Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Middle School Edition

book cover for Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby
Lost in the River of Grass
by Ginny Rorby
Genre: Survival Fiction


Summary:


When two Florida teenagers become stranded on a tiny island in the Everglades, they attempt to walk ten miles through swampland to reach civilization.


Why You'll Love It:

  • Readers will pull for Sarah, thirteen, and Andy, fifteen, as they face poisonous snakes, gators, fire ants, and hunger and thirst while they try to make their way out of a remote part of the Everglades on foot. Sarah insists on adopting a duckling, Teapot, to Andy’s dismay—it will only slow them down—but Teapot is a good mascot, and caring for him gives them a psychological boost through their ordeal.
  • Details about the Everglades and the plants and animals that inhabit it emerge contextually in the suspenseful narrative, giving the story its distinct sense of place and adding depth to the adventure: “Things in our path slither away in startling bursts of speed. If what flees is a gator, it leaves a trail of tiny bubbles on the surface. . . . Water snakes, once they sense the vibration of our approach, swim along the surface, and disappear into the saw grass.”
  • Sarah and Andy’s relationship is believable—their romance alternates between being prickly and being affable; they snipe at each other, but they obviously care for one another.


book cover for Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card
Pathfinder
by Orson Scott Card
Genre: Fantasy


Summary:


Thirteen-year-old Rigg has a secret ability to see the paths of others' pasts, but revelations after his father's death set him on a dangerous quest that brings new threats from those who would either control his destiny or kill him.


Why You'll Love It:

  • The first in a series, Card’s latest title has much in common with his Ender Wiggins books: precocious teens with complementary special talents, callously manipulative government authorities, endlessly creative worlds, and Card’s refusal to dumb down a plot for a young audience.
  • While Card delves deeply into his story's knotted twists and turns, readers should have no trouble following the philosophical and scientific mysteries, which the characters are parsing right along with them.
  • This novel should appeal to Card's legion of fans as well as anyone who enjoys speculative fiction with characters who rely on quick thinking rather than violence or tales of mind-bending time-travel conundrums.
book cover for Demonglass: A Hex Hall Novel by Rachel Hawkins
Demonglass: A Hex Hall Novel

by Rachel Hawkins
Genre: Fantasy


Summary:


After learning that she is capable of dangerous magic, Sophie Mercer goes to England with her father, friend Jenna, and Cal hoping to have her powers removed, but soon she learns that she is being hunted by the Eye--and haunted by Elodie.


Why You'll Love It:

  • Rachel Hawkins’s sequel to Hex Hall combines everything fans could ask for: a sprawling and splendorous castle (thirty-one kitchens! ninety-eight bathrooms!), a hot love triangle, an enchanted ball . . . and multi-limbed ghouls, creepy demons, and necromancy.
  • Sophie Mercer continues to win over readers—and warlocks—with her arch sense of humor. (When a vampire orders Earl Grey at high tea, Sophie cracks, he’ll actually getEarl Grey.)
  • Hawkins keeps upping the intrigue: How is it that ghosts can’t see or hear the living, but Elodie’s ghost keeps trying to talk to Sophie? Why does Sophie’s upcoming summer destination, Thorne Abbey, sound so familiar? And how—and, more importantly, why—did Daisy and Nick, two teenagers suffering from retrograde amnesia, get turned into demons?
  • Some of these questions are answered in an explosive, world-inverting finale—which, along with the questions that remain, will have readers counting down the days to the next Hex Hall installment.


book cover for Evolution by Jay Hosler
Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth
by Jay Hosler
Genre: Nonfiction/Graphic Novel


Summary:


In graphic novel format, follows Bloort 183, an asexual alien scientist, as he explains the fundamentals of evolution to King Floorsh and his son.


Why You'll Love It:

  • Clear and thorough text describes the history of life on Earth from its very beginning.
  • The information is kept light and entertaining, delivered by alien scientist Bloort to lofty King Floorsh and the enthusiastic—but easily distracted—Prince Floorsh.
  • Detailed artwork helps readers visualize life forms from the five-eyed opabinia to wild boars, and dramatizes abstract concepts such as natural selection.
  • The book includes plenty of fun jokes as well. For example, it imagines Charles Darwin saying that people went “ape” for natural selection, and pictures eukaryote cells and endosymbiotic bacteria visiting a therapist to discuss how much they need each other.



6 comments:

Biblibio said...

I'm actually not that certain if Orson Scott Card's Ender fans will necessarily make the change to fantasy very well. I can think of a few fans who won't want to approach it simply because of the genre shift... Personally, I'm curious to read it but I'm skeptical after Card's recent disappointing releases.

Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth sounds pretty great, but I'm curious about the medium. An alien science lecture to a prince? How much of the book is composed of the "outside" story?

Zibilee said...

Lost in the River of Grass sounds like just the type of book that my kids and I would love, for very different reasons. They would love the relationship story, and I would love the survival story. Thanks for sharing these mini reviews with us. I love the format, and always find something that I know I will love when I see these!

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

I love books about the everglades

Suzanne said...

Thanks for sharing the Orson Scott Card book. I knew nothing about it, and not having read the "Ender" books, thought maybe it was another part of that series. (those Enders books are sitting patiently in my TBR pile thanks to hubby who swears by them!) The premise sounds great.

All the books today sound great! Thanks for the books and the why we're going to enjoy them!

Alyce said...

I haven't read any of Orson Scott Card's books in a couple of years. I loved the Ender books, so I should try to track that one down.

Ms. Yingling said...

Lost in the River of Grass did not sound good at all when I read the publisher's description, but you make it sound appealing. I'll give it a try.