Summer reading for tweens

Tween Books - August 2004


Sandi Pedersen


Read any good books lately? We have.

For my kids, the best part of my job is their access to books. If the kids had their way, they would get first read on every book that comes in to the office. I have to admit, I love opening the mail every day for the same reason. I can't resist a new book. With summer in full swing, many lazy afternoons with a good book are in our future. We want to share some of our latest finds with you.

AKIKO AND THE JOURNEY TO TOOG, by Mark Crilley, Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $9.95; ages 8-12.

Our heroine, Akiko, is off on another adventure, this time to the planet Toog. With her friends Mr. Beeba, Gax and Spuckler, she is on her way to rescue Poog and the Toogolians. The rescuers don't know what danger lies ahead, their only concern is for Poog and the Toogolians. This is the newest book in a series of sci-fi adventures for everyone. The quirky characters are lovable and the intergalactic language is great fun. I'm eager to read more.

ALL AMERICAN GIRL, by Meg Cabot, HarperTrophy, $6.99; young adult.

Samantha Madison is an average teenager, the middle child of an average family. Her older sister is the cheerleader, her younger sister is the brain and she is the rebel. When her mother catches her drawing celebrity portraits in her German class notebook, she finds herself signed up for art lessons as punishment. Her average life is turned upside down when she saves the life of the president, ends up appointed teen ambassador to the United Nations and falls in love with the president's son.

Happily unrealistic, completely enjoyable and full of true-to-life ordinary teen predicaments. Meg Cabot is also the author of The Princess Diaries.

AN EGG ON THREE STICKS, by Jackie Fischer, St. Martin's Griffin, $12.95; ages 9-12.

Abby is a 13-year-old who is trying to grow up in spite of her mother's nervous breakdown. Abby does not always understand the big picture but she is able to see, very clearly, how each situation affects her and her family. She is able to remain normal in an abnormal world. Abby learns about herself and her ability to keep her family together in spite of her mother's insanity and her father's inability to deal with it. Abby is very wise; if the adults in her life would listen to her, they could all lead a saner existence.

DONUTHEAD, by Sue Stuauffacher, Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15.95; ages 9-12.

Franklin Delano Donuthead is a "germaphobic" kooky kid. He rewrites his mother's shopping list to make sure she buys only good-for-you food and he is on a first-name basis with Gloria, the woman who answers the phone at the National Safety Department. Then he meets Sarah Kervick. His mother takes a liking to Sarah and all Donuthead can think about is how to keep a safe distance from her and all her imagined bugs and germs.

Without trying to be, Donuthead is one of the funniest kids I have met in a long time.

DORK ON THE RUN, by Carol Gorman, HarperTrophy, $5.99; ages 8-12.

Jerry Flack is in a new school with new friends and is trying to shed his dork image. He's feeling pretty good about himself. Then he decides to run for class president; but his opponent is the very popular Gabe Marshall. Gabe is determined to win by making Jerry look foolish and by capturing it all on film. So, running for class president means going against the class bully and Jerry must decide if the election is worth the risk of becoming the class dork once again.

We all learn something when the regular kid comes out on top. Other books by Carol Gorman include, A Midsummer's Night Dork and Dork in Disguise.

LEAP DAY, by Wendy Mass, Little Brown & Company, $16.99; young adult.

Josie is a leap-year baby and this entire story takes place in one day, the day of Josie's "fourth birthday," in her 16th year. Josie is looking forward to trying out for the school play and taking her driver's test. The story is written in Josie's

voice although there is a narrator who tells us the details about what Josie's friends are thinking and what the future holds.

This is Wendy Mass's second book aimed at the young adult crowd and, according to two tweens I know, it is another winner. They loved A Mango Shaped Space and they love this book too.

THE OUTCASTS OF 19 SCHUYLER PLACE, by E.L. Konigsburg, Atheneum, $16.95; ages 9-12.

Her parents have gone to Peru for the summer and Margaret Rose Kane must go to camp. After not giving in to the whims of her cabin mates and infuriating the camp director, Margaret is kicked out of camp and goes to live with her beloved great uncles and their three clock towers. Margaret discovers the clock towers are in jeopardy and she is the one who must save them.

Another great book from a wonderful author. Margaret is rescued by her great uncles and then she in turn rescues them.

P.S. Here are two tidbits in the literary tween world for your consideration:

• On the way home from seeing the movie version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, we talked about the differences between the book and the movie. Then, we reread the book.

• Attention Lemony Snicket lovers. The next book, The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 11) comes out Sept. 21. The movie based on the books, starring Jim Carrey, opens Dec. 17.

Sandi Pedersen is calendar and online editor for Chicago Parent, and the mother of four.


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