Here are some books I think do a great job in sneaking in information, without detracting from the stories!
Lewis Buzbee - The Haunting of Charles Dickens
The Haunting of Charles Dickens by Lewis Buzbee is about Meg's search for her beloved missing older brother, Orion, in London in the year 1862. Accompanying her is her family's greatest friend, Mr. Charles Dickens, who is looking for inspiration after finishing his novel, Great Expectations. The quest takes them all over London, from seedy taverns, haunted houses, and even to mansions, all in the hopes of rescuing Orion and perhaps other misfortunate children along the way.
Buzbee does a good job in demonstrating how deductive reasoning works, how to digest clues and information into a meaningful whole and asking why something happened is as important as the how. Another element I enjoyed was Buzbee's subtly weaving of how we all can be inspired by our every day environment. Meg was inspired to try and communicate with Orion via the broadsheets plastered on the walls in London. While Buzbee wove elements from Dickens novels into the story to show how many varying elements can inspire creativity. I enjoyed reading this book. I would recommend it for nine-to-twelve-year-old girls. It is told from Meg's point of view, and while Dickens is a central figure I am not sure how relatable he would be to boys of the same age.
Jennifer Anne Kogler - The Death Catchers
At the breakfast table Lizzy sees the words of her father’s morning newspaper swirl and coalesce into a headline announcing the death of her best friend. Fourtunately Bizzy, her larger than life grand mother has been watching her closely, and knows what is happening to Lizzy. She has grown into her inheritance, passed down from her ancestor Morgan le Fay, she has become a Death Catcher. Destined to stop the unjust and early deaths of people around her. Even more strange, her destiny is intertwined with Drake Westfall, the last descendant of King Arthur….
This was a really great read. The book is written as a defense paper to her English teacher, of “Why I should Pass English Even Though I Didn’t Turn In My Final Project“. The wry humor at the beginning of each chapter keeps the book from becoming to heavy or slow. It also (don’t tell the young readers) demonstrates concepts you would be taught in an English class; such as setting, mood, analysis or dialogue for example. This is a reinvention of the Arthurian Legend and prior knowledge of it is not required in order to read this book. The author does a great job of touching on key points and retelling it without it ever dragging or seeming out of place. I would recommend this to any girl needing something new to read.
Jennifer Allison - Gilda Joyce Psychic Investigator
Gilda is trying to learn how to be psychic from reading a book and she thinks her progress is going well. Proof of this, is when she and a psychic inkling that her cousin in California needs her help. It doesn’t phase her that she has never met her or that her mother has not spoken to her father in years. She manages through pluck and luck to get invited out there for the whole summer, and begins to investigate a mystery no one else is aware of, since they are not psychic!
This is a great series! Gilda is spunky, resourceful and marches to the beat of her own drummer. There is a whole lot of depth to this series which I really like, it is more than your average YA book. I would recommend this book to girls (sorry guys, there is a brother in the story but he isn't around enough I think to appeal to the male audience) from 9 - 14 yrs. old!