Reluctant Reader Awards

Top Ten 

Flake, Sharon. Who Am I Without Him? A Short Story Collection About Girls and the Boys in Their Lives.
Hilarious and anguished, these 10 short stories about growing up black today speak with rare truth about family, friends, school, and especially about finding a boyfriend. Erika is a “ghetto girl” who likes white boys; she can't help it, and the other black kids in school can't stand her, because they know. Class is a big issue for Erin, who steals clothes so he can take a suburban girl to the homecoming dance. The church girls are forbidden to date, and they get hurt when they go hunting for boys. But their well-meaning parents don't have it right, and the girls won't stop looking. As with Janet MacDonald's fiction, the talk here is wild, angry, and outrageous, but there's no overt sex or obscenity. Yes, there are messages, but the narrative is never preachy or uplifting; it's honest about the pain. When one girl's boyfriend hits her, she apologizes “just like my momma does when daddy slaps her.” The best advice comes from a dad who abandoned his family, who now tells his teenage daughter how to avoid getting stuck with someone like him (“you is so much more than a pretty face and a tight pair of jeans, some boy's girlfriend or some man's wife”). Not everyone makes it. The stories work because Flake never denies the truths of poverty, prejudice, and failure. Fiction

Gottlieb, Andrew. In the Paint: Tattoos of the NBA and the Stories Behind Them.
For many, the name Dennis Rodman conjures up much more than a picture of a basketball player; it evokes an image of shocking hair, outrageous tattoos and that amazing solo wedding. And while Rodman is unfortunately not featured in this collection of the NBA's most popular and wondered-about tattoos, stars like Shaq and Hardaway share the meaning (or the lack thereof) behind the tattoos they proudly display. Shaquille O'Neal's surprising response to what informed his decision to get tattooed with the Superman logo, his kids' names, Against the Law, etc., is "First of all, I got my tattoos because I was allowed to get them. You better believe I asked my mother first." The "Part 2 Heaven Cent" tattoo etched on Penny Hardaway's left arm represents his spiritual side ("I wanted something to do with Christ") and the "Cent" plays on the name Penny. Jason Williams, on the other hand, admits: "Ah, hell, man. I don't have no meaning behind my tattoos," echoing the sentiment of several other players who have tattoos just because they like them. Closeup shots and honest explanations straight from the tattoo bearers may please and enlighten curious NBA fans. 25 b&w and 75 full-color photos. Nonfiction

Heimberg, Jason and Justin Heimberg. The Official Movie Plot Generator: 27,000 Hilarious Movie Plot Combinations.
Screenwriter or not, anyone will get a kick of this simple but creative guide to coming up with movie plot ideas. Justin and Jason Heimberg, comedy screenwriters in Hollywood, have assembled a spiral-bound, three-paneled interactive flipbook that offers readers endless (well, 27,000) movie plot combinations. The book's panels are arranged vertically, with the top panel starting off the scenario with a protagonist (e.g., "An adorable panda cub," "A flamboyantly gay hairdresser," "A small-town girl with big-time dreams"). The second panel gives the heart of the action (e.g., "hits the karaoke circuit," "becomes a pimp," "struggles to get off heroin"), while the third panel gives the plot its twist (e.g., "with the help of former tennis great Ivan Lendl based on a true story," "set against the backdrop of a Florida retirement community," "to save the local synagogue"). Aspiring writers will find plenty of inspiration here, and will certainly owe thanks to the Heimberg brothers if their film about "Three naughty nurses" "on the run from the Mob" "in the heart of Amish Country" wins an Academy Award. Nonfiction

Kenner, Rob and Pitts, George. VX: 10 Years of Vibe Photography.
Since 1993, VIBE magazine has documented hip-hop's prodigious rise and constant reinvention. With a foreword by founder Quincy Jones, this 10-year anniversary volume of photos from the publication's archives proves that the image-makers aren't only on the mic-they lurk behind the lens, too. Styles range widely, including Sacha Waldman's luminous, saturated, otherworldly streetscape tableaus of OutKast, Erykah Badu, RZA and Tiny Lister; Dana Lixenberg's simple, lingering portraits of Navajo-kids throwing gang signs, women idling curbside in Cape Town, and the now-iconic wistful Tupac in a bandanna; and Dean Karr's deliriously absurd action shot of Redman and a goose locked in airborne embrace. Editors Kenner and Pitts have organized the collection less by history than by composition-Wesley Snipes's mud-caked profile faces Eve's close-cropped crown; Alicia Keyes stretched across a piano abuts Ricky Martin reclining on a luxury speedboat. Still, a larger trajectory does emerge, mainly that the expressive idiosyncrasy of rap progenitors-quizzical Chuck D, skeptical Flavor Flav, stately, knowing Run-D.M.C.-has given way to the ubiquitous half-lidded, stone-faced glower: the thug pose. Other requisite images: women splayed on cars, women extending their tongues. There are striking departures from type, though, such as Nelly in bejeweled, bent-wrist, and parted-lip ecstasy or the unflinching Voletta Wallace holding a framed portrait of her son, Notorious B.I.G. Brief quotes and snippets from articles complement some of the pictures, such as Rob Kenner's gleeful note that "although Nas dropped out of school in the eighth grade his verses are beginning to be studied in university classes alongside the poetry of T.S. Eliot." 150 full-color photographs. Nonfiction

Klancher, Lee. Monster Garage: How to Customize Damn Near Everything.
Monster Garage celebrates the work of craftsmen who combine hard-earned skills with job-site ingenuity. Their creations are fantastic machines -- a Mustang that cuts grass at 90 miles per hour, a Top Fuel Dragster that serves up hot dogs, or a Suburban turned wedding chapel. The magic of the show is the blue-collar heroics of a group of skilled engineers, builders, and fabricators working together to make something fantastic. If you want to get a little taste of what it's like to create your own monster, How To Customize Damn Near Anything is your ticket to the world of custom vehicles. You'll learn the ins and outs of custom painting, engine building, chassis construction, welding, and more. There are also quotes from your favorite guests on the show and photos that show the vehicles being built. An in-depth introduction for the wannabe mechanical DIY guy (or gal), How To Customize Damn Near Anything can help you bring the can-do skills of Monster Garage into your world. Nonfiction

Riley, Andy. The Book of Bunny Suicides.
Rabbits. We'll never quite know why, but sometimes they decide they've just had enough of this world- and that's when they start getting inventive. The Book of Bunny Suicides follows over one hundred bunnies as they find ever more outlandish ways to do themselves in. From an encounter with the business end of Darth Vader's lightsaber, to supergluing themselves to a diving submarine, to hanging around underneath a loose stalactite, these bunnies are serious about suicide.
Illustrated in a stark and simple style, The Book of Bunny Suicides is a collection of hilarious and outrageous cartoons that will appeal to anyone in touch with their evil side. Fiction

Shaw, Tucker. Confessions of a Backup Dancer.
Kelly Kimball, 17, is a talented dancer. When her best friend convinces her to attempt a Los Angeles audition, Kelly ultimately finds herself on a summer tour as a backup with pop princess Darcy Barnes, who soon views Kelly as her new best friend. Kelly works hard to be a top performer, which is difficult when she has to deal with Darcy's overbearing mother, Darla, who calls the shots; sensational media hype; the star's tendencies to smoke pot, drink too much, and sneak around with her boyfriend; and the pressures of the road. However, Kelly feels responsible for earning the money she knows her family needs. When Darla unjustly fires her, Kelly dances with a competitor's tour, until the diva has the guts to stand up to her mother, bring Kelly back into the show, and prove that she truly is her friend. The book is told through Kelly's "entries" into personal diary software, interspersed with instant messages and e-mails. The teen's lively character is realized through this creative format, and her voice rings clear and true. It is through that voice, complete with wry humor, realistic slang, and occasional coarse vernacular, that supporting characters and situations come to life. The purposeful grammatical errors simulating the way a "real" teen might write are mildly annoying. Fiction

Sleator, William. The Boy Who Couldn’t Die. YA SLE
After his best friend dies in a plane crash, 16-year-old Ken Pritchard keeps thinking of a folktale about a monster that hid his soul, ensuring eternal life. Determined to avoid death himself, Ken finds a woman who removes his soul from his body. At first he is pleased; as in the folktale, he gains physical invulnerability, along with a respite from his misery. But, as readers will suspect from the many creepy details Ken willfully ignores, the rest of the folktale comes true as well. The woman is a zombie master, and he has become a modern-day monster partially under her control. Ken's increasingly desperate first-person narration, as he struggles to find his hidden soul and escape the zombie master's ever more brutal commands, makes for a gripping read. Particularly well rendered are the scuba-diving scenes in the shark-infested waters of the Caribbean and under the thick ice on a wintry Adirondack lake. Sleator spends little time on the spiritual or emotional consequences of Ken's transformation, and characterization is secondary to plot development, but teenaged horror fans won't mind. From the photo of a just-unearthed skull on its cover to the plot twist in its final pages, this fast-paced, suspenseful book will appeal to reluctant and avid readers alike. Fiction

Takaya, Natsuki. Fruits Basket series. YA GRAPHIC NOVEL 741.5 TAK  Volumes 1 through 13
Takaya's romantic comedy brims with teenage melodrama, corny humor and hijinks. In the vein of Ranma 1/2, the work's humor also derives from the transformation of humans into animals. It goes like this: Tohru Honda is unsinkable; when her mother dies and her grandfather denies her a place to live, the homeless high-schooler is determined to make it on her own by pitching a tent alone in the woods. En route to her tent one day, Tohru encounters Shigure, who informs her that the tent is pitched on his family property. He's appalled by her squalid living conditions and invites her to his estate. Tohru becomes part of the household on the condition that she helps guard their family secret: when hugged by members of the opposite sex, Shigure and his family transform into animals from the Chinese zodiac calendar. Tohru soon learns Shigure is the cousin of Yuki Sohma, a quiet, mysterious boy at her high school whom all the girls adore. (Yuki, incidentally, has spurned any female advances for fear of revealing his true form: a rat.) And it's not long before she finds out another cousin, Kyo, transforms into a cat. As an animal left off the zodiac, Kyo feels he's been wronged. As Tohru and Kyo become friends, they realize that as misfits they may have a chance at understanding each other. Similar to other romance manga, this tale's illustration style is cartoonish and whimsical. Each panel-packed page conveys a melodramatic event or upturn, giving the story a fast rhythm. Fiction

