Young Critics' Favorite Books of 2004/2005

Selected by:

Margaret and Julie and Stephanie and Peter and Brooke and Jenn and Emily and Sam and Seldy and Matthew H. and Lucy and Brian K. and Zoe and Emma M. and Matthew M. and Connor and Brian M. and Billy and Anders and Kate and Jamie and Scott and Emma P. and Stephen and Ben and Jane. 

Click on the picture of each book to search for it in the library catalog.

 

           The Number One Favorite Book Is:

 

Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel

 

 

 

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Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel

Matt is a young cabin boy aboard the mammoth luxury airship Aurora. When wealthy Kate and her chaperone come aboard, Matt discovers that she is determined to prove her grandfather's claims of strange creatures flying in the sky in that area the year before. The man's diary describes them as huge, furry beasts with batlike wings and sharp claws. Soon after Kate arrives, pirates attack the ship and rob its rich passengers. A storm forces the damaged airship to set down on a seemingly deserted island, and Kate and Matt begin to discover evidence of the mysterious flying creatures.

  • A Junior Library Guild Selection

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         Your Other Favorites (In Alphabetical Order by Title):

Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko

A twelve-year-old boy named Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 (when guards' families were housed there), and has to contend with his extraordinary new environment, in addition to life with his autistic sister. Moose's life becomes even more miserable when Piper, the Warden's daughter, involves him and a few other island kids in a moneymaking scheme to have their schoolmates' clothes laundered by the convicts on the Island.

  • A 2005 Newbery Honor Book

B for Buster, by Iain Lawrence

 

B for Buster, by Iain Lawrence

In the spring of 1943, sixteen-year-old Kak, desperate to escape his abusive parents, lies about his age to enlist in the Canadian Air Force and soon finds himself based in England as part of a crew flying bombing raids over Germany. His daydreams of becoming a war hero soon turn into hellish nightmares about death as he learns the risks involved with dropping bombs in enemy territory. With 5% of the men killed on every raid, Kak decides that his chance of surviving the required 30 raids are next to zero.

  • A Junior Library Guild Selection

 

 

A Crack in the Line, by Michael Lawrence

 

A Crack in the Line, by Michael Lawrence

Alaric and Naia, both 16, have nearly identical lives in parallel worlds. Their parents, their house, and their circumstances are the same, with one major difference: Alaric's mother was killed in a train wreck, while Naia's mother survived. After the uncomfortable discovery of each other's existence, Alaric and Naia set out to solve the mystery of their simultaneous lives through an investigation of Withern Rise, a house filled with both secrets and answers.

 

 

Daniel Half Human and the Good Nazi, by David Chotjewitz

 

Daniel Half Human and the Good Nazi, by David Chotjewitz, translated by Doris Orgel

In 1933, best friends Daniel and Armin admire Hitler, but as Hitler rises to power, Daniel parents confess to him that he is half Jewish. Armin begins to rise through the ranks of the Hitler Youth, while and the secret about Daniel's heritage leaks out, making him an outcast to everyone but Armin, who pledges his loyalty to his friend. The book also details Daniel and Armin's reunion in 1945 in interspersed chapters.

 

 

Double Helix, by Nancy Werlin

 

Double Helix, by Nancy Werlin

Seventeen-year-old Eli has just been offerred a job in the lab of a famous molecular biologist. But he begins to sense a mysterious connection between this doctor and his own family. And who is the beautiful girl who looks so much like his mother when young? Eli's quest for answers leads him to some unsettling information about himself, his mother, and the doctor's secret experiments in the basement of the lab.

 

 

The Golden Hour, by Maiya Williams

The Golden Hour, by Maiya Williams

Thirteen-year-old Rowan and his eleven-year-old sister Nina, still struggling with the death of their mother the year before, come to stay with their two eccentric great-aunts in the small town of Owatannauk, on the Maine coast. But just when Rowan thinks he's in for a month of shell collecting and watching the grass grow, Rowan notices weird things going on in Owatannauk, especially at the old, abandoned hotel at the edge of town. Then the weirdest and worst thing of all happens-- Nina disappears.

 

 

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray, by Chris Wooding

 

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray, by Chris Wooding

Thaniel, just seventeen, is a wych-hunter. Together, he and Cathaline - his friend and mentor - track down the fearful creatures that lurk in the Old Quarter of London. It is on one of these hunts that he first encounters the possessed and half-crazed Alaizabel Cray. Whatever dreadful entity has entered her soul has turned her into an unearthly magnet-- attracting evil and drawing horrors from every corner. Cathaline and Thaniel must discover its cause-- and defend humanity at all costs.

 

 

Heck, Superhero, by Martine Leavitt

Heck Superhero, by Martine Leavitt

Thirteen-year-old Heck's mother, who suffers from depression, telephones Heck while he is at his friend Spence's house to tell him they have been evicted from their apartment. She says to stay with Spence, and she will call soon. Heck begins a search through the city to find his mother. While Heck lives on the street for five days, he does one good deed after another, imagining himself as a superhero, all the while believing that his goodness will lead him to his mother, before Social Services finds him.

  • A Junior Library Guild Selection

 

 

How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff

 How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she's never met. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy. As power fails, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it's a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy's uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary.

  • Winner of the 2005 Michael L. Printz Award for Young Adult Literature

 

 

Millions, by Frank Cottrell Boyce

 

Millions, by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Brothers Anthony and Damian have happened upon a mysterious hoard of cash. The boys realize that because of the looming replacement of the British pound by the Euro, they have only 17 days to spend the money before it's taken out of circulation. The problem is that getting rid of that much money isn't as easy as it sounds, and they soon learn that thieves are on the prowl to reclaim their lost treasure.

 

 

Private Peaceful, by Michael Morpurgo

 

Private Peaceful, by Michael Morpurgo

When Thomas Peaceful's older brother Charlie is forced to join the British Army to fight in World War I, Thomas decides to sign up as well, even though he is only fourteen. Now seventeen, Thomas stands the night in the trenches, recounting his childhood and his relationship with his brother, waiting for the dawn of a day that will change his life forever.

  • A Junior Library Guild Selection

 

 

Real Time, by Pnina Moed Kass

Real Time, by Pnina Moed Kass

Sixteen-year-old Thomas Wanninger is on a mission: to find out what his grandfather, a Nazi officer, did during World War II. Thomas is going to Israel to work on a kibbutz, where he will have access to a Jerusalem archive that may hold the information he seeks. His life is one of many to be affected by a terrorist attack that occurs at 11:47 A.M. on the day he arrives. Kibbutz members, a doctor, 'the boss' of a diner, two Palestinian teenagers and their families, a bus driver, policemen, a news correspondent, an Israeli soldier, a Holocaust survivor-- these and others add their voices to the minute-by-minute account of a catastrophic incident that changes everything, while at the same time renewing a deadly cycle of sacrifice and destruction.

 

 

The Riddles of Epsilon, by Christine Morton-Shaw

The Riddles of Epsilon, by Christine Morton-Shaw (2005)

When Jess and her family move to Lume, a remote island off the coast of England, strange things start happening. Jess discovers an abandoned cottage on her family's property and an eerie presence within. The spirit, Epsilon, leads Jess to a set of three locked boxes, which she can open only one at a time. Inside, she discovers antique papers that set her on a path to unravel a series of riddles and codes that will somehow help her uncover the secrets of Lume. Jess must unlock the riddles of Epsilon in order to save her mother and place an ancient relic in the right hands. Jess has limited time to solve the mystery and dispel a curse that has hung over the women in her family for centuries.

 

 

The Sledding Hill, by Chris Crutcher

The Sledding Hill, by Chris Crutcher (2005)

Billy has an audacious soul, and he knows it. Why? Because it's all he has left. He's dead. Eddie has an equally audacious soul, but he doesn't know it-- he's still alive. These days, Billy and Eddie meet on the sledding hill, where they used to spend countless hours—until Billy kicked a stack of Sheetrock over on himself, breaking his neck and effectively hitting tilt on his Earthgame. The two were inseparable friends. They still are. And Billy is not about to let a little thing like death stop him from hanging in there with Eddie in his epic struggle to get his life back on track.

 

 

Snow-Walker, by Catherine Fisher

 

Snow-Walker, by Catherine Fisher

From the frozen mists beyond the edge of the world comes Gudrun, the Snow-walker, to rule the Jarl's people through fear and sorcery. But the enchantress has one weakness — her son, Kari, banished as a child to Thrasirshall, the forbidding fortress in the desolate, snowbound north. The people of the Jarl have never set eyes on Kari, but in secret they wonder: Are the rumors true? Was he born a monster? Now, two will discover the truth.

 

So Yesterday, by Scott Westerfeld

 

 So Yesterday, by Scott Westerfeld

 Hunter is Trendsetter whose job is to determine what's "cool." Best of all, he gets paid for it by Mandy, who works for a big-name company, The Client.  Hunter stumbles into a plot to bootleg the perfect shoe, just when Mandy goes missing. Hunter and his friend Jen set off to find Mandy, expose the bootleggers, and track down rogue cool hunters who are underground and working against The Client. 

 

 

 The Sea of Trolls, by Nancy Farmer

The year is A.D. 793. In the next months, Jack and his little sister, Lucy, are enslaved by Olaf One-Brow and his fierce young shipmate, Thorgil. With a crow named Bold Heart for mysterious company, they are swept up into an adventure-quest in the spirit of The Lord of the Rings. Other threats include a willful mother dragon, a giant spider, and a troll-bear with a surprising personality -- to say nothing of Ivar the Boneless and his wife, Queen Frith, a shape-shifting half-troll, and several eight-foot-tall, orange-haired, full-time trolls.

 

 

Trick of the Mind, by Jusy Waite

 

 Trick of the Mind, by Judy Waite (2005)

The struggles of several young people who confront family problems, emotional problems, unrequited love, mystery, and violence, is told from the viewpoint of Matt, who is known for his unusual behavior but who has unusual gifts, and Erin, who tries to use her proficiency with magic to attract Matt.

Under the Watsons' Porch, by Susan Shreve

 

 Under the Watson's Porch, by Susan Shreve

Twelve-year-old Ellie Tremont is bored, and she wishes something, anything, would happen. So when 14-year-old Tommy Bowers moves in next door, with his lanky swagger and his troubled past, Ellie knows her summer is about to get interesting. When Tommy suggests they start a camp for the kids on their street under their elderly neighbors' (the Watsons') porch, Ellie quickly agrees, and to everything else Tommy suggests. And when Tommy gives her a diamond necklace that he says he bought, she's suspicious, though smitten. But by the time her parents forbid her from seeing him, she's given him her heart. Soon, though, Tommy goes too far and even Ellie isn't sure what to make of him.

Perrot Memorial Library Youth Services Department, Old Greenwich, Connecticut