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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 fiction and nonfiction 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 titles, published from late 1994 through 1995, span a variety of subjects as well as a broad range of reading levels.
Adoff, Arnold. Slow Dance Heartbreak Blues. Lothrop, lib. ed., $14 (0-688-10569-6).
As sparkling explosions of soul, this collection of contemporary poems captures the essence of the teen experience.
Ayer, Eleanor and others. Parallel Journeys. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, $15 (0-689-31830-8).
Looking back at their teen years, Helen Waterford, a concentration camp survivor, and Alfons Heck, who was an enthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth Group, tell about their experiences during the Third Reich.
Bearing Witness: Stories of the Holocaust. Ed. by Hazel Rochman and Darlene Z. McCamp-bell. Orchard/Melanie Kroupa, $15.95 (0-531-09488-X); lib. ed., $15.99 (0-531-08788-3).
Twenty-four selections confront the Holocaust with intensity and realism, wrestling art and meaning from the unspeakable.
Begay, Shonto. Navajo: Visions and Voices Across the Mesa. illus. Scholastic, $15.95 (0-590-46153-2).
Begay portrays both the traditional and the contemporary worlds of the Navajo people through his beautiful poetry, stories, and paintings.
Blais, Madeleine. In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle. Atlantic Monthly; dist. by Publishers Group West, $21.95 (0-87113-572-8).
The Amherst Lady Hurricanes had always been good but never quite good enough to go to the girl’s basketball championship—one season, though, things were different.
Boas, Jacob. We Are Witnesses: The Diaries of Five Teenagers Who Died in the Holocaust. Holt, $15.95 (0-8050-3702-0).
The compelling and poignant diaries of five teenagers who died during the Holocaust.
Bober, Natalie. Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution. illus. Simon & Schuster/ Atheneum, $16 (0-689-31760-3).
Romance, fame, and hard work are all facets of Abigail Adams’ life in this vivid narrative of the American Revolution.
Brandenburg, Jim. An American Safari: Adventures on the North American Prairie. illus. Walker, $16.95 (0-8027-8319-8); lib. ed., $17.85 (0-8027-8320-1).
Prairie dogs, bison, and rattlesnakes are only a part of the endangered ecological treasures that are captured in Brandenburg’s exquisite color photographs and memorable personal experiences.
Childers, Thomas. Wings of Morning: The Story of the Last American Bogmber Shot Down over Germany in World War II. Addison-Wesley, $23 (0-201-48310-6).
Howard Goodner was barely out of his teens when he flew on the last doomed bombing raid in the Black Cat. This riveting account describes the fears and bravery of young U.S. airmen in World War II.
Clute, John. Science Fiction: The Illustrated Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley, $39.95 (0-7894-0185-1).
A beautifully illustrated exploration of science fiction, complete with themes, author profiles, television shows, and videos.
Colman, Penny. Rosie the Riveter. illus. Crown, $16 (0-517-59790-X).
More than 60 posters and photographs attractively depict working women during World War II.
Denenberg, Barry. Voices from Vietnam. Scholastic, $16.95 (0-590-44267-8).
Gripping descriptions by not only American men and women but also Vietnamese citizens and North Vietnamese soldiers convey what it was like to be in Vietnam during the war.
Feelings, Tom. The Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo. illus. Dial, $45 (0-8037-1804-7).
Feelings’ heartrending illustrations document the horrific journey of slaves from Africa to America.
Ford, Michael Thomas. The Voices of AIDS. Morrow, $15 (0-688-05322-X).
Men and women tell what it is like to be HIV-positive or to have AIDS or to love someone confronting the disease.
Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition. illus. Doubleday, $25 (0-385-47378-8).
This new edition contains the complete diary—some of which was not published in the original work.
Fremon, Celeste. Father Greg and the Homeboys: The Extraordinary Journey of Father Greg Boyle and His Work with the Latino Gangs of East L.A.. Hyperion, $19.95 (0-7868-6089-8).
Through his work with L.A. gang members, Father Greg proves that one person can make a difference.
Frey, Darcy. The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams. illus. Houghton, $19.95 (0-395-59770-6).
Journalist Frey follows the lives of four hoop stars of Abraham Lincoln High School as they pursue their dreams of athletic scholarships.
