Paulsen’s award-winning Hatchet, finds fifteen-year-old Brian returning to the Canadian wilderness where he had been stranded alone after a plane crash two years earlier. The story is self-contained, not dependent on its predecessor. AudioFile

Soldier’s Heart : Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers by Gary Paulsen

Ages 12 andup. “In spare, almost biblical prose, Gary Paulsen writes of the horrors of combat in a Civil War novella that puts a powerful, more contemporary spin on Stephen Crane’s classic The Red Badge of Courage. Based on the life of a real boy, it tells the story of Charley Goddard, who lies his way into the Union Army at the age of 15. Charley has never been anyplace beyond Winona, Minnesota, and thinks war would be a great adventure. And it is–at first–as his regiment marches off through cheering crowds and pretty, flag-waving girls. But then comes the battle. Charley screams, “Make it stop now!” disbelieving that anything so horrible could be real. Paulsen is unsparing in the details of what actually happens on the battlefield: the living men suddenly blown into pieces, the agony and fear, the noise and terror, the stinking corpses. After many battles, Charley is wounded and sent home an old man before he is 20, his will to live destroyed by combat fatigue–leaving him with a “soldier’s heart.” Paulsen has received the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the ALAN Award, and several Newbery Honor awards for previous work, but this superb, small masterpiece transcends any of his earlier titles in its remarkable, memorable intensity and power. (Ages 12 to 15).” Amazon

Although many of these books have been made into movies, I purposefully left those off for now – I will do a matching list later. But I wanted to focus on the books, and encourage kids to read, rather than just watch the movie version. Enjoy! Part III and At the Movies for Classic Kids coming soon…

More Great reads in SF/Fantasy for young adults

“The Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, named to honor prolific science fiction and fantasy author Andre Norton (1912-2005), is a yearly juried award presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America(SFWA) to the author of an outstanding young adult science Fiction or fantasy book published in the previous year. ” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andre_Norton_Award

The two previous winners were: Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie by Holly Black (2005) and by Justine Larbalestier (2006). While I’m not familiar with either book, I have no doubt, since it is a juried award by SF writers, that they are worth a look. The Wiki site lists the other nominees, so it’s a good source to keep an eye on for outstanding SF/Fantasy.

Tale of Faerie Magic or Madness

Also, one I’m looking at, since I have two girls, but haven’t read yet is: Private Practices: Girls Reading Fiction And Constructing Identity (Critical Perspectives of Literacy and Education) by Meredith Cherla. Since it mentions Lloyd Alexander, it can’t be all bad : ) But at $170 it will have to be from the library, if they even have it!

A few stories for the younger readers:

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo: “a charming story of unlikely heroes whose destinies entwine to bring about a joyful resolution. Foremost is Despereaux, a diminutive mouse who, as depicted in Ering’s pencil drawings, is one of the most endearing of his ilk ever to appear in children’s books. His mother, who is French, declares him to be ‘such the disappointment’ at his birth and the rest of his family seems to agree that he is very odd: his ears are too big and his eyes open far too soon and they all expect him to die quickly. Of course, he doesn’t. Then there is the human Princess Pea, with whom Despereaux falls deeply (one might say desperately) in love. She appreciates him despite her father’s prejudice against rodents. Next is Roscuro, a rat with an uncharacteristic love of light and soup. Both these predilections get him into trouble. And finally, there is Miggery Sow, a peasant girl so dim that she believes she can become a princess. With a masterful hand, DiCamillo weaves four story lines together in a witty, suspenseful narrative that begs to be read aloud.” School Library Journal

This is one my 14 year old loves and has read a number of times – charming illustrations and four story threads weave together a delightful tale of human and rat societies. She’s been reading it to me!

A Tale of Despereaux

And The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulaneby Kate Dicamillo: “This achingly beautiful story shows a true master of writing at her very best. Edward Tulane is an exceedingly vain, cold-hearted china rabbit owned by 10-year-old Abilene Tulane, who dearly loves him. Her grandmother relates a fairy tale about a princess who never felt love; she then whispers to Edward that he disappoints her. His path to redemption begins when he falls overboard during the family’s ocean journey. Sinking to the bottom of the sea where he will spend 297 days, Edward feels his first emotion–fear. Caught in a fisherman’s net, he lives with the old man and his wife and begins to care about his humans. Then their adult daughter takes him to the dump, where a dog and a hobo find him. They ride the rails together until Edward is cruelly separated from them. His heart is truly broken when next owner, four-year-old Sarah Ruth, dies. He recalls Abilene’s grandmother with a new sense of humility, wishing she knew that he has learned to love. When his head is shattered by an angry man, Edward wants to join Sarah Ruth but those he has loved convince him to live. Repaired by a doll store owner, he closes his heart to love, as it is too painful, until a wise doll tells him that he that he must open his heart for someone to love him. This superb book is beautifully written in spare yet stirring language. The tender look at the changes from arrogance to grateful loving is perfectly delineated. Ibatoullines lovely sepia-toned gouache illustrations and beautifully rendered color plates are exquisite. An ever-so-marvelous tale.” a starred review from School Library Journal

Edward Tulane

These two books are for young people, but older readers and adults will find these fantasy tales charming, and delightful. I know I did! And one I haven’t read, but I enjoy all his work for older readers is:

The Wolves in the Wallsby Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean: “Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s picture book The Wolves in the Walls is terrifying. Sure, the story is fairytale-like and presented in a jaunty, casually nonsensical way, but it is absolutely the stuff of nightmares. Lucy hears wolves hustling, bustling, crinkling, and crackling in the walls of the old house where her family lives, but no one believes her. Her mother says it’s mice, her brother says bats, and her father says what everyone seems to say, “If the wolves come out of the walls, it’s all over.” Lucy remains convinced, as is her beloved pig-puppet, and her worst fears are confirmed when the wolves actually do come out of the walls.” Amazon.com

