Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Missing in Action by Dean Hughes

Dean Hughes has become a master storyteller when it comes to capturing the reality of war, especially the time of World War II. Adult readers may be familiar with his Children of the Promise series, and the follow-up Hearts of the Children series. They may also know his stand-alone novel Saboteur, one of most intense and well-written spy novels I've ever read.

Younger readers may have already discovered Soldier Boys and Search and Destroy, both excellent novels that take MG/YA readers into the heart of battle and the cultural obstacles that too often keep us apart.

Missing in Action is no different. Jay Thacker is growing up in the Mormon community of Delta, Utah. Although he is part Navajo, his baseball skills and the respect his grandfather has from the other residents help him fit in, if you can call being nicknames "Chief" against your will as being accepted. The other kids think that all Indians are lazy alcoholic thieves, even though there is no reason to think so when it comes to Jay.
If being Native America didn't cause him enough trouble in town, the fact that his grandfather has hired a young Japanese-American from the nearby Topaz interment camp to help out on the farm almost puts Jay over the edge. 

But to his surprise, Jay discovers that not only is Ken a hard worker who wants to join the American army when he comes of age, but that he is also great at baseball, the sport that Jay most loves. 

Despite their differences, the two boys become friends--a situation that doesn't bode well for either one of them once the other boys in the community find out. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beyonders: A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull

Jason Walker is an ordinary 13-year-old boy, bored by life and wishing for adventure. But he never imagines his trip to the zoo would result is his being transported from the hippo tank to another world, a place called Lyrian, ruled by the evil wizard, Maldor. 

Of course, Maldor is nothing like the world Jason came from because this new land is dangerous and filled with evil. When Jason meets Rachel, another Beyonder (as people from Earth are called), the two of them set out on a quest to retrieve a secret word, one that will take away Maldor's powerand make Lyrian once again as safe place to be.

If you're a fan of Fablehaven, you're sure to love this first book in a new series. But be forewarned, Beyonders: Seeds of Rebellion isn't slated for release until March 12, 2012. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Janitors by Tyler Whitesides

The janitors at Welcher Elementary School know a secret, and twelve-year-old Spencer Zumbro is the only one who can lead the charge against them and their evil plan. With the help of classmate Daisy "Gullible" Gates, Spencer sets out to discover who can trusted, and who cannot. The discovery of the truth might just save his school, and perhaps the world!

First-time author, Tyler Whitesides brings some of his own experience as a school janitor to the writing of this first book in a series perfect for elementary students. As Spencer and Daisy discover in their fight against crime, Tyler learned first-hand about the battle against the Toxites: Grime, Filth and Rubbish.

But don't expect this battle to be easy for Spencer. Fighting off janitors can be dirty work, and only those who are willing to put their hands to a mop even stand a chance of coming out unscathed.

Janitors captures the voice of a true sixth grader, and is perfect for a classroom read aloud. Kids will not be disappointed, and they will be begging for more.