Summer means that it is time to delve deeply into your passions and spend a few weeks immersed in your favorite topics at summer camp. As teens flock to soccer camps, language camps, and space camps, here are some books for teens headed to art camps.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (2000 Printz Honor) is about expressing yourself. After ending her 8th grade summer with a traumatic event that’s shrouded in mystery until the final few chapters, Melinda is an outcast at her new high school. Unable to talk openly with her ex-friends and unwilling to talk to her teachers, Melinda’s only way to communicate is through her art class. Melinda’s art reflects her inner emotions: confusion, depression and feeling lost. By the end of 9th grade, Melinda has begun to tell a story with her drawings and sculptures — and then she is finally able to tell her story.
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick): Reeling from the loss of her older (and revered) sister Bailey, gifted clarinetist Lennie is trying to hold the pieces of herself together. One piece of her longs for her sister, and in an effort to fill that empty space in her heart, falls in love with her sister’s boyfriend, Toby. Another piece of her, longing to live and to play, is drawn to the charismatic, musical, and optimistic new boy in town, Joe. The book is also filled with Lennie’s beautiful poems that she writes on bubblegum wrappers, scraps of paper, and cereal boxes, leaving a wake of words behind her.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (2012 Morris Award finalist): Lina’s family is uprooted from their Lithuanian home by Soviet soldiers and placed on a train to Siberia. When Lina, her mother, and her little brother are separated from their father, Lina uses her unique artistic style to leave clues, hoping that they will bring the family back together again. Lina finds the materials to draw and create something beautiful in the most dire of circumstances. My only wish is that the book were accompanied with a sketchbook of her drawings.
Part autobiography, part workbook, What It Is by Lynda Barry (2009 Best Books for Young Adults pick) is a great read for any creative teen looking for inspiration and motivation. Filled with Barry’s stories about growing up an artist and a writer, it makes any reader want to test the limits of their creativity immediately. The workbook sections will be greatly appreciated by creative teens who have hit a wall or who are looking for new ways to express themselves (especially if they love cephalopods!).
— Kate McNair, currently re-reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (for about the 15th time)