Saturday, June 16, 2012

ashley's picks

perfect for a day underneath a tree in the park, on a blanket in the sand, for a few hours squished on a plane, or whenever you feel like taking a pleasant literary journey, here are some recommendations for young adults, kids and kids at heart for the summer.



the future of us by jay asher & carolyn mackler
when two high-schoolers pop a cd-rom touting free access to AOL in their computer, a strange website appears where they are asked to ‘friend’ people and ‘like’ their comments.  the website address is equally confusing, with ‘facebook’ in the title.  but it’s 1996.  ‘facebook’ hasn’t been invented, yet there they are, profiles of themselves fifteen years into the future.  and even more mysterious, actions that they took that day oddly change their status as they return to this curious website.  what consequences will they face as they tamper with the knowledge of who they will become, and what, if anything, will make them happy that far into the future?  perfect for the neophyte technophile in your life.


the catastrophic history of you and me
by jess rothenberg
who knew that it IS actually possible to die of a broken heart?  on the surface it seems like your typical first-crush-ends-in-tragedy-and-then-a-return-from-the-grave-to-learn-the-shocking-truth-about-what-was-really-going-on-in-your-life-and-getting-revenge-seems-like-the-best-option-and-the-after-life-guide-assigned-to-you-is-kind-of-cute-but-you-would-give-anything-to-have-your-life-back story, but is it really?  san francisco provides the perfect backdrop and the five stages of grief provide a template for this heartfelt post-mortem love story.

the statistical probability of love at first sight by jennifer e. smith
she missed her flight by four minutes, to go to a wedding she didn’t want to attend with people she has bitter feelings for.  and if hadley thought her life was turned upside-down due to her parents recent divorce, she was in for a big surprise when she met oliver at the airport, who sits in 18c on the next flight. her seat? 18a.  mysterious and british, he helps her see that her own attitudes toward family and love could use a new perspective.  sweet, poignant and romantic all at once.


me and earl and the dying girl  by jesse andrews
greg and his foul-mouthed best friend earl worship the films of werner herzog.  so much so that they make their own films with a very loose understanding of plot, characterization and story (read: containing none of those things).  but when a childhood ‘acquaintance’ (read: one of his first attempts at having a girlfriend) is diagnosed with cancer and his mom forces him to be nice to her, all his preconceived notions of what is good and right in the world go out the window, especially when she expresses how much she likes those cacophonous visual montages he calls ‘movies’ and what they actually turn out to be in the end (read: a surprise for all).  

middle grade (8-12 years old)


13 gifts  by wendy mass
Tara just got herself into a heap of trouble at the end of the school year, the kind that gets her sent to stay with her aunt and uncle for the summer instead of madagascar like originally planned.  she soon discovers not is all that it seems in the sleepy little town, especially when she finds herself indebted (as in her eternal soul type of debt) to someone who may or may not be the oldest resident, who knows more than she should and offers her a chance to collect 13 items in exchange for her help (as in getting her eternal soul out of hot water type of help).      


alien on a rampage by clete barrett smith
“so, what did you do for summer vacation, david?”
“oh, nothing major.  i went to my grandmother’s and discovered her bed and breakfast is actually a waystation for vacationing extra-terrestrials!  i can’t wait to go back!”
(spoiler alert: little does david know that upon his return he will uncover a plot to destroy the planet!)


horten’s miraculous mechanisms by lissa evans
it all started when stuart’s parents decided to move to the seemingly sleepy little town of beeton, despite his sullen protests.  when he arrives, a mystery surrounding a long lost relative who just so happened to be a magician draws him into a delightfully charming adventure including some unbelievable happenstances and some rather odd neighbors in the form of triplets named april, may and june who just so happen to be remarkably good at, i mean investigative journalism.


merits of mischief: the bad apple by t.r. burns
the kilter academy for troubled youth prides itself on accepting even the most unruly, undisciplined and difficult of children and thoroughly...rewards them for mischievous behaviour?!?!  full of whimsy and clever twists and turns, a definite must-read manual for benevolent troublemakers everywhere.

last but not least, my favorite book this season (for all ages)


the one and only ivan  by katherine applegate
humorous and heartwarming, poignant and thought-provoking, and a whole slew of words that escape me but would be perfect to describe just how wonderful this book is.  ivan, a gorilla in captivity since he was a juvenile, offers his thoughts about his art (when he is tired of drawing he eats his crayons), his philosophy on patience (he counts the days in a continuous tally) and ruminates on his own misunderstood intelligence (“try knuckle-walking for an hour.  you tell me: which way is more fun?”).  this story will delight kids of all ages and perhaps the next time you get the feeling the animals at the zoo are watching you with curious eyes, you may be right.

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