Great learning gifts for your high schooler
7 smart, sassy, and sophisticated gifts for every teen on your list.
By GreatSchools Staff
Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories
Edited by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant; read by Sarah Coomes, Nico Ever-Swindell, Shannon McManus, Arthur Morey, Julie Whelan
Another recommendation from librarian Wendy Woodfill is this short fiction anthology of YA’s hottest sub-genre — steampunk, which blends elements of sci-fi, fantasy, history, adventure, and even romance into speculative fiction that thrills. Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories ($13.59) features 14 stories by well-known authors including Cassandra Clare and Cory Doctorow. "There’s a lifetime of creativity, mystery, and ingenious adventure packed into this book," Woodfill says. "And because it's a collection of short pieces, it’' a great choice for kids who don’t have long attention spans."
Bottom line: Inventive and fantastical stories that appeal equally to easily distracted and adventure-seeking boys and girls.
The Future of Us
By Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Ages: 12 and up
Here's a book for the Facebook generation, set in 1996 when Mark Zuckerberg was just a brainy tween. High school classmates Emma and Josh were best friends until an awkward romantic moment introduced a new tension between them, changing everything. Then Josh receives a free CD-ROM in the mail and shares it with Emma, thereby automatically logging both onto each other's Facebook page. The catch is that Facebook hasn’t been invented yet. Their respective pages reflect their lives 15 years in the future. The chapters alternate between Emma's and Josh's perspectives, as both grapple with the discovery that choices they make in the present can have far-reaching consequences for the future.
Bottom line: The Future of Us ($11.98), is an insightful glimpse at the present for teens of all ages — just be prepared to explain what life was like before the Internet and Ipod.
Written and read by Libba Bray
Ages: 14 and up
What happens when an airplane crashes on a desert island, leaving a bunch of beauty queens stranded? Pretty hilarious stuff, actually. Libba Bray is beloved for her previous YA novels, and with Beauty Queens ($13.59), she pushes the envelope even further with a slapstick, satirical take on beauty pageants and other hot-button issues faced by teen girls. "This is a real tour-de-force," says Jamie Watson, collection development coordinator for the Baltimore County Public Library. "I love that it’s not a preachy, message-driven book (although there are some good messages) — and did I mention it"s hilarious? The author clearly relishes reading her own material."
Bottom line: Comic relief helps teen girls let off some steam when the pressure to conform is starting to build.
Ages: 12 and up
A combination of a word search and puzzle game, Pathwords gets increasingly challenging as you move along. The goal? To fit the colored pieces over the words in each puzzle so that all of the letters are covered. Sound easy? Not so fast — sometimes the words are backwards, which can be tricky: "equip" didn't look like a word when spelled "piuqe." This is a single-player game and it can be quite addictive. Of course kids who want to play together can swap games or help each other out with each puzzle. There are a total of 40 games, from beginner to expert.
Bottom line: An addictive word game that also requires visual spatial skills.
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