Trapped by Michael Northrop – A Blizzard, Seven Stranded Students, and Teenage Hormones, Book Review

A relentless Tuesday morning snowfall prompts an early dismissal at Tattawa Regional High School in a rural New England town. Seven students (five sophomore boys and two freshman girls) waiting for rides home, soon realize that no one is coming to their rescue. When will they be found? How will they persevere? Will they all be found alive? That’s the premise of Trapped, written by Young Adult author, Michael Northrop.

Sophomore Scotty Weems narrates the group’s ordeal.

It soon becomes Survival of the Fittest. The students raid their lockers, searching for items to assuage their entrapment, including sweatshirts, gym clothes, and snack-packs of Oreos. “Any sharing or trading would be done among friends. I guess this was when we started keeping secrets,” says Scotty.

Two of Scotty’s friends, Pete Dubois and Jason Gillispie are among the stranded. Scotty describes Pete as a normal sophomore who wasn’t super hip or incredibly smart. Jason spends the limited daylight in the Industrial Arts room working on his go-kart project named, Flammenwerfer (German for flamethrower).

The students endure dead cell phone reception; sleeping on cold, hard tile floors; using bathrooms with soon-to-be frozen pipes; and forty-degree hallways.

As their nightmare continues, the clan brazenly decides to break into the cafeteria to quench their hunger. Canned peaches in heavy syrup, pudding, and half pints of white and chocolate milk are among their finds.

Scotty is torn between obeying invisible authority and acquiescing to the group’s cafeteria pilferage plan. He fears the robbery will affect his position on the school’s basketball team.

Trapped illustrates how people can be perceived differently, depending on the situation. During school time, stranded student, Les Goddard is known as a thug, and often detention-bound. Yet, he proves invaluable as a locksmith, able to break into desirable areas, including the cafeteria and nurse’s office. “The day before I’d been half afraid just to be around Les,” says Scotty.

Resourcefulness reigns, as the students use blankets from the nurse’s office and a battery-operated radio to listen to weather updates.

Teenage hormones accentuate the students’ experience, as Scotty is attracted to freshman, Krista O’Rea: “Just that morning, I’d spent about twenty quality minutes staring at the back of her neck on the bus, wordless and possibly drooling.” Pete and Julie Anders, Krista’s best friend, steal away in the darkness for kissing too.

Contemporary references to reality television star, Snooki and songstress Lady Gaga complement the young adult narrative.

Yes, Trapped is written for a youthful audience. Regardless of your age, you’ll find yourself wondering how you would act under similar conditions, perhaps stranded at your workplace or a civic group meeting.

Northrop’s well-written narrative and surprise ending authenticate Trapped’s accolades.

To discover other bestselling Young Adult authors and read the entire list of 2012 Teen Choice Book of the Year Nominees, visit: http://www.teenreads.com/2012-teen-choice-book-of-the-year-nominees.

A Critical Review of the Young Adult’s Book – "The View From Saturday"

I was given this one by a friend of my oldest son Jordan. The book is called “The View From Saturday” by E.L. Konigsburg. I felt that this book by a very prolific author, stood out because of the simplicity of the prose and the complexity of the novel’s structure.

The emerging popularity of academic sport sets the scene in this novel about love and friendship.

In this Newbery Medal award winner, four sixth grade children, Ethan Potter, Noah Gershom, Julian Singh, and Nadia Diamondstein, create a group they call “The Souls”. The main characters in the book are sixth grade students, their teacher Eva Marie Olinski and several senior citizens. The story takes place in Epiphany Middle School in upstate New York.

The novel takes on an interesting format. It alternates between first person narrative and third person. Each member of the Souls tells their first person slice of life after answering a question during Bowl Day.

The academic bowl is coming up, and their teacher, Mrs. Olinski, chooses them to represent their school, Epiphany.

As it turns out, the Epiphany team beats even the seventh and eight graders in the Academic Bowl, and in the end, becomes the state champion.

I’m not really giving away the story here, the beauty of this book is in the writing and the portrayal of each child as well as the grownups; especially the paraplegic Mrs. Olinski.

I recommend it for 10 to 12 year olds. Those 13 and up might find it too slanted towards the younger crowd but might enjoy the story just the same.

The book is 160 pages, which makes it a short read for most junior high / middle school children. I would recommend it for boys and girls. The style is varied and the characters are solid and grounded though most are given to flights of fancy.

New Young Adult Book Reveals Secrets of King Tut’s Lost Manuscript

King Tut is one of the most famous pharaohs of Ancient Egypt because of the discovery of his fabulous tomb, but until now, his full story has not been known. Young adult author Cheryl Carpinello has created an imaginative yet historical retelling of King Tut’s full life story in her new novel Tutankhamen Speaks.

Both a stand-alone young adult novel and a companion book to Carpinello’s time travel adventure novel, Sons of the Sphinx, Tutankhamen Speaks contains a letter to the author from an Egyptologist named S.W. Lothian. In it, Lothian includes the recently discovered manuscript that makes up the bulk of the novel; that manuscript tells the life story of King Tut in his own words. Of course, found manuscripts have long been a staple of adventure fiction, but what makes this one special is that old texts of ancient Egypt have long alluded to scrolls that recorded King Tut’s life story as he told it from beyond the grave. Of course, scholars thought it impossible that anyone-even a pharaoh-could speak after he was dead.

However, as Carpinello makes clear, King Tut could have spoken through a medium who then wrote down the tale. And what a tale it is! King Tut tells us his entire life story from when he was a boy and not yet acknowledged as heir to the throne of Egypt, through his father’s death and his own ascension to the throne; we learn of his love for Ankhesenpaaten, whom he married, the sadness they experienced at the loss of a child, and the politics and hierarchy of ancient Egypt with its court intrigue.

Being written in the form of an ancient manuscript, the story is broken up into fragments and in places pieces of the text are missing-another literary ploy by Carpinello, but one that will make young readers feel the manuscript and story are real-I was almost convinced myself. More importantly, readers will be able to see Ancient Egypt through the eyes of its most famous ruler and step into his shoes to discover what life was like four thousand years ago.

As a companion piece to Sons of the Sphinx, this book expands on many of the incidents in King Tut’s life that are referenced in that book. Both books stand alone, and either could be read first. Carpinello loves bringing the distant past to life through her books. Previously, she brought the time of King Arthur to young adult readers in her popular books Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend and The King’s Ransom. She knows well how to blend entertainment with information that will leave readers wanting to learn more about her topics-a skill she has gained from years of being involved in education. According to her website, she is currently working on more books, including ones set in Atlantis and Pompeii as well as a sequel to Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend.

Keep them coming, Cheryl. This adult reader loves them and I would have loved them as a kid even more! If I had read Tutankhamen Speaks when I was in school, I might have been inspired to fulfill my other dream of being an archeologist instead of an author.