As booklovers know, summer reading can be fun—although many children and teens don't exactly see it that way. To help anyone looking for some exciting new choices, we've combed through books published so far this year and come up with our top 10 summer reading selections for 2012 in both the middle grade and teen categories. These books range from fantasy to mystery to contemporary stories. All are guaranteed to keep young readers turning pages all summer long. What books would you add to the list?
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Published by Harper; ages 8 to 12
In Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan, the story is told by Ivan, a silverback gorilla who is the main attraction at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall. Read more>>
Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes by Lauren Child
Published by Candlewick; ages 10 to 13
Get ready, puzzle lovers! Author Lauren Child introduces Ruby Redfort, a young code-cracking genius who gets caught up in a great mystery. Read more>>
I Don't Believe It, Archie! by Andrew Norriss
Published by Random House; ages 7 to 10
There are only seven chapters in this funny little book by Andrew Norriss, one for each day of the week.
Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker
Published by Balzer & Bray; ages 8 and up
How do you make the most of an unthinkable situation? Well, tweenage Stella—named after her long-gone father’s favorite song, “Stella by Starlight”—has always been able to make the best of things. Read more>>
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Published by Scholastic; ages 8 to 14
Sage has led a rough life. He arrived at an orphanage five years ago with nothing, the son of a failed musician. His only chance for survival comes from his ability and willingness to steal. Read more>>
The Homemade Stuffing Caper by John Madormo
Published by Philomel; ages 9 and up
Charlie Collier is smart. Really, really smart. Ask him a question like “How many of each animal did Moses take on the ark?” and he’ll be able to tell you in about five seconds that Moses didn’t take any animals on the ark, it was Noah.
King of the Mound by Wes Tooke
Published by Simon & Schuster; ages 8 to 12
It is rare for a small book to have a big impact, but Wes Tooke’s King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige is one that does.
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Published by Dial; ages 10 and up
In the town of Tupelo Landing (pop. 148) on the eastern shore of North Carolina, most residents have small wallets but big hearts—and even bigger mysteries.
Libby of High Hopes by Elise Primavera
Published by Simon & Schuster; ages 7 to 10
Almost-11-year-old Libby Thump is told by her teacher at the end of fourth grade that she needs “to live up to her potential.” Libby is encouraged by this since it must mean she has potential, but worries what that is exactly. Read more>>
Bink and Gollie, Two for One by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
Published by Candlewick; ages 6 to 8
By Gollie, they’re back! And fans of this easy reader series—the first won the 2011 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award—will be thrilled to reunite with the droll duo of wild-haired Bink and skinny but solemn Gollie in Bink and Gollie, Two for One. Read more>>
The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
Published by Little, Brown; ages 14 & up
Paolo Bacigalupi’s debut YA novel (and Printz Award winner) Ship Breaker imagined a future America dependent on scavengers for survival after global warming and peak oil have irrevocably altered the landscape. The Drowned Cities is not a sequel per se, but a “companion” volume packed with new thrills and provocations. Read more>>
Losers in Space by John Barnes
Published by Viking; ages 14 & up
In the year 2129, the United Nations’ Permanent Peace and Prosperity governs the world and 96% of the global population al lows robots to do their work and lives on the social minimum, a government allowance comparable to two million dollars a year today. Read more>>
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Published by Dutton; ages 14 & up
It would be completely understandable to discover, upon meeting John Green, that he’s tired and hoarse and must sleep with his hands elevated on the softest of pillows every night. Read more>>
The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
Published by Dutton; ages 14 & up
Colby is about to embark on a year he’s been dreaming of forever: Once he graduates, he’s both driver and roadie for his best friend Bev’s band as they tour the Pacific Northwest, after which he and Bev will take off and spend a year exploring Europe. Read more>>
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Published by HMH; ages 14 & up
Grave Mercy, the first volume in an exciting new trilogy for teens, is set in a 15th-century French convent where the nuns are trained killers for the god of death.
