Astrid Krieger is not your typical little rich girl. She lives in a rocket ship prototype in the backyard of her parent's estate and believes "forgiveness is for those who are too weak to hold a grudge." After being kicked out of her private school, The Elite Bristol Academy, she is now facing the worst punishment possible: public school. Astrid is in for some fast lessons on the ins and outs of public school as her normal firecracker personality is no match for the public school student body.
With trademark humor—he's known to television audiences as a writer for FOX's "New Girl" and NBC's "Up All Night"—author David Iserson has created a uniquely witty story with Firecracker. Be sure to read our full review and watch the book trailer below created by the author and featuring some special guests.
Could public school be that bad? Will you read Firecracker to find out?
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin's Griffin • $18.99 • ISBN 9781250012579
Published February 26, 2013
Ages 13 and up
Pretty much every YA novel that comes out these days has at least some element of romance. With all those twitterpated hormones in teen readers, it's practically a requirement for YA characters to find their soulmate at 16. There is no growing up with typical fictional true love: It is eternal and halting, with ever after more a natural progression than a rare gift.
But it rarely works like that, doesn't it? That's what makes young love such an incredible thing. Its intensity is nearly impossible to maintain.
That's why I found Eleanor & Park so special. Neither character really believes in ever after. They do, however, get to experience every surprising moment of young love, every second of anticipation as they fall for each other. Rowell's new book for teens is one of my favorite depictions of teenage love, and adult readers will find it to be a wrenching, wonderful reminder of their own first loves.
Keep an eye out for my interview with the author in the March issue of BookPage! And read on for an excerpt from one of my favorite parts, when Eleanor and Park hold hands for the first time. From Park's perspective:
Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.
As soon as he touched her, he wondered how he'd gone this long without doing it. He rubbed his thumb through her palm and up her fingers, and was aware of her every breath.
Park had held hands with girls before. Girls at Skateland. A girl at the ninth-grade dance last year. (They'd kissed while they waited for her dad to pick them up.) He'd even held Tina's hand, back when they "went" together in the sixth grade.
And always before, it had been fine. Not much different from holding Josh's hand when they were little kids crossing the street. Or holding his grandma's hand when she took him to church. Maybe a little sweatier, a little more awkward.
When he'd kissed a girl last year, with his mouth dry and his eyes mostly open, Park had wondered if maybe there was something wrong with him.
He'd even wondered—seriously, while he was kissing her, he'd wondered this—whether he might be gay. Except he didn't feel like kissing any guys either. And if he thought about She-Hulk or Storm (instead of this girl, Dawn) the kissing got a lot better.
Maybe I'm not attracted to real girls, he'd thought at the time. Maybe I'm some sort of perverted cartoon-sexual.
Or maybe, he thought now, he just didn't recognize all those other girls. The way a computer will spit out a disk if it doesn't recognize the formatting.
When he touched Eleanor's hand, he recognized her. He knew.
Do you make room on your TBR list for excellent YA reads? Will you check this one out?
Sometimes, it seems like the phrase "YA trend" is an understatement. Topics don't just become popular or frequent in teen lit—they explode.
It's like a game of musical chairs, and when the music stops, everyone wants the same chair. Lately, that chair is the thriller chair, with a dash of paranormal. A paranormal seat cushion, if you will.
It's not as dramatic or strange as vampires and dystopias, but a sizeable chunk of current YA could be categorized as "psychic thriller." The deluge of murder-plus-magic makes the rare realistic thriller stand out even more.
(Why the constant mash-ups in YA? Are teens so disillusioned that authors think they can't write a thriller without the protagonist seeing ghosts, having visions or predicting the future? Is the need for escapism that great? Am I thinking about this too hard?)
Here are a few YA thrillers—paranormal and realistic—to watch for:
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Someone in Hannah's peaceful suburban neighborhood is killing girls, but that's not all she's dealing with. Her best friend Lillian, who died six months ago, is still hanging around as a ghost. She also won't stop pressing Hannah to investigate the string of murders. Coming in January.
The Believing Game by Eireann Corrigan
No spooks in this one; it's all psychological. When Greer Cannon is sent off to a rehab center for troubled teens, she falls hard for handsome Addison Bradley. However, Addison's mentor Joshua is unbelievably creepy, but he makes Greer feel understood—until things go completely out of control. Coming December 1.
What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Three teens with XP (an allergy to sunlight) spend all their time roaming around town at night, and when they start practicing Parkour, they accidentally spot what appears to be a murder in progress. Coming in January.
Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman
These twins with an Escape to Witch Mountain-esque bond can feel each other's pain, so when one of them disappears, the other knows something is horribly wrong. The twins can't trust anyone except each other, and our reviewer warns this "might not be a book to read when one is alone in a lonely, dark house."
One of the biggest complaints I hear about YA is that parents have no idea what to expect from a book, whether they'll find it appropriate for their teen or not. These crossover writers are a safe bet (and create potential lifelong readers for that author).
Said James Patterson in a New York Times interview, "The reality is that women buy most books. . . The reality is that it’s easier, and a really good habit, to start to get parents when they walk into a bookstore to say, ‘You know, I should buy a book for my kid as well.’ ”
Harlan Coben's Mickey Bolitar novels pick up where the Myron Bolitar novels left off. Mickey has a lot in common with his Uncle Myron—tall, likes basketball, has great sidekicks, solves thrilling mysteries, etc.—except that he also deals with high school, crushes and bullies. Read our review of the first Mickey Bolitar novel, Shelter.
Have you noticed this trend? Why do teens need a dash of the paranormal with their thrillers?
More and more often we're hearing about self-published e-book sensations that go viral and eventually get scooped up by traditional publishers. With more than 150,000 e-books sold in the U.S. (not to mention the weeks it has spent on the New York Times bestseller list), Tammara Webber's Easy definitely fits into that category. Penguin took over the rights in October, and Berkley published a trade paperback edition on November 6. Many readers are already hooked on this story of a 19-year-old who deals with tough issues in college—from sexual assault to falling in love again.
However, there's an interesting "trend" angle to this novel that makes it unique. Easy is part of an emerging subgenre called "New Adult" literature. NA books are appropriate for older teens and adults, and they typically feature characters who are transitioning from teendom to adulthood. Webber is very passionate about writing stories that explore this life stage. In a guest blog post she tells us what "New Adult" means—and why it's important.
New Adult—or just new marketing?
By Tammara Webber
I confess, my initial reaction to the term “New Adult” was lukewarm, because I thought it was a seriously dumb label for a literary category. Who wants to be called a new adult? When I was a college student, a bookstore couldn’t have paid me to walk down an aisle with that designation at the head of it.
What intrigued me, though, was the concept behind the harebrained title. A long-standing decree from publishers warned agents (and therefore, authors) against submitting manuscripts with main characters older than 18 or younger than mid-20s. The justification? They won’t sell.
Enter the birth of digital self-publishing, the rapid growth of the e-reader market, and more recently, widespread apps that turn any smart phone into an e-reader. Those college-aged protagonists no one wanted to read about? Indie authors offered those stories to readers directly. Lo and behold, the previously nonexistent audience appeared.
Shocking? Not really. Much of the “NA” audience is just an extension of the YA audience, as well as a natural progression from it. Is an 18-year-old—who is a legal adult—an adult in every sense of the word? Not until she’s financially independent. Until then, she’s on the same coming-of-age path she was before—she’s just closer to her goal. A professor friend told me that she hadn’t realized how young her students were until her own sons were in college. “They have adult bodies and more advanced language skills, but their thought processes and reasoning haven’t quite caught up,” she said.
This leads me to confession number two: I’m not convinced publishing needs a new category. Heck yeah, I slapped a “New Adult” tag on each of my “Mature YA” books, because I’m not stupid. If everyone is going to say I’m writing “NA,” and that tag helps readers find my books, then by all means, I’ll add it. But what needed to happen has happened: Authors are writing and selling novels with characters in the college age range, without benefit of a distinct category.
Where those books should be “shelved” is something brick-and-mortar retailers will have to figure out. The idea that these stories can be edgier because the protagonists are 18 and up is unnecessary. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that plenty of YA books are edgy—they contain swearing, drinking, drugs and sex. In other words, reality.
If by edgy one means tackling tough topics—well, anyone who reads YA on even the most intermittent basis knows that’s been done and done well: Speak, Thirteen Reasons Why, The Sky is Everywhere, Looking for Alaska, Some Girls Are, Shine, I Know It’s Over . . . No one needs to look for a New Adult designation to find edgy, or dark, or titillating literature—and thank God for that.
Lest you question my credentials for welcoming edgy content to YA, I have an incontestable qualification: I’m the parent of three children between the ages of 17 to 23. I love that my son brought Going Bovine into my room at 2 a.m. with tears on his face and said, “Read this.” I love that my daughter and I could discuss and contrast Alex Fuentes (from Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles) with “real boys.” I’m a parent who welcomed the edgy stuff, and recognized the importance of it for creating dialogue with my kids. It wasn't about what I wanted to talk about—because I can do that without assistance from literature or celebrity-endorsed commercials, thanks—but about what they wanted to talk about.
