Great Reads for Teens and Tweens!

Helping you make an informed decision about that book

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker

Title: Gym Candy

Author: Carl Deuker

Publisher: Perfection Learning          Year: 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1606863763

Genre: Fiction

Age: 12 and up

Awards: Printz Honor Book Award, a National Book Award nomination, Golden Kite award, the Edgar Allen Poe Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize

Themes / Subjects: Young Adult, High School, Family Life, Sports, Health – Steroids, Friendships, Coming of Age

Plot Summary:

Check out my booktalk trailer I created with goanimate.com!

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker http://goanimate.com/videos/0vXZkYLbVR68

My Take:

I am not a football person at all. When I was in high school marching band and had to go to all the football games, I would hide books in my uniform and read when I wasn’t playing. I watch the Super Bowl every year and even then I fast forward during the game to watch the commercials and half time show. Did I mention I strongly dislike football?

With that said and off my chest, I loved this book! All the football jargon confused me a little bit but honestly it wasn’t overwhelming. The best part was getting to see the darker side of sports. I’ve always heard about professional athletes using steroids on the news and never thought that it would begin as young as freshman in high school. This book in no way encourages the use of steroids and really goes to great length and detail to show just how screwed up Mick’s life became all because he wanted to be the best. Parents who push their children to be star athletes need to read this because I don’t think they realize the consequences their actions can have on their kids. And all kids whether they are pressured to be the best or not should read this book because it will cause them to think twice about trying any sort of drugs.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars … while I can’t say it has turned me on to being a football fan, this book has caused me to really examine the pressures we put our young athletes under.

Similar read: Boost by Kathryn Mackel. Whereas Deuker explores the use of steroids in male athlets, Mackel takes the readers into the girls locker room for a change.

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Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison

Title: Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson

Author: Louise Rennison

Publisher: Harper Teen    Year: 1st edition, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0064472272

Age: 13 and up

Genre: Fiction

Subjects / Themes: Young adult, humor, British comedy, social situations, family life, friendships, relationships

Awards: Not Just for Children Anymore! (Children’s Book Council), IRA/CBC Young Adults’ Choice, Michael L. Printz Honor Book , ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice (these are just the more notable awards, check out Rennison’s site for a full listing!)

Plot Summary:

I really loved this plot summary from amazon.com’s Brangien Davis so I thought I’d share it rather than write my own …

“She has a precocious 3-year-old sister who tends to leave wet nappies at the foot of her bed, an insane cat who is prone to leg-shredding “Call of the Wild” episodes, and embarrassing parents who make her want to escape to Stonehenge and dance with the Druids. No wonder 14-year-old Georgia Nicolson laments, “Honestly, what is the point?” A Bridget Jones for the younger set, Georgia records the momentous events of her life–and they are all momentous–in her diary, which serves as a truly hilarious account of what it means to be a modern girl on the cusp of womanhood. No matter that her particular story takes place in England, the account of her experiences rings true across the ocean (and besides, “Georgia’s Glossary” swiftly eradicates any language barriers).

The author, Louise Rennison, is a British comedy writer and it shows. Whether Georgia is dealing with wearing a bra (“OK, it’s a bit on the loose side and does ride up round my neck if I run for the bus”), pondering kissing and how to know which way to turn your head (“You don’t want to be bobbing around like pigeons for hours”), or managing the results of an overzealous eyebrow-plucking episode (“Obviously, now I have to stay in forever”), she always cracks us up. Georgia struggles with the myriad issues facing teen girls–boys, of course being at the forefront–but she does it with such humor and honesty it almost seems like a good time. This refreshingly funny book is ripe for a sequel, which readers will await in droves. (Ages 11 and older).” –Brangien Davis

My Take:

I love this book so much and find it so incredibly hilarious that I was afraid if I attempted a plot summary like Brangien Davis’s I would end up just retelling the whole thing! Of all the diary style books that I have read, this is by far my favorite. Georgia and her girlfriends are goofy, silly, crazy and seriously how I saw myself and my friends at her age. The tween/teen years are so awkward, yet it is comforting to read/hear about other people your age who are just as awkward if not more so than you are. No matter what she and her girlfriends do, things always seem to take a turn for the worse.

Parents (or guardians or educators) do not judge a book by its cover! When my school bought this book there were plenty of teachers and a few parents who thought it was inappropriate for the age group. Other titles in this series include On the Bright Side I’m Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God and Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers. SOOOO, maybe the titles are a little shocking but this shock value is exactly what is going to attract the readers. Remember, Louise Rennison is a British author/comedian so it’s going to contain British humor. There is nothing wildly inappropriate about this series. Most of the kids who have checked out this book have either loved it or not understood its humor and as a result stopped reading. I would highly encourage kids to keep reading and to not forget that Rennison does provide readers with a glossery about British slang/language.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars! As Georgia Nicolson would say it’s “Fabbity fab fab!”

Similar Read: Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary … Ok, ok I know this is kickin it a little old school, but I seriously felt that Georgia Nicolson with all her mishaps could be a teen version of Ramona Quimby. Actually after reading the Georgia Nicolson series I felt an urge to go back and reread my old Ramona books.

