Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is sort of science fiction novel about WWI. It tells the story of Prince Aleksander who should have been the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire and Deryn Sharp, a girl that disguises herself as a boy to get into the British Air Service. These two from very different backgrounds end up together on the huge British air ship the Leviathan. The British follow Darwin and make beasts to do things instead of machines. The Clanker countries make machines to do everything, and the two different ideals do not work well together, but are forced to as Alek and Deryn come to rely on each other and come to terms with their differences. This was interesting, and it took me a while to get what he was talking about with Darwinists and their "beasties" and the Clankers and their machines. Thankfully there are illustrations in each chapter so you can see what the machines and animals look like. I think boys would really like this book, and its sequel which I haven't read yet. Some fun summer reading.
The Boy who Dared by Susan Bartoletti is based on the true life story of Helmuth Buddat Hubner who was a German boy living in Germany during WWII. He grew up loving Germany and wanting a strong country. He joined the Hitler Youth, but then he began to see that maybe things in Germany were not as they seemed. He was not a Jew, but a Mormon, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he knew that all people must be treated equally and fairly, and that was not what was happening in Germany. He tried to follow the crowd, but discovered he just couldn't. The book begins on day 264 of his imprisonment in a Nazi camp for his being an enemy of the state at only 16 years old. It flashes back from the prison to his years growing up and what lead to his death sentence. It is a story of courage, choosing the right, and standing up for one's beliefs even when no one else is. The author shows photos of the actual people at the end. It was a great story about a very brave boy that couldn't just sit by and let wrong happen.
Princess Benby Catherine Gilbert Murdock is not your typical fairy tale, and Princess Benevolence is not your typical princess. I love stories like that! Princess Ben's story starts out on a low note, her parents are killed as they travel to the tomb of the great king. Princess Ben is left to be taken care of by her aunt, the Queen, who doesn't seem to be too fond of her. As she deals with her grief and living a more "princess" life she finds out she has gifts she never knew--like magic. She is determined to make the neighboring country pay for her parents' deaths, but sometimes things are not as they seem, and that is true with Princess Ben and her life as she finds out. This was a good read, lots of fun, and the people who you think you have figured out may change on you. Isn't that the way it is in life, too? A little romance, some magic, and lots of adventure in this book. A good summer read.