Monday, September 14, 2009

Fantasy for tween readers, September

Autumn is the perfect season for fantasy with its shorter days and cooler nights. The ghouls and goblins of Halloween seem to lurk just around the corner, too. September brings a new selection of fantasy for tweens ages 9-14 -- here's a small sample of books that are guaranteed to keep the pages turning! Look for these books using the World Catalog / Amazon links on BookBag.

Darkwood, by M.E. Breen (Bloomsbury). Fantasy. Thirteen-year-old Annie lives with her horrible aunt and uncle in Howland, a strange and foreboding place where no one has seen the moon for hundreds of years and where vicious, wolf-like kinderstalk prowl the forests in search of children to devour. Upon learning that her uncle plans to sell her as a slave, Annie runs away and embarks on a series of breathtaking adventures that ultimately lead her to the royal palace, where some long-held secrets are revealed. If you like slightly scary, action-packed fantasy novels with vividly imagined settings, you'll be entranced by Darkwood.

Kaleidoscope Eyes, by Jennifer Bryant (Alfred A. Knopf). Novel in Verse. In 1968 Willowbank, New Jersey, 13-year-old Lyza Bradley is cleaning out her deceased grandfather's attic when she finds an envelope marked "For Lyza Only." It contains several maps and a handful of clues, and upon investigating further, Lyza and her two best friends realize that the clues are meant to lead them to the long-lost pirate treasure of Captain William Kidd--somewhere near Willowbank! Lyza swears her friends to secrecy and they immediately start hunting for the treasure trove. With wonderful characters, a hint of mystery, and its vivid Vietnam War-era setting, Kaleidoscope Eyes will satisfy fans of both family dramas and historical fiction.

Dull Boy, by Sarah Cross (Dutton Books). Fiction. Too bad 15-year-old Avery Pirzwick's newly developed super-powers didn't come with an "off" button. Unable to control his extraordinary strength, he's suddenly become quite destructive ... but he hasn't yet told anyone that he can fly or why he keeps breaking things, so his exasperated parents send him to an alternative school. Meanwhile, a mysterious woman named Cherchette Morozov has guessed his secret and says that she wants to help him. But Avery's new school friends--all of whom have their own secret powers--suspect that Cherchette is up to no good. Snarkily (and hilariously) narrated by Avery, Dull Boy is a fun, wild read.

Moribito II: Guardian of Darkness, by Nahoko Uehashi (Arthur A. Levine Books). Fantasy. The orphan Balsa Spearwielder has wandered the kingdom of New Yogo as a bodyguard-for-hire ever since the death of her foster father and mentor, Jiguro. Journeying to her homeland of Kanbal, Balsa hopes to reconcile with her birth family. But as soon as she arrives, she is thrown into battle with an evil mountain spirit from whom she rescues two children. Branded as a fugitive, Balsa must untangle a political conspiracy--and its connection to the dark spirit world--if she hopes to survive. With its heroic action and imaginatively detailed setting (a world resembling medieval Japan), this exciting 2nd volume in the Moribito series will thrill both manga and historical fiction fans.

Tween a Devil and His Hard Place, by Sam Cheever (Cerridwen Press) Astra Q Phelps and her Royal Devil, Prince Dialle, must navigate a demon uprising that is rumored to have been instigated by the local Witches' coven. The demons are demanding to be released from service to the Royals so they can have a seat on the Dark Council. When Dialle's father, the king, disappears from his chambers and Astra recognizes the magic signature that's left behind as her parents', she realizes her family has more to do with the unsettling events than she would have hoped. Then a very powerful angel and lifelong friend of the Phelps family tells Astra that her father is under suspicion of being a dark angel and Astra is forced to spy on her own father to try to clear him. It's a whole mess of trouble for one little Tweener to sort through, but Astra Q Phelps is definitely up to the challenge.

Rampant, by Diana Peterfreund (HarperTeen). Forget everything you’ve heard about unicorns. They are not fluffy or cute, they do not grant wishes. They are vicious, man-eating beasts who can only be killed by virgin descendants of Alexander the Great. Astrid grew up hearing these stories from her lunatic mother. But when she is attacked by a zhi, her nightmares come to life and her mother’s obsession hasall the proof it needs to turn Astrid’s world upside down. She is sent off to Rome to meet up with other 21st Century would-be unicorn hunters. It may sound like a vacation, but danger is around every corner. Rampant is an absurd thrill-ride and a perfect escape from every other fantasy out there. Killer unicorns? Come on – there have been enough vampires, zombies, and werewolves to keep us sated for years to come. But Peterfreund’s YA debut is fresh, new, and ready to help you end your summer vacation with a bang. Or an “alicorn” to the chest, if you like.

Fade to Blue, by Sean Beaudoin (Little, Brown). Sophie Blue – or Gothika, as her not-so-friendly classmates call her – is haunted by visions of a mad popsicle truck driver, and thinks she hears a voice telling her to visit ‘the lab.’ Sophie’s best friend, Lake, an ex-cheerleader-turned-paraplegic, has little advice to offer. Her mother is too depressed and disconnected to help. The school counselor only makes her write essays, and her brother, O.S., is seemingly too caught up i
n his comic books to do anything but get fatter. But when Kenny Fade, basketball star, starts to question his perfect life, reality begins to unravel, and Sophie is forced to confront something she has been trying to put past her: the disappearance of her father. With its references to pop culture, snarky sense of humor, and a pleathora of bizarre characters, Fade to Blue will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

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