Sunday, December 31, 2017

Best of 2017: Middle Grade and YA

I only read 11 middle grade and YA titles this year! I can't believe it. I think I was distracted by contemporary women's fiction. In any case, there were some great ones among those 11. I'm listing my favorite three in alphabetical order by author.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker
This became an all-class read for our sixth graders, and we love it. Peter's dad is off to fight in the war and makes Peter leave Pax, the pet fox who has been his only friend since his mother's death, on the edge of the woods. The pain of separation sears both the boy and his fox, whom we follow in alternating chapters. Peter quickly realizes he's made a mistake and runs away in search of Pax. Pax relies for the first time on instinct in his own quest for survival. This book has some emotional takeaways including, "People should tell the truth about what war costs." This could be enjoyed by readers in grade 5 and up. Fair warning: it's quite sad.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I'm sure everyone has this mega best-seller on their lists. In my opinion, it holds up to the hype.  Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is in the passenger seat when her childhood friend Khalil is pulled over by the police officer who murders him. Suddenly, Starr's life - already complicated by the code-switching required to fit in at her nearly all-white private high school AND in her nearly all-black neighborhood - becomes even more difficult to navigate. How loudly should she speak? To whom, when, and with what consequences? This one is for teens - 7th grade and up, I'd say. 

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham
Dennis Ouyang struggles to find himself amidst the expectations of his parents and friends. His exacting father wants him to be a doctor, a gastroenterologist. But after his dad dies and Dennis falters in school, he's unsure of what his path forward could be. Enter four angels come to life from a greeting card. The angels bully him back on track and away from the video games. Can his supportive study group and his angels help him find a trajectory that meets his own expectations? Can he marry his love of gaming with an academic future? This is a heartfelt graphic novel for teens. 

Here are the other eight titles! Need a different book list? Here's a link to all of them.

  • Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper - A celebration of lowrider culture in graphic novel form, if a little light on plot details and character development.
  • Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham - A realistic story about girl friendships.
  • Restart by Gordon Korman - Class-A bully Chase Ambrose gets a fresh start via amnesia. 
  • Listen, Slowly by Thanha Lai - The rich and layered story of an American middle schooler's trip with her grandmother to Viet Nam.
  • The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall - A moving story based on the real-life artist James Hampton and his piece, The Throne of the Third Heaven. 
  • Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan - An enjoyable read about Julia Marks, a girl who needs something in her life and accidentally finds Munchkinland.
  • Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier - I love Telgemeier, but this was my least favorite of hers.
  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon - Loved the characters, didn't buy the premise.

1 comment:

LH said...

I have officially read NONE of these. But I want to read your top 3.