Monday, June 6, 2011

Part 2: One World Many Stories: Getting there for Juvenile & Young Adult Readers

Juvenile and teens are no stranger to travel. In some point in their lives, they have gone on family trips by car or plane to visit relatives, go to amusement parks or in some cases Europe and other exotic travel. Books that relate the stories of going on a trip can feel quite natural and familiar. While other books spin the tale of wild adventure to far away places that most readers dream about going to one day. Either way, the authors draw out the travel in each of us and takes readers along on a trip they won't soon forget. For wonderful examples in juvenile and young adult novels of characters' unforgettable travel, keep reading.

Christopher Paul Curtis' award winning book The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 gives the reader a little bit of a history lesson along with getting acquainted with the Watsons, who are warm, funny and likeable. They could very well be the reader's neighbor down the street. Kenny narrates the story of his family's trip from Flint, Michigan to Birmingham, Alabama. What was in store for them on this family trip was something that would change their lives forever. One of the most chilling moments in America's history, where four little girls died inside the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church, as it burned to the ground.

On a less serious note, Gordon Korman's Born to Rock is a different twist on the family trip. Leo Carraway's life is turned upside down by events that are out of his control. First he loses his scholarship due to a "cheating" incident. Then Leo learns that King Maggot, the top punk singer of the 1980s and leader of the band Purge, may be his biological father. What else can he do but confront the King, asks him to help him pay for college and become a roadie in Purge's comeback tour. It's one big adventure after another on the tour route. Leo finds that his own beliefs are challenged because they clash with the "rocker" world, but ultimately he has more in common King Maggot than he originally thought.

Not all characters have the normal "family vacation". Characters such as Amy and Dan from the 39 Clues series have flown around the world to track down a family fortune. Along the way, they find out the truth about their family's role in history. Amy and Dan use every conceivable mode of transportation from helicopter to limo. Young Adult readers have their own series that includes adventures, chase and spies. Teens who love spy novels love Alex Rider, a teenage British secret service agent. In this series Anthony Horowitz takes reader's to every corner of the world and back. Alex accepts seemingly impossible missions, fights bad guys and in the end, comes out victorious. Could it be anything less for one of Britain's youngest spies?

With titles like the ones mentioned, there is no doubt that finding the right book to "travel" with should not be a problem. Okay, maybe one problem, which book to read first?
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