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Cafe Book Rodney Thompson: Top Teen Picks 2011

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

The results are in and the 7th and 8th graders at Rodney Thompson Middle School have spoken.  Here are their top choices from their Cafe Book program this year.

Top Picks:

Bruiser
by Neal Shusterman
Inexplicable events start to occur when sixteen-year-old twins Tennyson and Brontë befriend a troubled and misunderstood outcast, aptly nicknamed Bruiser, and his little brother, Cody.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Hex Hall
by Rachel Hawkins
Sophie has just been exiled to Hex Hall, a school for rebellious teens…of the supernatural sort. Witches like herself, werewolves, and even a vampire or two are her new classmates, along with a host of equally unusual teachers. As mysterious and murderous events unfold, Sophie learns about her past and a secret society that dooms them all.

 

 

Other Favorites:

Candor by Pam Bachorz


Candor
by Pam Bachorz
For a fee, "model teen" Oscar Banks has been secretly--and selectively-- sabotaging the subliminal messages that program the behavior of the residents of Candor, Florida, until his attraction to a rebellious new girl threatens to expose his subterfuge. 

 
 

Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler
Cupcake Queen
by Heather Hepler
Penny moves to Hogs Hollow from New York City with her Mom. Penny's Mom runs a cupcake store and Penny has to help out. She also had to leave her friends. In addition to that, her Dad did not move with them. But there is Marcus, the boy she sees running on the beach every night.


 

Skit-Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald by Roxanne Orgill

Skit-Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald developed a love for music and singing while she was a young girl growing up in New York.  She and her mother Tempie used to dance around their apartment while Ella's younger sister Frances repeatedly put the needle back to the beginning of the record so that they could dance and sing the day away.  They had such a grand time that they forgot all about the washing and the ironing.  The book Skit Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald by Roxanne Orgill and illustrated by Sean Qualls introduces us to the young Ella.  At thirteen, Ella and her friend Charlie were singing and dancing on Morgan Street outside the apartment building.  It was 1930 in Yonkers New York and people did not have much money.  But some folks were able to spare some change for Ella and Charlie.  They occasionally had a nickel or two tossed at them.

Charlie and Ella put their nickels together and they were able to take the Number 1 trolley to the end of the line.  From there they climbed aboard the subway train to 125th Street.  They were in Harlem.  Ella watched the dancers at the Savoy Ballroom on Lenox Avenue.  When Ella and Charlie danced outside the theatre, people tossed them their loose change.  They were making more money than the shoeshine boys.  Ella knew that she was going to be famous and she told everyone so.

The Fortune of Carmen Navarro by Jen Bryant

The Fortune of Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro works at the local Quikmart.  She is bored with her job.  Ryan Sweeney  goes to the Valley Forge Military Academy, where there are no girls.  In The Fortune of Carmen Navarro by Jen Bryant, their two worlds collide.  One day Carmen is working at the checkout counter, and Ryan comes into the store on a one-day pass.  He sees her jet-black hair and snake tattoo and falls for her immediately.  Carmen sees Ryan as a cute boy with whom she'd like to spend some time.  She invites him to come and listen to her band.   That is the beginning of an intense relationship for Ryan.

Ryan Sweeney comes from a military family.  His family decided for him that he would be going to Valley Forge Military Academy.  He wants to please his family and has never questioned their authority.  He has been a model student and a rule follower - that is, until he meets Carmen.  He starts sneaking off campus to see her and lying to his classmates about where he is going.  His grades start to slip.  Ryan has never met anyone like Carmen, and he has fallen hopelessly in love with her.

Paris in the Spring with Picasso by Joan Yolleck

Paris in the Spring with Picasso

Imagine receiving an invitation to a soiree at the home of Gertrude Stein--number 27 Rue de Fleurus in Paris.  If you read Paris in the Spring with Picasso, by Joan Yolleck, you will feel as if you have.  This is an imaginary tale written by the author after a trip to the library where she passed the time reading about Stein.  She created a story about famous artists and authors as they prepare for an evening's festivities.  The young reader is introduced to such characters as Pablo Picasso and Alice B. Toklas.

Hero by Mike Lupica

Hero by Mike Lupica

Fourteen-year-old Zach Harriman lives in New York City with his mother and father.  He has been living the life of a typical teen until his father is killed under mysterious circumstances. In Mike Lupica's book Hero, Zach decides that following the devastating loss of his father, he wants to get to the bottom of the story.  He knows that his father was powerful and had the ear of the President of the United States.  He knows that his father was very skilled in his job of "getting things done."  Zach suspects that his father's death was no accident but a premeditated murder by an organization known as the "bads."

