The Young Critics' Club Favorite Books of 2011-2012

As Selected By:

Amanda, Andres, Anika, Anna, Avrey, Cole, Cristian, Elizabeth, Ellie, Harry, Jennie, JJ, Lucy, Maggie, Maya, Michelle,

Nico, Olivia L, Olivia R, Reilly, Rohini, Sara, and Sarah!

 

Click on the picture of each book to see it in the library catalog and to place a hold.

 

 

 

Wonderstruck

#1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1

 

IN FIRST PLACE:

WONDERSTRUCK

by Brian Selznick

Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room, and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing. Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories-- Ben's told in words, Rose's in pictures-- weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder.

 

#1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1  #1

 

 

 

The Apothecary

#2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2

 

IN A CRAZY FOUR-WAY TIE FOR SECOND PLACE:

THE APOTHECARY

by Maile Meloy

 

It's 1952, and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. Here, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and his son, Benjamin Burrows-- a fascinating boy who's not afraid to stand up to authority and dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin's father is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary's sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, all while keeping it out of the hands of their enemies-- Russian spies in possession of nuclear weapons. Discovering and testing potions they never believed could exist, Janie and Benjamin embark on a dangerous race to save the apothecary and prevent impending disaster.

 

#2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2

 

 

The Eleventh Plague

#2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2

 

IN A CRAZY FOUR-WAY TIE FOR SECOND PLACE:

THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE

by Jeff Hirsch

 

In the aftermath of a war, America's landscape has been ravaged and two-thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade. But when Stephen's grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler's Landing, a community that seems too good to be true. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler's Landing-- and their lives-- forever.

 

#2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2

 

Legend

#2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2

 

IN A CRAZY FOUR-WAY TIE FOR SECOND PLACE:

LEGEND

by Marie Lu

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fiDay is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths-- until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

#2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2

 

Variant

#2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2

 

IN A CRAZY FOUR-WAY TIE FOR SECOND PLACE:

VARIANT

by Robison Wells

Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life. He was wrong. Now he's trapped in a school that's surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive. But when Benson stumbles upon the school's real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape-- his only real hope for survival-- may be impossible.

#2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2  #2

 

 

The Rest of the Favorites, in Alphabetical Order:

 

Cinder

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1), by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl. . . . Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future.

 

 

 

 

Cross My Heart

Cross My Heart, by Sasha Gould

Venice, 1585. When 16-year-old Laura della Scala learns that her older sister, Beatrice, has drowned, she is given no time to grieve. Instead, Laura's father removes her from the convent where he forcibly sent her years earlier, and orders her to marry Beatrice's fiancť, a repulsive old merchant named Vincenzo. Panicked, Laura betrays a powerful man to earn her way into the Segreta, a shadowy society of women who deal in only one currency-- secrets. The Segreta seems like the answer to Laura's prayers. The day after she joins their ranks, Vincenzo is publicly humiliated and conveniently exiled. Soon, however, Laura begins to suspect that her sister's death was not a tragic accident but a cold-blooded murder-- one that might involve the Segreta and the very women she has come to trust.

 

 

 

 

The Dragon's Tooth

The Dragon's Tooth (Ashtown Burials #1), by N.D. Wilson

For two years, Cyrus and Antigone Smith have run a sagging roadside motel with their older brother, Daniel. Nothing ever seems to happen. Then a strange old man with bone tattoos arrives, demanding a specific room. Less than 24 hours later, the old man is dead. The motel has burned, and Daniel is missing. And Cyrus and Antigone are kneeling in a crowded hall, swearing an oath to an order of explorers who have long served as caretakers of the world's secrets, keepers of powerful relics from lost civilizations, and jailers to unkillable criminals who have terrorized the world for millennia. . .

 

 

 

 

Entwined

Entwined, by Heather Dixon

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her-- beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing-- it's taken away. All of it. The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation. Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest. But there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

 

 

 

 

Hidden

Hidden, by Helen Frost

When Wren Abbott and Darra Monson are eight years old, Darra's father steals a minivan. He doesn't know that Wren is hiding in the back. The hours and days that follow change the lives of both girls. Darra is left with a question that only Wren can answer. Wren has questions, too. Years later, in a chance encounter at camp, the girls face each other for the first time. They can finally learn the truth-- that is, if they're willing to reveal to each other the stories that they've hidden for so long. Told from alternating viewpoints, this novel-in-poems reveals the complexities of memory and the strength of a friendship that can overcome pain.

