What’s New in Young Adult Literature:
November, 2017

Dr. Bob Seney
Lakewood, Colorado
rwseney@muw.edu Author

This is the final list of the books I read and selected for my NAGC presentation. All books listed meet Judith Halsted’s (and my) criteria for books most appropriate for gifted readers. NAGC is the “traditional” closing time for my annual List.

Author

Title (and alerts if applicable)

Level

Publication Date

Alexander, Kwame

Booked
(Language Alert)

middle school/
junior high

2016

I may have found a new favorite author.  The Crossover was a
heavy contender for my 2015 Top Ten Reads.  The underline indicates that Booked is under consideration for this year.  This time Alexander uses soccer for the vehicle of his story and again uses the poetical form to reel out a remarkable story of coming of age, dealing with bullying, first love, and the break-up of his parents’ marriage.  Pages 216-233 are a perfect example of the power of bibliotherapy.  Great Read!

The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot and Score in This Game Called Life

middle school/
junior high

2017

Basketball provides the basis for rules of life.  Alexander lists the Rules of Life in succinct, precise statements. Using his own personal story, he develops the novel by relating stories of real people, mostly, athletes, who have demonstrated the important Rules of Life and have scored success.  I was reminded of 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Brown’s Book of Precepts from Palacio’s Wonder series.

Solo#

middle school/
junior high

2017

The Rules of Life this time are found in titles and lyrics of rock and roll music.  Blade Morrison is the talented son of a fading rock and roll star, but the family is dysfunctional and there are secrets.  When Blade discovers what they are, he is nearly destroyed until he sets out on a quest.  Many layered themes and subthemes and again told in poetical form.

Arden, Katherine

The Bear and the Nightingale

middle school/
junior high

2017

A First Novel: very promising.  A Russian folk/fairy tale set in medieval Rus’. Vaysa, a young girl with gifts must save her family and village – even when they don’t trust her and see her as a witch. I have pre-ordered the companion, The Girl in the Tower (Dec. 2017).

Aveyard, Victoria

Red Queen
(Teacher Recommended)

middle school/
junior high

2015

Post nuclear apocalypse not dystopia, but society has developed in an alarming way. Mutations have caused a race of silver bloods with strange powers, who have “enslaved” the red blooded normal folk.  But then comes Mare: Red and Silver, and stronger than both.

Queen Song

middle school/
junior high

2015

A prequel novella that provides background for the Red Queen with the death of Queen Coriane and the evilness of Queen Elara.

Steel Scars

middle school/
junior high

2016

A prequel novella that sets the scene for Red Queen.

Barnhill, Kelly

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

elementary

2016

2017 Newbery Medal. Not sure that I would have given it the Medal. Slow start and various story lines were not tightly tied together until the very end. Some very good philosophical thoughts and great characters.  Fantasy and magic.

Bartol, Amy

Secondborn: The Revolution is Born

middle school/
junior high

2017

A future society in which second-born children serve the first born.  Until Roselle St. Sismode comes of age. Her mother,  Othala St. Sismode, Clarity of the Fate of Swords, one of the most powerful rulers of the Republic, seeks to kill her daughter to insure the rule of her first-born Son. Adventure, moves fast, and a most interesting society and culture.

Campbell, Chelsea

Dragon Bound
(Student Recommended, Situation Alert )

middle school/
junior high

2016

This is so middle school! Good female protagonist who is funny! Not a hard read but think girls will love it. A very different take on dragons. Unfortunately, maybe a bit too much on the lovey, dovey stuff.

DiCamillo, Kate

Raymie Nightingale

elementary

2016

2016 National Book Award Finalist.  A book about three girls, baton twirling lessons, and the Miss Central Florida Tire contest.  No it’s a book about friendship. No, it’s philosophical. No, it’s… wonderful. This is truly one for the serious reader – it carries a bit of challenge.

Erskine, Kathryn

The Incredible Magic of Being

elementary /middle school/junior high

2017

O Wow and Double Wow! Julian is my new favorite protagonist. Diagnosed as highly emotional gifted (speaking Dabrowski here) and obviously intellectually gifted as well, he has some issues.

A move to Maine with his two Moms and his sister, who “has exploded into being a teenager;” a cantankerous next-door neighbor, Mr. X; and the task of helping his family and the world to see the real magic that exists in the universe.  What a fantastic read! Selected as my “Tom Hebert Memorial Novel”

Flanagan, John

Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years – The Battle of Hackham Heath

middle school/
junior high

2016

Remains my favorite series

Garber, Stephanie

Caraval: Remember It’s Only a Game

middle school/
junior high/high school

2017

A game, an abusive father, a head-strong sister – all leading to an amazing adventure of suspense and many strange characters

Gaiman, Neil

The Sleeper and the Spindle

middle school/
junior high/high school

2015

Wow! Begins with the book jacket, then the book cover and an amazing retelling and intertwining of The Sleeping Princess and Snow White stories.  Beautifully illustrated by Chris Riddell, whose illustrations play an important role in telling the story.

Klingele, Lindsey

The Marked Girl

middle school/
junior high

2016

A first novel: Set in contemporary Los Angles.  A strange tattoo, a portal to another dimension, a monumental battle between the wraiths and three teens from the other dimension. Really fun!  I am looking forward to Book Two of Three.

