Selzer, Adam. I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It
In a "post-human world", high school news reporter Alley thinks it's a good idea to have a policy that precludes dating the undead, even though vampires are the hottest guys to date. When she meets Doug at a band gig she's covering, she is drawn to him because of their shared loved of extreme oldies music and starts to fall for his "authentic" goth look. One problem-- he's a zombie created by Megamart, the corporation that exploited the undead to the extent that vampires came out of hiding to lobby for civil rights for themselves and other "post-humans". Instead of crumbling, Doug has chosen to follow an embalming fluid regimen (funded by Megamart as part of the class action suit!) in order to have another shot at the authentic teen age experience. He and Alley date, hang out, and go to prom despite the concerns raised by a vampire guidance counselor who doesn't approve of "mixed" dating-- until things go terribly wrong and their romance comes to a sad but appropriate end.
It's hard to go wrong with anything Selzer writes, and this is brilliant. It's satire, but the sort of satire that a lot of the Twilight fans are not quite going to get. The pace on this is great, the lines funny, and the entire book a fresh perspective on the endless round of undead books. My only concern is that a lot of students are not going to get or care about the references to the older music, but who knows? Maybe it will encourage them to seek out some Cole Porter tunes, which would be all to the good.
Lerangis, Peter. The Viper's Nest.
Amy and Dan, having survived a huge explosion because of the sacrfice of Irina Spasky, must continue their search for the 39 Clues, with their au pair Nellie as well as the ever-suspicious Alastair Oh accompanying them. They think that the next clue lies in Peoria, only to find that they actually need to travel to Pretoria, so they are off to Africa. The two children solve word puzzles, have a few car chases, run afoul of other relatives looking for the clues, get help from people who knew their grandmother (who really got around-- she was on the board of a library in South Africa), and generally rolick around the world with their cat in tow. All improbable, all a little confusing, but very fun. Book 8, The Emperor's Code by Linda Sue Park, comes out on April 6.
Pearson, Ridley. Steel Trapp: The Academy.
Steven "Steel" Trapp is sent to an elite boarding school for gifted students by his father, who is an FBI agent. To his surprise, Kaleigh, whom Steel befriended in the first book, shows up at the school as well. But something is up with the school-- there are secret passages, people sneaking around, and lessons that seem a bit above and beyond the normal high school curriculum. Sure enough, the school is for students who have gifts that help them with spying, and Steel and Kaleigh are put into The Program. In alternating chapters, we read about other children involved in espionage, this time, orphans who have nothing to lose. Predictably, the two groups meet up, thinking that they are on opposite sides, but when the dust settles, they find they are both part of the same organization and will no doubt work together in the next book.
This was fast paced, and can be read without the first book, which is good since someone lost the first book and I haven't replaced it yet. The writing is quick and easy and will go down easily with students who like spy books. The budding romance between Kaleigh and Steel is fun as well. I think I was tired, and this affected my comprehension-- basically, I enjoyed it but didn't understand it very well.
Johnson, Kristi. Reindeer Crunch and Other Christmas Recipes.
Invested in a few cookbooks recently, since the few cookbooks I had had no pictures and were too difficult for beginning cooks. The Capstone Fun Food For Cool Cooks series offers a very small amount of recipes per book but a lot of information about utensils and general cooking tips. The pictures are very nice, the directions clear, and the food looks appealing. When I book talked a number of these last week, some of the students were very excited to check them out-- they had never read a cookbook before. Our special education unit uses cookbooks frequently, and these were a good addition.
Raatma, Lucia. Green Living: No Action Too Small.
Since the only environmental book left standing after our last weeding attempt was a late 80s paperback of 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth (yes, the rest were worse), I thought it fair to buy one environmental book. This is a very readable, 62 page book with plentiful illustrations that hits the highlights of things students can do to help save the environment. A good index and helpful sidebars make this a useful read from Capstone's Compass Point Books. There are three other titles in this series.
DiConsiglio, John. Vietnam: The Bloodbath on Hamburger Hill.
Franklin Watts' 24/7 Goes to War series is an improvement on the huge Time-Life books on Vietnam that I had-- students will actually read this series. The text is manageable, the pictures and maps compliment the text, and the first person accounts from three soldiers who fought in this battle make the event seem real and horrible. I especially appreciated the short biographies in the back of what the soldiers did after the war. Additional information on the draft, protests against the war, and various facets of the fighting make this book informative and helpful in understanding what went on. I also ordered D-Day, Gettysburg and Pearl Harbor, and they have all circulated well.
Jolley, Dan. The Rise of the Scourge.
TokyoPop has produced graphic novels of Erin Hunter's Warriors series. This was much less confusing to me than the regular versions, mainly because I could follow the characters by face instead of just ever-changing names. In this book, we follow Scourge from a cute, tiny kitten who is belittled by his brother and sister because of his size to his eventual blood thirsty incarnation as the Scourge. This could be read at any point in the series, as it purports to follow the motivation for Scourge's evil. If you have a following of this series, these will certainly be a hit. They still strike me as just cats being really, really mean, and I don't get it. Bonus points to Mr. Jolley for making this installment make more sense to me than the books, and for keeping the blood and gore to a tasteful minimum.