Archive for May, 2011

The Batboy by Mike Lupica

Genre:  Sports fiction

# of Pages:  246

2011 Iowa Teen Award Winner

RAC Book:  Yes

Brian Dudley is thrilled when he learns that he will be a batboy for the Tigers Major League Baseball Team.  He is also excited when he hears that his baseball hero, Hank Bishop, will be playing on the team after getting suspended for steroid use.  Brian loves baseball and loves working with the Tigers.  He strives to be the best batboy he can be and is shocked when Hank Bishop does not appreciate his efforts.  Meanwhile his father, who is a retired major league pitcher whom he hasn’t seen in over a year, comes to town to scout some players for Japan.  Brian hates to admit it, but secretly hoped this connection to baseball would bring them together again.   Can Brian earn Hank’s respect?  Will he ever reconnect with his father?  Will he still love baseball after a summer of working for the Tigers?

This book is for anyone who loves baseball.  Brian truly loves the sport in every way and his excitement is infectious.  Lupica definitely has an upbeat, positive writing style in which characters often seem a bit simplistic.  This won’t stop young readers from devouring his stories, however.  The sports aspects are well described and there’s always a lot of action and character conflict.  Recommended for sports lovers and reluctant readers.

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The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  310

RAC Book:  Yes

2011 Iowa High School Award Winner

Mary loses her parents to the “unconsecrated” or zombies who live outside the fences of her village.  Her brother blames her for their deaths and turns her out of their home.  Mary is forced to go live with the nuns who control everything in the village.  Despite her hardships, Mary cannot help but think of life outside the village.  She dreams of seeing the ocean and skyscrapers, but everyone around her focuses on keeping the “unconsecrated” out every minute of every day.  To make matters worse, the boy she loves has asked another to marry him.  Can Mary find a place in this village?  Can she ever learn to be happy?  Or will she have to escape and risk her chances against the zombies?

This zombie story is engaging from the beginning and will keep readers guessing until the end.  The middle lags a bit in places, but readers will want to know what happens to these characters.  The characters and the village setting are written so accurately that anyone can imagine what it would be like to live in constant fear of zombies at your doorstep.  The rules of this life are finite and unforgiving, which is why Mary struggles to find a place here.  Fans of Rot and Ruin will enjoy this one as well.

The Last Thing I Remember by Andrew Klavan

Genre:  Action/Mystery

# of Pages:  346

2011-2012 High School Award Winner

RAC:  Yes

High school student Charlie West wakes up in a prison cell where he is being tortured for information.  Charlie has a difficult time understanding why he is in this situation because he cannot remember anything since he went to bed in his own house.  As he begins to put the pieces together he realizes that there is a lot of stuff he does not remember, but he does know he is currently in danger.  Can he escape in order to find out where the last year of his life went?  Can he find out why he is being tortured?

This story is full of action and suspense right from page one.  Any reader will not be able to help getting pulled into the story because the story is so compelling right from the beginning.  Where is Charlie?  What do they want from him?  Who can he go to for help?  The plot twists are surprising and yet believable.  Fans of espionage novels such as the Bourne trilogy, the Cherub series, or the Sleeper Code will love this book.

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Genre:  Fantasy/Fairy Tale

# of Pages 304

RAC Book:  Yes

2011 Iowa Teen Award Winner

Kyle Kingsbury is attractive, popular, and rich.  He is also a major jerk who loves to hurt other people.  When he decides to play a cruel trick on an outcast at school he is punished by getting transformed into a beast.  He has two years to find true love in order to be changed back into his handsome self and Kyle believes that is an impossible task.  His father does not even want to be around him because he is too horrified by his appearance and Kyle is sent to live by himself with a maid and a blind tutor.  Despite the hopelessness of the situation, Kyle begins to thrive and change.  So much so that when he finally comes in contact with a girl again he feels he might be able to love her…if only she could love him back.

This retelling of Beauty and the Beast is modern and old fashioned at the same time.  The story of Kyle and Lindy is heartwarming and hopeful so that the reader naturally wants them to get together and break the spell.  Readers will notice some symbolism with the roses and some of the character traits.  The characters are well developed and interesting to read about and many readers will enjoy the story, but especially those that enjoy books like Once Upon a Marigold.

Boost by Kathy Mackel

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Sports

# of Pages:  248

RAC Book:  Yes

2011-2012 Iowa Teen Award Winner

Savvy is a very talented basketball player who despite only being 14, makes the under 18 travel team.  She has to prove herself from the beginning, however, because not everyone welcomes her onto the team.  Plus, she is new in town after her family suffered some financial hardships in their hometown and were forced to come stay on their relative’s sheep farm.  Savvy wants to fit in and prove herself more than anything.  Meanwhile, her sister Callie is having a hard time fitting in on the cheerleading squad she so desperately wants to join.  The stress of the move encouraged Callie to put on a bit of extra weight and because of that her career as a “flyer’ could be in jeopardy.  Both of the girls want to “boost” their game, but what will they be willing to do in order to succeed?

Boost follows a family who is making a transition and hoping for the best.  They all want to support each other, but they are all going through difficult challenges as well.  As Savvy and Callie try to find their way in this new town they are faced with challenges and temptations that may or may not be in their best interest.  In the end, they realize they must support each other no matter what because there is nothing more important than family.  A good sports fiction story that fans of Dairy Queen will enjoy.