Friday, February 12, 2016

A Valentine's Day gift for our YA readers.....

..... a list of all those great TEEN NOVELS
 that have bits, chips or chunks of romance mixed in!

Yes, love does make the world go round
(romance provides the primary framework for the story)

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour Morgan Matson
Anna and the French Kiss  / Lola and the Boy Next Door* Stephanie Perkins
Audrey, Wait! Robin Benway
The Big Crunch / What Boys Really Want Pete Hautman
Bone Gap* Laura Ruby
Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series Louise Rennison
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares  / Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist*
 Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Dairy Queen trilogy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Sarah Dessen (many titles)
Eleanor and Park Rainbow Rowell
The Future of Us Jay Asher
Girl Meets Boy: because there are two sides to every story* ed. by Kelly Halls
Love and Other Foreign Words  Erin McCahan
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda* Becky Albertalli
Six Impossible Things Fiona Wood
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight / This is what Happy Looks Like Jennifer E. Smith
Sway Kat Spears
Undercover Beth Kephart
Winter Town Stephen Emond

What's a good war without a buddy by your side?
(dystopias are no fun without a special friend)

The Chaos Walking trilogy* Patrick Ness
The Delirium trilogy Lauren Oliver
The Divergent trilogy Veronica Roth
The Hunger Games trilogy Suzanne Collins
The Legend series Marie Lu
The Matched trilogy Allyson Condie
The Mortal Engines Quartet Philip Reeve
Rook Sharon Cameron
The Unwind Dystology Neil Shusterman

At Death's door
(characters with fatal conditions)

Before I die* Jenny Downham
Everything, Everything Nicola Yoon
The fault in our stars* John Green
The Game of Love and Death* Martha Brockenbrough
If I stay (with its sequel When she left*) Gayle Forman
Thirteen reasons why Jay Asher

Try it, you’ll like it
(who has time for romance when life gets in the way?)

            Bright Before Sunrise Tiffany Schmidt
Emmy and Oliver Robin Benway
Fangirl* Rainbow Rowell
Geek Girl series Holly Smale
I’ll Give You The Sun* Jandy Nelson
My Life Next Door / The Boy Most Likely To Huntley Fitzpatrick
The Sea of Tranquility* Katja Millay
The Tightrope Walkers* David Almond

Hold on to your hat - and your sweetheart!
(action-adventures with dynamic duos)

Blink and Caution Tim Wynne-Jones
A Girl Named Digit / Double Digit Annabel Monaghan
Insignia / Vortex / Catalyst  S. J. Kincaid
The Scorpio Races Maggie Stiefvater
Sharks and Boys Kristen Tracy
The Tomorrow series John Marsden

Fantastic friendships
 (partners brave imaginary worlds together)

Airborn series by Kenneth Oppel
Book of a Thousand Days */ Books of Bayern series Shannon Hale
Carry On Rainbow Rowell
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown Holly Black
Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy Laini Taylor
The Leviathan trilogy Scott Westerfeld
Feed M. T. Anderson
Graceling and Fire* (The Seven Kingdoms series) Kristin Cashore
The Hunchback Assignments series Arthur Slade
Incarceron and sequel Sapphique Catherine Fisher
Leland Sisters series Marissa Doyle
Seraphina Rachel Hartman
These Broken Stars and other titles in the Starbound series
Kaufman and Spooner
Throne of Glass series Sarah J. Maas
The Twilight series* Stephenie Meyer
Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy Maggie Stiefvater

Life wasn't so different back then
(couples meant for each other don't let history stand in their way)

The Arthur Trilogy plus Crossing to Paradise Kevin Crossley-Holland
The Bloody Jack series* L. A. Meyers
TheMontmaray Journals (trilogy) Michelle Cooper
Friday's Child / Sprig Muslin Georgette Heyer
I Shall Be Near to You Erin McCabe
The Leviathan trilogy / Scott Westerfeld
The Morning Gift / The Reluctant Heiress /A Song for Summer*Eva Ibbotson
Palace of Spies trilogy Sarah Zettel
Revolution Jennifer Donnelly
Shattered Sea trilogy Joe Abercrombie

*for older teens

                                                                                   mhd 2/16

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

And now to our postgame analysis

On January 11 at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting – the children's award news was good!

The Caldecott Medal selection was a bit of a surprise, but a nice one: Finding Winnie: the true story of the world’s most famous bear with illustrations by Sophie Blackall and written by Lindsay Mattick. This was one of two books published last year presenting the touching tale of how Winnie the Pooh got his name (from a real little bear).

But oh, were we knocked on our keisters by the winner of the Newbery Medal, which usually goes to a chapter book or novel in recognition of the excellence of the text. It didn’t this year. A picture book won for the first time ever. The book we thought might snag the Caldecott instead reaped the Newbery – Last Stop on Market Street! (It did win a Caldecott Honor.) It is indeed a lovely book, about a boy and his grandmother taking a bus ride to a slightly bedraggled section of their city, and enjoying everything they see and everyone they meet. Nevertheless, it’s a picture book - and worth your time, however many - or few - words it has.  (Our two top choices for the Newbery did win Newbery Honors: The War that Saved My Life, and Echo.)

We felt a little better when the winner of the Printz Award for teen literature was announced; this year it was Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby - our pick, too! This novel is a enigmatic mixture of fantasy and contemporary fiction, with a remarkable use of metaphor and particularly engaging characters.

And here’s the ALA notable books list for 2016, which includes the titles listed above. Enjoy!

Children's Literature 2016: ALA Award Predictions

Looking into our crystal ball on January 3....

The Caldecott Medal goes to the best picture book; this year the competition for the award is wide open. Lisa is rooting for Float by Daniel Miyares, a wordless adventure starring a boy, a boat, and a rainy day. My favorite is pretty wet, too: Water is Water, a beautiful book about the water cycle by Miranda Paul with illustrations by Jason Chin. Lisa also liked The Marvels, another long, extensively illustrated novel by Brian Selznick, who won a Caldecott for a similar book a few years ago. A book we both liked, the poignant Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt Le Pena with pictures by Christian Robinson, has been touted as the title to beat. We’ll see!

Ah, the Newbery, for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature. This year has been a bit unusual; there is one title that has enchanted every librarian who’s read it: The War That Saved My Life.  A novel by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley set in World War II Britain, it follows the travails and triumphs of young Ada and Jamie. I loved it, Lisa loved it, you’ll love it, it’s a classic in the making – but will the Newbery committee agree?

OK, there were in fact other children’s novels published in 2015 that might snag an award. Standouts were: Echo by Pamela Munoz Ryan, a set of three stories linked by a musical theme; Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai, about an American girl travelling to Vietnam with her grandmother to investigate the mysterious fate of her grandfather; Goodbye, Stranger, Rebecca Stead’s depiction of middle-school social life; and Full Cicada Moon, a novel-in-verse about a black Japanese teenager, raised in Berkeley, now adjusting to life in Vermont in 1969.

Lisa and I are feeling more confident about the Printz Award, given to books exemplifying literary excellence for teens. Lots of possibilities this year, starting with our first choice, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, a captivating blend of myth, romance, and thriller, seasoned with a soupcon of horror. We also loved The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma, an intense read about three girls linked by violence, and The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, with its appealing heroine.  Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman provides uncommon insight into schizophrenia, while Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli offers laughs galore with her coming-of-age, coming-out saga. And let’s not forget 2 great nonfiction titles: the riveting history of the Vietnam War recounted in Steven Sheinkin’s Most Dangerous, and the story of the horrendous siege of Leningrad presented in Symphony for the City of the Dead by M. T. Anderson.

Let's see how we do on January 11!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

It's award season for books, not just movies!

It’s time to predict the American Library Association’s children’s literature awards, a task we take on with enthusiasm every year (irrespective of our track record)!

Lisa and I agree that the most likely winner of the Caldecott Award for best picture book is Marla Frazee’s poignant THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN. Or perhaps MY GRANDFATHER’S COAT (written by Jim Aylesworth and illustrated by Barbara McClintock) will get the nod. We both loved Oliver Jeffers’ ONCE UPON AN ALPHABET, an amusing collection of 26 short stories based on letters of the alphabet – but will the awards jury?

The Newbery Medal for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” (more simply, the year’s best chapter book or novel) also has a front runner this year: the beautifully-written verse memoir BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson.  Our personal favorite, however, is another story written in verse:  THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander. And there is a third verse tale in contention: THE RED PENCIL by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Not to be ignored are two additional nonfiction candidates: THE FAMILY ROMANOV, a historical page-turner by Candace Fleming, and EL DEAFO, Cece Bell’s graphic memoir of her childhood, which was shaped  by a severe loss of hearing at age 4.

The Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature has at least three likely contenders: I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN, an intense novel about teen twins and the artistic life by Jandy Nelson; GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, a crazy but appealing mashup of 1950s science fiction and coming-of-age themes by Andrew Smith; and THIS ONE SUMMER, a subtle and superbly drawn graphic novel by the Tamaki sisters, about the summer two young girls are forced to grow up. We loved (or at least liked...) them all.

February 2 is the day of the awards ceremony. Are there surprises in store?  Check back next week!