Finding worthy books for middle-grade readers can be a difficult task. But 2009 brought dozens of good reads for the 8-12 set—here are our 10 favorites.
The Doll Shop Downstairs by Yona Zeldis McDonough (Viking)
Everything for a Dog by Ann M. Martin (Feiwel & Friends)
The Evolution of Capurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (Holt)
Fortune's Folly by Deva Fagan (Holt)
Lincoln and His Boys by Rosemary Wells (Candlewick)
Lincoln Shot by Barry Denenberg (Feiwel & Friends)
The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice (HarperCollins)
A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck (Dial/Penguin)
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb/Random House)
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (Little, Brown)
The United Nations Climate Change Conference opened today in Copenhagen. For the next two weeks, leaders from 200 nations will try to deliver solutions for the earth’s environmental problems, with an emphasis on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
For those of you who’d like to plan a reading list with a green theme, check out the suggestions below. Which books are we missing? Tell us in the comments.
I recently read and reviewed the Young Readers edition of Our Choice: How We Can Solve the Climate Crisis, by Al Gore. Although the recommended age range for the book is 8-14, the content is certainly not watered down. Gore goes into detail about fuel sources, emissions, population control and other topics – all paired with tips on how individuals can make a difference. Also of note: the book is printed on 100% recycled paper.
Edward Humes’ Eco Barons presents us with profiles of people who want to change the world for the better, such as Ted Turner, the multi-billionaire founder of CNN, who bought enough land in Montana and the Great Plains to rival Yellowstone National Park.
New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman argues for significant environmental policy changes in Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America. He writes, “It is much more important to change your leaders than your light bulbs.”
"Wrap it up and give it to the guy who knows what funny is." That's what reviewer Martin Brady had to say about Our Front Pages: 21 Years of Greatness, Virtue, and Moral Rectitude from America’s Finest News Source, the latest collection from the satirical paper The Onion. Their writers are so good at skating the fine line between reality and satire that it's easy to see why at least one paper thought their "news" stories were the real thing. An earlier Onion collection was a great hit with my funny-guy brother, so this year might find another one under the tree—as long as he's not reading this!
The Onion has another brilliant idea: Noveller, the social networking site that allows users to post novels to all their friends and followers throughout the day.
"You know, before we came up with Noveller, we had all these friends creating these great 75,000- to 300,000-word works of fiction, but there was no quick, easy, fun way to share them," cofounder Chuck Gregory said. "To be honest, we were stunned there wasn't already anything like it out there. It seemed so obvious."
"I love it," said Sheena Wulf, a Novellist from Kansas City, MO. "If I'm ever sitting in a coffee shop and my sense of alienation and utter detachment from contemporary life provides me with sudden insight into the world that helped shape my family, I just grab my phone and Novel it out to people."
Added Wulf, "It's so simple."
As the year draws to a close, we at BookPage are compiling our own "best of 2009" lists. First up, our top 10 picks for teen reading—in alphabetical order. This list of favorites ranges from the realistic to the futuristic, but only includes one vampire. What do you think of our selections? Tell us in the comments, or show us your own teen top 10.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman (Holt)
Gateway by Sharon Shinn (Viking)
Fire by Kristin Cashore (Dial/Penguin)
Going Bovine by Libba Bray (Random House)
If I Stay by Gayle Forman (Dutton)
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (Simon & Schuster)
The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks (Houghton Mifflin)
This Full House by Virginia Euwer Wolff (HarperTeen)
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (Viking)
One of my favorite parts about working at BookPage is getting the opportunity to correspond with authors (once I had a multi-email exchange with Janet Skeslien Charles about online dating!). Today, I got an e-mail from Stephen Johnson, creator of My Little Red Fire Truck, with a photo that I thought would bring a smile to your face on this Friday afternoon:
From Alice Cary’s review in BookPage: “Where was My Little Red Fire Truck when my son was a preschooler? Oh, how he would have adored this book!” View a book trailer below the jump.
