Best Fiction for Young Adults by Gender

Over the past year, I have served on YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults committee. At the ALA Midwinter Meeting in early January, the 14 other committee members and I deliberated all of the nominated books and selected a final list of 64 exceptional young adult fiction books with teen appeal. We also chose a top 10 from our final list.

When the list was announced, several people on Twitter noticed that the top 10 list featured more male-centered stories than female-centered stories. Because of the way we chose a top 10, this fact was not apparent until after we finalized the selections. While gender equity on a list like this is not a goal, I was curious to take a closer look at the full list of 64 titles to see what the gender breakdown was and how the top 10 list compared.

I noted the gender of the author (determined by author bios in the books or the author’s website) and the main character or characters. If I made any errors in coding the data, please let me know. A spreadsheet with the data is available here.

Main Character

All books

  • 30 with female main character(s) (46.9%)
  • 20 with male main character(s) (31.2%)
  • 14 with both male and female main characters (either dual perspective or multiple perspectives)  (21.9%)

Top 10

  • 6 with male main characters (Challenger Deep, More Happy Than Not, X: A Novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, The Bunker Diary, The Boy in the Black Suit) (60%)
  • 2 with female main characters (Audacity and Shadowshaper) (20%)
  • 2 with both male and female main characters (though arguably both Bone Gap and Six of Crows are still male-centered) (20%)

Author

All books

  • 46 female authors (71.9%)
  • 16 male authors (25%)
  • 1 joint book with one male and one female author (1.6%)
  • 1 short story collection with both male and female authors (6 male, 6 female) (1.6%)

Top 10

  • 5 female authors (50%)
  • 5 male authors (50%)

It’s clear the the top 10 do not reflect the gender breakdown of the list as a whole. It certainly isn’t required to. But when there are many excellent books with female protagonists and written by women, it’s worth thinking about why the male-centered and male-written stories rise to the top. I don’t want to speculate why this happened for this list, but I know I will continue to be mindful of my own reading habits and actively work against my unconscious biases when selecting titles to read, review, and recommend.

I would love to examine issues of gender and diversity in YA on a much broader scale, looking at all the books published in a year and comparing various awards and best-of lists to the total output. I made an attempt at wrangling this data in 2014, as recounted in my YA Literature Data Project post. And back in 2010, I did a similar exercise with the nominated titles for the then Best Books for Young Adults selection list.

Mock Printz Roundup 2015

The Youth Media Awards, the collection of awards handed out by the American Library Association, will be presented Monday, February 2. For young adult literature, the Michael L. Printz award is considered the highest achievement. Awarded annually since 2000, it honors the best book (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or anthology) in terms of literary merit and up to four honor books that were published in the United States during the award year. A committee of nine YALSA members discuss the eligible titles at the Annual and Midwinter ALA meetings and choose the winner and honor books in a closed door session.

To promote the reading and discussion of quality YA books, many library systems and regional library groups organize Mock Printz events. Typically, librarians will choose a shortlist of titles that they think merit inclusion on the Printz list. They then meet to discuss the books and choose their own winner and honor books before the official ceremony.

I’m always curious to see what books look like contenders for the award, so for a few years (2014, 2012, 2011, 2010) I have compiled Mock Printz lists and winners. It’s not the best predictor of the eventual winner, especially since a lot of the groups share lists to some extent and most librarians aren’t reading as widely and extensively as those on the committee. It’s still an interesting exercise to see what’s buzzing before the announcement of the actual winners and honorees.

This year, I looked at 18 lists. Several titles appear on multiple lists, but there are a lot that only appear on one list. A total of 44 individual books were listed. Of the lists I looked at, here are all of the books that appeared and the number of lists they appeared on:

  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (16)
  • Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (16)
  • The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming (10)
  • This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki (10)
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (9)
  • Noggin by John Corey Whaley (9)
  • Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King (8)
  • 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith (8)
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye J. Walton (8)
  • Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (7)
  • The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston (6)
  • Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (6)
  • The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin (5)
  • The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer (5)
  • She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick (5)
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (4)
  • Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (3)
  • Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire (3)
  • The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin (3)
  • Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer (3)
  • The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi (2)
  • The Hit by Melvin Burgess (2)
  • Pointe by Brandy Colbert (2)
  • Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin (2)
  • Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (2)
  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (1)
  • The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean, Telt by Hisself by David Almond (1)
  • Call Me By My Name by John Ed Bradley (1)
  • When Mr. Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan (1)
  • Half Bad by Sally Green (1)
  • A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn (1)
  • Conversion by Katherine Howe (1)
  • And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard (1)
  • Love Is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson (1)
  • Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn (1)
  • Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern (1)
  • How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson (1)
  • The Kiss of Deception by Mary Pearson (1)
  • Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince (1)
  • We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt (1)
  • Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle For Civil Rights In Mississippi by Susan Goldman Rubin (1)
  • The Riverman by Aaron Starmer (1)
  • The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos (1)
  • Wildlife by Fiona Wood (1)