Woods, Brenda. Emako Blue. YA WOO
Gr. 7-10. Woods' The Red Rose Box, a 2003 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, is a moving historical novel that follows young sisters who move to a posh L.A. home in the 1950s. Woods returns to L.A. here, but this time her story is contemporary and raw: in the first scene, high-school friends attend the funeral of one of their own--Emako, a beautiful, talented young singer who was shot outside her South Central home. In alternating voices, four young people talk about Emako, revealing something about their own very different lives. The shifting viewpoints create interesting perspectives on the story, but with so little space devoted to each speaker, characterizations sometimes feel superficial. Even so, many teens will want this for the wrenching story and for the young, up-to-the-minute African American voices that, like the characters in Janet McDonald's novels, ask honest questions about friendship, race, love, and how best to navigate dangerous neighborhoods, self-absorbed parents, and their own flaws--and realize their dreams. Fiction

Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers 2005
(The rest of the list)

CosmoGirl Quiz Book: All About You.
Teen, Heal Thyself New titles offer tips, quizzes and info to help teenagers examine their lives and habits. A pair of CosmoGIRL! Quiz Books tell All About You and All About Guys by offering multiple-choice answers to questions such as "Are You a Bore?" (in All About You) or "Is it Love or Lust?" (in Guys). Among the smart-alecky options to a question about "the last time you and your boyfriend hung out": "a few nights ago" or "he's rubbing my shoulders while I take this quiz." Visual appeal comes from pages of full-bleed photos of good-looking teens appearing effortlessly attractive and content. Nonfiction

Dr. Ernest Drake’s Dragonology. YA 398.24 DRA
This faux nonfiction title carries echoes of James Gurney's Dinotopia (Turner, 1992; o.p.) in that it purports to be the actual writings of English dragonologist Ernest Drake. Unlike Dinotopia, however, this book is not a narrative, but rather an almost encyclopedic treatment of the subject. It delivers on its subtitle and covers every aspect of the study of dragons, treating the magical creatures as if they were real objects of scientific study. The discussion of the different species includes all types of dragons with which children might be familiar, from Chinese dragons to the European ones of the Grimm fairy tales. One particularly fun bit is the dragon alphabet, combined with some ancient runes written in dragon that can be translated. An aspect of the book that will be totally fascinating to children is the natural history of this creature, including diagrams of its skeletal and muscular structures, and even the development of a dragon embryo in the egg. The illustrations, mainly in color, and overall design of the book are appealing, from a foldout map of "Dragons of the World" to the flaps and cutouts throughout. Fiction

The Homer Book. YA Graphic Novel 741.5 GRO
Homer Simpson is a man's man, an Average Joe, a loving father and husband, and a devoted beer drinker. But do you know the "real" Homer? Find out what's on Homer's mind, discover the mysteries of Homer's fridge, hang out in Homer's haunts; meet his friends and enemies; and spend a typical day with the lovable lout who will lift you out of your D'oh-ldrums. Fiction

Ripley’s Believe It or Not. YA 031.02 RIP
 “The ultimate trivia browsing book, this volume offers a captivating collection of interesting, gross, and amazing stories and features that will seize the attention of children and keep them turning pages. The book opens with the legacy of Robert Ripley's cartoon series and chain of museums before dividing into chapters such as "Beyond Understanding," "Amazing Earth," "Body & Mind," and "Wonders of Science." Large color photographs illustrate segments on topics such as vampire bats, a public autopsy, bog snorkeling, and the winners of the dirtiest children contest. The book design leads readers' eyes from the captions to the rest of the text, which offers additional enticing facts. A thorough index adds to the appeal because of the number of celebrities mentioned. Nonfiction

So What? The Good, the Mad and the Ugly: The Official Metallica Illustrated Chronicles.
The recently released documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster offers some revealing glimpses into the biggest metal band in history: bassist Jason Newsted's sudden departure, group therapy, rehab for frontman James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich's crusade against Napster, and, after it all, an album, St. Anger. Unfortunately, Metallica's first authorized book doesn't deliver as much—in fact, it's a disappointment on par with the boys chopping their hair off. Focusing on the latter half of the group's 25-year career, the book is nothing more than a collection of reprinted articles and interviews from the group's fan-club magazine of the same title. While it mines some semiprecious nuggets—e.g., rare interviews with the complete group, a story written by Ulrich's father—it does little to penetrate issues like why Newsted left and how close the group was to calling it quits when Hetfield entered rehab. Its most revealing aspects come in the form of handwritten comments from the band on past articles and the dozens of candid photos. Nonfiction

YM’s The Best of Say Anything.
Culling from experiences submitted by readers to the "Say Anything" column, the editors of ym (Your Magazine) have compiled the most horrifying, most "made my face red" moments from the magazine. The funny, sometimes gross, sometimes very gross tales are divided into eight chapters ranging from "School Daze" and "That Special, Special Time of the Month" to "Nightmares of the Century" and "Oldies" (classics dating back to the 1960s, when the magazine was named Calling All Girls, and the '70s and '80s, when it was called Young Miss). Bodily functions and bare butts do seem to make it into every section, though, as do some almost unbelievable reminiscences of public humiliation. Readers will laugh out loud, blush in empathy for, and shake their heads in disbelief at the wild and wacky stories related throughout the book. Cartoons and decorative graphics are included. A breezy read, perfect for comic relief during finals or anytime a stress-release moment is needed. Nonfiction

Abbott, Hailey. Summer Boys YA ABB
In what could almost be the novelization of a yet-to-be-produced WB series, three cousins embrace summer romance in their pursuit of various hot guys while vacationing in Maine. Characterization relies heavily on teen-magazinelike descriptions ("she was more an Avril than a Christina"), and most chapters begin with lengthy wardrobe summaries. Despite the superficiality, however, each of the girls' situations holds some interest, particularly in the realistic ways they mature throughout. Smoking, alcohol consumption, and sexuality are contextualized in a matter-of-fact way, with only a hint of after-school-special didacticism. Don't look for substance, but this is nonetheless an acceptable addition for teens looking for escapist beach reading. Fiction

Brisick, Jamie. Have Board, Will Travel.
Adult/High School–In this big, beautiful title, Brisick shows how surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding developed, each one feeding off the advancements and buzz of the others. The author skims the surface of these multimillion-dollar industries with just a paragraph or two, and an occasional quote, per page. Because of the superficial nature of the text, there are some gaps, including the lack of attention given to Laird Hamilton, one of the biggest surfers of the past decade. But browsers and reluctant readers are going to be more interested in the large, colorful photographs from a variety of historical and contemporary sources. Also included are drawn maps of great surf spots of the world, and snow and skate parks of the U.S. Board-sports fans might not find a lot of new information, but they'll enjoy reliving the action. Nonfiction

Burnham, Niki. Royally Jacked. YA BUR
Fifteen-year-old Valerie's life gets turned upside down when her mother announces that she has fallen in love with another woman and is going to live with her. Then, as Valerie is trying to process this bombshell, her father's boss, the very conservative President of the U.S., decides to ship her father off to tiny Schwerinborg to serve as protocol chief to the royal family (in order to avoid a scandal at the White House). Valerie is left with two choices: live with Mom and her vegan girlfriend in a new school district or go with Dad to an obscure country where she doesn't speak the language or know a soul. Rather than having to explain her mom's new lifestyle to her friends, Valerie opts to go with her father, but when they arrive in foggy, gray Schwerinborg and see their spartan palace housing, the teen is sure she has made a huge mistake. Until, of course, she meets the royal family's son, Prince Georg, and romance is ignited. Burnham, an adult romance writer, targets a younger audience with this fluffy, predictable, yet entertaining romance, which will most certainly be compared to Meg Cabot's popular "Princess Diaries" series. Fiction

Coker, Cheo Hodari. Unbelievable: The Life, Death and Afterlife of the Notorious B.I.G.
From the same people who brought you vibe magazine’s New York Times bestseller tupac shakur comes the other half of the story that rocked the world: unbelievable, the larger-than-life biography of Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. Biggie Smalls, a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. Nonfiction

Choyce, Leslie Thunderbowl
Who needs school when you’re going to be a rock star? The music had made me a lot higher than the beer. I didn't want to come down. I looked at Suzanne. I looked around at the crowd thinning out of The Dungeon. And I looked again at my watch. I knew that this whole scene was going to be my downfall. And I couldn't wait to get started. Fiction

Davidson, Dana. Jason and Kyra
Davidson, a high school teacher, debuts with a tried-and-true teen romance, unusual chiefly for its setting in an affluent black suburb of Detroit. Jason, 16, is gorgeous, smart, graceful on the basketball court, and he dates popular, beautiful Lisa. But "fine-as-hell, super-jock, popular-as-Nikes-in-the-NBA, can-have-anybody-he-wants" Jason falls for "double-brained-nappy-headed-sweet-but-nobody" Kyra, his nonconformist, highly academic research partner from AP English class. Davidson describes the beginnings of their mutual attraction in spine-tinglingly prolonged detail, effectively camouflaging the staple elements of her plot: only Kyra understands that Jason, whose mother died when he was three and whose father leaves on frequent business trips, experiences his solitude as loneliness, not as freedom to do as he likes; Lisa, furious at being dumped by Jason, gets revenge in a manner that will be familiar to readers of middle-grade and YA fiction. But other story lines advance the narrative, too, such as Kyra's dedication to her project for a Westinghouse-like national science competition. Readers with an appetite for love stories are likely to follow Jason and Kyra's pas de deux from its beginning straight through to its satisfying end.  Fiction

