Young Critics' Favorites Books of 2008/2009

As Selected By:

Jackie, Janina, Friederike, Emily B., Thomas, Danielle, Rachel, Jacqueline, Emma, Marissa, Alexa, Elaine, Emily H., Curren, William K., Jessica, Ashley, Grace, Dom, Jada, Annie, Virginia, Shannon, Claire, Anabel, and Ahana


Mrs. Mac

We miss you, Mrs. Mac Heart


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




The Hunger Games


This is it: your favorite book!

#1 THE HUNGER GAMES, by Suzanne Collins

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change, but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.


The Lost Island of Tamarind

Coming in Second


Maya Nelson has spent her whole life living on the sea with her marine biologist parents, her younger brother, Simon, and baby sister, Penny. Maya used to love living on a sailboat, but lately, everything feels terribly claustrophobic. Maya longs to go to school on land. To make friends. To lead a normal life. But when a violent storm hits and Maya’s parents are washed overboard, life becomes anything but normal. The children manage to steer the boat toward a mysterious island, to a place that doesn’t exist on a map. Welcome to Tamarind, where fish can fly, pirates patrol the waters, jaguars lurk, the islanders are at war, and an evil, child-stealing enchantress rules the jungle.



Little Brother



And Third...

LITTLE BROTHERby Cory Doctorow

After being interrogated for days by the Department of Homeland Security in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco, California, 17-year-old Marcus, released into what is now a police state, decides to use his expertise in computer hacking to set things right.





The Rest of Your Favorites, in A to Z Order:

The Bone Magician


With his father, a fugitive, falsely accused of multiple murders, and the real serial killer stalking the wretched streets of Urbs Umida, Pin Carpue, a young undertaker's assistant, investigates. Pin soon discovers that all of the victims may have attended the performance of a stage magician, who claims to be able to raise corpses and make the dead speak.





CHAINS, by Laurie Halse Anderson

As the Revolutionary War begins, Isabel wages her own fight. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate, become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom. Winner of the 2009 Scott O'Dell Award for distinguished historical fiction.




DEAR JULIA, by Amy Bronwyn Zemser

Elaine Hamilton has never wanted to be the center of attention. She'd like nothing more than to cook quietly in her kitchen, mastering French cooking with the recipes of the great Julia Child. So how did she end up with cameras zooming in on her and a crowd cheering her on? Well, it involves an eccentric best friend named after a font, five lively brothers constantly asking, "What's for dinner?," a feminist congresswoman mother, a yoga-practicing father, a chest full of unsent letters, and many, many roast ducks.




The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate


It's 1899, and Calpurnia Virginia Tate wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones. With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the trials of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.




The Forest of Hands and Teeth


In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But when the fence is breached and Mary's world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?


Generation Dead

GENERATION DEAD, by Daniel Waters

Phoebe is just your typical goth girl with a crush. He's strong and silent. And dead. All over the country, a strange phenomenon is happening-- some teenagers who die aren't staying dead. They are coming back to life, but they are no longer the same-- they stutter, and their reactions to everything are slower. Termed "living impaired" or "differently biotic," they are doing their best to fit into a society that doesn't want them. Fitting in is hard enough when you don't have the look or attitude, but when almost everyone else is alive and you're not, it's close to impossible. Phoebe has never run with the popular crowd, but no one can believe it when she falls for Tommy, the leader of the dead kids.





GRACELING, by Kristin Cashore

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace— or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away-- a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.




The Graveyard Book



Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place-- he's the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians' time as well as their timely ghostly teachings. Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead? 2009's Newbery Medal winner.





JOLTED: Newton Starker's Rules for Survival, by Arthur Slade

Newton Goddard Starker lives with a mysterious curse. Members of the Starker family attract lightning, and nearly all his relatives have died from lightning strikes. Newton is determined to beat the odds, and he may have found the answer: Jerry Potts Academy for Survival, a boarding school in Moose Jaw, Canada. Newton’s ready to learn, and to be remembered in the school’s Hall of Heroes. But for a boy who’s spent most of his life in a protective dome, making friends proves almost as challenging as the struggle to survive.




MASTERPIECE, by Elise Broach

Marvin the beetle lives with his family under the kitchen sink in the Pompadays’ apartment. After James Pompaday (boy, not beetle) gets a pen-and-ink set for his birthday, Marvin surprises him by creating an elaborate miniature drawing. James gets all the credit for the picture, and before these unlikely friends know it they are caught up in a staged art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.




My One Hundred Adventures


Jane is ready for adventures, to move beyond the world of her siblings and single mother and their house by the sea, and step into the "know-not what." And, over the summer, adventures do seem to find Jane, whether it’s a thrilling ride in a hot-air balloon, the appearances of a slew of possible fathers, or a weird new friendship with a preacher and psychic wannabe. Most important, there’s Jane’s discovery of what lies at the heart of all great adventures: that it’s not what happens to you that matters, but what you learn about yourself.





SAVVY, by Ingrid Law

For generations, the Beaumont family has harbored a magical secret. They each possess a "savvy", a special supernatural power that strikes when they turn 13. Grandpa Bomba moves mountains, her older brothers create hurricanes and spark electricity-- and now it's the eve of Mibs's big day. As if waiting weren't hard enough, the family gets scary news two days before Mibs's birthday: Poppa has been in a terrible accident. Mibs develops the singular mission to get to the hospital and prove that her new power can save her dad. A 2009 Newbery Honor Book.






SCAT, by Carl Hiassen

Mrs. Bunny Starch, the most feared biology teacher ever, was last seen during a field trip to Black Vine Swamp. The school's headmaster and the police seem to have accepted the sketchy, unsigned note explaining that her absence is due to a family emergency. There's no real evidence of foul play. But still, Nick and Marta don't buy it. Something weird is definitely going on. . .




Serendipity Market


When Toby breathes on Mama Inez's bird-shaped invitations, giving them the power to fly, plans for the Serendipity Market begin. Soon, eleven honored guests travel from afar and make their way to the storytellers' tent to share their stories. Each tale proves what Mama Inez knows: that magic is everywhere. But when real magic is combined with the magic of storytelling, it can change the world.




The Underneath

THE UNDERNEATH, by Kathi Appelt

An old hound that has been chained up at his hateful owner's run-down shack, and two kittens born underneath the house, endure separation, danger, and many other tribulations in their quest to be reunited and free. A 2009 Newbery Honor Book.





What I Saw and How I Lied

WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED, by Judy Blundell

It's 1947, and teenage Evie's jovial stepfather Joe is back from the war and family life is finally returning to normal. Smitten by the handsome young ex-GI who seems to have a secret hold on Joe, Evie finds herself caught in a complicated web of lies whose devastating outcome change her life and that of her family forever.





When You Reach Me

WHEN YOU REACH ME, by Rebecca Stead

Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner. But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. Then she begins receiving mysterious notes, and slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late. . .





Perrot Memorial Library Youth Services Department, Old Greenwich, Connecticut