Zach's mother decides to throw herself into the presidential campaign for the candidate that Zach's father supported.  Though Zach supports his mother's political efforts, he decides to turn his energies towards the investigation of his father's death.  He starts asking questions.  He also begins to notice that he is being followed.  While walking though Central Park he is approached by a mysterious stranger who has information for him.  When Zach tells his beloved Uncle John about this man, he warns him to stay away from the stranger.  Who should Zach believe?

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

Sam Wilson is 14 years old, lives in New York City, and is a computer genius.  It is not unusual for Sam and his friends to hack into computer systems and fool around.   In fact, computer gaming and use has reached a whole new level in Brain Jack, by Brian Falkner.  In Sam's world, being addicted to computer gaming has moved from the basement to gaming lounges.  There are individuals who spend their entire days hooked to gaming systems and do nothing else.  This book begs the question ...is this a possible future?

Sam likes to hack into systems for fun and to see if he can shut them down and then get out without his identity being detected.  One day he decides to disrupt the structure of one of the country's largest  telecommunications systems.  He is able to move through the system undetected for a while using his computer hacking skills.  However, unusual activity is noted by the web security team working for the large company.  Sam realizes that he has been spotted and decides to get out quickly.  There is a flurry of activity that follows as Sam scrambles to finish the job and remove any evidence that could link this security breach back to him.

Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow by Gary Golio

Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow

Jimi Hendrix was an iconic force in rock and roll.  His name is synonymous with music.  In the book Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow, author Gary Golio introduces us to the young Jimi.  The book begins in 1956 in Seattle, Washington, where Jimi was living with his father.  They were not wealthy, but Jimi's father recognized that his son had a love for music.  Jimi often practiced on his one-string ukele.  With it he recreated the sounds the raindrops made as they hit the roof and the windowpanes.  Even as a very young boy he interpreted the city sounds that he heard outside the boardinghouse where he lived with his Dad and turned them into melodies.

Boris and the Wrong Shadow by Leigh Hodgkinson

Boris and the Wrong Shadow

Boris the cat wakes up one morning and finds that his shadow has changed.  It no longer resembles him.  In fact, to his utter dismay, it resembles a mouse.  But he decides not to let something like this ruin his day in the book Boris and the Wrong Shadow by Leigh Hodgkinson.  However, he is ridiculed by his cat friends.  He is unable to scare the birds.  Now Boris begins to doubt that he is a cat.  Maybe he is a mouse.  Well, he catches a glimpse of himself and is reassured that he is still a cat, though he is a cat with a mouse's shadow.

Boris decides to quietly investigate this disturbing turn of events.  Actually, he is so quiet that he could be described as being quiet as a ..........don't say it.  Suddenly, he runs into Vernon the mouse and discovers that Vernon's shadow looks oddly familiar.  Vernon has a cat shadow.  Not just any cat shadow.  But Boris' shadow.

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

When the Brothers Grimm wrote their fairy tales in Germany in the early 1800s, they were scary.  Many of them were so scary, in fact, that they were considered unsuitable for small children.  As time passed, the stories have been altered to give them wider audience appeal.  In A Tale Dark and Grimm, Adam Gidwitz has brought the scary back to Grimm.  This is not a fairy-tale book meant for small children.  The author gives fair warning periodically throughout the story that the tale is going to get gory and it does!!!

The Chiru of High Tibet, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

The Chiru of High Tibet by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

This book is another example of why I love reading children's books.  The Chiru of High Tibet by Jaqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Linda Wingerter, introduced me to an animal I knew nothing about--the chiru.  Chiru are unique animals resembling antelopes, but related to wild goats and sheep.  Their wool is special also and is considered to be the finest in the world. It is called shahtoosh, the king of wools. In order for this wool to be used, the animal has to be killed. 

A man named George B. Schaller was very worried about the chiru and its existence.  He was afraid that if something was not done to protect them, they would become extinct.  So Schaller decided to do something.  He wanted to protect the chiru from the hunters.  In order to do that, he had to find the secret place where the female chirus gave birth.  After several attempts to locate this elusive spot failed, four mountain climbers offered to help Schaller.

They set out on the journey with no trucks and no camels or donkeys that would need feeding.  They pulled their supplies in wheeled carts across the plains of Tibet.  When you read this book you will find out how their journey went and how the chiru situation was resolved.