Thursday, October 15, 2015

October Tween Reads

Tween Reads
October 2015
"A story helps folks face the world, even when it frightens ’em."
~ from Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener
Recent Releases
The Rain Wizard: The Amazing, Mysterious, True Life of Charles Mallory Hatfield
by Larry Dane Brimner

Biography. They called Charles Mallory Hatfield "the Frankenstein of the air," and considering the highly secretive science he used to coax rain from the clouds, it was a fitting nickname. In 1915, the drought-stricken city of San Diego, CA, offered Hatfield a fat paycheck if he could produce enough rain to fill their reservoir. Hatfield accepted, and sure enough, the rain began to fall…and kept falling, turning into a deadly, disastrous flood. Was this storm an unfortunate coincidence, or should Hatfield be blamed for causing the catastrophe? You can weigh the evidence yourself while reading this fascinating, photo-illustrated biography of a controversial yet little-known figure.
The Trouble in Me
by Jack Gantos

Historical Fiction. Fourteen-year-old Jack's family has just moved again, leaving Jack friendless, aimless, and frustrated. Desperate to reinvent himself, he latches on to Gary Pagoda, an older teen who's just out of juvie and ready to lead Jack into many reckless adventures, ranging from dangerous (roller skating through a flaming hula hoop) to downright criminal (hot-wiring cars). Though The Trouble in Me is raw, funny fiction based on author Jack Gantos' younger years, the impulsive decisions he describes in it set up the events of Hole in My Life, Gantos' memoir about drug smuggling (and its consequences). 
Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx
by Sonia Manzano

Memoir. If you grew up watching Sesame Street, you already know Sonia Manzano, who played the character of Maria for decades. In this "lyrical and unflinching" (Kirkus Reviews) memoir, you get a glimpse of the person behind the character: her turbulent childhood of poverty and abuse, her cramped yet lively neighborhood in the Bronx, and her dedication to following her dreams of becoming an actress. Older readers who enjoy this gritty yet heartfelt  read -- and those looking for another story about a Puerto Rican teen in 1960s NYC -- should also be sure to pick up Manzano's award-winning novel, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano
Friends for Life
by Andrew Norriss

Fiction. Used to being rejected by his middle school classmates, Francis is startled to find himself bonding with spirited Jessica over their shared love of fashion. Jessica is startled too, because she's spirited in more ways than one: she's a ghost. When two others -- tough, athletic Andi and reclusive gamer Roland -- also make friends with Jessica, it raises questions about why only certain people can see Jessica, and how she really died. Though Friends for Life touches on thorny issues like depression and bullying, it's an ultimately hopeful story that will appeal to all kinds of readers, especially those who believe that friendship can change your life (or your death).    
Focus on: Horror
The Night Gardener
by Jonathan Auxier

Horror/Fantasy. Despite rumors that the place is haunted, newly orphaned siblings Molly and Kip have little choice but to accept jobs at the run-down Windsor family estate. What they find at the eerie manor house is curious indeed: the family is pale and secretive, mysterious footprints appear in the night, and a giant, menacing tree grows inside the house, granting wishes to the inhabitants…at a terrible price. Filled with well-drawn characters and spooky, shivery thrills, The Night Gardener is "a tale that will keep readers glued to the page" (Booklist). For another story about a sinister tree and a nightmarish villain, pick up M.P. Kozlowsky's Juniper Berry.
A New Darkness
by Joseph Delaney

Horror. This follow-up to the popular Last Apprentice series picks up with 17-year-old Tom Ward taking over as the spook of Chipenden. Joined by would-be apprentice Jenny (the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter), Tom tackles ghosts, boggarts, witches, and other bone-chilling paranormal threats. When a mysterious new evil surfaces, Tom, Jenny, and the witch Grimalkin must journey north to discover the frightening truth and prevent a bloody invasion. While anyone can jump into this eerie, suspenseful 1st volume in the Starblade Chronicles, it'll be most enjoyed by fans of the previous series. 
Dead City
by James Ponti

Horror. When she starts seventh grade, Molly Bigelow joins an unusual extracurricular group: Omega, an underground organization whose mission is to "police and protect" New York City's zombies. Already skilled at science and martial arts, Molly learns to send secret messages and interact with the undead, who are usually gruesome, but rarely menacing. After she's targeted by a dangerous zombie, Molly is confronted with a generations-old mystery that seems to be connected to her mother -- who was a notorious zombie hunter herself. Smart, fast-moving, and just scary enough, Dead City is the 1st in a series. For another modern take on old-school monsters, try Steve Feasey's Wereling books.
Lockdown: Escape from Furnace
by Alexander Gordon Smith

Horror. "If I stopped running I was dead." This sentence kicks off the story of Alex, a teen delinquent who's framed for murder and sent to the dreaded Furnace Penitentiary. Guarded by gas mask-wearing "blacksuits" and savage, skinless dogs, Alex has to figure out how to survive the darkness, violence, and constant threat of torture in the underground prison -- all while plotting a risky getaway. With vivid dialogue, a pulse-pounding pace, and plenty of gore (it's not for the squeamish), this 1st entry in the Escape from Furnace series is a good bet for fans of James Dashner and Darren Shan. 

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