Giblin, James Cross. When Plague Strikes: The Black Death, Smallpox, AIDS. HarperCollins. $14.95 (0-06-025854-3); lib. ed., $14.89 (0-06-025864-0).
An eye-opening account of three of humankind’s most serious epidemics, told with compassion and depth.
Greenberg, Jan and Jordan, Sandra. The American Eye: Eleven Artists of the Twentieth Century. illus. Delacorte, $22.50 (0-385-32173-2).
Innovative and energetic images of twentieth-century art are interwoven with biographies of artists and discussions of individual artworks.
Hamilton, Virginia. Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales . Illus. by Leo and Diane Dillon. Scholastic/Blue Sky, $19.95 (0-590-47370-0).
A strikingly illustrated feast of folktales and fairy tales about and by women.
Hockenberry, John. Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs, and Declarations of Independence. Hyperion, $24.95 (0-7868-6078-2).
This fearless journalist takes you along to experience war, chaos, and romance, as he covers the world from his wheelchair.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life. Illus. by Charlene Rendeiro. Boyd Mills/Wordsong, $14.95 (1-56397-467-3).
Hopkins’ autobiographical poems capture his teenage feelings, experiences, and aspirations as he deals with his parents’ divorce, his grandmother’s death, and his hopes to become a writer.
Hughes, Langston. The Block. Illus. by Romare Bearden. Viking, $15.99 (0-670-86501-X).
Selections from Hughes’ poetry match Bearden’s rich six-panel collage The Block, portraying a Harlem neighborhood.
In Search of Color Everywhere: A Collection of African-American Poetry. Ed. by E. Ethelbert Miller. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $24.95 (1-55670-339-2).
From spirituals to rap, to work by famous poets, a presentation to delight.
Marrin, Albert. Virginia’s General: Robert E. Lee and the Civil War. illus. Simon & Schuster/ Atheneum, $19.95 (0-689-31838-3).
Marrin’s spirited biography shows how Lee, though opposed to slavery and secession, felt compelled by his honor to take up arms for his home state of Virginia—and in doing so changed the course of history.
McKissack, Patricia and McKissack, Frederick. Red-Tail Angels: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. illus. Walker, $19.95 (0-8027-8292-2); lib. ed., $20.85 (0-8027-8293-0).
A fascinating, well-illustrated history of African American pilots and their integral role in World War II.
Murphy, Jim. The Great Fire. illus. Scholastic, $16.95 (0-590-47267-4).
The terrible Chicago fire of 1871 is seen from the viewpoints of eyewitnesses and illustrated with period drawings in Murphy’s vivid look at the famous disaster.
Ousseimi, Maria. Caught in the Crossfire: Growing Up in a War Zone. illus. Walker, $19.95 (0-8027-8363-5); lib. ed., $20.85 (0-8027-8364-3).
Interviews and haunting photographs document the experiences of young people growing up in war-torn areas in Lebanon, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mozambique, El Salvador, and Washington, D.C.
Pierced by a Ray of Sun. Ed. by Ruth Gordon. HarperCollins, $16 (0-06-023613-2); lib. ed., $15.89 (0-06-023614-0).
In this unusually attractive anthology, world-famous poets reflect on the experience of feeling alone.
Preston, Richard. The Hot Zone. Random, $23 (0-679-43094-6).
Follow the terrifying history of the deadly Ebola virus and its journey from Zaire in Africa to Reston, Virginia.
Psihoyos, Louie and Knoebber, John. Hunting Dinosaurs. illus. Random, $40 (0-679-43124-1).
With beautiful photographs and a zany sense of humor, Psihoyos and Knoebber impart the adventure of digging for fossils the world over.
Ryan, Joan. Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters. Doubleday, $22.95 (0-385-47790-2).
You’ll never look at Olympic champion gymnasts and figure skaters in the same way after reading this startling exposé of how young female athletes suffer physically and psychologically for their gold.
Thornton, Yvonne S. and Coudert, Jo. The Ditchdigger’s Daughters: A Black Family’s Astonishing Success Story. Birch Land, $19.95 (1-55972-271-1).
Dr. Yvonne Thornton tells the story of her 1950s upbringing by her father, a poor black man who raised five daughters to succeed in a world that would just as soon render them invisible.
