Young Adult Books, ages 11 or 12 and up
THE CAT WHO TAILED A THIEF (1960's!), by Lilian Jackson BraunBraun's "cat mysteries" are still going strong, 30 years after their beginning. We have 19 now, all very popular, all delightful, light reading. The human in these stories, Jim Qwilleran, is a newspaper reporter who depends on his Siamese cat Koko for insights into various crimes. Because Qwilleran changes reportorial duties on the paper, the settings and plots for this series include a happy variety for readers. Mysteries like these remind me of popcorn - you always want more.
JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN (1939), by Dalton TrumboWhen truth is told, war is not a romantic endeavor. This is a book about war, one of the most powerful ever written, and because of that it was pulled from the shelves in America. Shortly after it debuted, we were becoming involved in WWII, and this was a skillful, accurate depiction of what could happen to you if you went to war. And so it was censored. Unlike most books recommended on this site, this one is grimly realistic. It is also a tribute to the human spirit, which sounds hokey but is true, because Trumbo is a highly skilled writer. When this book was banned, so was he. He had been a much sought-after Hollywood script writer, but after the McCarthy Commission finished with him, he was blacklisted for several years. That is what censorship does. Note: Trumbo was one of 10 Hollywood professionals who refused to testify before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in 1947. A few of his movies are Spartacus; Roman Holiday; Papillon, Exodus, and may others.
MY DOG SKIP (1995), By Willie MorrisYou know Eddie, the dog from the TV sitcom "Frasier". He stars in the movie made from this delightful dog book. When the author first met this puppy, later named Skip, the pup went to sleep in his arms. So, they were meant to be together, Morris decided. This is the story of their lives in a small Mississippi town on the Yazoo River. It's a warm and fuzzy book, even better for us than vitamins!
COMMENTS ON THE HUNGER GAMES, by Suzanne Collins.This book and the rest in the series are highly popular now, and the writing in them is admirable. Unfortunately, I have deep concerns about the plot. In the stories, teenagers are offered up in a national game wherein the goal is for only one teenager to survive. The kids spend the book killing each other off. I realize that anything this drastic is written to make a point—Isn’t war gruesome?—but I believe that point has been made. Of course, we still send our young people off to kill other young people in foreign countries, where we don’t have to witness it. Currently, consider Afghanistan and Iraq. Hmmm.
THE RED PYRAMID, (Kane Chron., Bk 1), by Rick Riordan.The Red Pyramid features Carter Kane, 14, and his sister Sadie, 12, children of Dr. Julius Kane who is an Egyptologist. They became separated after the mysterious death of their mother, but are reunited when their father arrives in London and wants them to tour the British Museum with him. Right away “the plot thickens,” as we say, when one of the museum’s most prized exhibits, the Rosetta Stone, appears to destruct. Dr. Kane vanishes, Sadie and Carter are abducted, and five Egyptian gods are released, including the dangerous god SET, whose goal is to control the world. Wow. Riveting action, great characters, many laughs along the way. SLJ Starred Review.
- FEED, by M.T. Anderson
- BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS, by Shannon Hale
- ROCKET BOYS, by Homer H. Hickam, Jr.
- SOME WE LOVE, SOME WE HATE, SOME WE EAT, by Hal Herzog
- THE LIGHTNING THIEF, (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan.
- Bloody Jack, Being An Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary (Jacky) Faber, Ship's Boy by L.A. Meyer.
- EXTREME PETS! by Jane Harrington.
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