Someone recommended Donna Guthrie's Frankie Murphy's Kiss List (1993) as a good romance book for boys, and it had its moments, although it is out of print. Travis is tired of listening to Frankie brag about everything, so challenges him to make good on one of his statements-- if he has kissed 500 girls in his life, can he kiss every girl in their class before the end of school? A thoughtful book about friendship and acceptable behavior, but also has plenty of funny moments. Slightly young for middle school, but if you are lucky enough to have a copy, dust it off.
In Sarwat Chadda's Devil's Kiss, Billie is not thrilled with being a knight templar or battling evil all the time, so she's really peeved when an attractive guy she likes turns out to be the Angel of Death and is about to unleash a curse that will kill all of the first born children in London. This has some potential, as it has plenty of gruesome scenes with violence and swords, but it definitely has more of a paranormal romance focus to it.
The cover of Glenda Millard's A Small Free Kiss in the Dark is great, and the story sounds promising; during a huge war, an odd group of people band together to settle in an amusement park but find it hard to stay away from the fighting entirely. Unfortunately, the beginning of this dragged and dragged for me; anything with a skull on the cover is going to attract a group of readers that one gruesome right away. Perhaps the Australian factor is working against this one.
And for more paranormal romance, there is Laurie Stolarz's Deadly Little Lies. Camelia, who makes pottery, has an odd relationship with Ben. Ben has the power of psychometry, and can read emotions by touching people and objects. Unfortunately, he also has a past that includes being involved in the murder of his girlfriend. This author also did Project 17, which I bought only because several students requested it. This seems to be the first book in a series. Again, I will have to consider this.
Coleen Murtagh Paratore's The Funeral Director's Son and Kip Campbell's Gift were fun to read. Kip's family has a funeral home, so he works there even though his classmates give him problems. His "gift" is that the dead talk to him and ask him to do favors for them so that they can rest in peace. Good family relationships and strong community ties make these interesting reads, but very tiny (5"x7"), and combined with the cartoon cover might be a hard sell to boys in middle school.
The same author has another series, Sunny Holiday and Sweet and Sunny that are very reminiscent of Sharon Draper's Sassy, but like that title, a bit young for middle school. Reminded me rather strongly of Haywood's Betsy series: I would have loved these in the first or second grade. (They are about a fourth grader.)
The one truly confusing book of the weekend was Baggott's The Prince of Fenway Park. The book itself wasn't confusing; the fact that it (correction) was on the Cybil Awards shortlist was. Yes, I liked the fact that Oscar has to deal not only with the fact that he is biracial but also with the fact that his stepfather is mixed, too-- half human and half fairy. We have a nice baseball curse. But the mix of baseball and fantasy is not one that ever circulates-- I've been thinking about deaccessioning Michael Chabon's Summerland. While I liked this, my fantasy readers tend to steer very far from sports, and my baseball readers are not going to want fantasy. Sigh. Most people liked it. For positive reviews, go to:
Rhapsody in Books