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February 1, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 First Novels for Youth
During the last few years, there’s been an enormous increase in the number of first novels for children and young adults. Below you’ll find the best of this year’s debuts—all published over the last 12 months. It’s no stretch to think we’ll be hearing more from these talented writers.
Billie Standish Was Here. By Nancy Crocker. 2007. Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (1-4169-2423-X). Gr. 6–9.
Funny and poignant, Crocker’s probing novel about a friendship between an abused 11-year-old and her elderly neighbor transcends the familiar plot with its heartfelt portrayal of the genuine regard between two spirited, sharply drawn main characters.
The Black Book of Secrets. By F. E. Higgins. 2007. Feiwel and Friends, $14.95 (0-312-36844-5). Gr. 4–6.
Readers will quickly sink into the story of a tough orphan who finds a home in a Dickensian-like shop of curiosities, run by a proprietor who buys people’s secrets. The darkly magical backdrop and underlying questions about redemption and forgiveness are a bonus.
Does My Head Look Big in This? By Randa Abdel-Fattah. 2007. Scholastic/Orchard, $16.99 (0-439-91947-9). Gr. 7–10.
Amal is a typical teen—until she decides to wear a hijab to express her deeply held Muslim faith. Issues of family, religion, and feminism are smoothly integrated into a debut with lots of teen appeal. (See “The Booklist Interview”).
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat. By Lynne Jonell. Illus. by Jonathan Bean. 2007. Holt, $16.95 (0-8050-8150-X). Gr. 3–6.
A talking rat and a lonely child become allies in an adventure that pits them against a deliciously evil nanny. Great characters—especially voluble, persnickety Rat—set this apart.
Epic. By Conor Kostick. 2007. Viking, $17.99 (0-670-06179-4). Gr. 7–10.
Kostick’s background in fantasy role-playing games shouts out from every page of this gripping, action-packed debut, in which getting ahead in the real world means winning in the game.
Every Crooked Pot. By Renee Rosen. 2007. St. Martin’s/Griffin, paper, $10.95 (9780312365431). Gr. 10–12.
Rosen’s beautifully written novel, about a child’s growing up with a facial birthmark she hates and a father she loves, is as honest about sex and human nature as it is about the difficulties of separating from one’s family.
Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller. By Sarah Miller. 2007. Atheneum, $16.99 (1-4169-2542-2). Gr. 8–11.
Writing in the intimate, anguished voice of Annie Sullivan, Miller reaches beyond the historical fact to vividly imagine the messy physical and emotional connection that led Keller to the miracle of communication.
The Swan Maiden. By Heather Tomlinson. 2007. Holt., $16.95 (0-8050-8275). Gr. 6–10.
This elegantly written fantasy gracefully blends several French fairy talesinto the story of young maiden who claims her magical birthright to fly and seeks—and finds—her own true love. Romance and girl power in a graceful package.
Tyrell. By Coe Booth. 2007. Scholastic, $16.99 (0-439-83879-7). Gr. 9–12.
Tyrell doesn’t want to end up like his dad, who is in prison, but in the hood everything is against him. The raw, immediate narrative is pitch perfect; the story is fast, funny, and real.
Useful Fools. By C. A. Schmidt. 2007. Dutton, $18.99 (9780525478140). Gr. 9–12.
In an intense, haunting story of romance, politics, justice, and desperation, two teens are caught up in the confrontation between equally brutal political factions in Peru.
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