I’ve heard that NA seeks to appeal to readers “18 to 35.” Or 34. Or 30. Or starting at 17. Again, unnecessary. The elimination of the weird dearth of characters in the 19-23 year-old age range was the essential thing. The placement of those stories should be based on content, not the ages of the protagonists. If a book has a YA voice, if it speaks to serious issues as archetypal YA does, then it should be categorized as YA, and perhaps given a “mature” label to let the parents of 14-year-olds know that this book should be parentally-guided. Books like Easy and Slammed fall into that category. As for those 20-somethings (and older) being able to find them? We already read YA. We’ll find them just fine.
As a self-published author, I found enough readers to put Easy on the NYT bestseller list for nine weeks—three of those on the combined and the e-book lists. The audience is there. Now let’s publish for them.
Readers: What do you think of the "New Adult" designation? Do you like to read about protagonists who are in that stage between living at home and being a full-on adult?
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Philomel • $17.99 • ISBN 9780399256929
On sale February 12, 2013
When we blogged about Sepetys' new book a month ago, BookPage readers were so excited. So, in honor of Teen Read Week (October 14-20), we're reading her upcoming novel, Out of the Easy, set in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950.
Sepetys made major waves with her first novel, Between Shades of Gray, the story of a teenager named Lina in 1940s Lithuania. Lina and her family are forced by the Soviet secret police to leave their home and travel in a miserable, crammed train car to labor camps in Siberia. In an interview, Sepetys shared why she felt the world needed to learn about the Baltic deportations during Joseph Stalin's regime:
“It’s as if the voice of an entire generation was swallowed. . . . The story sort of went dark and now the people that still have ties to it are in their late 80s. A whisper is left and we’re just about to lose it.”
Sepetys has made a home of edgy historical fiction with Out of the Easy, the story of plucky, resourceful Josie Moraine. She's the daughter of a brothel prostitute, and she dreams of getting out of NOLA for good. However, a murder leaves Josie scrambling for someone to trust. Atmospheric, clever and sharp, Out of the Easy is the rich follow-up we all hoped Sepetys would deliver.
Dive into the first chapter, when Josie flashes back to her first day in New Orleans:
My mother's a prostitute. Not a filthy, streetwalking kind. She's actually quite pretty, fairly well spoken, and has lovely clothes. But she sleeps with men for money or gifts, and according to the dictionary, that makes her a prostitute.
She started working in 1940 when I was seven, the year we moved from Detroit to New Orleans. We took a cab from the train station straight to a fancy hotel on St. Charles Avenue. Mother met a man from Tuscaloosa in the lobby while having a drink. She introduced me as her niece and told the man she was delivering me to her sister. She winked at me constantly and whispered that she'd buy me a doll if I just played along and waited for her. I slept alone in the lobby that night, dreaming of my new doll. The next morning, Mother check us into our own big room with tall windows and small round soaps that smelled like lemon. She received a green velvet box with a strand of pearls from the man from Tuscaloosa.
"Josie, this town is going to treat us just fine," said Mother, standing topless in front of the mirror, admiring her new pearls.
Are you one of the many BookPage readers who look forward to Out of the Easy?
Also, be sure to check out our four favorites for Teen Read Week.
These days, tales of mermaids in young adult fiction are a far cry from The Little Mermaid. Mermaids are more like monsters than princesses, and their stories are some of the most violent and graphic in the teen genre. Nevertheless, it's clear readers love them, because the wave of mermaid YA shows no signs of slowing.
However, I've noticed a slight transition in the sea creature trend, and it might give mermaids a run (swim) for their money—the selkie. Based in Scottish and Irish folklore, selkies appear as seals in water but can also take human form. In some myths, if you hide the selkie's seal skin, it belongs to you and cannot return to seal form.
So as we head into 2013, I'm wondering who will win in this throwdown: Mermaids vs. Selkies.
Below, the contenders.
Fathomless by Jackson Pearce
This re-imagined Little Mermaid introduces Lo, a creature of the sea who still clings to her remaining human life. But in order to be human again, she must convince a boy to love her—and then steal his soul.
Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz
Rudy and his family move to a remote island to save his sick younger brother—an island where the fish have strange healing properties. He spots a merman (well, merboy) off the coast, learns that the fish-kid's name is Teeth and discovers that Teeth has creepy, violent secrets. Look for it in January.
