- Caroline Parr
Thousands of kids and hundreds of teens have already signed up for this year’s summer reading clubs at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library. Now that schools are letting out, librarians are bracing for even more eager readers swarming into our branches.
Summer means the youth services librarians get to turn their attention form homework help to one of their very favorite jobs: matching readers with books. Getting kids started on a great series is a special thrill as kids fall head over heels into characters and stories that continue in book after book.
“City of Ember,” the first in Jeanne DuPrau’s “Book of Ember” series, introduces Lina and Doon, two kids who realize that their dark, colorless underground city is slowly disintegrating. After more than 200 years of living like this, the people of Ember remember no other way of life, but now the electricity is faltering and the food is running short. Lina and Doon, armed with a damaged set of instructions, set out on an underground river to see if there is a way out of Ember and a life beyond the city. Part adventure, part mystery, this intriguing tale is followed by three more, including a prequel, “The Prophet of Yonwood,” that fills in the story before Ember was created.
Kids like the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder for their authentic descriptions of everyday life on the prairie and the close-knit members of the Ingalls family. Those readers will love Louise Erdrich’s books about Omakayas, a young Ojibway girl living along Lake Superior in the 1850’s. In the first book, “The Birchbark House,” Omakayas is a brave seven-year-old girl with a mystery in her past. As the year turns, Omakayas and her mother, pesky little brother and adored older sister tan hides, harvest wild rice, and scare crows from the cornfields. “The Game of Silence” and “The Porcupine Year” follow Omakayas over the next five years as she and her family are forced by the government to leave their island home, barely surviving raids and severe winter weather before finding a safe harbor. Erdrich mixes humor and adventure with unforgettable characters. Readers ten and up will like this series, which would also make a good family read-aloud.
Young readers who have followed third grader Judy Moody since she appeared on the scene in Megan McDonald’s first book are welcoming the latest installment, “Judy Moody Goes to College.” A new substitute teacher recommends Judy for extra math help, and next thing she knows, her father has dropped her off at the college for a session with Chloe, her new math tutor.
Judy’s mood is pretty bad when she arrives, but with her dyed-red hair and her seven piercings, Chloe is so cool that Judy is soon imitating everything she does, from picking up slang like “peeps” and “crucial” to trying to order a “nonfat capp, extra whip” at the school cafeteria. When she sits in on one of Chloe’s college art classes, the painting she creates ends up in the college art show. Judy’s over the moon, or, as she would say, “in the Judy Moody game of life, it’s all about attitude.” Kids can read the eight books in any order, but for maximum enjoyment, start at the beginning with “Judy Moody.”
This article was first published in the Free Lance-Star on June16, 2009.