Today we will finish up our class schedule with books on math, history and art!
Period 6: Math â€“ Gretchen Kolderup
Nothing But the Truth (and a Few White Lies) by Justina Chen
Patty Ho is half-Taiwanese and half-white, a math genius, and in trouble with her mother after a fortune teller sees a white boy in her future. When her mom ships her off to math camp for the summer, she thinks she’s in for months of boredom surrounded by Asian math nerds.
But things might not be as desperate as they seem (she does meet a cute boy!), and Patty might just learn something about her family and herself. Well-developed characters and a relatable story of discovering who people are beneath the surface.
Numbed! by David Lubar
While Logan and Benedict are on a school field trip to a math museum, they have an encounter with a mathematic robot who “numbs” them, rendering them incapable of performing the simplest of math problems — even being able to tell what time it’ll be one hour later. Through multiple visits back to the museum where they’re forced to do quick calculations and solve some dastardly problems, the boys regain their powers — and develop a deeper, more intuitive understanding of math (and even an appreciation for the subject!). This middle grade title is full of Lubar’s characteristic puns and silly one-liners, is perfectly paced, and manages to sneak in a little learning with all the fun.
A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan
Farrah “Digit” Higgins has an incredible talent for detecting patterns in numbers. She’s managed to keep it hidden from her friends and while she’s MIT-bound next fall, she’s determined to make her senior year fun. However, after unknowingly cracking a terrorist group’s number sequence, she’s suddenly investigating the case, evading terrorists, trying to get the FBI to take her seriously, and even faking her own kidnapping. A romance, a coming-of-age story, and a thriller all wrapped up in one.
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Rithmatists can bring life to two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings, making them humanity’s only defense against the murderous Wild Chalklings. Joel desperately wants to be a Rithmatist, but because of his lowly parentage, he can only watch as students study the magical art. But when students start disappearing, Joel and his friend Melody are driven to investigate and discover more than they — or anyone else — expected. Sanderson, who writes fantasy for grown-ups, blends mathematical concepts into a high-fantasy setting in his first YA title. Think Harry Potter plus math, and the start of an exciting series.
Also worth checking out:
- After Math by Denise Grover Swank (new adult!)
- Digital Fortress by Dan Brown (adult with teen appeal!)
- The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (a classic!)
- The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, translated by Michael Henry Heim (even more math-tastic than the rest!)
- The books on this list previously published on The Hub
Period 7: History â€“ Carla Land
Cleopatra Confesses by Carolyn Meyer
Princess Cleopatra, one of the most famous queens of all time, shares her story as she grows up and gains power in ancient Egypt. Even though she’s a favorite of her father, life isn’t easy with all of the intrigue in Egypt. Powerful men like Julius Caesar fall in love with her because she is beautiful, but Cleopatra has many enemies she must defend herself from- including her own family.
Extra credit: The Fire of Ares by Michael Ford.
Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
Catherine, the thirteen-year-old daughter of an English country knight, is snarky and independent during a time when women were not supposed to be either of those things. She keeps a journal at her brother’s urging, keeping track of her daily life- including the flea count- and her dreams of not being married off to the old men her father brings home as suitors. Will her wits save her, or will she be stuck with Shaggy Beard for the rest of her life? (a 1998 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults selection)
Extra credit: The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman.
The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli
Who was the woman we call Mona Lisa? Life in Florence isn’t easy for women during the Renaissance. Elisabetta, Lisa for short, longs for more than just being a wife to someone chosen for her, but romance isn’t for most young girls of her class. Then family friend Leonardo da Vinci introduces her to Guiliano de Medici. Guiliano’s family rules Florence (with an iron fist, some say), but things are about to change for both the Medici’s and for Lisa- and not necessarily for the better.
Extra credit: Cantarella series by You Higuri.
Colonial/Revolutionary America (1620-1800)
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, traitor to the nation: Volume 1 The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
In this 2007 Printz Honor book, Octavian has led a different kind of life than most young African Americans in pre-revolutionary times. Classically trained and educated from birth, he has lived his life not know that he has been brought up as part of a science experiment, not knowing that he is in fact, a slave, and that the world outside the front door he is not permitted to exit is very different than the one he thought he was living in.
