Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gift Ideas for Teens

Some groups are just harder to buy for than others. Husbands are one - the ads say to buy them tools, but unless he has been dropping hints like Home Depot flyers with items circled, how do you know which ones? And if you could afford them, wouldn't he already have six? The office "non-gender-specific-around-$15" gift exchange can be a nightmare as well. Buy a set from Bath and Body, and guaranteed, the one guy in the room will draw that number. Ditto with the fancy chocolates or cocoa sets and the coworker on a diet.

Teens are definitely another one of those groups. There is just so much twilight paraphenalia in the stores, and they stopped letting us pick out clothes for them years ago. God bless the teen who collects something, and triple blessings upon those who love books!

In Tuesday's post, we gave a couple web sites where you can find upcoming releases. Commercial sites like Garnes and Noble and Amazon also allow you to search by publication dates. Today we are going to feature some books for teens that may have been out for a year or a decade, but which we think will still appeal to a wide variety of teens. Later this month we will feature favorite authors for the same age group.

Publisher's description: Though legally blind, Paul Fisher can see what others cannot. He can see that his parents' constant praise of his brother, Erik, the football star, is to cover up something that is terribly wrong. But no one listens to Paul—until his family moves to Tangerine. In this Florida town, weird is normal: Lightning strikes at the same time every day, a sinkhole swallows a local school, and Paul the geek finds himself adopted into the toughest group around: the soccer team at his middle school. Maybe this new start in Tangerine will help Paul finally see the truth about his past—and will give him the courage to face up to his terrifying older brother.

A rather intense book, full of social issues but by no means bogged down by them. Although the main character plays soccer and his older brother is a football star (and the sun around which the family revolves), it is not a sports book. Although there are a few mysteries to be solved, it is not a mystery novel. Although most of the main characters are male, it can easily be enjoyed by both genders. Not for teens who like light reading, but highly recommended for those who like to think. Word of warning, once your teen begins this book, do not attempt to draw them into everyday conversation until they have finished it!

Publisher's Description: Los Angeles is a place of movie stars and fast cars and people who are too rich and people who are too poor. An area of freeway chases and drive-bys and death. But there's another L.A., one where warmth and humor and humanity pervade. Where a tacqueria sign declares: "One cause, one people, one taco." This L.A. is a place where random acts of generosity and goodwill improve the lives of the community. Any Small Goodness is a novel filled with hope, love, and warmth.

This book runs the gamut of emotions, from humor to despair. The reading level, about 4th grade, and the pervasive element of hope, make it suitable for pre-teens or for family read-alouds, yet the themes of balancing who you are with wanting to fit in, or the feeling that sometimes no matter how hard you try to do the right thing, bad things still happen, make this story resonate with teens as well. A great book any time of year, but the last chapters are especially suited for Christmas.

What teen has not felt he was the odd one at times? Here, two boys who would seem to be exact opposites, but who are both more than they appear, team up to show the world (and themselves) that there are different kinds of strength, and different kinds of smart.

This is actually the link to the Audio CD, but we like the cover photo better:) Publisher's description:

Thirteen-year-old Steven has a totally normal life: he plays drums in the All-Star Jazz band, has a crush on the hottest girl in the school, and is constantly annoyed by his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey. But when Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia, Steven's world is turned upside down. He is forced to deal with his brother's illness and his parents' attempts to keep the family in one piece. Salted with humor and peppered with devastating realities, DRUMS, GIRLS, AND DANGEROUS PIE is a heartwarming journey through a year in the life of a family in crisis.

An amazing first novel in its own right, it is hard to believe Sonnenblick has not gone through these circumstances himself. These who have will find parts of it very familiar, while those who haven't will get a glimpse of what it is like to have a child inthe family with leukemia. Lest you think it is all about having a sick sibling, however, we refer you to the title words, which hint at all the other things going on in Steven's life - as things do.

A little bit of sci-fi, a little bit of mystery. Some readers report finding it slow at first, while others were hooked right away. A twist in the middle, however, gets the attention of both groups, and the ending leaves you wanting a sequel.

Publisher's Description: Maybe it was bad karma. Maybe it was just bad luck. Whatever the reason, fifteen-year-old David was born defective. His bug eyes, pinched face, and hearing aids are obvious, but there is a secret David keeps from everyone, even his foster parents. Because of a thin layer of skin hidden under each arm, David can fly—well, glide is more like it. Terrified of doctors, wary of letting down his guard, David is determined to hide his secret at any cost. But then David meets Cheetah, a girl whose own defect doesn’t diminish her spirit, and suddenly his life begins to take wing.

Don't worry, the bad pun at the end of the description is not indicative of the writing in the actual book! Intriguing selection for boys or girls.

There HAS to be a sequel to this, it was set up at the end to have a sequel, and we desperately WANT there to be a sequel, but one has not materialized yet. Yes, Ms. Plum-Ucci, we are directing those comments at you!

A sci-fi thriller that will appeal to your computer geeks, without being to technical for those of us who are still figuring out how to operate our blog. Characters' changing relationships, international intrigue, mistaken first impressions, terrorism, family ties - there is something for everyone in this thriller. Give it to your favorite teen so he or she can help us nag the author for another!

Gotta love a book that warns you up front, don't you? Yes, it does begin with the mother dying, but no, the book itself is not hideous. We'd have to say this is definitely a girl book, though. Written in verse, teens will find it an easy read, and will probably identify with the main character in several areas, even if their father is not a "megafamous actor/ who's been way too busy/ trying to win Oscars/ to even visit me once in fifteen years".


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