Young Critics' Favorite Books of 2009/2010

 

As Selected By:

Ahana, Annie, Ashley, Claire, Cole, Cristian, Danielle, Dom, Elaine, Emily, Emma, Friederike,

Grace, Hugh, Jackie, Jada, Jennifer, John, Marissa, Rohini, Sarah, Shannon, Thomas,

William K., William M., and Wyndsor

 

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

 

 

 

Incarceron

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IN A TIE FOR FIRST PLACE:

INCARCERON

by Catherine Fisher

 

Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells, but also metal forests, dilapidated cities, and vast wilderness. Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, has no memory of his childhood and is sure that he came from Outside Incarceron. Very few prisoners believe that there is an Outside, however, which makes escape seems impossible. And then Finn finds a crystal key that allows him to communicate with a girl named Claudia. She claims to live Outside-- she is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, and doomed to an arranged marriage. Finn is determined to escape the prison, and Claudia believes she can help him. But they don't realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost more than they know.

 

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The Maze Runner

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IN A TIE FOR FIRST PLACE:

THE MAZE RUNNER

by James Dashner

 

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he's not alone. When the lift's doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade-- a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they've closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up-- the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind...

 

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Adam Canfield: The Last Reporter

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IN A TIE FOR SECOND PLACE:

ADAM CANFIELD: The Last Reporter

by Michael Winerip

 

A dirty school election, suspicious state test scores-- Adam Canfield and his middle-grade star reporters are chasing some red-hot leads. There’s only one glitch: the school board has shut down The Slash for exposing the town’s most powerful family, and now the staff has to find a way to publish it themselves. Enter the Ameche brothers, two goofy kid entrepreneurs with a knack for refurbishing junk and a talent for selling ads, but a shaky command of journalistic ethics. What’s worse, Adam hasn’t a clue why coeditor Jennifer is acting weird. With humor and a touch of budding romance, this new adventure revisits a winning cast of characters-- and the excitement that comes from uncovering a really great story.

 

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Leviathan

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IN A TIE FOR SECOND PLACE:

LEVIATHAN

by Scott Westerfeld

 

On the eve of World War I, conflicts in Europe are coming to a bloody boil. On every side, governments are frantically arming themselves with new weaponry and sorting out likely friends and foes. On the whole continent, perhaps the oddest pairing of all is the makeshift alliance bred in danger between Aleksandar Ferdinand, fugitive prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Deryn Sharp, a daring British airwoman disguised as a boy. Both have secrets that they must conceal and now face dangers of literally global proportions.

 

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Your Other Favorites, in Alphabetical Order:

 

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth, by Lynne Rae Perkins

 

"Impossible? I wouldn't say impossible." Sixteen-year-old Ry finds himself stranded in a small Montana town, without a cell phone or money, after his summer camp is unexpectedly cancelled. He meets up with a cast of eccentric characters, and the next thing he knows he's traveling cross-country on a series of wild adventures. This unique story by Newbery Award-winning author by Lynne Rae Perkins defies description.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

 

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever. Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had

The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had, by Kristin Levine

 

It's 1917 in Moundville, Alabama, and Harry “Dit” Sims and Emma Walker are the unlikeliest of friends. Emma, the educated twelve-year-old daughter of Moundville’s new postmaster, is all wrong as far as Dit’s concerned. Dit was told the new postmaster would have a boy his same age, not a girl. But the rest of the town is more surprised by the Walker family’s color. Emma makes Dit think, and about things he’s never given much thought to before, like why the colored kids and the white kids can’t go to school together. Soon Dit’s thinking about a lot more when Doc, who is black and the town barber, is accused of a terrible crime. Dit and Emma know he doesn’t deserve to be punished, and together they come up with a daring plan to save Doc from the unthinkable. This is the poignant story of a brave friendship and the perils of small-town justice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dull Boy

Dull Boy, by Sarah Cross

 

What do you do if you can deadlift a car, and you spend your nights flying to get away from it all? If you're fifteen-year-old Avery Pirzwick, you keep that information to yourself. When you're a former jock turned freak, you can't afford to let the secret slip. But then Avery makes some friends who are as extraordinary as he is. He realizes they're more than just freaks-- together, maybe they have a chance to be heroes. First, though, they have to decide whether to trust the mysterious Cherchette, a powerful would-be mentor whose remarkable generosity may come at a terrible price.

