20. The Castle Corona by Sharon Creech

            A Newbery Medal award winner author writes this J-level book.  Each character, from peasants Pia and Enzio, to the royal family, to the royal hermits, is quirky and not quite what you would expect.  Trouble begins when a thief is chased in the forest.  Pia and Enzio find the treasure but then are fearful that they will be labeled thieves as well.  The king is upset because there has never been a thief in his kingdom before and now all sorts of things seem to be disappearing and reappearing.  The royal hermit seems to be conspiring with the Wordsmith and the queens’ new hermit.  It is all getting confusing.  Even as the book ends the whole story is explained but new stories seem to be just over the horizon.  Don’t look for a sequel to this book.

Published in: on December 22, 2007 at 1:12 am  Leave a Comment  

19. Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke

            This J-level Fiction book meets Igraine just before her 12th birthday.  Igraine lives in a castle with her two wizarding parents and her wizard brother, Albert.  Her parents are working on her birthday present when Bertram, from the neighboring castle, comes with grave news of a new guy in town with nasty plans for stealing her parents singing magic books.  Unfortunately, her mother mistakenly says “swine” instead of “shine” when completing the birthday present.  Now Igraine’s parents are pigs, Osmond the Greedy is coming to besiege the castle, and Albert is the only one who can work magic.   Igraine must leave the castle to help turn her parents back to humans and meets the Sorrowful Knight who escorts her home again.  More antics and crises occur but Igraine cheerfully overcomes them all.

Published in: on December 12, 2007 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

18. Legend of the Worst Boy in the World by Eoin Colfer

            Eoin Colfer takes a departure in this easy level J-Fiction book.  Will has four brothers, so when he needs to talk to someone about his problems it always seems like a brother is there ahead of him.  Will talks to his grandad that agrees to listen to Will’s problems as long as he can tell Will his own problems.  It works out as a good arrangement.  Except, Grandad keeps coming up with whopping stories that Will just can’t beat.  Until, that is he heard the legend of the worst boy in the world and it featured himself!  Well, it is quite a story and you will have to read it yourself or you wouldn’t believe it.  Good luck.

Published in: on December 12, 2007 at 8:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

17. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

            As a trend, vampire and faery novels seem to be rising to the top of YA-level fiction.  This book is no exception.  Aislinn sees faeries.  She has seen faeries since she was born.  She lives by simple rules that keep her safe from the mischief or violence faeries may inflict.  That is until they start following her.  Keenan is the Summer King and he is looking for his queen.  He has been looking for 9 centuries and thinks that maybe, finally, Aislinn will be the one.  Donia was the last one he thought might be her but she is now a Winter Girl, the bitter result of not being “the one”.  Keenan has determined to make Aislinn his while Aislinn is already involved with Seth.  Then the Winter Queen decides to break all the rules and who knows what may be.  There is frank comments about sex in the world of faeries and discussion about Aislinn and Seth’s relationship.

Published in: on December 7, 2007 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

16. Manga Claus: the Blade of Kringle text by Nathaniel Marunas artwork by Erik Craddock

            Just in time for the holiday season there is a J-level graphic novel about Santa Claus.  In the tradition of manga Santa has a samurai background.  It is December 23rd and Fritz would like a promotion but Santa keeps denying him, so he decides to take matters into his own hands.  Fritz creates an evil nutcracker to wreck the North Pole, then he can save the day.  The only problem is something goes wrong and the evil nutcracker infects an army of teddy bears.  Santa has to take back the North Pole before the teddy bears make it to the power plant and ruin Christmas.  Through his training, and the guilty help of Fritz, Santa overcomes the evil teddy bears and Christmas is saved.  There is some mild violence in this graphic novel but no elf is permanently hurt.

Published in: on December 7, 2007 at 8:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

15. Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park, read by Lana Quintal

            I have been listening to this easy J-level fiction series on CD.  Lana Quintal gives Junie B. just the right amount of little girl trying to be a reasonable grown up.  Of course, Junie B. Jones is anything but reasonable.  I have heard children repeating Junie B.’s phrases such as “dumb bunny” and “and I mean it!”  Junie B. Jones is a frank little girl who starts kindergarten and is working her way through first grade.  She expresses all of her ideas with great seriousness and imitates grown-ups when expressing her ire (big breaths at that person).  She magnifies small incidents of life (such as the tooth witch, not a fairy), which no one can reason her out of except herself and her friends.  Some parents will not appreciate Junie B.’s broken phrasing, although I have heard it can be a great teaching tool to read the way Junie B. talks and then go back and read the passage in proper English.

Published in: on December 7, 2007 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

14. Piper Reed Navy Brat by Kimberly Willis Holt

            This J-level fiction book is a moving story about a girl finding her identity after moving across the country.  Piper Reed has been living in San Diego for the past few years and now she is moving.  Which isn’t so bad, except this time the family did not live on an Army base and she started making friends and her life is about to go away.  Also, every time before the family has moved during the summer, NOT during the school year.  Piper is going to miss the German shepherd, Kip, next door; her Gypsy Club; and the tree house in the back yard; not to mention having her own room and two bathrooms.  The family heads out cross-country and we get a glimpse of how close the family can be as well as how annoying having to share a car with two sisters can be.  When they reach Pensacola, Florida life is certainly different.  Piper is determined to have her life back.  The family gets a dog, which she gets to name Bruna. With the help of her two sisters Piper begins a new Gypsy Club.  And one of her greatest accomplishments, she has started the saying “Get off the bus!” in a new state!

Published in: on December 5, 2007 at 7:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

13. Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz Alex Rider series

            An exciting YA Fiction read that guys would like.  Alex Rider is a fourteen-year-old James Bond, kind of.  Alex Rider is a spy for MI6.  In this second book of the series Alex is asked to infiltrate an exclusive school, Point Blanc, for disturbed fourteen-year-old boys in the French Alps.  At this school troubled boys are to be reformed.  Reformed boys are going home but there have been two suspicious deaths of the boys’ fathers.  Alex infiltrates the school and finally sees the secrets the castle is hiding.  The trouble is first getting away from the school high in the French Alps, then telling MI6 about the Gemini project and planning a rescue operation.  The book ends on a cliffhanger where Alex says he will never be a spy again, when MI6 already has a case for him, and a question of his identity.

Published in: on December 5, 2007 at 7:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

12. Jinx by Meg Cabot

            I have found another surprisingly dark subject matter in YA Fiction.  Jinx (Jean) goes to live with her aunt and uncle and their family in New York City because she is being stalked at home in Iowa.  She attends an exclusive private school with her cousin, Tory, who then invites her to join her witch coven.  Jinx refuses the invitation and the problems begin.  Unfortunately, Jinx is a witch.  She doesn’t want to be one, after her disastrous spell back home, but she has to do something about her cousin’s destructive behavior.  Of course, all her secrets come crashing down and Jinx finds that she really is the unluckiest girl alive.  With very serious teen issues and the witch subject matter Meg Cabot offsets the book with a leavening of humor and a happy ending.

Published in: on December 5, 2007 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment