The characters in this book reminded me of the ones from the Clerks movie so long ago, and that's a good thing. Although I had difficulty distinguish...more The characters in this book reminded me of the ones from the Clerks movie so long ago, and that's a good thing. Although I had difficulty distinguishing between two of the characters a couple of times, the drawings are well-done. The story is entertaining and highly amusing; I laughed out loud several times. Very recommended!
GENRE: Graphic Novel: Humor, realistic fiction.
SUBJECT/THEMES: Friendship, romance, video game players.
SUMMARY: Sidescrollers relates the mild adventures of a trio of suburban boys, the summer after they graduated from high school. They spend their time playing video games, admiring women from afar, running from the bullying high school football team, and generally getting into trouble. In the end, they find their inner strength, potential girlfriends, and good times just hanging out.
EVALUATION: I tend to prefer color graphic novels, or more polished black-and-white ones. The characters are drawn so similarly (sharp, angular lines) that I got a couple of them mixed up more than once. Despite this, the facial expressions and animations of the characters (including the demonic cat) are very well done. As for the story, I liked it. The humor style and the aimless characters reminded me of the first “Clerks” movie, which I like very much. There is a fair amount of adult language and some adult-type situations, yet that sort of thing is fine for this age group. Although some of the humor was silly in nature, I found myself rooting for the characters, no matter what bizarre situation they found themselves in. Once I started, I did not put it down until I was finished.
WHY I WOULD INCLUDE IT: Most older teenagers will be able to relate to the characters and situations (and the language they use) in Sidescrollers, especially male teens. Graphic novels are always a popular choice among this demographic, and reading a book that makes you laugh is a definite bonus.
ITEMS WITH SIMILAR APPEAL: • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. • Re-Gifters by Mike Carey. • Black Metal Volume 1 by Rick Spears. • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. (less)
**spoiler alert** Genre: Humor; part realistic fiction, part fantasy; problem-solving.
Kiriel is a Fallen Angel, a minion of Hell. His main role is to...more**spoiler alert** Genre: Humor; part realistic fiction, part fantasy; problem-solving.
Kiriel is a Fallen Angel, a minion of Hell. His main role is to reflect the sorrow and guilt of the damned back at them, making their eternal suffering that much more unbearable. He has faithfully performed his job for eons, without any notice or acknowledgement from the Creator. And now Kiriel has had enough. He is ready to experience life as he never has before, and leave behind, at least for a little while, the horrific suffering and depression his job entails. To that end, he has carefully selected just the right body to hijack: a regular middle-class teenager, who was about to be killed by an oncoming vehicle a moment before Kiriel entered his body.
Kiriel has never before inhabited a body, so he must master everything from walking to acting and talking like his host, Shaun, would. Before long, ‘Shaun’ decides that he wants his vacation from Hell to mean something. He wants to leave a lasting impression on the world. If the Creator will not appreciate him, perhaps those around him will. First Kiriel focuses on Shaun’s brother, Jason. Jason isn’t used to his brother treating him civilly, let alone nicely. As Shaun, Kiriel slowly changes this. He strives to ensure that Jason’s future will be secure after Kiriel is forced to leave Shaun’s body, by asking Shaun’s best friend Bailey to watch out for Jason, should anything happen to him. Shaun/Kiriel also seeks to help a bully change his ways, for the Fallen Angel recognizes that this boy is just like the damned souls that come his way in Hell. Also, Kiriel strongly wishes to use Shaun’s body to experience all the wonders of a human experience, culminating in a sexual experience with a willing female. Kiriel believes that Lane is the one to help him accomplish this, and he wishes to bring her extreme sexual satisfaction as well. Towards the end, Kiriel realizes that Lane will probably be better off with Bailey, and he makes subtle adjustments to grant them a chance to get together. Kiriel feels certain that he could be pulled away from Shaun’s body at any moment (once ‘they’ notice he is missing), and that Shaun will die right after this.