Wolves in the Wall

Pre-teen

The Book of Three (Prydain Chronicles) (Black Cauldron series) by Lloyd Alexander: “The tale of Taran, assistant pig keeper, has been entertaining young readers for generations. Set in the mythical land of Prydain (which bears a more than passing resemblance to Wales), Lloyd Alexander’s book draws together the elements of the hero’s journey from unformed boy to courageous young man. Taran grumbles with frustration at home in the hamlet Caer Dallben; he yearns to go into battle like his hero, Prince Gwydion. Before the story is over, he has met his hero and fought the evil leader who threatens the peace of Prydain: the Horned King.” Amazon.com

My oldest read these 6 books in the series more times than I can count, and eventually we got her a lovely hardcover set, which she still (at 19) keeps out, and I think secretly reads. She had me read them to her: even though she’d already read them – she wanted to share them with me. They are enjoyable, and a bit easier on the reader than the Lord of the Rings trilogy and less allegorical than the Chronicles of Narnia.

The Book of Three

Things Not Seenby Andrew Clements: “Teens, especially those not in the über-popular set, know all about feeling invisible. But what would happen if you actually did wake up invisible one day? Fifteen-year-old Bobby is faced with this curious predicament in Andrew Clements’s compelling novel Things Not Seen. Doing his best to adapt, Bobby informs his parents and grows more and more frustrated as they try to control his (unseen) life. Attempting to take matters in his own hands, he ventures out–naked–to the library, where he meets a blind girl who becomes a natural confidant. The ensuing drama, involving a nationwide search for other invisible people and a break-in to the computer database at Sears, Roebuck legal department headquarters (‘News flash: Invisible people make excellent spies and thieves’) is authentic enough in detail to allow readers to overlook the nuttiness of it all. Teens will identify with Bobby’s experience of being essentially invisible. Highly recommended.” Amazon.com

This one I haven’t personally read, but his books are popular and the story-line is great – something all kids can identify with, if not actually dream of…

Things Not Seen

Among the Hidden (The Shadow Children) by Margaret Peterson Haddix: “Born third at a time when having more than two children per family is illegal and subject to seizure and punishment by the Population Police, Luke has spent all of his 12 years in hiding. His parents disobeyed once by having him and are determined not to do anything unlawful again. At first the woods around his family’s farm are thick enough to conceal him when he plays and works outdoors, but when the government develops some of that land for housing, his world narrows to just the attic. Gazing through an air vent at new homes, he spies a child’s face at a window after the family of four has already left for the day. Is it possible that he is not the only hidden child? Answering this question brings Luke greater danger than he has ever faced before, but also greater possibilities for some kind of life outside of the attic. This is a near future of shortages and deprivation where widespread famines have led to a totalitarian government that controls all aspects of its citizens’ lives. When the boy secretly ventures outside the attic and meets the girl in the neighboring house, he learns that expressing divergent opinions openly can lead to tragedy. To what extent is he willing to defy the government in order to have a life worth living? As in Haddix’s Running Out of Time (S & S, 1995), the loss of free will is the fundamental theme of an exciting and compelling story of one young person defying authority and the odds to make a difference. Readers will be captivated by Luke’s predicament and his reactions to it.” School Library Journal

This is one my oldest daughter (along with the rest of the series) absolutely loved. We have a nice boxed set, so it’s one of the “treasured” ones.

Among the Hidden

Gathering Blueby Lois Lowry: “After conjuring the pitfalls of a technologically advanced society in The Giver, Lowry looks toward a different type of future to create this dark, prophetic tale with a strong medieval flavor. Having suffered numerous unnamed disasters (aka, the Ruin), civilization has regressed to a primitive, technology-free state; an opening author’s note describes a society in which ‘disorder, savagery, and self-interest’ rule. Kira, a crippled young weaver, has been raised and taught her craft by her mother, after her father was allegedly killed by ‘beasts.’ When her mother dies, Kira fears that she will be cast out of the village. Instead, the society’s Council of Guardians installs her as caretaker of the Singer’s robe, a precious ceremonial garment depicting the history of the world and used at the annual Gathering. She moves to the Council Edifice, a gothic-style structure, one of the few to survive the Ruin. The edifice and other settings, such as the Fen, the village ghetto, and the small plot where Annabella (an elder weaver who mentors Kira after her mother’s death) lives are especially well drawn, and the characterizations of Kira and the other artists who cohabit the stone residence are the novel’s greatest strength. But the narrative hammers at the theme of the imprisoned artist. And readers may well predict where several important plot threads are headed (e.g., the role of Kira’s Guardian, Jamison; her father’s disappearance), while larger issues, such as the society’s downfall, are left to readers’ imaginations.” Publisher’s Weekly

This one is supposedly a “companion” volume to The Giver, discussed in a previous post, but actually is completely a stand-alone book, but delves into some of the same issues, but with a totally different setting. Recommended, as are all her books.

