Teens @ Duluth

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Posts Tagged ‘Realistic Fiction’

The Half-Life of Planets – Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin

Posted by Laura on October 5, 2010

Liana found a note in her locker on the last day of school.  The note had one word on it – “slut.”  Was the one word true?  Does that one word define her? Liana, who plans on being a planetary scientist, decides to have an experiment over the summer.  Can she make it through the whole summer without kissing a boy?

Maybe she can.  Or, maybe not.  The experiment may derail when she meets an interesting boy, Hank, in the ladies washroom at the hospital.  She is there visiting her father who is having another check-up over nothing.  Hank is visiting his heart-throb brother who just had his knee scoped.

Hank hadn’t intended to go into the ladies room to clean himself up after the coffee spill.  He just wasn’t paying attention to which bathroom he was entering.  Besides, there is hardly any difference between the two rooms.  Hank has Asperger’s syndrome and relates to people and situations differently than the norm.  Is that such a bad thing?

Liana is interested in planets.  Hank is particularly interested in music.  Liana secretly plans on not kissing over the summer.  Hank secretly wants this summer to be the one where he gets his first kiss.

The half-life of planets is told through alternating viewpoints, written by two authors: Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin.  Give it a try.   See what you think.


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Carter’s Big Break – Brent Crawford

Posted by Laura on September 8, 2010

It is the last day of school and Carter is disappointed that he isn’t old enough (at fourteen) to be a junior lifeguard at the pool.  His dad has grand plans though.  He and Carter will rebuild the deck over the summer.   Great.

Things start looking up when Carter finds out that an independent film will be shot in his city over the summer.  Not only that, but the writer of the book that the movie is based on saw Carter and his girlfriend, Abby, act opposite each other in the spring play “Guys and Dolls” and wants them to play the leads.

The studio has a differing opinion, and the money to back it.  So, while Carter does get the lead, Abby doesn’t.  Her role is played by the teen sensation Hilary Idaho.

Carter isn’t significantly different in Brent Crawford’s  Carter’s big break from how he was in Carter finally gets it.   (Click here for blog post on that book.)  He still likes hanging out with his boys.   He still doesn’t like to drink or want anything to do with drugs (he doesn’t even like hanging around anyone who is drinking or doing drugs).  And he is still sex obsessed, but inexperienced.  Can you imagine the trouble he can get into as a star in a movie?  The paparazzi are watching.

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Little Blog on the Prairie – Catherine Davitt Bell

Posted by nancydpl on August 12, 2010

How’s this for your summer vacation: turn over your iPod. Your sneakers and sandals. Your deodorant. Your tank tops, t-shirts and shorts. And step into the world of 1890. For TWO WHOLE MONTHS! In Little Blog on the Prairie by Catherine Davitt Bell, this is what Genevieve Welsh’s family does: spend the summer at Frontier History Family Camp. It’s Gen’s mom’s dream but to Gen it’s just a big pain and she’s let everyone know it. So as a reward the night before they leave for camp, Gen’s mom shows her a cell phone that will be Gen’s…after they return. How exciting is that? That’s Gen’s dream: to have her own phone and be able to text her friends, just like everyone else. It would be OK to take it with her to camp, wouldn’t it? She won’t actually use it. Just look at it. Or maybe just send a sample text… or two. Frontier History Family Camp is way worse than Gen imagined. She can’t keep anything from her real life (sshhh: she hid the phone in the pocket of her “new” long-sleeved ankle-length wool dress), she has to share a bed with her 10-year-old brother, the food is horrible and there’s no indoor plumbing. And to top it off, the daughter of the people who run the camp hates her. To share her misery, Gen pulls out her new phone….and texts her friends. And then does it again. And again. And by then it just seems OK to Gen to go on, letting her friends know about her miserable summer. But after a few weeks, it turns out there are a few things that aren’t so miserable. There’s Caleb… When the crisis comes, how will Gen vote: stay or go? How would you do without any 21st century (or even 20th century!) conveniences? Is this the experience of a lifetime? Or just a summer to forget?

