Are you looking for a book for your young people to have along on vacation, or just to spend the lazy summer days enjoying, but discouraged by the YA offerings?
Here are a couple I’ve read recently, one for boys, one for girls, but of course both perfectly acceptable for either.
One boring weekend when I was 11, I opened a boring sounding book and did not shut it at all until the last page. It was Ash Road by Ivan Southall, about some kids in the Australian bush who coincidentally all ended up home alone when a forest fire raged through their community. It was suspenseful, and must have marked me because I was 11 years old five decades ago. Since I still remember it, I wondered if this author had written others, and found Hill’s End. I could barely put it down. Again, it is about several children in a remote and isolated community who accidentally are separated from adults when a devastating cyclonic storm rips through their mountain area reeking destruction. Sounds a little formulaic? Well, good formulas work for a reason. Not only are his books nail biters, they are valuable for showing ordinary kids what extraordinary capabilities they have within themselves, untold dormant ingenuities, which, when life and death are at stake, can rise not just to save the day, but encourage them to face any event life may send their way. The kids in his stories are diverse in personality, range from 7 to 15 years in age, and will appeal to any children in that age range as from youngest to oldest, each plays a part in their survival.
The other exciting book I read takes place in eastern Africa, with a detour to England and back. Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan was also a gripper as a 13-year-old girl is suddenly orphaned during the worldwide influenza epidemic of 1919. Tragedy turns to a test of wills and wits as an unscrupulous British family, under guise of care and protection, entrap Rachel in a web of greed and lies. This extraordinary heroine not only shows courage and fortitude, but sees justice done, makes her way as a woman through medical school, and returns to Africa to rebuild her parents’ dream. I haven’t given a thing away, however, because how she manages all this is what keeps you turning the pages to find out how she triumphs.
Even if you don’t take your young teens to another continent this summer, these books will take them to unknown places for you.