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September 15, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 First Novels for Youth
These first novels take readers through different eras and different places, but there’s also a common thread: secrets and secret abilities that draw readers in and keep them turning the pages. The books below were chosen from those reviewed in Booklist during the past 12 months.
The Diamond of Drury Lane. By Julia Golding. 2008. Roaring Brook, $16.95 (9781596433519). Gr. 7–10.
London’s Drury Lane Theater is the only home orphan Cat Royal has known. When a diamond is hidden there, she vows to keep it safe, a promise that leads to lots of mystery and plenty of cliff-hangers. Golding, a talented scene-setter, offers an early-eighteenth-century London that readers can grasp with all their senses.
Down to the Bone. By Mayra Lazara Dole. 2008. HarperTeen, $16.99 (9780060843106). Gr. 9–12.
Set in Miami’s Cuban American community, Laura’s first-person, present-tense narrative deals with the farce and sorrow (as well as the traditional prejudices) that follow after she is expelled from Catholic high school for being gay.
The Girl Who Could Fly. By Victoria Forester. 2008. Feiwel and Friends, $16.95 (9780312374624). Gr. 4–7.
Piper McCloud can fly. When news gets out, she’s whisked away to a secret government school for kids with special talents. But things are not what they seem. The story, which soars like Piper, also has a strong message about friendship, authenticity, and the difference between doing well and doing good.
Graceling. By Kristin Cashore. 2008. Harcourt, $17 (9780153063962). Gr. 9–12.
Feared as a killer since childhood, Lady Katsa has used this power, her Grace, in service to her uncle. But a handsome prince with an unusual Grace of his own convinces Katsa that she can put her gift to better use. Well crafted and rewarding.
Looks. By Madeleine George. 2008. Viking, $16.99 (9780670061679). Gr. 7–10.
Fat Meghan and blade-thin Aimee form an uneasy alliance to get back at a girl who has done them both wrong. Using an omniscient narration and allowing her characters to be shown in stark relief, George writes with both strength and danger.
Madapple. By Christina Meldrum. 2008. Knopf, $16.99 (9780375851766). Gr. 9–12.
After her mother dies, Aslaug, who has lived in isolation, seeks her relatives in hopes of learning the secrets of her own history. Plot summary does little justice to this haunting book, which is as much mystery and mysticism as it is story. See “The Booklist Interview” on p.00 for more about Meldrum.
The Magic Thief. By Sarah Prineas. 2008. HarperCollins, $16.99 (9780061375873). Gr. 4–6.
Written in the irresistible voice of young Conn, who is a thief at the beginning of the book but by the conclusion has become a wizard, this is a delightful start to a new trilogy.Me, the Missing, and the Dead. By Jenny Valentine. 2008. HarperTeen, $16.99 (9780060850685). Gr. 9–12.
With so many family members absent—physically and mentally—it’s not surprising that Lucas begins to sense a connection with the dead. Is Violet, a famous pianist, trying to communicate with him? Lucas’ pitch-perfect voice, authentic family relationships, and the poignant coming-of-age mystery will stay with readers.
Savvy. By Ingrid Law. 2008. Dial, $16.99 (9780803733060). Gr. 5–7.
Upon turning 13, Mibs, like others in her family, develops a supernatural ability, or “savvy, ” which must then be tamed. Believing her particular savvy is the ability to restore life, Mibs sets off on a rollicking adventure, both geographic and emotional, to find the truth.
Zorgamazoo. By Robert Paul Weston. 2008. Penguin/Razorbill, $15.99 (9781595141996). Gr. 4–7.
Told entirely in rhyming couplets that are nearly impossible not to read aloud, this lively tale follows young Katrina Katrell on a fantastical journey from her home, through secret underground tunnels, into a hidden city, and even to the moon.
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