Teen Read Week, October 17 - 23 First there was summer reading, and now there's assigned reading, piling up in a most un-enticing way. What if there were a designated time to read anything you wanted just for the fun of it? That's the whole idea behind Teen Read Week, October 17-23, and the slogan Reading Rocks! Read for the Fun of It. There is one requirement, however: The book must rock.
Life on the edge One book that is sure to grab the attention of the thrill-seekers among us is Ben Bo's The Edge. It is a story about Delcan, a graffiti artist whose tag is Reject. His only friends were ones he'd no sooner met than lost, due to a freak accident. The only one to survive, Delcan is sent to the Start Two Program at Moose Jaw Ski Lodge. It is here, surrounded by snow and people who do not know his past, that his story begins. The lingo, the realistic reaction of characters, even the typeset, all work to bring us into Delcan's world, a world in which he feels he must fly or die, and face the ultimate snowboarding run The Howling Wolf.
Worlds apartÊ Of course, some of you enjoy experiencing worlds and cultures beyond your own. How about exploring Africa with Anton Quintana's The Baboon King (Walker and Co., $16.95, 0802787118)? You'll follow the journey of Morengarn, cast out of his tribe and fending for himself in the wilderness. You'll learn about the customs of both his parents' tribes and discover the devastating loneliness of his banishment.
Morengarn's need to belong, even if only to a troop of baboons, remains unfulfilled, leaving him feeling alienated and different until he realizes they, too, have customs and rituals that must be followed. If you'd like a world even further removed from your own, there are two places to go. One is found in There's a Dead Person Following My Sister Around (Harcourt Brace, $16, 0152021000). Unlike most ghost stories, which usually begin with a family moving into a large, eerie house, this book begins with the narrator, Ted, doing what most teenagers today can identify with channel surfing. This breezy, tongue-in-cheek novel follows Ted and his sister from their first perceptions of ghosts in their midst to the final, unexpected ending. Another great choice, William Sleator's Rewind (Dutton's Children's Books, $15.99, 0525461302) transcends time as well as space. The story opens with Peter, the main character, dying in a car accident. Peter is given the chance to go back and try to change events so that he not only lives, but lives a better life than before the accident. This means he must change some of the firmly held beliefs of the adults around him, which is no easy task for a teenager.
Historical findsÊ If a different locale doesn't hold your interest, perhaps a different era in history will. Norma Fox Mazer and Irene Gut Opdyke both write about the Holocaust, each with a distinctly different point of view. In Mazer's Good Night, Maman (Harcourt Brace, $16, 0152014683), Karin Levi and her brother, like most European Jews, must flee the Nazis. They leave their ill mother behind as they board a ship for America. As Karin adjusts to her new surroundings, she begins to find a maturity and independence she did not realize she had. In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer (Alfred A. Knopf, $18, 0679891811; BDD Audio, $25.95, 0553526588), chronicles Irene Gut Opdyke's path to becoming a member of the Resistance, smuggling and hiding Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Opdyke's unflinching account of attempts to save those otherwise doomed hiding Jews in the air vent over a toilet, moving them from one building to another, hiding them in a Nazi major's basement, taking supplies to others hiding in the forest are all feats of courage recalled with candor and explained with humility, as if we are all capable of such heroic acts.
It's all Greek to me Think Greek mythology is a thing of the past? Feel as if you've read everything on the shelf? Don't despair. Doris Orgel's new book, We Goddesses: Athena, Aphrodite, Hera (DK Publishing, $22.95, 0789425866) explains the differences between the gods and goddesses; outlines the Olympians' family tree; describes the differences in their moral values; and focuses on the women in the myths, particularly the three goddesses listed in the title. Orgel does a superb job retelling the myths from the goddesses' viewpoint; you'll feel as if you're hearing their actual voices. Full of beautiful illustrations, the book is written for the novice as well as those who are more familiar with the myths. Teachers will find it a useful resource for the classroom.
Well-versed Finally, there are two books of verse on the shelf that deserve mention. Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Sister Went Crazy (HarperCollins, $19.95, 0060283874), a series of poems, is Sonya Sones's poignant story of her teenage years, during which time her sister had a nervous breakdown. The poetry describes the initial shock and confusion she felt as her sister's odd behavior became more profound, the initial embarrassment and fear the diagnosis brought, and the eventual acceptance of her sister's condition. It also deals with the opposite sex and homework, issues all teens face at some point. Another commonality among teens is that harrowing moment of truth known as the driving test. Behind the Wheel: Poems About Driving (McElderry Books, $15, 0689825315) is a delightful book for those obsessing over that fateful rite of passage. Teens who profess to hate poetry will stay with this book. And that is the point of Teen Read Week to focus on reading that rocks for teenagers. ¦Jamie Whitfield teaches middle school English and literature.