2018 Best Fiction for Young Adults List

Have you heard? The Best Fiction for Young Adults list has been released! Check out the top ten below!

  • Arnold, Elana. What Girls Are Made Of. Lerner/Carolrhoda Lab. 2017. Sixteen-year-old Nina experiences sex, betrayal, loss, and a dysfunctional home life, all while trying to understand what it means to be female in the world and whether love can ever be truly unconditional.
  • Bardugo, Leigh. The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic. Illus. by Sara Kipin. Macmillan/Imprint. 2017. Traditional fairy tales are refreshingly twisted, re-created, and wrapped in gorgeous illustrations in this stand-alone collection of six short stories. The world-building will be familiar to Bardugo’s fans, and readers new to her Grishaverse have the pleasure of knowing they can take further excursions into this world.
  • Lee, Mackenzi. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. 2017. Montague, the son of a British nobleman, embarks on a European tour with his best friend (and secret crush) Percy and his sister Felicity. Along the way, they encounter adventure and conflict that leads them to a very different destiny than the one awaiting their return to England.
  • Moon, Sarah. Sparrow. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. 2017. Sparrow has a secret: her closest friends are birds. When she feels anxious, she goes to the roof and flies. One day, this practice lands her in the hospital, facing questions from the adults in her life. Slowly, she recovers, finds her voice, and makes new friends along the way.
  • Reynolds, Jason. Long Way Down. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum. 2017. Will’s brother has been shot. In this free-verse novel, Will steps into an elevator ready to head downstairs and to follow the rules he’s been taught and avenge his brother’s death, when he encounters the ghosts of victims of a chain reaction caused by a shooting.

Continue reading 2018 Best Fiction for Young Adults List

Booklist: Surviving Middle School

Middle school is the time of greatest change for teens. It is when you go from from 11 to 12-years-old to becoming an actual teenager. It is a time changing friendships and changing bodies, becoming more aware of yourself and of others. It is a time when identity is being explored, but also a time of growing empathy and sense of social justice. Books about the middle school experience are tricky to categorize, some speak to the younger side and some to the older, and choosing books for middle schoolers can be difficult because they are reading everything.

Continue reading Booklist: Surviving Middle School

#QP2018 Nominees Round Up

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
ISBN: 9781481438254

Will Holloman knows the rules.
Crying: Don’t. No matter what. Don’t.
Snitching: Don’t. No matter what. Don’t.
Revenge: If someone you love gets killed,
find the person who killed them,
and kill them. Continue reading #QP2018 Nominees Round Up

#QP2018 Nominees Round Up

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
ISBN: 9781481489331

Tash Zelenka is head-over-heels in love with Leo Tolstoy. She channels her passion and her prodigious snark into the Web series she creates with her best friend Jack, a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina called Unhappy Families, which boasts a modest following. When a famous Internet personality gives their series a shoutout online, Unhappy Families experiences sudden overnight fame, resulting in overwhelming helpings of accolades, inevitable trolls, and pressure to deliver like they’ve never experienced before.
Continue reading #QP2018 Nominees Round Up

2016 Middle Grade Titles with Teen Appeal

It can be easy to for me to forget that teens are some of the most dexterous readers out there. They can jump from reading adult novels one day, back to a young adult novel the next, and then have no qualms about picking up a book that we consider middle grade after that. I often feel that I need to be pushing older teens to move onward from young adult titles to adult titles, assuming that is what they are “growing into,” but will be surprised when one says how they have just read Sara Pennypacker’s Pax and loved it. Some teens stay loyal to the authors that meant so much to them in the grade school years, authors like Christopher Paul Curtis and Kate DiCamillo, and others will continue to read anything by Rick Riordan, no matter how old they get. Teens can still have an interest in titles that we assume they would feel are “babyish,” but for them can be a break from angst or romance, and to them are just a great story.

We have some great resources when we are looking for adult books for teen appeal. We have YALSA’s Alex Award and their annual vetted list of books and School Library Journal’s column Adult Books for Teens, but we rarely see resources out there for younger books that might have a place in a teen’s reading pile. Here is a list of recent titles, titles that can be both successful with both a 5th-grader and an 11-grader.

middle-grade-re

Realistic Fiction

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

This story starts and ends with a gunshot. Ever since the night his father shot a gun at him and his mother, Castle Cranshaw left running and hasn’t stopped since. Now in seventh-grade, he’s nicknamed himself Ghost after coming upon a track tryout, and without officially entering, taking on one of the most elite runners and winning. Now he is being courted by the coach to join the track team, and learns that you don’t always have to run away from things, but can run towards things too. Track is one of those sports that many kids and teens participate in, but it is rarely the subject of novels. Fans of Friday Night Lights with love this coach in this as much as they do Coach Taylor. This is a character-driven and plot-driven novel with many appeals, but teens that especially love a Gatsby-esque novel laden with imagery and themes will find so much to pore over in this short, but rich, novel.