Repossessed contains so many elements of a terrific book: it’s easy to relate to, easy to read, funny, touching, and thought-provoking. People often take things for granted, and forget to stop and smell the roses. Kiriel has never before smelled the roses, so even the touch, feel and smell of a dirty t-shirt for him becomes a sublime experience, something that the reader may find both amusing and curious. Jenkins expertly demonstrates the extreme pleasure that Kiriel finds in even the most ordinary, mundane facets of life. As Kiriel begins to ponder his place in the universe and what it all means, one cannot help but empathize with him. Teenagers will easily be able to understand Kiriel’s point of view, and perhaps it will even shed a new light on their own interpersonal relationships. (less)
SUMMARY: After twelve-year-old Lily Gefelty visits the bizarre abandoned warehouse...more**spoiler alert** GENRE: Fiction, science-fiction, adventure, humor.
SUMMARY: After twelve-year-old Lily Gefelty visits the bizarre abandoned warehouse where her dad works, she suspects something sinister must be behind the secret manufacturing of stilts for whales. She enlists her two best friends, adventurous and daring Katie and ingenious yet quirky Jasper to help her uncover the mystery behind the warehouse. They learn that the boss of the company is planning to take over the world, using whales, and that they only have a few days to stop his dastardly plans!
EVALUATION: I loved this book. It was enjoyable as upending a can of whipped cream and spraying it into my mouth--not something I do regularly, but lots of fun once in a while. I laughed from the start all the way to the end. The book is loaded with adventure and suspense as well, but it was the ridiculous situations and the funny responses the characters would say that hooked me.
WHY I WOULD INCLUDE IT: I strongly believe that many, many tweens will thoroughly enjoy this book. It never takes itself seriously, and that is part of the charm. It is strange, weird, and as I said, extremely humorous. Put simply, this is an easy-to-read, highly entertaining and pleasurable book.
READER'S ANNOTATION: A trio of friends must enact a plan to save their town from whale domination, after a crazed scientist unleashes his army of whales on stilts.
ITEMS WITH SIMILAR APPEAL: • The Mayflower Project by Katherine Applegate. • Heartlight by T.A. Barron. • Off the Road by Nina Bawden. • Windchaser by Scott Ciencin. • The Marvelous Effect by Troy Cle. (less)
SUMMARY: Le Fay McNally's typing prowess has earned her a place in the finals of the Tap...moreGENRE: Fiction, humor, adventure, realistic fiction elements.
SUMMARY: Le Fay McNally's typing prowess has earned her a place in the finals of the Tap 'n' Type competition. Le Fay's older sister Jackie, who is the clan's substitute mother, has created a plan that will enable her to take Le Fay's three other siblings on a bus ride to the competition for the price of just two. Le Fay will be traveling via train, with her expenses paid for by the competition's sponsor. The goal was to meet at the back of the hotel at a certain time, though things did not go exactly according to plan. The McNally clan was able to watch Le Fay do her best against the three other finalists, though the whole of the contest is overshadowed by the fact that the littlest brother, Fergal, falls to his death at some point, and we find out in a backwards fashion just how this occurred.
EVALUATION: The irreverent, self-referencing writing style of the author makes for a funny story, something that is not easy to manage when you've let your readers know early on that one of your characters dies. Yet the dark humor works, and knowing what happens at the end, but not how it happens will keep readers engaged.
WHY I WOULD INCLUDE IT: I think tweens will appreciate the unique way the tale is told, as well as the black humor. The descriptions are vivid, and there are a number of pictures scattered throughout the book to aid flavor to them. The book never takes itself too seriously, and ends up as a quick, good read.
READER'S ANNOTATION: Fergal dies on the first page, and the rest of the story is an adventure to let you know how he got to that point.
ITEMS WITH SIMILAR APPEAL: • Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. (less)
SUMMARY: Just a simple note that read "someone in this class is a witch" started a spiraling chain of events at Larwood House,...moreGENRE: Fiction, fantasy.
