Enough already. I need some sleep. I get started on a book and the next thing I know, it’s a good book. Then I decide it’s a really good book. I can’t stop reading. I know I should turn off the light. I should go to sleep. But I can’t. I have to keep reading. I have to finish the book.
Then I finish. I turn off the light. I close my eyes. But I can’t sleep. I have to get up and start writing. I have to tell you about this great book.
MONSOON SUMMER, by Mitali Perkins, Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $15.95; young adult.
Oh, how I adored this book. It is a lovely story of friendship, first loves, taking chances, faraway places, and for 15-year-old Jazz, discovering who she really is.
And yet, this book is so much more than that. Jazz’s family spends a summer in Pune, India, where we and she get the chance to learn about the culture of India and about the subtle ways in which race and caste are a part of their lives. We meet Danita, an orphan girl who works for Jazz’s family. Not only does she know how to make a perfect cup of tea, she knows how to make Jazz see herself for who she is. The two girls become friends and teach each other to take chances and to be proud of who they are.
NO TIME LIKE SHOW TIME (HERMUX TANTAMOQ ADVENTURE), by Michael Hoeye, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $14.99; ages 9-12.
I was pleasantly surprised to realize, after I started to read the book, that I know this hero. I have enjoyed his adventures before. It’s my mouse friend Hermux, the humble watchmaker-turned-detective; his pet, Terfle, the very talented ladybug; and the daring aviatrix, Linka Perflinger, who Hermux is secretly in love with. My kids and I read the first book out loud to each other and we listened to the second on tape in the car. Mice, moles, chipmunks and rats all come to life in this adventure series where teatime includes celery doughnuts, polka-dot lipstick is high fashion and larger-than-normal ears are something to be envied.
The first two books in this series are Time Stops for No Mouse and The Sands of Time. MEASLE AND THE WRATHMONK, by Ian Ogilvy, HarperCollins Children’s Book Group, $15.99; ages 9-12.
This book is all boy. My 10-year-old son and I read it together and he loved it. It has the perfect mix of adventure, evil, bad smells, horrible spells, a mad wizard, a permanent rain cloud, a bat (or beast) in the rafters of the attic, ½-inch-size shrunken people, model trains, poisonous doughnuts and a giant cockroach. In the end, our boy, Measle, is the hero.
Need I say more? Read the book.
MISSING ABBY, by Lee Weatherly, David Fickling Books, $15.95; ages 9-12.
Emma’s old best friend, Abby, is missing and Emma was the last known person to have seen her. Emma needs to help. She knows she should help. But the reasons she and Abby are no longer friends are all right there in her face, threatening to mess up her new friendships. Her new friends don’t know about her uncool past. And she would like to make sure they never do. But Abby is missing and Emma must decide to join in—she must help find Abby. This is a memorable and thought-provoking story about friends and friendship.
I had a little trouble with some of the slang, but I liked the story too much to let that get in my way.
THE COCKROACH WAR, by Jonathan Harlen, Allen & Unwin, $7.95; ages 9-12.
First the neighbors, the Cadwalladers, win the lottery and turn the neighborhood into a living nightmare with their loud parties and garish behavior. Then Dad decides they have no choice—the family will have to move. Our heroes, Toby and his brainy sister, Emma, don’t want to move, so they think up a way to make the Cadwalladers move instead. Toby and Emma declare war against their neighbors with an army of hornets, butterflies and cockroaches. You’ll read, you’ll laugh, you’ll believe.
THE GIRL WHO INVENTED ROMANCE, by Caroline B. Cooney, Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $8.95; young adult.
As Kelly and her friends sit in her room and talk about boys, dating, love and the lack of all of it, Kelly decides it is time to focus on romance. Kelly begins to invent a board game, and as the story progresses, so does her game.
Kelly’s best friend is pining over a boy who does not notice her, Kelly’s brother gets dumped and her parents’ marriage hits a rocky spot. Kelly takes it all in, questions everything and uses it for her game.
In the end, Kelly has a new game, a new love and she is on a quest to win at “happily ever after.”
P.S. 1. I read the third book in Ann Brashares’ Traveling Pants series, Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood. I loved the book anyway, but what happened to the pants?
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It comes out July 16. Remind me to clear my calendar so I can sit in our grandpa chair and do nothing but read all weekend.
3. I need a nap.
Sandi Pedersen, the mother of four, is online editor for Chicago Parent.