Only eight of the groups have publicly posted winners and honors. With those weighted (3 points for winners, 2 points for honors), the top of the list changes a bit:

  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (21)
  • Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (20)
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (14)
  • The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming (13)
  • This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki (13)
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye J. Walton (11)
  • Noggin by John Corey Whaley (10)
  • Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King (9)
  • 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith (9)
  • Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (9)

What do you think? Who will take home the big award Monday morning?

These are the lists I surveyed:

A couple more that haven’t posted lists, but that include some discussion:

YA Literature Data Project

Like many librarians, I am a bit of a data enthusiast. Over the last couple years, I’ve noticed a preponderance of articles looking at data surrounding books, especially children’s and YA books. Most of these analyses focus on the representation of traditionally underrepresented groups in media. There have also been numerous individuals tracking things like starred book reviews and best-of lists. Some of these include:

Rather than take one facet of the YA literature landscape and examine it, I thought it would be useful to build an open source of YA book data that tracks multiple criteria that can then be used to perform any number of analyses. As far as I know, there is not a comprehensive source of this kind of information. Several of these analyses have mentioned the lack a clear number of how many YA books are published each year. There are several sources that maintain some form of bibliographic information, though I’m not certain that any are tracking the kind of metadata that would be helpful to those researching trends in YA literature.

Some potential existing sources of data:

Last year I embarked upon a project to track all YA fiction releases. I built an online database using the free Zoho Creator and from January 1 to April 29 I entered information about all new YA releases (the ones I know about at least, more on that later). I intended for this to be a year-long project, but it became overwhelming and difficult to maintain alongside some increasing work and life responsibilities. I also came up against a lot more questions and issues that would need to be dealt with before a project like this could be a viable and useful source for analysis.

What I tracked:

  • Title and author
  • Publisher at the imprint level
  • Publication date
  • Reviews including starred reviews*
  • NY Times and USA Today Bestseller status*
  • Author gender and race/ethnicity
  • Main character(s) gender and race/ethnicity
  • Country originally published in
  • Genre(s)
  • Debut author status
  • Setting (urban/suburban/rural)*
  • Whether the book featured LGBT main character(s) or dealt with LGBT issues
  • Whether the book is stand-alone, first in a series, or a second+ title in a series
  • Which YALSA list the book appears on*

(*these categories were harder to track, so I didn’t actually use these categories for the most part)

These were the major questions that arose for me as I thought about this project and would want to address if continuing a project like this. I’d love any guidance from other librarians, readers, or authors. Realistically, I would also need additional support populating the database, especially for tracking reviews, bestseller lists, and other criteria and would need a plan for longevity and maintenance of the database.

