Posted by: Katie B | March 12, 2013

Spring Break Reading

Spring break is right around the corner!  Kind of.  At least it’s getting close.  If you’re planning out your break from the winter blues already (like I am) take a look at these titles.  They’d make great airline companions!

Every single one of these fall into the “Books I Liked A Lot” category:

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins.  Middle Grade.  It’s no wonder Suzanne Collins went on to super-fame with her Hunger Games series.  The evidence of her skill at crafting believable, imaginary worlds, fascinating characters, and fast-paced, nail-biting plot is evidenced here in her first series.  I was immediately drawn in to this bizarre world far below the Earth’s crust and found myself unable to put the book down – a big compliment.  Any middle grade reader interested in a big adventure should pick this up.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech.  Middle Grade.  In a word – wow.  No wonder it won a Newberry!  This book layers a story within a story so seamlessly that the reader floats between the two without question.  Sharon ties together her multiple story lines with a subtle touch, such that you don’t feel manipulated, only elated at the outcomes.  The main character is quirky, humorous, and sees the world with such originality, you delight in living her life alongside her.  The only catch to this book is that it violates one of my pet-peeves with some middle grade writing.  Sharon’s story is hinged upon the absent mother – the one who runs away to find herself and then gets killed in a violent bus accident.  Yeah.  I struggle to recommend these books that use the crutch of the dead parents to young readers.  The absence of the parent creates a heartfelt and moving tale, but I wish the same sort of touching tale could be told without having to kill off the mother.

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler.  Young Adult.  This multi-award-winning book deals with several oh-so-familiar issues on the way to teens becoming comfortable in their own skins.  However, the concepts of being kind to yourself, sticking up for yourself, and becoming connected with who you are on the inside can speak to readers of any age.  Sometimes it’s good to be reminded to appreciate your unique self, even if the reminder comes in a teen-themed, glossy package.  Also – for any parents out there – this book is a nice reminder of parenting techniques you shouldn’t use.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.  Young Adult.  Hands down one of the most absorbing tales I have read to date.  From the very beginning, there’s a feel to the writing – a distant longing that draws you in – which is framed by the most lyrical writing.  Maggie’s other book, Lament, had the same effect on me.  I was lost, unable to think of anything but the characters, their circumstances, and the words Maggie used to create her world.  When I finished the book, I had to read it again, to see what nuances I’d missed and to savor her more memorable phrases.  Admittedly, on the first pass, it took me some time to fully understand the players and the rules of the water-horses upon which her story is based.  The second read was certainly richer and fuller and no less impactful.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.  Middle Grade.  A fast-paced, unique storyline set in olden-day France and exquisite artwork blend together in this thick book to develop an exceptional, one-of-a-kind story.  Using both parts together, story and art, creates a reading experience not found in other books.  This is one to pick up in hard copy and by-pass the eReader.  You’ll miss out by not touching it, toting it’s weight around, flipping the pages, admiring the art.

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