unRequired Reading Blog

Cafe Book Walker-Grant Middle School: Top Teen Picks 2013

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

Seventh and eighth graders at Walker-Grant Middle School have chosen their favorite titles from this year's Cafe Book program. Check 'em out!

Top Pick:

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

Michael Vey is a small, weak-looking teen with Tourettes who has finally had enough. When a pack of bullies pushes him to use his hidden electric powers, Michael discovers that a beautiful cheerleader has similar skills and soon they must battle a dangerous scheme with a powerful corporation.

Other Favorites:

Bluefish by Pat Schmatz Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson Starters by Lissa Price

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn ChildsThe Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

Bluefish by Pat Schmatz

Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Starters by Lissa Price

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel

Cafe Book is supported by a generous donation from the Carver family in memory of their mother Ruth---middle school librarian, literacy advocate, and lover of reading.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

"Irish businessman will pay large amount of U.S. dollars to meet a fairy, sprite, leprechaun, or pixie."

The ad was posted on the Internet. Indeed, it generated numerous fraudulent responses, but the person who placed it only needed one true lead for his purposes. He had studied all he could in the mundane world he inhabited, but he knew the important secrets of the Fairy would only be known by others of their kind. However, in Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer, the Irish businessman posting the ad did not mention that he was stupendously rich—and rather young. In his mind, the latter certainly did not signify.

Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat by Megan and Jill Carle

Teens Cook by Megan and Jilll Carle

I have a teen daughter who loves to cook. She started baking things on her own as soon as she could safely operate the oven, and her favorite gift to date was the electric skillet her chef aunt gave to her one Christmas so she could start making pancakes. Eventually, she became interested in preparing complete meals, but my cooking books didn't really appeal to her. She was looking for a guide that would instruct her through doable - yet appealing - meals. Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat by sisters Megan and Jill Carle fit the bill perfectly.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Illustrated by Faith Erin Hic

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is author Prudence Shen's laser-guided, satirical commentary on a clash of the cliques that has the potential to destroy friendships, dreams, and dozens of deadly, armored robots. 

Hollow Ridge High School is dealing with the fight of the century. In this corner we have the cheerleadering squad. Popular, gorgeous and fierce, these ladies are looking for some brand-new uniforms. Looking for funds throughout the school, merciless head cheerleader Holly has set her sights on one club's unused budget.

In the other corner is the robotics club. Led by their neurotic but clever president Nate, these geeks are not going down without a fight. 

Stuck in the middle of this struggle is poor Charlie, captain of the basketball team. His only crime is being the ex-boyfriend of Holly and Nate's best friend.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Ruby is 16 and lives at Camp Thurmond, a government-run work camp with harsh restrictions and brutal punishments in The Darkest Minds, by Alexandra Bracken. She has been there since she was 10, shortly after a deadly virus appeared and proved fatal to most of Ruby’s classmates. Survivors of the virus developed psychic abilities of varying levels, and they were grouped into five classifications that indicate their power/danger level: Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red, with red being the most dangerous. Ruby is secretly an Orange who has tricked the officials (her power is entering other people’s minds) into believing she is a Green, which has kept her safe until now. But the officials are aware that there are some hiding Yellows, Oranges, and Reds, and they are using new tactics to ferret them out.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

No one really liked Duny in A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. The boy was wild, proud, and full of temper-- well-suited to the company of the goats he herded. Then came the day when he overheard his aunt chanting a spell to call her goat down from the roof of her house. He remembered the rhyme and later spoke it to his own herd:

"Noth hierth malk man hiolk han merth han!"

The first time he said it, they came to him all together, staring with their yellow eyes. Duny laughed and shouted the rhyme again. They pushed towards him with their thick, ridged horns. Duny ran all the way to town with the goats close beside. The villagers laughed at him and cursed the animals.

Sumo by Thien Pham

Sumo by Thien Pham

Sumo, by Thien Pham, is a quiet tale about a sport of epic proportions. Scott is a twenty-something football player who has missed his shot at NFL glory. Now that his girlfriend has left him, he has no sense of himself anymore. So like any lost youth pining for a change, he moves to Japan to become a sumo wrestler.

Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories, edited by Dawn Metcalf, et al.

Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories

A lot of writers for teens have excellent memories for very painful things. Some remember what it was like to be a targeted teen--the dread of going to school every day knowing what would probably happen, whether it was going to happen in a hallway, a locker room, a classroom, or on a school bus. Being pulled apart emotionally and humiliated was often just an everyday occurrence for them. The usual.

But some writers remember high school very differently. They were the people who just stood to one side AND DIDN’T DO ANYTHING while watching their friends and classmates being bullied. And in a few, a very few, cases they did the bullying themselves. Dear Bully is a collection of reflections of writers for teens who share their true stories of hurt and regret and how these experiences changed them.

I Heard the Owl Call my Name by Margaret Craven

I heard the Owl Call my Name cover

My favorite book when I was in high school was I Heard the Owl Call my Name, by Margaret Craven, so I decided to reread it to see how I related to the book now.  Even though it is almost 50 years old, the book is still just as timely and beautifully-written as it was in the 60’s. Perhaps its message is even more important in today’s world.  It is about a young Vicar, Mark Brian, who has been diagnosed with only a few years to live.  His Bishop has been told his diagnosis, but the Vicar has not. 

When the Bishop learns of the young Vicar’s diagnosis he says, “So short a time to learn so much? It leaves me with no choice. I shall send him to my hardest parish. I shall send him to Kingcome on patrol of the Indian Villages.”

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Cover image of Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

I have been planning to write a review of Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman, since I first read it several months ago. But I kept putting it off. I think I'm afraid that I won't do justice to this amazing book. 

In Seraphina's world, humans and dragons live in an uneasy truce. Fear and distrust runs high on both sides, and interaction between the two is strictly limited. Seraphina is a half-breed who will never belong in either world. In fact, dragons find the very idea of her existence disgusting, and humans would kill her if they discovered her secret. Though she lives in fear of discovery, she refuses to hide away. A talented musician, she becomes the assistant to the court composer shortly before the arrival of the dragons' leader for a state visit celebrating the 40th anniversary of the peace treaty.