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Find more Best Books for Young Adults
This annual list of books compiled by a committee of the Young Adult Library Services Association consists of nonfiction and fiction appropriate for young adults ages 12 to 18. Selected on the basis of each book’s proven or potential appeal and value to young adults, the 76 titles, published from late 1999 through 2000, span a variety of subjects as well as a broad range of reading levels.
Armstrong, Lance and Jenkins, Sally. It’s Not about the Bike: My Journey Back to Life. illus. Putnam, $24.95 (0-399-14611-3).
Olympian Lance Armstrong talks about his life as a cyclist and his horrific battle with cancer.
Bachrach, Susan D. The Nazi Olympics: Berlin, 1936. illus. Little, Brown, $21.95 (0-316-07086-6); paper, $14.95 (0-316-07087-4).
With excellent photographs and biographies of many of the athletes, this history of the 1936 Olympics, which was hosted by Berlin, looks at, among other things, the “Aryans only” and anti-Semitic stance of the Nazi Party.
Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. Kids on Strike! illus. Houghton, $20 (0-395-88892-1).
Excellent accounts and fine photos reveal the working conditions of children from the 1830s through the turn of the century, as well as the reasons the children went on strike.
Beckett, Sister Wendy. My Favorite Things: 75 Works of Art from around the World. 1999. illus. Abrams, $29.95 (0-8109-4387-5).
Art expert Sister Wendy Beckett introduces 75 of her favorite artworks from around the world, with a short explanation of each work and lavish illustrations.
Fradin, Dennis Brindell and Fradin, Judith Bloom. Ida B. Wells: Mother of the Civil Rights Movement. illus. Clarion, $18 (0-395-89898-6).
Born a slave, Wells became one of the earliest leaders of the civil rights movement and was famous for her crusades against lynching. The Fradins set down her struggle, complete with photos.
Freedman, Russell. Give Me Liberty! The Story of the Declaration of Independence. illus. Holiday, $24.95 (0-8234-1448-5).
In an account accompanied by color and black-and-white photos, Freedman relates the key events leading up to the Declaration of Independence and introduces the personalities and politics that played a part in its making.
Glover, Savion and Weber, Bruce. Savion! My Life in Tap. illus. Morrow, $19.95 (0-688-15629-0).
This colorful, inspiring biography chronicles the rise to fame of talented Tony Award–winning tap dancer Savion Glover.
Gottlieb, Lori. Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self. Simon & Schuster, $22 (0-684-86358-8).
The true account of a teenager dealing with anorexia.
Katz, Jon. Geeks: How Two Lost Boys Rode the Internet out of Idaho. Villard, $22.95 (0-375-50298-X).
Trapped in rural Idaho, two 19-year-old, self-proclaimed “geeks” use their computer skills to land jobs, find an apartment, and start new lives in Chicago.
Lalicki, Tom. Spellbinder: The Life of Harry Houdini. illus. Holiday, $18.95 (0-8234-1499-X).
The life of the world-famous escape artist is told through descriptions of his feats and what it took to pull off his world of magic. Photographs and a chronology.
Lanier, Shannon and Feldman, Jane. Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family. illus. Random, $19.95 (0-375-80597-4).
Biracial family stories behind the nationally covered Jefferson family reunion.
Levine, Ellen. Darkness over Denmark: The Danish Resistance and the Rescue of the Jews. Holiday, $18.95 (0-8234-1447-7).
Levine relates the story of Denmark during the dark days of Nazi rule, showing the courage and humanity of the country’s people as they protected and rescued Jewish citizens.
Marrin, Albert. Sitting Bull and His World. illus. Dutton, $27.50 (0-525-45944-8).
A biography of the Hunkpapa chief of the Great Plains who resisted the displacement of his people by westward expansion and is best known for defeating Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
St. George, Judith. In the Line of Fire: Presidents’ Lives at Stake. 1999. illus. Holiday, $18.95 (0-8234-1428-0).
St. George tells the stories of four presidential assassinations through the lives and careers of the chief executives while also relating the assassins’ motives.
Turner, Ann. Learning to Swim: A Memoir. Scholastic, $14.95 (0-439-15309-3).