The Vindico by Wesley King
Published by Putnam; ages 12 & up
The League of Heroes would be out of a job if there were no supervillains for them to vanquish, and the Vindico have played that role for a long time now—too long. Read more>>
The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Published by Amulet; ages 12 & up
Lena’s hands have a third knuckle and her feet are too long. Her grandmother thinks she’s inherited these traits from her absent goblin father, one of the Peculiars relegated to half-citizenship in a mythical land reminiscent of late-19th-century England. Read more>>
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
by Jennifer E. Smith
Published by Poppy/Hachette; ages 13 to 17
Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?”For Hadley Sullivan, heading from JFK to London as a reluctant bridesmaid in her father’s (second) wedding to a woman she hasn’t met, four minutes means she misses her flight. Read more>>
Double by Jenny Valentine
Published by Hyperion; ages 12 & up
Midway through Double, the novel’s narrator—at this point beginning to fear (rightfully) for his life—thinks about his new family, “Maybe none of them were what they seemed. Maybe it wasn’t just me.” Read more>>
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Published by Hyperion; ages 14 & up
Dystopia, fantasy and science fiction crowd the YA shelves these days, but Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein’s astonishing new World War II novel, is a reminder of the power historical fiction can have in the hands of an accomplished author. Read more>>
(This is a re-post from a week ago! 'Cause I don't want you to miss out on 20 free books..)
This is just a friendly reminder from a fellow book addict who likes free stuff:
Have you noticed this ad at the top of our website, then told yourself you'd enter the contest next time you visit the site?
If you’re a current subscriber, you can also put your name in the hat for 20 free books by sharing one of our September issues of Children's Corner (like this one, published last week). Just click one of the share buttons in the upper-right corner of the newsletter, and share away.
Noticed this on our website?
Already receive Reading Corner? You’re still in for a treat . . . starting with our next issue (September 14), the newsletter will have a fresh new look, and its name will be Children’s Corner. Everything else is staying the same; we'll still be bringing you all the news, features and reviews of the best in books for children and teens.
If you’re a current subscriber, you can also put your name in the hat for 20 free books by sharing one of our September issues. Just click one of the share buttons in the upper-right corner of the newsletter, and share away.
See our latest issue, if you'd like an example of what I'm talking about.
I hope you enjoy our newsletter. Make sure to leave a comment on this blog post if you have any suggestions for what you’d like to see in Children’s Corner.
If you're wondering whether reader enthusiasm is still high for a series started nearly a decade ago, I think Random House would say that the answer is "yes." The publisher has announced a first printing of 2.5 million (!). Combined, the first three books in the series have sold more than 25 million copies around the world.
As the series nears its conclusion, it's fun to look back at some of BookPage's coverage. In 2003, when James Neal Webb reviewed Eragon, Paolini was only 20 years old, and Webb commented on the "exciting beginning" of the author's long writing career.
Two years later, Jay MacDonald interviewed Paolini about Eldest, and the author appeared on the cover of BookPage. It's amusing to read Paolini's reflections on massive success at such a young age, and his answer to a question regarding his own personal Arya (a.k.a. love interest) made me smile.
Finally, in 2008, Karen Holt interviewed the author about Brisingr. During this conversation, Paolini spoke at length on the weight of his fans' expectations—a pressure that has only been elevated for book #4.
What are your expectations for Inheritance? Will you be part of the large number of fans who buy the book immediately on publication date?
What do you think Paolini will work on next?
Tim Wynne-Jones (author of the Rex Zero series) has a new book out this week. Called Blink & Caution, it's about a couple of teen runaways who get drawn into a dangerous crime—and fall into an unconventional romantic relationship.
Our reviewer Heather Seggel liked the book so much that we decided to interview Wynne-Jones for the latest issue of Reading Corner. The questions in the interview range from serious to silly, but here's my favorite:
If you had to be stranded on a desert island with one fictional character, who would you want it to be?
Probably Hamlet. I'd make him do all the work. It would be good therapy for him—no time to stand around soliloquizing. Is that even a word? Anyway, Hamlet. I just hope the island would be somewhere tropical and not in the North Sea. Who wants to hang with a melancholy Dane when it's cold and rainy all the time?
I know many of our adult readers enjoy YA books—will you check out Blink & Caution?
To mix it up in 2011, I'm going to start including occasional bookish links from websites that aren't blogs in my regular end-of-the-week roundup.
Example A: Find your Birthday bestseller thanks to BibliOZ—because we all need something fun on a Friday. (John Le Carré's A Perfect Spy was #1 on the fiction list in the week of my birth; what about you?)
Many of our readers love challenges and teen books, so I thought The Contemps Challenge – Part Deux (via Galleysmith) would be of interest. The Contemps are "a group of YA authors with contemporary novels releasing over the course of a year" with a mission to "spotlight contemporary fiction for young adults through blog posts, author events, and (over)sharing from our teen years." Even if you're not up for a challenge right now, The Contemps' site is worth a visit for regular posts such as "Hot Topic Tuesday" or "Spotlight Wednesday." BookPage has reviewed several of the authors in the group, such as Daisy Whitney and Sarah Ockler.