Gathering Blue

Coralineby Neil Gaiman: “British novelist Gaiman (American Gods; Stardust) and his long-time accomplice McKean (collaborators on a number of Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novels as well as The Day I Swapped My Dad for 2 Goldfish) spin an electrifyingly creepy tale likely to haunt young readers for many moons. After Coraline and her parents move into an old house, Coraline asks her mother about a mysterious locked door. Her mother unlocks it to reveal that it leads nowhere: ‘When they turned the house into flats, they simply bricked it up,’ her mother explains. But something about the door attracts the girl, and when she later unlocks it herself, the bricks have disappeared. Through the door, she travels a dark corridor (which smells ‘like something very old and very slow’) into a world that eerily mimics her own, but with sinister differences. ‘I’m your other mother,’ announces a woman who looks like Coraline’s mother, except ‘her eyes were big black buttons.’ Coraline eventually makes it back to her real home only to find that her parents are missing–they’re trapped in the shadowy other world, of course, and it’s up to their scrappy daughter to save them. Gaiman twines his taut tale with a menacing tone and crisp prose fraught with memorable imagery (‘Her other mother’s hand scuttled off Coraline’s shoulder like a frightened spider’), yet keeps the narrative just this side of terrifying. The imagery adds layers of psychological complexity (the button eyes of the characters in the other world vs. the heroine’s increasing ability to distinguish between what is real and what is not; elements of Coraline’s dreams that inform her waking decisions). McKean’s scratchy, angular drawings, reminiscent of Victorian etchings, add an ominous edge that helps ensure this book will be a real bedtime-buster.” Publisher’s Weekly

I adore Gaiman’s fiction for adults – his Nevermoresimply blew me away – but this one is for the young ones, and about time. It’s rare that SciFi authors write for youth, and there should be more out there. To balance out the fantasy, and give more, and better, representation of SciFi for young readers – after all, many scientist and astronauts, etc., have said that reading SciFi as a youth set them on the path they are now on.

Coraline

Running Out of Timeby Margaret Peterson Haddix: “This absorbing novel develops an unusual premise into the gripping story of a young girl’s efforts to save her family and friends from a deadly disease. Jessie Keyser, 13, believes that the year is 1840. In truth, she and her family, along with a small group of others, live in a reconstructed village viewed by unseen modern tourists and used as an experimental site by unethical scientists. Jessie discovers the truth when her mother asks her to leave the village and seek medical help for the diptheria epidemic that has struck the children of the community. Jessie must cope with the shock of her discovery; her unfamiliarity with everyday phenomena such as cars, telephones, and television; and the unscrupulous men who are manipulating the villagers. The action moves swiftly, with plenty of suspense, and readers will be eager to discover how Jessie overcomes the obstacles that stand in her way. While she is ultimately successful, the ending is not entirely a happy one, for several children have died and others are placed in foster care to await resolution of the complex situation. This realistically ambiguous ending reflects the author’s overall success in making her story, however far-fetched, convincing and compelling. Haddix also handles characterization well; even secondary characters who are somewhat sketchily drawn never descend into stereotype. This book will appeal to fans of time-travel or historical novels as well as those who prefer realistic contemporary fiction, all of whom will look forward to more stories from this intriguing new author.” School Library Journal

My oldest daughter really enjoyed this one, although my younger one hasn’t read it yet. It’s interesting to see, how within the same genre, each likes her own books. The oldest likes more conceptual stuff, the younger, more animal books (like The Sight) and adventure stories.

Running Out of Time

The Akhenaten Adventure (The Children of the Lamp) by P.B. Kerr: “You can tell from the very first page that P. B. Kerr had great fun writing his novel, The Akhenaten Adventure. The way the author introduces his cleverly named characters, the atmospheric setting, the fun tone of his narration–all indicate that a hugely entertaining story is in store. The first installment of his Children of the Lamp sequence is set firmly in the present day, but it soon breaks away and encompasses several wonderfully colorful parts of the globe, England and Egypt included.

John and Philippa Gaunt, two twelve-year-old not-very-identical twins, live a privileged life on the Upper East of Manhattan with their wealthy parents and two curiously-mannered Rottweilers named Alan and Neil. The twins realize there’s something amiss with their world when a string of strange things begin to happen after their wisdom teeth are extracted–they dream the same dreams, become stronger, their zits clear up, and wishes wished in their presence inexplicably come true. And, when their estranged Uncle Nimrod asks them to come to England for the summer during one such shared dream, the discovery of their destiny is set in motion.

John and Phillippa discover that they are descended from a long line of Djinn, have great inherent powers. They must call on these powers a lot sooner than they anticipated, though, because the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten is not as dead as history has so far declared and his legion of seventy magical djinn could tip the balance of power in the magical realm and affect the whole world order.

P.B. Kerr, under his given name Philip Kerr, is the author of several bestselling thrillers for adult readers. His debut novel for children is a slick, zeitgeisty fantasy adventure that is sure to win him a new raft of fans. The Blue Djinn of Babylon is next up for those who get hooked. ” Amazon.com

Now I have read Kerr’s adult works, some of which as I recall are virus thrillers, one of my favorite sub-genres. And I know my youngest enjoyed this one recently, at around age 12-13, but younger, mature readers should have no problem with it.

The Akhenaten Adventure (Children Of The Lamp)

Operation Red Jericho(The Guild of Specialists) by Joshua Mowll: “Excerpts from 15-year-old Becca’s diary interspersed with third-person narrative combine to produce a tale of high adventure, intrigue, and science fiction along the China coast in 1920. Following their parents’ mysterious disappearance in the remote Sinkiang region, Becca and her younger brother, Doug, are sent from their home in India to live with their sea-captain uncle, whose research vessel they board in Shanghai. Through their inquisitiveness and spying, they learn of a secret society that may have had something to do with their parents’ fate and of a very volatile substance called zoridium that their uncle is trying to retrieve from an evil warlord. Their curiosity leads to their capture and captivity on his island fortress–the site of a rousing showdown that sets the stage for the second volume in this trilogy. Memorable, over-the-top characters and an often unbelievable plot are united with fascinating sidebars and graphics, such as short biographies of people like Bohr and Einstein, archival photographs of old Shanghai, vintage newspaper clippings, a chart of the Morse code, diagrams of inventions, or Doug’s sketches of the action scenes. Several confidential full-color pull-outs provide detailed descriptions of the various vessels and of an ancient fighting order, the Sujing Quantou. Some readers may pore over the details in this novel; others will simply appreciate the comic adventure.” School Library Journal

This one I haven’t read yet, but the book is stunning visually, and a unique, fresh approach to the genre, and I have it in my TBR pile.