The Best Man by Richard Peck

This story starts and ends with a wedding. One that is a complete train-wreck, and one that couldn’t be more perfect. This coming-of-age novel is full of snarky humor and hilarious episodes that allow you to see the world of adults through a younger generation’s eyes. Unlike Tom Sawyer and Holden Caulfield, Archer Magill is clueless to the world around him, and his best friend Lynette is always having to explain life’s nuances. Teen’s who have appreciated David Sedaris’ childhood memoir essays will feel at home in how family can be hilarious and still be the best parts of our world.

Booked by Kwame Alexander

Soccer is the backdrop to this coming-of-age novel. Nick Hall, whose father makes him study the dictionary and turn in homework to him, would love to escape the world of words and books. Nick thinks he has the world all-figured out. He lives for soccer, and both he and his best-friend are getting to play in the Dallas Dr. Pepper Open, but on different teams. Just as things seem to be going his way, especially with his crush paying a little of attention to him, bombs start to drop–his mother announces she is leaving to follow her dream of training race horses, but in a different state, and he get appendicitis right before the big tournament. Teens will appreciate how messy life can be, and appreciate those little moments when you realize that you’ve gotten it all wrong.

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

At the start of their eighth grade year both Lily and Dunkin are trying to establish new identities for themselves. Everyone sees Lily as Timothy, but she is ready for the real her to be known, only her father isn’t ready for the the transition. Dunkin, has just moved to Lily’s Florida town to live with his Grandmother, and would love to leave his old name “Norbert”and some painful secrets in the past. This middle grade novel has strong characterization of two young teens navigating their identities. Older teens will identify with the work it takes to let others see the real you, and the hope they will accept you for who you truly are.

middle-grade-fantasy

Fantasy

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

When Peter’s father is heading off to war, he is forced to abandon his pet fox in the woods. Unable to handle the separation, Peter runs away to find his beloved pet, Pax. Told through alternating perspective between Peter and Pax, this book is a sensitive look at grief, man’s relationship with animals, and the marks of war.

When the Sea Turned Silver by Grace Lin

The magic of story will transport readers into a new time and place filled with adventure. Pinmei has to find the Luminous Stone to rescue her grandmother who has been kidnapped by the emperor. Teens that love books of fairytales retold, with love that feeling as Lin weaves new stories that have that classic feeling.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Young Alice lives in a world that values both magic and color, and she unfortunately seems to be lacking both. She hasn’t seem to exhibit any magical powers similar to those in her community, and she was born with no color in her skin or hair. After her father has been missing for several years, she hears that he might be in the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, and she sets out to find him. Teens will be drawn to this Whimsical, gothic fairy tale with a narrator voice similar to Series of Unfortunate Events.

Goblin’s Puzzle; Being the Adventures of A Boy With No Name and Two Girls Called Alice by Andrew S. Chilton

Teen fans of Douglas Adams or Monty Python will love the humorous writing and twists and turns in this adventure. This follows a slave boy with no name as he tries to rescue a princess and a peasant (both named Alice), and discover what his destiny is. He seeks the help of Mennofar, a tiny green goblin, even though he can’t be trusted as everyone knows goblins are sneaky. Continue reading 2016 Middle Grade Titles with Teen Appeal

School Library Journal 2016 Day of Dialog Recap

SLJDOD2016_SLJHeader_900x250Each year, School Library Journal presents a Day of Dialog, which allows librarians, educators, and library students the chance to come together and learn the latest about childrens and teens publishing trends and upcoming releases.  This was the first time I have attended a Day of Dialog and I would definitely recommend future attendance to anyone who works with children and/or teens promoting books and reading. Check out my recap of the middle school/high school panels and speakers from the day! Continue reading School Library Journal 2016 Day of Dialog Recap

2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #14

Not signed up yet for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm EST on June 23, so sign up now!

the hub 2016 reading challenge

 

I’m feeling a little shocked that it’s May already (I work in a school; crunch-time is descending!), but there are still over seven weeks of reading time left in this year’s Hub Reading Challenge, and I’ve got lots of titles I’m hoping to fit in before June 23rd.

Lately, I’ve read the latest Ms. Marvel installments (Vol. 3: Crushed, from the 2016 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten list, and Vol. 4: Last Days as well, which is not for the Hub 2016 Reading Challenge, but I really really love Ms. Marvel, so I’m planning to keep reading the series as long as G. Willow Wilson is writing them). I also finally got my hands on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (this year’s Morris Award Winner), and am half-way through The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds, a 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book.

 

Continue reading 2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #14

National Smile Week Reading Suggestions

“Who Can Turn the World On With Her Smile? Who Can Turn A Nothing Day and Make It All Seem Worthwhile? (*I know many of you know this old TV theme song and are singing along, right?)

 

Did you know that this week is National Smile Week? I think it is promoting being friendly and welcoming towards one another. It’s summer so it makes sense that many of us are happier and smiling – especially if you’re on vacation as you read this.

Since it’s such an optimistic sounding week, I thought I would try to come up with some books that go along with the topic of smiling.

SmileOne book that immediately comes to mind is Smile by Raina Telgemeier (2011 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens and 2011 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens). I’ve also seen this on a lot of summer reading lists.

