SUMMARY: Charlie Fairmile’s dad has been accused of bank robbery. Charlie knows his dad isn’t guilty, but the police are convinced he’s the Stocking Bandit. So Charlie has to find the real criminal—and fast. With the help of his best friends and his guardian angel, Charlie sets out to solve the mystery. Who knew that would mean crawling through a bug-infested crypt? Well, what you can’t see can’t hurt you, right? But can a blind teenager unravel a crime even the police can't solve? (from the inside flap)
OPINION: This is another book from the fabulous Sleuth imprint that has brought you other great teen mystery titles like Fake ID by Walter Sorrells and Double Helix by Nancy Werlin. You might think that a book about a blind teen detective would devolve into trite drivel about living with a handicap. And it very easily could. But not this one! Charlie's guide through the neighborhood and at school is Bernadette, a smart-mouthed tough girl whose only soft spot is for Charlie. Charlie himself is self-assured and creative in trying to solve the mystery of the Stocking Bandit. The book is full of humor and bizarre situations, even a bit of supernatural help at crucial moments. And the end is truely surprising.
BEST QUOTE: "Lewis can't help thinking of al the horror movies where the two stars and their friend do something dangerous, and the friend gets it. Happens every time. And, he thinks, that one--the third friend--is me. The more he thinks of it, the more convinced he becomes. This is not The Three Musketeers after all--it's a teen horror flick. Charlie is tall and handsome, real star material. And he's blind, for crying out loud. They'll never kill him. Bernadette isn't a beauty...but she's smart and determined and Charlie's best friend. She's safe, too. No, thinks Lewis, I'm the third friend. Zombie bait."
SUMMARY: Imagine a society dominated by the feed--a next-generation Internet/television hybrid that is directly hardwired into the brain. Teen narrator Titus never questions his world, in which parents select their babies' attributes in the conceptionarium, corporations dominate the information stream, and kids learn to employ the feed more efficiently in School. But everything changes when he and his pals travel to the moon for spring break. There Titus meets home-schooled Violet, who thinks for herself, searches out news and asserts that "Everything we've grown up with the stories on the feed, the games, all of that it's all streamlining our personalities so we're easier to sell to." Titus's greatest strength lies in his denial of and uncomfortable awakening to the truth. This satire offers a thought-provoking and scathing indictment that may prod readers to examine the more sinister possibilities of corporate- and media-dominated culture. (adapted from the Publishers Weekly review)
OPINION: This book is dystopian fiction at its best! If you like books like The Bar Code Tattoo and 1984, or movies like I, Robot or Minority Report, this book is for you. The idea of having advertising bombarding your brain every minute is really creepy. Actually, what really made me shiver was role of School. When the government was no longer able to fund public schools, the corporations took over education to teach feed users to become better consumers. Scary! Think about how much advertising is already a part of your school life. Anyway, this book is very well written (better than The Bar Code Tattoo...sorry) and worth the time it takes to get into the mind of a future generation.
If you're sorry you missed it...
Look for some books:
- The 500 Best Urban Legends Ever! by Yorick Brown
- Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid: The Book of Scary Urban Legends collected by Jan Harold Brunvand
- Encyclopedia of Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand
- The Chicken-Fried Rat: Tales Too Gross to Be True by Cylin Busby
- The Big Book of Urban Legends (graphic novel) by Robert Loren Fleming
- The Exploding Toilet: Modern Urban Legends by David Holt
- Hollywood Urban Legends by Richard Roeper
- Mysterious Urban Myths by John Townsend
- Wikipedia Article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_legends
- Snopes Urban Legends Reference Pages: http://www.snopes.com
- Truth or Fiction: http://www.truthorfiction.com/
- Mythbusters TV Show: http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/mythbusters/mythbusters.html
Anyway, we wrote our own urban legends, which I posted below. Caitlin and Jeff won TRW backpacks for having the most convincing urban legend. We did an urban legend quiz, on which Marissa only missed two answers. She won a backpack, too. Also, Maria posted a bizarre quote below which is actually from an urban legend mad-lib that we did. Now we all know lots of useless trivia, but I bet none of us will ever believe email forwards again!!!
Victim: single mother
Object: credit card
On August 14, 1987, a cop pulled over a woman for speeding on the highway. The victim was a Ms. Shirley Parker from West Banks, Oregon, a single mother of three. The cop took her wallet, claiming to be searching for her license and registration, and "accidentally" confiscated her Visa card instead of her license. The woman called her credit card company as soon as she found out, and they revealed that her account was accessed by an Officer Roger Steele. Apparently, he had done the same thing to at least five other women on the highway in such diverse states as California, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Kansas. If you live anywhere in the west, e-mail this to five friends. Officer Steele may be been caught, but there are others out there willing to take money from victims like you!!! Do your part. Keep the west informed.