The Tree Is Older Than You Are: A Bilingual Gathering of Poems and Stories from Mexico with Paintings by Mexican Artists. Ed. by Naomi Shihab Nye. illus. Simon & Schuster, $19.95 (0-689-80297-8).
Modern and ancient Mexican poetry, prose, and paintings come vividly alive in this lavish anthology.
Alder, Elizabeth. The King’s Shadow. Farrar, $16 (0-374-34182-6).
Despite having had his tongue cut out while watching his father’s murder, Evyn rises from serfdom to become the king’s foster son.
American Eyes: New Asian-American Short Stories for Young Adults. Ed. by Lori M. Carlson. Holt, $14.95 (0-8050-3544-3).
These 10 memorable stories evoke the voices and visions of Asian American teens as they merge ancient traditions and American culture.
Banks, Russell. Rule of the Bone. HarperCollins, $22 (0-06-017275-4).
Fourteen-year-old runaway Chappie becomes known as Bone during an adventurous year full of pot, travel, danger, and new friends.
Bauer, Joan. Thwonk. Delacorte, $14.95 (0-385-32092-2).
Teen photographer A. J. is the lucky—or is it unlucky?—recipient of a visitation from Jonathan, a wily Cupid who pierces the heart of the high-school hunk, bringing him to A. J. on his knees.
Bennet, James. The Squared Circle. Scholastic, $14.95 (0-590-48671-3).
Sonny lives for basketball until his college program becomes the subject of an NCAA investigation and he begins to question his family, his coaches, and his life.
Block, Francesca Lia. Baby Be-bop. HarperCollins, $13.95 (0-06-024879-3).
Sixteen-year-old Dirk struggles to come to terms with being gay, fearful that family and friends will no longer love or accept him.
Carter, Alden. Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Scholastic, $14.95 (0-590-48684-5).
Stranded in the Minnesota wilderness, Mark and Randy have only each other to rely on.
Christiansen, C. B. I See the Moon. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, $14.95 (0-689-31928-2).
Bitte, overjoyed to be an aunt, learns what true love is when her 15-year-old sister puts her baby up for adoption.
Cofer, Judith Ortiz. An Island like You. Orchard/Melanie Kroupa, $15.95 (0-531-06897-8); lib. ed., $15.99 (0-531-08747-6).
Twelve beautifully written stories capture the pain and joy of teens growing up Puerto Rican in a New Jersey barrio.
Cormier, Robert. In the Middle of the Night. Delacorte, $14.95 (0-385-32158-9).
Sixteen-year-old Danny answers the phone and finds that a tragic accident 25 years earlier has set a dangerous chain of events in motion.
Crutcher, Chris. Ironman. Greenwillow, $15 (0-688-13503-X).
When he calls his teacher an asshole in class, Bo is forced to attend an anger management program, where he learns to deal with his real problem—his cruel father.
Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Delacorte, $14.95 (0-385-32175-9).
Kenny Watson tells about his African American family in Flint, Michigan, in 1963.
Cushman, Karen. The Midwife’s Apprentice. Clarion, $10.95 (0-395-69229-6).
Beetle, a homeless girl, is found in a dung heap and apprenticed to the village midwife in this sensitive fourteenth-century tale set in England.
D’Aguiar, Fred. The Longest Memory. Pantheon, $20 (0-679-43962-5).
A young slave’s father misguidedly betrays his son’s attempted escape in this painfully intimate view of “the peculiar institution” of slavery.
Dijk, Lutz van. Damned Strong Love: The True Story of Willi G. and Stefan K. Holt, $15.95 (0-8050-3770-5).
Based on a true event, this moving narrative tells the tragic story of a gay Polish teenager who falls in love with an occupying German soldier in 1941 and is tortured and imprisoned for the relationship.
Draper, Sharon M. Tears of a Tiger. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, $15.95 (0-689-31878-2).
High-school senior Andy Jackson is overcome by guilt after his best friend dies in an automobile accident that happened when Andy was driving drunk.
Feintuch, David. Midshipman’s Hope. Warner/Aspect, paper, $5.99 (0-445-60096-2).
Through a series of freak accidents and tragic illnesses, 16-year-old Midshipman Nicholas Seafort finds himself in charge of the space vessel U.N.S. Hibernia.
Fraustino, Lisa R. Ash. Orchard, $16.95 (0-531-06889-7); lib. ed., $16.99 (0-531-08739-5).