SUMMARY: Just a simple note that read "someone in this class is a witch" started a spiraling chain of events at Larwood House, a boarding school for witch-orphans and children with other issues. Nan Pilgrim is convinced that everyone in her class believes she is a witch. Her classmates ponder who wrote the note, for it is well-known that people are burned if they are determined to truly be a witch. Further, they are all at the age where magical talents usually start revealing themselves. One by one, a number of the students in 6B discover they are witches, causing them to flee from the school. Later, they join together to summon a powerful illusionist from another world in the hopes he will help them.
EVALUATION: This book was a very fun and quick read, complete with a satisfying ending. I felt like I was a part of class 6B, no matter how strange and implausible events became. The characters all have distinct and interesting personalities, along with some stereotypes anyone who has lived through middle school will recognize.
WHY I WOULD INCLUDE IT: While the Harry Potter series is wildly popular, some tweens may shy away from reading them, since some are quite long, and there are so many. Witch Week would be a good alternative to those readers. Beyond that, it's funny, a bit odd, and quite entertaining.
READER'S ANNOTATION: Larwood House boarding school is thrown into chaos after someone is anonymously accused of being a witch, followed by a number of magical acts occurring.
ITEMS WITH SIMILAR APPEAL: • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling. • The Magician: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott. • Fablehaven by Brandon Mull. • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. • The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart.
SUMMARY: Percy Jackson has been shuffled from boarding school to boarding school, never succeeding very wel...moreGENRE: Fiction, fantasy, adventure, series.
SUMMARY: Percy Jackson has been shuffled from boarding school to boarding school, never succeeding very well at any one. Percy figures this is due to his A.D.D. and his dyslexia, but really it is because he is a half-blood, a person with one human parent and with one god parent. He discovers this after he lands at Camp Half-Blood, a place where kids like Percy can be safe from monsters and angry gods, and learn how to protect themselves. Yet just as he begins to settle in at camp, he gets sent on a quest, where he must recover Zeus' master lightning bolt, which the gods think Percy stole. Percy and his two closest friends encounter many monsters and battles along the way, all the while Percy tries to deal with his mixed feelings over the father he never knew.
EVALUATION: This is a great book, and I liked it even more since my older son and I read it concurrently. Percy is a perfect troubled middle-school boy; his dialogue and thoughts are fully believable as a tween. In some books for tweens the characters say things that many modern tweens would not. Not so in The Lightning Thief. The story was engaging throughout the book, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
WHY I WOULD INCLUDE IT: Percy feels like a real middle school guy, and I believe that will resonate well with tweens. The story also includes a strong female character, and should be equally enjoyed by both tween boys and girls. Tweens with any interest in Greek mythology and the gods involved in that time will love this title.
READER'S ANNOTATION: Percy Jackson was sent on a quest to recover Zeus' master lightning bolt, and that's only a part of the fantastic journey Percy undergoes.
ITEMS WITH SIMILAR APPEAL: • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. • Iris, Messenger by Sarah Deming. • Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy. • The Tiger's Apprentice by Laurence Yep. • Odysseus in the Serpent Maze by Jane Yolen. (less)
SUMMARY: Jeffrey Lionel Magee was sent to live with his aunt and uncle at the age of three, after his par...moreGENRE: Fiction, adventure, realistic fiction.
SUMMARY: Jeffrey Lionel Magee was sent to live with his aunt and uncle at the age of three, after his parents died. Eight years later Jeffrey could no longer stand to be near the unhappy, silent relationship his relatives had, and he ran away. From then on, he was known as Maniac Magee, for all of the extreme feats of bravery and athleticism he demonstrated while on the run. Maniac has no qualms about heading into the 'black' part of town, going back to the 'white' side after besting the biggest boy there at baseball, or standing up to the toughest guys on either side of town. He can run on thin railway tracks, unknot a hugely tangled ball of twine, and sleep in a buffalo den. Maniac becomes a legendary figure for the real and exaggerated acts he does, and his attitude while doing them.
