Thursday, November 21, 2013

Soaring Eagle nominees 2013-2014

It's been a particularly busy fall this year, so I have not yet posted reviews of this year's Soaring Eagle book award nominees.  Our staff has, however, already been in one junior high school to do booktalks for these titles, and will be visiting our city's second junior high next month.

To refresh your memories -- the Soaring Eagle book award is sponsored by the Wyoming Library Assocaition and the Wyoming Reading council, to introduce students in 7th-12th grade to a variety of young adult literature.  The nominations come from students in this age group; are reviewed by a state committee; and are narrowed to this list.  After students have several months to read the titles, they can vote for their favorite each spring. 

This year, 13 titles made the final nomination list: a variety of science fiction, dystopia, fantasy and reality fiction.  To begin, this week I will review three titles that are geared toward the younger end of the target group.  All three of these titles offer action and adventure, and will particularly appeal to boys:

Framed,  by Gordon Korman:  Gordon Korman has been our visiting author in the junior high schools this week; each year, Campbell County Public Recreation District grant money allows the library to bring an author to visit in the junior high schools.  Framed, part of his Swindle series, has been popular with middle school and junior high readers.  In the first book of the series, Swindle, we meet Griffin Bing, the "Man with a Plan."  Griffin, it seems, always has a scheme for getting rich or making it big, and he always has a group of friends willing to do whatever he tells them . . . unfortunately, his plans result in more trouble than riches!  In Framed, Griffin is in more trouble than ever.  When he has to wear an ankle alarm; when even his parents don't believe him; when the only person who will talk to him is the meanest kid in JFK . . . then what?  Then Griffin's friends come up with a plan of their own -- to find the Super Bowl ring that Griffin is accused of stealing, and find the real thief . . . even if it ends up being the school principal! 

Framed is the third title in this series:  others are Swindle, Zoobreak, and Showoff.  In his school presentation this week, Korman said he intends to write eight books for this series, so Griffin's adventures will continue!

I, Q.: Kitty Hawk, by Roland Smith:  In the first book of this series, I, Q: Independence Hall, Q. (short for Quentin) and his new stepsister, Angela, think that they are just normal teenagers, dealing with a newly-blended family. Well, maybe not THAT normal – their parents are world-famous musicians, after all.  They quickly discover, however, that their world is even less normal than they thought: Angela’s mother is a deep-level undercover spy who is infiltrating a terrorist group in hopes of destroying it. In a fast-paced adventure that includes a 100- year-old dog, a CIA agent/ bus driver, and Q’s unusual “itches,” the team travels all over the United States to stop the terrorists.

In this third book, Q., Angela, and the others must stop a bombing at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and rescue the daughter of the President of the United States. . . all before a hurricane smashes into the Eastern seaboard.

Other titles in the series include I, Q: The White House; I, Q: The Alamo (just released) and I, Q: The Windy City ( out in January 2014).

The Outcasts, by John Flanagan:   John Flanagan, author of the Ranger’s Apprentice series, takes us back to his historic fiction world in The Outcasts, the first title in his spin-off series, The Brotherband Chronicles. This time, readers find themselves in the northern kingdom of Skandia, in a time after Erak has been Oberjaarl for nearly twenty years.

One of Erak’s sailors, a fighter named Mikkel, was killed in a freak accident, and left behind a son, Hal. Now, Hal is nearly sixteen years old, and will soon begin his own Brotherband training to join the crews of the vast sailing and raiding ships. The trouble is, Hal, being fatherless and of mixed lineage, is taunted and even bullied by the other boys in town.  Sometimes it seems that his only friend is a decrepit old man named Thorne – the town drunk. How will Thorne be able to help Hal begin his Brotherband training? Could it be that there is more to Thorne than Hal – or anyone else – has realized?
The Outcasts is followed by further adventures of Hal and the boys of Skandia:  The Hunters and The Invaders.
Even though these books are written for a 6th to 8th grade audience, they offer great stories and fun adventures; I enjoyed them all, particularly The Outcasts. I hope you've found something here for yourself, or a boy reader in your life.  Next time, we'll look at some titles with more appeal for a female audience.

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