A week after the “big reveal” at the American Library Association’s midwinter meeting, everyone is still talking about the latest award-winning titles. Young Adult Library Services Association committees select books for teens from 12 to 18 years of age, with a broad range of reading abilities and maturity levels. Whether they are edgy or informative, these buzz-worthy books will circulate among your students for years to come.
SÁENZ , Benjamin Alire. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. S & S. 2012. ISBN 9781442408920. JLG Level: YM : Mature Young Adults (Grades 11 & up).
Winner of three Youth Media Awards (a Printz Honor, a Stonewall, and a Pura Belpré), Saenz’s coming-of-age novel is about two very different 15-year-old boys with contrasting lives―Aristotle, who seems angry at the world, and Dante, who takes life for what it is. Aristotle talks to his mother, but his father, who’s a Vietnam War veteran, rarely has anything to say. On the other hand, Dante’s family talks about everything. When the two become friends at the community pool, their worlds collide, causing both the boys and their families to change. A car accident that injures Aristotle draws Dante even closer to him, but only causes Ari to feel more anger. A sudden move to Chicago allows Dante to write about his romantic feelings for his friend. Ari, like his father, closes off his emotions, even refusing to write back. In the dramatic end, a gay-bashing attack puts Dante in the hospital and forces Ari to realize his true feelings. Slow-paced and poignant, the story addresses issues of homosexuality, identity, war, family responsibility, and friendship. This multifaceted award-winner is sure to withstand the test of time.
BLUMENTHAL, Karen. Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different. Feiwel & Friends. 2012. ISBN 9781250015570. JLG Level: C : Advanced Readers (Grades 6-9).
Against all the odds, a man who was given away at birth, dropped out of college, and fired from the company that he created became the man who transformed the computer, music, and movie industries. In 2005, Steve Jobs delivered a commencement speech at Stanford University. It would be a tale told in three parts. Blumenthal uses that thread to weave her story for teen readers. “The journey is the reward,” says Jobs. Adopted as an infant, Jobs’s new parents had to sign an agreement that they would send him to college. Frequently in trouble at school, Jobs dropped out of college after one year. He was reclusive, picky about eating, and had poor hygiene habits. In spite of that, he and his friend, Steve Wosniak, created the first Apple computer in his parents’ garage. The Cinderella story builds from there―and includes fascinating information about Jobs’s involvement with Pixar, Macintosh, and iProducts. In spite of (or maybe because of) Jobs’s tantrums, lack of social graces, and empathy for others, his products made millions and continue to do so. Informative sidebars, copious footnotes, and black-and-white photographs support this unauthorized biography. Finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults.
HOPKINSON, Deborah. Titanic: Voices from the Disaster. Scholastic. 2012. ISBN 9780545116749. JLG Level: NE : Nonfiction Elementary (Grades 2-6).
Though interest in the Titanic disaster never seems to fade, its 100th anniversary has brought several new amazing titles to our shelves. Hopkinson examines primary source documents and presents surviving characters from each social class on the ship, as well as the crew. From the construction of the ship to the harrowing rescue of its passengers, readers will find fascinating new details in their never-ceasing hunger for information about the tragedy. Complete with photographs, artwork, and maps, this oft-told story will have teens riveted to the pages. Sibert Honor and Finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults.
LEVINSON, Cynthia. We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March. Peachtree. 2012. ISBN 9781561456277. JLG Level: NM : Nonfiction Middle & HS (Grades 7-11).
Based on interviews with children who marched in Birmingham, AL, in 1963, Levinson delivers a narrative that chronicles a momentous event in the history of civil rights. Told through the eyes of four young people, history comes to life in a painful and sobering retelling of children willing to stand up to adults for their freedom. Nine-year-old Audrey Hendricks saw an elderly black couple walking in the park. When a police officer allowed a dog to attack them, she decided she had to do more than just attend meetings. Afraid he would fight back, James Stewart chose to march instead of sit. Washington Booker III thought the marches were crazy; he spent his time playing with friends. Arnetta Streeter joined the Peace Ponies and signed a pledge of nonviolence. These four young people were among the thousands who participated in the Birmingham’s Children’s March. Meticulously footnoted with bibliographical information and index, this volume will certainly meet research needs. Finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults.
TURNAGE, Shelia. Three Times Lucky. Dial. 2012. ISBN 9780803736702. JLG Level: C : Advanced Readers (Grades 6-9).
“Trouble cruised into Tupelo Landing at exactly seven minutes past noon on Wednesday, the third of June, flashing a gold badge and driving a Chevy Impala the color of dirt. Almost before the dust had settled, Mr. Jesse turned up dead and life in Tupelo Landing turned upside down.” Full of quick wit and humor, mystery and mayhem, this novel for young teens will have readers turning pages. Plenty of trouble awaits Mo(ses) and Dale (Earnhardt Johnson III) and there are lots of red herrings to steer them astray. Mo is an orphan who washed up in a storm 11 years ago and was found by “The Colonel,” who has lost his memory. When Mr. Jesse is found dead, Mo and Dale decide to solve the murder themselves. After Dale becomes a suspect and The Colonel goes missing, things just get complicated. Mo will steal your heart and give you a laugh along the way. Newbery Honor Winner.
For these and other fabulous books for teens, search Junior Library Guild.
Junior Library Guild is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. You can visit them at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com.
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