A series of poems conveys the feelings of a young girl whose joy and security at the family summerhouse are shattered when an older boy who lives nearby abuses her.
Ung, Loung. First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers. HarperCollins, $23 (0-06-019332-8).
A powerful memoir of a young girl whose life and family were torn apart by the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.
Winick, Judd. Pedro and Me: Friendship, Loss, and What I Learned. illus. Holt, paper, $15 (0-8050-6403-6).
Told in graphic-novel form, cartoonist Winick’s book chronicles his friendship with AIDS educator Pedro Zamora and their time on MTV’s Real World.
You Hear Me? Poems and Writings by Teenage Boys. Ed. by Betsy Franco. Candlewick, $14.99 (0-7636-1158-1); paper, $6.99 (0-7636-1159-X).
Teenage guys tell it as it is in a frank, tough, and touching collection of writings and poetry.
Almond, David. Kit’s Wilderness. Delacorte, $15.95 (0-385-32665-3).
Kit finds ghostly young coal miners in the abandoned mines of Stoneygate when he plays a deadly game with the local roughneck. The 2001 Michael L. Printz Award winner.
Anderson, Laurie Halse. Fever 1973. Simon & Schuster, $16 (0-689-83858-1).
Sixteen-year-old Matilda survives the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia and learns important lessons about self-reliance and perseverance.
Appelt, Kathi. Kissing Tennessee and Other Stories from the Stardust Dance. Harcourt, $15 (0-15-202249-X).
The lives of teens who attend the eighth-grade Stardust Dance are illuminated in these short stories.
Bagdasarian, Adam. Forgotten Fire. DK Ink/Melanie Kroupa, $17.95 (0-7894-2627-7).
Horrors of the Armenian genocide become clear when a privileged boy is torn from his home and family.
Bauer, Cat. Harley, like a Person. Winslow, $16.95 (1-890817-48-1); paper, $ 6.95 (1-890817-49-X); E-book, $6.95 (1-890817-34-1).
A bright, artistic teen’s search for her biological father tears her world apart before she and her family can begin to come to terms with the truth.
Bauer, Joan. Hope Was Here. Putnam, $16.99 (0-399-23142-0).
Sixteen-year-old Hope and her aunt move from Brooklyn to Mulhoney, Wisconsin, cooking up a storm.
Blackwood, Gary. Shakespeare’s Scribe. Dutton, $15.99 (0-525-46444-1).
When a plague causes London theaters to close, the Bard and his band of actors take to the road, where a host of menacing characters threatens to close the show for good.
Brooks, Martha. Being with Henry. DK Ink/Melanie Kroupa, $17.95 (0-7894-2588-2).
Laker Wyatt, 17, runs away from an unhappy home and is taken in by an elderly man who has family problems of his own.
Cabot, Meg. The Princess Diaries. HarperCollins, $15.95 (0-380-97848-2); lib. ed., $15.89 (0-06-029210-5).
When Mia is a freshman in a New York City high school, she learns that her father can’t have any more children, which makes her the heiress to the throne of Genovia.
Calhoun, Dia. Aria of the Sea. Winslow, $15.95 (1-890817-25-2); lib. ed., $15.98 (0-06-029210-5).
Aria, a student at the School of the Royal Dancers in the island kingdom of Windward, struggles to decide whether her true calling is dancing or healing.
Chevalier, Tracy. Girl with a Pearl Earring. Dutton, $21.95 (0-525-94527-X).
In Holland in 1664, Griet leaves her family to become a maid in the painter Vermeer’s household, but the passion she inspires in the artist and the passion art inspires in her end in sorrow.
Coman, Carolyn. Many Stones. Front Street, $15.95 (1-886910-55-3).
Berry Morgan and her father confront each other and their personal wounds on a trip to South Africa to dedicate a memorial to Berry’s sister. A 2001 Michael L. Printz Honor Book.
Creech, Sharon. The Wanderer.HarperCollins/Joanna Cotler, $15.95 (0-06-027730-0); lib. ed., $15.89 (0-06-027731-9).
