New young adult fiction can be spotted by its fluorescent green spine stickers

Posted: Friday, May 30, 2008

These young adult novels are written for tweens and teens, but adults are allowed to read them too. Spot them easily on the new and old fiction shelves by their fluorescent green spine stickers.

"Gym Candy," by Carl Deuker. Mick's father is determined to see his NFL dreams lived out by his son, and Mick has played football ever since he could walk and carry a mini ball. His dad even kept him back a year so he'd be bigger, stronger, and faster when he made the high school football team. There was never any question in Mick's or his dad's minds that he would: There were two empty walls in the den just waiting to be filled up with awards and articles. But when things start going badly for him on the field and Mick can't seem to shake the thought that he's never going to improve, his weight trainer offers him steroids. The euphoria Mick feels as he gains power and watches his body change is offset by the increasing depressions and rages that come on him out of the blue. This is a compelling story with lots of tension, both on and off the field, and memorable, believable characters.

"The Last Knight," by Hilari Bell. Sir Michael Sevenson is a self-proclaimed hero, a knight-errant, out for adventure with his (mostly) trusty squire, Fisk, who's been blackmailed into the job. Now the two are off to rescue a maiden from a tower in the dead of night with a horse named Chanticleer. But they've been misled and soon find themselves imprisoned themselves. Told alternately by Fisk and Sir Michael as the two anxiously try to right the wrong they've done and clear their names, usually with comic results.

"Kissing the Bee," by Kathe Koja. As a big fan of Koja's spare and powerful first-person stories, I couldn't resist this story of changing friendships, third wheels, and new loves. Dana and Avra have been best friends since freshman year, but now the seniors are growing apart. Dana has played attendant to Avra's queen bee too long and has finally found someone who doesn't need tending. Problem is - it's Avra's boyfriend, Emil, so at first, Dana keeps quiet. Counterpointing Dana's day-to-day life are excerpts from her paper on bee societies, to both amusing and poignant effect.

"1000 Reasons Never to Kiss a Boy," by Martha Freeman. Sixteen year-old Jane's first ever romance ends when she catches her boyfriend cheating on her in a walk-in refrigerator at work (all she wanted was a tomato). Now she's decided she's through with boys and romance and starts a list to help other girls come to the same conclusion. But Jane only gets to #42 before she changes her mind, with the help of the strong women in her life and a guy named Ashok, who turns out not to be quite the geek she thought he was.

"Sisters in Sanity," by Gayle Forman. Like "Holes" but for an older, female crowd, this novel takes place at Red Rock, a "rehabilitation" center for out-of-control girls. Under the guise of a family vacation, sixteen year-old Brit has been left until the counselors deem her "cured". The "cure" involves lots of group therapy and learning to rat your peers out. Brit can't survive on her own, but the girls are kept psychologically isolated. Quietly, under the counselors' radar, a group slowly begins to coalesce and V, Martha, Cassie, Bebe, and Brit become each other's most trustworthy friends and lifelines to the outside world.

"Yellow Flag," by Robert Lipsyte. Everyone in Kyle's family races NASCAR except Kyle: he's raced in the past, but now he's given it up to play trumpet in a school brass quintet on the verge of nationwide recognition. But when Kyle's older brother, Kris, who's becoming famous for his racing skills, is sidelined by an injury, Kyle gets pulled out of his haze of music and back into the racing circuit in Kris's place - and finds a new passion. Can Kyle find a way to balance music and the race track?

•••

The wait is over. Elementary school kids can "Catch the Reading Bug," and middle and high schoolers can "Metamorphosize" starting Sunday.

Toddler and Story Times start up again Monday, with special summer crafts at Story Times.

On Sunday, Maria Offer will conduct a Spanish language storytime at 2 p.m. at the Mendenhall Valley library.

And on Monday, bring a bag lunch at noon to the downtown library for storytime with guest storyteller Joy Steiner.

For information about any of 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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