De La Cruz, Melissa. The Au Pairs
Sun and sea, hot parties, hot guys, and the promise of $10,000 for taking care of four over privileged, under supervised kids. This is the life that awaits three teens during a summer in New York's exclusive Hamptons. Eliza, whose father's fortune fell, is hoping to recapture some of the glamour and luxury of her former life by taking this position where her family once had a summer home. Mara is looking for a way out of her small hometown and a way to earn enough money for a car and college tuition. Jacqui, a Brazilian beauty used to getting everything she wants, is looking for the one thing that eludes her: true love. The three are hired by the Perrys and wade through problematic relationships, power struggles, and the ever-important social scene. De la Cruz name-drops and power-shops throughout, creating an entertaining vision of how "the other half" lives. The Au Pairs offers wealth, status, steamy sex, lots of heavy drinking, changing values, and juicy fun on the East Coast for fans of Zoey Dean's "The A-List" series and Cecily von Ziegesar's "Gossip Girl" series. Fiction

Ehrenhaft, Daniel. Ten Things To Do Before I Die
Gr. 8-12. It's the first day of spring break, and bright, nerdy 16-year-old Ted Burger is hanging out with his best friends at a New York City diner. Ted's friends are constructing a “to do” list for him, the first item of which is “lose virginity.” Then Ted discovers a disgruntled employee has poisoned the fries he has just eaten, and he'll be dead in 24 hours. Suddenly the “to do” list takes on new meaning. The novel, which is broken into cleverly titled snippets, takes a while to gather speed, but the premise is fun, and Ehrenhaft employs many different literary devices, including lists, screenplays, and delightfully bad puns. Urban teens will enjoy the lighthearted romance and its unlikely hero. Fiction

Flinn, Alex. Nothing to Lose. YA FLI
Michael Daye, aka Robert Frost, is on the run, and he knows he never should have returned to Miami, but in order to keep his job with the carnival, he has to go where it takes him. He hopes that he won't be recognized as the son of Lisa Monroe, who is on trial for the murder of her millionaire husband, Michael's tyrannical, abusive stepfather. Through alternating present/last-year chapters, readers follow the teen as he tries to live in the moment and avoid the cops who want to question him, while remembering his life just before he ran away from home. Unfortunately, he had been unable to convince his mother to leave the marriage, so she took the only other way out… or did she? Flinn has created a believable, conflicted, and often angry protagonist. This is a compelling story about abusive relationships and the trauma they cause, as well as the legal implications of "self-defense" within them. Readers will be drawn to Michael in his despair and his fervent desire to protect his mother. Unfortunately, all too many young adults will know firsthand how accurate the portrayals are. This is a heartrending, unforgettable book. Fiction

Giles, Gail. Playing in Traffic YA GIL
Weird Goth-girl Skye has singled out Matt for attention. He's not sure why, since he's always tried his best to remain anonymous. He agrees to meet with her secretly and likes the excitement she adds to his life. When Skye claims that her stepfather abuses her and that her stepsister suffers from Down's syndrome, Matt feels compelled to "save" her. When another student warns him that Skye is not what she seems, Matt notices inconsistencies in her version of events and begins to question why she lures him to her parents' beach house for intimacy. The characterization and teen dialogue are mostly on target, with the exception of the remarkable maturity of Matt's 13-year-old sister. His self-questioning and paralysis when under stress will sound familiar to teens but the conclusion is disappointing. There are way too many loose ends, and Skye's sinister over-the-top demands detract from the character study of a quiet young man and a deeply disturbed girl. Fiction

Grandits, John. Technically, It’s Not My Fault: Concrete Poems. YA 811 GRA
This graphically inventive sequence of concrete poems, printed in red and black on white, mimes an 11-year-old's sarcastic perspective. The protagonist, Robert, opens with a poem in black type that traces the diameter of a clock; six words in red ink, roundabout the number seven, indicate the start and conclusion ("I wake up in the morning...") of a school-to-homework-to-bed cycle. The narrator's wry attitude becomes more apparent in a footnoted letter that dutifully thanks an aunt for a hated gift. "I'm already planning when to wear my new sweater," Robert writes, and only readers catch his footnoted subtext ("the next time you come to visit. I just hope nobody sees me"). The interrelated statements evolve from ridiculous daydreams and everyday pastimes alike. In one spread, Robert imagines a typographical wrestling match between the words "octopus" and "boa constrictor"; in a skateboarding story, his angled and twisting words leap invisible curbs on the bare white page, while red letters shout, "Hey kid!... Get outta here!" Knowing audience members will appreciate the scatological wit of poems like "Bloodcurdling Screams," where spiraling bright-red text ("...Ow Ow Ow Hoo Hoo...") suggests what happens when a brother flushes a toilet during his sister's shower. Grandits (Pictures Tell Stories) weaves Robert's portrait in distorted letterforms, language mazes and comic first-person narration. A technically (and imaginatively) inspired typeface experiment. 

Hareas, John. NBA’s Greatest.
Imagine being one of only 4.12 fans to witness the unthinkable on a cold night in March as Wilt Chamberlain scores 100 points in a single game versus the New York Knicks in Hershey. Pennsylvania? Or sitting courtside at the fabled Boston Garden as John Havlicck swoops out of nowhere to tip a Hal Greer inbounds pass away from Chet Walker and toward teammate Sam Jones, who dribbled out the clock as fans poured onto the court? The greatness of Oscar Robertson, who not only averaged a triple-double for an entire season but actually averaged one during the first five seasons of his career? What about the scoring brilliance of Kobe Bryant as he shot an NBA single-game record 12 three-pointers, including an incredible nine in a row? Or the unparalleled excellence of the Boston Celties winning 11 championships in 13 seasons? Great players. Great teams. Great games. Great moments. Since the NBA debuted more than 50 years ago, thousands of players have logged at least one minute of NBA action yet only a sclect few have left an indelible mark on the game. NBA's Greatest profiles these players plus the greatest teams and coaches in NBA history as well as reliving the greatest moments and games.

Harrison, Lisi  The Clique  YA HAR
Claire Lyons moves with her parents from Florida to wealthy Westchester County, NY. Until they can get settled, the family stays in the guest house of Mr. Lyons's college buddy, who happens to have a daughter who is also in seventh grade. Expected to welcome her, Massie instead chooses to make Claire's life miserable for no other reason than she's the new girl. Massie enlists her clique of friends at Octavian Country Day School, all part of the beautiful and popular crowd, to help with the harassment, which ranges from catty comments on Claire's clothes to spilling red paint on her white jeans in a conspicuous spot. Tired of it all, Claire tries to fight back, but then the abuse worsens. The book has trendy references kids will love, including Starbucks in the school, designer clothes, and PalmPilots for list making. However, this trendiness doesn't make up for the shallowness of the characters or the one-dimensional plot. Nor is the cruelty of the clique redeemed with any sort of a satisfying ending. The conclusion leaves one with the feeling that a sequel is in the works.

Hartinger, Brent. Last Chance Texaco. YA HAR
Lucy Pitt is 15 when she is sent to Kindle Home, a group home and her last chance at a semi-normal life. If she makes any errors, she'll be sent to the high-security facility known as Eat-Their-Young Island. Kindle Home is different from the other places she's lived, primarily due to the dedication of the counselors and the way in which they connect with the kids. Lucy realizes that she wants to stay there, and although she manages to weather the consequences of her own impulsive tendencies, she can't control the lack of funding that threatens the Home or the arson that is causing the neighbors to become even more leery of having such an establishment nearby. Readers will root for Lucy and come away with a greater understanding of the complexities of group homes and their inhabitants. Hartinger excels at giving readers an insider's view of the subculture, with its myriad unspoken rules created by the kids, not the system. There is a touch of romance and mystery, and while those elements may be a lure for less sophisticated readers, the memorable aspect of the novel is the way it takes readers inside a system most of them have never experienced.

Heneghan, James. Hit Squad.
Birgit Neilsen, gorgeous and popular, is tired of the long-standing status quo at Grandview High School. She organizes a group of like-minded students to combat the bullying and terrorism that exists, but their good intentions soon result in tragedy and the death of a fellow student. This book is obviously intended for reluctant readers. Engaging dialogue, an absorbing plot, and well-defined characters are all sacrificed to short, choppy sentences; stilted dialogue; and a message that has all of the subtlety of a hammer blow to the head. An incredibly monotonous book.