While sailing across the Atlantic Ocean in Uncle Dock’s reconditioned sailboat, Sophie and Cody keep a detailed log of the perilous journey, both in the water and in their lives.
Crichton, Michael. Timeline. Knopf, $26.95 (0-679-44481-5).
Modern scientists find danger when they time travel to the medieval past, an era ruled by cruel lords, power-hungry abbots, scheming ladies, and ferocious knights.
Cross, Gillian. Tightrope. Holiday, $16.95 (0-8234-1512-0).
Ashley takes care of her sick mother and seems to be an all-around “good girl,” but she gets her thrills by secretly tagging neighborhood buildings —until she’s frightened by a stalker, who sends her bizarre, threatening things.
Dessen, Sarah. Dreamland. Viking, $15.99 (0-670-89122-3).
After her beloved sister runs away, confused Caitlin becomes involved with a mysterious, abusive boy.
Deuker, Carl. Night Hoops. Houghton, $15 (0-395-97936-6).
Nick, a point guard on his high-school varsity basketball team, must learn to get along with Trent, his arrogant, brutish nemesis, in order to play championship ball.
Feinberg, Anna. Borrowed Light. Delacorte, $14.95 (0-385-32758-7).
Sixteen-year-old pregnant Callisto, who has an interest in astronomy, believes she is like the moon—a borrower of light, not a source of it.
Fogelin, Adrian. Crossing Jordan. Peachtree, $14.95 (1-56145-215-7).
When African American Jemmie moves in next door, Cass’ horrified father builds a fence separating the houses. The girls become friends anyway and form the “Chocolate Milk” running team.
Giff, Patricia Reilly. Nory Ryan’s Song. Delacorte, $15.95 (0-385-32141-4).
Nory and her family face the threat of starvation and eviction when a terrible blight strikes their potato crop in nineteenth-century Ireland.
Glenn, Mel. Split Image. HarperCollins, $15.95 (0-688-16249-5).
Writing in poetic form, Glenn tells the story of the seemingly perfect life of Laura Li from the perspectives of the people who thought they knew her.
Gray, Dianne E. Holding Up the Earth. Houghton, $15 (0-618-00703-2).
Fourteen-year-old Hope visits her new foster mother’s Nebraska farm and gets perspective on the past from the letters, diaries, and stories of girls her age who lived on the farm before her.
Haruf, Kent. Plainsong. Knopf, $24 (0-375-40618-2); paper, $13 (0-375-70585-6).
The lives of two young boys, two elderly farmers, and a pregnant teenager come together in this novel about family, love, and loyalty.
Hyde, Catherine Ryan. Pay It Forward. Simon & Schuster, $23 (0-684-86271-9).
A challenge: Can 12-year-old Trevor McKinney change the world for the better?
Isaacs, Anne. Torn Thread. Scholastic, $16.95 (0-590-60363-9).
When they’re sent to a Nazi work camp in 1943, Eva and her sister fight starvation, disease, and brutality as they struggle to survive for “one more day.”
Karr, Kathleen. The Boxer. Farrar, $16 (0-374-30921-3).
To keep his family fed in nineteenth-century New York City, 15-year-old Johnny goes into the boxing ring and becomes “the Chopper.”
Kessler, Cristina. No Condition Is Permanent. Putnam/Philomel, $17.99 (0-399-23486-1).
After moving to Sierra Leone with her anthropologist mother, Jodie makes a new best friend. Finding that the village girls her age belong to a “secret society” that adheres to female genital mutilation, Jodie tries to save her friend—with devastating results.
Konigsburg, E. L. Silent to the Bone. Simon & Schuster/Jean Karl, $16 (0-689-83601-5).
Thirteen-year-old Branwell becomes unable to speak when the au pair accuses him of hurting his baby sister, and only his best friend, Connor, can reach him.
Koss, Amy Goldman. The Girls. Dial, $16.99 (0-8037-2494-2).
Five girls in a middle-school clique reveal how their manipulative leader controls them and causes hurt and self-doubt in their midst.
Lawrence, Iain. Ghost Boy. Delacorte, $15.95(0-385-32739-0).
