Thursday, November 15, 2007

Children's Book Week: Day 4

We are winding down our week (only one day to go!) and today our focus is on two exceptional Young Adult novels published this year to much acclaim:

If you haven't read anything by Alan Gratz, now is the time, so you can be one of those who says, "Oh, I knew Alan back before he was famous." Alan's most recent book, Something Rotten: A Horatio Wilkes Mystery, a modern day Hamlet, is a clever retelling with a twist -- our wisecracking narrator-detective, Horatio Wilkes, is straight out of a Raymond Chandler novel. Horatio, on school break, arrives in Denmark, TN to visit his best friend Hamiliton, only to find that much is truly rotten in Denmark. Hamiliton's dad is dead, and it looks like murder -- his uncle has married his mother, and someone is polluting the town's river. Horatio is quickly on the case but distractions intercede and our hero must pull all the clues together before it is too late.

In Catherine Jinks' Evil Genius, protagonist Cadel Piggott is a genius, of the nefarious sort. At the age of 7, he is already hacking into computers and wreaking havoc on city infrastructure; soon after, his psychologist urges his adoptive parents to enroll him in an elite private school. Cadel soon discovers that it is really a front for for the Axis Institute, an educational institution that teaches "special" teens everything they need to know in World Domination, including embezzlement, disguise, forgery, lying, guerrilla warfare, and, well, you get the picture. Although he is initially entranced by his new-found place in this world and intoxicated by the carrot of power dangled before him, Cadell quickly learns the fine lines between good and evil and between trust and family bond.

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