Hirano, Kohta  Hellsing series
Volume 1  Volume 2  Volume 3  Volume 4
Another in a long line of manga featuring an off-kilter hero, this lively tale about vampire hunters features the eponymous top-secret organization based in England that's called on for only the toughest jobs. Hellsing's top vampire hunter is Alucard, a lanky figure in an oversized hat and a duster that swirls dashingly as he blows bad guys to smithereens with his arsenal of enormous firearms. Alucard, it turns out, is actually a vampire himself, and just why he's tearing up his own kind is open to question, but then, Hellsing doesn't lend itself to much deep contemplation. It's mostly a fun, violent romp. In the first story readers meet a young policewoman who joins the undead after becoming an innocent victim in a battle. Police Girl, as she's known, comes to the organization via Integra, Hellsing's leader, and her adaptation to her new life affords some amusing moments. In a flashback, readers learn how Integra took over Hellsing and how she first met Alucard when he rescued her from her own murderous relatives. Later, the heroes nearly meet their match in Father Alexander Anderson, a superhuman priest who works for Section XIII, the Vatican's own vampire division. The bloody battle is accompanied by some rather awkward religious sparring between the Catholic Church and Hellsing, which is sworn to protect, believe it or not, the Protestant Church. It's goofy details like this that give the book some charm and energy. Hirano's storytelling is easy to follow, as stylish close-ups of the "we're-groovy-and-we-know-it" characters explode into violent full-page illustrations of all-out mayhem. Fiction

Hobbs, Valerie. Letting Go of Bobby James, or How I Found My Self of Steam. YA HOB
Sally Jo Walker, known as Jody, is a 16-year-old runaway bride of 13 weeks who finds herself on her own with $20 in her pocket and nowhere to go. If Bobby James hadn't hit her, she wouldn't be holed up in a gas-station bathroom. She uses the time to write a letter on paper towels to the corporate head of the Harris Teeter food-store chain with a suggestion on how to improve his inferior coleslaw. This literary device is a bit confusing, as Hobbs drops it early on and doesn't pick it up again until this improbable coming-of-age tale ends. The first-person exposition is frank and endearing, and Jody is apparently wiser than many people twice her age as she struggles to survive in a strange town. She is resourceful and likable and the novel is peopled with the downtrodden, both with hearts of gold and flint. The teen's determination makes the adults around her seem foolish and lost. Despite the title, Bobby James plays a minor role, and when he reappears on the scene readers may be hard-pressed to believe Jody is so susceptible to his questionable charm–yet it is then that she reacts as the average 16-year-old might. This story suffers from too many implausible events, but this feisty character has considerable appeal. Fiction

Hopkins, Cathy. Truth or Dare series.The Princess of Pop. YA HOP
"I have un grando dare for Becca and Cat, " said Squidge. "You know this competition for Pop Princess? Well, I dare you both to enter." He looked pointedly at me. "And I mean both of you. Auditions are next Saturday." Becca missed the fun of the school production of Grease, and she has a reputation of being fickle and a dreamer. But the Pop Princess challenge makes her determined to try harder than she has ever tried before. She has the voice, but has she got the staying power?

Teen Queens and Has-Beens. YA HOP
"Yeah but...," I started, then I decided to confront what I thought was probably really bothering her. "Look, about Jonno. I didn't mean for anything to happen. He just kind of..." After a game of truth or dare, Lia manages to gain the interest of the school heartthrob, and alienates "teen queen" Kaylie, who was after Jonno for herself. Kaylie and her friends then start a campaign of bullying against Lia -- the nasty, underhanded kind where rumors are spread, threats are sent, secrets are exposed, and confidence is underminded. Soon Lia begins to question her whole life: who she is, why these girls have got it in for her, and who her real friends are....

White Lies and Barefaced Truths. YA HOP
Dear Squidge, I really like you but...I ripped the letter up. Pathetic. "How am I going to do this, Bec? Help me." Becca's face clouded. "He's going to be devastated. He really adores you." Cat's always been the perfect girl next door. Thoughtful friend. Supportive girlfriend. Surrogate mother to her three younger siblings. A great help to her dad since her mum died. But now Cat's facing some major dilemmas. A game of truth or dare lands her in hot water when she's asked for a truth she can't reveal. On top of this, she doesn't want to hurt her boyfriend by telling him the truth, but she knows it's over between them. Is it right to tell lies to protect people or keep the peace? Can the truth be too hurtful? Cat tries to sort all this out, and in doing so, discovers a lot about herself and others.

Hopkins, Ellen. Crank. YA HOP
Seventeen-year-old Kristina Snow is introduced to crank on a trip to visit her wayward father. Caught up in a fast-paced, frightening, and unfamiliar world, she morphs into "Bree" after she "shakes hands with the monster." Her fearless, risk-taking alter ego grows stronger, "convincing me to be someone I never dreamed I'd want to be." When Kristina goes home, things don't return to normal. Although she tries to reconnect with her mother and her former life as a good student, her drug use soon takes over, leaving her "starving for speed" and for boys who will soon leave her scarred and pregnant. Hopkins writes in free-verse poems that paint painfully sharp images of Kristina/Bree and those around her, detailing how powerful the "monster" can be. The poems are masterpieces of word, shape, and pacing, compelling readers on to the next chapter in Kristina's spiraling world. This is a topical page-turner and a stunning portrayal of a teen's loss of direction and realistically uncertain future. Fiction

Horowitz, Anthony. Eagle Strike. YA HOR
Alex Rider, a 14-year-old secret agent who has worked for MI6–British military intelligence–returns for his fourth adventure. Vacationing in France with his girlfriend, Sabina Pleasure, and her parents, Alex spots Yassen Gregorovich, a known assassin, and senses something isn't quite right. Before long, Sabina's journalist father is injured in an "accidental" bombing and Alex is thrown into another mystery that involves a devious scheme to annihilate the world. In this heart-racing novel, Horowitz combines fast-paced action with ingenious gadgets that Alex either has on his side or is forced to battle against. The straightforward writing will appeal to a wide audience; the story is intricate enough to entertain older readers, but accessible to younger ones as well. For anyone who has enjoyed Alex's previous adventures, EagleStrike will prove just as good if not better, and for those who haven't been introduced to this young spy, this book will certainly get them addicted and anxiously awaiting the next installment. Fiction

Hrdlitschka, Shelley. Kat’s Fall. YA HRD
Darcy Frasier, 15, has grown up with the overwhelming responsibility of caring for himself and his 11-year-old sister, who is deaf and suffers from epileptic seizures. Their father has halfheartedly raised them while their mother has been in prison for 10 years, charged with dropping baby Kat from a balcony. Darcy's and Kat's lives are turned upside-down when they receive word that their mother is going to be released. Darcy will do anything to distance himself from the woman, who he believes does not deserve a second chance, but then he remembers the truth about Kat's fall: it was he who dropped his infant sister. Just as the teen is coming to terms with the truth, he is accused of molesting the little girl he baby-sits as well as his sister. It is with the help of his teacher and his mom that his name is cleared. Each surprising new plot element keeps readers turning pages until every truth unfolds. Darcy develops as an everyday hero who proves that perseverance in any situation is possible as he approaches each challenge with dignity and grace. Additionally, the supporting characters unfold to reveal their own compassion. This powerful novel is both heart wrenching and shocking. Fiction

Jacobs, Thomas. They Broke the Law; You Be the Judge: True Cases of Teen Crime. YA 345.73 JAC
A former juvenile court judge offers a compelling “behind the bench” look at juvenile crime and justice. In each of the 21 real-life cases of teen crime, Jacobs describes the background of the offender and the circumstances of the offense. He then presents several sentencing options, leaving it up to the reader to decide what punishment is appropriate by offering a series of questions to consider before imposing a sentence. Jacobs also includes the judge's decision in each case, and he asks readers to compare and contrast their decision to the judge's. Through the encouraged role-playing, students will gain a better understanding of the intricacies of the system. An excellent introduction to how juvenile justice works, this will be a great resource for classroom and group discussions. Nonfiction

Johns, Geoff. Teen Titans: A Kid’s Game. YA Graphic Novel 741.5 JOH
Cyborg, a former teen hero, realizes that the adolescent sidekicks of the world's most powerful heroes need to be guided and trained, so he recruits the young adventurersQRobin, Superboy, Wonder Girl, and ImpulseQinto the new Teen Titans. Fiction

Jones, Patrick. Things Change. YA JON
Alternating the perspectives of 16-year-old Johanna and her emotionally disturbed boyfriend, this psychologically involving first novel gives a frank, up-close look at a textbook case of dating violence. Johanna, a straight-A student, has always worked hard to please her controlling parents ("Love in our family was like a bad novel: all tell and no show") but has done little to make herself happy. Then she starts dating the boy least likely to win her parents' approval: ruggedly handsome, outspoken Paul, a senior and a kind of class clown who, Johanna soon learns, vents his anger by hurting himself and others. Predictably, Johanna's life changes drastically as she and Paul become involved. Johanna's passion for her new boyfriend is eclipsed only by her anxiety over hiding the bruises he leaves on her arms. Paul becomes increasingly possessive, insulting and aggressive. Meanwhile, Johanna loses her dignity, her parents' respect and her best friend's trust in order to keep Paul. Chapters told from Johanna's point of view convey a battle between heart and intellect. Paul's narrative reveals deep resentment caused by his father's abandonment and eventual deathůespecially Paul's letters to him, veiled in humor (they begin, "Dear Dead Dad"). This dark, at times insightful book serves as a warning, depicting the teen scene as it is, rather than how adults would like it to be. The provocative conclusion may well send chills down readers' spines.  Fiction