The Guild Specialists Book 1 (The Guild of Specialists)

Howl’s Moving Castleby Diana Wynne Jones: “Sophie Hatter reads a great deal and soon realizes that as the eldest of three daughters she is doomed to an uninteresting future. She resigns herself to making a living as a hatter and helping her younger sisters prepare to make their fortunes. But adventure seeks her out in the shop where she sits alone, dreaming over her hats. The wicked Witch of the Waste, angered by “competition” in the area, turns her into a old woman, so she seeks refuge inside the strange moving castle of the wizard Howl. Howl, advertised by his apprentice as an eater of souls, lives a mad, frantic life trying to escape the curse the witch has placed on him, find the perfect girl of his dreams and end the contract he and his fire demon have entered. Sophie, against her best instincts and at first unaware of her own powers, falls in love. So goes this intricate, humorous and puzzling tale of fantasy and adventure which should both challenge and involve readers. Jones has created an engaging set of characters and found a new use for many of the appurtenances of fairy tales: seven league boots and invisible cloaks, among others. At times, the action becomes so complex that readers may have to go back to see what actually happened, and at the end so many loose ends have to be tied up at once that it’s dizzying. Yet Jones’ inventiveness never fails, and her conclusion is infinitely satisfying.” School Library Journal

This is one that we have enjoyed in all its incarnations: as the book, as Hayao Miyazaki’s animated masterpiece from Studio Ghibli, and by the picture book that accompanies the movie. A Best Bet!

Howl's Moving Castle

A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones: “High-spirited time travel fantasy that is sure to delight its readers. When 11-year-old Vivian Smith is evacuated from London in 1939, she expects to end up in the peaceful British countryside. Instead she is kidnapped by two youthful time travellers who mistake her for the ‘Time Lady’ and whisk her off to Time City, a richly imagined alternative world which exists in time but not in history. Time City observers, Viv learns, have reason to believe that the Time Lady, the wife of the founder of Time City, a mysterious Merlin figure, is at large in history and is busily altering it, thereby endangering not only the historical world but Time City itself. If Vivian is to return to her own world and time, it will be necessary for her to help her kidnappers foil the Time Lady first. That almost nothing whether person or incident is precisely what it appears to be at first encounter both complicates Vivian’s task and delights readers. This ability to surprise has become a Diana Wynne Jones signature, as have her unflagging inventiveness and almost uncanny ability to create imaginary worlds of resounding reality, a capacity based in part on her attention to detail and in part on her capacity to create believable and sympathetic characters. All of these gifts are in abundant evidence in A Tale of Time City which is, accordingly, absolutely first-rate entertainment. And to her fans, this will be one of the few things about her new book which will come as no surprise!” School Library Journal

This one was one of the best my oldest daughter and I read together, and that was years ago – and I still recall the book – no mean feat. I was intrigued and enjoyed it thoroughly, so much so that I plan to read it again, and also to read some of hers I have missed. For older pre-teens, teens, and adults!

Tale of Time City

Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster: “‘It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time,’ Milo laments. ‘[T]here’s nothing for me to do, nowhere I’d care to go, and hardly anything worth seeing.’ This bored, bored young protagonist who can’t see the point to anything is knocked out of his glum humdrum by the sudden and curious appearance of a tollbooth in his bedroom. Since Milo has absolutely nothing better to do, he dusts off his toy car, pays the toll, and drives through. What ensues is a journey of mythic proportions, during which Milo encounters countless odd characters who are anything but dull.

Norton Juster received (and continues to receive) enormous praise for this original, witty, and oftentimes hilarious novel, first published in 1961. In an introductory ‘Appreciation’ written by Maurice Sendak for the 35th anniversary edition, he states, ‘The Phantom Tollbooth leaps, soars, and abounds in right notes all over the place, as any proper masterpiece must.’ Indeed.

As Milo heads toward Dictionopolis he meets with the Whether Man (‘for after all it’s more important to know whether there will be weather than what the weather will be’), passes through The Doldrums (populated by Lethargarians), and picks up a watchdog named Tock (who has a giant alarm clock for a body). The brilliant satire and double entendre intensifies in the Word Market, where after a brief scuffle with Officer Short Shrift, Milo and Tock set off toward the Mountains of Ignorance to rescue the twin Princesses, Rhyme and Reason. Anyone with an appreciation for language, irony, or Alice in Wonderland-style adventure will adore this book for years on end.” Amazon.com

This is one book that has stood the test of time. It’s fun, wildly inventive, and yet tells all sorts of “lessons” about math, english and other subjects in such a way that kids never know they are being taught something. Definitely a must-have for all bookshelves.

