Here is a page of my own reviews of Tween Books that I have read. The library does not own any of these titles, but if you are interested, we could order them via interlibrary loan. That’s how I got them!
– Rebecca Fitzgerald, Acquistions Librarian
The Defense of Thaddeus A. Ledbetter by Jon Gosselink
One of the funniest books I’ve ever read! Seventh grader Thaddeus has been sentenced to ISS for the rest of the year, and he is out to prove his innocence.
Things Thaddeus is Accused of:1) Running over someone with a school bus 2) Trying to kill old people with citrus 3) Setting his pastor on fire 4) Destroying the careers of aspiring artists 5) Costing the community $50,000 in emergency responsive services
Cleverly written with a sprinkling of hilarious illustrations, this makes a great read-alike for Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading
The Agony of Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Eleven year old Alice feels she is growing backwards. There are so many embarassing things she does like walking in on a boy in blue underpants in the fitting room and kicking a teacher in the arm at the Halloween parade. Just as Alice thinks she’s a hopeless case, she realizes all the ways she’s actually growing forward – the teacher she hated at the beginning of the year doesn’t seem so bad now,and the boy in his underpants, he’s actually kind of cute, and best of all, he likes her back!
The Truth About Truman School by Dori Hillestad Butler
Rating: 3 out of 5
Two seventh graders, dissatisfied with the school newspaper, create a website in order to highlight the truth about their school. Before long, the site becomes an unexpected breeding ground for cyberbullies.
This slow-paced read portrays realistic characters and situations that could serve as a great learning piece for younger grades.
From Somalia, with Love by Na’ima B. Robert.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Safia Dirie is a Somali Muslim living in modern England. Her family consists of her Hoyo, and brothers, Ahmed and Abdullahi. They are tightly bonded and share the responsibilities of the household, until Safia’s Abo returns from a long-term imprisonment. All of a sudden, Safia’s world is turned upside down; her mother no longer pays attention to her, Abdullahi stops helping with the daily house chores, and Ahmed leaves after an argument with Abo. Her grades slip, and she is tempted to relieve her good-natured ways.
Through the emotional roller coaster brought on my Abo’s return, Safia learns how important tradition and family really are in this world. The novel is realistically written using colloquial Arabic phrases and proper names; the author aids the reader’s understanding of such terms through the help of a glossary located in the back of the book.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Arnold Spirit, a.k.a. Junior, lives on the “Rez” in Spokane, Washington. Being the weakling of the tribe, he is constantly bullied by those his age and older, including some thirty year olds. Arnold has one protector in the form of his best friend, Rowdy. One day, after throwing an antiquated textbook at his teacher, the educator tells Arnold that he needs to leave the Rez otherwise he will never succeed. Arnold, much to the chagrin of his fellow tribe members, heeds the old man’s advice and enrolls in a school in Reardan, just outside the reservation. Through the grief of losing close family members and joining the new school’s basketball team, Arnold finally learns that he is a lot stronger than he thought.
This book explores an ill-represented population in young adult literature. The novel is depressing in its realistic description of a reservation, a place of destitution, alcohol, and gambling. Arnold is a young man who gives hope to young Indians and opens a window to a place other young readers might have never known existed.
Please note: this book contains foul language and sexual content
Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson
Rating: 4 out of 5
Sixth grader, Frannie, is constantly trying to understand the message behind one of Emily Dickson’s poems. Ever since her teacher recited it in school, she has questioned the meaning. “Hope is the thing with feathers/that perches into the soul.” She considers these “feathers” when “Jesus Boy” enters the classroom, and her best friend starts believing he really is the Son of God. “Feathers” appear in her mind when trying to understand her deaf brother’s thoughts about hearing girls, and when her mother, after losing a child and having a miscarriage, is pregnant again.
This Newberry Honor novel is simply and beautifully written. The main character, Frannie, is a typical girl growing up in the seventies wondering what tomorrow will bring. Will her mama be OK? Will the class bully ever stop being mean? Is the Jesus Boy really Jesus Christ? Through these questions, Frannie realizes that hope, although we are not always aware, lies in all of us.