Although this autobiographical graphic novel chronicles Raina’s often painful dental experiences after she accidentally knocked out her front tooth and damaged the one next to it in 6th grade, it does end on a cheerful note and a big smile. The years before that, though, sound very painful as Raina describes in graphic detail (no pun intended) how she underwent numerous dental surgeries, had braces put on several times, had to wear the oh-so stylish headgear at night, as well as a retainer with fake teeth! She is forced to endure all this from sixth grade until she gets her braces off for good in her sophomore year of high school.

A Wrinkle In TimeAnother character you might remember who has braces (and glasses and frizzy hair) is 14-year-old Meg Murray from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, in both the novel and in the graphic novel adaptation illustrated by Hope Larson. Both Raina and Meg learn to stop being so self-critical and to not let their outward appearance affect how they feel on the inside. I can totally relate to both Raina and Meg, because, I too, had to wear braces for years, from 3rd grade until 8th grade (and have had glasses from a young age too). The pain of wearing braces is worth it in the end to have a great smile.

Sooner after Raina’s accident, her dentist tried to put her two damaged front teeth back into place, but they went up even further into her gums instead. She’s horrified and says, “I look like a vampire!!” After more treatment, when her teeth still don’t seem to be responding, Raina fearfully asks, “So am I gonna look like a vampire forever??”

2015-08-02 17.26.53 (2)She doesn’t end up looking like a vampire, but teenaged Chris isn’t so lucky in M. T. Anderson’s often graphic novel Thirsty. Chris is having a lot of trouble adjusting to the fact that he appears to be turning into a vampire. He keeps telling himself that he has to, “Keep smiling for another few weeks, until the curse is lifted. Keep smiling, I think, while my teeth are still square.” He’s trying his hardest not to give in to his burgeoning bloodlust. But, it’s almost impossible – and having aching braces just makes it even harder. As his hunger gets the best of him,  he gives in and says, “I lower my mouth. My open lips just nuzzle my forearm…..” and then before he knows it, “My braces are just one big loopy tangle.”

I think getting smiled at by Chris might not be such a welcome sight after all.

Continue reading National Smile Week Reading Suggestions

Read it in One Rainy Day

Image by OiMax
Image by OiMax

Now that Spring feels finally here – the giant snow pile out my north of Boston apartment finally melted – I feel the need for a different kind of book. Like many of you, different seasons of the year make me want different kinds of books. In the winter I like to hunker down with a long, multi-book series and summer brings the annual “beach” reads and the time where I sneak some adult fiction into YA-to-read pile. The return of school in the fall makes me gravitate towards the boarding school story but what about spring?

When it starts to get warmer, it’s easy to ditch the book to head outside to enjoy the not so cold evenings. Breaking my winter hibernation born of cold weather, feet upon feet of snow, makes my concentration wander so I tend to turn to books that I can read in a day or two. There’s nothing like starting and finishing a book on rainy spring day to make you feel accomplished but not overwhelmed.

Here’s a list of recent books I’ve read in a day or maybe two or three. Many are graphic novels which I find great for my spring distraction.

18465566This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (2015 Caldecott and Printz honors): This book does an amazing job of presenting a chapter in the lives of two friends. They are growing up but also apart from the friendship that they thought wouldn’t change. The gorgeous and evocative art, done in shades of blue, makes you long for summer but also revel in whatever weather you’re in, letting you melt into the page.

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley (2015 Great Graphic Novel for Teens): The bright colors of the art and acceleration of the plot makes this a great one day read. You will get sucked in by Katie’s seemingly perfect way to get rid of her mistakes – the magic mushrooms that allow her to fix anything – and tearing through the book as fast as you can as all of her changed mistakes come back to haunt her at the end. Continue reading Read it in One Rainy Day

The Eighth Day of YA

The Twelve Days of YAThis year on the Hub we are celebrating the Twelve Days of YA with a series of posts loosely based on the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. We have converted each gift into a related theme common to YA and paired it with a list of relevant titles. You may use the Twelve Days of YA tag to read all of the posts in the series.

Special thanks goes to Carli Spina, Faythe Arredondo, Sharon Rawlins, Geri Diorio, Becky O’Neil, Carla Land, Katie Yu, Laura Perenic, Jennifer Rummel, Libby Gorman, Carly Pansulla, Anna Dalin, and Allison Tran for their help creating the booklists and organizing this series.

On the eighth day of YA, my true love gave to me eight maids-a-milking.

Day eight seemed like a pretty simple one to translate over to a YA lit theme since maids tend to be servants or service workers for the wealthy and this can be found in many books. While this list could have been expanded a bit to cover all characters for whom work was a requirement, such as The Boy in the Black Suit (Jason Reynolds) and The Distant Between Us (Kasie West), we decided to keep it a bit more limited. We hope you enjoy the stories of characters-a-workin’ that we picked and encourage you to share your favorites in the comments!

  

  

– Jessica Lind, currently reading As You Wish by Cary Elwes