I recently finished Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn and really loved it. I was completely engrossed from start to finish. I may have loved it a bit too much because I started feeling sorry for myself about the lack of literature written for adults in my must read pile. Being an optimistic person (and since I really have no choice), I realized that there a quite a few books I have read for StorySnoops that I actually would have chosen to read had I not been a writer of children’s book reviews. Here are some of the books we Snoops have read that may be enjoyed by teens and adults alike. Let us know what books for teens you’ve enjoyed. We’d love to add some slam-dunks to our piles!
Am I mistaken, or was Earth Day even a thing back when I was a kid? I kind of think not. I guess I was a kid a really long time ago though I did a little checking on it, and it turns out that it was first celebrated in San Francisco (named after St. Francis, the patron saint of ecology) on March 21st, 1970. It is now celebrated in over 175 countries around the world, with the intention of increasing awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s natural environment and resources. I give a big thumbs up for anything that gives our younger generation an opportunity to think about what the Earth has to offer, and how to make it last for generations yet-to-come. So in the spirit of Earth Day this week, StorySnoops has created a list of books for teens and tweens that have environmental themes or environmentally conscious characters—just a little something to reinforce what they’ll be hearing about in school this week. Enjoy!
Now that Spring has sprung, the days are getting longer, and the end of the school year is near, it’s getting more and more challenging to keep our children focused on their homework. After all, one more ride around the block or ball in the net is way more fun than being stuck inside… reading. To grab the attention of our restless youth, it may be time to break out a great read-aloud. Read-alouds are wonderful for engaging the entire family in a story, even when there are lots of other things competing for their attention. So here is a list of the most recent books we have read that are extremely well-suited for this purpose. There is a little something here for everyone. Be sure to click on the book covers to get the full scoop.
- Jen, Story Snoop
I have read a bunch of books for the StorySnoops site with the same kind of a premise – a refreshingly modern day take on a classic fairy tale. Sounds girly and perhaps a little corny but no! These books feature a Cinderella who is more about empowering herself than she is about marrying her prince; or a brave outcast who faces the Snow Queen in order to save her best friend, Jack; or cousins Jack and Jill who, while on a quest, have many creepy and dangerous encounters in a book which is simultaneously hilarious and terrifying!
If your tween is interested in the new spin on an old classic, the “modern fairy tale”, here are some titles to try:
This list will get you started. We have a similar list for teens coming soon!
There are a lot of great boy books out there for middle graders. However, a parent recently commented to me that she is having a hard time finding good matches for her fifth grader, as he prefers realistic or historical fiction. There is a lot of fantasy and dystopian fiction out there, and although it’s very popular, it’s true that it’s not for everyone. She mentioned that her son enjoyed the book Hatchet, likes historical fiction, and that as a family they have read The Hunger Games. With these clues, my mind got to working…
What is a boy such as this to read? Since he liked Hatchet, he should definitely check out the companion book to called Brian’s Winter. And here are some additional suggestions:
As with any of the books that we recommend, please be sure to click on the cover and read the Scoop to make sure it’s the right fit for your child. Let us know if you have a book match challenge. We’d be happy to make some suggestions for your reader.
Helping out in the school library during my son’s weekly visit is such an eye opener. Not much as changed in the twelve years I have been volunteering in there. The boys load up on war plane textbooks, graphic novels, and spooky story books, and the girls still love that Warriors series. Some of the books have changed, of course. I love that Wonder and My Life in Pink and Green now have waiting lists!
There is a very (very!) reluctant girl reader in this class who just has it in her mind she will not (or cannot? ) read. For months I have scrambled around, pulling books off the shelf with a ridiculous cheerfulness: (How about this? Or this?). She would bring the books back the following week, and I suspect she probably never even cracked them open.
Then one day I handed her Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by good ole’ Judy Blume. An oldie but goodie if there ever was one. But there was a BOY on the front cover and she gave me a doubtful looked. She may have even rolled her eyes. But she took it.
This girl was the first one into the library the following Tuesday and exclaiming (I think as much to her surprise as mine) how much she loved it. Victory! When I told her that it was actually the first in a series, she could not believe her luck. She grabbed the next two books in the series and looked seriously conflicted when she came to check her book out. You see, you can only check one book out at a time, and here she was with a stack of Fudge books she did not want to part with. What if someone checked it out and lost it? What if we put it on hold for her but accidentally gave it away? This poor fretful girl was literally petting her Judy Blume books. A book match was made. A reader was born. And a rule was broken – we let her check out BOTH books
Friendship is a common theme in children’s literature, and why wouldn’t it be, since it is a huge part of what kids are experiencing in their lives. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most friend-drama books are about girls (mirrors real life, eh?). Boys have friend troubles too though, and I just finished a wonderfully funny and poignant book on the topic.
33 Minutes (…Until Morgan Sturtz kicks my butt) is about two boys who used to be best buds in elementary school, Sam and Morgan. They were different even then, but those differences were fine and made things interesting. Sam has always been crazy smart (and now in seventh grade, he heads up the ArithmeTitans math team), and Morgan has always been athletic (he is now the star of the middle school football team). If asked, Sam might say that he and Morgan hadn’t been as close since middle school started, and since a new kid, who has more in common with Morgan than with Sam, moved in to their neighborhood. BUT, Sam knows they are still friends because it’s only been a couple of months since their TAMADE (The Absolutely Most Amazing Day Ever)—where they played their favorite old video game for nine hours straight, and worked together as a team like never before. And this is why he is so confused about why Morgan so very clearly wants to kick his butt now.