Plus, a few others: Wrecked by Anna Davies, Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, Sarah Porter's Lost Voices series and Tera Lynn Childs' Fins series.
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
In this dazzling book (our Children's Top Pick for September), all of the women on Rollrock are seal-women. The witch Misskaella uses her connections with the seals to introduce the men to seal-women. There are few YA books—whether about selkies, mermaids or something else—that better capture the sea than this one from Printz Honor-winning Lanagan. Read our review.
And a quick peek into the children's books coming out in 2013 proved that the selkie myth is no one-hit wonder—and I predict I'll stumble across a few more before its June pub date:
Tides by Betsy Cornwell
This debut from Cornwell tells the story of high school senior Noah and his adopted teenage sister, Lo (probably not the same Lo from Fathomless . . .). Noah tries to save a girl from drowning, and she probably turns out to be a seal-woman, or something like that.
Okay, readers: How do you feel about the new nature of mermaids in teen lit? And in the battle of selkie vs. mermaid, which sea creature wins? What makes the better YA novel?
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Little, Brown • $19.99 • ISBN 9780316126113
On sale September 18, 2012
Ages 15 and up
With the recent news that Baz Luhrmann's take on The Great Gatsby (Fitz, help us) has been pushed back to Summer 2013, you'll need something to tide you over until then. I know you've already purchased your flapper dress and bedazzled your dancing shoes, but you can still go crazy about the Roaring Twenties with the help of Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray's newest, The Diviners.
This atmospheric novel is technically for teens, but it'll fit right in on your TBR list with Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone and Emma Straub's upcoming Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures (9/4).
Evie O'Neill comes to glamorous NYC in 1926, where she's thrilled to explore speakeasies, shopping, Broadway and more. The only downside is she has to live with her uncle, curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult. Not to mention, Evie has a supernatural secret of her own: She can uncover details about people by holding any object that belongs to them. When a girl is found murdered and branded with a cryptic symbol, Evie might be able to use that power to find a killer.
And that's only the beginning! Check out an excerpt from the opening gin party, where Bray draws you in with her pitch-perfect '20s flair:
The hostess, a pretty and spoiled young thing, notes her guests' restlessness with a sense of alarm. It is her eighteenth birthday, and if she doesn't do something to raise this party from the dead, it will be the talk for days to come that her gathering was as dull as a church social.
Raising from the dead.
The weekend before, she'd been forced to go antiquing upstate with her mother—an absolutely hideous chore, until they came upon an old Ouija board. Ouija boards were all the rage; psychics have claimed to receive messages and warnings from the other side using Mr. Fuld's "talking board." The antiques dealer fed her mother a line about how it had come to him under mysterious circumstances.
"They say it's still haunted by restless spirits. But perhaps you and your sister could tame it?" he'd said with over-the-top flattery; naturally, her mother lapped it up, which resulted in her paying too much for the thing. Well, she'd make her mother's mistake pay off for her now.
The hostess races for the hall closet and signals to the maid. "Do be a darling and get that down for me."
The maid retrieves the board with a shake of her head. "You oughtn't to be messing with this board, Miss."
"Don't be silly. That's primitive."
With a zippy twirl worthy of Clara Bow, the hostess bursts into the formal living room holding the Ouija board. "Who wants to commune with the spirits?" She giggles to show that she doesn't take it seriously in the least. After all, she's a thoroughly modern girl—a flapper, through and through.
The wilted girls spring up from their club chairs. "What've you got there? Is that a wee-gee board?" one of them asks.
"Isn't it darling? Mother bought it for me. It's supposed to be haunted," the hostess says and laughs. "Well, I don't believe that, naturally." The hostess places the heart-shaped planchette in the middle of the board. "Let's conjure up some fun, shall we?"
Everyone gathers 'round. George angles himself into the spot beside her. He's a Yale man and a junior. Many nights, she's lain awake in her bedroom, imagining her future with him. "Who wants to start?" she asks, positioning her fingers close to his.
"I will," a boy in a ridiculous fez announces. She can't remember his name, but she's heard he has a habit of inviting girls into his rumble seat for a petting party. He closes his eyes and places his fingers on the scryer. "A question for the ages: Is the lady to my right madly in love with me?"
The girls squeal and the boys laugh as the planchette slowly spells out Y-E-S.
"Liar!" the lady in question scolds the heart-shaped scrying piece with its clear glass oracle.
"Don't fight it, darling. I could be yours on the cheap," the boy says.