Kool Moe Dee. There’s a God on the Mic: The True 50 Greatest MCs.
These books showcase rap and hip-hop icons with varying results. Seminal rapper Kool Mo Dee made his name with the platinum album How Ya Like Me Now (1987), on which he introduced "report cards" for evaluating fellow MCs (rap vocalists). In There's a God on the Mic, he expands on and formalizes that system, scoring 50 prominent rap vocalists (including himself) on a scale of one to ten in 17 areas, including originality, versatility, vocabulary, and social impact. Each dramatically typeset entry begins with representative lyrics, continues with a brief biography and stylistic overview of the artist, pauses for Kool Mo Dee's encapsulated opinion of his or her overall strengths and weaknesses, and wraps with a list (and explanation) of the scores. The scores are then totaled and averaged, resulting in overall grades-with Just-Ice receiving the lowest and Melle Mel (at 94.1) the highest. While Kool Mo Dee's credentials are impressive, he is guilty of some overtly dubious inclusions and almost unforgivable oversights: arguably marginal MCs like Lil' Kim are included, but indispensable rappers such as Eminem and Everlast are omitted. Paniccioli's black-and-white photographs are subpar. Still, though this is not the definitive reference it intends to be, it is nonetheless entertaining and will do well in the circulating popular music collections of larger public libraries. Hip Hop Immortals, on the other hand, manages to convey the essence of rap and hip-hop with its mutual confirmation of text, photo, font play, and color. Not so much a book as a work of pop art, it has the unmistakable feel of a Graphis Annual. Art director Giovanni Russo playfully shrinks, explodes, twirls, and swirls the informative text by Malone (a columnist for Vibe), forcing words into readers' eyes. Hundreds of exceptional photographs (color and b&w) not only capture the style of each "immortal" but also the zeitgeist of hip-hop as a whole: inspired, impressionistic, innovative, and simultaneously illustrative to the max. Editor Beattie's selection of hip-hop greats is far more balanced than Mo Dee's-she includes both sine qua non groundbreakers such as Third Bass as well as world-famous MCs like Eminem. An evident and appropriate tribute to the work of Warhol, Haring, and Indiana, the powerful visual aesthetic of Immortals never overshadows its subjects; instead, it captures and communicates both the unique style and the substance of each rapper. Note to librarians: Immortals does not pander to the gutter dwellers of rap, being almost wholly devoid of ho, bitch, and other epithets. The downside: no table of contents, index, or pagination. Highly recommended for all popular music collections. Fiction

Leiker, Ken. Unscripted.
The fans in their seats are barely able to contain themselves. The buzz of the crowd rises higher and higher until that first Superstar walks onto the stage and into the ring. It doesn't matter where you are in the arena -- ringside or high above the floor you know that it's going to be an exciting night. There are signs everywhere, the people in their seats chant for their favorite wrestler. You get caught up in the wave of excitement filling the place. Maybe tonight a title changes hands. This is the WWE anything can happen.
You begin to wonder just what is it like to be a WWE Superstar. What do you have to do everyday to make it? What is it like to spend your life with countless numbers of people cheering or even booing you? You look into the ring and wonder. What if you could go behind the stage? What if you could travel with one of the wrestlers? What would it be like to visit a Superstar in their home? Unscripted is an unvarnished, all access look inside the lives of World Wrestling Entertainment's Superstars. From life on the road traveling more than two hundred days a year, to performing in front of hundreds of thousands, the WWE's Superstar's share their incredible story in their own words offering readers an unprecedented glimpse behind the scenes.
The Undertaker tells you why he didn't become a professional basketball player. Goldberg tells you why he joined the WWE. The Rock reveals how his own father tried to sabotage his career. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon speak openly and frankly about their relationship. Chris Jericho describes how he keeps it all in perspective. Sean Michaels talks about his revitalized career and how important his family and his faith are. Kurt Angle explains how you can wrestle with a broken neck.
Unscripted lifts the curtain on the backstage areas of the shows, the homes and the everyday lives and ordinary events of these extraordinary people. It is a lavishly illustrated tribute to the men and women who climb over the rope day-after-day for the roar of the crowd. Nonfiction

Lynch, Clam. Ruby Gloom’s Keys to Happiness. YA Graphic Novel 741.5 LYN
Beetlejuice meets Eloise in this humorous, goth debut.
Ruby Gloom is already a best-selling apparel and accessory design of Mighty Fine's, for 'tweens and teens, especially goth girls. Now she introduces herself with seventeen slightly offbeat lessons for life, as seen from the shadowy Victorian mansion where she hangs out with her cat, Doom, the seven skeletons in her closet, and the occasional ghost ("They're so dramatic!").
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder," Ruby tells her three crow companions, "so get lost!" She's the perfect guide for any girl who's ever felt alienated or thought no one quite understood her because she's just, well, different. Ruby's popularity attests to her appeal and her maverick wisdom, reminding girls among other things that "What's ugly on the outside can be pretty on the inside," and that "It's good to take the road less traveled." AUTHOR BIO: Mighty Fine is a Los Angeles-based design team that began designing and manufacturing sportswear for teenagers in 1992. Fiction

Mackler, Carolyn. Vegan Virgin Valentine.
Overachieving high school senior Mara Valentine's drive stems from the belief that she is her parents' "Only Hope"; her 35-year-old sister has achieved nothing but having a daughter, V, who is only a year younger than Mara and appears to be a "nicotine-addicted nympho." Sport for Mara is competing with her ex-boyfriend for class valedictorian; she has been accepted early decision to Yale. Mara is a sharp, interesting narrator, but she has alienated most of her friends with her rigid, single-minded attitudes. Her life is thrown into chaos when V comes to live with the family, and provides multiple shades of gray in Mara's black-and-white world. She makes out with Mara's ex on the first day of school and constantly makes cutting, but frighteningly accurate, comments about the limitations of her aunt's life plans. In the midst of this chaos, while working part-time at a local café, Mara falls in love with her 22-year-old boss who hasn't gone to college and is forced to reassess the goals that V has already called into question. The romance is believable, as is the tension between Mara and V, although both situations resolve smoothly and somewhat quickly. This is a fast, often humorous read with some meat but no bite (although Mara does lose her virginity)–just the universal theme of growing up and figuring out what's important. This title will have strong appeal for teens grappling with these same questions. Fiction

Manning, Sarra. Guitar Girl.
Molly, 17, never planned to reach pop stardom. She just enjoyed writing songs and playing music with her friends, Jane and Tara. When they start a rock band called The Hormones, two slightly older guys, T and Dean, maneuver their way into the group, and there is no looking back. Suddenly famous, Molly takes off on tour with the band, performing in England and eventually in the United States. Despite Dean and Molly's frequent confrontations, they fall in love. They have plenty of tender and passionate sex (protection isn't mentioned), until she learns that his motivation for the relationship hasn't been totally honest. Finally determining that rock-star life is less than idyllic, Molly chooses to call it quits, despite lawsuit threats. The story's carefully developed characters and relationships, driven by tuned-in dialogue, make it realistic and compelling. Molly's first-person voice rings clear and true. Like 16-year-old Wonder in Rachel Cohn's Pop Princess (S & S, 2004), she finds herself on a roller-coaster ride through makeovers, alcohol-laden parties, sensationalist critiques, attempts to manage schoolwork, demands of a pushy manager, losing her virginity, and dealing with parents. Wryly funny, often sincere, and sometimes pressed into banshee-like behavior, Molly is endearing in her attempts to reach maturity, sort out what's important, and decide what needs to be left behind. Fiction

McGrath, Jeremy. Wide Open: A Life in Supercross. 796.72 MCG
In this gossipy, spiteful memoir, champion Supercross motorcycle racer McGrath wastes no opportunity to settle scores and gloat over vanquished enemies. Targets include his former Yamaha sponsors ("how quickly people can turn their back on you"), Supercross rivals Damon Bradshaw ("failed to win a single pro championship") and Jeff Emig ("always felt he was above everyone else") and "spoiled diva" actress Alyssa Milano ("she was a little bit out of shape and her butt was kind of big.") The nursing of resentments gives some energy and focus to an otherwise slack, anecdotal recounting of McGrath's aimless off-track existence as it meanders from his party-hearty bachelorhood, to his tense but dull courtship of his wife, to the furnishing of his home ("I rubbed my knees on each individual carpet sample page to simulate lying on the floor watching TV.") McGrath's account of his on-track career is preoccupied with the minutiae of sponsorship and endorsement deals and a catalogue of his record-setting accomplishments, but it occasionally includes revealing material on racing strategy and the exploitation of riders by promoters. Advice sidebars on topics like motorcycle maintenance ("modestly apply oil to filter, then gently massage in") and career-building ("you need parents to supplement your paper-route money and take you to the races") may be of interest to young Supercross wannabes, who will be further inspired by the countless photos of McGrath and motorcycle soaring through the air. Nonfiction

McManners, Hugh. Ultimate Special Forces.
A riveting exploration of the world's most highly trained military units, from the ancient Spartans to modern-day US Navy SEALs, Ultimate Special Forces offers over 700 illustrations of equipment and techniques used by today's special forces- from intelligence-gathering methods to special vehicles and survival gear. In-depth accounts of the background, organization, and landmark operations of famous military units such as the US's Delta Force and Britain's SAS make this gripping and essential reading for both casual readers and military history enthusiasts. Nonfiction

Miller, Timothy and Steve Milton. Nascar Now. 796.7 MIL
NASCAR racing is currently so popular that, according to the authors, one Nextel Cup race draws more fans than the Super Bowl, a World Series baseball game and an NBA Finals game combined. All this is a far cry from the early days of stock car racing, when drivers rushed around oval dirt tracks in rural areas on Saturday nights before local fans. The authors offer a complete, up-to-the-minute introduction to NASCAR for new fans as well as a keepsake for dedicated fans. Like the well-oiled machines they describe, Miller and Milton race through various aspects of NASCAR racing. After taking the starting flag with a brief introduction and history of the sport, they barrel through topics ranging from safety and pit stops to officials, points, scoring and the business of NASCAR. They include diagrams of all the major tracks on the circuit, and in brief vignettes, they offer overviews of the top teams, top drivers and legends of the sport, and provide pointers on drivers to watch. Full-color photos. Nonfiction

