Sunday, March 21, 2010

Family matters: fiction for tween readers

Where do you fit in? Young fiction has always explored the relationship between parents, brothers, sisters, and extended family members. Here are some brand-new books for tween readers published this month focusing on family matters. Find copies by using the World Catalog and search boxes here on BookBag.

Finding Stinko, by Michael De Guzman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Fiction. Three years ago, Newboy stopped talking. And why not? In the 12 years since his mother abandoned him as an infant, Newboy has lived in eleven different foster homes--and his latest "family," the Knoxes, are the worst yet. Fed up with both the state child-care system and the Knoxes, Newboy runs away and starts living a dangerous life on the streets. When he finds a reeking, beat-up ventriloquist's dummy in a dumpster, he names it Stinko...and suddenly finds that, through Stinko, he has a voice again. With great characters and friendships that develop into something like a family, this heartwrenching story is sure to be a hit with fans of Rodman Philbrick's Freak the Mighty.

The Road to Paris, by Nikki Grimes (G.P. Putnam). Realistic Fiction. Eight-year-old Paris Richmond and her brother Malcolm have run away from a bad foster home and are headed to their grandmother's house--it's the only place they have left to go. Devastatingly, their grandmother hands them back over to Family Services, who find a new home for Paris but not for Malcolm. Life in her new neighborhood is scary for Paris--not only does she miss her brother, she's the only bi-racial kid around. But while her troubles are far from over, Paris relies on her faith in God and is on the road to being okay. If you liked the strong brother-and-sister relationship in Jacqueline Woodson's Locomotion, you'll enjoy this moving and memorable story.

Tracking Daddy Down, by Maybeth Kelsey (Greenwillow Books). Fiction. "The summer I turned eleven, my daddy, Earl Leon Wisher, took a gun and robbed the Henderson County Bank in Millerstown, Indiana." So says Billie Wisher, who is determined to find her bank-robbing daddy before the police do and convince him to give the money back. It won't be easy to evade the watchful eyes of her mother, her stepfather, and...well, pretty much the entire town, but Billie is a feisty and resourceful girl. This rollicking story addresses some serious family issues with a healthy dose of humor. If you liked the fantasy novel Savvy and also enjoy realistic fiction, get Tracking Daddy Down -- you won't be sorry.

Alabama Moon, by Watt Key (Farrar Straus Giroux). Fiction. Ten-year-old Moon Blake has lived his whole life in the woods with his father, a Vietnam veteran who strongly distrusts the government and has withdrawn from society. Pap has taught Moon how to survive in the wilderness, and as he is dying, he tells Moon to head for Alaska, where people still live independently off of the land. But when he tries to make his way north, Moon is nabbed and sent to a home for wayward boys. He can make his own clothes from deer hide, build a fire without a match, and protect himself from wild animals...but can he learn to live indoors and make friends? If you liked Gary Paulsen's Hatchet or Clay Carmichael's Wild Things, be sure not to miss Alabama Moon.

The Wild Girls, by Pat Murphy (Viking). Fiction. When Joan moves to California in 1972, she becomes friends with her new neighbor Sarah, who calls herself "Fox." Joan quickly becomes "Newt," and the two of them explore the woods between their houses and compare their families' woes. Sarah's mother left her family years ago (her father, a science-fiction author, claims that she transformed into a fox to keep an eye on Sarah), and Joan's parents fight constantly. After they write a short story together about a pair of wild girls who have adventures in an enchanted forest, the two friends get the chance to attend a special summer writing workshop that will change both of their lives.

Second Fiddle: Or, How to Tell a Blackbird From a Sausage, by Sioban Parkinson (Roaring Brook Press). Fiction. Twelve-year-old aspiring writer Mags Clarke has just moved to rural Ballybeg, Ireland, with her mother. While exploring the woods near her new home one day, Mags hears music, follows it, and finds a girl named Gillian playing the violin. Before long, Mags is obsessed with helping Gillian track down her missing father to ask for plane fare to London, where she wants to audition to attend a prestigious music school. Mags (who talks directly to readers) claims that this is not a story in which "an awful lot of dreadful things happen to the same one or two people," but the friends' quest isn't all smooth sailing. Quirky characters and humorous narration make this touching story a winner.

No comments:

Post a Comment