When Ash leaves for college, his younger brother, Wes, assumes that Ash will succeed brilliantly—but Ash suddenly becomes an odd stranger.
Galloway, Priscilla. Truly Grim Tales. Delacorte, $10.95 (0-385-32200-3).
Not for the faint of heart! Eight familiar fairy tales are twisted into sinister, macabre stories.
Garland, Sherry. Indio. Harcourt, $11 (0-15-238631-9); paper, $5 (0-15-200021-6).
Ipa-tah-chi survives an Apache raid on her pueblo. Later, on her wedding day, strange white-skinned men riding horses capture her. Can she escape?
Goldman, E. M. Getting Lincoln’s Goat. Delacorte, $14.95 (0-385-32098-1).
When Lincoln High’s beloved mascot—an old goat—disappears before the big football game, Elliot has the perfect opportunity to excel in a class assignment to learn about the world of private detectives.
Grant, Cynthia. Mary Wolf. Simon & Schuster/ Atheneum, $16 (0-689-80007-X).
Sixteen-year-old Mary longs for a normal life as her family travels the country aimlessly in their RV after her father loses his job.
Hobbs, Valerie. How Far Would You Have Gotten If I Hadn’t Called You Back? Orchard, $19.95 (0-531-09480-4); lib. ed., $19.99 (0-531-08780-8).
After moving to California in the 1950s, Bron is lonely—until she discovers danger, drag racing, and two boys, J. C. and Will, one of whom she truly loves.
Hurwin, Davida Wills. A Time for Dancing. Little, Brown, $15.95 (0-316-38351-1).
Seventeen-year-old best friends Juliana and Samantha share a passion for dance, for life, and for each other—then Jules is diagnosed with cancer and must travel a path Sam cannot follow.
Laird, Crista. But Can the Phoenix Sing? Greenwillow, $15 (0-688-13612-5).
In a letter to his stepson, Misha Edelman describes the heroism and horrors he witnessed when, after losing his family to the Nazis, he became a fighter in the Polish Resistance during World War II.
Lester, Julius. Othello. Scholastic, $12.95 (0-590-41967-6).
A powerful, accessible retelling of Shakespeare’s story of doomed love and jealousy, with an unusual twist, speaks to us across racial lines and through the centuries.
Lopez, Steve. Third and Indiana. Viking, $21.95 (0-670-85676-2).
Fourteen-year-old Gabriel runs away from home to protect his mother when he realizes that the boss of his drug-selling gang is crazy and murderous.
Lynch, Chris. Slot Machine. HarperCollins, $13.95 (0-06-023584-5); $13.89 (0-06-023585-3).
Elvin and his two best friends are sent to a summer camp for incoming freshmen at a Catholic boys’ high school. Will short, round Elvin fit the slots the good fathers are trying to jam him into?
Marsden, John. Tomorrow, When the War Began. Houghton, $13.95 (0-395-70673-4).
When they return from a wilderness camping trip, Ellie and her friends are shocked to discover Australia has been invaded and soon find fighting and surviving have become their way of life.
McCants, William D. Much Ado about Prom Night. Harcourt/Browndeer, $11 (0-15-200083-6); paper, $5 (0-15-200081-X).
Honor student Becca Singleton, embroiled in a battle to save peer counseling from being shut down by the school board, worries about getting a date for the prom.
Meyer, Carolyn. Drummers of Jericho. Harcourt, $11 (0-15-200441-6); paper, $5 (0-15-200190-5).
Jewish Panzit Trujillo challenges the traditions of her new community when she questions the high-school marching band’s use of a Christian symbol and hymns.
Moore, Martha. Under the Mermaid Angel. Delacorte, $14.95 (0-385-32160-0).
Much to her mother’s dismay, 13-year-old Jesse’s new best friend is the 30-year-old tattoo-sporting waitress who lives in the trailer next door, but helping Roxanne solve her problems helps Jesse get a grip on her own.
Mori, Kyoko. One Bird. Holt, $15.95 (0-8050-2983-4).
After she is abandoned by her mother, who is hurt by her husband’s infidelities, 15-year-old Megumi struggles to find hope, love, and a sense of home.
Morpurgo, Michael. The War of Jenkins’ Ear. Putnam/Philomel, $15.95 (0-399-22735-0).
