Titles such as 'Finding Lubchenko' bridge young adult fiction gap

Posted: Friday, July 06, 2007

Young adult fiction bridges the gap between chapter books and adult fiction.

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"La Linea," by Ann Jaramillo. Seven years after Miguel's parents crossed la linea from Mexico into the United States, he gets a birthday note from his father: "It's time for you to come." The chance at a reunion is something Miguel's wished for, so why doesn't he think it might be what his sister has wished for, too? When he leaves his abuelita to make the dangerous journey across the border, his sister disguises herself and follows him. Suddenly, his plans change. Somehow, Miguel must make sure both he and Elena make it to the United States alive and well. An epilogue tells the ending of this gripping story.

"Spacer and Rat," by Margaret Bechard. Full of references to other science fiction writers and their stories, this is the fast-paced story of Jack, a young spacer with a goal, who meets Kit, a "rat" with a plan. Kit's Earthie parents abandoned her on Jack's station when they ran out of money, knowing she'd be sent back to Earth safely, but in the meantime, she's got a secret. Her maintenance bot Waldo has been modified to be sentient, making it extremely useful and completely illegal. When Jack finds out about Waldo, keeping the robot safe becomes a shared job, and changes Jack's perception of Earthies forever.

"M or F?" by Lisa Papademetriou and Chris Tebbetts. Male or Female? Marcus or Frannie? This modern-day Cyrano story has Frannie (who is straight) and her best friend Marcus (who is gay) doing a little online chatting with the guy Frannie's got a secret crush on. But Frannie's only brave when Marcus is doing the talking, and soon Marcus finds himself chatting alone with Jeff. But who is Jeff flirting with? M or F? Told in alternating chapters by Marcus and Frannie, this romantic comedy, like "Boy Meets Boy," takes place in a world where Marcus' gayness is as accepted as Frannie's straightness.

"Airball: my life in briefs," by L.D. Harkrader. Kirby is in seventh grade, lives with his grandmother, and despite his love of basketball, can't play to save his life. But when the coach announces that the team could earn a chance to meet hometown NBA star Brett "McNet" McGrew at end of the season, Kirby is suddenly desperate to make the team. He believes that McGrew is his father, and he's got a drawerful of evidence to prove it. To his surprise, he makes the team and is even chosen captain. But then the kids finds out Coach's secret winning weapon: stealth uniforms. The invisible kind. The kind that looks like you're wearing nothing but underwear. If the boys won't wear them, they're off the team, and if they're off the team, they'll never meet McGrew. There's only one thing to do ... .

"Make Me Over," edited by Marilyn Singer. These eleven stories by noted authors range from sweet to spicy to raw to romantic, but all focus on life changes. The amusing first story shows Michael, a geeky senior who's taken 4 years of French, transforming himself for a weekend into Maurice, a dashing exchange student, but coming away permanently altered. Other stories are painful, like "Lucky Six," in which 17 year-old Jamillah has finally earned enough money to take her younger siblings away from their addict-mother. Readers looking for something a little different will be captivated.

"Finding Lubchenko," by Michael Simmons. When Evan Macalister's millionaire father is arrested for murder, Evan finds himself with a dilemma. He knows his father isn't a murderer, and he knows that what the police want is the dead man's computer. Problem is, that computer is one of the items Evan "liberated" and sold on ebay. Confessing that will get Evan in trouble big time, so instead (with the aid of his father's credit card) he takes his best friends along to Paris where the computer's new owner lives. Solving the mystery requires smooth-talking Evan to learn some new skills quickly in this fast-paced and funny adventure.


Readers' Club starts up this week. Here's your chance to talk about books in depth with other readers. If you are going into grades 2 and 3, your Readers' Club will be 7-8 p.m. Tuesdays at the downtown library. If you are going into grades 4-8, your Readers' Club is 7-8 p.m. Mondays at the Mendenhall Valley library. Call Sandra Strandtmann at 586-0435 for more information.

As always, placing a hold on our material is easy: call the Juneau Public Library at 586-5249, or by going online to www.juneau.org/library.

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