Looking For Alaska- John Green

I really enjoyed this novel.  It takes place at a boarding school, and while it centers around a male protagonist there is also a strong female character.  I can see it being somewhat controversial due to some sex, drinking, and smoking.  I feel that the way the sexual elements are presented could lead to healthy conversations about sexuality and intimacy. This book also deals with grief, friendship, and fitting in.   John Green is relatively new to the field, and I think this novel is a great addition to the genre. I would use this in a whole class setting, but might warn parents/ask permission due to some of the controversial content.

Awards:

2006 Printz award winner

Finalist- 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize

ALA 2005 Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults

ALA 2005 Teens’ Top 10 Award

ALA 2005 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

A Booklist Editor’s Choice Pick

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection

Borders Original Voices Selection

YALSA Librarians’ Choice: 100 Super Summer Reads for Teens

Whale Talk- Chris Crutcher

I just finished reading this book almost entirely straight through.  I found it interesting, engaging, and felt it touched on several key issues for teens today.  The protagonist is a 17 year old male, and is multi-racial.  The book deals with racism, child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, the mentally handicapped, the physically handicapped, obesity, and the general need for acceptance that most teens can relate to.  I thought the characters were likeable and easy to relate to.  There are even great multi-syllable vocabulary words- thanks to one brainiac character.  The novel revolves around a make-shift swim team, so it may be of interest to swimmers, or other athletes- especially those who don’t play the “big sports” like football, basketball, and soccer or hockey.  I could see this being a book that is used as a classroom read for 9th-12th graders.  The language is easily understandable, but the themes are complex enough for any high school student to glean meaning from.

Awards:

ALA Popular Paperbacks for YA 2005

ABC Children’s Booksellers Choices Award 2002

Washington State Book Award 2002

Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award 2002

Outstanding Sports Book Award/YA 2002

ALA Best Book for YA

TLA Tayshas List

New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age

ALA Top 10 Best Books for YA

Book Sense 76 Pick

A Hero Ain’t Nothing But A Sandwich- Alice Childress

Childress’ classic story is written in the vernacular, but some of the slang is dated. Dealing with growing up poor, black, and addicted to drugs is the center of this story. I think this is a book that may appeal the most to young black males from a lower class background. I think this would be an appropriate choice for an 8th or 9th grade classroom. There is also a 1978 film version of this novel.

 

 

AWARDS:

ALA Best Young Adult Book of 1975

Lewis Carroll Shelf Award

Jane Addams Award for a young adult novel

Leaving Fischers- Margaret Haddix

This is a realistic fiction novel. The girl that this book centers around is the new kid in school and looking to fit in. It deals with the ideas of cult-like religions, and blind faith. This is another book that I would recommend perhaps for individual reading, but not as a whole class read. This book is most appropriate for 7th-9th grade based off of content and skill level.

AWARDS:

American Bookseller Pick of the Lists1998

YALSA Best Book for Young Adults 1998

YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults 2007

Out of the Dust- Karen Hess

This historical fiction piece is written in verse form. The language is easy to understand however. It takes place during the 1930’s in the middle of the “dust bowl.” This book I believe is appropriate for students ages 10-13 depending on their reading level. If a class were studying this time period it could be an interesting text to read along with it. The protagonist is female however, which might make it harder for male students to appreciate.

 

 

AWARDS:

Newberry Medal 1998

Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction

IBBY Honor List

ALA 1998 Top 10 Best Books for Young Adults

Cut- Patricia McCormick

I thought that this book was pretty well written and would capture the interest of teen girls. It is realistic fiction. I would not recommend it as a book to be read as a class because I think there are other more intellectually challenging books available. That being said, I think it could be great for an independent read. It deals with the issue of cutting- and self-injurious students might be able to relate well to it. I would say that readers should be age 13 and older due to content.

AWARDS:

ALA 2002 Best Books for Young Adults

The First Post

I am starting with the YA books that I read this year.  I will be putting each review into different categories in order to aide you in finding books specific to your needs.  These categories will revolve around intended audience and content matter.