Convinced that Christopher is the Son of God, Toby watches as miracles unfold at his English boarding school.
Peck, Richard. The Last Safe Place on Earth. Delacorte, $15.95 (0-385-32052-3).
Todd, 15, thinks he’s found the perfect girl in Laura, his little sister’s baby-sitter—then he sees the effect that Laura’s fundamentalist beliefs are having on his sister.
Pierce, Tamora. Emperor Mage. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, $17 (0-689-31989-4).
Fifteen-year-old Daine uses her animal communication skills to help avert a war for her country.
Powell, Randy. Dean Duffy. Farrar, $15 (0-374-31754-2).
At 15, Dean Duffy had it all and pitched for a world championship Little League team until he hit a slump; now, at 18, he is trying to decide where to go with his life.
Preston, Douglas and Lincoln, Child. Relic. Tor/Forge; dist. by St. Martin’s, $22.95 (0-312-85630-X).
A PhD candidate knows something monstrous is living in the American Museum of Natural History but cannot convince the PR person to delay the opening of a new exhibit—the gruesome results will keep you up all night reading.
Randle, Kristen. The Only Alien on the Planet. Scholastic, $14.95 (0-590-46309-8).
Moving to the East Coast, high-school senior Ginny becomes friends with a boy who never speaks and uncovers his dark secret.
Scieszka, Jon. Math Curse. Illus. by Lane Smith. Viking, $16.99 (0-670-86194-4).
Math can be a real curse when you begin to think of everything as a math problem.
Taylor, Theodore. The Bomb. Harcourt, $16 (0-15-200867-5).
Teenage Sorry will do anything to stop the Americans from using his island home for nuclear testing.
Testa, Maria. Dancing Pink Flamingos and Other Stories. Lerner, lib. ed., $13.13 (0-8225-0738-2).
In these 10 urban short stories, teens of various ethnicities strive to find hope in a world of crime and violence.
Vande Velde, Vivian. Companions of the Night. Harcourt/Jane Yolen, $17 (0-15-200221-9).
Is Ethan really just an innocent college student kidnapped by vampire-hunting crazies? Sixteen-year-old Kerry, who saves him and loves him, finds that the allure of the vampire is alive and well.
Weaver, Will. Farm Team. HarperCollins, $15 (0-06-023588-8); lib. ed., $14.89 (0-06-023589-6).
Billy is left in charge of the family farm when his dad is sent to prison, and so begins the “farm team,” a ragtag group of local baseball players who try to whip the town team in the big game.
White, Ellen E. The Road Home. Scholastic, $15.95 (0-590-46737-9).
Lt. Rebecca Phillips, who served as a combat nurse in Vietnam, has to come to terms with what she experienced there as she tries to readjust to life in the U.S.
Williams-Garcia, Rita. Like Sisters on the Homefront. Dutton/Lodestar, $14.99 (0-525-67465-9).
When Gayle, a streetwise mother at 14, becomes pregnant again, she is sent south to stay with relatives.
Woodson, Jacqueline. From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun. Scholastic/Blue Sky, $14.95 (0-590-45880-9).
Melanin Sun finds being a teenager is hard enough without learning that his mother’s new boyfriend is a woman.
Best Books for Young Adults, 1996, committee members: Billie Kaye White, chair, District of Columbia Public Library, Washington, D.C.; Christine Allen, Riverside (CA) Unified School District; Darlene Basone, Mayerson Academy, Cincinnati, OH; Sandra Farrell, Free Library of Philadelphia (PA); Susan Horiuchi, Hawaii State Library, Honolulu; Holly Koelling, Mesa County Public Library, Grand Junction, CO; Chapple Langemack, Issaquah (WA) Library; Betty Lazarus, Ridgewood Preparatory School, Metairie, LA; C. Allen Nichols, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Maple Heights, OH; Scott Phillips, Central Rappahannack Regional Library, Fredericksburg, VA; Mike Printz, American Econoclad Services, Topeka, KS; Karlan Sick, New York Public Library, Bronx, NY; Ann Sparanese, Englewood (NJ) Public Library; Jo-Anne Weinberg, Greenburgh Public Library, Elmsford, NY; Meg Wolfe, Phoenix (AZ) Public Library; and Sally Estes, Booklist consultant.
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