As my summer gift this year, I thought I would give the book clubbers a loot bag with little things commemorating each book we had read.  But at the second-to-last meeting someone mentioned how excited they were about getting a ‘surprise’ book at our last meeting like last year.  So I knew the tradition had been set and I was destined to picking eight great summer reads that no one had read yet! 

I met a wonderful employee at our local Chapters who knew as much about current young adult literature as anyone I had met before.  She had been told I was coming in (I first stopped by on a Friday and she wasn’t there so I came back on the Monday) and had a list of books ready for us to review.  I have to say I was not only impressed, but very excited as well!  I ended up buying books for all the club members plus a few extra for us.  Here’s the list of what the kids unwrapped at our last meeting and their comments from our meeting when we got back:

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is about time travel and has lots to talk about on what it would be like to live in New York City in different times, how independent children were in the past, and could be a great book club discussion.  Unfortunately, two members had already read it – a common problem when you have such avid readers in your group!

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt is told completely from the animals’ perspectives.  It deals with abuse and is quite sad, but would be great for discussions on inner strength, standing up for yourself, and hope.

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke was a tedious and wordy book according to the club member who got this as her summer read.  This is saying something given how big a reader this girl is.  Although I really liked some of Funke’s other novels, I didn’t go any farther with this one.

Guys Read by Jon Scieszka was a bunch of short stories that were interesting and fun for the summer, but not necessarily cut out for a whole book club meeting.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly was a great read about a girl growing up with six brothers and all the changes that occur when growing up.  This was read over the summer by one of our boy members and he felt it was one his favourite books ever.  Sadly, it was not brought to the first meeting and therefore not given a proper recommendation.  Perhaps next year!

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine was another good choice for book club, and I’m not saying that just because it was my daughter who received this book and I read it as well!  It was a heart-wrenching story about a girl with Asperger’s syndrome who loses her brother in a school shooting.  Her brother helped her work through social issues and when he dies, Caitlin has to figure out ways to help herself and her grief-stricken father.  It’s a rich book with lots of layers – I hope we will pick it up sometime as a book club selection.

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