The Piper's Son,
Melina Marchetta (ARC - Official release March 2011).
Candlewick: Boston. ISBN 978-0-7636-4758-2
Josh may be just your average English schoolboy, but his dad is a renowned Mexican archaeologist working on finding a lost ancient Mayan scroll foretelling the end of the world in 2012. But when he is killed in a very suspicious plane crash on a fact finding mission in Mexico, Josh is left with more questions than answers about his father’s work, his dealings with a beautiful young woman in Mexico, and most importantly, about whether or not the crash was actually an accident. Josh sets off to find the answers to his questions in Mexico with two of his friends, but things get fishy almost immediately and he is separated from them and on the run for his life in the Mexican jungle. Josh discovers not only what his father was looking, but also a city lost to the known world deep in the Mexican jungle, and more shockingly that his family is deeply entwined in the prophecy regarding the end of the world in 2012. This story is an adrenaline filled adventure with a several jolting pensive moments, and is peppered with interesting historical facts about Mayan civilization (like how to read hieroglyphs) and fun sci-fi twists. It is recommended for boys in grades 5-8, particularly series readers, as this appears to be the first of at least two (The Joshua Files).
I procured my ARC copy of this book back in January at ALA’s midwinter, when the pub date of May 2010 seemed a long way off. And look at todays date, when I am finally posting the review I just wrote. Well played, madam. Since I figured I needed to read more books clearly marketed to boys, it was the first in my giant stack I picked up, and I was actually pleasantly surprised, largely because the writing, unlike many of the boy market generated books, is actually pretty solid, and the story, while somewhat predictable at points, manages to feel original and exciting! The author isn’t afraid to shock his readers; I actually got a little teary after the loss of a certain character. Allegedly. With 2012 and the predicted end of the world around the corner, I think this is a fun book to pick up, and easy to sell to boys of the upper elementary/middle school years. Mostly, I really want to see the real cover. My ARC cover promises me that the “final cover will include special effect.” Like WHAT. Because magpie that I am, I like me some shiny things, Walker & Co.!
In related but not news, while going to post this, I discovered that it is not actually coming out until July 20th, and that the author is in fact a woman. To which I say well played, because I really thought that with the way this character thinks and talks, said androgynously named M.G. Harris did not possess a Y chromosome. Well played Lady Harris! Finally – what is up with the new cover? The art is really gorgeous...but my ARC cover is much more cool grown up thriller book looking. Behold:
If you are an eleven year old boy trying to look cool, which are you going to pick up? I think my point makes itself. But more importantly: Where are those promised special effects?
Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn
On a small island nation that reveres the English nation, tragedy strikes when a sign with the country motto “A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” begins to loose its letters. With each fallen letter banned from being spoken or written under the fear of banishment or death, the islanders are in a race to find a new motto including every letter in the English language – before they are silenced all-together!
(Good for high schoolers who can appreciate the wordplay and/or are learning about exile).
Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
A young man sets off on a quest into the walled off world of Faerie to find a fallen star for his beloved, who has promised him a kiss if he brings it back to her. This new fairy tale is filled with adventure, humor, danger, romance, wit, and magic; in short, just what every non-Grimm fairy tale needs!
(Fun! Fun! I love fairy tales! Great for 8th-10th graders and older; some sexytimes if that is a concern for you. Probs an easier sell to girls than boys, but the added perk of a movie may sway reluctant readers.)