Phantom Tollbooth

Teens:

Dark Lord of Derkholmby Diana Wynne Jones: “On a par with Jones’s best (Charmed Life; Fire and Hemlock), this expansive novel manages to be both an affectionate send-up of the sword-and-sorcery genre and a thrilling fantasy adventure in its own right. Something is decidedly rotten in the enchantment-laden world in which teenage fledgling wizard Blade has grown up. Each year, the country’s magical agrarian economy is disrupted by the Pilgrim Parties, tourists from a world much like ours, come in search of Tolkienesque adventure. Organized by the sinister and implacably bureaucratic Mr. Chesney (‘A Dark Lord’s citadel must always be a black castle with a labyrinthine interior lit by baleful fire, you will find our specifications in the guide Mr. Addis will give you’), the Pilgrim Parties are in fact highly choreographed package tours. The local population is bullied, cajoled and paid hard cash to participate, all because of a deal struck with a demon some 40 years ago. This year’s appointee to the onerous post of Dark Lord (who must act as chief villain and tour-coordinator) is Blade’s mild-mannered father, Derk, who would far rather spend his time creating marvelous new animals (he already has flying pigs, talking horses and clever geese). When an encounter with a dragon puts Derk out of commission, Blade’s entire family, including his five griffin siblings, must help. As elaborate charades are staged for the tours, a deeper magic also emerges which (in combination with some hilariously banal legalities) offers the hope of release from Mr. Chesney’s domination. Thought-provoking and utterly engaging, this tour-de-force succeeds on numerous levels. The marvelously characterized griffins are a particularly noteworthy pleasure.” Publisher’s Weekly

This one we haven’t read yet, but it sits on the shelf, begging for time to read it. The plot sounds like the most fun you can have outside DisneyWorld (or more so!). Anything by Wynne Jones is a must-read.

Dark Lord of Derkholm

Sight by David Clement-Davies: “In an epic tale of good and evil, legend and history, and the blessing and curse of an extraordinary gift of the Sight (an ability to see through others’ minds and into the future), David Clement-Davies obliges the many fans of Fire Bringer with a new fantasy novel. The Sightfeatures a Transylvanian wolf clan faced with the terrifying changes brought about by Morgra, a bitter she-wolf determined to fulfill an ancient legend in order to have supreme power over all Vargs (wolves). Young Larka, a white wolf pup born with the Sight, embarks with her brother Fell and the rest of her family on an extraordinary quest for truth and salvation, with shocking consequences that even the most astute reader may not foresee. Clement-Davies’s multilayered and elaborate plot will keep young readers riveted for hours on end, drawing on Christianity, fairy tales, and mythology in a colossal allegory and cautionary tale for its human audience.” Amazon.com

Now this is one my youngest enjoyed thoroughly – it is dog-eared from bringing it to school to read in any pocket of time she could find. She also enjoyed the sequel, The Fell.

The Sight

The Great Tree of Avalon(Children of the Dark Prophecy) by T.A. Barron: “In this first installment in a new series, Barron reimagines the legendary world of Avalon as a gigantic tree, with a separate realm located on each of its seven roots and stars hanging in the unseen branches far atop its trunk. A crippling drought has brought the realm to the verge of warfare, and 17-year-old Tamwyn and his bickering companions seek the advice of the fabled Lady of the Lake. Tamwyn fears he’s the child of the Dark Prophecy, foretold centuries ago as the one who would destroy Avalon, and he wants desperately to change his destiny and save his beloved world. With its mixture of high fantasy and slapstick humor, the tale resembles Barron’s ‘The Lost Years of Merlin‘ series and Lloyd Alexander’s ‘Chronicles of Prydain’. Despite loads of goofiness and violence, the plot moves rather slowly through lengthy introductions of the large cast and descriptions of the Great Tree. While the characters and setting are interesting, this is clearly the prologue to a much longer saga: all beginning, with no middle or end. The story will appeal most to devoted fantasy readers, particularly fans of the ‘Merlin‘ series, who will recognize details from the earlier books and try to guess how the epics will converge.” School Library Journal

Although one is still in the TBR (to be read) pile, it caught my eye, and he has a good, solid reputation as an author of books for younger teens.

Great Tree of Avalon

The Looking Glass Warsby Frank Beddor: “Frank Beddor’s imaginative tale is definitely not your grandmother’s ALICE. Herein, Wonderland is an alternate universe, the source of all creativity in our world. On Princess Alyss Heart’s seventh birthday, her Aunt Redd seizes power in a bloody takeover. Alyss escapes to Victorian England. Outstanding as always, Gerard Doyle [narrator in the Book on Tape] mirrors Alyss’s fury at the Reverend Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) when he turns her life into a silly children’s story. Doyle also delivers her desperate confusion as she begins to doubt her memories of Wonderland. Beddor’s neat twists on the original clever weaponry, innovative solutions, a host of entertaining (if groan-producing) puns, and Doyle’s use of onomatopoeia through the numerous battle sequences guarantee that listeners of all ages will enjoy this first in what promises to be a wild and wondrous trilogy.” AudioFile

Also in our TBR pile, this one is definitately one for Teens and not the younger set – more about the battles for Wonderland than the whimiscial side, it might appeal to male readers, who usually are not as interested in Fantasy books (The Sight series might appeal to them as well, as would Operation Red Jericho).

Looking Glass Wars

I hope you enjoyed this trip through our bookshelves. As usual, more will be forthcoming as I drag in other parents for their favorites, dig through our boxes, and write about ones I’ve seen recommended. All of the pre-teen books are “clean” and suitable for age 8 and up. The teen books, since I haven’t read some of them, esp. Twilight, might be more mature in themes, but most of them are suitable for 12 and up.

Reading is for fun people!

Great reads for pre-teens and teens in SF/Fantasy

Since I love SciFi, although not much fantasy, when it came time to help my youngest (and my oldest to some extent, although she was more pre-Harry Potter, and thus didn’t have the new wave of SF/Fantasy for pre-teens and teens), I picked books that were in that area. I did not include the obvious, like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter (7 volume set), Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time set, or Undersea series (6 books) by Ursula K. Le Guin, as they are long-standing classics. I have others I will cover in another post.

So here are some of my Picks from recent years, grouped by age, although some are hard to pin down – I enjoyed them, so all ages could enjoy the younger books, unless they scorn to read something soooo juvenile. : )

I’ll quote from Amazon’s reviews, and add a few comments of my own.