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Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti

Title: Something Like Fate

Author: Susane Colasanti

Publisher: Speak      Year: 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0142418826

Genre: Fiction

Age: 12 and up

Themes / Subjects: high school, relationships, romance, young adult, teen love

Plot Summary:

Erin and Lani are not just best friends, they are soul sisters bonded together in the deepest ways and yet total opposites. Lani is environmentally conscious and the president of the school’s One World Club whose goal is to make students more green friendly. Erin is part of the popular group and completely boy crazy. Erin begins dating fellow popular kid Jason, but there is an unmistakable chemistry between Jason and Lani! When Erin goes away for the summer, Lani is encouraged by her friend to spend more time with Jason but the temptation of love is proving to be too much. Lani must make a difficult decision … put her friendship first or give in to true love.

My Take:

While reading this book, I couldn’t stop thinking about and comparing it to Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin. The storylines are almost exactly the same with the only exception being that Something Like Fate is written for tweens/teens and Something Borrowed is the adult version. While pursuing my school book fair the cover of Something Like Fate caught my eye; the reader is looking at the back of a couch where a boy and girl are cuddled yet the boy is hold hands behind the couch with a girl sitting on the other end! In my mind I’m thinking, “Scandalous! What is this?!” Below the hands is written, “What if your soul mate is your best friend’s boyfriend?” Immediately I plopped down ten bucks and just had to buy this book.

The cover is juicy. The description on the back of the book is juicy. The story itself was ok. Like I said earlier, while reading I couldn’t stop thinking this was a toned down replica of Something Borrowed. This book needs a lot more drama and a much better ending. There is way too much mundane description and not where it is needed. Some conflict is resolved too quickly while other conflict is left unresolved.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars … I’m really stuck in the middle with this book. I love the plot line and the characters, but I feel as though I wasn’t given a full story

Similar read: Forget You by Jennifer Echols

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Troy High by Shana Norris

Title: Troy High

Author: Shana Norris

Publisher: Amulet Books      Year: 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0810996656

Genre: Fiction

Age: 12 and up

Themes / Subjects: high school, relationships, social situations, family life, rivalry

Plot Summary:

Troy High follows the story of two high schools, Troy High, the Trojans, and Lacede High, home of the Spartans, as they declare war on a modern day battlefield…the football field. Due to district re-zoning some of the Spartans will now have to attend Troy, including the most beautiful head cheerleader, Elena Argos. An all-out war erupts between the schools when Elena dumps the Spartan star football player Lucas Mennon for the Trojan football star Perry Prince. Cassie, Perry’s younger sister and outcast, is thrust into the middle of the conflict, of which she doesn’t care about and wishes people would just grow up and forget the rivalry. However, she herself must make a difficult choice; remain loyal to her family and school or give in to a forbidden crush.

My Take:

An excellent retelling of Homer’s Illiad with a modern twist! I am a huge fan of Greek mythology and an even bigger fan of the story of the Trojan/Spartan War. I loved that Shana Norris used typical high school rivalry for her setting because it made the story more relatable. Who hasn’t heard of or been a part of high school pranks? A lot of my middle schoolers have older siblings and I hear them talking about the stunts pulled at the high schools daily. What makes Troy High such an enjoyable read is that the pranks that are pulled are harmless and funny so you don’t have to worry about your child getting any wild ideas. I’ve almost come to expect stories regarding high school to have mention of drugs or sex or some profanity but this is truly a “clean” book. I think the most “action” we read about is Perry and Elena kissing. For some reason as I was reading I kept thinking about the movie Troy with Brad Pitt …hmm…but I digress. The love story will captivate the girls, the football war is something for the boys, and band geeks and nerds everywhere will feel a special connection with Cassie.

Rating: 5/5 stars … Suitable for all ages of tweens and teens and a great way to introduce kids to Greek Mythology

Similar read: Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan – another great book with references to Greek mythology.

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Dork Diaries: Tales From A Not-So-Fabulous Life By Rachel Renee Russell

 Title: Dork Diaries: Tales From A Not-So-Fabulous Life

 Author: Rachel Renee Russell

 Publisher: Aladdin     Year: 2009

 ISBN -13: 978-1416980063

 Genre: Fiction

 Age: 9 and up

 Themes / Subjects: junior high, popularity, comics, middle school, cliques, humor

 Awards:  New York Times Bestseller list for 42 weeks; USA Today Best Sellers list for 7   weeks; 2010 Children’s Choice Book of the Year Award for the 5th/6th grade division; nominated as Book of the Year by the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice

Plot Summary:

Fourteen-year-old Nikki Maxwell is a self proclaimed dork. This school year she has been awarded a scholarship to a prestigious private middle school, thanks in part to her dad’s contract with the school as their bug exterminator.  Nikki believes that a new iPhone will help her cinch a spot in the school’s  CCP (cute, cool & popular) group so when her mom returns home from the mall with a “special back-to-school”  present she is pretty ecstatic. What does her mother purchase for her? A stupid little diary. Nikki swears not to write in it but soon the pages are filled with sketches and stories of drama with the school’s resident mean girl, her embarrassing parents, new friends and hot crushes.

My Take:

For being a self-proclaimed dork, Nikki Maxwell is a pretty mean girl herself. Her character is shallow and self-centered and changes very little by the end of the book. While some of the situations she finds herself in are humorous there were twice as many situations where I felt like cringing with things that she had said or done.  This book is recommended for ages 9 and up, but some of the humor and situations would be much more appropriate for older girls. How would you like to explain to your 9 year old why “…hordes of celebrity party girls regularly FORGET to wear undies, not a single one would be caught dead without her cell phone” (p.4)? Hopefully we see some sort of character development in the next book, but I won’t be rushing off to read it.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars – Girls are probably better off reading “Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Similar Read: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

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