by Susin Nielsen
What happens when two very different teenagers are forced to live under one roof because their parents decide to live together? This is the story of a blended family in modern times facing the age old dilemma: how to get along and make the best of a challenging situation. Stewart is 13, socially challenged, just lost his mother. He’s as brilliant as he is awkward. Ashley is 14, not good at school, and very concerned with her social standing and appearance. She is coping (just barely) with her parent’s divorce and her father announcing he’s gay. The story is told in alternating chapters revealing how each of them is adjusting to the changes. Stewart is a very likable character, but Ashley comes off like a spoiled brat. Their interaction shows Ashley’s ability to be cruel. I suppose, that’s why this book rings so true. The author’s use of humor certainly softens the tension and we do see Ashley begin to change over time. Issues of bullying and intolerance are core themes here. It’s an easy, entertaining read. RECOMMENDED!
I was the kind of kid who read stories about kids doing things. Going places, discovering things, solving mysteries. Of course, there had to be obstacles. Maybe a bad guy, difficult situations to overcome, parents to get rid of (not in the kill’em off sense) but more in the way of finding freedom and doing what you want. In some ways, it was a huge fantasy! I grew up with four brothers and two sisters and doing anything without someone knowing was close to impossible. BUT, some of them could be bought off. Silly fantasy, really. I was the biggest tattle tale there was! Always being “on the straight and narrow” prevented lots of escapes and adventures except for in books and in my mind.
photo: Laslovarga, 2013
A headline from this week’s news (try finding one that’s not about the insane election, right about now), has challenged my sense of adventure. What if a 15 year old boy discovers a lost Mayan city no one else knew was there? He’s a smart kid, maybe even gifted, and he gets this ludicrous idea that by studying star maps he can decode the placement of an entire civilization? He sets out to prove this, but silly adult organizations like NASA and the Canadian Space Agency won’t loan him their satellite photos. Said kid takes to the road, abandoning his sane life, and becoming a young version of Indiana Jones- except his temples turn out to be real. Anyway, once the book’s out, Steven Spielberg will be making it into a movie.
For more about the real kid, named William Gadoury, click the link. The space agencies did support him and it looks like he’s made quite a find!
This is a fast paced mystery book that will keep you guessing. It is one of the few books I read quickly cover to cover.
The story opens with Chris in his first week of college. An FBI agent appears asking questions about his best friend, Win. The last time Chris saw his friend was when Win ditched him near Seattle on their cross-country bike trip. Win has been reported missing having failed to come home or arrive at Dartmouth. At first, Chris thinks Win is just up to his usual shenanigans, but as time passes and the FBI agent’s attention on him becomes uncomfortable, he’s forced to dive into Win’s disappearance.
The author has done a wonderful job constructing the novel using alternating chapters showing the investigation and flashbacks to the bike trek. The novel explores the depth of friendship and the mysteries of trying to fully know another.
Who doesn’t love a free book? Here are five, YA ebooks currently listed as free on Amazon. Make sure they still are before you download them. Looking for a new book? Maybe one of these is your next read. Don’t forget to leave a review to thank the author for the freebie!
No doubt that teens are under more pressure than previous generations. YALSA highlights some books which deal with coping skills for depression and anxiety. Click the link and take a look.
My first novel titled INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS (see ‘BOOKS’) takes place in Nepal and involves an American teenager.
Here is a tale for the younger crowd. The pictures are wonderful! Click the link to visit The Adventures of Blue Bear.
Source: The Adventures of Blue Bear
2014 was a big sales year for juvenile fiction. Publishers Weekly credits the Divergent novels and John Green for a good part of it. Unfortunately, print sales for kids’ fiction decreased by 3% in 2015. Apparently, the latest Wimpy Kid book was the only one to sell a million copies or more.
Although the category split out for juvenile fiction is far from perfect, a few insights can be gleaned. Harken back to what I wrote about predicting YA trends relating to the astrology of the up and coming generation (https://ellisnelsonbooks.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/can-ya-reading-trends-be-predicted/). Up 9% was a category called Holidays/Festivals/Religion. Is this the start of the Pluto in Sagittarius group taking an interest in spiritual and religious things? Maybe. Also notable was a 12% rise in purchases of animal fiction.