Milner-Halls, Kelly. Albino Animals.
Halls's curiosity and awe of albino animals is evident in her writing as she tracks down incidents of this genetic wonder around the world and across species. After overcoming the incredible odds against inheriting the recessive gene for albinism from both parents, these unique creatures begin life having already used up the greater part of their luck. Their striking white appearance leaves them exposed to the sharp eyes of predators, and the lack of melanin in their skin makes them particularly vulnerable to the harmful rays of the sun. The author's discussion consists mainly of a reiteration of these two dangers for each new animal she introduces, resulting in somewhat tedious repetition. The stories rarely have happy endings. The striking cover photo of an albino mouse is likely to draw in curious animal lovers, but the rodent's bulging red eyes provide a clue that this is not a cute, snuggly book. The effect of a white animal on a white background may be appealing on the cover, but the internal photographs become washed out and at times leave their subjects looking more freakish than they truly are. Still, this is an acceptable addition for libraries seeking to satisfy a demand for information on this intriguing topic. Nonfiction

Minter, J. The Insiders.
Designed to resemble a Gossip Girl entry, this enticingly trashy entrant into the yearly teen beach read sweepstakes attempts to do for lower Manhattan what the Cecily von Ziegesar books have done for the Upper East Side. Fashion-obsessed private high-schooler Jonathan is less than thrilled when his mother strong-arms him into taking his "country" cousin Kelli (she's visiting from St. Louis) to his friend's party. To Jonathan's surprise and eventual horror, high-energy, Bubblicious-chomping Kelli uses her "Mickey-Mouse-Club-gone-bad" good looks to work her way through his crew of four male buddies and nearly destroys all their relationships in the process. As if that weren't enough, in the single week of her stay, 17-year-old Kelli becomes downtown's newest "It" girl (and makes a triumphal detour to South Beach, too), palling around with models and artists, and even chatting with Calvin Klein. Although the series hangs on the boys—the author is the guys-point-of-view columnist for Seventeen— Kelli's on- and offscreen actions are responsible for nearly all the wit and fun here. A somewhat tacked-on subplot has the boys searching for their coolest friend, who seems to have gone missing. Up-to-the-minute music and fashion references (price tags included) and a thorough knowledge of downtown locales flavor the boys' picaresque meanderings from party to art opening to restaurant to after-hours club and back again, not to mention the obligatory pilgrimage to Barneys.  Fiction

Morgan, David Lee. LeBron James: The Rise of a Star.
These sports biographies in the new A Robbie Reader series balance slight, overly simplified texts with a good selection of color photos of the athletes. Both biographies touch on the athletes' childhoods, early training, and current successes, and both titles contain a few passages that feel too breezy, as in this excerpt from Lebron James about the athlete's mother: "Sometimes Gloria got in trouble with the police. Gloria's troubles hurt Lebron." Readers will probably want to know more about how James coped with his early challenges, but the short sentences and relatively simple vocabulary make these acceptable choices for emerging readers or for somewhat older students who are reading below grade level. The many images of the athletes practicing, playing, and having fun with their families and friends will surely attract browsers and draw reluctant readers into the words. A chronology, a list of further readings, and a glossary close these uneven titles, which are best suited to collections in which high-interest, easy-reading sports materials are in great demand. Nonfiction

Myers, Walter Dean.
Shooter. YA MYE
In this chilling cautionary tale, Myers revisits the themes of his Monster and Scorpions in a slightly more detached structure, but the outcome is every bit as moving. The novel opens with what serves as a cover sheet to a "Threat Analysis Report," which, in its mission statement, makes mention of "the tragic events of last April." Fiction

Myracle, Lauren TTYL  YA MYR
Three high school sophomores, lifelong best friends, are now facing a variety of emotional upsets in their personal and social lives. Angela is boy crazy and emotive, but able to lend support to her friends when they need it. Zoe is the quietest and most self-effacing, considered by some to be a goody two-shoes but in fact headed full speed into a very dangerous relationship. Madigan is the hothead, less certain of how to grow up than she allows anyone, including herself, to see. The entire narrative is composed of the instant messages sent among these three, from September into November, as they each get involved with dating, sort out how to have friendships with others, cope with disasters that range from wardrobe issues to getting drunk, and offer one another advice and defiance. Each character's voice is fully realized and wonderfully realistic in spite of the very limiting scope of the IM device. Page layout mimics a computer screen and each girl IMs in a different font and in her own unique verbal style. (The title is IM jargon for "talk to you later"). Myracle not only sustains all this but also offers readers some meaty-and genuine-issues. Both revealing and innovative, this novel will inspire teens to pass it to their friends and will suggest to nascent writers that experimenting with nonnarrative communication can be a great way to tell a story. Fiction

Nagatomo, Haruno. Draw Your Own Manga: All the Basics.
The textbook of choice at Tokyo Animation College, the leading school for manga artists, this book outlines all of the basic techniques one needs to know through easy-to-draw characters of all ages and detailed instructions. Nonfiction

Nash, Naomi. You are So Cursed.
Posing as a witch, an outcast high school student attempts to use street magic and a dangerous persona to make her life easier. But she is about to learn that real magic lies in knowing her true friends. Fiction

Naylor, Caroline.
Beauty Trix for Cool Chix: Easy-to-Make Lotions, Potions, and Spells to Bring Out a Beautiful You. YA 646.7 NAY
This fun, jazzy craft book features more than 20 step-by-step projects to help tweens and teens create their own cool beauty products. Each project comes with clear instructions and three interactive quizzes that help girls decide which recipes suit their moods and personalities. Full color. Nonfiction

Nelson, Blake. Rock Star, Superstar.
A brilliant, tender, funny, and utterly believable novel about music and relationships. Pete, 16, joins a band possibly headed for stardom. While the three other performers in Tiny Masters dream of fame and fortune, Pete loves the music and relishes the chance to play his bass guitar on stage. As the group's popularity grows, he also stumbles his way through his first romance. The relationship is awkward, sweet, wonderful, and confusing all at the same time. Margaret makes the first move, and at the beginning Pete is ambivalent, but eventually he realizes that he has fallen in love with her. Complications ensue, including Pete's feelings of jealousy, his need to dedicate time to his music, and Margaret's parents' anger when they find out that the teenagers are having sex. Pete's voice is totally convincing, as are his interactions with his widowed father and his male friends. Readers who loved Rachel Cohn's Pop Princess (S & S, 2004) and Sarra Manning's Guitar Girl (Dutton, 2004) will find that this novel takes a more down-to-earth view of the road to stardom, with hard work and disappointment part of the package. Pete is one of the best male protagonists in recent YA fiction and the other characters are equally strong. Fiction

O’Connell, Tyne. Pulling Princes.  YA OCO
Calypso, an LA teenager with movie-industry parents, attends a posh British boarding school. Having no title and no landed-gentry relatives, she has a hard time fitting in. So when she pretends that her mother's gay personal assistant is her new boyfriend, her popularity improves. Not only do the other girls make a fuss over her new guy, but the teen also gains self-confidence and the prince's attention during a fencing match. He starts calling her cell phone and they begin a budding romance. One big problem–Honey, one of the most popular girls in school, also has her eye on him, and she starts to make life truly miserable for Calypso. The story is jam-packed with posh toffs, true friends, late-night sneak outs for vodka drinking, silly fads, English slang, and plenty of boarding-school antics. Budding Anglophiles can add "pulling fit boys" (a phrase that basically translates to "making out with hot guys") to their lexicon, and will soak up the flood of upper-class British culture in this book. The story is milder than Louise Rennison's stories about Georgia Nicolson (HarperCollins) but similar in tone and style; fans of Cecily von Ziegesar's "Gossip Girl" series and Zoey Dean's "A-List" series (both Little, Brown) should enjoy it. Fiction

Oppell, Kenneth.
Airborn. YA OPP
In crisp, precise prose that gracefully conveys a wealth of detail, Oppel (the Silverwing Saga) imagines an alternate past where zeppelins crowd the skies over the Atlanticus and the Pacificus, and luxury liners travel the air rather than the sea (references to films by the Lumičre "triplets" and various fashions suggest a very early 20th-century setting). Young Matt Cruse works aboard the elegant passenger airship Aurora, where his late father also worked. In an exciting opening sequence, Matt rescues an injured old man flying solo in a stranded hot air balloon; the man later dies, but not before telling Matt of "beautiful creatures" that he saw sailing through the air. Matt's curiosity about the man's dying words is piqued a year later when the fellow's granddaughter Kate arrives on board, bearing his journal. As other plot lines develop, pirates attack the Aurora, which crash-lands on an island that closely resembles a drawing in the old man's journal. There are minor, pleasing shades of the film Titanic throughout—the rich but overprotected girl, the poor but daring and lovable cabin boy, and the vessel itself, which is a sprawling and multifaceted character in its own right—but Oppel places the emphasis squarely on adventure rather than romance, keeping the pace brisk and the characters dynamic. The author's inviting new world will stoke readers' imaginations—and may leave them hoping for a sequel (those curious for a preview can log onto Fiction

Parker, Daniel and Lee Miller. Watching Alice series.
Break the Surface Sixteen-year-old Tom Sinclair moves to New York City to escape a troubled past. Then he meets Alice Brown and falls deeply in love. Could his life be back on track at last?
Then Alice disappears, and Tom fears his past may have something to do with it. His only clues: an e-mail from someone with the screen name WatchingAlice, and Alice's diary entries--which reveal that Alice had deeply hidden secrets of her own.

Walk On Water
Alice's diary reveals her true, hidden reason for pursuing Tom; her secret meetings in a downtown hospital with a mysterious bed-ridden patient; and her desperation to escape her aggressive ex-boyfriend, Carter.
In his effort to find Alice, Tom publishes her diary. He implores the reader to aid him in decoding the cryptic entries inside.