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Checkered Flag Cheater – Will Weaver

Posted by Laura on August 9, 2010

Checkered Flag Cheater is the third in Will Weaver’s Motor novels.  Life is pretty good for Trace Bonham.

1) He is driving for a professional Super Stock racing team.

2) His face is plastered all over the highways on billboards for Blu energy drink.  This means that he is recognizable and can get away with stuff a bit because of his celebrity.

3) His girl back home is still interested, although she is going to the prom with some other guy.

4) His car keeps winning.

Mainly the problem is how others treat him when he wins a race.  Should there really be booing?  But then again, should his engine open up late in a race and perform as good as it does?  Because that’s what’s happening.   His engine all of a sudden gives him more power when he needs it the most.  People in the stands notice.  People in the cars and the pits definitely notice.  That late in a race the car shouldn’t be able to get around the leading cars and get ahead by a few car lengths by the time the checkered flag flies.  Not a legal Super Stock car anyway.

But, the car keeps passing inspection.  Like I said, life is pretty good for Trace Bonham.  And it will stay that way.  If he doesn’t say anything.

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Happyface – Stephen Emond

Posted by Laura on July 21, 2010

Happyface, written and illustrated by Stephen Emond, is the sketch book of a teen boy who is having a seriously bad year.

His parents drink and fight a lot, his brother is in college and isn’t particularly happy when he comes home for holidays, and his best friend is a girl he would really like to date.  Our “hero” soldiers on in his journal, but then there is a change.  His parents are separated, he and his mom move from their house and live in a small apartment in another town.  This means that he changes schools.

Now is the time for him to change his attitude and see if life is better that way.  He puts on a smile at school and things do change.  He is given the name Happyface and he starts making friends.  But, nothing really changes.   A smile can hide a lot.

If you are looking for a light, happy-go-lucky read, this is not the book for you.  The journal is heavily illustrated and the story moves at a pretty good clip.  Questions arise and are eventually answered.   What questions?   Why did Happyface and his mother move?  Where is his brother and why doesn’t his father talk to him anymore?  What is with his best friend?  Hmm?

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Dooley takes the fall – Norah McClintock

Posted by Laura on April 30, 2010

Dooley saw someone fall off a bridge and die.  When he arrived at the body, he recognized the boy as someone from his school.  Someone he did not like, and with good reason.

When the police arrive, they ask Dooley a lot of questions, trying to trap him in a lie.  Dooley has a record and knew not to say too much.  When he got home, very late, his uncle, a retired police officer, was upset at Dooley for 1) not returning his page and 2) for not coming directly home from work like he was supposed to.

So now, Dooley has the police looking at him, is even more uncomfortable with his uncle and has the dead boy’s sister, who is beautiful, asking questions.  On top of this is his regular problems at school with the vice principal who refuses to lay off and his lousy minimum wage job at the video store with a middle manager who likes to micro manage and over sell.

Dooley takes the fall by Norah McClintock is a well written mystery by a Canadian author.  There is a wee bit of swearing and a whole lot of who-did-what and who-killed-him and now-who-is-dead?  And, what-the-heck-did-Dooley-do-in-the-first-place?  I liked it a lot.

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Marcelo in the real world – Francisco X. Stork

Posted by Laura on January 29, 2010

Marcelo is seventeen and has a summer job working at his school caring for the ponies.   He is looking forward to starting on Monday, but his father, Arturo,  has other plans for him. Arturo believes that Marcelo should work in the mail room of his law firm because Marcelo needs experience in the real world.

Marcelo’s school is a private school for children with developmental or physical disabilities called Paterson. Marcelo has a form of Autism that is best described as Asperger’s Syndrome.  He is very literal, he notices everything, he doesn’t seem to feel emotions as others do, and he can hear “internal music.”  Which is part of his  special interest that he calls remembering.