Social situations/Family/Health was down 10%. Small declines were also seen in SF/Fantasy/Magic (-2%) and History/Sports/People/Places (-4%).
Overall though, it’s hard to see emerging trends in the data when a bestseller in any category can really distort the picture. I would rather see the categories broken down and distributed by age group because picture book buying by adults is different than teens buying their own books. And this is only print sales. E-books are certainly playing an increasing role in sales for older kids. Even the decrease of 3% overall, needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Are e-books drawing off that amount or more? Is the decrease related to our overall flat economy?
Publishers Weekly Article: http://goo.gl/SoiKEu
Jan. 14: THE WINNERS ARE: Patricia Robertson & KDKH. I will be contacting you both.
It’s contest time! Leave a comment below and be entered to win a copy of the electronic version of Elephants Never Forgotten. Contest closes at noon (EST) on Wednesday (Jan.13th). Two books will be awarded by a random drawing on Thursday, January 14th. As a theme, tell me something about elephants. I’ll start us off with how the idea for the book came into being.
Here’s the synopsis:
A hundred years in the future, twelve-year-old Nigella receives a shipment from her deceased grandfather. Her inheritance is a herd of micro-elephants. While a lot of her friends have micro-pets, Nigella is at a loss on how to care for them. Why are her micro-pets so different from everyone else’s? What was her grandfather up to? With the help of her best friend, Kepler, the girls set off on an adventure to discover the truth.
What readers are saying:
“Ellis Nelson’s superb writing made this book a joy to read. I felt like I was right there experiencing the journey, the concerns, the total adventure. Lessons about friendship and family, ecology abound.”
“The leading characters are smart and resourceful girls. They set off for adventure and help make the world a better place. An intriguing, positive read for tweens.”
The Christmas tree is up and as I peruse ornaments collected over decades, I’m struck by how many of them are animals. There are cats and dogs, rabbits and squirrels, hedgehogs and birds (a humming bird, blue jay, goose, partridge), and cows and horses. At the back door, I struggle with getting sunflower seeds and nuts out for my squirrels. Three inches of snow have to be cleared before I can lay down six piles of seed to accommodate the squirrels. After our dog died, we started feeding birds off our deck but soon found the squirrels to be more entertaining. The birds still come to the feeder and the overflow trickles down to feed a family of field mice who will come onto the deck once the squirrels have had their fill. I won’t see the bunny today because the storm is intensifying but I take comfort that I’ll see him tomorrow once the snow melts off. He was here earlier though; because I see his tracks crisscross the yard. The ornaments on the Christmas tree and the activity in the backyard scream BEATRIX POTTER. I live in a world she knew.
Helen Beatrix Potter was born in 1866 in London. She is best remembered for her children’s stories featuring animals. As children, she and her brother spent many happy family vacations in Scotland and the English Lake District. Undoubtedly, the freedom to explore and interact with nature as a child grounded Beatrix in the natural world and fostered her connection to the land and its creatures. She and her brother made pets of wildlife including rabbits, a hedgehog, mice, and bats. Beatrix’s talents in drawing and painting emerged in childhood and were encouraged by her parents. In her teens, she wandered the Lake District sketching and immersing herself in nature. She took a keen interest in archeology, geology, entomology, and mycology. By the late 1890s, she had become adept at scientific illustration concentrating on watercolors of local fungi. She even had a paper on fungi reproduction presented at the Royal Botanic Gardens (women were not allowed to attend).
It wasn’t until her mid- 30s that Beatrix took a set of picture letters she had written to children and turned them into her first book. She had The Tale of Peter Rabbit printed in 1901. Publishers turned down the opportunity to publish the book failing to see its merit (think Harry Potter in the Edwardian Age, JK Rowling was also turned down by multiple publishers). Along came Frederick Warner who published The Tale of Peter Rabbit with color illustrations the following year. Beatrix’s book was highly successful and so were the two (The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin and The Tailor of Gloucester) that came soon after. From then on, Beatrix published two or three books a year. Later her interests in farming and preserving the Lake District became foremost in her life, but she is still remembered fondly for the animal characters and stories she created.
Miss Potter (2006), the movie with Renee Zellweger & Ewan McGregor