Normal Public Library Teens

National Book Award

The National Book Award for Young People’s Literature is presented each year in November to recognize outstanding contributions to children’s or young adult literature.

2010 National Book Award Winner

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
 

Caitlin has Asperger’s. The world according to her is black and white; anything in between is confusing. Before, when things got confusing, Caitlin went to her older brother, Devon, for help. But Devon has died, and Caitlin’s dad is so distraught that he is just not helpful. Caitlin wants everything to go back to the way things were, but she doesn’t know how to do that. Then she comes across the word closure and she realizes this is what she needs. And in her search for it, Caitlin discovers that the world may not be black and white after all. (M)

2010 National Book Award Finalists

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

In America’s Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota – and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it’s worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life… (S)

Dark Water by Laura McNeal
 

Pearl DeWitt and her mother live in Fallbrook, California, where it’s sunny 340 days of the year, and where her uncle owns a grove of 900 avocado trees. Uncle Hoyt hires migrant workers regularly, but Pearl doesn’t pay much attention to them…until Amiel. From the moment she sees him, Pearl is drawn to this boy who keeps to himself, fears being caught by la migra, and is mysteriously unable to talk. Then the wildfires strike, and a mandatory evacuation order is issued. But Pearl knows that Amiel is in the direct path of the fire, with no one to warn him, no way to get out. Slipping away from safety and her family, Pearl moves toward the dark creek, where the smoke has become air, the air smoke. (S)

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers

It seems as if the only progress that’s going on at Progress juvenile facility is moving from juvy jail to real jail. Reese wants out early, but is he supposed to just sit back and let his friend Toon get jumped? Then Reese gets a second chance when he’s picked for the work program at a senior citizens’ home. He doesn’t mean to keep messing up, but it’s not so easy, at Progress or in life. One of the residents, Mr. Hooft, gives him a particularly hard time. If he can convince Mr. Hooft that he’s a decent person, not a criminal, maybe he’ll be able to convince himself. (S)

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past. When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education. (M)

2009 National Book Award Winner

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose
On March 2, 1955, an impassioned teenager, fed up with the daily injustices of Jim Crow segregation, refused to give her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of being celebrated as Rosa Parks would be just nine months later, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin found herself shunned by her classmates and dismissed by community leaders. Undaunted, a year later she dared to challenge segregation again as a key plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle, the landmark case that struck down the segregation laws of Montgomery and swept away the legal underpinnings of the Jim Crow South. (M, S)

2009 National Book Award Finalists

Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman

Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, his revolutionary tract on evolution and the fundamental ideas involved, in 1859. Nearly 150 years later, the theory of evolution continues to create tension between the scientific and religious communities. This same debate raged within Darwin himself, and played an important part in his marriage with his wife, Emma. Deborah Heiligman’s new biography of Charles Darwin is a thought-provoking account of the man behind evolutionary theory: how his personal life affected his work and vice versa. (M, S)

Stitches by David Small
 

One day David Small awoke from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute. A vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot, the fourteen-year-old boy had not been told that he had cancer and was expected to die. Depicting his coming-of-age story with dazzling, kaleidoscopic images that turn nightmare into fairy tale, Small tells us of his journey from sickly child to cancer patient, to the troubled teen whose risky decision to run away from home at sixteen—with nothing more than the dream of becoming an artist—will resonate as the ultimate survival statement. (S)

Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor

Three tales of supernatural love, each pivoting on a kiss:

Goblin Fruit: In Victorian times, goblin men had only to offer young girls sumptuous fruits to tempt them to sell their souls. But what does it take to tempt today’s savvy girls?

Spicy Little Curses: A demon and the ambassador to Hell tussle over the soul of an English girl in India. Matters become complicated when she falls in love and decides to test her curse.

Hatchling: Six days before Esme’s fourteenth birthday, her left eye turns from brown to blue and her safe life begins to unravel at once. What does the beautiful, fanged man want with her, and how is her fate connected to a mysterious race of demons? (M, S)

Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia

All Leticia wants to do is to mind her own business. She’s too busy stewing about being assigned to early-morning math tutoring to worry about anyone else’s problems. Sure, she’s intrigued when she overhears bad-girl basketball player Dominique threaten to beat up bubbly, self-obsessed Trina for bumping her in the hallway—who wouldn’t be excited to get the inside scoop on juicy gossip like a girl-on-girl fight after school? But she doesn’t feel the need to get involved, even after she realizes that Trina didn’t hear Dominique’s threats and thus has no idea that she’s going to get jumped. Will she follow best friend Bea’s advice and warn Trina of the danger she faces, before a potential tragedy can unfold? (S)

