And now for a little fun…
October is the beginning of my favorite season. Yes, I know fall officially starts in September, but it won’t feel like it until next week in Texas.
In honor of this fabulous time of year, I want to have a month of fun! We will start with BOOK favorites, both ours and our teens. The first few are fiction for pre- and young teens, then I move to fiction for older teens. Then — books for us, fiction and non-fiction.
Fiction for younger teens/preteens
Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer by John Grisham
John Grisham ventures into the world of YA/teen fiction with this first-in-a-series book about Theo, son of two lawyers who dreams of being a lawyer (or maybe a judge?) someday. When a sensational case comes to their small town, the citizens get caught up in the sensationalism of it all. Theo, though, as expected growing up in his family, is swept into the “law” part of the trial. Although it takes patience to wade through some of the legalese, it will captivate kids with the drama of courtrooms.The themes in the book are mature, no doubt, but Grisham handles them with grace, aiming his book to late preteen/early teen kids. The dialogue moves the story along. Word of warning, it ends on a cliffhanger, so be prepared to buy the next book! (The series gets better, as Grisham becomes more comfortable with the genre.)
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Hatchet is survival fiction written by Gary Paulsen, three-time Newberry Award winner. The story is compelling – a young teen whose plane is stranded in the wilderness when the pilot dies. His stories of harrowing moments will have preteens enthralled, but the language may be a bit repetitive and simplistic for older teens. It is an important read for kids of the twenty-first century, though its original edition was written in 1987. There is no easy-out. Critical thinking skills are paramount as he learns from mistakes and comes close to catastrophe multiple times. If your child likes happy-happy stories this may not be for them.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
This work of historical fiction is very different from Lois Lowry’s best-known work, The Giver. It tells the story of Annemarie Johansen who risks her life to save that of her friend, Ellen Rosen, a Dutch Jew. Through subterfuge and playacting they are able to pass Ellen off as Lise, Annemarie’s recently deceased older sister. It is a quick read, but you have to keep up with the characters, or you get lost. It makes the reality of what the Jews faced real to young people who’ve never faced war close to home.
Fiction for older teens
The Last Thing I Remember by Andrew Klavan
The quick summary is: Charlie West wakes to find a year of his life gone from his memory, running from people trying to kill him on one side and lock him up for a crime he can’t remember committing on the other. In spite of some fights scenes and frightening moments, there are no sex scenes or gratuitous violence. There are unexpected plot twists and moments of suspense. It ends with the story tied up, but leaves you ready for the next in the series! Andrew Klavan is a masterful storyteller, and does a better job at transitioning from his usual adult fiction to juvenile fiction than John Grisham did with Theodore Boone.
Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker
I absolutely love Shawn Smucker’s writing style! His books are descriptive without being wordy. They are delicious enough to read slowly, but also compelling enough to be read under the covers way too late! It is the eerie tale of Cohen Marah, whose memories lead back to a traumatic childhood, triggered by a tragedy that grips you right at the first sentence. It is mingled with fantasy, stark realism, and divine grace. It is published by a Christian publisher, but there are no preachy moments. A must-read!
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
This haunting tale is part history, part fantasy. Liesel, the main character, goes to live with the Hubermanns after her own family is unable to care for her, during World War 2. While there, she meets Max, a Jewish boxer who is in hiding with them. Liesel steals books scheduled to be burned by the Nazis. Max and Liesel fall in love with reading together. Soon the narrative takes a darker turn. Because it is narrated by Death, this may not be the book for those who are easily frightened.