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Find more Top 10 First Novels for Youth
This year’s crop of debut standout novels runs the gamut when it comes to genre: fantasy, historical, contemporary, mystery. Protagonists include everyone from seers to Iñupiaq Eskimos to hall monitors—and one very special pig. These first novels were reviewed in Booklist during the past 12 months.
The Adventures of Jack Lime. By James Leck. 2010. Kids Can, $16.95 (9781554533640). Gr. 5–8.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel for a great detective story, but you do need a terrific sense of style. High-schooler Jack Lime has it in spades. Three fine mysteries in one package.
The Adventures of Nanny Piggins. By R. A. Spratt. Illus. by Dan Santat. 2010. Little, Brown, $15.99 (9780316068192). Gr. 3–6.
Mary Poppins, move over—or get shoved out of the way. Nanny Piggins has arrived, and with her come marvelous adventures, hilarity, high jinks, and lots of pie. So much fun!
Blessing’s Bead. By Debby Dahl Edwardson. 2009. Farrar/Melanie Kroupa, $16.99 (9780374308056). Gr. 5–8.
Two narratives—one historical, one nearly contemporary—make up this beautiful first novel, set among Iñupiaq Eskimos in Alaska’s far northern territories.
A Blue So Dark. By Holly Schindler. 2010. Flux, paper, $9.95 (9780738719269). Gr. 8–11.
Debut novelist Schindler paints a graphic picture of mental illness and the toll it takes on its victims and their families as 15-year-old Aura, an artist, watches her mother sink into schizophrenia and refuse medication.
The Boneshaker. By Kate Milford. Illus. by Andrea Offermann. 2010. Clarion, $16 (9780547241876). Gr. 5–8.
This historical fantasy uses the classic devil-at-the-crossroads motif, as a 13-year-old whose latent powers as a seer are awakened. An ambitious, atmospheric novel, electrified by supernatural traces and a complex look at good and evil.
Griff Carver, Hallway Patrol. By Jim Krieg. 2010. Penguin/Razorbill, $15.99 (9781595142764). Gr. 4–7.
He’s only 13, but Griff Carver proves himself a brilliant, hard-nosed cop when he quickly discovers his new school is rotten from the principal on down. An inspired, excellently spun tale.
Magic under Glass. By Jacklyn Dolamore. 2010. Bloomsbury, $16.95 (9781599904306). Gr. 7–10.
Things are not going well for Nimira as a performer, so when a handsome sorcerer offers her a job, she takes it. Soon she finds herself in a triangle with her employer and a haunted automaton, who’s actually a captive fairy prince. A strong heroine in an intriguing plot.
Medina Hill. By Trilby Kent. 2009. Tundra, $19.95 (9780887768880). Gr. 6–9.
This highly original novel, set in 1935 London, introduces 11-year-old Dominic, who has stopped speaking to anyone but his family. A visit to a Cornwall village opens up a new world for the shy, silent city boy.
The Replacement. By Brenna Yovanoff. 2010. Penguin/Razorbill, $17.99 (9781595143372). Gr. 9–12.
A small town owes its history of good fortune to an uneasy relationship with the supernatural underground dwellers that protect them. Yovanoff’s unsettling villains and intriguing moral ambivalence make this effort shockingly original and frequently breathtaking.
The Toymaker. By Jeremy de Quidt. 2010. Random/David Fickling, $16.99 (9780385751803). Gr. 5–8.
Everyone is pursuing young Mathias because of a secret he’s inherited. Filled with intrigue and exhilaration, this stylized adventure, reminiscent of both Dickens’ novels and Les Misérables, will easily captivate young readers.
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