Books & More from the Teen Scene

Book reviews and other reflections from one of Oregon's young adult librarians

“Road Trip” by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen April 28, 2013

Filed under: Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:24 pm
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Road Trip cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts

128 pages; published January 2013

The Basics

Ben’s father drags him away on a last-minute road trip on the first day of summer vacation. The mission: to pick up a border collie in need of rescue. The other mission: to get father and son to face what has been driving them apart. As their trip expands to include a random mish-mash of interesting characters, Ben and his dad both have the chance to face up to what is changing in their lives. Through it all, their dog, Atticus, keeps a close eye on them and shares his wise observations about these humans he has to keep in line.

The Booktalk

Atticus is a 15-year-old border collie who has done an excellent job of managing his family – Ben (the boy),  his Dad (the boss) and his Mom. But today – the first day of Ben’s summer vacation – Atticus is on high alert. He’s been dragged into the truck between Ben and Dad who are off on an unplanned trip to pick up a rescue puppy. As if this family needs a dog. Atticus doesn’t want a dog, of all things. Dogs are messy and needy. But Atticus has no choice but to go along, because he can see that something is wrong. The boss and the boy aren’t really getting along. The boy doesn’t know why the boss has been gone so much lately and the boss doesn’t seem to be able to find the right words to make him understand.

Then, they keep inviting other people along on the ride – the boy who smells like smoke, the man who smells like grease, and the girl who smells like pancakes and bacon. There’s a lot of people and some strange things going on, but Atticus is just to dog to sniff out what’s right and what’s wrong as the Road Trip really takes off.

Random Thoughts

This slim offering is a joint venture between the author of the deeply beloved Hatchet and his son. It is good, clean fun for middle grade readers looking for something that really moves along, especially readers who enjoy animals. The chapters written in the voice of Atticus, the border collie, add the perfect touch to the story.


“Poison” by Bridget Zinn April 2, 2013

Filed under: Fantasy,Fiction,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 11:41 am
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Images courtesy of

The Facts

288 pages; published March 2013

The Basics

Kyra is on the run after a failed attempt to assassinate her best friend and the future queen of Mohr. As a Master Potioner and weapons expert who never, never misses, Kyra knows the attempt on her friend’s life should not have failed. And she knows – as only she can know – that Mohr will be destroyed if she doesn’t find the princess and finish the job. If only her life weren’t being complicated by the entire kings guard, one awfully cute little pig, and one distractingly handsome traveler named Fred who keeps wandering into her path.


Kyra is really just like any other 16-year-old girl. Except that she’s a super-clever and resourceful potions master. And a weapons expert that never misses (well, there was that one time …) Oh, and the best friend of the princess of the Kingdom of Mohr who Kyra recently tried to kill for very good reasons that no one else knows about.

But she missed (how did that happen, again?), which turned Kyra into a fugitive, on the run from the king’s army and just about everyone else. Her only companion is her weapons, her wit, her potioner’s bag, and a seeker pig that just couldn’t be cuter. Also, there is the matter of the devastatingly handsome Fred and his dog Langley who keep appearing out of nowhere and hanging around.

In fact, Kyra isn’t much like any other girl or anyone you’ve ever met or read about. Which is why readers – especially those looking for good, clean fantasy – should rush to get their hands on the non-stop action, witty fun, and wild twists and turns of Poison.

Random Thoughts

  • The sad part of this very enjoyable book is that the author died at the age of just 31 and did not live to see its publication. Her friends and fellow authors have championed her legacy in an amazing and touching way. I offer my thanks to Inara Scott – author The Talents and The Marked – for recommending it.
  • If I had better aim, I can think of times when I would love to have some of Kyra’s throwing needles dipped in Doze.