Treasures for adolescent bookworms

Posted Thursday, Jun. 26, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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One of the joys of summer reading is discovering a really good book and then finding that no one else seems to know about it. Here are some diamonds in the rough that young readers will find entertaining and enjoy discussing and sharing with others:

‘Bad Girls Don’t Die,’ by Katie Alender

Disney-Hyperion, 2009

For ages: 12 and older

There are strange things happening with Alexis’ 13-year-old sister, Kasey. Kasey’s eyes change from blue to green and she has begun speaking in a strange old-fashioned language; yet she claims to have no recollection of these strange happenings.

The family’s house is also experiencing bizarre occurrences. The doors open and close by themselves, water boils on unlit stoves and a nonworking air conditioner makes the temperature so cold that Alexis and Kasey can see their own breath.

At first, Alexis thinks all of this is her imagination, but when harmless happenings turn into life-threatening situations, she realizes she may be the only person who can stop it. Part of a trilogy, this is a great choice for readers who are looking for books with a supernatural twist.

‘Goldilocks and Just One Bear,’ by Leigh Hodgkinson

Nosy Crow

For ages: 4 and older

Once upon a time, a bear decided to go for a walk. Unfortunately, he got a little turned around and decided that a little rest and some porridge inside a nice house would fix everything. Sounds like a humorous reflection of a story that basically everyone has heard a thousand times — but, wait. It isn’t just a retelling of the original fairy tale.

Kids and grown-ups may think they’ve heard this story, but sometimes familar-sounding stories have a way of surprising us just when we thought history was about to repeat itself.

‘How Martha Saved Her Parents From Green Beans,’ by David LaRochelle

Dial Books for Young Readers

For ages: 4 and older

Martha doesn’t care how healthy green beans are or how strong they will make her; she knows green beans taste bad! Little does she realize just HOW bad. A gang of mean green beans make their way into town and terrorize all the people who’ve encouraged others to “eat green beans!”

Suddenly, Martha’s parents disappear, kidnapped by the band of malicious vegetables, and Martha finds herself alone in the house. With no parents around to nag her, will she find the courage to do what is right and save the day or will she shuck her responsibilities and enjoy the freedom of making her own choices?

‘I Am Morgan le Fay,’ by Nancy Springer

Philomel Books

For ages: 14 and older

Morgan is a mischievous little girl with mismatched eyes of emerald green and amethyst violet. She is special and there is a powerful magic within her, but for much of her life, she’s been caught in the struggles of war and unable to fight her destiny.

She hates fate, and the word’s constant utterance fills her with a burning anger.

This heart-wrenching story shows us that it is a hard thing to be a woman, and Morgan’s story of madness, pain and fury are enough to leave the reader with an understanding of how she defiantly becomes the antagonist to King Arthur … and destiny itself.

‘The Lost Years of Merlin,’ by T. A. Barron

Philomel Books

For ages: 12 and older

Emrys awakens unable to recall who he is or where he came from. In an attempt to find truth and unlock the secrets behind his past and his dangerous powers, he embarks on a journey to the land of Fincayra, a place existing between earth and sky.

There, he makes new friends and reluctantly becomes entangled in the fate of a land that may perish if he chooses not to act.

It’s hard to believe that this young boy’s name will forever reverberate throughout history as the greatest wizard of all time, but all stories have their beginnings. The first book in the Merlin saga shows us that sometimes, the path to greatness is long, treacherous and mysterious.

‘Perfect Chemistry,’ by Simone Elkeles

Walker Publishing Co.

For ages: 13 and older

This is a classic teenage love story with an urban twist at the end; one of a trilogy and a cross between Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story.

North Siders and South Siders are not compatible, according to the students at Fairfield High School, on the outskirts of Chicago.

Brittany Ellis, a North Sider, has worked hard on her perfect facade. She’s head cheerleader, and she has the perfect boyfriend and a flawless reputation. What no one knows however is that Brittany’s home life is anything put perfect.

Alex Fuentes from the south side has the reputation of being a bad boy. One day he makes a bet with his friends that he can make Brittany fall for him. Initially, it’s a harmless wager until he realizes that Brittany might not be as perfect as she would like everyone at school to think.

‘Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon,’ by Patty Lovell

G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2001

For ages: 4 and older

Molly Lou Melon is a small, clumsy first-grader with buck teeth and a voice that sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor.

None of this gets her down since she has a grandmother who always gives her special advice about the merits of being different, but then her family moves to a new town and she has to leave her grandma and her friends behind.

In her new environment, will she remember her grandmother’s advice when others make fun of her, or realize that being different is not a bad thing?

‘Vampirina Ballerina,’ by Countess Anne Marie Pace

Disney-Hyperion, 2012

For ages: 2 and older

The first book of the “Vampirina Ballerina” series introduces Vampirina, a young vampire who really wants to be a ballerina. She joins an evening ballet class and tries very hard but soon realizes that her goal is going to require a lot more work than she realized.

Just as Vampirina considers giving up, she discovers that an upcoming recital could be an opportunity to practice, practice, practice and become the type of ballerina that she has always wanted to be.

Kendra Meeks and Gilbert Smith are library assistants at the Fort Worth Public Library.

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