Taunted by everyone in his small town because of his strange white hair and ghostly pale skin, Harold runs away and joins a down-on-its-luck traveling circus, meeting many characters who change his life.
Lebert, Benjamin. Crazy. Tr. by Carol Brown Janeway. Knopf/Borzoi, $17.95 (0-375-40913-0).
Sent to boarding school to turn his grades around, 15-year-old Benni, partially paralyzed on his left side, falls in with a group of misfits who want to experience the thrill of being young and alive.
Logue, Mary. Dancing with an Alien. HarperCollins, $14.95 (0-06-028318-1); lib. ed., $14.89 (0-06-028319-X).
After a virus kills all the females on his own planet, Branko travels to Earth to find a “breeder.”
Lynch, Chris. Gold Dust. HarperCollins, $15.95 (0-06-028174-X); lib. ed., $15.89 (0-06-028175-8).
Richard believes that learning to love baseball will help Napoleon, a black youth from the Caribbean, fit into their 1970s racially charged Boston neighborhood.
Marillier, Juliet. Daughter of the Forest. Tor, $25.95 (0-312-84879-X).
Twelve-year-old Sorcha faces a nearly impossible task as she works to rescue her six brothers from their stepmother’s magic spell.
Morris, Gerald. The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf. Houghton, $15 (0-395-97126-8).
Feisty Lady Lynett journeys to King Arthur’s court to find a knight to rescue her sister, but a clever dwarf and a kitchen boy might be the ones to save the day.
Murphy, Rita. Night Flying. Delacorte, $14.95 (0-385-32748-X).
All the women in Georgia Hansen’s family can fly, but the rules for flying are strict and unforgiving. Georgia must weigh the cost of her heritage against her passion to soar.
Myers, Walter Dean. 145th Street. Delacorte, $15.95 (0-385-32137-6).
These 10 short stories detail a slice of life on a city street in Harlem.
Oughton, Jerrie. Perfect Family. Houghton, $15 (0-395-98668-0).
After 15-year-old Welcome becomes pregnant, not by the boy of her dreams but by a longtime friend, she leaves her conservative North Carolina home to await the baby’s birth.
Paulsen, Gary. The Beet Fields: Memories of a Sixteenth Summer. Delacorte, $15.95 (0-385-32647-5).
After running away from home, a 16-year-old boy first becomes a migrant farmworker and then a carny and, in the process, learns a lot about life.
Peck, Richard. A Year Down Yonder. Dial, $16.99 (0-8037-2518-3).
During the Depression, financial necessity forces Mary Alice to spend a year in the country with her eccentric grandma—a year she will remember all her life. The 2001 Newbery Medal winner.
Peters, Julie Anne. Define “Normal”. Little, Brown, $14.95 (0-316-70631-0).
When Jasmine agrees to meet Antonia, a peer counselor at middle school, she never dreams that the girl, who wears black lipstick and has a pierced eyebrow, will become a good friend and help her deal with the serious problems she faces at home.
Philbrick, Rodman. The Last Book in the Universe. Scholastic/Blue Sky, $16.95 (0-439-08758-9).
In this futuristic urban dystopia, a chance meeting between an epileptic gang member and a genetically improved girl from the ruling class causes major changes in society.
Platt, Randall Beth. The Likes of Me. Delacorte, $15.95 (0-385-32692-0).
In 1918, Cordelia, who is half-Chinese and an albino, runs away from her Pacific Northwest mining town and begins a career as a sideshow act in a Seattle carnival.
Plum-Ucci, Carol. The Body of Christopher Creed. Harcourt, $17 (0-15-202388-7).
Class freak Christopher Creed is missing. What happened? Why is his small town in an uproar? Where is Chris Creed’s body? A 2001 Michael L. Printz Honor Book.
Plummer, Louise. A Dance for Three. Delacorte, $15.95 (0-385-32511-8).
When 15-year-old Hannah becomes pregnant and her rich, popular boyfriend claims he isn’t responsible, Hannah and her mother must face problems they refuse to admit they have.
Rennison, Louise. Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson. HarperCollins, $15.95 (0-06-028814-0); lib. ed., $15.89 (0-06-028871-X).