Victim: little old lady
Location: office building
Beware of a lunatic lollipop home handyman. Once we had a case where a little old lady's lollipop was stoled by a handyman while she was in an office building. Before this happens to your grandma, send us ten dollars and your little old grandma will be safe. You can count on us! This happened to my grandma. Stop it before it happens to YOURS!
The Lollipop Protecting Management
Fill out this form and email it back to us:
Checking Account Number:
Amount of Payment:
Victim: nerdy computer whiz
Location: fast food restaurant
Warning! Warning! Beware of a fast food restaurant haunted by a nerdy computer whiz kid! A postal worker got hungry on her way home from work. But on her way to the restaurant, she hit a dog. The dog surprisingly survived and ran away, revealing a boy passed out in the middle of the street. The postal worker got scared, thinking that she killed him, but he really had just passed out after seeing the dog getting hit. She then loaded him in the trunk of her car and drove off. She was still so hungry that she made a quick turn into the drive thru. Instead, she drove into a window, killing herself and the nerdy boy. I gues you could say she's not hungry any more. Now, as legend has it, the nerdy kid haunts the fast food restaurant because he was headed there before he died.
Victim: pregnant teen
Location: grocery store
On February 18th, a pregnant teen was shopping for chocolate bars to fill her craving. Before she got to the checkout line, her water broke. Her mom was at home with the stove on and said she would meet the girl at the hospital ASAP. The girl later found out that the kind man who had helped her into the ambulance was the telemarketer who called her five times the night before. When she got home with her new baby, she was again called by the same telemarketer.
Victim: innocent girl
There was a handsome Pizza Hut delivery guy who fell in love with a sick girl at the hospital. She had cancer of the kidney. Whenever he got a call to make a delivery, we would go to see the innocent girl in the hospital. He kept taking pictures of her, but he told her they were only to remember her by. Then a nurse spotted him taking pictures and realized he was stalking the innocent girl. She called the cops and they placed him in custody. He was fined $10,000 and sentenced to an asylum for life and stripped of his job. Caution! A Pizza Hut delivery guy may be after you! Please try to restrain from ordering from or going to a Pizza Hut!!
OK, so it's not exactly new. But it is new to the teen nonfiction area. I'm talking about some nonfiction books that are for teens that were moved from J to Teen this week! The teen nonfiction shelf is actually ALMOST FULL. We need to knock down a wall!
Here is a list:
- If High School Is a Game, Here's How to Break the Rules by Cherie Carter-Scott
- Born Beautiful: The African American Teenager's Complete Beauty Guide by Alfred Fornay
- Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos
- It's Your World--If You Don't Like It, Change It: Activism for Teenagers by Mikki Halpin
- My Sisters' Voices: Teenage Girls of Color Speak Out edited by Iris Jacob
- Teen Ink: Love and Relationships edited by Stephanie H. Meyer and John Meyer
- Teen Ink 2: More Voices, More Visions edited by Stephanie H. Meyer and John Meyer
- Yell-Oh Girls! Emerging Voices Explore Culture, Identity, and Growing Up Asian American edited by Vickie Nam
- Guys Write for Guys Read edited by Jon Scieszka
- Taste Berries for Teens: Inspiriational Short Stories and Encouragement on Life, Love, Friendship and Tough Issues edited by Bettie B. Youngs and Jennifer Leigh Youngs
SUMMARY: Fourteen-year-old Jaime is used to her best friend, Melissa, being the center of attention. Melissa wants to be a model—she’s beautiful, popular, and talented. There’s just one small problem—Melissa thinks she’s pregnant, and she wants Jaime’s help. But there’s not much Jaime can do. Melissa refuses to tell her parents; Jaime refuses to be the same old reliable doormat. She’s got a lead in the school play and a new friendship with Zach. Jaime is changing, too. And she’s sick of being stepped on! (from the inside flap)
OPINION: This story is told in a series of short first-person vignettes, each with an eye-catching, vertically arranged title. It is very short--I read the book in an hour. The story moves quickly and is fairly believable. One thing I love about the book: both girls are in the school play, which is "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds" by Paul Zindel, one of my favorite YA authors ever. What makes this book striking is that it was written by a 15-year-old! Really. She goes to high school in Arizona. It's a better book than I could write, so I can't really criticise her!
