Archive for March, 2008

Alfred Kropp the Seal of Solomon by Rick Yancey

Genre:  Fantasy

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  327

RAC Book:  Yes

In this sequel, Alfred Kropp is kidnapped out of his foster home when his help is needed to retrieve the Seal of Solomon.  The Seal of Solomon is the vessel that holds the fallen angels from heaven and the ring that can release them.  These were taken from the secret organization Alfred came to know in the first book when a rogue agent decided to release them into the world. 

As Alfred tries to help protect the world from millions of demons he seems to only make things worse.  This adventure story will keep readers interested all the way until the end.  There is a super hero feeling to Kropp, but at the same time he is a regular teenager who thinks and acts like a regular teenager.  The humor, suspense, fantastical elements, and adventure will be a hit with teens.

Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy

Genre:  Historical fiction

Age Level:  12 and up

# of Pages:  227

RAC Book:  yes

This story, told in poetry form, follows one of the twelve children rescued from the Lodz Jewish ghetto during WWII.  The author is related to this woman who became one of the few children who managed to survive during a time when children were considered a nuisance and expendable.  It is important for students to hear these true stories of life in the ghetto and how she managed to survive such brutal attacks on her family and neighbors. 

One main reason why she survived the war was her father.  Her father was very astute, observant, and not afraid to try risky tactics.  His bravery saved his family and many others from a certain death and once the war was over he never spoke of it again.  Instead, he went on to live a normal life as if he had never done these heroic things to save his family. 

This story tells not only of what the ghettos were like during this time, but also of family, friendship, and being willing to stick up for yourself and what’s right even if it is difficult.  Any student who reads this will be able to get something out of it sheerly because they will respond to the fact that it is a true story.  Recommended.

Marley and Me by John Grogan

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  303

RAC Book:  Yes

This story follows a man’s journey with his dog, Marley.  It begins with him and his wife picking Marley up at a kennel as a puppy and follows them through puppy training, their journey to start a family, and life with three kids and a big dog.  This story comes straight from the heart and does not only focus on the good parts of having a dog.  There are many issues with Marley since he is a chewer, afraid of thunderstorms, and a bit needy.  Through it all, the family continues to get attached to Marley and cannot bear to think about life without him.

This story was written after a column written by the author about the passing of his beloved dog brought such a strong response from other dog owners who have experienced similar relationships with their dogs.  For anyone who has close family pets this will be an emotional book full of funny, sad, and memorable moments that only a family pet can provide. 

Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick

Genre: Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  264

Age Level:  13 and up

RAC Book:  Yes

San Lee has been the new student on many occasions since his family has moved so much.  With each new school San would try to create a new image or persona in order to survive, since he is a geeky Asian kid who frequently gets picked on.  This time things are a little different because San is now alone with his mother and he is angry with his father for their current situation. 

On his first day of school he meets a young lady who calls herself Woody and plays the guitar at lunchtime for money.  He decides he wants to get close to her because she seems like someone who could appreciate different and unique people.  In his history class they begin talking about Zen Buddhism and before he knows it he has led the class to believe that he has practiced this religion for years.  It definitely makes him unique and original, but can he keep it up without hurting his new friends and his mother? 

This story uses Zen Buddhism to illustrate how life in most situations, but especially high school, could be improved if people really thought about their actions and words.  By using Zen, San basically creates a new way to remind students of how to treat each other and live life to the fullest.  Unfortunately, San’s failure to be honest with Woody about his past and true ambitions leads him into trouble.  Once again, Sonnenblick has created a realistic high school character who can be selfish and self-serving, while also showing the ability for c0mpassion and friendship.  The supporting characters are rich and developed to make the story engaging and even a little inspiring.

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

Genre:  Fantasy

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  304

RAC Book:  Yes

Cal Thompson is a carrier of the parasite that creates vampires.  He was infected against his will and is now a hunter to hunt down others who have been infected and need help.  After he chases down all of the people he inadvertently infected he goes searching for the one who forced this life upon him.  Through this process he meets Lace, a girl who lives in the same apartment building of the girl he is looking for, and discovers she has noticed that something is not right in her building.

As Cal continues looking for clues as to what is really going on in the vampire community, he finds that Lace is difficult to get rid of and demands he tell her the truth about what he does for a living.  Instead of fleeing like most people would, Lace tries to help him find the mysterious Morgan who began Cal’s journey and what she finds surprises them both.

This vampire story focuses more on the science of vampirism and other parasites that exist in our world.  It lacks some of the excitement and mystery of this world found in other series such as Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight or Melissa De La Cruz’s Blue Bloods.  It does provide a unique take on vampires, but students won’t find it as interesting as Westerfeld’s Uglies series.  All in all, a little slow moving and cautious about a popular topic in young adult lit. right now.

Pretty Tough by Liz Tigelaar

Genre:  Sports Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  246

RAC Book:  Yes

Krista and Charlie are two sisters who do not get along in any way.  Krista strives to be perfect and adored at all times, while Charlie seems determined to be a loner.  The story changes perspective between the two sisters which allows the reader to understand where both girls are coming from.  Krista has a lot of insecurities which she tries to compensate for by looking perfect on the outside.  Charlie feels her sister and everyone else in school failed to stand up for her in the past and does not have time for them now.

Everything begins to change when  a new soccer coach, Martie, decides to make girls soccer great again.  She recruits Charlie, a strong athlete, which annoys Krista because she feels like Charlie is taking the spotlight away from her for her senior year.  Charlie tries out purely to annoy Krista and has no intention of staying on the team, but finds she enjoys actually fitting in somewhere.

This book covers many issues like high school life, friendship, sports, and sisters.  Both sisters learn a lot through their time together on the soccer field and come to appreciate each other in new ways.  This change in their relationship is not easy, however, and they have to jump many hurdles in order to be able to play well together.  Of course there are also romantic moments in this teen story.  A good story for girls and athletes who enjoy this type of writing.