Sunday, October 30, 2011


Meyer, Stephanie. (2005). Twilight. New York: Little, Brown, and Company.

Image credit: Wikipedia

A young girl meets and vampire and falls passionately in love.


Seventeen year-old Isabella is forced to move from Florida to the small, rainy town of Forks, WA. to live with her father. Bella's life is uneventful and high school is painful until she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen. The attraction is instantaneously and irresistible and is all the more complicated by the fact that Edward is a vampire.

Like any teenage girl Bella feels the strain of juggling school, family, friends, and a relationship. However the consequences of falling in love with a vampire are much more fatal than dating the boy next door. Will Bella survive this love or is this the Twilight of her human life?

  • ALA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2006
  • Black-Eyed Susan Award, 2007-2008
  • Isinglass Teen Read Award, 2006-2007
  • Publishers Weekly's Best Children's Books of 2005 
  • School Library Journal's Best Books of 2005 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Giver

Lowry, Lois. (1993). The Giver. New York: Random House.

Image credit: Wikipedia

The implications of a young boy's twelfth birthday will change his life forever.


What does it mean to be The Giver? In eleven year-old Jonas' utopic society everything in life is decided by the Elders; your name, your parents, your job, your life partner. The community naively enjoys the simplicity that a controlled lifestyle brings;  pain, suffering, and all things negative have been eliminated.

However, Jonas' perfect world begins to show cracks after the Ceremony of Twelves where he is selected to begin apprenticing under The Giver. Will his new assignment sustain his role in the community, or will it open his eyes to a world of possibilities? Join Jonas on his journey to understand what it means to be The Giver.

  • A Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book 
  • ALA Best Book for Young Adults 
  • ALA notable Book for Children 
  • Booklist Editor's Choice 
  • Newberry Medal, 1994 
  • Regina Medal, 1994 
  • School Library Journal's Best Books of the Year 
  • William Allen White Children's Book Award, 1996

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Annie on My Mind

Garden, Nancy. (1992). Annie on My Mind. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux.

Image Credit:

Eliza Winthrop has her whole perfect life figured out. She is comes from a great family, she's class president, and she hopes to be accepted to MIT in the fall to study architecture. However, her plans are threatened when she beings a relationship with a new friend.


What is on Eliza Winthrop's mind? Compared to most teenage girls who daydream about boys and obsess over fashion, popularity and Prom, Liza is different. She is a tomboy who aspires to be an architect and would rather hang out with boys than girls. In fact, she only has one girl friend until she meets Annie Kenyon. Annie is more original and unconventional than anyone in Liza's world. Annie is beautiful, talented, and completely understands Liza from the moment they meet.

As a friendship blossoms, Annie and Liza become inseparable, magnetically drawn to one another with great intensity. Are the girls simply friends, or is something more developing between them? One unexpected event will test their friendship and the girls in ways they never dreamed. The love and depth of their relationship will explain why Liza has Annie on Her Mind.

  • ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 1982
  • ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (Lesbian/Gay  Tales),  1997
  • ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000, #48
  • ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999, #44
  • Booklist Reviewer's Choice, 1982
  • Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award, 2000.


Myers, Walter Dean. (1999). Monster. New York: Harpercollins.

Image Credit: Harpercollins

A high school film geek finds himself on trial for felony murder. Through a journal Steve tells the story of his life and trial.


Is Steve Harmon a Monster? Or just a kid who got caught at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people? Growing up on the streets of Harlem is no easy task. But aspiring filmmaker Steve loves his neighborhood and the tragic beauty it contains. After a botched robbery ends in the horrendous death of a convenience store owner, Steve finds himself in jail and on trial for felony murder.
Steve documents his incarceration and trial in an attempt to grasp the reality of what truly happened that fateful December day. His journal, creatively written in the form of a screenplay details facts and feelings [open the book to any page to reveal the formatting]. Strategically placed pixelated photos convey key emotions and events in Steve's life. Will Steve spend his life in prison or will the truth set him free? Join Steve through the trial of his life and decide if Steve truly is a Monster.

  • ALA Best Book for Young Adults, 2000.
  • ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2000.
  • BCCB Blue Ribbon, 1999.
  • Booklist Editors' Choice, 1999.
  • Booksense 76 list, 2002.
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book, 1999. 
  • Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, 2000.
  • Edgar Allan Poe Award nominee, Best Young Adult, 2000.
  • Isinglass Teen Read Award, 2002-2003
  • Heartland Award for Excellence in YA Literature Finalist
  • Horn Book Honor List, 1999.
  • Kentucky Bluegrass Award, 2001.
  • L.A. Times Book Award nominee, 2000.
  • Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award nominee in high school category, 2000-2001. 
  • Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Literature for Young Adults, 2000.
  • National Book Award Finalist, 1999.
  • New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, 1999.
  • New York Times Notable Book of the Year, 1999.
  • Notable Children's Book, The New York Times, 1999.
  • PW Best Books of the Year, 1999.
  • Riverbank Review Children's Book of Distinction

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    I am Scout: A Biography of Harper Lee

    Shields, Charles J. (2008). I am Scout: A Biography of Harper Lee. New York: Henry Holt.

