In th Stacks: Young adult fiction at the libraries

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2006

Young adult fiction is shelved with the libraries' adult fiction but marked with a green spine label for easy browsing. Though generally written for high-school students, some middle-school readers and many adults find them worth reading, too.

"Hitch," by Jeanette Ingold. Moss Trawnley is 17, homeless, jobless, and in line at the soup kitchen with everyone else he knows when he hears about President Franklin Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps. He signs up for six months and finds his life irrevocably changed, from the hot food on the table and the sheets on the beds to the new responsibilities he earns and the self-control he learns. An excellent time machine into the Great Depression, and a wonderful look at a teenager becoming an adult.

"Black Taxi," by James Moloney. Even though her beloved granddad is in jail for a "little bit" of criminal activity, 16-year-old Rosie still feels lucky: She's got his cell phone and the keys to his black Mercedes. Every so often, someone calls on the cell to ask her to run an errand in the Mercedes, but mostly she uses it to land hot dates. Until the first threatening call, that is. Somewhere, a jewelry heist has gone wrong, and even though Paddy's still in jail, the voice at the other end thinks he's involved. It's up to Rosie to solve the mystery before someone (probably her) gets hurt.

"Magic or Madness," by Justine Larbalestier. This Australian import is the first in a trilogy featuring Reason Cansino, who has been living life on the run for years with her mother, Sarafina, and is terrified of falling into her grandmother's clutches. Her mother has had a mental breakdown, and Reason is sent to live with her grandmother, Esmerelda, who Sarafina always claimed was a witch. When Reason arrives in Sydney, she is wary of everything about her, and finds her mother's claims backed up by solid evidence when she digs up a dead cat in the basement. Deftly written and intricately plotted - readers will be anxiously awaiting the sequels.

"The Witch's Boy," by Michael Gruber. This story of an abandoned baby called Lump, his rescuer the Witch, and her cat named Falance can be read on many levels. Part human, part goblin, Lump is nurtured by a bear and tutored by a djinn while his mother the Witch does her part to make sure their part of the world runs smoothly. But her work makes her an indifferent mother, and Lump becomes a spoiled and angry boy. When disaster strikes, and Lump and the Witch are forced out into the wider world, they learn to move beyond their selfish and introspective selves to learn the truth about each other.

"24 Girls in 7 Days," Alex Bradley. Self-described geek Jack Grammar is sure he's the laughingstock of the school. After he's cut down by his only prom prospect, his two best friends take matters into their own hands and post an extremely embarrassing personals ad in the school paper under his name. But to his surprise, the response is positive - Jack's faced with more than 200 girls who all want to date him! There are only seven days until the prom and the plan is for Jack to go on a few trial dates and then pick one for the big night. Will any of them be the right girl for him?

"Pretty Things," by Sarra Manning. Brie, Charlie, Daisy and Walker are enmeshed in a conflicted love rectangle. Brie's in love with her best friend, Charlie, but Charlie's after Walker, who's after Daisy, whose girlfriend is confusing her. It's summer-theater time in North London, and the four teens take turns telling the story in their own, very distinct, voices. Realistically, none are completely likable, but there's enough background on each to draw readers in and sympathize with them.

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As always, placing a hold on our material is easy: Call the Juneau Public Libraries at 586-5249, or, if you have Internet access, your library card and a PIN, you may place your own holds by going to our Web site (http://www.juneau.org/library) and looking at our catalog or at the In the Stacks column on our site. The columns are hyperlinked to the catalog: Simply click on the title you want, and you will be ready to place a hold.



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