Monday, October 7, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading 10/7/13

I am excited to be a part of the conversation at #IMWAYR! Thank you to SheilaJen and Kellee for inspiring and hosting this meme.

Have I mentioned how excited I am to be a Cybils judge for middle grade speculative fiction?  I am very excited!  This is a new experience for me and I'm both nervous and excited to get started; because I am a 2nd round judge, I won't be able to start officially reviewing until later in the year, but of course, until then my eyes and ears are always open to exceptional speculative fiction!

Recommended for YA
So, to start off with some speculative fiction (although it is borderline "middle grade"), this week I read Eoin Colfer's newest offering entitled The Reluctant Assassin.  Colfer is, of course, the author of the wildly popular Artemis Fowl series and simply because of that, there will be great demand for this new series.  Regrettably, as an elementary school librarian this is not a book I'll be able to share with my students, but it is one that I can wholeheartedly recommend to YA readers.  The Reluctant Assassin has time travel, espionage, murder and intrigue; it is fast-paced and exciting and will satisfy (and perhaps surprise) fans of Artemis Fowl.  The titular reluctant assassin is Riley, a scrappy apprentice to Garrick, an illusionist who doubles as a murderer.  When Riley and Garrick are hired to kill a time traveler, things get exciting quickly and our heroine, Chevie Savano, a teenaged FBI agent is introduced.  This book is not for the faint of heart, but the violence never feels gratuitous.  I am already anticipating the second book in the series!

Rec. for grades 5-8
A more gentle new title in the same genre is Playing with Fire by Bruce Hale.  This one I will happily hand to my elementary school aged students, as it is a solid introduction to the espionage/spy genre.  Max Segredo is a foster child who has pushed the limits everywhere he's been; his next stop should be juvie, but instead he lands in a very peculiar "orphanage."  Here he is enrolled in classes in lock picking and spying and slowly it dawns on Max that he has been recruited to an organization that is fighting evil.  While not perfect (I have a little quibble with the sub-plot concerning Max's dad), this is a quickly moving and highly entertaining read.

Rec. for grades 4-8
My favorite read of the week was Monica Edinger's Africa is My Home: A Child of the Amistad.  There is so much to like about this slim fictionalized account of the Amistad. Told from the perspective of one of the children abducted from West Africa and brought first to Cuba and then the United States, Edinger balances emotion with fact and makes this historical event accessible to middle grade readers. Robert Byrd's beautiful illustrations compliment and enhance the text.  I have long been fascinated by this aspect of global history and Edinger's account illuminates it in a new and impactful way.

Wishing everyone a great week of reading ahead!

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