Here are some new chapter books for middle and even high schoolreaders - just in time for summer.
"100 Cupboards," by N.D. Wilson. I don't know about you, but when I was growing up I spent some time tapping the knee-wall of my bedroom, looking for a concealed doorway. Henry York doesn't even have to tap - one morning he wakes up with plaster in his hair and finds two knobs poking out of the wall where there had once been smooth paint. Picking away the plaster, he and his cousin, Henrietta, find more knobs, each attached to cupboard doors that lead... where? Through one the kids see a man walking back and forth, through another they hear rain. Despite receiving an ominous letter addressed to "The Whimpering Child" (whimpering? child? Henry is 12!) Henry and Henrietta start exploring the cupboards. But all too soon, Henrietta has disappeared and Henry is left alone to unravel the mystery.
"Standard Hero Behavior," by John David Anderson. Don't think of this as yet another story about boys growing up without meaningful father figures in their lives - instead, see this for the fast-moving and adventurous spoof on heroes that it is. Mason is a young bard who yearns to write epic songs about heroes and their adventures but the town's hero, Darlinger, has his own bard and Mason is left with only farmers fighting chipmunks. Over the course of a horrible day, though, Mason not only discovers that Darlinger is a creampuff, but that the town is about to be invaded by orcs, goblins, and trolls. Mason and his best friend Cowell head off on a desperate quest to find real heroes to help save the town in this rollicking debut.
"The Mailbox," by Audrey Shafer. When twelve year-old Gabe comes home from school to find his Uncle Vernon, his only relative, dead on the floor, he doesn't know what to do - so he fixes himself some dinner and falls asleep at the table. In the morning he goes to school, wondering when his secret will burst from his mouth. It never does, and by the time he gets home, his uncle's body has disappeared and Gabe has received a creepy message: "I have a secret. Do not be afraid." Buoyed unwittingly by his best friend, Webber, and his favorite teacher, Mr. Bohm, Gabe carefully mourns his uncle and grapples with his deep-down fears as he waits to see what will happen next. Strong, memorable characters and an unusual plot make this a page-turning, heart-wrenching gem of a story.
"First Light," by Rebecca Stead. In New York, Peter is preparing to go to Greenland for six weeks, where his scientist father is studying global warming. And in Greenland, Thea is preparing to sneak out of her hidden glacier home into the light - the first person to do in centuries. When the two teens meet, they discover unexpectedly twined destinies. Stead creates two magnificently detailed and distinct worlds, and populates them with people readers will enjoy getting to know. You don't have to be a fan of "The City of Ember" to find this similar premise, but ultimately very different story, intriguing.
"H.I.V.E." by Mark Walden. The Higher Institute of Villainous Education is a very special school for very special kids - the kind of kids who like to be in charge and don't mind stepping on a few toes to get there. The kind who'd become supervillains, if given the right education. Otto Malpense is one of those kids; he's been running his orphanage for years with no one the wiser and everyone better off. But when he's kidnapped by G.L.O.V.E and finds he's stuck at H.I.V.E. until he graduates, he mutinies. With the aid of a few new, carefully chosen friends, they plot their escape. First of a new series, this delivers on its promise of action, adventure, and villains.
"Tomorrow's Magic," by Pamela J. Service. For a new twist on the Arthurian legend, pick up the story of Wellington Jones and his friends Heather McKenna and Earl Bedwas. Set 500 years after a nuclear holocaust decimates Earth's population, the remainders of the British population have regrouped into feudal villages and spend much of their time fighting mutants who are becoming increasingly numerous, aggressive and organized. When Earl discovers he's really Merlin, magicked into a second childhood, he convinces Welly and Heather to help him bring Arthur back from Avalon to reunited Britain.
The Juneau and Douglas libraries will be closed Monday for Memorial Day. The Mendenhall Valley library will be open regular hours. Also, kids' summer programs start up June 1.
For information about any Juneau Public Libraries programs or to place a hold on any material, visit www.juneau.org/library or call 586-5249.
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