Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love by Jared Reck; narrated by Kirby Heyborne Listening Library Release Date: June 8, 2021 ISBN: 9780593398951
Oscar is coasting out his last year of high school. After losing both parents as a child where he was born in Sweden, he is growing up with just his Grandfather, Farfar in the US. Not looking to attend college, his plans are to get his diploma and then take over the food truck he has been running with his grandfather on weekends and summers. But as he works through his calm, ordered days, Lou, a whirlwind of an overachiever, steamrolls him into using his skills to cook up the mountains of leftover apples from the cafeteria in the name of reducing food waste. She upends the life he thought he wanted with enthusiasm. When tragedy hits he realizes even the steadiest of plans can be blown apart.
In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner; narrated by Michael Crouch Listening Library Release date: August 8, 2021 ISBN: 9780593399040
Cash and his friend Delaney are barely surviving in their small Appalachian town. Cash is being raised by his grandparents after his mother succumbed to opioid addiction, and Delaney is running from drug dealers and an unstable home while working at Dairy Queen. A small but profound scientific discovery by Delaney gives her leverage to earn them both places at a prestigious boarding school. Cash is torn between going and leaving behind the grandparents who have raised him and grabbing the otherwise unattainable opportunities the scholarship would give him. Convinced by Delaney to go to the new school, he discovers his inner poet, and goes through many coming of age experiences.
Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.
The City Beautiful. By Aden Polydoros. Harlequin/Inkyard Press, $19.99 (9781335402509).
Amidst the glitz and glamour of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Alter Rosen, a gay, Jewish, Romanian immigrant teen, becomes possessed by the dybbuk of his murdered friend and must avenge the deaths of his friend and a growing number of other local Jewish boys.
Curses. By Lish McBride. Penguin Random House/G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, $18.99 (9781984815590).
When Merit refuses to marry a prince, she is cursed to live as a beast. Tevin’s family runs cons on rich girls, but when his mom runs afoul of the beast she trades him for her freedom. This fresh, gender-bent Beauty and the Beast retelling examines what “beastly” really is.
We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon; Narrated by Carly Robbins Simon and Schuster Audio Release date: June 8, 2021 ISBN: 9781797123639
Wedding harpist Quinn has just graduated high school and her life has been laid out for her: attend business school nearby while continuing to help out with her parents’ wedding planning business, just as her older sister did. But Quinn is burnt out on love, especially after last summer when she confessed her feelings for wedding caterer Tarek and he vanished off to college without a reply. This summer he’s back and they keep getting thrown together to solve wedding emergencies, all while Quinn navigates telling her parents she doesn’t want to be a wedding planner and learning to build harps.
Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June HarperCollins / HarperTeen Publication Date: June 1, 2021 ISBN: 978-0063015159
Jay Collier is an out and proud white gay teen in rural Washington. As everyone in school has paired off and are busy experiencing their first relationships, Jay has no one to date. He creates “Jay’s Gay Agenda”: a bucket list of relationship experiences he wants to have. When his family moves to Seattle at the start of his senior year, he is overjoyed at the idea of being surrounded by other queer teens and hopes to start marking things off his list. As Jay jumps into life at his new school and starts making new friends, he discovers that the balancing act between balancing his time and energy between his new and old friends is hard; throw in dating and crossing off agenda experiences and suddenly life is really complicated.
With more than a decade of winners to look back on, let’s see which of our former debuts are still impressing readers today.
2010’s Morris Award went to L. K. Madigan’s Flash Burnout. Tragically, the author passed away just a year after receiving the award. The rest of the finalists from that year, however, have continued to contribute to YA in significant ways, perhaps none more notably that Nina LaCour, who went on to win the 2018 Printz Award for We Are Okay. LaCour’s latest novel, Watch Over Me, has been nominated for the 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults Selected List.
Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner Crown Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House Publication Date: February 26, 2019 ISBN: 9781524720209
Delia and Josie’s late night horror show on the local cable station is the pinnacle of campiness but it solidifies the bond these two girls have with one another. Yet, decisions on the horizon about the future of the show and their life after high school are complicating life. Dreams and hopes that include Delia’s possible reunion with her father, lead them to hijinks at Shivercon, a horror convention, and discovering who they are and want to become.
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.
This is a guest post from Jeff Zentner, author of the 2017 Morris Award winner, The Serpent King.
Nic Stone and I are imprint siblings at Crown and best buds for about as long as either of us have been in the publishing world. She’s the only person on Earth who’s read everything I’ve ever written. We discuss everything from the virtues of kettle corn to the foibles of child-rearing to race relations in America to…story stuff that really requires more context than I have room for here. Point being: I couldn’t be more thrilled for Nic that she’s a Morris finalist and no one is more deserving. I got to talk with her. Continue reading 2018 Morris Award Finalists: An Interview with Nic Stone
There are many online platforms for sharing and creating art. Teens are taking advantage the various mediums of creating and sharing their works. But what happens when your work becomes a smash hit? How do manage instant fame? How do you take advantage of opportunity when it comes your way? Many new teen titles are exploring the effects of being or becoming an online sensation. Teens are relating to these stories both on the artist/creator end of things, and even though they may not gain instant fame, teens still have to navigate similar tricky waters in the day to day of who is a true friend, and how to manage negative comments and bullies.
The following titles are about teens experiencing internet fame:
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
Natasha “Tash” Zelenka has turned her literary crush of Leo Tolstoy to good use. With the help of her best friend, Jack, they have created a web series “Unhappy Families,” a modern retelling of Anna Karenina. When a famous vlogger gives a shout out to the series, it goes viral. Now she, along with the cast and crew, are finding what it means to be a hit sensation and are managing the adoration, and the trolls, coming their way. The instant fame is also creating tensions among the crew. The story is paralleled with Tash, who identifies as a romantic asexual, navigating flirtations coming her way. Admist the fame and romance, Tash is also dealing with her older sister creating distance, her parents announcing a new sibling on the way, college applications, the impending end of the series, and the big “What’s next.”
Bang by Barry Lyga
Sebastian loves making pizza. Not your basic generic pizza, but pizza that starts with homemade dough, recipes he has thoughtfully researched, homemade sauce, and the best toppings and combinations. This isn’t enough to keeps the memories at bay though. When he was four years old, he shot and killed his baby sister, and now has plans to do the same to himself at the end of summer. When Aneesha, a Muslim girl, moves into the neighborhood she encourages him to create a YouTube channel with her about his pizza creations. Things start to shift in Sebastian’s outlook, until the YouTube channel takes off, and he is recognized, and called out for his painful childhood past. Continue reading Going Viral – YA Books of Teens Managing Online Fame