Zombies, Bombs, and Supers: New Books for Older Readers

falloutFallout by Todd Strasser 
During the summer of 1962, Scott’s dad starts building a bomb shelter in case of a nuclear attack. Everyone in the neighborhood thinks he is crazy, even Scott’s best friend Ronnie, but when a bomb is actually dropped their neighbors are frantic to get into the shelter. It was made to hold four people with enough supplies to last just a couple of weeks but 10 people have managed to squeeze inside. Tension in the shelter is building as they wait for the radiation levels to drop off but quickly dwindling supplies and uncomfortably close living quarters might force them out before it is safe. If they ever do get out, what will life be like? Will it even be worth living? This book takes a somewhat uncomfortable look at basic human nature in response to disaster. While it is not for the faint of heart, it is a suspenseful page-turner that a fearless kid would love.

RUMPCoverHighResRump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff
Forget what you have heard about Rumpelstiltskin, the wicked little man who can turn straw into gold, for this book tells the true story. Rump is a little boy whose mother dies before she can tell everyone his full name, so he is stuck with the name Rump. In a land where names are powerful, Rump believes that his half-name is the reason for his problems, including why he stopped growing at the age of eight. When he discovers that he can spin straw into gold he realizes that this gift is really a curse. Rump is forced to accept whatever someone offers him for his gold… even a baby. He goes on a quest for his full name so that he can be free of his spell once and for all. Shurtliff has created a fantastical world filled with humor, greed, and piles of gold. Readers will not want to leave this magical land where friendship and bravery can overcome any odds.

LokisWolvesLoki’s Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr
The town of Blackwell, South Dakota is home to the descendants of Norse gods, including Matt Thorsen, expert on Norse mythology and descendant of the god Thor. When he is chosen by the town seer to be the Champion of Thor in the coming battle of Ragnarök he must gather the other descendants of the gods and prepare to fight. With guidance from the norns and help from Fen’s cousin Laurie, Matt must convince classmate and nemesis Fen Brekke, descendant of Loki, to join forces. Time is not on their side as they track down the other champions and start their search for the three objects they need in order to be victorious in the final battle. Norse mythology comes to life in this first book in a new series called The Blackwell Pages. The second book, Odin’s Ravens, is due for release in May 2014.

sidekickedSidekicked by John David Anderson
Andrew Bean is an ordinary middle school kid with ordinary middle school problems: zits, bad school lunches, and girl troubles. However, Andrew has a gift: super senses. His school routine is augmented by training sessions in the school’s basement, where he is learning to be a sidekick. If things weren’t already bad enough in his normal life, his super power seems to be less than envious when compared to the other sidekicks’ powers. Further, he doesn’t even have a superhero mentor. What good is a sidekick without a Super? He was assigned to the formerly famous Super called The Titan, who is now missing in action, while his best friend Jenna’s Super is the most famous Super in town, The Fox. When a super villain thought to be dead returns to town with his henchmen, the Supers begin to disappear. Soon all but The Fox and the nowhere-to-be-seen Titan are left to take him down, but Drew is unsure of who he can trust. Full of action and unexpected plot twists, readers will be rooting for a sequel.

Zombie-Baseball-Beatdown-by-Paolo-BacigalupiZombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi
Rabi and his friends just can’t seem to put their finger on it, but they know something weird is going on at Milrow Meat Solutions, a meatpacking plant on the edge of town. When forced to find a new location for their baseball game, they encounter a nauseating smell emanating from the nearby meat plant. Their suspicions are confirmed after a run-in with their little league coach, who is now a zombie. The three boys decide to sneak into the plant, when they discover a corral of zombie cows being taken to the beef intake area. It is up to the boys to stop the meat from being delivered to supermarkets and let the world know what is really going on at Milrow Meat Solutions. As award-winning young adult author Bacigalupi shows in this, his first middle grade book, maybe it’s not the monsters that are the enemy, but the people trying to cover them up. There are more than just zombies in this surprisingly deep story that considers complex and sensitive issues, such as illegal immigration, racism, and food safety.

-Sarah Beth