Perez. Marlene. Unexpected Development.
In this debut novel, written as a "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essay, narrator Megan addresses her teacher, reflecting on seeing "the best and the worst in [guys]" and her struggles with a body that "polite people call top-heavy." During the summer before her senior year, Megan attracts the attention of her longtime crush, Jake, who works alongside her at the Pancake Palace, faces both a sexually harassing bully and boss, and grapples with whether or not to have breast-reduction surgery. Megan is likable and funny (she says Jake "smell[s] like temptation and Ivory soap") and Perez focuses on a compelling body-image issue. Megan wears baggy clothes and not only must she listen to warnings from her mother ("Boys Jake's age have only one thing on their minds"), but she, too, worries that that's all Jake wants. Readers will find Megan easy to relate to, but may find some of the book's other elements troublesome. Her pervert boss's affair with a promiscuous co-worker, for instance, reads as stereotypical, and her shopping trip and heart-to-heart with her often-hurtful mother wraps things up a bit too easily. While these elements detract from the novel, Megan's appealing character will draw readers in, and will likely make the audience hope for more from this promising writer.  Fiction

Rabb, M.E. The Missing Persons series. Fiction
The Chocolate Lover YA Mystery RAB
This second entry in the series continues the Shattenberg sisters' adventures. Sophie is in high school and Sam is working as an assistant to Gus Jenkins, the local private eye. The girls begin a new missing-persons case when they meet Leo Shattenberg, a retired professor who shares their uncommon last name. Leo asks for their help in tracking down a woman who's been missing since 1947 in order to return a painting to her. The plot frequently veers off course so suddenly that Sophie seems to be forever explaining odd and illogical turns of events. However, even though the narrative is a little contrived, it's also sweet, wry, and entertaining. Adults are on the sidelines; it's Sophie, Sam, and their friends who solve the mystery. This lighthearted novel is bound to please mystery fans and reluctant teen readers alike.

The Rose Queen
YA Mystery RAB
Gr 6 Up-After their father dies, Sam, 17, and Sophie, 15, are forced to leave their home in Queens, NY, and begin a new life on the lam. Afraid that their evil stepmother will separate them and force Sophie to attend a boarding school in Canada, they take their father's funds and make a run for it. With the help of a schoolmate with criminal connections, the sisters establish new identities as Sam and Fiona Scott and take up residence in the small town of Venice, IN. There, they meet many new people, including Noelle McBride, the 16-year-old Rose Queen of Venice and a stuck-up snob. When she disappears after Sam and Sophie drop her off one evening, they become the prime suspects because they were the last people to see her. With the police on their trail, the sisters become amateur sleuths to crack the case and clear their own names. At the same time, they must stay hidden themselves. Narrated by Sophie in a chatty style, this fast-paced book is filled with humor. Teens will identify with the characters. The story is fun and entertaining with the added appeal of a twist of mystery.-

The Unsuspecting Gourmet
YA Mystery RAB
When Sophie shares her late mother's matzo ball soup recipe with the owner of a local diner, she has no idea how much trouble it will cause--especially when it wins first prize in a television cooking show contest. When a TV crew arrives to meet with the chef, she's disappeared.

The Venetian Policeman YA Mystery RAB
Sophie and Sam thought they knew everything there was to know about Gus Jenkins, the private detective they're working with. But when Gus's life takes a turn for the worse, the girls discover that he has a missing son (who happens to be a total stud), and they decide that they just have to find him. Can they manage to find Gus's son, while keeping their identity and their motives a secret?

Rohrer, Russ. Ten Days in the Dirt: Spectacle of Off-Road Motorcycling.
The world of off-road racing comes to life in this photo-oriented look at the sport. The author visited ten of the hottest off-road racing events in the U.S., and came back with a high-quality look at the state of off-road racing today. The book is divided into 10 sections, each dealing with a particular type of off-road riding or competition. Described is what happens during a typical day of competition, with quotes from the racers and their families. Detailed photos show the action on the track, and the majority of the shots are the competitors in the pits working on their bikes, sharing racing stories, camping, and living the lives of a racer. Nonfiction

Rothbart, Davy. Found: The Best Lost, Tossed and Forgotten Items from Around the World.
In the tradition of NPR's National Story Project comes this funky collection of letters, flyers and other miscellany from the pages of Found magazine. Rothbart, the magazine's editor and founder, has pulled together the funniest, weirdest and most moving items found by himself and his readers over the years. Fairly typical is the note left on a car's windshield, intended for a wayward boyfriend named Mario: "You said you had to work then whys your car here at HER place?.... I hate you..." piling invective upon invective until concluding: "p.s. Page me later." Rothbart and company find stuff just about everywhere: on buses, taped to trees, underneath Coke machines, in the recycling bin at Kinko's. Some items are heartbreaking (a missing person poster found in Manhattan after September 11), some hilarious (an algebra test, flunked with creativity and panache) and some just plain odd (a note directing residents to lock a door in order to "prevent unauthorized people from entering the building and defecating in the washing machine"). There are some explanations, but mostly, the trash speaks for itself, reproduced with Rothbart's particular punk-collagist aesthetic. At times, reading the notes and letters feels uncomfortably voyeuristic, and inevitably, readers are left wanting more, wishing for details about these lives beyond what the sketchy fragments provide (did that scoundrel Mario ever change his wanton ways?). A provocative and original book, Rothbart's collection manages to pull laughter and drama from the flotsam and jetsam of society. Nonfiction

Seate, Mike. Choppers: Heavy Metal.
When a motorcycle has been built from the ground up, stripped of anything not needed for speed, power, and striking looks, and draped in rich colors and chrome, it has been transformed into a chopper. What was once considered an outlaw ride has now become. Nonfiction

Shaw, Maria. Maria Shaw's Star Gazer: Your Soul Searching, Dream Seeking, Make Something Happen Guide to the Future.
Maria Shaw has been in the national spotlight appearing on shows such as Blind Date, Soap Talk, and the FOX reality show Mr. Personality. She currently writes a monthly astrology column for Soap Opera Digest and is a regular contributor to various new age publications. She even finds time to do a weekly radio segment on a local morning program. Now, Maria Shaw is lending her astrological expertise to the teen market with her new book Maria Shaw's Star Gazer.
Star Gazer is Maria's first foray into the teen genre. The book was written with her own teenage daughters in mind. She hopes that this book will be a tool that teens will use to discover and develop their spiritual gifts, and to help them realize that there is a higher power source they can tap into for help.
Maria has helped thousands of people across the country with her workshop, "Soul Mates: Past Lives and Present Loves." She also continues to provide personal readings to a large client base. Nonfiction

Sones, Sonya. One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies. YA SON
In one- to two-page breezy poetic prose-style entries, 15-year-old Ruby Milliken describes her flight from Boston to California and her gradual adjustment to life with her estranged movie-star father following her mother's death. E-mails to her best friend, her boyfriend, and her mother ("in heaven") and outpourings of her innermost thoughts display her overwhelming unhappiness and feelings of isolation, loss, and grief ("…most days,/I wander around Lakewood feeling invisible./Like I'm just a speck of dust/floating in the air/that can only be seen/when a shaft of light hits it"). Ruby's affable personality is evident in her humorous quips and clever wordplays. Her depth of character is revealed through her honest admissions, poignant revelations, and sensitive insights. This is not just another one of those gimmicky novels written in poetry. It's solid and well written, and Sones has a lot to say about the importance of carefully assessing people and situations and about opening the door to one's own happiness. Despite several predictable particulars of plot, Ruby's story is gripping, enjoyable, and memorable. Fiction

Stephens, J.B. The Big Empty series. Fiction
The Big Empty YA STE
In the very near future, a devastating virus has killed off more than half the human race. In the United States, a military dictatorship has taken over, moving the population toward the coasts, away from what has been renamed The Big Empty. Seven teens come together in what used to be Clearwater, MO. Keely, Jonah, and Irene are there looking for Novo Mundum, which seems to be a commune of intelligent, creative sorts who don't want to follow the martial law of the new and unelected president. Diego, a local, has been shot by soldiers after refusing to evacuate. Streetwise Amber is 15, pregnant, and looking for her ex-boyfriend. Michael and his about-to-be-ex-girlfriend, Maggie, meet up with the group when they flee their comfortable lives in order to avoid execution for a crime they didn't commit. Stephens's dystopian vision is all the more frightening because it's not outside the realm of possibility. The adventure is filled with little details that set it firmly in the next few years, and all of the teens are smart and resourceful (except for Maggie, a living, breathing cliché who absolutely refuses to admit that the world she knew no longer exists). The ending leaves the door wide open for further volumes.

Paradise City. YA STE
The secret community of Novo Mundum promised everything seven teens craved when the world they knew crumbled around them. But soon they realize that Novo Mundum is far from perfect. In fact, someone inside has the power to create an even scarier crisis than Strain 7. This second installment takes readers deeper into the post-apocalyptic America from The Big Empty, following the characters as they uncover a shocking truth about the identity of the traitor.