- Teen Dream Jobs: How to Find the Job You Really Want Now by Nora E. Coon
- King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography by Chris Crutcher
- Life Lists for Teens by Pamela Espeland
- The Teen Survival Guide to Dating and Relating by Annie Fox
- When a Friend Dies: A Book for Teens about Grieving and Healing by Marilyn E. Gootman
- They Broke the Law--You Be the Judge: True Cases of Teen Crime by Thomas A. Jacobs
- What Are My Rights? by Thomas A. Jacobs
- More Than a Label: Why What You Wear or Who You're With Doesn't Define Who You Are by Aisha Muharrar
- The How Rude! Handbook of Family Manners for Teens: Avoiding Strife in Family Life by Alex J. Packer
- Teen Angst? Naaah... A Quasi-Autobiography by Ned Vizzini
What should we do with the money???
SUMMARY: The otters of Green Isle have long been enslaved to the Wildcat Riggu Felis and his catguards, who torture the otters at every opportunity. The otters trudge on, waiting for the day their savior will arrive—the prophesized High Rhulain, who will lead them in battle and a return to glory. Meanwhile, young Tiria Wildlough, an ottermaid at Redwall Abbey, pines for her chance to learn the ways of the warrior, much against the wishes of her father. But when an injured osprey arrives at the Abbey, seeking help for its wounds and carrying tales of an embattled clan of otters, young Tiria knows what she must do...
OPINION: You know how much I love Redwall, so I was really happy to read the new book! This is the eighteenth book in the series, but it stands alone as a story. That is, if you have never read a Redwall book, you could start with this one and not miss anything. Anyway, it is a fabulous adventure in which the characters journey to an island that has not appeared in any previous story. But the familiar GUOSIM, perilous hares of Salamandastron, and, of course, Martin the Warrior all do make appearances. As usual, the best parts of this story are the songs and riddles, as well as the food! (PS--a new Redwall cookbook just came out too!)
SUMMARY: Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma’s visions intensify–visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain. The lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are visitng the realms again. But all is not well in the realms–or out. Powerful magic is on the loose. And until her nemesis Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task. (adapted from the inside flap)
OPINION: If you have not read A Great and Terrible Beauty, go do it right now! Rebel Angels is the sequel, and you have to read them in order. That said, this book was incredible. The writing is impeccable. It really captures the Victorian sensibility, while providing an exciting supernatural adventure and mystery tale that will keep you guessing until the very end. And if you read it for no other reason...think KARTIK.
SUMMARY: Sticky is a beat-around-the-head foster kid with nowhere to call home but the street, and an outer shell so tough that no one will take him in. He started out life so far behind the pack that the finish line seems nearly unreachable. He’s a white boy living and playing in a world where he doesn’t seem to belong. But Sticky can ball. And basketball might just be his ticket out...if he can only realize that he doesn’t have to be the person everyone else expects him to be. (from the inside flap)
OPINION: I don't play basketball. I don't watch basketball. I don't even like basketball. But this book hooked me, despite being totally focused on...you guessed it...basketball. The writing about basketball, about Sticky, and about the streets is completely amazing. It is not a "feel-good" book, full of sweetness and happy endings. But it is REAL in a way that many other books are not. It doesn't preach or judge, it just tells it like it is. This is one of the best teen books written this year, and I expect to see it on all kinds of lists for 2005...maybe even the Printz.
On Sale: October 7, 2005
SUMMARY: Alfred Kropp is busily trying to survive high school, when his uncle gets him roped into a suspicious get-rich-quick scheme that changes his life forever: stealing Excalibur—the legendary sword of King Arthur. But after Alfred unwittingly delivers the sword into the hands of a man with enormously evil intentions, he sets off on an unlikely quest to try to right his wrong and save the world from imminent destruction. This gripping, fast-paced, hilarious novel is both a thrilling adventure story and an engaging account of one boy’s coming of age. (from the publisher)
OPINION: This is a great modern twist on an old legend. It's sort of like a James Bond film--secret organizations, fast cars, weapons, fights, and the occasional gorgous girl. With one major exception: the hero is a chunky teenager with bad social skills and a tendency toward making stupid mistakes at awkward times. My favorite character was Bennacio, the last remaining guardian of the sword who dispenses cryptic wisdom (like a kung-fu master) to Alfred while they try to save the sword...and the world!