ZEN AND THE ART OF FAKING IT

Adolescence is a time when teenagers ask the all-important question, “Who am I?,” but for San Lee, an adopted Chinese boy starting eighth grade in a new school, the question has particular urgency. Luckily, Sonnenblick pens this story, so all that soul searching is side-splittingly funny as well. San, suddenly poor due to his swindling father’s incarceration, becomes the only Asian child at Harrisonville Middle School. That, combined with the fact that he once did a project on Taoism and Zen Buddhism at another school, causes him to come up with a new persona: Buddha Boy. Having learned the art of the con at his father’s knee, San, now a “Zen Man with a Zen Plan,” manages to convince almost everyone, most importantly the girl he likes, of his superior spiritual knowledge. The irony is that by allowing the lies to pile up, this faux Zen master becomes like the one person he doesn’t want to be. Hilarious and heart-wrenching. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-439-83707-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2007

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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PEAK

Dare-devil mountain-climber Peak Marcello (14), decides to scale the Woolworth Building and lands in jail. To save him, his long-lost Everest-trekking dad appears with a plan for the duo to make a life in Katmandu—a smokescreen to make Peak become the youngest person in history to summit Mount Everest. Peak must learn to navigate the extreme and exotic terrain but negotiate a code of ethics among men. This and other elements such as the return of the long-lost father, bite-size chunks of information about climbing and altitude, an all-male cast, competition and suspense (can Peak be the youngest ever to summit Everest, and can he beat out a 14-year-old Nepalese boy who accompanies him?) creates the tough stuff of a “boys read.” The narrative offers enough of a bumpy ride to satisfy thrill seekers, while Peak’s softer reflective quality lends depth and some—but not too much—emotional resonance. Teachers will want to pair this with Mark Pfetzer’s Within Reach: My Everest Story (1998). (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-15-202417-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2007

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