Hot reads for summer days

Tween Books - August 2006


Sandi Pedersen


Ah, summer.

I love the endless lazy days of summer. I love finding a comfy spot and sharing a book with a friend. My family and I just spent a long weekend with friends at our favorite Wisconsin cabin. We read to each other in the car. We read while sitting on the pontoon. We read while lounging on the pier. And best of all-we read while sitting on the swing that looks over the lake.

SHREDDERMAN: MEET THE GECKO, by Wendelin Van Draanen, Knopf Books for Young Readers, $12.95; ages 9-12.

Our 11-year-old hero, Nolan, fights evil one bad guy at a time by exposing them on his own Web site, Nolan's favorite TV show is filming in town and he gets the chance to meet the kid who is the star of the show. Now the fun begins. Nolan and the TV star bond over a video game.

Nolan and the school bully find something they have in common. Then, Nolan uses his spy gear and his Web site to get rid of the "mole."

This is an easy read and book No. 3 in the series. I will definitely go back to catch up on the first two.

TWICE UPON A TIME NO. 1: RAPUNZEL, THE ONE WITH ALL THE HAIR, by Wendy Mass, Scholastic Paperbacks, $5.99; ages 9-12.

Yes, it is the story about Rapunzel that we all know but with a very cool twist. First we find Rapunzel being kidnapped by a witch and locked up in a tower. Next, we meet Prince Benjamin who is having all kinds of his own problems. Both are trapped, one by a witch and one by the expectations of a kingdom. Then, boy meets girl and …

Author Wendy Mass is a favorite of the teens in my house. We have written about her books here before. It is fun to see her branching out to a younger audience. Her next book in this series, Twice Upon a Time No. 2: Sleeping Beauty, the One Who Took the Really Long Nap, will be available in September.

TWO HOT DOGS WITH EVERYTHING, by Paul Haven, Random House Books for Young Readers, $15.95; ages 10-13.

Danny is so superstitious that he does all kinds of crazy things to try to help his team, the Sluggers. Danny thinks that every move he makes has an effect on the team, including where and how he sits and what he eats. His hot dogs, for example, need extra onions when a rookie is pitching.

Danny learns that the mansion, owned by the team's founder, a bubblegum tycoon, is going to be demolished. He needs to save the mansion. In the process, something wonderful starts to happen for the Sluggers.

OK, I have to admit I'm a diehard Cubs fan. I loved this book because I relate to Danny. The Sluggers have not won the championship in 108 years (sound familiar?) and Danny will do just about anything to see his team win.

I can definitely relate.

FAIRY DUST AND THE QUEST FOR THE EGG, by Gail Carson Levine, Disney Press, $16.99; ages 9-11.

Prilla is a brand-new fairy, eager to discover her talent. Is she an animal-talent fairy like Beck? Is she a music-talent fairy, a water-talent fairy or maybe a tinker of pots and pans like Tinker Bell?

Tinker Bell takes Prilla to Mother Dove hoping she will have the answer. But then a horrible hurricane hits NeverLand. Tinker Bell, Prilla and the other fairies must work to save Mother Dove, her egg and NeverLand.

This story is fun in a variety of ways. We learn about the community of fairies in NeverLand. We learn about the roles and purposes of fairies. And best of all, we learn about Tinker Bell and her life away from Peter Pan. This book is beautifully illustrated and a lovely tale that will be enjoyed by anyone ever fascinated by fairies.

THEODORA TWIST, by Melissa Senate, Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $15.95; ages 14 and up.

Theodora is a 16-year-old Hollywood star. Emily is a 16-year-old nobody.

What could these two girls possibly have in common other than they were once friends-before regular Dora became Theodora the hottie, the teen with the money, boys, clothes and reputation.

Theodora's people decide she needs to lose her bad-girl image. They sign her up to do a reality TV show-Theodora, a real teen. Emily and her family are chosen to act as Theodora's host family. The two girls must now live together in the same room, eat the same food, wear the same clothes and attend the same classes. Fans of reality TV will get a kick out of this book.

There is a memorable scene when Theodora confesses to Emily about what she had to do with a male producer, when she was 13, to get a part in a movie. It is too bad the sex-talk makes this book only appropriate for older readers. I enjoyed reading this book, as did my 14-year-old daughter. Without the sexual references, my recommendation easily would have been for those readers ages 12 and up.

Sandi Pedersen is the mom of four and the Web mistress for Chicago Parent.

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