  • What counts as published? No one would quibble with including books from the long list of traditional print publishers starting with the Big 6 (Big 5?) and moving on through the other classic publishing houses like Candlewick, etc. But we are entering a new publishing era and the line between traditional and self-publishing is blurring. So far I am not including books that appear to be self-published. But what about publishers that do exclusively ebooks? I have yet to find a reliable, comprehensive source of newly published books. I have been relying on Edelweiss book catalogs, Goodreads, reviewing sources, especially Kirkus, and the masterposts of monthly YA books from Paperbackd.
  • What counts as YA? For most books, it’s usually pretty clear and indicated by the publisher. If a book indicates ages 8-12, for me that is clearly middle grade. Something like ages 10-14 is a little dicier, but I think that’s still more middle grade. It’s for books that are something like 12 and up or even 10 and up that are a bit more challenging to determine and honestly some of it is just gut feeling. The other side of the age range–New Adult– hasn’t been much of a problem yet, but could become one as the genre becomes more popular.
  • Publication Date: I’ve come across a couple books that have different publication dates in different places, notably book review sources often differ from Goodreads or Amazon. I’m trying to do a month at a time and not get too far ahead since I know pub dates do change. If possible, I try to go with the official publisher info (though publisher sites are often not up-to-date, which alarms me a bit!).
  • Publisher: I’m trying to be accurate with publisher and imprint, but sometimes the inter-connectedness of publishing houses and distributors still baffles me!
  • Author gender and race/ethnicity: Gender is usually easy to come by, especially with Goodreads profiles and author websites. I don’t want to presume anyone’s preferred gender, though, so I’m still treading lightly here. Race/ethnicity is something that most people don’t declare in a bio or public profile, so some of it is presumption based on photos. A few authors of color do explicitly state their ethnic backgrounds in their bios, so I use that as a source. I honestly don’t know how to deal with this issue short of sending out a demographic survey to all YA authors (kidding!)
  • Main character gender and race/ethnicity: Like authors, gender of main characters is usually easy to determine. For better or worse, when a character is transgender or chooses to identify in some other way, this tends to be called out in the book description. There are also a few books that have multiple main characters–I allow for two in my tracking, which accounts for most books, but there are still several books with large casts of characters that cannot be tracked in this way. Race/ethnicity is very rarely explicitly called out in a book summary. Again, it seems to only be mentioned when the character is ‘other’ in some way. For YA books, ‘other’ is non-white. Book covers are not necessarily a source for this, since there have been notable cases of white-washing characters of book covers (see the Book Smugglers post on this topic). Should we assume a default white character if it’s not explicitly called out in the text? Again, this area is highly problematic in many ways. I’m not sure how other analyses of race in literature have handled assigning a race to a main character, but it’s definitely an issue to consider.
  • Debut authors: I think it’s important to track debut authors to see how many new voices we are hearing in literature. But how do we count debut status? First novel ever? First YA novel? Do self-published titles count? What about authors who have published in other countries first, but this is their first American publication? I have allowed for two debut categories–first-time author and first-time YA author–and rely on Goodreads to determine. If they have published short stories in collections, I do not count that as being published. I will likely go with the criteria used with the Morris Award (though even that is not cut and dry as Kelly Jensen has pointed out at Stacked).
  • Tracking reviews: Ideally I would like to track when a book gets reviewed in one of the major reviewing sources, including when it gets a starred review, and eventually, which year-end best-of lists it ends up on. Kirkus puts all of its reviews online, so those are easy to track. I also have access to Booklist Online and they have a great search feature, so I can be sure to track all of those. Horn Book, SLJ, and BCCB put their starred lists online, but not all of their reviews, so I am lacking those. I do have online Horn Book, SLJ, and PW access through a database, but it’s not easy to read or search (text-only, no PDFs). VOYA is even harder to track down. So I do not have comprehensive access to these reviews. This is where more contributors would be super helpful!
  • Genre: I’m trying to keep genre minimal, but useful. My categories may not be as faceted as I would like, but it’s hard to determine when I haven’t read every book. In a limitless world, this would have an extensive tagging inventory to track all kinds of subject matter, but that’s probably beyond the scope of this at the moment.
  • Format: Most books tracked will be standard novels, but I am tracking various formats like short story collections, graphic novels, novels in verse, mixed media, etc.
  • The Non-Fiction question: I have only been including fiction. But what about more novel-like non-fiction? I’m thinking something like Bomb or The Notorious Benedict Arnold. What memoirs or fictionalized accounts of real people?

As you can see it’s very daunting! I’ve also realized how much I really don’t know about database creation and maintenance, and especially about data manipulation and presentation. All of that said, I am still majorly interested in working on something like this. Please let me know if you have any thoughts about continuing some sort of open YA book data project!

Teen Book Festivals

It seems like I keep hearing about more and more teen book festivals happening around the country. These one- or two-day events usually feature a large roster of YA authors to talk about their books and teen lit in general, sign books, and interact with readers. It looks like most of these festivals are teen-focused and are often organized by librarians and teachers, with assistance from local bookstores. I’m a little envious that there isn’t one near me, so I figured I’d live vicariously by visiting a lot of their sites and rounding up the festivals! Let me know if I’ve left any off the list.

NoVaTEEN Book Festival
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Arlington, VA

Colorado Teen Literature Conference
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Denver, CO

The Greater Houston Teen Book Convention
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Houston, TX

Pasadena Teen Book Fest
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Pasadena, CA

Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Rochester, NY

YABFest
Spring
Round Rock, TX

Austin Teen Book Festival
Fall
Austin, TX

YALLFest
Fall
Charleston, SC

YAK Fest
Fort Worth, TX
Winter

Primarily for Librarians and Educators

YALSA YA Literature Symposium
November 14-16, 2014
Austin, TX

Young Adult Literature Conference
Fall
Naperville, IL

Major Book Festivals with a Large YA Component

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
April 12-13, 2014
Los Angeles, CA

National Book Festival
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Washington, DC

Mock Printz Roundup 2014

mockprintz2014

The Youth Media Awards, the collection of awards handed out by the American Library Association, will be presented Monday, January 27. For young adult literature, the Michael L. Printz award is considered the highest achievement. Awarded annually since 2000, it honors the best book (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or anthology) in terms of literary merit and up to four honor books that were published in the United States during the award year. A committee of nine YALSA members discuss the eligible titles at the Annual and Midwinter ALA meetings and choose the winner and honor books in a closed door session.

To promote the reading and discussion of quality YA books, many library systems and regional library groups organize Mock Printz events. Typically, librarians will choose a shortlist of titles that they think merit inclusion on the Printz list. They then meet to discuss the books and choose their own winner and honor books before the official ceremony.

I’m always curious to see what books look like contenders for the award, so for a few years (2012, 2011, 2010) I have compiled Mock Printz lists and winners. It’s not the best predictor of the eventual winner, especially since a lot of the groups share lists to some extent and most librarians aren’t reading as widely and extensively as those on the committee. It’s still an interesting exercise to see what’s buzzing before the announcement of the actual winners and honorees.

This year, I looked at 19 lists. Several titles appear on multiple lists, but there are a lot that only appear on one list. A total of 45 individual books were listed. Of the lists I looked at, here are all of the books that appeared and the number of lists they appeared on:

  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (all 19 lists!)
  • Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (14)
  • Far Far Away by Tom McNeal (12)
  • Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (12)
  • Winger by Andrew Sullivan (11)
  • Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang (10)
  • More Than This by Patrick Ness (10)
  • Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (9)
  • Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner (8)
  • Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston (7)
  • September Girls by Bennett Madison (6)
  • Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (6)
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (5)
  • Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff (5)
  • A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty (4)
  • In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters (4)
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (4)
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (4)
  • The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr (4)
  • Out of Nowhere by Maria Padan (3)
  • Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler (3)
  • The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson (3)
  • If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch (2)
  • Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz (2)
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (2)
  • The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan (2)
  • All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry (1)
  • Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (1)
  • Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan (1)
  • Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos (1)
  • Friday Never Leaving by Vikki Wakefield (1)
  • Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan (1)
  • Hostage Three by Nick Lake (1)
  • Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer (1)
  • Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg (1)
  • Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff (1)
  • Primates: Fearless Science by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks (1)
  • Reality Boy by A.S. King (1)
  • Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley (1)
  • The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider (1)
  • The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky (1)
  • The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd (1)
  • The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee (1)
  • Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt (1)
  • Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan (1)

What do you think? Who will take home the big award next Monday morning?

The full lists from each library or library system appear below.

Continue reading “Mock Printz Roundup 2014”

2013 in Books

The last year has been a great year for reading! I set a personal goal to read 100 books and I surpassed my goal by 12 books for a total of 112. I started my first professional library job this fall, so I’ve really ramped up my YA reading even more than usual. I also work for a really big system that has a fantastic collection and I’ve been able to track down a more diverse range of reading options.

Of the 112 books I read in 2013, I read:

  • 48 YA books
  • 23 graphic novels
  • 20 adult fiction
  • 19 nonfiction
  • 2 middle grade fiction
  • 26 ebooks
  • 10 audiobooks
favbook2013

Top 10 Favorite 2013 Books

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
  • Why Can’t I Be You by Allie Larkin
  • The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee
  • Reality Boy by A.S. King
  • Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
  • This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
  • Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Non-2013 Releases That I Read and Loved in 2013

  • Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder
  • Legend by Marie Lu
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sanchez

Reading Resolutions for 2014

  • Read more books with diverse main characters
  • Read more books from the backlist, especially published before 2006 (when I first started reading YA)
  • Read more middle grade fiction, especially for middle school readers
  • Read more in general! Goal for 2014 is 125

This Week in Reading: Nov. 25 to Dec. 1

Finished

French Milk by Lucy Knisley

After reading Lucy Knisley’s delightful food-based memoir, Relish, earlier this year, I was keen to pick up one of her earlier works. Presented as a travel journal about the month she spent in Paris the winter before graduating from college, this is a love letter to Parisian food, museums, and shopping, as well as a look into depression and the angst that comes with the reality of facing adulthood. With mostly single-panel illustrated journal pages and some photos, this is a quick read and a nice slice-of-life memoir.

