Category Archives: young adult fiction

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner

This book is a classic by now. How did such a thin little book become both a classic bestseller as well as a major motion picture?
Because it is a good story! A heart string pulling, tear jerking good tale.

Little Willy’s grandfather is sick, and it’s up to Willy to save their farm from tax collectors. Their only hope is the prize money from the National Dogsled Race. But a lot of other people want to win the race, too, including Stone Fox, who has never lost a race in his life.
Do Willy and his dog Searchlight stand a chance against the toughest racers around? Can they win the race to save the farm — and Grandfather — before it’s too late?

I was lucky to have met the author, John Gardiner. He seemed a very kind man and was supportive of me as a fellow writer. We had a great chat about the struggles of writing, editing and rewriting. He showed me his first original manuscript. The paper was covered in red. It seems that every single word of it had been crossed out and edited. “I am dyslexic. I couldn’t write at all…”, he said.
I was in awe that his story had gone on to do so well.

Then, to my utter surprise, a few weeks later I received the Dutch version of Stone Fox in the mail. “I can’t read it anyway so you enjoy!” he said.
And enjoy Stone Fox I have! A book that every teacher and parent should read aloud with their children.

Lesson Plans: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/stone-fox-lesson-plan

Go and Come Back

Go and Come Back by Joan Abelove

One of the reasons I love being part of a YA book group, is that it sometimes makes me read a book I would not necessarily choose myself. Go and Come Back is the perfect example. The cover is dark and unattractive. I don’t think I would have picked it up. But when my wonderful YA book group in Eugene, Oregon decided to read it, I bought a copy. I have treasured it ever since.

In this multi-award-winning novel, two female American anthropologists come to stay in a jungle village near the Amazon. The villagers are initially skeptical, especially teenaged Alicia. But as the months go on, Alicia finds herself drawn in, even becoming friends with one of the women.

Oddly, this is not a YA novel I would easily recommend to any child. But as a writer I am fascinated with how well it is written. The voice of a child in Peru is totally authentic. The book gives a glimpse into a foreign culture, which includes daily and social habits with which I was not at all familiar. I found it an intriguing story, well written and captivating.

Goodreads.com has this information about the author:

Joan Abelove is an American writer of young adult novels. She attended Barnard College and has a Ph.D in cultural anthropology from the City University of New York. She spent two years in the jungles of Peru as part of her doctoral research and used the experience as background for her first novel, Go and Come Back (1998). Go and Come Back earned numerous awards and citations, including a “Best Books for Young Adults” selection of the American Library Association and “Book Prize Finalist” selection of the Los Angeles Times. she also wrote Saying it Out Loud. She is also in a critique group with Gail Carson Levine, writer of “Ella Enchanted” and “Writing Magic”, a guide for child authors who wish to make their stories better. Joan Abelove now lives in New York city with her husband and son.

ISBN: 0141306947 (ISBN13: 9780141306940)

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

I am in awe of the fact that a writer, Gail Carson Levine, can take a well known, ancient fairy tale, and give it a life of its own. Who knew that Cinderella, the shallow character from a short story, could have and would have such depth, such an amazing tale to tell!

At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been burdened by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: “Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.”
When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella’s life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and spunky nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you’ll ever read.

“Gail Carson Levine’s examination of traditional female roles in fairy tales takes some satisfying twists and deviations from the original. Ella is bound by obedience against her will, and takes matters in her own hands with ambition and verve. Her relationship with the prince is balanced and based on humor and mutual respect; in fact, it is she who ultimately rescues him. Ella Enchanted has won many well-deserved awards, including a Newbery Honor.”

Paperback, 240 pages, Scholastic Books
ISBN 0590920685 (ISBN13: 9780590920681)

Discussion Guide for Gr 3-5 and Gr 6-8: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/ella-enchanted-discussion-guide