unRequired Reading Blog

Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi

Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi

Zombie Baseball Beatdown appears to have been written exclusively to combine the undead with baseball bats—in the most splattery combination possible. This does not make Paolo Bacigalupi's first book for middle grade readers bad. In fact, he manages to inject some pretty great commentary into this wild zombie romp.

Challengers of the Unknown from DC Comics

Challengers of the Unknown cover

Many people enjoy reading DC Comics’ classic Batman and Superman books, but often forgotten are the other series that were produced during the 1950s and 1960s, the “Silver Age” of comic books. One such series is Challengers of the Unknown, and it is sad that it has been mostly forgotten because it contains many exciting adventures with striking artwork and a panoply of bizarre monsters for the heroes to confront. For readers willing to put up with some of the more dated aspects of its storytelling, Challengers of the Unknown is an enjoyable trip back in time to DC’s Silver Age.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Our society is chaotic, violent, and often disturbing to grow up in. Wouldn’t it be much better to grow up in a safer, more secure place?  How much of the unease and disorder of modern society would you sacrifice to create a more peaceful and harmonious civilization? The Giver, by Lois Lowry, asks this difficult question, and creates a dystopia both serene and haunting for its lack of emotions and empathy for its citizens.

Primates by Jim Ottaviani and Marin Wicks

Primates by Jim Ottaviani and Marin Wicks

Primates captures the fascinating study of several great ape species in the 1960's and 70's. Three women—Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas—found their calling and approached their research in very different ways.

Jane Goodall revolutionized animal study with her focus on the chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park. She discovered the chimps using tools such as sticks to reach termites, a tasty snack. Before that discovery, the use of tools was thought to be only a human characteristic. Becaue of her work, our definitions have since changed.

Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun written and edited by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen

Unbored: The Essential Guide to Serious Fun written and edited by Joshua Glenn a

Stuck in that static rut? Looking for a fix when imagination is on the fritz? Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun is the book for you.

Essential is the right word. Broken up into easy-to-read sections and articles, Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen's title is a complete guide to inspiration and suggestion. Looking for a great animated movie you haven't already seen a thousand times? Unbored has some tips. Want to play in a band but you don't know where to start? This book can get you on the right path.

A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux

“My name is Blaise Fortune, and I am a citizen of the French Republic. It’s the pure and simple truth.”

Koumail knows this phrase in French very well. It is vitally important that he remember it for he and Gloria, the woman who has looked after him since he was a baby, are refugees, and someday this phrase and an old passport may be his ticket to a better life away from war, starvation and danger. A Time of Miracles, by Anne-Laure Bondoux, is set in the 1990s, as war rages in the Caucasus region, and the Soviet Union has collapsed, leaving masses of people without shelter or food.

Teetoncey by Theodore Taylor

Teetoncey by Theodore Taylor

Storms batter the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Always have. Always will.  Ships break up in those dangerous seas. Sometimes there are survivors but oftentimes not. It’s 1898, and waiting and watching are the surfmen—the rescuers of the Lifesaving Service—who take out boats in horrible weather and try to save whom they can. In Teetoncey, by Theodore Taylor, twelve-year-old Ben O’Neal is determined to become a surfman, leaving his mother’s storm-swaying house on a terrible night to go help at the Rescue Station. He’s seen the flare, and he knows—there’s a ship in trouble.

Beastly by Alexandra Flinn

Beastly by Alexandra Flinn

In Beastly, by Alexandra Flinn, Kyle Kingsbury is the kind of guy who has it all--looks, money, and charm. At his exclusive NYC prep school, of course he's going to be voted homecoming prince. It's a joke that anybody else even has his name on the ballot. Speaking of jokes, there's some new, chubby girl dressed in Goth black who's spent a lot of the morning glaring at him. She even called him beastly. How dare she?

The Ramsay Scallop by Frances Temple

Fourteen-year-old Elenor did not wish to be married, particularly not to Lord Thomas. He had been away at the Crusades for years, and what Elenor remembered of him did nothing to endear him to her. What was more, there was so much of the world to see, and marriage would end her chances for adventure, or so she believes at the beginning of Frances Temple's The Ramsay Scallop.

Deadly Pink by Vivian Vande Velde

Deadly Pink by Vivian Vande Velde

Grace Pizzelli lacks pizzazz—or sparkle or brilliance or whatever you want to call it—unlike her brainy, beautiful, popular sister Emily. Grace was dozing off peacefully one day in trigonometry class when an unexpected summons to the principal’s office interrupted her nap. Mom was there, looking frantic and very un-put-together and, frankly, very unMomlike. Emily is missing. No, not her body. They know right where that is, but her mind is stuck somewhere in a video game. On purpose, no less, which is very unlike the totally perfect college student and computer genius everybody knows. In Deadly Pink, by Vivian Vande Velde, the Rasmussen gaming company has a huge problem. Players can only stay in total immersion games for so long before their bodies can’t take it anymore. If Emily doesn’t come out soon, she’s in big trouble, not to mention Rasmussen having a giant publicity meltdown over their dead programmer. Not dead as in messed-up-in-the-game-start-over dead, but really dead.