These new highly regarded young adult reads bypass age restrictions and will appeal greatly to all ages — even adults who may feel above and beyond teen books.
"The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume 1: At the Edge of Empire" by Daniel Kraus; Simon & Schuster; 656 pages; $18.99.
Starring an unforgettable edgy teenage voice named Zebulon Finch, this sweeping epic has it all. With mystery, adventure, romance, horror and fantasy, former filmmaker Daniel Kraus' 20-years-in-the-making series is truly spectacular. Kraus read 200 books of research in order to make this masterpiece authentic, so readers can rest easy knowing that America's true history mirrors Finch's travels.
In volume one, Zebulon Finch is killed at age 17 and resurrects, searching for redemption with vanity, smarts and vulnerability through the years 1896-1941. He is involved in the rise of industry, Prohibition, the Ku Klux Klan's emergence, the finality of World War I and the golden age of Hollywood. His hunger for connection drives his amazing quest. Kraus' precise and engaging writing style makes everything seem real, from a brutal battle to a tender kiss.
This is a very cool concept — that someone who doesn't really die bears witness to many of history's trials and tribulations. "The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch" is exciting, sad, happy, educational, adventurous, tender and completely engrossing.
"The Zodiac Legacy: The Dragon's Return" by Stan Lee, with Stuart Moore and Andie Tong; Disney Press; 304 pages; around $16.99.
The iconic Stan Lee, who helped create many Marvel superheroes, returns for the second illustrated novel of "Zodiac Legacy" series. Created in a manner appropriate for many ages — it's big, thick size, with illustrations every 12 or 14 pages and lots of clean action — Lee's tale should thrill super hero fans.
Where the first book introduced Steven Lee and his teammates with special superhuman powers, the team's powers are honed in "The Dragon's Return.". Mad man Maxwell and his vanguard return; alliances and feuds shift, and the lines between good guys and bad guys become blurred. Steven doesn't really know who to trust, which makes this series' return an intriguing, action-packed read.
A solid, entertaining and fun tale for all ages. It's great to see Stan Lee continue making his mark on the super hero world.
"Hillary Rodham Clinton: Do All the Good You Can Do" by Cynthia Levinson; HarperCollins Publishers; 352 pages; $16.99.
It might do some voters good to read a well-thought out biography of one of our presidential candidates. March is Women's History Month, and this tale of a political powerhouse tells Hillary Clinton's journey to an audience of kids ages 8-12, but is also compelling and comprehensive for teens and adults. Cynthia Levinson writes a fascinating well-penned portrait of Clinton, from her childhood to her time in the White House and beyond. This biography is sure to emphasize public service, as Hillary was inspired by John Wesley's philosophy to "do all the good you can."
Setbacks are included, but the message here is that Clinton has worked for good in the world, and she encourages others, especially young girls, to do the same. It's also a smart idea to introduce kids, and even young voters, to a serious presidential candidate.
A picture book entitled "Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls are Born to Lead," by Michelle Markel and LeUyen Pham, is also available.
"Hour of the Bees" by Lindsay Eagar; Candlewick Press; 368 pages; $16.99.
Twelve-year-old Carolina is in New Mexico, helping her parents move her grandfather — whom she's never met — off his sheep ranch and into an assisted living home. Eventually she takes a liking to Grandpa Serge, and listens intently to his stories about an oasis in the desert, a tree that gave villages immortality and the bees that will end a 100-year drought upon their return.
Carolina then searches for the bees to return, and as the line between reality and magic starts to blur, she starts to see what's truly possible.
With timely topics of drought and environmental damage, disappearing bees and family members with dementia, Lindsay Eager weaves a coming of age tale that's absorbing and fascinatingly unique for all ages.
"A Tyranny of Petticoats" edited by Jessica Spotswood; Candlewick Press; 368 pages; $17.99.
The "15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Badass Girls" is a truly American collection of thrilling history. Fifteen talented writers, such as Elizabeth Wein, Marissa Meyer and Kekla Magoon, offer girl-powered tales of monsters and mediums, bank robbers and barkeepers, screenwriters and schoolteachers and heiresses and hobos.
Charting their own paths on often-hostile lands, the girls in these stories are incredibly empowering, cool and entertaining. Engaging enough for grown-up girls too, "A Tyranny of Petticoats" is a hoot and a holler!
To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: Kate Ter Haar