EVALUATION: I really enjoyed this tale, largely because of how it is written. When a fiction book can make the reader feel that the events they are reading are actually happening, no matter how incredulous they may seem, that is a mark of a well-written book.
WHY I WOULD INCLUDE IT: I believe tweens, particularly younger ones, will enjoy Maniac's many adventures as much as I did. In addition, how Maniac deals with racial tension is very well done. These days racism is hopefully not as big of an issue, though it's always good when a book takes a solid approach to a difficult topic. Lastly, this author is greatly respected and has written a number of wonderful tween titles.
READER'S ANNOTATION: Maniac Magee becomes a legend to those that witness or simply hear of one of his many acts of courage or athletic prowess.
ITEMS WITH SIMILAR APPEAL: • Holes by Louis Sachar. • Night of the Howling Dogs by Graham Salisbury. • The Cryptid Hunters by Roland Smith. • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. • The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Curtis. (less)
SUMMARY: King Ethelbert of Portocristo rules with the selfish impetuosity of a young child, which he is. His goals are to increase his fortune (hopefu...moreSUMMARY: King Ethelbert of Portocristo rules with the selfish impetuosity of a young child, which he is. His goals are to increase his fortune (hopefully amassing more wealth than his cousin Sigismund) and satisfy his every whim, regardless of the consequences. Told through 12 chapters of amusing adventures, Ethelbert never learns from his mistakes or changes his attitude. He thinks nothing of ordering his personal chef to create a mountain of ice cream and toppings, only to take a single bite and leave the rest to waste. Ethelbert has never grown out of his terrible twos stage, and this provides plenty of fun for him...at the expense of all those around him!
EVALUATION: One of the most popular genres for tweens is humor, and this book is full of chuckles. Ethelbert never ceases to act like a brat, and the resulting sarcasm his indulgent staff sometimes gives back to him just goes right over his head. Ethelbert's continuous wastefulness and self-indulgence are as entertaining as they are eye-rolling. He reminds me of Ritchie Rich's poorly-behaved cousin, Reginald.
WHY I WOULD INCLUDE IT: Aside from the humorous writing, the brightly colored drawings and highly expressive human characters add to the light-hearted laughter of the title. I especially like Ethelbert's tremendous eyebrows that could have a life of their own! Tweens enjoy living vicariously, and this is their chance to get into the mind of a ruler that always gets what he wants and acts horrendously, with no chance of being grounded or otherwise punished. (less)
SUMMARY: This novel is chock full of action, right from the start, when mischievous Sardine and Uncle Yellow Shoulder escape from the clutches of Doc...moreSUMMARY: This novel is chock full of action, right from the start, when mischievous Sardine and Uncle Yellow Shoulder escape from the clutches of Doc Krok and Supermuscleman. They make their way back to their spaceship, the Huckleberry, to find that Little Louie brought an aggressive mechanical monkey onboard, and now a handful of other, larger spaceships are out to get the monkey back. Several more adventures occur, one in which Uncle Yellow comes to the aid of an unhappy child. Of course, there is plenty of chasing and fighting with Doc Krok and Supermuscleman, though in the end, it's a botched marriage proposal that causes Uncle Yellow to cry.
EVALUATION: I found this to be very funny, and I enjoyed the setting of "good" pirates in space. A tough hero with a heart of gold has timeless appeal, and the clever Sardine and trouble-attracting Little Louie should entertain both boys and girls. The artwork is crisp, colorful and very well done, as are so many First Second titles.
WHY I WOULD INCLUDE IT: Tweens enjoy humor, and I'm betting that many of them also enjoy pirates. This book (and it continues with a number of popular sequels) contains plenty of silly humor, fun, superhero clichés, and is a great light-hearted read. Also, the publisher includes a lesson plan for teaching art at their web site (http://www.firstsecondbooks.com/teach... ). (less)