The story flips back and forth between past and present, so the thirty-three minutes of same-day suspense are stretched out over snippets of what has led Sam and Morgan to this point. The reader can see Sam clinging to hope beyond unreasonable hope that there is some magical way that his friendship with Morgan can go back to what it used to be.
I won’t reveal any more about the plot except to say that this book does not have a neat and tidy, “wrapped up with a bow” kind of ending. It has a very real and poignant ending, which will be appreciated by anyone who is old enough to have grown apart from a former special friend. As adults we intellectually know that these transitions are a part of life, but as a kid, sometimes there is nothing more painful than losing a friend you weren’t ready to move on from.
This story is smart and funny and sad and hopeful all at the same time. It will work for upper elementary or middle school boys who are mature enough to understand Sam’s somewhat complicated emotions around his friendship with Morgan, as well as the bit of complexity added by the plot flipping back and forth, and the author’s sly sense of humor. All told? Two thumbs up from this StorySnoop
Even though we review a lot of children’s books, in moments of weakness, we sometimes wonder if we get it right. Will the books that we think are absolutely wonderful actually appeal to their intended audience? With that in mind, I thought it might be fun to check this week’s New York Times Best Seller list for Young Adult Fiction. And, lo and behold, the 10 Best Sellers are some of our all-time favorite and most frequently recommended books, both old and new! So here are this week’s top 10 selling YA books, in order from left to right, starting with #1. You can click on the covers to get the scoop. Each one of these titles is an excellent addition to any teen or adult reader’s personal library. We Snoops adore each and every one.
- Jen, StorySnoop
Okay, so I’m happily reading along in a nice little tween book, and I’ve read quite a few of these now, so the general direction of the plot is usually not a surprise. But before long, when the cute little troubled girl protagonist finally gets adopted by her former step dad, who, as it has been made abundantly clear, can offer her a better life than her unstable mother, I find myself sitting in my car with the book in my lap, sobbing—complete monster tears dripping down the face, nose running…sobbing! At this point, I am really, really hoping that I don’t see anyone else I know in the school parking lot who might notice that I look like a puffy-eyed crazy woman! And do I carry Kleenex in my car for just this sort of occasion? Of course not.
Anyway, once I was able to collect myself, it occurred to me that I was completely losing myself over a book for a ten year old. Yikes! I am a forty-something gal, to whom these plot twists are rather predictable. Books in the 9-12 year old category rarely have a truly sad ending (consider the audience—plenty of time for those books later), and yet, here I am crying my eyes out (and it’s really not the first time, actually). Why??? In the interest of full disclosure, I do have a tendency to get a bit weepy sometimes in a nice coffee commercial, and I do love a good, trashy teen movie now and again, but I digress.
Maybe, to make myself feel better, I think that I’m crying because with my older, wiser view of the world, I can cry for the happy life that little girl will get a chance to have. I can cry for the beauty of the step-parent who went above and beyond for a child who was no longer his. I can cry for that poor mother, who even though she made a lot of mistakes, was still going to lose her daughter to another family. None of these are thoughts the intended audience of ten year olds is likely to have, so maybe I have some adult insight that makes me cry. Or maybe I’m just a sap.
Is it just me, or would you cry too? Waiting for Normal
The Legend trilogy, by Marie Lu, is my latest dystopian obsession. I recently finished the second installment, Prodigy, which may be even slightly better than the first.
In Legend, two very different fifteen-year-olds have grown up in the Republic, a plague-ridden nation that is unceasingly at war with the Colonies and led by the Elector Primo, who is in his eleventh four-year term as president. At the age of ten, each citizen must take the Trial, a test that determines the path of the rest of their life. June is the only person who has ever received a perfect Trial score and has spent the past five years being trained as an elite military leader. Day failed the test and, rather than face the labor camps, has spent the past five years living on the streets, waging his own private rebellion against the Republic. During a desperate attempt to protect his family from the plague, Day breaks into a hospital lab and June’s older brother Metias is murdered. Now June will stop at nothing to track down the infamous Day and avenge her brother’s death. But when their paths finally cross, the two begin to realize that they are not as different as they once believed. In fact, they may even share a common enemy.
In Prodigy, June and Day, the Republic’s two most wanted fugitives arrive in Vegas in search of the Patriots. This group of rebels is more than happy to repair Day’s injured leg and rescue his brother. But in return, Day and June must help assassinate the new Elector Primo, Anden, who just came into power after the unexpected death of his father. The plan is a good one but lots could go wrong, especially for June, who has to turn herself in and get close to Anden. When she does, she realizes that this new Elector wants to make changes that will actually help the Republic. Now June must decide where her loyalties lie and, ultimately, what is best for her country.
These two books are sure to captivate both teen boys and girls, especially those who are already fans of the dystopian genre. In both cases, chapters alternate between June’s and Day’s perspectives, adding tension to the story. An unlikely team–one a military prodigy and one a fugitive rebel–the two find themselves allied romantically and by their principles. Readers will root for these intelligent, capable, and extremely likable characters as they fight for their beliefs. The combination of action, suspense, and romance give this series broad appeal. It would also be a good choice for tweens who like to “read up” as the content is not overly mature. A surprising revelation at the end of the Prodigy
will leave readers eager to get their hands on the final installment in the trilogy, and disappointed that they have a long wait ahead.
- Jen, StorySnoop