Friday, February 19, 2010

Soldiers, heroes, and dogs: Some books for boys

Getting boys to read isn't very hard, as long as the books are fast-paced and filled with adventure. From the Books for Boys website and Kidsreads boys booklist, here's a short selection of fiction and non-fiction titles that are exciting and worth reading -- and re-reading. Look for these books here on BookBag using the World Catalog and Amazon search boxes.

The King in the Window, by Adam Gopnik (Disney Children's Books), Ages 10-up. Transplanted American Oliver Parker is living in Paris with his parents when he sees that his reflection in the kitchen window is not quite the mirror image he expects it to be. The boy staring back at him, who calls Oliver "Your Majesty" and wears an old-fashioned doublet, leads him to the mysterious world through the looking glass. There, he becomes entangled in the battle between the Window Wraiths and the malevolent Mirror Master over control of the universe.

The Book of Time, by Guillaume Provost (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic) In the first installment of Guillaume Prevost's trilogy, 14-year-old Sam Faulkner begins his quest to find his missing father, who left for a business trip and hasn't been heard from in more than a week. What Sam discovers in his dad's antique bookstore will change his life and test his courage. But will it help him find his father? Followed by The Gate of Days: The Book of Time II.

Mister Monday: Keys to the Kingdom series Book One, by Garth Nix (Scholastic), Ages 9-12. Seven days. Seven keys. Seven virtues. Seven sins. One mysterious house is the doorway to a very mysterious world --- where one boy is about to venture and unlock a number of fantastical secrets. Arthur Penhaligon is not supposed to be a hero. He is supposed to die an early death. But then his life is saved by a key shaped like the minute hand of a clock. The Keys to the Kingdom series consists of six books so far: Mister Monday, Grim Tuesday, Drowned Wednesday, Sir Thursday, Lady Friday and Superior Saturday.

Endurance, Alfred Lansing, 274 pages, Ages 14 and up. In December, 1914, Ernest Shackleton commanded an expedition of 27 men. The goal was to cross over the South Pole, on foot. The crew set sail on the Endurance, from Georgia island, about eight hundred miles from the Antarctic. The ship gets trapped by ice, and the men have to eventually abandon ship. Imagine trying to survive temperatures thirty five below zero -- ice cold winds. Sections of ice getting ready to crumble beneath your feet, tossing you into a frigid death! The men endure hardships such as near starvation and gangrene. Eventually they are forced to eat their beloved sled dogs to survive, and perform an amputation to save a man's life. The book contains 35 photographs from the actual Shackleton expedition.

The Boys From Brooklyn: The Great Robbery. Salvatore Tomasi. 148 pages. Ages 10-14. It's the summer of 1974. Nicky and his friends are typical young teenage boys growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y. The summertime living is easy and filled with fun and laughs until Tommy dares the boys to do something risky. Something that can screw them up for the rest of their lives. Themes such as friendship, competing, father-son relations, mom's guiding hand, ratting on your friends, and doing the right thing unfold in a real-life style.

Ghost Soldiers, by Hampton Sides. 384 pages. Ages 14 and up. The time is January, 1945. American forces are starting to push the Japanese army back into Japan. As the Japanese army retreats, there are fears they will kill American POWs, held in Japanese camps in the Philippines. There are 513 POWs at the Cabanatuan Prison camp that may be massacred any day now -- prisoners of war that survived the Bataan Death March. The decision is made to launch a rescue mission, behind enemy lines, by the Army Rangers.

The Last Mission, by Harry Mazer. 188 pages. Ages 13 and up. An intense and gripping fictional drama about WW II. Jack Raab is a 15 year old boy, who hates what Hitler is doing to the Jewish people in Europe. His older looks, and a fake I.D., get him into the Air Force. He trains with a bombing crew in England, to prepare for their terrifying bombing missions over Germany. On their twenty fourth bombing mission, their plane is shot down, and the survivors, including Jack, are taken prisoner.

No More Dead Dogs, by Gordon Korman. Comedy. 180 pages. Ages 10-13. Wallace Wallace is the 8th grade football star and has one small problem -- he is totally honest. His English teacher asks for a report on the novel Old Shep, My Pal in which the dog dies at the end. Wallace tells the truth in his report, which is that the book is boring, predictable, and sad, and starts a mini-war between himself and the teacher. He gets detention, and the teacher makes him attend the rehearsals for a play on the same novel. Little by little, Wallace transforms the play from a boring version of the novel into a rock musical.

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