I’ve used the young adult novel Hidden Talents as a read-aloud book to middle school students for about five years now. I’ve read it to sixth graders and eighth graders. In total, over 500 kids have heard me read this book, and I could count on one hand the number of kids who didn’t like it.
How’s that for an endorsement?
Author: David Lubar
Age group: early young adult
Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Martin Anderson has been kicked out of middle school after middle school for being a smart aleck. He seems to know just the right thing to say to push someone’s buttons. Finally, he’s sent to Edgeview Alternative School, where he meets kids who are constantly setting fires, bullying, cheating, and stealing. At least, that’s how things appear until Martin gets to know them better and discovers his classmates have some hidden talents.
As I said in the beginning, kids love this book, even the reluctant readers. However, I want to let parents know that the book does have some “minor” swears. For example, when I read the book aloud to the kids, I change the damn‘s into darn‘s and the “This sucks” into “This stinks.” No F-bombs are dropped in the book (and I’ve certainly seen that in some young adult books), but I think it only fair for parents to know that the language is more PG than G.
I got to meet David Lubar at an International Reading Association Conference a couple years ago. He’s a funny guy, which isn’t surprising since his humor (perfect for middle school kids) shines through in his books. The kids enjoyed Hidden Talents so much, I eventually had to ask the school to buy us the sequel, True Talents, so that we could read that as well.
In the photo above (from left to write): Kristin Simmons (author of Article-5), Kendare Blake (author of Anna Dressed in Blood), me (author of several magazine articles, this blog, and a Chicken Soup for the Soul story), David Lubar (author of Hidden Talents), and Annette and Gina Cascone (authors of Grave Secrets).