The Desert Mountain Young Adult Book Club will consist of 7th and 8th graders only. The Blackhawk Readers will meet once a month, on the first Wednesday of every month during lunch hour. Students will bring their lunch to the library where we will go through the discussion questions as a group, and then discuss further in depth with a partner.
Parents: please feel free to read the book along with us each month so you can discuss it at home with your child as well! Your child will be able to check out an additional copy of the book for you if we have extras available, or you could find it at your local public library (or even possibly on Kindle Unlimited!).
The public library closest to Desert Mountain would be the North Valley Regional Library,
located at Boulder Creek High School, 40410 N Gavilan Peak Pkwy Anthem, AZ 85086.
Their website is https://mcldaz.org/en-US/north-valley/ where you can check to see what they have available.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Katniss Everdeen is a survivor.
She has to be; she’s representing her District, number 12, in the 74th Hunger Games in the Capitol, the heart of Panem, a new land that rose from the ruins of a post-apocalyptic North America. To punish citizens for an early rebellion, the rulers require each district to provide one girl and one boy, 24 in all, to fight like gladiators in a futuristic arena. The event is broadcast like reality TV, and the winner returns with wealth for his or her district. With clear inspiration from Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and the Greek tale of Theseus, Collins has created a brilliantly imagined dystopia, where the Capitol is rich and the rest of the country is kept in abject poverty, where the poor battle to the death for the amusement of the rich. However, poor copyediting in the first printing will distract careful readers—a crying shame.
Impressive world-building, breathtaking action and clear philosophical concerns make this volume, the beginning of a planned trilogy, as good as The Giver and more exciting. (Science fiction. 11 & up)
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
With a beginning and ending that pack hefty punches, this introduction to a dystopic future promises an exciting series.
Tally is almost 16 and breathlessly eager: On her birthday, like everyone else, she’ll undergo extensive surgery to become a Pretty. She’s only known life as an Ugly (everyone’s considered hideous before surgery), whereas after she “turns,” she’ll have the huge eyes, perfect skin, and new bone structure that biology and evolution have determined to be objectively beautiful. New Pretties party all day long. But when friend Shay escapes to join a possibly mythical band of outsiders avoiding surgery, Tally follows—not from choice but because the secret police force her. Tally inflicts betrayal after betrayal, which dominates the theme for the midsection; by the end, the nature of this dystopia is front and center and Tally—trying to set things right—takes a stunning leap of faith.
Some heavy-handedness, but the awesome ending thrills with potential. (Science fiction. YA)
Doll Bones by Holly Black
A middle-grade fantasy dons the cloak of a creepy ghost tale to deliver bittersweet meditations on the nature of friendship, the price of growing up and the power of storytelling.
The lifelong friendship of Zach, Poppy and Alice revolves around their joint creation, an epic role-playing saga of pirates and perils, queens and quests. But now they are 12, and their interests are changing along with their bodies; when Zach’s father trashes his action figures and commands him to “grow up,” Zach abruptly quits the game. Poppy begs him to join her and Alice on one last adventure: a road trip to bring peace to the ghost possessing her antique porcelain doll. As they travel by bus and boat (with a fateful stop at the public library), the ghost seems to take charge of their journey—and the distinctions between fantasy and reality, between play and obligation, begin to dissolve....Veteran Black packs both heft and depth into a deceptively simple (and convincingly uncanny) narrative. From Zach’s bitter relationship with his father to Anna’s chafing at her overprotective grandmother to Poppy’s resignation with her ramshackle relations, Black skillfully sketches their varied backgrounds and unique contributions to their relationship. A few rich metaphors—rivers, pottery, breath—are woven throughout the story, as every encounter redraws the blurry lines between childishness and maturity, truth and lies, secrecy and honesty, magic and madness.
