Title: Can You Keep a Secret?
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella is both uplifting and hilarious. Kinsella is an author who is able to create light-hearted stories without making them predictable and cliche. While she has written many fabulous books, including Twenties Girl and Remember Me?, Can You keep a Secret stands out as having very relatable situations and characters, which makes them even more laugh-worthy. The story is about a girl named Emma, a terrified flyer on a bumpy plane ride. She is a flawed bundle of nerves, but that is exactly what makes her understandable and realistic to the reader. On her trip, she gets so nervous that she just starts talking…and talking…and talking…to the random stranger sitting next to her. She tells him literally everything, such as the fact that she waters her irritating co-worker’s plant with orange juice just to annoy her. Once the flight lands, Emma is terribly embarrassed, but at least knows that she will never have to see this man again. Think again! It turns out that the man is the CEO of Emma’s company! This man now knows EVERYTHING about Emma. and will see her every day. Just reading it makes me cringe!
I don’t laugh with books very often, but Sophie Kinsella is so funny, and all of her books are just as laughable and irresistible. Can You Keep a Secret? is a hilarious and embarrassing story that brings tears to your eyes. It is realistic, but not at all boring. It is the kind of story for a cozy day in bed because of its fast-paced, cause-and-effect-style plot. The best thing about Kinsella’s books is that you know exactly what you are getting: witty, sarcastic humor and lovable main characters. After reading this book, you can only hope that something like this never happens to you!
-Emily, grade 12
Title: The Kidney Hypothetical, or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days
Author: Lisa Yee
Higgs Boson Bing (yes, he was named for the God particle) has seven days left of his perfect high school career. Debate team captain, prom king, track team, co-valedictorian, early admission to Harvard, and a perfect girlfriend. Well, maybe not perfect because she’s not super-smart, but she’s super-hot and they make the perfect couple. Anyhow, he’s got seven days left. What could go wrong? And then his girlfriend asks a silly question, “Would you donate a kidney to me?” It’s a simple question, but Higgs gets it wrong.
In a cascading series of events, he is soon girlfriendless, then friendless, then the laughingstock of the entire school, and even his acceptance to Harvard comes under fire as someone launches a deliberate campaign to ruin his life.
Higgs is forced to question exactly what all his superficial achievements mean, and who they were really for in the funny, thoughtful Kidney Hypothetical by Lisa Yee.
Title: We Are All Made of Molecules
Author: Susin Nielsen
Stewart and his father are moving in with Ashley and her mother. He’s 87% excited; she’s 110% horrified.
Thirteen-year-old Stewart is gifted intellectually but not so great at the social/emotional stuff. He’s also getting over the death of his mother a couple years ago. Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the queen bee at her school, and she works hard to maintain her status. It’s difficult enough having to hide the fact that her parents split up because her father is gay. Adding Stewart – or Spewart – into the mix will not help.
The book goes back and forth from sweet and touching to laugh-out-funny as Stewart and Ashley take turns narrating their story of bullying, bigotry, tolerance, friendship, and family.
Title: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
Author: Tom Angleberger
This book is set up as a “case file” assembled by Tommy and including comments and drawings from his friends. Tommy is trying to get to the bottom of a strange problem: Is Origami Yoda real? “Does he really know things? Can he see the future? Does he use the Force? Or is he just a hoax that fooled a whole bunch of us?”
Origami Yoda was created by Dwight, and from his perch on Dwight’s finger, he speaks through Dwight in a surprisingly wise way. The reason this is so strange is that Dwight is so strange. Dwight is the weird kid who pulls his socks up over his knees when he wears shorts. The one who spewed apple juice all over the class cupcakes. The one who wanted everyone to call him Captain Dwight. So, he’s weird. Benign, but weird.
Origami Yoda, on the other hand, is a virtual fountain of wisdom and sage advice. You leaned against the wet bathroom sink and it looks like you peed your pants? Splash your whole body – it’s a water accident, not a potty accident. Problem solved! The thing is, if Dwight is such a weirdo, how does Yoda give such good advice? And if Yoda gives such good advice, why doesn’t Dwight listen to it? This is the conundrum Tommy is trying to solve, and it makes for a very entertaining book.
I started reading this on my lunch break and finished it at dinner. It’s a super-fast read (maybe 150 pages long), but there’s substance, too. The design of the book is fun. The pages are faux-crinkled, the fonts change depending on who’s telling the story, and there are lots of little doodle drawings and commentaries in the margins. The story continues in Darth Paper Strikes Back and The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee.
Title: Stupid Fast
Author: Geoff Herbach
Felton Reinstein, aka Rhinestone, aka Squirrel Nut, has always been a nobody. He’s got one good friend, and he gets picked on a lot because he’s small for his age – or at least, he used to be small for his age. In the couple of months leading up to his 16th birthday, Felton has had a massive growth spurt, adding 6 or 8 inches and almost 50 pounds to his frame.
On the outside, Felton’s now a powerful athlete who’s got football and track coaches begging him to join their teams. On the inside he’s still the same kid with a piano-prodigy little brother who’s obsessed with their father’s suicide and a mother who is slowly losing her grip on reality.
Stupid Fast manages to be funny while tackling some fairly serious issues. Felton is confused by a lot of what’s going on around him, and in true teenage fashion he does his best to ignore everything until it blows up in his face. The book ends on a positive note, and Felton’s story continues in Nothing Special.
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: The Last Dragonslayer
Author: Jasper Fforde
Jennifer Strange is a 16-year-old orphan who manages an employment agency for magicians. Business is slow because magic has been drying up over the last few decades. Once-powerful magicians have been reduced to attempting modest home improvements and delivering pizzas via magic carpet, until one of the magicians starts having visions of Big Magic. In the visions, someone is going to kill the last dragon, and it looks as though that someone is Jennifer. Is Jennifer really the last dragonslayer?!
Jasper Fforde is best known for his fantastical mystery series featuring literary detective Thursday Next. This is his first book for teens and also the first in a trilogy. The approach is very matter-of-fact; I mean, is there a more pedestrian name than Jennifer? And yet our practical, responsible young heroine does indeed turn out to play a major role in the upheaval facing her country. It’s a fun, quirky book with plenty of slapstick, puns and wordplay, and the best sort of dry British humor. And a dragon, of course.
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: Beat the Band
Author: Don Calame
Summer’s over and Matt, Sean, and Coop are ready to rock their sophmore year of high school. The problem? Coop’s been paired with epic loser “Hot Dog” Helen for a semester-long project on safe sex. How will he survive this social death sentence? By entering and winning the school’s battle of the bands contest. The thing is, the boys’ band, Arnold Murphy’s Bologna Dare (kind of an inside joke), is more theoretical than actual. Sure they rock Guitar Hero, but real instruments? Not so much. Coop is unstoppable, though, and whether they like it or not, Matt and Sean are along for the ride.
Beat the Band is every bit as funny as Swim the Fly. This time Coop tells the story, and he’s terrific as he wise-cracks his way through the book. There are tons of laugh-out-loud moments, although the scene in the library with the epic gas attack nearly killed me. As soon as you finish this, you’ll want to run – not walk – to get Sean’s story in Call the Shots.
–Lisa, Teen Librarian