You'll chuckle and learn a bit about how musicians and writers think in this Q&A between Michael Hearst and Mary Roach (hosted on Largehearted Boy). Michael Hearst's band's latest album is called Planets. Michael Roach's latest book is Packing for Mars (ha, ha—get why they would be a good fit?), and the two have collaborated on a song called "Zero Gravity Blues." In other news, this week Mary Roach joined Twitter and is now tweeting away with more than 1,000 followers!
What are your weekly links?
Looking for new book blogs to follow? Browse all of our Best of the Blog columns.
You've learned all about BookPage editors' favorite books of 2010, but you may have realized that something's missing from our coverage. . .
What about kids and teen books?!
In tomorrow's edition of Reading Corner, we'll reveal our editor-selected Best Children's Books of 2010. The list will be divided into the categories of picture books, middle grade and teen books.
Sign up now to receive Reading Corner, and tell us . . .
What's your favorite picture book/children's chapter book/teen book of 2010?
On Saturday I had the pleasure of moderating a panel at the Southern Festival of Books here in Nashville. The panel's topic was transgender characters in books for teens, and the panelists were Ellen Wittlinger, author of Parrotfish (2007), and Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of Jumpstart the World (which goes on sale today!).
Ellen Wittlinger first became interested in the topic when her daughter (full disclosure: that's me!) became good friends with a transman: someone who was born with a female body, but always felt he was really male. Although the story in Parrotfish is not Toby's story, Wittlinger interviewed him extensively and drew heavily on his experiences to write the book, which tells the story of teenage Grady (formerly Angela) McNair, who comes out as transgender and begins to live as a boy.
Catherine Ryan Hyde spoke movingly of growing up with a transgender sibling as well as a current friend who is also transgender, and talked about the many different ways people express their own gender identities. In Jumpstart the World, Hyde includes not only a transgender character, Frank (with whom the narrator, a teenage girl, falls in love), but also one whose gender identity is more fluid. When asked if he is trans, Wilbur (a gentle, soft-spoken boy who wears impeccable makeup) replies: "Not really. . . . I mean, I don't want to have surgery. I don't need to be a girl. I'm just this."
Hyde also revealed that her original ending for the book was much bleaker, but she came to realize that it would be important for readers that the story end on a hopeful note. Still, she did not shy away from portraying some of the difficulties in the life of a transgender person, such as the fears that arise when Frank must go to the hospital.
The questions from the audience were insightful and the ensuing discussion was fascinating and thought-provoking. Both authors spoke passionately about their belief that writing books with transgender characters will help teens to have more compassion and understanding for people who may be different from them in some way, and maybe even to realize that they are not alone in their own struggles.
Have you ever read a book with a transgender character, or one whose gender identity was not so easily defined (like Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex)? Will you check out Parrotfish or Jumpstart the World?
Read about these books (and more); win a collection of children's chapter books handpicked by BookPage editors; and get behind-the-book scoops from a couple of your favorite tween and teen authors in tomorrow's edition of Reading Corner.
Don't know what Reading Corner is? Find out and sign up. It's the perfect back-to-school newsletter!
Annexed by Sharon Dogar
HMH, October 4, 2010
Curious to see what the fuss was all about, I took the book home with me and read it over the weekend. Annexed is told from the point of view of Peter van Pels, whose family hid in the Annex along with Anne's. I dimly remembered Peter from my own reading of Anne's diary, years ago. Dogar imagines what it would have been like to be Peter—to have to hide in the Annex, of course, but also to come to know Anne and her family, and to wonder what Anne was writing about him in her diary. I found that I wanted to know more about Peter and to think about what his experience of the Annex might have been.
As for the novel's sexual aspects, it spoils very little to say that Peter and Anne only share a few brief touches and kisses. Although I don't know whether or not the real Anne and Peter ever kissed each other, I do remember that Anne wrote about gradually developing feelings for Peter over the course of the two years they lived in the Annex together, and she also wrote about wanting to grow up, wanting to menstruate and to fall in love and to become a woman. Anne Frank was an adolescent girl, a young woman, and I can readily believe that she could have shared the kind of experiences with Peter that Dogar describes.
Dogar says she tried to stick as closely as she could to events that actually happened and were recorded in Anne's diary, such as the following scene, which takes place shortly after Peter's family arrives in the Annex:
I want to stretch out my arms and knock the walls down. I want to run so far and fast that I remember what it's like to feel my breath burn in my body. I want to move. I want to live. I want to . . .
I whistle. I whistle so loud that I imagine the whole of Holland could hear me. I'm a Jew. I'm a Jew! And I'm right here in the middle of Amsterdam. Hiding. See me! I take a big, deep breath and shout as loud as I can down the chimney.
"I won't come down!"