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A GOOD READ: Battle of the Books titles for teens

Let's get ready to rumble! Every March, students from Tri-City middle schools face off in an epic battle of book-based trivia. More than 100 student teams compete to see who knows the most about six teen titles chosen by local teacher librarians.

Let's get ready to rumble! Every March, students from Tri-City middle schools face off in an epic battle of book-based trivia. More than 100 student teams compete to see who knows the most about six teen titles chosen by local teacher librarians. The winning teams will go head-to-head at Port Moody Public Library on March 28 to determine the 2012 master readers.

This year's novels are sure to be in high demand as competitors frantically cram facts into their heads in preparation for the final Battle of the Books. Why not pick up one of the challenge books at your local library and find out what all the fuss is about?

First, challenge your views about disability by reading Out of My Mind. Author Sharon Draper tells the story of 11-year-old Melody, a fiercely intelligent and funny fifth grader with a photographic memory, a love of music and a wonderful, caring family. Unfortunately, Melody is also incredibly frustrated because she can't walk, talk or write due to her cerebral palsy. That means nobody knows how brilliant, sensitive and normal Melody really is - all her classmates see is her disability. When her parents get her a computer, Melody can finally communicate with the world around her. Melody earns a place on the school's national-level quiz team but earning the acceptance of her classmates proves to be more difficult.

In Jordan Sonnen-blick's Zen and the Art of Faking It, eighth-grader San Lee gets burned when he tries to fit in by pretending he's a Zen master. San didn't set out to fool his classmates, he was just tired of trying to find a clique in yet another new school. When he answers one too many questions in World History, everyone just assumes his don't-care attitude means he's a deep thinker. It's fun for San to play along but as he starts to care for his classmates, the consequences of lying become more severe. When the truth comes out, will San's friends ever trust him again?

If you like mysteries, then Fish by L.S. Matthews will definitely appeal. From start to finish, this harrowing tale of war and displacement is full of unknowns. When Tiger's aid-worker parents decide to flee violence and environmental disasters, there is little time to prepare. In the most dangerous of circumstances, Tiger decides to save a small fish that he finds in a drying puddle. As food and supplies become scarce, Tiger is filled with an unwavering resolve: He will keep the fish alive despite the incredible challenges of his family's journey. Even as Tiger fights to save the helpless fish, his family struggles to survive a cross-country trek filled with danger.

For fantasy fans, Michael Scott has written a nail-biter of a tale in The Alchemyst. When twins Sophie and Josh are involved in a bookstore robbery, a host of mythical creatures comes to light. It seems the bookstore owner is really immortal alchemist, and the stolen book is an incredibly powerful tome of magic. Now, evil creatures are hunting the twins to regain the two pages Josh managed to snatch away from the burglars. Non-stop action combines with a heady dose of legendary creatures in this fast-paced fantasy thriller.

Wolf Brother is the first title in Michelle Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series. The prehistoric setting is filled with rich portrayals of untouched wilderness and stone-age lore.

Before 12-year-old Torak's father dies, he commands the boy to find the mountain of the spirit world and defeat the demon-possessed bear that mauled him. The bear's evil threatens the entire land and Torak is the champion who must save the clans from destruction. With the help of his spirit guide, an orphaned wolf cub, Torak undertakes an epic quest that will span the entire six book series.

The last book, The House of the Scorpion, takes readers from prehistory right into a dystopian future. Award-winning science fiction author Nancy Farmer spins a complex tale of bioethics as she explores the moral complexities of cloning. Young Matt is alternately pampered and reviled by the staff on the estate of a powerful opium lord. Slowly, Matt realizes the horrifying truth about his past and the sickening implications for his future. As he wrestles with questions about his soul, humanity, innate goodness or evil, it's hard to avoid seeing Matt's plight in the context of our current medical advances.

From fantasy to real-life dramas, these excellent books will give kids aged 10 to 15 years of age plenty to think about.

And best of luck to all the middle school students who are reading these books for the upcoming competition. You can find these titles and many more at your local public library.

A Good Read is a column by Tri-City librarians that is published every Wednesday. Maryn Ashdown is head youth services librarian at Port Moody Public Library.