OK, so I know I said that as a former bookseller I was often tempted to sell books by saying “this is a great boy book,” but honestly, starting with Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island and the Hardy Boys, I was a girl who mostly wanted boy books...there just weren’t many books that seemed to be for BOTH boys and girls (one that comes to mind, though, is From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, because the main characters were Claudia AND Jamie).
I’ve recently read a few books that have both a boy and a girl as main characters, and although this might have forced me to be more creative in my bookselling career, I’m happy to note the trend – see below:
Steel Trapp: The Challenge, by Ridley Pearson, Disney
I wanted to like this book more than I did – I do love thrillers – but it somehow just missed for me. One thing I did like about it was the friendship between the main character, a boy nicknamed Steel (he has a photographic memory, a mind like a “steel trap”) and a girl named Kaileigh, who’s also a science geek. They put their scientific minds to work to solve the mystery of a kidnapped woman.
The London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd, David Fickling Books.
When Kat and Ted “lose their cousin Salim, on the London Eye (a gigantic ferris wheel and tourist attraction), they find themselves working together to find out what happened to him. I like the “siblingness” to their relationship, which is fractious on the surface but warm underneath. And Ted, the narrator, is afflicted with a condition that is never named (but readers will guess is probably Asperger’s) that gives him an obsession with weather and a unique way of interacting with his familiy. He is a funny, likeable kid.
Gollywhopper Games, by Jody Feldman, Greenwillow
Part Willy Wonka, part The Mysterious Benedict Society, this book is not quite as clever as those two but still lots of fun. When the Gollywhopper company sponsors the Games as a publicity stunt, Gil Goodson is determined to participate and WIN, to avenge his father, who wrongfully lost his job at Gollywhopper the previous year. The boy/girl angle is the source of some friendly cooperation/competition between Gil and Lavinia – they have puzzles to solve together before they get to the final rounds where they will face each other. I loved the subplot and relationship between Gil and his dad, and I really liked Gil: he is a standup guy and someone you’d like to be friends with.