Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review: False Prince

Wow! FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer A. Nielsen is a great read. Nielsen has developed a rich set of characters in FALSE PRINCE, especially in the protagonist named Sage, who truly comes alive in the reader’s mind with his mysterious depth and layers of complexity. As you peel back each layer of Sage’s intriguing personality, you find yourself rooting more and more not only for him to survive, but that he’ll turn the tables on his adversaries.

Coupled with the great character development, FALSE PRINCE takes the reader on an engaging adventure entwined with treachery, sword fights, deadly rivalries, royal secrets, and a daring plan to save a kingdom from civil war. Its delightful and surprising plot twists not only keep you guessing at the final outcome and cheering along the way, but leave you pondering on the story and its characters for weeks after. FALSE PRINCE is a prized selection you'll want to add to your list of middle-grade/YA books that boys will love. Oh, and girls will love it too.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

70 New Books to Get Boys Reading

Finding books that will engage boys in the upper-elementary grades and junior high can be a challenge. I personally feel that book publishers publish too few books targeted specifically at boys in this age range. However, there are books available that can get boys interested in reading or simply keep current boy readers reading.

I recently asked a large group of librarians what recently published middle grade fiction they see boys reading with interest (i.e., books published within the past 5 years). By far the most frequently recommend books were Ranger’s Apprentice (series) by John Flanagan, Diary of a Wimpy Kid (series) by Jeff Kinney, and anything by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson series and Kane Chronicles series).

Below are two lists I compiled from these librarians’ recommendations. The first list contains those books that received the most recommendations. The second list contains books that also came highly recommended.

Middle-grade books with high interest for Boys – Most recommendations from Librarians
Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (series) by Jeff Kinney
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
The Maze of Bones (Book 1 of 39 Clues series) by Rick Riordan
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce (for younger boys)
The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Middle-grade books with high interest for Boys – Recommended by Librarians
100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp (series) by Rick Yancey
Amulet (series of graphic novels) by Kazu Kibuishi
Athlete biographies (i.e., Tim Tebow and Drew Brees)
Bang by Norah McClintock
Bartimaeus (series) by Jonathan Stroud
Beyonders (series) by Brandon Mull
Beware the Ninja Weenies and other humorous books by David Lubar
The Body of Christoper Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci
Brotherband Chronicles (series) by John Flanagan
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
Charlie Bone (series) by Jenny Nimmo
Cherub (series) by Robert Muchamore
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
Eragon (Inheritance series) by Christopher Paolini
Escape from the Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith
Fablehaven (series) by Brandon Mull
Fallen Angels and anything else by Walter Dean Myers
The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander
Gregor the Overlander (series) by Suzanne Collins
Haunted Mystery (series) by Chris Grabenstein
The High Seas Trilogy by Iain Lawrence
H.I.V.E.: Higher Institute of Villainous Education (series) by Mark Walden
The House of Power (Atherton series) by Patrick Carman
Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
The Kane Chronicle (series) by Rick Riordan
Killer Pizza by Greg Taylor
The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson
Last Dragon Chronicles (series) by Chris D'Lacey
Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers
Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore
Marvin Redpost (series) by Louis Sachar (for younger boys)
Maximum Ride (series) by James Patterson
The Missing (series) by Margaret Haddix
Ms. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The Mysterious Benedict Society (series) by Trenton Lee Stewart
NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (series) by Michael Buckley
Origami Yoda (series) by Thomas Angelberger
Pendragon (series) by D.J. MacHale
Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Mayberry
Septimus Heap by Angie Sage
Series of Unfortunate Events (series) by Lemony Snicket
Skeleton Creek (series) by Patrick Carman
Slam by Walter Dean Myers
Spaceheadz (series) by Jon Scieszka
Sports fiction by authors like Rich Wallace, Tim Green, and Mike Lupica
Tapestry (series) by Henry H. Neff
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Warriors (series) by Erin Hunter
The Wee Free Men (series) by Terry Pratchett
The Wildwood Chronicles by Colin Meloy
Witch and Wizard (series) by James Patterson
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Wonderstuck by Brian Selznick
World War  II and Vietnam War fiction and non-fiction
Young Sherlock Holmes (series) by Andrew Lane

Friday, July 20, 2012

Review: Ranger's Apprentice

When I asked a large group of librarians for suggestions on middle-grade books that would appeal to boys, one of the most recommended books was the RANGER’S APPRENTICE series by John Flanagan. In fact, one librarian said, “The books (RANGER’S APPRENTICE) fly off my shelf.”

So, the other day I read the first book in the series, THE RUINS OF GORLAN. As expected, RANGER’S APPRENTICE is full of adventure that will engage boy readers (and girls too) from ages 10 and up. But what I believe makes this book rise way above your typical adventure is the way Flanagan takes the readers deep inside the emotions of the main characters. Not only do the characters go on wild adventures that any boy would dream of, but it lets the readers feel and see how the two main boys in the book deal with boyhood trials common to today’s youth, including bullying, feuding friends, and acceptance by others. While I loved the action and adventure, its Flanagan’s focus on the trials and hardships of youthful relationships that makes RANGER’S APPRENTICE: THE RUINS OF GORLAN so exceptional.