Stolarz, Laurie F. Blue is for Nightmares.
Gr 7-10-Stacey's nightmares have proven to tell the future in the past, and now they have returned. The person who is in danger in the teen's dreams is her roommate. Determined to discover who is out to kill Drea, the protagonist performs a series of spells taught to her by her grandmother to ferret out the murderer. Seemingly, all of the girls' friends and acquaintances are suspects. This mystery will initially attract readers who are into Wicca and spells, but may not be successful in keeping their interest. Stacey's bedwetting (at age 16) is a troublesome plot point that remains mostly unresolved at the end. The girls' adventures are unfettered by adults for the most part, and since the story takes place at a boarding school, it is hard to believe that so much could go on unnoticed. Stolarz's first novel is an admirable attempt, but falls short when compared to the works of other mystery-writing greats such as Nancy Werlin and Carol Plum-Ucci. Fiction

Strasser, Todd. Can’t Get There From Here. YA STR
A surrogate family of homeless teens lives on the streets of New York City, and the bleakness of their lives is clear early on when Country Club dies of "liver failure due to acute alcohol poisoning." His brief life is summarized in a one-page dossierlike format that immediately precedes the narrative description of his death. These clinical dossiers recur, like a premonition, as one by one this ragtag "family" disintegrates. But first, readers meet Maggot; Rainbow; beautiful, HIV-positive 2Moro; her club-hopping, sexually amorphous friend Jewel; the protagonist/narrator Maybe; and Tears, the newest, and, at 12 years of age, youngest member of the group. Gradually revealed are the physical and psychological scars that marked their paths to the police sweeps, illness, drugs, and destitution that litter their lives. Also made clear is the fact that these teens reject many offers of help, but find that the street looks better than the horrors from which they've fled. A kindly librarian, Anthony, becomes the hero, reuniting Tears with her grandparents and offering the possibility of a safe future to Maybe. While the events described in this cautionary tale are shocking, the language is not, making these all-too-real problems accessible to a wide readership. More sanitized than E. R. Frank's America (Atheneum, 2002), Han Nolan's Born Blue (Harcourt, 2001), or Adam Rapp's 33 Snowfish(Candlewick, 2003), this is nevertheless a powerful and disturbing look at the downward spiral of despair that remains too common for too many teens. Fiction

Sweeney, Joyce.
Takedown. YA SWE
Joe is hosting a party in honor of his favorite weekly wrestling show when a college student-turned-murderer crashes the get-together and holds the 13-year-olds hostage. As the terrifying ordeal continues, Joe thinks back about how he met each friend, their history together, and problems they are facing in their lives. Their troubles allow for some character development, but they also bog down the story. While some parts of the plot are implausible, Sweeney's use of simple language, in combination with the suspense of the tense hostage situation and the wrestling theme, will draw reluctant readers and fans of sports entertainment. Fiction

Thomson, Celia. The Nine Lives of Chloe King series. Fiction
The Fallen
The day before her 16th birthday, Chloe ditches school and, with her two best friends, goes to San Francisco's Coit Tower. When she falls from a window at the top of it and lands on her head on the concrete below, she appears to be unscathed. In the days immediately following, Chloe develops both unusual physical powers and ever-stranger relationships with assorted young men. While this plot outline holds a lot of promise for teens who like suspense mixed with slowly creeping horror, Thomson fails to deliver a page-turner. The prose is clunky and many descriptions either make no sense or offer tantalizing tidbits that never get adequately addressed. There seems to be a secret supernatural society working undercover, but it takes center stage only in one chapter. There are some moments that are charming, including Chloe's introduction to one character who turns out to be paranormal many chapters later. The ending–which comes several pages after readers have finally been told that Chloe is, in fact, dead–suggests the intent to be cliff-hanging, with two sequels listed on the back cover. Hopefully they will offer smoother writing without sacrificing the tale's successful quirks.
The Stolen
From Russia and Eastern Europe comes a breed of humans with feline characteristics called the Mai. Chloe King is one of them. In this second installment in the series, she finds that there are others like her, others with nine lives and the ability to see in the dark. Just as she's beginning to understand her unique powers, the Tenth Blade, a ruthless group out to kill her and the rest of the Mai, strikes again. Having already lost one life, and with her mother and her friends also in danger, Chloe will do anything to stop them. Complicating matters is her growing attraction to Brian, a member of the Tenth Blade. He says he's on her side, but can she believe him? Readers not familiar with the first book may have trouble following the plot as previous events are not summarized here. There is some action, some romance, but, overall, not enough to warrant first purchase.

Thorley, Joe. Avril Lavigne: The Unofficial Book.
This book had the style like her offical website but it just wasn't personal enough. It had the information we all already know. Good parts about the books are the pictures. Nonfiction

Vizzini, Ned. Be More Chill. YA VIZ
This wacky, irreverent novel stars an uncouth, smart, nerdy, but sympathetic antihero, Jeremy Heere. The teen actually keeps Humiliations Sheets on which he tallies the number and types of affronts that he encounters in his daily life at his New Jersey high school and finds solace in the evenings viewing Internet porn. When the girl he secretly loves is cast opposite him in a school play, he decides to find a way to break the mold he's built around himself so that she will understand and reciprocate his admiration. Buying an extreme bit of illegal nanotechnology in the back room of a Payless shoe store, Jeremy swallows the "squip," which embeds itself in his brain and advises him on all the cool things to say and do to impress Christine. Vizzini has devised a hilarious alternate reality, very close to the one available to Jeremy's real peers–Eminem is a pop-culture presence (although he has recently died in this world). The squip malfunctions when Jeremy takes Ecstasy (not only miscuing Jeremy but also defaulting to Spanish), and so on. There are genuine and serious issues of morality folded into this story, including Jeremy's dilemma of how to make himself both attractive and sincere in Christine's perception. Like Janet Tashjian's The Gospel According to Larry (Holt, 2001), this novel has substance as well as flash, and lots of appeal to bright teens. Although it is literary and funny, the blatant sexual themes and use of profanity may limit its acceptability in schools. Fiction

Walters, Eric. Overdrive.
Aspiring mechanic Jake is elated when his brother loans him his souped-up Chevy on the first day of having his driver's license. The 300-plus horsepower goes to Jake's head, and he is goaded into a street race with his arch-nemesis, Luke. The Chevy dusts the Acura, but Luke does not know when to quit and plows into a SUV containing a man and his pregnant wife. Panicked, Jake drives away from the scene of the accident, encouraged by his passenger Mickey, who warns Jake to avoid trouble by keeping quiet about his "almost involvement." Inner turmoil ensues. The plot moves quickly-even the cover showing the arc of a speedometer edging past 80 mph/140 kmh, indicates speed. Part of Orca's new Soundings series for reluctant readers, this high interest, low reading level novel is simple, engaging, and well written. Characters have a slightly cookie-cutter feel-the wisecracking big brother, the mean teacher, the helpful adult mentor-and the length does not leave a lot of room for details, but it is still a satisfying read. The page count might appease some teachers who think that books with fewer than one hundred pages are not appropriate for grades six and up. Books from this imprint combine plots to which youth can relate and a moral dilemma that lends itself to classroom discussion. This particular title has more appeal for boys, and some of the vocabulary may be unfamiliar to those who are not car buffs.

Westerfeld, Scott. The Secret Hour. YA WES
Moving when you're in high school is difficult enough, especially when your parents can't seem to hold their own lives together and your younger sister is being more obnoxious than usual. However, for 15-year-old Jessica Day, these concerns pale when bizarre things start to happen and she discovers that she now has unwanted magical powers. Part science fiction, part horror story, this novel is the first in a series about the midnighters, a select group of individuals whose birth at the stroke of midnight gives them the special ability to move about in a mysterious 25th hour. As Jessica takes her place among these extraordinary teens, she must battle the increasingly dangerous slithers and other darklings that have suddenly become more violent and aggressive. The story is exciting and the writing compelling. Gaps in the account will not bother readers, who will be totally absorbed by the paranormal elements as well as the intriguing characters, and who will be eagerly awaiting the next book. Fiction

Weyn, Suzanne. Bar Code Tattoo. YA WEY
Gr 6 Up “It's 2025, and the thing to do on your 17th birthday is to get a bar code tattoo, which is used for everything from driver's licenses to shopping. Kayla, almost 17, resists because she hates the idea of being labeled. Then the tattoos begin to drive people to commit suicide, Kayla's father among them, and she soon finds out that the markings contain detailed information about their bearers, including their genetic code. When the government, controlled by a corporation called Global-1, makes the tattoo mandatory, Kayla joins a teen resistance movement and falls for a gorgeous guy, unaware that he's a double agent. She discovers she has some psychic ability and has confusing visions of future events. Forced to run away after being implicated in her mother's accidental death, she eventually joins other resisters hiding in the Adirondack Mountains, finds romance with an old friend, and learns to harness her psychic powers to fight Global-1 and fulfill her visions. Like M. T. Anderson's Feed (Candlewick, 2002), this novel examines issues of individuality versus conformity and individual freedom versus governmental control. Because it also deals with the ethics of enhanced genetics and cloning, it tries to cover too much territory and relies too heavily on coincidence and far-fetched plotting.

Whedon, Joss. Fray.
Hundreds of years in the future, Manhattan has become a deadly slum, run by mutant crime-lords and disinterested cops. Stuck in the middle is a young girl who thought she had no future, but learns she has a great destiny. In a world so poisoned that it doesn't notice the monsters on its streets, how can a street kid like Fray unite a fallen city against a demonic plot to consume mankind? Joss Whedon, the celebrated creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, brings his vision to the future in this unique tale. As inventive in the comics medium as in that of television of film, Whedon spins a complex tale of a skilled thief coming of age without the help of friends or family, guided only by a demonic Watcher. Fiction

Woodson, Jacqueline.
Behind You. YA WOO
Gr 8-10–In this poignant, stand-alone sequel to the wrenching romance, If You Come Softly (Putnam, 1998), Woodson's characters are dealing with grief and picking up the pieces of their lives after the death of 15-year-old Jeremiah (Miah) Roselind. The impact of their loss is revealed through the alternating voices of his white girlfriend, Ellie; basketball teammate, Kennedy; childhood friend, Carlton; and his separated parents. As a year passes and these characters take "a step deeper into their world…. The world they're learning to live in without you," Miah's spiritual voice searches for a final, parting moment to whisper that they are loved so that they can move on into their own futures. With tenderness and compassion, the author exposes the characters' vulnerabilities and offers the hope that they will emerge and grow from this tragic loss. Although the voices are distinct, a quiet, reflective tone pervades the story. Interestingly, each character opens up and changes in some way except Ellie's parents, who espouse liberal views but never accepted their daughter's African-American boyfriend or his friends. Readers who savor tough reality stories as much as happy endings will appreciate this thought-provoking, satisfying novel that offers hope but no easy answers. Fiction