A yearlong comic romp with Georgia as she flips from soaring joys to bottomless angst. A 2001 Michael L. Printz Honor Book.
Ryan, Pam Muñoz. Esperanza Rising. Scholastic, $15.95 (0-439-12041-1).
Esperanza and her mother are forced to flee their life of privilege in Mexico and go to a farm-labor camp in California.
Schwartz, Virginia Frances. Send One Angel Down. Holiday, $15.95 (0-8234-1484-1).
Abram, a slave in the birthing cabins, tries to protect his young cousin, rumored to be the master’s illegitimate daughter, from the worst hardships of slavery.
Spinelli, Jerry. Stargirl. Knopf, $15.95 (0-679-88637-0); lib. ed., $17.99 (0-679-98637-5).
Stargirl, an eccentric new student, sees life from a different angle, and her nonconformist behavior changes her classmates and their perceptions of popularity.
Trueman, Terry. Stuck in Neutral. HarperCollins, $14.95 (0-06-028519-2); lib. ed., $14.89 (0-06-028518-4).
Shawn is convinced that his father is planning to kill him, but because of his disability, he is unable to tell anyone. A 2001 Michael L. Printz Honor Book.
Wallace, Rich. Playing without the Ball. Knopf, $15.95 (0-679-88672-9).
What happens when you don’t make the school basketball team?
Wells, Ken. Meely LaBauve. Random, $19.95 (0-375-50311-0).
Fifteen-year-old Meely, growing up pretty much on his own, faces bullies, a crooked cop, alligators, and an exploding cow.
Whelan, Gloria. Homeless Bird. HarperCollins, $15.95 (0-06-028454-4); lib.ed., $15.89 (0-06-028452-8).
A 13-year-old girl living in modern India is forced into an arranged marriage with a dying boy. As a teenage widow, she finds herself abandoned in a strange city, where she must make a new life or die.
White, Ruth. Memories of Summer. Farrar, $16 (0-374-34945-2).
In 1955, 13-year-old Lyric finds her whole life changing when her family moves from the hills of Virginia to Michigan City, and her older sister, Summer, descends into mental illness.
Williams, Lori Aurelia. When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune. Simon & Schuster, $17 (0-689-82468-8).
When Shayla befriends the new girl next door, who tells great stories about lizard people and memory beetles, she doesn’t realize Kambia Elaine’s desperate, dangerous situation.
Wittlinger, Ellen. What’s in a Name. Simon & Schuster, $16 (0-689-82551-X).
In interlocking stories, 10 high-school students in Scrub Harbor, Massachusetts, share their views on a controversial proposal to change the town’s name.
Woodson, Jacqueline. Miracle’s Boys. Putnam, $15.99 (0-399-23113-7).
Three brothers grieve for their mother and try to remain a family after her death.
Yolen, Jane and Harris, Robert J. Queen’s Own Fool. Putnam/Philomel, $19.99 (0-399-23380-6).
Nicola leaves the roving troupe to serve as the fool for Mary, Queen of Scots, and finds danger, romance, and political intrigue in the courts of France and Scotland.
Best Books for Young Adults, 2001, Committee members: Alice F. Stern, chair, Winsor School, Boston, MA; Margaret Butzler, Bethel Park (PA) Public Library; Valerie Diamond, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD; Katherine Fitch, Rachel Carson Middle School, Herndon, VA; Susan Geye, Crowley (TX) Ninth Grade Campus; Donna Gilliland, University of St. Thomas, Plymouth, MN; Nancy Maltby Henkel, Maple Valley (WA) Library; Jan Hoberecht, Newton (KS) High School; Andrea Howe, Albuquerque (NM) Academy; Susan Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT; Donna McMillen, Algona-Pacific Library, Pacific, WA; Diane Monnier, Bethesda (MD) Regional Library; Rosemary Moran, Tulsa (OK) City-County Library; Andrew Parson, Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, NY; Sandra Schultheis, Evansville-Vanderburgh County Public Library, Evansville, IN; Douglas Uhlmann, administrative assistant, William Penn Charter School, Philadelphia, PA; Stephanie Zvirin, consultant, Booklist, Chicago, IL.
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