Extra credit: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson.
Victorian Era America (1837-1901)
Ripper by Steffan Pretrucha
Fourteen-year-old Carver Young is an orphan who hopes to someday find his birth father. When he is adopted by Detective Hawking of the famous Pinkerton Agency he thinks he is on his way to doing thisâ€¦ but then he becomes involved in the investiagtion of a New York City serial killer- who may be the notorious killer Jack the Ripper- and Carver discovers that learning the truth about his past may be worse than not knowing it.
Extra Credit: The King of Mulberry Street by Donna Jo Napoli.
World War II (1939-1945)
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Bruno is bored- and lonely. There’s a war going on and his father has been transferred from Berlin to a place called â€œOut-Withâ€ where he is the Nazi commander. This would be fine, but there are no children to play withâ€¦ except for the boy on the other side of the wire fence who wears striped pajamas. Becoming friends with this boy will be far more tragic than Bruno could ever realize.
Extra credit: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.
Period 8: Art â€“ Colleen Seisser
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
A lot can happen in one night. In this 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection, Lucy and her friends Jazz and Daisy want to spend the whole night after high school graduation in search of Shadow and Poet, a couple of graffiti artists that are making their mark in their Australian city. Shadow creates incredible images that Poet puts words to. Lucy, who spends her free time as an apprentice to a glass blower, is obsessed with Shadow’s artwork and knows that he is the guy for her. All she has to do is find him, which she has been trying to do for months now. Her friends Jazz and Daisy assure Lucy that before the night is over they will find Shadow.
The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg
In a new town and a new high school, Jane is not only alone, she is also bored by suburban life. So, on her first day of school, Jane is surprised to find three other Janes who are all friends and eat lunch together. Jane asks to join them and instantly finds friendship. Each of the Janes has their own unique personalities and together, they all just fit. To fight the boredom of suburban life, Jane rallies the other Janes to form P.L.A.I.N., or People Loving Art in Neighborhoods. They create art installations all over their suburban town to challenge people’s everyday notions of what art can be. Some residents like the art, however, there are those who are outraged and frightened of it and start calling the installations â€œart attacks.â€ What does this mean for the Janes? Do they continue their installations, risking arrest? Or worse? (a 2008 Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection)
Heist Society by Ally Carter
In this 2010 Teens’ Top Ten winning title, Kat just wants a normal life, but when you are raised by one of the world’s foremost art thieves, your life is never going to be normal. Attempting to escape the life that her father has trained her to live, Kat enrolls in a New England boarding school. After only a couple of months, though, Kat learns that her father is accused of stealing five works of art from and infamous mobster. Knowing that her father’s life is at stake, Kat embraces the art thievery skills that her father taught her to find the five artworks and clear her father’s name.
Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell
Cora discovers that art can truly help you heal. As she enters ninth grade, Cora can’t help but being consumed by grief from the recent death of her older brother in a car accident. Cora has always loved drawing maps and imagining herself in the places she creates. It is through this art that Cora is really able to escape her small town and her life that now feels like it is suffocating her. Art class is where Cora finds not only encouragement from a teacher to pursue her passion, but she also starts a friendship with Damien who was in the car with her brother the night he died and who her parent’s blame for their son’s death. As Damien and Cora grow closer, she learns the truth about her brother and who he really was, including his own secret artistic talents.
Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge
In this 2012 Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection, Paige has just moved from a rural town in Virginia to Brooklyn. Needless to say, her life is now very different. Feeling isolated and confused about her sense of self, Paige turns to art. Her sketchbook becomes her constant companion and she has committed to creating art to document her new life and try to figure out who she really is. Through eight months of work, Paige chronicles new friendships, insights to herself, thoughts about her mother, and even a possible romance.
A final thanks to all of the contributors who helped to make this great list. Hopefully it will help you find the perfect read for the beginning of the new school year! Let us know what subjects you love and which books we missed in the comments!
– Carli Spina, currently reading Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson