I've had numerous requests to review more books suitable for older readers, and that's what you'll find today. Keep in mind that when I list a book as appropriate for age 11 or 12, those books can also be enjoyed by teenagers. In fact, many adults may find these books worthwhile reading. Frankly, I had trouble putting all of them down, and I'm 50.
To put it another way, an elderly library patron wrote to tell me that she selects most of her reading material from the Young Adult (YA) section of her library because, as she put it, "I want to read something that won't break my glasses." That's what's reviewed below. Take a look for yourself.
Books to Borrow
The following book is available at many public libraries.
"The City of Ember" by Jeanne DuPrau, Random House, 288 pages
Read aloud: age 11-12 and older.
Read yourself: age 11-12 and older.
No one can remember a time before the city of Ember. For as much as the residents know, Ember is all there is. Outside the city limits is complete and utter darkness, and anyone who has mustered the courage to venture out into it has quickly returned to report the nothingness, the pitch black, and the terror they experienced.
So the people of Ember stay where they are. The darkness outside of the city is kept at bay by the generator that supplies them with a dull, yellow light. But the lights are starting to flicker, and the people don't know what they'll do if they stop working.
When Lina discovers pieces of an ancient document that seems to provide an important message, she shares it with her friend, Doon, and he and Lina are convinced that the message reveals directions out of the city to another place, a place that is safe and new. But the two must harness courage and a fast plan of escape to try and save themselves and the people of Ember before the lights go out forever.
Compelling, suspenseful, futuristic yet eerily realistic, this outstanding novel will command the attention of older readers and listeners.
Library: Carson City Library, 900 North Roop St., Carson City
Library Director: Sally Edwards
Youth Services Librarian: Susie King
Choices this week: "Crispin: Cross of Leads" by Avi; "The Giver" by Lois Lowry; "Red Midnight" by Ben Mikaelsen
Books to Buy
The following books are available at favorite bookstores.
"The Miner's Daughter" by Gretchen Moran Laskas, Simon & Schuster, 2007, 250 pages, $15.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 12 and older.
Read yourself: age 12 and older.
In a West Virginia coal mining town during the Great Depression, Willa Lowell and her family struggle to survive. The oldest girl of the family, 16-year-old Willa longs for a better life; for enough food to eat, a piece of clothing that isn't thread-bare and patched, a chance to go back to school, a house that is more than a shack, and maybe the love of a special boy to share her dreams. But all of that seems as impossible as eliminating the choking black coal dust that filters into every aspect of life in her shanty town.
Despite the deep love the family shares, the hard times slowly worm their way into Willa and her family, leaving them more ragged by the week. Then, like a miracle, an opportunity for a brighter future for the Lowell family comes knocking. Excited by the prospect, Willa quickly comes to learn that her family's miracle isn't meant for everyone, and she is torn. Will she find the strength inside her to do the right thing?
Flawlessly written, "The Miner's Daughter" is a powerful story of hardship, courage, love, and one girl's determination to find herself amidst seemingly impossible odds.
"The Navigator" by Eoin McNamee, Wendy Lamb Books, 2007, 352 pages, $15.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 10 and older.
Read yourself: age 11-12 and older.
Young Owen sensed there was something different about that afternoon; somehow the world had shifted. His house, his mother, and the life he knew had vanished. Rescued by the Resisters, he is informed of the fate of the world - the Resisters' enemies, the Harsh, were making time flow backward. If the Resisters failed to stop the Harsh, the familiar world Owen knew would cease to exist. As Owen joins their fight, he becomes aware of the pivotal role he must play to restore time and save the world, at least for now.
A multi-layered sci-fi adventure boasting an eclectic cast of characters and non-stop suspense, "The Navigator" guarantees to take readers on an extraordinary ride.
• Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children's literature. She can be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.