Invisible Inkling - Dangerous Pumpkins by Emily Jenkins. This was perfect for my first grader who has a reading comprehension well above her average age range. Do you know how hard it is to find engaging chapter books for a 7 year old that are age-appropriate? This is the second story about Inkling, an invisible pet that gets his boy into all sorts of trouble (as invisible pets tend to do).
We give this story an A. It is appropriate as a read-aloud for your kindergarten through 5th graders (my own 5th grader enjoyed the story, too!)
The Turning by Francine Prose is nowhere near as spooky as the jacket cover leads you to believe. It's marketed towards the teen age bracket, but I would say that most teens would find it a little slow. However, a 10-12 year old might enjoy the idea that they were reading a "teen book" and their parents would appreciate that it's not too scary and has nothing inappropriate for their ages. (i.e. no sex, violence, etc.). It tells the story of a junior in high school who goes away for a summer job on a strange island. Through a series of letters he writes to his girlfriend and father, we learn how the story unfolds.
I read this book in about 2 hours while waiting for gymnastics to be over. It was a decent story, but not my absolute favorite.
I'd give it a B-...
Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon really intrigued me. It has a complicated storyline about a runaway foster child and a neglected "rich kid" who find themselves enmeshed in a fast-paced, modern-day political and technological thriller. Best part of this? It's TOTALLY appropriate for teens! All of the intrigue of an adult mystery without ever going above a kid's head (or delving into sex or adult activities). THANK YOU, Ms. Gagnon. I loved this book, though the ending left me wanting more... I suppose that is an author's prerogative, eh?
I give Don't Turn Around an A-.
Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard was AWE.SOME. I was captivated from the first few pages and didn't put it down for 2 days. It follows Eleanor Fitt, a young woman in high society of the late 1800's whose family has fallen into financial distress. To further complicate matters, the dead folks in the world just won't stay, well, DEAD. Especially in her hometown of Philadelphia. Between the zombies and World Fair and forbidden romance, I fell in love with the story and characters and was REALLY TICKED OFF when it was over. I mean, seriously? Hoping for a second book, Ms. Dennard!
I give this book an A!
Fang Girl by Helen Keeble initially turned me off because I instantly thought "Another vampire teen book? Blech." But it was SO funny and interesting! Seriously. In fact, part of the ironic theme is that the main character is a teen who was fascinated with the vampire culture of the 21st century becomes a vampire herself. :) I love that Ms. Keeble acknowledges that vampires may be a bit overdone in 2012, but that she still found a way to write a fresh and intriguing story. I'd totally recommend this one for any teen or pre-teen girl who is looking for a new book for Christmas.
I give Fang Girl a B+.
Dark Eden, parts 1 and 2 by Patrick Carman spins the tale of 7 teens who are sent to a facility in the deep woods to help combat their various psychological fears. Through a series of questionable methods, they are "cured" but find that they now have new and strange physical ailments, often associated with old age. Twists and turns explain the unusual psychological issue that the main character, Will Besting, is facing. But what of the weird "doctor"?
Though book 1 held my attention and had me interested, book 2, in my opinion, fell very short of my expectations. I recommend the first for the reluctant teen who is looking for a new story but suggest checking the second book from the library first to see if it appeals to you before you purchase.
I give Book 1 a B.
I give Book 2 a C.