And if you’re not already familiar with her epic illustrated Harry Potter summary, check it out!

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang

This title (or set of titles, depending on who you ask) is getting lots of award buzz and love from end-of-year lists and I have been wanting to check it out. For some reason the holds wait was longer on Boxers at my library, so I actually read Saints first. I love Yang’s simple graphic style – it’s very clean and expressive. The use of color in these is also terrific, using more somber tones for the realistic aspects of Chinese life and brighter colors for the magical elements (credit to colorist Lark Pien). These companion pieces about the opposing sides of the Boxer Rebellion in China – the converted Catholic Chinese and Westerners and the Chinese peasants – present a nuanced look into what shapes people into crusaders for their beliefs and, in many cases, martyrs for a cause. Both protagonists, Vibiana and Little Bao, feel like outcasts in some way before finding their place in the Catholic Church and the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fist, respectively. These would be fantastic curriculum companions for this historical era that is often underlooked.

Currently Reading

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #2)

I’m about halfway through the audio version of the second book in the Throne of Glass series. I’m totally intrigued by the world of Celaena Sardothien, the teenage assassin working for a corrupt king. This second book has less action and is diving more into the politics of the court, the forbidden magic, and the brewing rebellion.

September Girls by Bennett Madison

This one is on my library’s systems Mock Printz list. About half-way through, I’m not yet sold on this magical realist tale about a teenaged boy and a mysterious town filled with super-hot young women with enigmatic pasts.

To Read

My to-read list is piling up faster than I can manage! Hoping to knock out a couple more Mock Printz titles in the next week or so, including  Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos and More Than This by Patrick Ness.

Starred YA Books: Movers and Shakers, Fall 2012

I’ve been keeping track of the starred reviews for YA books published this year in the big six reviewing publications — The Horn Book, Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Some movers and shakers within the last few months are:

Six Stars
Dodger by Terry Pratchett (Harper/HarperCollins)
Horn Book, PW, SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus, Bulletin

Moonbird by Phillip Hoose (Farrar)
Horn Book, PW, SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus, Bulletin

Five Stars
Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (Little, Brown)
PW, SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus, Bulletin

Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust by Doreen Rappaport (Candlewick)
PW, SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus, Bulletin

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Shienkin (Roaring Brook/Flash Point)
Horn Book, PW, SLJ, Kirkus, Bulletin

My Book of Life by Angel  by Martine Leavitt (FSG/Ferguson)
Horn Book, PW, SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic)
PW, SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus, Bulletin

Four Stars
A Certain October by Angela Johnson (Simon & Schuster)
Horn Book, PW, SLJ, Kirkus

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass by Russell Freedman (Clarion)
PW, SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic)
PW, SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus

The Impossible Rescue by Martin W. Sandler (Candlewick)
PW, SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher (Little, Brown)
PW, SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus

Three Stars
After Eli by Rebecca Rupp (Candlewick)
PW, Booklist, Kirkus

All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin (Knopf)
SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus

The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne  by Catherine Reef  (Clarion)
PW, Booklist, Kirkus

The Diviners by Libba Bray (Little, Brown)
SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus

Every Day by David Levithan (Knopf)
SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus

The Fitzosbornes at War by Michelle Cooper (Knopf)
Booklist, Kirkus, Bulletin

The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti (Dial)
PW, Booklist, Kirkus

Passenger by Andrew Smith (Feiwel and Friends)
PW, Booklist, Kirkus

Pinned by Sharon G. Flake (Scholastic)
Horn Book, PW, Kirkus

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson (Simon & Schuster)
PW, SLJ, Booklist

Son by Lois Lowry (Houghton)
SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus

Two Stars
A Soldier’s Secret: The Incredible true Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss (Abrams/Amulet)
PW, Kirkus

Amber House by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed (Scholastic/Levine)
PW, Bulletin

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel (Scholastic/Graphix)
SLJ, Kirkus

Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon (Harper/HarperCollins)
SLJ, Kirkus

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente (Feiwel and Friends)
Booklist, Kirkus

