Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive


Mom says she's tired of seeing you do nothing but play video games and watch television. You're starting to get the feeling that if you don't find something else to do, she's going to find it for you _ and you're sure you won't like it.

Instead of a bag of chips and Xbox controllers, you'll be holding Windex and a garbage bag to "Clean up that pig pen" quicker than you can say "Just one more game!"

The solution? Grab a book. What mom ever told her kid to stop reading? And if you need some suggestions for real page-turners, check out this month's Book Buzz submitted by Tampa Bay area readers.

Kelsee Connon, 12, Southside Fundamental Middle School in St. Petersburg, recommends The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

This book helped me learn a lot about prejudice and how people judge people by the clothes they wear or the amount of money they have or even how much grease they wear in their hair. The Outsiders is about a group of guys who stick together like a family. They are always looking out for each other. Then something happens in the gang that changes 14-year-old Pony Boy and 16-year-old Johnny. Throughout the book, Johnny teaches Pony Boy how important it is to "stay golden," or in other words, to always stay true to oneself. This book takes place when everything in their town is split in half. A soc (short for social) was a rich kid, while a greaser just tried to get through life. They had no money or cars, just each other. They were the exact opposite of the socs. I have seen the movie too, but the book goes into more detail about the characters.

Camille Chaumont, 12, Wilson Middle School in Tampa, recommends Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.

If you like heartwarming, touching, yet suspenseful books, this is the one for you. Because of Winn Dixie tells the tale of a dog, Winn Dixie, who changes a girl forever. Winn Dixie is the only one in Opal's life who listens to her. Winn Dixie makes Opal's life happier, more exciting, and teaches her how to learn something new. Because of Winn Dixie won the Newbery Medal Award, and you will keep your nose in the book until the very end.

George Spofford, 12, Wilson Middle School in Tampa, recommends Dive by Gordon Korman.

In Dive, several kids are selected to work within a well-known dive team: Dante, a photographer; Bobby, a Canadian hockey player; Star, a disabled free driver; and Adrianna, a rich, stuck-up girl. The kids soon realize that the team is using them as a smokescreen. When the kids find a wreck, the dive team acts as if it is nothing, but later they go back and dig it up. The kids then try to get back the treasure that is theirs. I highly recommend this and other books in this series.

David Brem, 8, Hillel School of Tampa, recommends Henry Ford: Young Man With Ideas by Hazel B. Aird and Catherine Ruddiman.

This book is about the inventor Henry Ford. When he was a kid he invented a corn machine. When his mother died, his sister, Margaret, was very sad. So Henry cheered her up by putting a pipe on the tea kettle. That is why our tea kettles whistle today. Henry married Clara and then he invented the Model T car. After that he invented the Model A. I recommend this book because it made me feel like I was part of his life.

Elijah Kallett, 8, Hillel School of Tampa, recommends Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman by Dav Pilkey.

This book is about two boys called George and Harold, who always get in trouble. Their teacher, Mrs. Ribble, hates them. So the two boys hypnotize her so she thinks she was the Wicked Wedgie Woman. That was a big mistake because she started to destroy the city with robots of George and Harold. Suddenly Captain Underpants appears. I like this book because it offers action, terror and laughs. I recommend this book for everyone who wants a good laugh. The illustrations will crack you up.

Rachel Saady-Saxe, 8, Hillel School of Tampa, recommends Lumber Camp Library by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock.

Ruby Sawyer was her pa's little shadow, and he taught her how to do everything. One day her ma and pa said, "It is time for you to go to school." Ruby learned how to read and write. One day her pa got caught in a log jam while saving someone else's life. When Ruby found out, she cried. I like this book because it has real things that happen in real life. Ruby sort of reminds me of my sister. This book reminded me of how lucky I am to have a dad.

Preston Brazil, 13, Bay Point Middle School in St. Petersburg, recommends Halo: The Flood by William C. Dietz.

I would recommend Halo: The Flood to anyone who has either played the Xbox game or read the prequel to this book, Halo: The Fall of Reach. Halo: The Flood gives an observer's point of view to the game Halo. It has the Master Chief, John (a.k.a. Spartan 117), on the mysterious ring world known as Halo, fighting through an armada of aliens, while trying to find a way off. These aliens, the Covenant, are intent on destroying the humans and all things related to them. In Halo: The Flood, they continue to search for the Human home-world, Earth. Yet a lone human frigate finds an ancient artificial alien ring-world in another part of the galaxy. It's an exciting adventure that is a great read and hard to put down. I recommend Halo: The Flood to those who like a great science fiction plot.

Rudy Ballesteros, 13, Independent Day School in Tampa, recommends It Ain't All for Nothing by Walter Dean Myers.

Tippy, a tough kid living in the streets of Brooklyn, is trying to behave well while keeping his grandmother healthy and dealing with his father, who isn't the easiest person to get along with. After his grandmother gets sick and must stay in the hospital to get special treatment, he is forced to go live with his father, Lonnie. Lonnie is someone who is used to getting into trouble with the law. He takes Tippy with him to help him steal. Tippy doesn't know if his father will change.

Holly Atkins is a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Southside Fundamental Middle. She is a National Board Certified teacher, former instructor at the Poynter Institute's Writers Camp and a teacher-consultant for the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project.