Spooky, melancholy, elegiac and ultimately hopeful; a small gem. (Fantasy. 10-14)
Among the Hidden by Margaret Petersen Haddix
In a chilling and intelligent novel, Haddix (Leaving Fishers, 1997, etc.) envisions a near future where a totalitarian US limits families to only two children. Luke, 12, the third boy in his farming family, has been hidden since birth, mostly in the attic, safe for the time being from the Population Police, who eradicate such “shadow children.” Although he is protected, Luke is unhappy in his radical isolation, rereading a few books for entertainment and eating in a stairwell so he won’t be seen through the windows. When Luke spies a child’s face in the window of a newly constructed home, he realizes that he’s found a comrade. Risking discovery, Luke sneaks over to the house and meets Jen, a spirited girl devoted to bringing the shadow children’s plight center-stage, through a march on the White House. Luke is afraid to join her and later learns from Jen’s father, a mole within the Population Police, that Jen and her compatriots were shot and killed, and that their murder was covered up. Jen’s father also gets a fake identity card and a new life for Luke, who finally believes himself capable of acting to change the world. Haddix offers much for discussion here, by presenting a world not too different from America right now. The seizing of farmlands, untenable food regulations, and other scenarios that have come to fruition in these pages will give readers a new appreciation for their own world after a visit to Luke’s. (Fiction. 9-13)
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
A12-year-old Irish crime lord takes on the realm of Faerie to recoup his family fortune in this madcap leap aboard the Pottermania bandwagon. Having done his homework, thanks to a fairy manual extorted from an alcoholic sprite in Ho Chi Minh City, young Fowl and his omnicompetent butler, Butler, not only seize the equally aptly named Holly Short, feisty member of LEPrecon (an elite unit of the Lower Elements Police) for ransom, but are well prepared when her pointy-eared compatriots rush to the rescue with a combination of old magic and futuristic high technology. In the ensuing battle, fought as much with wits as weapons, Fowl proves himself a brilliant strategist, if not quite as dastardly or self-confident as he’d like to be, and thanks to what amounts to a magical technicality, he comes out of the dustup alive, with a half-ton of fairy gold, and even a wish (which he puts to good use). Though the violence occasionally turns brutal, Fowl and Short make splendid, well-matched rivals, supported by an inspired cast that includes huge rogue trolls, malicious goblins, an irreverent techie satyr, and kleptomaniac dwarf Mulch Diggins—all of whom are likely to reappear in sequels that are even now underway. Readers familiar with Sherlock Holmes, as well as an array of modern fantasists from Roald Dahl on, will find plenty of homage paid in this savagely funny page-turner. (Fantasy. 10-14)
The Watson’s go to Burmingham - 1963
Curtis debuts with a ten-year-old's lively account of his teenaged brother's ups and downs. Ken tries to make brother Byron out to be a real juvenile delinquent, but he comes across as more of a comic figure: getting stuck to the car when he kisses his image in a frozen side mirror, terrorized by his mother when she catches him playing with matches in the bathroom, earning a shaved head by coming home with a conk. In between, he defends Ken from a bully and buries a bird he kills by accident. Nonetheless, his parents decide that only a long stay with tough Grandma Sands will turn him around, so they all motor from Michigan to Alabama, arriving in time to witness the infamous September bombing of a Sunday school. Ken is funny and intelligent, but he gives readers a clearer sense of Byron's character than his own and seems strangely unaffected by his isolation and harassment (for his odd look—he has a lazy eye—and high reading level) at school. Curtis tries to shoehorn in more characters and subplots than the story will comfortably bear—as do many first novelists—but he creates a well-knit family and a narrator with a distinct, believable voice. (Fiction. 10-12)
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
This promising debut is set in a dying underground city. Ember, which was founded and stocked with supplies centuries ago by “The Builders,” is now desperately short of food, clothes, and electricity to keep the town illuminated. Lina and Doon find long-hidden, undecipherable instructions that send them on a perilous mission to find what they believe must exist: an exit door from their disintegrating town. In the process, they uncover secret governmental corruption and a route to the world above. Well-paced, this contains a satisfying mystery, a breathtaking escape over rooftops in darkness, a harrowing journey into the unknown and cryptic messages for readers to decipher. The setting is well-realized with the constraints of life in the city intriguingly detailed. The likable protagonists are not only courageous but also believably flawed by human pride, their weaknesses often complementing each other in interesting ways. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers clamoring for the next installment. (Fiction. 9-13)
Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath
Life dishes up the sweet with the sour following the disappearance of a child's parents in this perceptive, barbed tale from the author of The Trolls (1999). Horvath displays a real knack for naming. Everyone else in her small British Columbian fishing town is sure that her mother and father are lost at sea, but 11-year-old Primrose Squarp clings to hope as months pass. She too is passed: from the minimal care of gruff old Miss Perfidy, to a previously unknown uncle who turns out to be an enterprising real-estate developer, and then, thanks to a small-minded school counselor, to out-of-town foster parents. Along the way, she loses a pair of minor body parts in accidents, but gains loyal friends both in Uncle Jack and in Kate Bowzer, proprietor of a café called The Girl on the Red Swing, in which everything, including salad, is served on a waffle. Food not only plays a recurrent theme here, but each chapter ends with a recipe (of varying palatability). The author engages in some clever role reversal with Uncle Jack, a happy-go-lucky sort with a streak of fierce loyalty who is unperturbed when his housing development goes up in flames, but fights tooth and nail to regain custody of Primrose. He never once expresses doubt that her parents are alive—as indeed they turn out to be. Primrose is a serious, sturdy soul, able to hold her own against this quirky, nearly all-adult supporting cast, and by the time her shipwrecked mother and father are rescued, she has gained considerable insight into human nature—as well as the ability to create dishes as diverse as Cherry Pie Pork Chops and Butterscotch Chow Mein Noodle Cookies. And waffles, of course. That she was right all along about her parents will make her story extra sweet to readers. (Fiction. 11-15)