Arturo makes a deal with Marcelo.  If he is able to complete the summer job and follow all the rules, he can complete his high school education at Paterson.  If he fails to live up to expectations, Marcelo will have to go to the public high school.  Unfortunately for Marcelo, when he arrives at the law firm he is assigned to work with Jasmine and she resents his being there.

Then there is Wendell, the son of Arturo’s partner.  He has designs on Jasmine and wants Marcelo to help in getting Jasmine on his boat so that he can bring her “below.”  Marcelo is going to find out that the real world can be pretty nasty.  It is a good thing that he can go to Rabbi Heschel and speak about theological and moral issues even though he is Catholic.

Marcelo in the real world by Francisco X. Stork is the recipient of  the 2010 teen Schneider Family Book Award.  From the ALA Website:  “The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”

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Carter Finally Gets It – Brent Crawford

Posted by Laura on December 3, 2009

Will Carter, known to everyone as Carter, and thankfully not Slappy (and is that a funny/painful story…)  is about to become a freshman at Merrian High.   Carter finally gets it by Brent Crawford is all about Carter’s freshman year and it is funny (read: hilarious) and embarrassing (read: cringe-worthy).

Carter has a mild form of ADD and has to really concentrate on not spacing out, which can be a problem when he is playing sports (football and swimming).   Luckily, he has a close group of friends but, man can he get himself into situations!

From going to high school parties where people get drunk and his bike gets stolen, to dating and bragging in the locker room, Carter has a lot to deal with.  His sister tries to help out by giving him advice.  Which isn’t a bad idea because if he does something embarrassing it will reflect poorly on her.  Expect to read language you would hear walking down the hall of a high school and expect to be telling the people around you what it is that you are reading that is so funny.  I’m sure you will easily convince others to pick up a copy.  That is, once you stop snorting and have wiped the tears from your eyes.

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Funny how things change – Melissa Wyatt

Posted by Laura on October 6, 2009

Dwyer, West Virginia is a dying town in the Appalachian Mountains that offers little opportunity now that most of the easy coal has been mined out of the mountains.  The most cost effective way of getting the coal out now is mountaintop removal mining where they blast the mountain to get to the coal.  Remy Walker’s family has lived there for generations and one of the mountains, the one he and his dad live on,  is named Walker Mountain after the first people to live there.

Remy recently graduated from high school and has agreed to follow his girlfriend when she moves from Dwyer to go to college in Pennsylvania.  Remy is an auto-mechanic and should be able to find work near the college so that they can afford to have an apartment off campus.  He won’t be moving to go to college, he just doesn’t want to be away from Lisa because he loves her.

Remy only needs to tell his dad that he is going to move away and then he and Lisa can start their life together like they have been talking about for a long time.  But when Remy meets an artist and she reminds him how fascinating the mountains are, Remy needs to decide if his love for Lisa is greater than his love for his home and his heritage.  Does he have to “get up, get out” (p.5), like they say in school, or can he have a happy life on Walker Mountain?

Funny how things change by Melissa Wyatt reminded me of what it felt like to be Remy’s age and to have such an important decision in front of me.

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Gym Candy – Carl Deuker

Posted by Laura on September 28, 2009

Football has been the most important thing in Mick Johnson’s life since forever.  Mick’s dad, a past professional football player, made sure that Mick started kindergarten a year later then he should have so that he would have a size advantage over his team mates.

That, along with Mick’s drive and talent earn him a spot on the high school varsity team as a freshman halfback.  But, when he gets his chance on the field he gets stopped twelve inches short of the goal.

He just wasn’t strong enough.  And he is determined that next year he will be.  He lifts weights.  He takes supplements and protein shakes.  His dad brings him to a gym that has better equipment than at the school.  He also sets him up with a personal trainer.  And the trainer?  He sets Mick up with something else altogether.

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker follows Mick as he makes the decision to start using steroids and shows us what happens next.

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