The Hunchback Assignments

The Hunchback Assignments, by Arthur Slade

 

The mysterious Mr. Socrates rescues Modo, a child in a traveling freak show. Modo is a hunchback with an amazing ability to transform his appearance, and Mr. Socrates raises him in isolation as an agent for the Permanent Association, a spy agency behind Brittania’s efforts to rule the empire. At 14, Modo is left on the streets of London to fend for himself. When he encounters Octavia Milkweed, another Association agent, the two uncover a plot by the Clockwork Guild behind the murders of important men. Furthermore, a mad scientist is turning orphan children into automatons to further the goals of the Guild. Modo and Octavia journey deep into the tunnels under London and discover a terrifying plot against the British government. It’s up to them to save their country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcelo in the Real World

Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork

 

This summer, Arturo Sandoval declares, his son Marcelo will learn about the real world. He will work in the mailroom of Arturo's law firm. He will be normal, as Arturo has always said he is, and not have a highly functioning form of Asperger's Syndrome, as Marcelo knows he does. And Marcelo, reluctantly, must agree to his father's terms. Wendell, the son of Arturo's partner, offers friendship to further his own ends. The law firm hides an injustice that will transform Marcelo's world. But through it all, there is Jasmine, his beautiful and tenacious coworker, his true friend-- and perhaps more.

Mockingbird

Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine

 

In Caitlin's world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That's the stuff Caitlin's older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon's dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger's, she doesn't know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white-- the world is full of colors, messy and beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pricker Boy

The Pricker Boy, by Reade Scott Whinnem

 

He was human once, or so they say. The son of a fur trapper, he was taunted by his peers and tricked into one of his own father’s traps. By the time anybody found it, the trap’s vicious teeth were empty, pried open and overgrown. It was said the brambles themselves had reached out and taken pity on that boy; that his skin had hardened to bark as thorns grew over every inch of his body. Maybe it’s true and maybe it isn’t. But anyone who knows anything stays out of the woods beyond the Widow’s Stone. That used to be enough. But this is the summer everything changes, as Stucks Cumberland and his friends find a mysterious package containing mementos of their childhood: baseball cards, a worn paperback, a locket. Offerings left behind in the woods years ago, meant to keep the Pricker Boy at bay. Offerings that have been rejected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Red Umbrella

The Red Umbrella, by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

 

In 1961, two years after the Communist revolution, Lucía Álvarez still leads a carefree life in Cuba, dreaming of parties and her first crush. But when the soldiers come to her sleepy town, everything begins to change. Freedoms are stripped away. Neighbors disappear. Her friends feel like strangers. And her family is being watched. As the revolution's impact becomes more oppressive, Lucía's parents make the heart-wrenching decision to send her and her little brother to the United States-- on their own. Suddenly plunked down in Nebraska with well-meaning strangers, Lucía struggles to adapt to a new country, a new language, a new way of life. But what of her old life? Will she ever see her home or her parents again? And if she does, will she still be the same girl?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ship Breaker

Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi

 

In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota--and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange Angels

Strange Angels, by Lili St. Crow

 

Dru Anderson has what her grandmother called "the touch." It comes in handy when you are traveling from town to town with your dad, hunting ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional zombie. Then her dad turns up, dead but still walking, and Dru knows she's next. Even worse, she's got two guys hungry for her affections, and they're not about to let the fiercely independent Dru go it alone. Will Dru discover just how special she really is before coming face-to-fang with whatever or "whoever" is hunting her?

 

 

 

 

 

The Summer I Turned Pretty

The Summer I Turned Pretty, by Jenny Han

 

Some summers are just destined to be pretty. Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer-- they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood

Three Rivers Rising, by Jame Richards

 

Sixteen-year-old Celestia spends every summer with her family at the elite resort at Lake Conemaugh. Tired of the society crowd, Celestia prefers to swim and fish with Peter, the hotel’s hired boy. It’s a friendship she must keep secret, and when companionship turns to romance, it’s a love that could get Celestia disowned. These affairs of the heart become all the more wrenching on a single, tragic day in May, 1889. After days of heavy rain, the dam fails, unleashing 20 million tons of water onto Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in the valley below. The town where Peter lives with his father. The town where Celestia has just arrived to join him. This searing novel in poems explores a cross-class romance— and a tragic event in U. S. history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toby Alone

 

Toby Alone, by Timothée de Fombelle

 

Toby Lolness may be just one and a half millimeters tall, but he’s the most wanted person in his world-- the world of the great oak Tree. Toby’s father has made a groundbreaking discovery: the Tree itself is alive, flowing with vital energy, and there may be a world beyond it. Greedy developers itch to exploit this knowledge, risking permanent damage to their natural world. Toby’s family has been exiled to the lower branches, and only Toby has managed to escape-- but for how long? And how can he bear to leave his parents to their terrible fate?

The Water Seeker

The Water Seeker, by Kimberly Willis Holt

 

Amos Kincaid is the son of a dowser-- a person gifted in knowing how to “find” water deep in the ground. As a young person, Amos doesn’t reveal his gift to others; he’s not sure he wants the burden. But through his experiences growing up and crossing the Oregon Trail, Amos learns about life’s harsh realities, especially the pain in losing loved ones. As he cares for those around him, Amos comes to accept his dowsing fate. This epic novel is a fascinating period piece about the westward expansion and one man’s destiny as he searches for love and family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perrot Memorial Library Youth Services Department, Old Greenwich, Connecticut