Now spirits are high; the questions grow bolder. They're drunk on gin and good times and the silly distraction of the fortune-telling. Every mornin', every evenin', ain't we got fun?
"Say, let's summon a real spirit," George challenges.
Be sure to check out some of the other great crossover YA novels from this year!
Vampires are so over. Kids killing kids have trouble topping Katniss. Dystopia still has momentum . . . for now.
But what's the hot topic in teen novels for fall? Genetic engineering. Clones.
It's by no means a surprise topic for the genre, as questioning the meaning of humanity is familiar territory for teen lit. However, it seems this fall has a particularly large number of female heroines that are either clones or projects, or are discovering the genetic question for themselves. Check out a few of the bigger titles for this fall:
Origin by Jessica Khoury
Enter the Amazon jungle with the tale of Pia, a girl raised in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the rainforest. She was created to be the first of a new immortal race. This one's big—it's the first title on the 2012 Penguin Teen Breathless Reads. Keep an eye out for our interview with debut author Khoury in September!
Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
The author duo behind the Animorphs series also set their book in a sinister laboratory. Eve is the daughter of the leading geneticist at super secretive Spiker Biopharm, and after a terrible accident, she finds herself bedridden and bored. Her mom gives her a special project: Design the perfect boy—but nothing is ever that simple.
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
This debut novel stars Eva, an "echo" designed to replace a real girl, Amarra, if she ever died. Eva must do everything Amarra does, eat what she eats, learns what she learns. When Amarra dies, Eva must choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original.
Beta by Rachel Cohn
On the island of Demesne, the wealthiest people on earth employ clones as workers. Elysia is the experimental model of the first teenage clone, and she quickly discovers she's not as unfeeling or soulless as she's supposed to be. She must keep her emotions secret or suffer the consequences—but keeping quiet in a place like Demesne isn't easy.
Why do you think YA books seem concerned with the question of what it means to be human?
There are plenty of young adult books that have crossover appeal—particularly those with adventure and romance. But there are too many adult readers who pass over the best of teen lit because of the "YA" label. Do yourself a favor—ignore the fact that you're in the "Teen Reads" section of the bookstore, and you just may discover some insightful stories with emotional resonance and gorgeous prose.
Here are a handful of teen books from this year (and a few coming soon!) that adults need to read:
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
"Anyone who has had a broken heart and sifted through the detritus left behind will find Min’s collection extremely relatable. If that’s not you yet, just wait; Why We Broke Up is a beautiful story, but also soul food for dark times. Don’t miss it." Read more of our review and our interview with Handler.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Mention excellent YA books this year, and this is always at the top of lists. It should be considered one of the best books of the year, period. Read our interview with Green.
In Darkness by Nick Lake
The overlapping tales of Shorty, trapped beneath the rubble of a hospital during the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake, and Toussaint L’Ouverture, the real slave who set Haitians free from the French, make this one much more than just a teen book. "Let this incredible novel initiate a call for action." Read more of our review.
Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
The mass killing during the Khmer Rouge’s overthrow of Cambodia in 1975 is relatively forgotten in the history of genocide, but this one fits right in with several August fiction titles that delve into Cambodian history (such as In the Shadow of the Banyan). National Book Award finalist McCormick's YA version is just as gripping. Read our review.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
"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. Set in Great Britain and occupied France both before and during the war, Code Name Verity is . . . likely to find a home on the shelves of teens and adults alike." Read more of our review.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
"Debut novelist Rachel Hartman has created a unique and imaginative fantasy kingdom. Her world-building is so detailed and well-integrated, each character and place so well-drawn, one wonders if they truly exist somewhere. . . Seraphina is an engaging and innovative fantasy that uses the plights of dragons and humans as an allegory for the real prejudices we all must face." Read more of our review.
Small Damages by Beth Kephart
A pregnant teen is sent away to a bull farm in southern Spain, where she is to live out her pregnancy and give the child to a Spanish couple. The writing in this one glows just as much as the imagery of the Spanish countryside. Watch for an interview with Kephart in our August issue.
Every Day by David Levithan (out 8/28)
You could call this one a story of teen love. But the tale of A, who wakes up every day in a different teen boy or girl's body, and the girl A loves is so much more than that. No other book this year has so holistically captured every possible crisis a teen can face. This may be Levithan's best yet.
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (out 9/11)
Two-time Printz Honor winner Lanagan has created a vibrant, ferocious and romantic mythology, filled with witches, seal-women and a commanding coastal setting. The writing is so good, it would seem that these legends have always existed.
What would you add? Which 2012 teen books belong on every adult's TBR list?
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>>