What London Teens Are Reading
It’s time for the 7th Annual Tower Hamlets Book Award! A list of 40 nominated books selected by librarians and pupils has been released to participating schools in the Tower Hamlets Borough in London. The competition has a couple of stages. In July, a shortlist is announced, just in time for summer reading. (Summer term ends in late July.) Pupils and librarians vote, and in November the winner is announced.
Originally, I wanted to compare their list of nominees to our list of 2013 Teen Top Ten nominees. Turns out they have only one book in common: Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity. So this post mainly focuses on the THBA, because there are some new and interesting titles found there.
Look Who’s Here!
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell was published as a book for adults in the United States, although there was some interest in its possible young adult appeal. The main characters, Kiwi, Osceola, and Ave, are all in various stages of adolescence. It can get very weird, such as when Osceola creeps off to meet her ghost lover. Russell’s writing is transportive, although not all readers enjoyed the ride. It’s interesting to find Swamplandia!, with a new cover design, on this list.
In the Sea There Are Crocodiles is based on the true story of Enaiatollah Akbari, a ten year-old Hazara boy living in Afghanistan during the time the Taliban assumed power. To escape, Enaiatollah is sent to Pakistan. There he is alone and abused. For ten years the boy wanders in search of asylum, until he reaches Italy. The credited author, Fabio Geda, is an accomplished Italian novelist who created a book from Enaiatollah’s experience, although somewhere in the process the book crossed the line from true account to fiction. Howard Curtis translated In the Sea into English. In 2011, the book was marketed to adults both in the US and UK. A UK YA edition was published by David Fickling Books in 2012. It doesn’t seem available here in the US, but please correct me if I’m wrong!
Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes — yes, that Shirley Hughes. Dogger won the Kate Greenaway Award in 1977. She’s written over 200 books for children. Now, at age 85, she has published her first full-length novel. The book is illustrated by Hughes with small, black-and-white pictures that appear before each chapter. And although the original cover art is charming, the revised cover (at far left) is also quite nice.
Call Me Drog by Sue Cowing may sound familiar. It was published in the US as You Will Call Me Drog a couple of years ago. Last year Usborne published a UK version with new name and, of course, new cover. The story is creepy (you’d never guess by the cover, right?) and is about a talking puppet. You Will Call Me Drog made it on VOYA’s Top Shelf for Middle School Readers. Quite a range of reading levels on this list!
THBA Nominees Coming Soon to America!
- 15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins (May 2013)
- Hero on a Bicycleby Shirley Hughes (April 2013)
- VIII by H.M. Castor (August 2013)
- Earthfall by Mark Walden (August 2013)
- The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean Telt by Hisself by David Almond (January 2014)
- The Weight of Waterby Sarah Crossan (July 2013)
Here’s a fun fact you might have guessed
- Swamplandia by Karen Russell
- 15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins
- In the Sea there are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda
- There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff
- Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Split by Swati Avasthi
- She Loves You, She Loves You Not by Julie Anne Peters
- Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell
- Call Me Drog by Sue Cowing
- This Is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees
- One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
- In Darkness by Nick Lake
- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
- Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright
- Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman
- Department 19 by Will Hill
- Hollow Pike by James Dawson
- Dead to You by Lisa McMann
- Stay by Deb Caletti
- Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
- The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
- Poppy’s Hero by Rachel Billington
- At Yellow Lake by Jane McLoughlin
- Itch by Simon Mayo
- VIII by H.M. Castor
Not available in the US
- Secrets of the Henna Girl by Sufia Ahmed
- Earthfall by Mark Walden
- All Fall Down: A Story of Survival by Sally Nicholls
- The Prince Who Walked with Lions by Elizabeth Laird
- Dear Dylan Siobhan Curham
- Grymm by Keith Austin
- Black Sheep by Na’ima B. Robert
- Dive Bombing by Bernard Ashley
- The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean Telt by Hisself by David Almond
- The Flask by Nicky Singer
- Om Shanti Babe by Helen Limon
- Forget Me Never by Gina Blaxill
- My Brother Simple by Marie-Aude Murail
- The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan
— Diane Colson, currently reading The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George and listening to Banished: Surviving My in the Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain and Lisa Pulitzer, read by Lauren Drain