Tis the season for studying and the writing of exams. But soon, so soon, there will be time to read for fun. Here are some books to look forward to if you’re aged nine to 12, as you recover from exam stress and the best you can manage is to laze in an easy chair.
For those keen to climb every mountain, try Everest: Book 1, The Contest (2002). Author Gordon Korman pulls no punches: this tome begins with a funeral. Climbing the world’s highest mountain is quite an achievement, but many do lose their lives. (In fact it’s rare that bodies are recovered – most must be left behind, and are used as rather grim markers for other climbers.)
New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepali Sherpa Tenzing Norgay made the successful attempt to reach the summit 60 years ago, on May 29, 1953. And the mountain has since become a tourist trap.
The Contest features 19 young people at a training camp, vying for a spot on an Everest climb sponsored by a candy company. Some are not very pleasant, others are well-intentioned but unable to cope with the vicious schedule of 40-pound packs carried through endless pain and snow. There’s lots of drama, thrills and adventure here.
Our hero is Dominic, 13 years old, and a natural climber — he leaves his second-floor bedroom by climbing down the outside wall of his home. “We have a door,” his mom reminds him rather drily.
Those looking for adventure in the city can try Inside Girl, by J. Minter (2001). Fan Flood is a hotshot rich kid whose best friend is a charmingly loopy movie star. (What do her parents do? “They like to travel, and sometimes my dad buys cars or boats if he’s bored.”)
But Flood wants to hang with regular kids, and even, perhaps, date a regular guy, so she transfers to a new school and tries to reinvent herself as a dull normal. Her lies, however, eventually catch up with her…
If a book that includes human beings is not escapist enough, try Kathryn Lasky’s Guardians of Ga’hoole. In the first volume of the series, The Capture (2003), baby barn owl Soren is kidnapped and imprisoned. He meets Gylfie, an elf owl, and the two young friends attempt to keep their sanity as their creepy new“family” tries to turn them into automatons. They are given new names, new routines and kept from sleep. Curiosity is a threat, so they are punished for asking questions.
Soren “had once thought the sweetest taste in the world was that of a freshly-killed vole, but now he knew differently. The sweetest thing was a question on the tongue.” (You can watch the hit 2010 movie Legends of the Guardians after reading this!)
Perhaps, gentle reader, you prefer a mix of the human and the fantastical. Start with Beyond The Deepwoods (by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, 2008), the first volume in The Edge Chronicles. That’s the edge of the world, where stepping off means you’ll fall… and never be heard from again.
Twig is an odd youngster. His parents are wood trolls, but he looks nothing like them – clear skin, button nose, long legs. He is bullied by the other troll kids for being ugly. Even his naming ritual didn’t go as planned. (Twig’s mother loves to repeat the story: “This time,” she tells her son, “it will be a little different. A tale can have many endings.”)
This time, the story stops with Twig being cast out by his parents, for his own good, they say. All he has to do is stay on the path through the dark woods, and find his way to a relative’s. Instead, Twig goes off the path, meeting a cast of horrible horribles, from sky pirates to goblins to flesh-eating bloodoak trees.
Friends are made and lost, enemies defeated (with a little help). This is the story of Twig’s quest for a new home and family.
In contrast, the book Fablehaven is set in our world, but in a secret sanctuary where the fairy folk have taken refuge. Thirteen-year-old Kendra and younger brother Seth are sent off to spend a few weeks with Grandpa Sorenson, who lives in the middle of nowhere. The one rule he sets is to forbid them from going into the forest.
They break the rule, and discover a dangerous world of mythical creatures desperate to escape their cages and rule the earth once again.
Fablehaven is written by Brandon Mull (2006).
And the very best thing? Every one of these orange-dot books has sequels, to keep you reading through the summer…
The Lennoxville Library wants to encourage you to read through the summer. If you’re aged 5 to 12, sign up for the TD Summer Reading Club. The program will run from July 3 to August 7, every Wednesday afternoon. This year’s theme is Go! Explore near and far.
Pop by the library for details (or send a parent or pal, if you’re still studying like crazy).
– Eleanor Brown, June 14, 2013