Saturday, June 19, 2010

What I have been reading lately in young adult literature

What a week!  Two field trips and Sports Day but I managed to finish and print off my report cards yesterday afternoon so now I am turning to this stack of books I have read and want to review before I bring them to school or give away to a friend who teaches high school.  Some of these books have not yet been officially released and I have been reading advanced copies.

The first is one I had heard of but hadn't read, Cut by Patricia McCormick.  I very much enjoyed another of her books, Sold, about a girl sold into contemporary slavery.  Maybe enjoy wasn't the right word...  Cut is of course about a girl who cuts herself but I thought this book was very well written and engaging.  I thought it was an understandable story of why a girl would cut herself. 

Teaching Grade Seven for the first time, I have learned a bit more about Ancient Cultures, and the students are certainly fascinated by them.  Invisible City. the first of The Joshua Files by M.G. Harris, is about Joshua whose father, an archaeologist, has mysteriously died in a plane crash in Mexico.  Strange things begin to happen in Oxford so that Joshua and two of his friends go to investigate in Mexico, and Joshua discovers that a contemporary Mayan culture is still secretly existing.  This is a great thriller and the first of a series for middle schoolers.

Many many years ago I visited a beautiful part of the United States called The Outer Banks in North Carolina.  One thing we did was go to an outside theatre and see a play that has been playing in the summer for years in Roanoke Island called The Lost Colony .  The first settlement that the British made was in Roanoke Island in 1587 but then the settlement was cut off for several years due to the impending Spanish War and when a British ship finally returned, none of the settlers were found.  Cate of the Lost Colony, a well researched novel by Lisa Klein, tells the story of a fictional maid of Queen Elizabeth the first, who makes the mistake of falling in love with Sir Walter Raleigh, and is banished to the colony.  I found this book to be a real page turner and Cate an interesting character. It was fascinating imagining the contrast of life in Elizabethan England to that in the "wilds" of North America with the Croatoan native people.  Were all the colonists killed or died of starvation or did some of them just become part of the native community and hide from the ship's crew?

I am, I admit a Jane Austen fan, every few years rereading all her novels.  Needless to say, I was Jane Austen's Best Friend, had a certain appeal.  Another well researched novel that is based on Jane's relationship with her real life cousin, Jenny Cooper.  Again, author, Cora Harrison, used research as well as her imagination to write this novel.   I found this quite an engaging read as one can perhaps see where ideas for Austen's novels began to hatch and get a picture of her own life.

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz, is a science fiction novel, based on the idea of what if in an attempt to save money on education, schools end up in malls run by corporate sponsors.  I think this is one that would appeal to some of my students.  It presents a scary scenario with believable characters and has the appeal of a mystery.  The heroine Kid is bemused when after witnessing an anti-corporate prank, causing her mother to be thrilled and her best friend jealous, she is "branded" but also becoming involved with another group, the unidentified.  A good read.

Well enough for now.  More to come-find out why I was shocked that despite being one in Brownies, Pixies aren't good after all...

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