Young Zeus

This is the story of how young Zeus, with a little help from six monsters, five Greek gods, an enchanted she-goat, and his mother, became god of gods, master of lightning and thunder, and ruler over all. in doing so, he learned a lot about family. Who knew that having relatives could be so complicated, even for a god? Brian Karas says about his inspiration for this book, “I’ve been interested in working with myths, but I felt as though I needed a personal connection. I am of Italian and Greek descent so I started to think of my Greek heritage. But the world of Greek mythology was unknown to me and in a way felt inaccessible, until I learned more. The Greek believed their gods and goddesses to be, among other things, very human-like in their emotions and behavior. They had complicated family relations. They were flawed on many levels – they could be petty, impulsive and unreasonable. I started to recognize them. Then I travelled to Greece, I knew this place! This personal connection gave me what I felt I needed to work with a Greek myth. But which? “I am also interested in the beginnings of things. When I started researching I kept looking for the ultimate source, the very first account, and largely drew from Hesiod’s Thegony. Being interested in origins, I was also drawn to the Greek’s version of the very beginning of things and it was here that I settled on the story of Zeus. There is much written about his reign as ruler of heaven and earth but very little about his youth and rise to power. The story of how his mother hid him on the island of Crete is a familiar one but there was a big gap in everything I read of what happened in between his life as an infant and his glory days. Young Zeus is my account of how things might have gone for young Zeus and what led him to become the omnipotent almighty god that he was believed to be.”

Call Me Henri

Enrique, a young boy in Peralta Middle School, faces abuse at home and danger on the barrio streets. Yet he is driven to succeed by the desire to join that “other America” he sees on TV and in the movies, and is aided in his quest by compassionate teachers. His ambition finds expression in his determination to drop his ESL class in favor of taking French, and his story begins, “Call me Henr.”

Lorraine Lpez (author of Soy la Avon Lady and Other Stories) has created a vivid picture of barrio life, filled with honesty, insight, and humor for young adults. She paints a balanced and detailed landscape of Enrique’s world. Although Enrique is confused and angered by his mother’s refusal to stand up for him against the abuse of his stepfather, he also draws strength from the supportive and loving family of his friend Francisco. While some of his teachers are uncaring or inept, others provide help and encouragement at critical moments in his life.

When Enrique witnesses his friend Horacio gunned down in a drive-by shooting and is seen by the assailants, gang members set out to kill him. As the novel reaches its climax, Enrique must make some agonizing decisions.

Although specifically about barrio life, this novel is universal in its themes-the drive for success, the desire for love and family support, and the need for true friendship. Lpez’s fully delineated characters provide a rich and credible mural of our human comedy.

Lorraine Lpez‘s Soy la Avon Lady and Other Stories was selected for the Marmal Prize, and also won the IPPY Award for Multicultural Fiction.

Cookie

Cookie is plain and shy, not the confident, popular girl her father wanted when he named her Beauty Cookson. Her mother helps her cook up a clever scheme to change her image–but, as usual, Dad doesn’t approve, and this time his anger reaches frightening new heights. Will Cookie find the strength to stand up for herself? Honest and emotionally resonant, COOKIE faces tough issues with the unflinching directness and unflagging tenderness that make Jacqueline Wilson one of today’s most admired-and popular-authors for young people.