Pre-teens:

Gregor, the Overlander (and sequels) by Suzanne Collins: “What if Alice fell down an air vent in a New York City apartment building instead of down a rabbit hole? Collins considers a similar possibility in her exceptional debut novel, a well-written, fast-moving, action-packed fantasy. Eleven-year-old Gregor expects a long, boring summer of baby-sitting his two-year-old sister, Boots, and his senile grandmother. Distracted with thoughts about his father, who disappeared three years ago, Gregor belatedly notices that Boots has crawled into an air vent in the laundry room. He dives in after her, and the two are sucked downward into the Underland, a fantastic subterranean world of translucent-skinned, violet-eyed humans, and giant talking cockroaches, bats, spiders, and rats. Eventually, the terrified Gregor is transformed into a warrior hero who leads a successful battle against an army of invading rats and discovers his father, who has long been held prisoner by the enemy. Collins creates a fascinating, vivid, highly original world and a superb story to go along with it, and Gregor is endearing as a caring, responsible big brother who rises triumphantly to every challenge.” Booklist

This series I truly enjoyed reading out-loud to my younger daughter. It was fun, full of wonderful characters, and a rat you will never forget. A Don’t Miss book

Gregor the Overlander

City of Ember(and sequels) by Jeanne DuPrau: “It is always night in the city of Ember. But there is no moon, no stars. The only light during the regular twelve hours of “day” comes from floodlamps that cast a yellowish glow over the streets of the city. Beyond are the pitch-black Unknown Regions, which no one has ever explored because an understanding of fire and electricity has been lost, and with it the idea of a Moveable Light. “Besides,” they tell each other, “there is nowhere but here” Among the many other things the people of Ember have forgotten is their past and a direction for their future. For 250 years they have lived pleasantly, because there has been plenty of everything in the vast storerooms. But now there are more and more empty shelves–and more and more times when the lights flicker and go out, leaving them in terrifying blackness for long minutes. What will happen when the generator finally fails?

Twelve-year-old Doon Harrow and Lina Mayfleet seem to be the only people who are worried. They have just been assigned their life jobs–Lina as a messenger, which leads her to knowledge of some unsettling secrets, and Doon as a Pipeworker, repairing the plumbing in the tunnels under the city where a river roars through the darkness. But when Lina finds a very old paper with enigmatic “Instructions for Egress,” they use the advantages of their jobs to begin to puzzle out the frightening and dangerous way to the city of light of which Lina has dreamed. As they set out on their mission, the haunting setting and breathless action of this stunning first novel will have teens clamoring for a sequel.” Amazon.com

A great series, and one which I, as an adult, was never bored with. Not to be missed – The sequels aren’t as strong, IMO, but worth reading for the moral lessons – I haven’t read the third one yet – too many stacked up!.

City of Ember

Levin Thumps and the Gateway to Foo (and sequels) by Obert Skye: “This imaginative and entertaining young adult fantasy novel successfully depicts an unusual boy’s coming of age. Oklahoma orphan teen Leven Thumps has a hidden and powerful talent: he can glimpse, and then manipulate, the future. He is also the only person on the planet who can protect the gateway to Foo, a mythical realm whose existence ensures that human beings in this reality retain the ability to dream, hope and imagine. Sabine, the wicked ruler of Foo, wants to extend his tyranny by ruling this world as well-but if that happens, no one on Earth would ever be able to dream again. As Lev hurries to find the gateway between the two worlds before Sabine does, he encounters several friends to help him: Winter, a bright 13-year-old girl who can instantly freeze things and people just by wishing it; Clover, an adorable, foot-high furry creature from Foo who has been assigned as Lev’s companion (and, apparently, as comic relief); and Geth, the wise but displaced king of Foo, who alone knows the full secret of the gateway. Obert Skye’s imagined world of Foo contains many whimsical and delightful elements, such as Humble Pie that apologizes for its own flavor and promises to taste better next time, and candy that temporarily rearranges its chewer’s body parts.” Publisher’s Weekly

While I didn’t read this one, and the editorial reviews were mixed on the prose and adult characters, I know my daughter loved the books, and at 14, still reads them as they come out.

Levin Thumps

Cryptid Huntersby Roland Smith: “When twins Marty and Grace O’Hara discover that their adventurous parents have gone missing, they leave their Swiss boarding school and join their mysterious uncle, Travis Wolfe, on his island in Washington State. They soon learn that their uncle is one of the world’s foremost authorities on cryptids (think Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster). Wolfe is scheduled to look for dinosaurs in the African jungle, and he plans to leave Marty and Grace in Europe before the expedition starts. Things go awry, however, when an accident plunges Marty and Grace into the middle of the Congolese jungle. Soon the henchmen of the evil Noah Blackwood are pursuing the twins. The action is nonstop in this well-paced jungle adventure, and Smith adds a deeper layer in scenes of Marty and Grace discovering truths about their complicated family relationships.” Booklist

Smith has written several others in this vein, which are also exciting. Because of the “cryptid” nature, I included this, although strictly speaking, it’s not really SF/Fantasy, more adventure.

