Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Best Book of the Year So Far: Middle School

Looking at my two picks tonight, I realized I had two distinct types represented: "Suitable for Middle School Readers" and "Tween."

The Bibliovore's Best Middle School Book of the Year (So Far)
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landry

I must have heard about this book from six or seven different bloggers. I thought for sure it couldn't be that good. I was wrong. I enjoyed the hell out of this book. (No pun intended.)

At thirteen years old, Stephanie has inherited an entire house. Unfortunately, the person she inherited it from was murdered . . . and she might be next. Lucky thing she's got the walking, talking skeleton on her side.

Tongue firmly in cheek, Landry takes us through a roller-coaster adventure with a sensible, gutsy heroine and a seen-it-all-and-done-more hero. Possibly the best example of why this book was so much fun can be contained in this quote from Stephanie, after Skulduggery Pleasant gives a long-winded and confusing explanation of something or other.

"Wait, I think I almost understood that . . ." The car went over a bump. "No, it's gone now."

I hope this blog isn't the first place you've heard about Skulduggery Pleasant, but if it is, run out and pick up your copy today.

Honorable Mention
The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney by Lauren Barnholdt

Devon Delaney's in trouble. See, while visiting her grandmother over the summer, she told her new friend Lexi all about her wild popularity and her cuter-than-cute boyfriend. Only problem? It was all a lie.

It seemed safe enough when Lexi didn't even go to her school, but guess who moved just before school started? Watch the feathers fly as Devon scrambles to make the facade real. The harder she works, though, the more she wonders if it's all worth it.

Tween books are strange animals. (Almost as strange as tweens.) There's a temptation to dismiss them as watered-down YA, but they are about a very specific period in a kid's life, not so much an age as a dividing line between child and teenager. Most kids trip over it. The best tween books, like The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney, show the trip, the splat, and the getting up again in brilliant 3-D.

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