Have any of you had memorable exchanges with authors? Tell us about them in the comments.
This just in via USA Today: Seth Grahame-Smith, the brains behind Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, is writing what is sure to become a classic: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The parody will hit stores on March 2. (For those who believe Honest Abe deserves more respect, the recently-published Lincoln, Life-Size might be more your speed.)
P&P and Zombies has sold over half a million copies, but will this wacky trend of historical figures/classic novels-meets-the-undead stand the test of time?
Tell us what other concepts you’d like to see in the comments. I vote for Romeo & Juliet & Mummies and Shakespeare and Skeletons.
Big news for Suzanne Collins fans: Last night it was announced that the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy will be published on August 24, 2010. In a press release, Ellie Berger, President of the Scholastic Trade Publishing division, commented that over 1.5 million copies of the first two books are in print in North America. No word yet on a title or plot details for book #3.
BookPage reviewer Deborah Hopkinson loved book one, The Hunger Games. She wrote: “Young adults will be riveted by Collins' novel. (It kept this reviewer up until two a.m.) The Hunger Games combines elements of an intense survival adventure with a story of friendship and love. But the book is more than a page-turner with a strong, appealing heroine. The Hunger Games is a powerful and often disturbing story that is sure to spark intense discussion not just about Katniss Everdeen's world—but about our own.”
Read about the author’s decision to write a trilogy; The Hunger Games movie adaptation; and more in this interview with Suzanne Collins.
Are you looking forward to the new book? Do you have any suggestions for the title?
Yesterday USA Today released the first official picture from the set of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part I). The young trio looks grim, reflecting the serious mood of the film, which director David Yates says is much more grounded in reality. "They're out in the big bad world, facing real danger, unguarded by those wonderful benign wizards at Hogwarts," he explains.
Release date for the first part of Deathly Hallows is set for November 2010, with the second half to follow in summer 2011. (Rumor has it that the final installment of the Twilight saga will also be filmed in two parts.) Are you counting the days?
Related in BookPage: our interview with Jim Dale, reader of all seven Harry Potter books on audio.
Here’s another one from the Twilight file.
The Guardian reported yesterday that “piggybacking off the success of the Twilight saga,” there will soon be two new film adaptations of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.
Wuthering Heights producer Robert Bernstein explained the connection between vampires in Washington and two of the most famous Victorian (tragic) love stories of all time. "[The Twilight factor is] clearly in the zeitgeist. Why is anybody's guess, but people are absolutely obsessed with this doomed, romantic love that can only be achieved beyond death, or in the case of Twilight, by becoming a vampire.”
Also, it doesn’t hurt that Wuthering Heights is one of Bella Swan’s favorite books. (Bella on her fascination with Heathcliff and Catherine: “I think it's something about the inevitability. How nothing can keep them apart — not her selfishness, or his evil, or even death, in the end...”)
If you’re hoping for a tortured stud to play Heathcliff, well… hope you like (Gossip Girl’s) Chuck Bass. The 22-year-old Ed Westwick will star opposite Gemma Arterton’s Cathy. (Lawrence Olivier was 50 when he took on this role.) Irish heartthrob Michael Fassbender will play Mr. Rochester. Mia Wasikowska (age 20) has been cast as Jane. Both movies will start shooting in spring 2010.
Jumping on the Brontë bandwagon, British director Dominic Murphy is working on an untitled project “about the imaginative worlds invented by the Brontës as adolescents.” To me, this project sounds like the most interesting of the group. As children the three Brontë sisters and their brother wrote hugely elaborate stories about made-up kingdoms.
I loved Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, and I’m a little skeptical of this Twilight-ification of the casting. . . although maybe the movies will bring more readers to the books. HarperCollins is certainly hoping so. Check out this UK edition of Wuthering Heights, with a cover à la Twilight. The book is billed as “Bella & Edward’s favorite book.” I’m afraid this marketing might make Brontë devotees gasp.
Will you go see the new Brontë-related movies? If you can’t wait until they come out, you might enjoy reading The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë.