August 13, 2009
Earthgirl by Jennifer Cowan
Everyone should want to protect the environment and save the world, right?
That’s the outlook of budding activist Sabine “Bean” Solomon. While riding her bike, Sabine is hit with a leftover McDonald’s meal tossed from an SUV that is idling in the bike lane. After a slight altercation with the driver that ends up being posted on You Tube, Sabine begins to realize that there is something seriously wrong with the world, and maybe it’s time that she did something about it.
However, not everyone is willing to embrace Sabine’s newfound environmental and consumer consciousness. Her parents won’t buy organic food from the local co-op (where Sabine now works after having quit her job at the corporate hole that is The Gap). Her friends scoff at carrying resuable bags. Her sister even joins the Girls Intelligence Agency, a marketing group that gathers polls teens in order to find the next big consumer trend. Sabine finds herself frustrated as she slowly alienates everyone around her.
Until she meets Vray. Vray is smart, gorgeous and is completely dedicated to “the cause”. The seem perfect for each other, with Vray teaching and guiding Sabine about what it means to be an activist. But where is the line between being dedicated and being a radical? Does the end justify the means, so long as it benefits and draws attention to “the cause”? What kind of activist is Sabine?
This is a timely and eye opening book, focusing heavily on issues that are not often found in teen literature, making for a great read for anyone who wants to get involved in responsible living.
August 13, 2009
Cicada Summer by Andrea Beatty
Twelve year old Lily hasn’t talked in years. Not to her father. Not to her classmates. Not even to Fern, the grandmotherly owner of the small town’s general store. Most people assume that she has brain damage, a resulting from the events of “that night”, an assumtion that Lily doesn’t bother to correct. In truth, she just wants to be invisible, vowing to silently keep guard over the dark and tragic secret of what really happened “that night” .
Lily’s invisibility is challenged when Fern’s grandniece Tinny comes to town. Tinny quickly discovers that Lily is not as slow as everyone thinks and spends her time plotting ways to get Lily in trouble. But when a strange man shows up in town, Lily learns that Tinny may be in serious trouble. Will she be able break her vow of silence in order to keep Tinny safe?
This book should appeal to kids who like thoughtful stories mixed with a little bit of mystery (such as Patricia Reilly Giff’s Pictures of Hollis Woods
April 25, 2009
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Marcelo, diagnosed as having Asperger’s syndrome is happy in his comfortable life, guided by his organized and familiar routine. He hears music in his mind that noone else can hear, he has a deep desire to learn about religion and he loves his school, Paterson, where he works as a stable hand tending to the ponies. However Marcelo’s father Arturo does not believe that anything is really wrong with his son. He feels that Marcelo ‘s mother and doctors are being over indulgent and protective and that Marcelo needs to grow up, attend the public high school in Oak Hills and learn to get along in the “real world”.
In order to prove that he is right about his son, Arturo makes a deal…instead of spending his summer working at Paterson with the ponies, Marcelo will come to work in the mailroom of his lawfirm, where if he learns to interact with “normal” people and completes his tasks satisfactorily, then he will be allowed to choose which school he will attend in the fall. If he fails, he will automatically have to go to Oak Hills High School. After careful consideration, Marcelo realizes that if he wants to stay at his beloved school, then he must accept his father’s deal. Besides, three months isn’t that long, is it?
And so begins Marcelo’s journey into the “real world”. He befriends his beautiful mail room co-worker Jasmine and learns more than he cares to know about life from Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns not only about anger, jealousy and beauty, but also that life is not always black and white, that it is full of moral ambiguities of which not even his father is immune.
Stork has created a wonderful story for older teens, told from a unique perspective it shows the different ways of interpreting what what the “real world” is really like and it means to grow up.
March 15, 2009
Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls
List No. 1-Five Facts About Me
1. My name is Sam.
2. I am eleven years old.
3. I collect stories and fantastic facts.
4. I have leukemia.
5. By the time you read this, I will probably be dead.
And so begins Ways to Live Forever, a collection of lists, stories and snippets about 11 year-old Sam and his attempt, despite all odds, to live a full life.
At times funny (List No. 4-Ways to Live Forever, item 2. Become a vampire. Hope you don’t meet Buffy.) and at times serious (Questions Nobody Answers No. 2 Why does God make kids get ill) Nicholls portrays a realistic view of what’s it is like and the issues surrounding being terminally sick at such a young age.
March 6, 2009
Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught
Being fat isn’t easy. Clothes don’t fit you. People stare at you or pretend that you are not there; they feel uncomfortable around you. They whisper, wondering if you know how big you are and, if so, why don’t you just do something about it?
Jamie Carcaterra knows how it feels first hand how it feels to be fat, and frankly she is sick of how people act around her. She knows she is overweight. She is fat. In fact, she is Fat Girl, author of the Fat Girl features in her school newspaper, The Wire. Started as a way to win a journalism scholarship, she uses her column to explore what it’s like to be fat in such a weight obsessed, skinny world, as well as to dispel myths such as “Poor Fat Girl needs to be educated about her problem” and “All Poor Fat Girl wants to do is lose weight”.
However, column and her life take an unforeseeable turn when her boyfriend Burke decided to undergo a risky gastric bypass surgery. Now Jamie is forced to think about the questions that really matter. Will Burke still love her when he’s thin? Is being fat all she is? Is she really committed to being the “fat girl activist spokesperson”? And why does it seem like Heath, her co-editor on the paper, might like her as more than just a friend? Doesn’t he know she’s fat?
Although at times a bit predictable and preachy, Vaught has written a funny yet thoughtful look at what it’s like to be a Fat Girl in today’s world.