Cryptid Hunters

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke: “Imagine a Dickens story with a Venetian setting, and you’ll have a good sense of Cornelia Funke’s prizewinning novel The Thief Lord, first published in Germany in 2000. This suspenseful tale begins in a detective’s office in Venice, as the entirely unpleasant Hartliebs request Victor Getz’s services to search for two boys, Prosper and Bo, the sons of Esther Hartlieb’s recently deceased sister. Twelve-year-old Prosper and 5-year-old Bo ran away when their aunt decided she wanted to adopt Bo, but not his brother. Refusing to split up, they escaped to Venice, a city their mother had always described reverently, in great detail. Right away they hook up with a long-haired runaway named Hornet and various other ruffians who hole up in an abandoned movie theater and worship the elusive Thief Lord, a young boy named Scipio who steals jewels from fancy Venetian homes so his new friends can get the warm clothes they need. Of course, the plot thickens when the owner of the pawn shop asks if the Thief Lord will carry out a special mission for a wealthy client: to steal a broken wooden wing that is the key to completing an age-old, magical merry-go-round. This winning cast of characters–especially the softhearted detective with his two pet turtles–will win the hearts of readers young and old, and the adventures are as labyrinthine and magical as the streets of Venice itself.” Amazon.com

This one is slower paced, but magical and whimsical. There is a movie, that is fairly close to the book. Funke has also written Inkheart and other stories that are always on recommended lists.

The Thief Lord

Last Book in the Universeby Rodman Philbrick: ” boy who lives on the fringes of his surreal future world, partly because epilepsy prevents him from using the mind probes most people use to blot out reality, sets out on a classic quest to save his ill foster sister. To do so, he must cross forbidden territory and face frightening gangs and their leaders. He picks up companions as he travels: Ryter, a philosophic old man whose treasure is the book he is writing despite knowing that books and reading are of the past; Littleface, a young almost speechless child; and Linnea, a “prove” (genetically improved person). In saving his sister, Spaz learns about himself and his parentage. This action-packed story has some strong and provocative messages.” School Library Journal

This book was one we both enjoyed and, rare for my younger daughter, gave it to a friend to read. She adored it, and I found it’s message quite profound for a youth book – on par with the Giver, IMO.

Last Book in the Universe

Crystal Doors: Island Realm (trilogy) by Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson: “Fourteen-year-old Gwen and Vic are “twin” cousins. They were born on the same day, their fathers are identical twins, and their mothers are sisters. Gwen has been living with Vic and Uncle Cap since her parents died and her aunt went missing. When the cousins walk into an experiment that Uncle Cap is performing with an elaborate crystal setup, they are swept into a parallel world. The portal, which leads to the island world of Elantya, a hub between many worlds, has been sealed for many ages to prevent an evil sorcerer from conquering all. Elantya hosts a school of powerful sages and gifted apprentices who use written magic to fight merlons, water-dwelling enemies who are disrupting the travel between worlds and aggressively attacking the Elantyans and their visitors. Joined by Sharif, who flies on a magic carpet, and a telepath named Lyssandra, Vic and Gwen must face dangers such as flying piranhas and armored sea serpents in order to set things right. This is a fast-paced beginning for the Crystal Doors trilogy.” Booklist

Although we haven’t finished this one yet, the story, although it starts slow, as it is setting the stage for a trilogy, is one of high adventure and fantasy. The authors are well known for the Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights series which my oldest loved and the Dune prequels.

Crystal Doors

The Giver by Lois Lowry: In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medalwinner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.” Amazon.com

This book really “caught” me and I recommend it to anyone who wants to think about society. A young person’s Anthem by Ayn Rand.

The Giver

Heirs of the Force: Star Wars: The Young Jedi Knights, Book Oneby Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta: “Young Jedi Knightsis a Star Wars series by science fcition writer Kevin J. Anderson and his wife, Rebecca Moesta. The series covers the Jedi training of Jacen and Jaina Solo, the twin children of Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo. The series begins 23 years ABY, when the twins are fourteen years old.

Originally intended to cover six novels, the series eventually stretched to fourteen volumes. It spanned three distinct plot arcs:

  1. The first plot arc covers the young Jedi Knights’ fight against the dark Jedi Brakiss and his Shadow Academy, which eventually builds in strength enough to attack the Jedi Academy on Yavin 4. This plot arc also introduces the twins, as well as other supporting characters.
  2. The series became popular enough to support a second plot arc, consisting of the novels Shards of Alderaan to The Emperor’s Plague. This series deals with the young Jedi Knights’ fight against the Diversity Alliance, a group of non-humans seeking to take down the New Republic.
  3. The final three-part series details the young Jedi Knights’ relationship with Anja Gallandro, the daughter of Gallandro, a gunslinger who died while fighting Han Solo a long time ago.

Because it is geared towards younger readers, the Young Jedi Knights series is notable for tackling issues such as racism and drug abuse that are relevant in both the Star Wars universe and our present-day world.” Wikipedia: Young Jedi Knights

Young Jedi Knights

Teens:

Mister Monday: The Keys to the Kingdom, Book One (and sequels) by Garth Nix: “Arthur Penhaligon’s school year is not off to a good start. On his first day, he suffers an asthma attack while running cross country and dreams that a mysterious figure hands him a key shaped like the minute hand of a clock. However, when he wakes up, he still has the key. That’s when strange things begin to happen. Mister Monday dispatches terrifying, dog-faced Fetchers to retrieve it, a bizarre sleeping illness sweeps the city, and only Arthur can see the weird new house that appears in his neighborhood. The seventh grader knows it all has something to do with the key, one of seven elusive fragments of the Will to which he has become heir apparent, and a mysterious atlas. When he ventures inside the house, he meets more strange characters than he could have imagined, none of whom are what they seem. And, of course, he must battle Monday, who will do anything to get the key back. With the help of the key, Arthur must fight his way out. The first in a seven part series for middle graders is every bit as exciting and suspenseful as the author’s previous young adult novels.” School Library Journal

This set was/is entertaining, odd, and can be confusing to younger, less experienced readers. But those who persevere will find delights that unfold as the story does, and the sequels are a must for the complete picture of the Kingdom.