2008 National Book Award Winner

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

When fifteen-year-old Evie’s stepfather Joe, back from the war in Europe, abruptly takes her and her beautiful mother Beverly on a trip to Florida, Evie soon falls in love with glamorous Peter, an army buddy whom Joe is none too happy to see. But after a boating accident results in a suspicious death and an inquest, Evie is forced to revisit her romance with Peter and her relationships with Joe and her mother, and to consider that her assumptions about all three may have been wrong from the beginning. (S)

2008 National Book Award Finalists

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
 

Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, Isabel and her sister, Ruth instead become the property of a malicious couple who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom. (M, S)

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

A calico cat, about to have kittens, dares to befriend a lonely hound named Ranger. Ranger urges the cat to hide underneath the porch, to raise her kittens there because the man living in the house will surely use them as alligator bait should he find them. But they are safe in the Underneath, as long as they stay there. Kittens, however, are notoriously curious creatures. And one kitten’s one moment of curiosity sets off a chain of events that is astonishing, remarkable, and enormous in its meaning. (M)

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14 is a mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school. At 15, she’s got a knockout figure, a chip on her shoulder, and a gorgeous new senior boyfriend. And she’s no longer the kind of girl to take no for an answer. Especially when no means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society. Especially when she knows she’s smarter than any of them. And especially when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16: Possibly a criminal mastermind. (M, S)

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Sutter Keely’s the guy you want at your party. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually. Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn and meets Aimee, a social disaster in need of Sutter’s help. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever. (S)

2007 National Book Award Winner

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. (S)

 

2007 National Book Award Finalists

Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey

When her bitter father dies, Sadima, a young woman who can communicate with animals, keeps house for two renegade magicians at a time when magic has been outlawed. Her experiences, which include learning to read and falling in love, alternate with those of Hahp, born generations after Sadima. Exiled by his wealthy, disapproving father, he attends a school of wizardry where, among other unpleasantness, students are starved to death if they can’t conjure up food. (S)

Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin

Karina has plenty to worry about on the last day of seventh grade: finding three Ds and a C on her report card again, getting laughed at by everyone again, being sent to the principal – again. Meanwhile, at home Karina and her sisters are dodging their abusive stepfather’s blows. Finally her stepfather is taken away on child abuse charges. The problem is, he’s not gone for good, and Karina starts to realize that for all the troubles her family had tried to escape by immigrating from Haiti, they brought most of them along to upstate New York. And Karina knows that if anything is going to change for this family, it is going to be up to her to make it happen. (M)

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery. (M)

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

When she is caught in the backseat of a car with her older brother’s best friend – Deanna Lambert’s teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the stifling role of “school slut,” she longs to escape a life defined by her past. (S)

2006 National Book Award Winner

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson

Raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers, Octavian and his mother — a princess in exile from a faraway land — are the only persons in their household assigned names. Dressed in silks and given the finest of classical educations, it is only after he dares to open a forbidden door that he learns the hideous nature of their experiments — and his own chilling role in them. (S)

2006 National Book Award Finalists

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

Lost and hungry after following a stately hart through the forest, poor peasant girl Keturah encounters Lord Death, who is ready to take her. Like Scheherazade, Keturah spins a story that she leaves unfinished and extracts from Lord Death a promise that if she finds her true love in a day, she can go free. But Lord Death is falling in love with her, and as the villagers begin to sense her alliance with this horrifying figure, her life twists and turns on itself. (M, S)

Sold by Patricka McCormick

Lakshmi, 13, knows nothing about the world beyond her village shack in the Himalayas of Nepal, and when her family loses the little it has in a monsoon, she grabs a chance to work as a maid in the city so she can send money back home. What she doesn’t know is that her stepfather has sold her into prostitution. She ends up in a brothel far across the border in the slums of Calcutta, locked up, beaten, starved, drugged, and raped. When an American comes to the brothel to rescue girls, Lakshmi finally gets a sense of hope. (S)

The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

For Matt and his sisters, life with their cruel, vicious mother is a day-to-day struggle for survival. But then Matt witnesses Murdoch coming to a child’s rescue in a convenience store, and for the first time, he feels a glimmer of hope. When, amazingly, Murdoch begins dating Matt’s mother, life is suddenly almost good. But the relief lasts only a short time. When Murdoch inevitably breaks up with their mother, Matt knows he needs to take action. But can he call upon his hero? Or will he have to take measures into his own hands? (S)

American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

A tour-de-force by rising indie comics star Gene Yang, American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his family only to discover that he’s the only Chinese-American student at his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny’s life with his yearly visits. Their lives and stories come together with an unexpected twist in this action-packed modern fable. (M, S)

