Frogged by Vivian Vande Velde
Available now from Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
When Princess Imogene tries to help who she thinks is a prince cursed to be a frog, she ends up a frog herself. But she must pass the curse on to someone else to save herself and Imogene has enough fortitude not to do that.
Imogene is just a little younger than thirteen and it shows in her actions. She's not unintelligent, just young and sheltered. Her eventual traveling companion, Luella, is a delight. She's the butt of a mean joke at first, but she turns out to be more. This is not my favorite of Vande Velde's books, but FROGGED is a fun little fractured fairytale. It's also quite funny.
The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis (Seven Wonders, Book 1)
Available now from Harper (HarperCollins)
I first became aware of Peter Lerangis during the Columbia Publishing Course's Book Workshop. He's written more than a hundred books for children and young adults, including entries in the popular series The 39 Clues. His new series, Seven Wonders, is obviously aimed at the Percy Jackson demographic of his fellow 39 Clues author Rick Riordan.
THE COLOSSUS RISES begins with Jack McKinley getting sick, collapsing in the street, and briefly waking up in the hospital before coming to at a strange Academy. He and the other kids there have special abilities, but the price is that they'll die within the year. What comes next is a fast-paced adventure with plenty of puzzles to solve. Lerangis does a good job setting up the world and search for the McGuffins, so I hope future Seven Wonders books will develop the four kids more.
My main complaint would be that Aly is the only girl. There are three boys - Jack, Marco, and Cass - why not two boys and two girls? There's no indication as to the kids' race. All four are thirteen, but I think this book will appeal most to slightly younger readers.
Kevin by Paul Kupperberg
Available now from Gosset & Dunlap (Penguin) in partnership with Archie Comics
Paul Kupperberg's novel based on the Kevin Keller character created by Dan Parent may not be as magical as the others I've reviewed today, but it is pretty sweet. I was a bit worried when I read that the storyline dealt with Kevin's middle school year, when he wasn't a hot out jock but instead a bullied awkward kid. I was afraid it would be a step back into an older, more stereotypical storyline.
But the bullying is because Kevin's a nerd, not because of his sexuality. (Not that that makes it alright.) In fact, he's just discovering his sexuality. There is some homophobic bullying, but since this is the Archie-verse the strongest insult used is "pansy." KEVIN is short and simple, but it's a good storyline. Stand up for your friends, don't be ashamed of who you are, and you should pay attention to your dad's judo lesson. Older fans of the Kevin Keller comic might be bored, but younger fans should enjoy his foray into novels.