professornana (professornana) wrote,

“The New Classics: Books for Tweens on Classic Themes”

“The New Classics: New Books for Tweens on Classic Themes”
Professor Nana Blog
Contact: Teri Lesesne

As part of the SHARE A STORY celebration, I am blogging today about new books for tweens that address classic themes. I decided this morning that books about family life probably best met the spirit of SHARE A STORY. So here are 6 books that celebrate all the different ways families play roles in books for tweens. What I love about these books is the diversity of the types of families portrayed: nuclear, extended, foster, but mostly just wonderful and supportive.

In THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE by Jacqueline Kelly, readers meet a 12 year old who has moved to rural Texas with her extended family of six brothers, mother and father and grandfather. Grandad is an amateur naturalist who, along with Callie, discovers a hitherto unknown species of vetch. Callie soon comes to realize that though she would love to become a scientist, society and its conventions might make that dream impossible.

In SAVVY by Ingrid Law, Mibs Beaumont is ready to celebrate her 13th birthday, a momentous one in her family since this is when her special ability, her "savvy" makes itself known. Who knows what the savvy will be? When her father is seriously injured in an accident, Mibs hopes that her savvy will be one that can save his life. She and her brothers begin a journey to the hospital. Along the way, Mibs' savvy becomes more apparent leading to a raucous set ofg adventures and misadventures. Ingrid Law's incredibly inventive use of language begs this one to be read aloud.

Jon Scieszka relates stories (and some tall tales) from his childhood in KNUCKLEHEAD. Growing up in a family of six boys certainly was interesting to say the least. Short chapters and doodles in the margins along iwth the comic book cover assure readers that this will be an enjoyable reading experience. Parents could share stories from their own youth after reading this book with their children and tweens.

THE WILLOUGHBYS by Lois Lowry ups the ante of books such as the Series of Unfortunate Events as readers encounter a family where the children do not really care for their parents and vice versa. The sharp tongue-in-cheek humor is perfect for readers with a well developed sense of humor and will delight adult readers, too. The children send their parents, who are distant and detached, away on a trip around the world hoping they will not return. The parents leave willingly not informing the children that they have put the house up for sale. This slim book sends up many of the poor unfortunate orphan books of my own childhood while providing hilarious twists and turns for even the most jaded readers.

PEACE, LOCOMOTION by Jacqueline Woodson is an award winning sequel that continues with the story of Lonnie Collins Motion. Lonnie and his sister live with two different foster families following the death of their parents in a fire. Lonnie is a budding author who, in a series of letters tells his sister about his memories of their family life and what is happening in his own home now that Lonnie's foster brother has returned home from his tour of Vietnam. Families come in many shapes and sizes, and this book shows the love that grows in families and helps its members address all of the problems they face.

David Almond gives readers an interesting look at a single parent family in MY DAD'S A BIRDMAN. Lizzie's father has entered a competition known as the Great Human Bird Competition. Family members and even outside agencies grow concerned about Dad's fervor (he has even taken to eating worms to get in the spirit of being a bird-man). But Lizzie comes to understand that time together, even trying to fly, is something to be cherished.

Polly Horvath is known for her eccentric characters and unexpected events. MY 100 ADVENTURES is no exception. Jane, 12, longs for a summer of 100 adventures. Be careful what you wish for, Jane. What lies ahead over the summer is a trip in a hot-air balloon dropping Bibles on unsuspecting people below, adventures in a seemingly interminable car ride, and other "adventures" that might lead to a new father in Jane's life.

Families do come in all shapes and sizes and configurations. Readers of this blog know I have a resident of the back bedroom, age 17, one of the 3 grandchildren my husband and I have reared for some time now. I was the child of a single parent family. Defining what one means by family depends upon perspective and experience. Allowing tweens to see all of the variations will, I think, help them develop a broad definition of family.

Speaking of family, here are some of my family members from blogville who are also talking today about SHARE A STORY:

“First Lines from Children’s Books”
The Pen and Ink Blog

“Something Old, Something New: Pairing Classic and New Favorites”
The Book Whisperer Blog

“When I Was Young: The Books That Got Them Started”
There’s a Book Blog

“Childhood Favorites”
Reading Countess Blog

“Dystopian Science Fiction”
Kate’s Book Blog

“Read Alouds in the Secondary Classroom”
Tags: share a story
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