Vampires are commonplace, as are various "otherly" worlds in fiction for young readers. While some young readers love popular fantasy, others crave characters who live normal, everyday lives. Here are a few of my favorites in the realistic fiction category.
So Punk Rock and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother f
by Ostow, Michol. Ostow, David, illus.
Ari Abramson is a Junior at Leo R. Gittleman school, and sidekick to the more popular Jonas Fein. But Ari's plan to put together a rock band hopes to put an end to his subordinate status and garner the attention and affection of Sari Horowitz. Along with creating a viable garage band, Ari must deal with his overbearing parents who want only for him to prepare for his future acceptance at Brandeis, and his annoying little brother who drives him crazy on a regular basis. Ari manages to assemble an interesting array of kids, including himself, Jonas, Yoissi Gluck, a socially awkward boy, and his smart, non-conformist sister, Reena in a band they call The Tribe. When the band plays at a Bar Mitzvah, they are catapulted to local stardom. With the pressures of success, Ari comes to evaluate his values and friendships in a new light. So Punk Rock and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother is appropriate for both boys and girls. The graphic art that accompanies the text, and inclusion of social media such as "Mi-Face" and instant messaging, add to the contemporary vibe and overall teen-appeal of the story. A delightful teen novel. Warning: Some suggesting content, for teen readers only
Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree
by Lauren Tarshis
Quirky Emma-Jean doesn't quite fit in with the other kids at school. There something a little different about the way Emma-Jean views the worlds. Emma-Jean views the world from a very scientific perspective, but life spins out of control when she orchestrates a hoax against the schools mean girl. The adults in her life understand her perfectly, but her peers are not quite as forgiving. Emma-Jean is flawed, but loveable. Despite her lack of understanding of social subtleties, her heart is always in the right place. Emma-Jean is a reminder that it's okay to be a little different. Emma is in 7th grade, and any upper elementary of middle-school reader will relate to the characters. A sequel, Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell In Love, was released this year.
My Chocolate Year
By Charlotte Herman
Herman, Charlotte, Pham, LeUyen
It is 1945 and Dorrie is in fifth grade. She must come up with delicious recipe for a school contest called "Sweet Semester." Like most kids, Dorrie loves chocolate and spends much of her time looking for a perfect recipe. In the meantime, with the help of family and friends, Dorrie samples many delicious goodies. Through the recipes, the author does a lovely job of infusing historical aspects of life in Chicago for a typical Jewish family. When her parents take in a family member who has survived WWII, Dorrie learns what matters most. My Chocolate Year is a tender family story. Dorrie is like Amber Brown from another era. Kids, especially girls, will love her. My Chocolate Year is a wonderfully refreshing, delicious read. Illustrated recipes are included thought the book. Although this is a historical book, readers will relate to Dorrie, and the emotions she experiences.