Books that Boys Can Dig (Even If Reading Is Not Their Thing)

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Who says boys don't like to read? These books, filled with adventures, kid-heroes, and spooky goings-on, will thrill even the most reluctant reader.

And while these tales feature boys who do amazing deeds, lets us not forget books or series that feature prominent pigs (or, at least, mention them in some trifling way). There's Kate McMullan's series for the Dragon Slayer's Academy, which has many books, including Knight for a Day and my personal favorite, Pig Latin: Not Just For Pigs. There's Arnold Lobel's classic, The Book of Pigericks, with thirty-eight pig limericks. And while not truly porcine, I can heartily recommend Super Guinea Pig to the Rescue by Udo Weigelt.

Yours with snorts,

S. Will Burr signature


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Whale Talk
By Crutcher, Chris

A big yellow Cutter High School bus provides surprising sanctuary for seven unlikely teammates, swimmers who become, in the words of Coach Simet. "A perennial road team. Mermen without a pond." Meet Chris Coughlin, Daniel Hole, Tay-Roy Kibble, Simon DeLong, Jackie Craig, Andy Mott, and the unforgettable T. J. Jones -- invisible kids who resonate because Chris Crutcher sees them, believes in them, and lets them speak. Why do they need sanctuary? Why do they swim? Listen. It's all here in this riveting, tragic, funny, page-turner of a novel-a story that only Chris Crutcher could write.

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
By Alexie, Sherman

Publisher Comments
Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.

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The Book Without Words: A Fable of Medieval Magic
By Avi

The Book Without Words appears to be a volume of blank parchment pages. But for a green-eyed reader filled with great desire, it may reveal the forgotten magical arts of making gold and achieving immortality. For generations, its magic has been protected from those who would exploit it. But on a terrible day of death and destruction, The Book Without Words falls into the hands of a desperate boy.

Publisher Comments
In the dark of winter in the town of Dulwich, people are more desperate than ever. There's little food, little money, and even less hope. But what the people of Dulwich do have in abundance are secrets. And one man, Godric, has devoted his life to the illegal practice of alchemy in the quest to uncover the Great Secret: of making gold, and of immortality. Yet just as he is on the brink of a great discovery, he keels over, nearly dead.

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid
By Kinney, Jeff

BookPage Notable Title
2008 Buckeye Children's Book Award—Winner 3-5

An exciting new series begins. Greg Heffley is thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.

Review by Becky Ohlsen
Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid: A Novel in Cartoons is told from the point of view of Greg, a boy whose mom makes him keep a journal about his life. A childlike scrawl and scribbly line drawings illustrate the story. The writing is sharp, and the artwork, though deceptively simple, is both entertaining and expressive—it makes an efficient storytelling tool, adding comic punch to these funny-because-they're-true scenes from the life of a picked-on student who's just trying to make it through school in one piece.

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By Paulsen, Gary

A 14-year-old Eskimo boy who feels assailed by the modernity of his life takes a 1,400-mile journey by dog sled across ice, tundra, and mountains, seeking his own "song" of himself. A Newbery Honor Book; ALA Notable Children's Book; ALA Best of the Best for Young Adults; "Booklist" Editors' Choice; "School Library Journal" Best Book of the Year.

Publisher Comments
"In the Old Days There Were Songs"

Something is bothering Russel Susskit. He hates waking up to the sound of his father's coughing, the smell of diesel oil, the noise of snow machines starting up.

Only Oogruk, the shaman who owns the last team of dogs in the village, understands Russel's longing for the old ways and the songs that celebrated them. But Oogruk cannot give Russel the answers he seeks; the old man can only prepare him for what he must do alone. Driven by a strange, powerful dream of a long-ago self and by a burning desire to find his own song, Russel takes Oogruk's dogs on an epic journey of self-discovery that will change his life forever.

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The King's Fifth
By O'Dell, Scott
Illustrator Bryant, Samuel

In this deeply affecting novel Scott O'Dell envelops the reader in the heroic world of the conquistadors, a world that is at once somber and many-colored. ruthless they may have been, these steel-helmeted young men of Spain, but they lived their lives on the very edge of eternity with style and uncommon courage.

Publisher Comments
While awaiting trial for murder and withholding from the king the obligatory fifth of the gold found in Cibola, Esteban, a seventeen-year-old cartographer, recalls his adventures with a band of conquistador.

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The Angel Experiment
By Patterson, James

2007 Gateway Reader's Award 2nd place
2005 ALA Young Adult Top Ten Selection

Patterson's explosive debut in the young adult market. From Death Valley, California, to the bowels of the NYC subway system, 14-year-old Max leads her five feisty "family" members on a journey of action, adventure, and soul-seeking.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.