2005 National Book Award Winner

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures. (M)

2005 National Book Award Finalists

Where I Want to Be by Adele Griffin

As children, sisters Jane and Lily were inseparable. But as Lily grew up, older sister Jane wanted to forever stay in the makebelieve worlds they had created when they were young. For Jane, the line between fantasy and reality had always been blurred. Then tragedy strikes, and Lily is forced to take on the role of the big sister. But will she be able to carry on and live her life in real time when Jane is forever stuck in a world that is different from reality? With two voices and a haunting narrative, Adele Griffin tells a tale of two sisters whose bond is so strong that it ties them together even after death. (S)

Inexcusable by Chris Lynch

Keir Sarafian knows many things about himself. He is a talented football player, a loyal friend, a devoted son and brother. Most of all, he is agood guy. And yet the love of his life thinks otherwise. Gigi says Keir has done something unforgivable. Keir doesn’t understand. He would never do anything to hurt Gigi. So Keir carefully recounts the events leading up to that one fateful night, in order to uncover the truth. (S)

Autobiography of My Dead Brother by Walter Dean Myers

Fifteen-year-old Jesse lives a clean and relatively careful life in contemporary Harlem. His best friend and honorary brother, Rise, is two years older and plays life faster and looser. The boys belong to a social club inherited from the men of the older generation. The Counts aren’t a gang and the members tend to have a variety of aesthetic interests. Jesse is devoted to cartooning and sketching while C. J. is a fine musician. Rise, however, it seems to Jesse, has begun to lead a second life that doesn’t include him or The Counts. (S)

Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles

Ten-year-old Comfort Snowberger has attended 247 funerals – her family owns the local funeral home, after all. And even though Great-uncle Edisto keeled over with a heart attack and Great-great-aunt Florentine dropped dead – just like that – six months later, Comfort knows how to deal with loss, or so she thinks. She’s more concerned with avoiding her crazy cousin Peach and trying to figure out why her best friend, Declaration, suddenly won’t talk to her. But life is full of surprises. And the biggest one of all is learning what it takes to handle them. (M)

2004 National Book Award Winner

Godless by Pete Hautman

Fed up with his parents’ boring old religion, agnostic-going-on-atheist Jason Bock invents a new god – the town’s water tower. He recruits an unlikely group of worshippers, and as their religion grows, it takes on a life of its own. When the Chutengodians hold their first ceremony high atop the dome of the water tower, things quickly go from merely dangerous to terrifying and deadly. Jason soon realizes that inventing a religion is a lot easier than controlling it, but control it he must, before his creation destroys both his friends and himself. (S)

2004 National Book Award Finalists

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti

Sixteen-year-old Ruby McQueen is known as “that quiet girl” at school, so she is intoxicated when she meets gorgeous rich-kid Travis Becker, with whom she feels tough and “fearless.” Travis involves her in increasingly dangerous stunts until Ruby finally breaks away, but her mother, Ann, knows the difficulty of choosing self-protection over a thrilling love: she has struggled for years to get over Ruby’s absent, philandering father. To distract herself and her daughter, Ann brings Ruby to her book club with “The Casserole Queens,” a group of wisecracking seniors who embroil Ann and Ruby in a plan to reunite a friend with a lost love. (S)

Harlem Stomp! A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance by Laban Carrick Hill

With a beautiful open design, this illustrated history combines the politics of the black metropolis in the roaring 1920s with long, detailed chapters on the “blazing creativity” of performers, writers, visual artists, and intellectuals. (M, S)

The Legend of Buddy Bush by Sheila P. Moses

Twelve-year-old Pattie Mae dreams of going north, inspired by her urbane uncle Buddy’s condemnation of “post slaves stuff.” Their shared indignation is grimly justified when Buddy offends a white woman for a breach of etiquette, and she falsely accuses him of attempted rape. As Pattie Mae bears witness to Buddy’s dire situation, she also worries about her grandfather’s deteriorating health and chafes under her mother’s strictness. (M)

Luna by Julie Anne Peters

Regan’s brother Liam can’t stand the person he is during the day. Like the moon from whom Liam has chosen his female namesake, his true self, Luna, only reveals herself at night. In the secrecy of his basement bedroom Liam transforms himself into the beautiful girl he longs to be, with help from his sister’s clothes and makeup. Now, everything is about to change – Luna is preparing to emerge from her cocoon. But are Liam’s family and friends ready to welcome Luna into their lives? (S)

 
 

Grade Level Interest
M Middle School (defined as grades 6-8).
S Senior High (defined as grades 9-12).
A/YA Adult-marketed book recommended for teens.

 
 
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