 

 

 

 

Icefall

Icefall, by Matthew J. Kirby

 

Solveig, along with her brother the crown prince, their older sister, and an army of restless warriors, anxiously awaits news of her father's victory at battle. They are trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen sea. As winter stretches on, and the unending ice refuses to break, terrible acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst. A malevolent air begins to seep through the fortress walls, as a smothering claustrophobia slowly turns these prisoners of winter against one another.

 

 

 

 

Jefferson's Sons

Jefferson's Sons, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

 

Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston are Thomas Jefferson's children by one of his slaves, Sally Hemings, and while they do get special treatment-- better work, better shoes, even violin lessons-- they are still slaves, and are never to mention who their father is. The lighter-skinned children have been promised a chance to escape into white society, but what does this mean for the children who look more like their mother? As each child grows up, their questions about slavery and freedom become tougher, calling into question the real meaning of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
 

 

 

 

The Lions of Little Rock

The Lions of Little Rock, by Kristin Levine

 

In 1958 Little Rock, Arkansas, twelve-year-old Marlee doesn't have many friends until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is bold and brave, and always knows the right thing to say, especially to Sally, the resident mean girl. Liz even helps Marlee overcome her greatest fear-- speaking, which Marlee never does outside her family. But then Liz is gone, replaced by the rumor that she was a Negro girl passing as white. But Marlee decides that doesn't matter. Liz is her best friend. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are willing to take on integration and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families.

 

 

 

 

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness

 

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd-- whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself-- Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

 

 

 

 

Promise the Night

Promise the Night, by Michaela MacColl

 

Immediately compelling and action-packed, this carefully researched work of historical fiction introduces young readers to the childhood of the famous yet elusive Beryl Markham, the first person to fly solo from England to North America. Michaela MacColl propels readers into a multilayered story with an unforgettable heroine and evocative language that brings the backdrop of colonial British East Africa to life. A fascinating read for anyone with a thirst for adventure.

 

 

 

 

Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts, by Martha Brooks

 

On the prairies of Canada during World War II, a girl and her two young siblings begin a war of their own. Stricken with tuberculosis, they are admitted to a nearby sanatorium. Teenager Marie Claire is headstrong, angry, and full of stubborn pride. In a new strange land of TB exiles, she must "chase the cure," seek privacy where there is none, and witness the slow wasting decline of others. But in this moving novel about fighting a way back to normal life, it is the thing that sets back Marie Claire the most-- the demise of her little brother-- that also connects her with the person who will be instrumental in helping her recover.

 

 

 

 

Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy #1), by Leigh Bardugo [coming soon]

 

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life-- a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. . .

 

 

 

 

Small Acts of Amazing Courage

Small Acts of Amazing Courage, by Gloria Whelan

 

It is India, 1918, six months after the end of World War I, and Rosalind awaits the return of her father from the war. Rosalind is kept from boarding school in England at her motherís insistence. While her father has been at war, Rosalind sees the country slowly change. A man named Ghandi is coming to power, talking about nonviolence and independence from Britain. This penetrating story, told with lush and vivid detail, contrasts Rosalindís privilege and daily experiences in India with the hardship of the people around her. As she comes of age during this volatile period of history, will she find the courage to claim her own identity?

 

 

 

 

Starters

Starters, by Lissa Price

 

Sixteen-year-old Callie lost her parents when the genocide spore wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated first-- the very young and very old. With no grandparents to claim Callie and her little brother, they go on the run, living as squatters, and fighting off unclaimed renegades who would kill for a cookie. Hope comes via Prime Destinations, run by a mysterious figure known only as The Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to seniors, known as enders, who get to be young again. Callie's neurochip malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her rich renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, even dating Blake, the grandson of a senator. It's a fairy-tale new life, until she uncovers the Body Bank's horrible plan. . . .

 

 

 

 

Wonder

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio

 

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school-- until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is, Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances? With wonderfully realistic family interactions, lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

 

 

 

 

A World Without Heroes

A World Without Heroes (Beyonders, #1), by Brandon Mull

 

Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable-- until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he's ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcomed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail. In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.

 

 

Perrot Memorial Library Youth Services Department, Old Greenwich, Connecticut