    Image credit: ©Macmillan

    A thorough look into the life of one of America's most celebrated and reclusive authors of the 20th century, Harper Lee.


    I am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee is serial biographer Charles J. Shields first attempt at writing for young adults. Shields success may be attributed to the fact that I am Scout is based on his award-winning adult-bestselling biography Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. Whatever the reason Shields demands respect for his ability to get the reader into the head of his subject and portray them in an honest and masterful light. The cover art of the book is intriguing with an old Underwood typewriter, of personal importance to Lee, taking up most of the space as if it is ready to type the story of Harper Lee’s life. The title also features a tire swing in place of the “o” in Scout that is a nod to her childhood and a scene in Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The cover artwork and design is suitable for the topic, the target audience, and the storyline.
                The biography begins with the birth of Nelle Harper Lee in small-town Monroeville, Alabama and chronicles her life throughout success and tragedies. The book mainly focused on how her childhood inspired her best-selling novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Shields relies on first and second-hand accounts to pepper the biography with facts and insider stories, and is diligent in documenting sources in case readers want to further research anything. Readers become invested in Lee’s life, feeling her sense of accomplishment and sticking with her through the rough patches that frequented Lee’s life. While there is nothing in the book that is inappropriate, there are several instances of racial injustice that might be best understood by older readers ages 14 and up.


    • ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 2009
    • Arizona Grand Canyon Young Readers Master List
    • Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year, 2009.

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    The Outsiders

    Hinton, S. E. (1967). The Outsiders. New York: Viking Press.

    Image credit: Wikipedia

    A group of outcasts band together to survive the social injustice present in their small town and high school. 


    The Outsiders is the quintessential young adult novel written by S. E. Hinton when she was just a sophomore in high school. Much of the success of this novel can be attributed to its authenticity in its representation of social class in high schools across the United States. Hinton presents two different social groups in an Oklahoma town; the Greasers are stereotyped as poor, uneducated “hoods,” while the Socs are perceived as rich, superior and perfect. Throughout the novel Hinton proves that appearances can be deceiving and all teenagers, regardless of their social class, experience similar challenges during adolescence. Touching on familiar teenage topics such as popularity, friendship, and identity allow young readers to relate to the main characters and storyline no matter what side of the tracks they reside.
    The themes of death and loss are also present in The Outsiders, but Hinton uses both themes in a realistic way that demands empathy from the readers. The development of the relationship between the Curtis brothers is touching and authentic. While their familial issues may not be exactly the same as those of every reader, everyone can relate to growing pains within the family dynamic, especially during adolescence. Another important aspect of The Outsiders for many young adults is the portrayal of friends making a surrogate family for teenagers. As adolescents come of age, they tend to identify more with their peers than their family members. And in such a way, they develop a family as evidenced in the group of greasers that they novel is centered around. The book is most appropriate for young adults ages 14 and up due to the violence and intense scenes.

    • ALA Best Young Adult Book, 1975 
    • Chicago Tribune Book World spring Book Festival Honor Book, 1967
    • Massachusetts Children’s Book Award, 1979
    • Media and Methods Maxi Award, 1975 
    • New York Herald Tribune Best Teenage Books List, 1967

    Milkweed: A novel

    Spinelli, Jerry. (2003). Milkweed: A novel. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

    Image Credit:


    An orphan child discovers friendship, racism, love, and his identity during the Holocaust.


    “Stopthief” is nameless, homeless, and parent-less. But once he meets a respected street kid, Uri, he assumes a new identity and a new life as Misha Pilsudski. Just as Misha begins to get comfortable as his new self, the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust will once again alter his life course. In Milkweed, Newbery award-winning author Jerry Spinelli demonstrates his ability to interpret a horrible event in history and craft an inspiring historical fiction novel for young adults. The unique title sparks the imagination of the reader as they wonder when the significance will be revealed. The book jacket is hauntingly beautiful with a sepia-toned picture of the back of a stone angel statue, which is another symbol that is present throughout the story. The background and experiences of each of the main characters manage to evoke respect, sadness, laughter, and empathy. 
    Spinelli masterfully integrates several themes into Milkweed such as identify, loss, friendship, and coming-of-age that are relevant and appropriate for the intended audience. The themes are flawlessly executed throughout the entire book which makes for a story that is strong, emotional, and inspiring at the same time. Some historical details are present but Spinelli relies more on storyline than facts, which keeps young adult readers interested without sounding like a textbook.This book is appropriate for children 11 and up as it is concise and uses short sentences with intermediate vocabulary. Milkweed reminds all readers that history can repeat itself if we do not learn from past events.

    • ALA Best Book for Young Adults, 2004 
    • Booklist Top 10 Historical Fiction for Youth Selection
    • Book Links Lasting Connections Selection
    • Carolyn W. Field Award from the Pennsylvania Library Association, 2004
    • Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice, 2004 
    • National Jewish Book Award Finalist, 2004 
    • New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age 
    • The Golden Kite Award Winner (Fiction), 2003