Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - This is the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy. It picks up right where book one left off, and is FULL of surprises. We follow Katniss back home to District 12 where she is now a celebrity. Life should be easier now that she's won the games, but it's not. If you haven't read either of these books, you MUST...it's my favorite new series since Harry Potter. I love these characters. The books are so exciting, too.
Inexcusable by Chris Lynch This book is short but really powerful. Told from the point of view of Keir Safafian, a star footbal player, Inexcusable is the story of a "good guy" who has been accused of doing a "bad thing." Keir's girlfriend is upset with him and as the story unfolds you have to see what you believe. What really happened? Keir says he would never hurt his girlfriend, Gigi, but no one really knows what happened. Read this book to see what Keir remembers and if he did, in fact, do somethin that is inexcusable.
Notes from the Dog by Gary Paulsen Gary Paulsen is one of the greatest kids' writers ever! My students love Hatchet and all the Brian books, but Paulsen's new stuff is really amazing and great too. His books are short but packed with realistic characters and powerful stories. Notes from the Dog is about 15 year Finn, who is a regular kid...not that cool, but not really that bad. He sort of thinks he's a loser, but he's a little too hard on himself, I think. Anyway, Finn lives with his dad and also another kid from his school, Matthew. Matthew is actually cool and is staying with Finn because Matt's parents got divorced and he's not ready to move yet. Dylan, the dog (named after Bob Dylan...who's mentioned in the book) is always around, too. These two guys hang out and their summer suddenly gets much more interesting when a 20-something college student named Johanna moves in. She is really nice to the boys and genuinely interested in getting to know them while she house sits next door for the summer. She also happens to be battle breast cancer. Johanna and the boys and the dog become great friends. She asks Finn to make a garden for her as a project for the summer. This story is a great one about a unique and powerful friendship. I loved every word. What makes it even better is that these people are so real. Finn is a regular kid and I loved getting to read this story about him. A really great book for all, and it deals with cancer, too...but in a good way. It might be good for kids who have experienced situations like this in their real lives.
Deadline by Chris Crutcher This story blew me away, and I learned a lot about football reading this book. Ben Wolf is ready for his senior year of high school to begin. During a routine sports physical, though, he gets some shocking news from his doctor - He is going to die. This year. Ben is 18 years old, though, and he decides then and there that he is going to live a normal senior year. He decides not to tell his parents, and his doctor honors his wishes. So Ben sets off to do everything he wants. He goes out for the football team, asks out the love of his life, and begins working on experiencing what life has to offer. Can he keep it up forever? What will happen if/when he gets sick? I loved this book. It's great for all ages, girls and guys, and Ben and his brother Cody are great guys that I loved reading about.
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow - This book is the most amazing techno-geek book ever! It follows Marcus, a smart, normal computer geeky kid around San Francisco. When terrorists attack the Bay Bridge one day while Marcus and his friends are skipping school, they get pick up by the Department of Homeland Security and aren't heard from for days. What happened while they were being held captive? Did their parents know that they were safe? What did they even do, anyway? After they are released, Marcus sees that the city he loves is not the same. No one has any privacy and DHS officers are following your every move. This book shows what Marcus and friends did to take back their city.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead Even though this book is more of a middle reader level, I loved it. If you read and loved A Wrinkle in Time, you should read this book. It is about a girl named Miranda and her best friend Sal. One day Sal quits talking to Miranda, and her entire life begins to change. She also finds a note that says, "I am coming to save your friend's life, and my own. I ask two favors. First you must write me a letter." Miranda has no idea what to do, but thinks and plans, and reads more of the letters. This was a fun story about friends and time.
Castration Celebration by Jake Wizner Wizner's Spanking Shakespeare is one of the funniest books ever and a personal favorite of mine. When I saw that Wizner had a new book out, I bought it immediately. It's a great battle of the sexes story involving Olivia, a girl who has sworn off guys to write a musical, and Max, the "it" guy who always gets the girl and is oh so wonderful and handsome. Olivia is upset because she caught her dad cheating on her mom with one of his college students, and so she wants to work on her musical revenge masterpiece over the summer at Yale art camp. Max is there to hone his acting skills. This book goes back and forth between Olivia's musical and the regular narration. I loved it. Not quite as funny as Spanking Shakespeare, but a really good read. The songs in her musical are hilarious.