In the most current issue of School Library Journal, YA author Shannon Hale writes a great essay on how she lost and regained a love of reading.  Her journey from avid reader to disenchanted skeptic and back to a book-lover provides some thought-provoking ideas for all of us involved with kids & young adults and books; it may even mirror some of our own experiences exactly.  I was particularly struck by her discovery of YA: “Apparently there was this new genre out there, Young Adult literature, that I had never explored. Curious about where my book seemed to fit in, I went to the YARead More →

Jack Heath’s debut novel, The Lab, is non-stop action.  Secret Agent Six of Hearts is a sixteen year old super human who works for The Deck, a vigilante agency that strives to uphold The Code in a corrupt world run by the mysterious company ChaoSonic.  Six uses his super human skill, intellect, and training to succeed in mission after mission, never having to kill an enemy and always escaping precarious danger with stunts, tricks and skill that no one else can match. The name of the game of this book is action – the plot is thin, the dialogue is sparse, and the character developmentRead More →

Kenny Sykes is a pretty unremarkable kid – he’s got a couple of friends, an older sister about to be married, a younger brother he babysits, good parents, and an average suburban life.  During the quiet summer mornings he finds a calling – to save the crickets and other creatures that fall into his backyard pool – thus Cricket Man is created.  What stumps Kenny, though, is that once he takes a bug, tired from struggling against drowning, out of the water, sometimes they jump right back in again. Cricket Man gives Kenny hidden powers – of observation, of courage (he says and does thingsRead More →

 John Green amazes me with each new book – the way he captures the humor, insecurities, friendships, and emotions of his characters  is so enjoyable I find myself laughing and aching for them with every turn of the page. Paper Towns, Green’s latest trip back to high school, is smart, witty, and sharply human.  Q has loved Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar for years. Never one of the more popular kids, he’s made his way through school with some steady friendships and subdued existence.  But one night, Margo chooses him to help her carry out her greatest series of pranks yet and Q can’t believeRead More →

Dark Dude, the first YA novel by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Oscar Hijuelos. He comments this is the book he wished he’d have read as a teen, and the care and depth of his storytelling fills the novel with truths that we, as adults, can look back on adolescence and wish we’d realized. The “dark dude” is Rico, a light-skinned Cuban American kid living in New York City in the late ’60’s/early ’70’s.  His skin color effectively isolates him from the various ethnic groups in his Harlem neighborhood. The city is closing in on him, school’s a drag, his best friend, Jimmy, is becoming a junkie,Read More →

Any readers who enjoyed the first two books will certainly want to pick up The Indigo King and follow the continuing adventures of John, Jack, Charles and others.  Like the previous books, Owens has brought in true historical events and philosophies related to the main characters and intertwined them with the plot. The Indigo King contains a separate adventure, but with lots of references to the first two.  Therefore, even though it can be read by itself, it is less confusing and more fulfilling to read the first two books in the series before reading the third.  The storyline is exciting, once it gets started. Read More →