Mister Monday

Sabriel: The Abhorsen Trilogy (and sequels) by Garth Nix: “After receiving a cryptic message from her father, Abhorsen, a necromancer trapped in Death, 18-year-old Sabriel sets off into the Old Kingdom. Fraught with peril and deadly trickery, her journey takes her to a world filled with parasitical spirits, Mordicants, and Shadow Hands. Unlike other necromancers, who raise the dead, Abhorsen lays the disturbed dead back to rest. This obliges him–and now Sabriel, who has taken on her father’s title and duties–to slip over the border into the icy river of Death, sometimes battling the evil forces that lurk there, waiting for an opportunity to escape into the realm of the living. Desperate to find her father, and grimly determined to help save the Old Kingdom from destruction by the horrible forces of the evil undead, Sabriel endures almost impossible exhaustion, violent confrontations, and terrifying challenges to her supernatural abilities–and her destiny.

Garth Nix delves deep into the mystical underworld of necromancy, magic, and the monstrous undead. This tale is not for the faint of heart; imbedded in the classic good-versus-evil story line are subplots of grisly ghouls hungry for human life to perpetuate their stay in the world of the living, and dark, devastating secrets of betrayal and loss.” Amazon.com

This was an all-time favorite of my older daughter who liked her fiction more dense (like Ayn Rand and Sartre), and because of it became fascinated with Dante’s Inferno and read that. Highly recommended for more adult teen readers.

Sabriel

Shade’s Children by Garth Nix: “In the brutal world of Shade’s Children, your 14th birthday is your last. Malevolent Overlords rule the earth, directing hideous, humanoid creatures to harvest the brains and muscles of teens for use in engineering foul beasts to fight senseless wars. Young Gold-Eye escapes this horrific fate, fleeing the dormitories before his Sad Birthday. He is rescued from certain doom by other refugees who live in an abandoned submarine and work for Shade, a strange, computer-generated adult. Shade provides food and shelter in exchange for information that the children gather on dangerous forays into Overlord territory. But what does Shade really want? He is a sworn enemy of the Overlords, but his use of the children to gain knowledge and power seems uncaring and ruthless. Finally, Gold-Eye and his new friends set out to destroy the Overlords–with or without the enigmatic, dangerous Shade.” Amazon.com

This one I haven’t read, but as you can see a pattern here – anything by Nix goes in our house. And this is one I want to read. If only I can find it in her boxes of books she left here.

Shades Children

The Uglies(trilogy plus The Extras) by Scott Westerfield: “Playing on every teen’s passionate desire to look as good as everybody else, Scott Westerfeld (Midnighters) projects a future world in which a compulsory operation at sixteen wipes out physical differences and makes everyone pretty by conforming to an ideal standard of beauty. The “New Pretties” are then free to play and party, while the younger “Uglies” look on enviously and spend the time before their own transformations in plotting mischievous tricks against their elders. Tally Youngblood is one of the most daring of the Uglies, and her imaginative tricks have gotten her in trouble with the menacing department of Special Circumstances. She has yearned to be pretty, but since her best friend Shay ran away to the rumored rebel settlement of recalcitrant Uglies called The Smoke, Tally has been troubled. The authorities give her an impossible choice: either she follows Shay’s cryptic directions to The Smoke with the purpose of betraying the rebels, or she will never be allowed to become pretty. Hoping to rescue Shay, Tally sets off on the dangerous journey as a spy. But after finally reaching The Smoke she has a change of heart when her new lover David reveals to her the sinister secret behind becoming pretty. The fast-moving story is enlivened by many action sequences in the style of videogames, using intriguing inventions like hoverboards that use the rider’s skateboard skills to skim through the air, and bungee jackets that make wild downward plunges survivable — and fun. Behind all the commotion is the disturbing vision of our own society — the Rusties — visible only in rusting ruins after a virus destroyed all petroleum. Teens will be entranced, and the cliffhanger ending will leave them gasping for the sequel.” Amazon.com

This one I read myself, and while it was slow starting, as I’m used to adult SF, I found it engaging, and as the book continued, the plot thickened, and I was left waiting to read the next book. My youngest daughter, now 14, loves these books, so much so that she dreads reading the third book because she knows the series may be ending with the fourth.

The Uglies

Twilight (trilogy) by Stephenie Meyer: ”

As Shakespeare knew, love burns high when thwarted by obstacles. In Twilight, an exquisite fantasy by Stephenie Meyer, readers discover a pair of lovers who are supremely star-crossed. Bella adores beautiful Edward, and he returns her love. But Edward is having a hard time controlling the blood lust she arouses in him, because–he’s a vampire. At any moment, the intensity of their passion could drive him to kill her, and he agonizes over the danger. But, Bella would rather be dead than part from Edward, so she risks her life to stay near him, and the novel burns with the erotic tension of their dangerous and necessarily chaste relationship.

Meyer has achieved quite a feat by making this scenario completely human and believable. She begins with a familiar YA premise (the new kid in school), and lulls us into thinking this will be just another realistic young adult novel. Bella has come to the small town of Forks on the gloomy Olympic Peninsula to be with her father. At school, she wonders about a group of five remarkably beautiful teens, who sit together in the cafeteria but never eat. As she grows to know, and then love, Edward, she learns their secret. They are all rescued vampires, part of a family headed by saintly Carlisle, who has inspired them to renounce human prey. For Edward’s sake they welcome Bella, but when a roving group of tracker vampires fixates on her, the family is drawn into a desperate pursuit to protect the fragile human in their midst. The precision and delicacy of Meyer’s writing lifts this wonderful novel beyond the limitations of the horror genre to a place among the best of YA fiction.” Amazon.com

Although I haven’t read this one, my oldest did and enjoyed it thoroughly. It is very popular amongst young to mid-teens.

Twilight

See 1/19/08 post for the second part of this post – More Great Reads…, and other posts from different genres for pre-teens and teens.