Lewis, John with Andrew Aydin and
Nate Powell, Ilus.

March: Book Three

middle school/
junior high/high school

2016

2016 National Book Award, 2017 Printz Award, Seibert Informational Book Award and YALSA Award for Excellence (And others!) A graphic novel that is well done (not my favorite genre), but Lewis’ narrative of his ordeals in the Civil Rights Movement carries the book. 

Lincoln, Jenna

The People’s Champion
(The Protector
Project, Vol. 2)

middle school/
junior high/high school

2017

Mara and Dalin have ended the war and exposed it as an evil experiment. They set out now to bring down the evil queen’s rule. Buy at what costs?  Author’s End Notes are very good. She has conquered the weak second book in a series problem.

MacLachlan, Patricia

The Poet’s Dog

elementary /middle school/junior high

2016

 

Teddy, an Irish wolfhound, is the companion of Sylvan, poet, writer, professor. This is Teddy’s delightful, wonderful story – based on the idea: “Dogs speak words, but only poets and children – Hear.” Teddy saves two children, Nickel and Flora, from a blizzard and their unique love story begins.  This would be a great read-aloud.

Messud, Claire

The Burning Girl
(Language Alert)

middle school/
junior high/high school

2017

Not your usual story of the breakup of a close relationship between two girls – best friends since preschool. Intense. I expect to see this one on award lists.

Newman, Leslea

October Mourning
A book that got by me and is really great!

middle school/
junior high/high school

2012

2013 Stonewall Honor Book. A book of poetry inspired by the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay man in Wyoming.  Very moving.

O’Connor, Barbara

Wish

elementary /middle school/junior high

2016

Using every wish trick in the book, Charlie makes a daily wish. Her family is broken and she now lives with an aunt and uncle she has never met. Then she discovers that: “I’d been so busy making my wish that I hadn’t seen things the way they really are.” A great mix of Ruby Holler by Creech (2003 List) and Pax by Pennypacker (2016 List).  Wow!

Paolini, Christopher A.

From This to That

middle school/
junior high/high school

2012

Heart and Home

middle school/
junior high/high school

2014

Two connected novellas, which I missed. Pure sci-fi.  I was reminded of the movie Avatar.  Space travel via the mind. 

Rossi, Veronica

 

Under the Never Sky
(Situation Alert, Student Recommended)

middle school/
junior high/high school

2012

First in a series that was recommended to me. It was hard to put down. A dystopia novel with Pod Dwellers and Outsiders. Great characters. Really enjoyed, but of course, a Rossi!

Rowling, J. K.

 

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

elementary

2001

Whoops! I didn’t read this earlier since a friend said he  didn’t like it. I don’t see why!  It’s funny! Set up as Harry Potter’s copy of the text by Newt Scamander with Harry’s notes in the margin. The alphabetical list can be a bit tedious but the intro notes, etc.,  are fun!

Sullivan, Mark  

 

Beneath a Scarlet Sky

middle school/
junior high/high school

2017

Historical Fiction based on the true story of Pino Pella, a young Italian in Nazi Occupied Italy who helped many Jews escape and served as a spy for the Resistance while in the German Army. An exciting adventure. Good possibility for reluctant male readers, especially if they have an interest in mountain climbing, skiing, and WWII.

Thomas, Angie 

 

The Hate U Give
(Language Alert)

middle school/
junior high/high school

2017

A first novel, made the Long List for National Book Award. Amazing!  I expect more awards. Starr lives in two worlds: the black community in which she grew up and the fancy prep school where she attends high school. Her worlds collide when her best
friend, Khalil, dies in her middle school/junior high, shot by a policeman. Khalil was unarmed. THUG LIFE: Read the book to find out what this means. “Real” language here, but an important message.

Wheeler, Jeff

 

The Queen’s Poisoner

middle school/
junior high

2016

A great fantasy in the ilk of Robin Hobb.  A “what-if” retelling of the Richard III saga but in the fantasy genre. Hard for me to put down.  Author’s Notes at end are very important.

Wiesner, David & Donna Jo

 

Fish Girl

elementary

2017

A graphic novel – the first for both authors. Weisner’s usual striking illustrations but a story with a true moral. A young, captive mermaid who finds a friend and             freedom. (Napoli of Zel fame and other rewritten fairy tales.)

Yoon, Nicola

 

 

 

Everything, Everything
(Situation Alert and Language Alert, but mild)

middle school/
junior high/high school

2015

A First Novel.  A bubble girl, the boy next door, and first love. Wow!  What a story with a very surprising end. If readers have not read The Little Prince – they will want to!  This is an author for whom I will be watching!

The Sun Is Also a Star
(Situation Alert and Language Alert, but mild)

middle school/
junior high/high school

2016

2016 National Book Award Finalist. 2017 Printz Honor Book. Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award! A teenage poet and
a teenage scientist – How do we explain love? By the heart or by science?
An unexpected romance grows between a Jamaican girl, who is to be deported, and an American Korean boy controlled by his traditional father. Cultural conflicts, relationship issues, and more. Wow!  Not a heavy read, but definitely a serious read.

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