The Good Braider  by Terry Farish (Amazon Children’s)
SLJ, Booklist

Keeping Safe the Stars by Sheila O’Connor (Putnam)
PW, Kirkus

Kepler’s Dream by Juliet Bell (Putnam)
Booklist, Kirkus

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde (Harcourt)
PW, SLJ

My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve (Dial)
SLJ, Booklist

Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow (Tor)
SLJ, Booklist

Reached by Ally Condie (Dutton)
PW, Kirkus

Soonchild by Russell Hoban, illus. by Alexis Deacon (Candlewick)
PW, Booklist

To the Mountaintop: My Journey through the Civil Rights Movement  by Charlayne Hunter-Gault (Roaring Brook/Flash Point)
PW, Booklist

The Unfortunate Son by Constance Leeds (Viking)
SLJ, Bulletin

See the full list here.

Starred YA Books: Movers and Shakers July/August

I’ve been keeping track of the starred reviews for YA books published this year in the big six reviewing publications — The Horn Book, Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Some movers and shakers within the last two months are:

Six Stars
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion)
Horn Book, PW, SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus, Bulletin

Five Stars
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Random House)
Horn Book, PW, SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus

Four Stars
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (Knopf)
Horn Book, PW, Booklist, Kirkus

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books)
Horn Book, PW, SLJ, Kirkus

Miles to Go for Freedom: Segregation and Civil Rights in the Jim Crow Years by Linda Barrett Osborne (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
PW, SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus

Three Stars
A Certain October by Angela Johnson (Simon & Schuster)
Horn Book, SLJ, Kirkus

A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix (HarperCollins)
Horn Book, SLJ, Kirkus

Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure by Jim Murphy and Alison Blank (Clarion)
SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher (Little, Brown)
PW, SLJ, Kirkus

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (HarperTeen)
PW, SLJ, Kirkus

Two Stars
After Eli
by Rebecca Rupp (Candlewick)
PW, Kirkus

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Shienkin (Roaring Brook/Flash Point)
PW, Kirkus

The Diviners by Libba Bray (Little, Brown)
Booklist, Kirkus

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic)
PW, Kirkus

Every Day by David Levithan (Knopf)
Booklist, Kirkus

The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti (Dial)
PW, Kirkus

The Impossible Rescue by Martin W. Sandler (Candlewick)
Booklist, Kirkus

In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz (Dutton)
PW, Kirkus

Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand by Ramon Perez (Archaia Entertainment)
PW, Booklist

My Book of Life by Angel  Martine Leavitt (FSG/Ferguson)
PW, Kirkus

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic)
PW, Kirkus

Son by Lois Lowry (Houghton)
Booklist, Kirkus

This is Not A Test by Courtney Summers (St. Martin’s Griffin)
PW, Bulletin

See the full list here.

My Favorite Books So Far This Year

We’re already halfway through 2012 (can you believe it?), so I thought I’d share some of my favorite 2012 books so far this year:

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

This one doesn’t come out until October, but keep it on your radar. A.S. King’s latest novel deals with sexual identity, family, and small town life with a blend of wry humor and keen observation. Beautiful, poignant, and realistic, this one’s at the top of my favorites for the year.

 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Where to begin with Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity? This is a complex novel of young female pilots in World War II packed with torture, treachery, intrigue, and wartime violence with an intense friendship at the core. While a bit slow to start, this one’s worth sticking around for.

 

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead has written another fantastic middle grade novel set in New York City. Liar and Spy features a boy narrator dealing with a family crisis that requires a move to a new apartment building with some interesting neighbors. Lots of humor and quirkiness, but not without a moving family story at its heart.

 

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

There was nothing unexpected about this summertime novel, but Morgan Matson proves she’s a contemporary YA star with the perfect mix of tender family moments, believable female friendships, and charming romance all in a dreamy, small-town lake setting.

 

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

A compelling mystery coupled with lyrical, dream-like writing make Kat Rosenfield’s debut YA novel a mesmerizing read. Two stories are interwoven – one of Becca, who just wants to escape her small town, and one of Amelia Anne, who is found dead there and upsets the balance of life for Becca and others.

 

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

A charming graphic novel from Faith Erin Hicks about a formerly home-schooled teenaged girl trying to make friends in high school and deal with her mother’s abandonment. I have a longer review at No Flying, No Tights.

 

Runners-Up:

Non-2012 Books I’ve Loved: