The books

fair-weatherFair Weather by Richard Peck

On the brink of adulthood (not to mention a whole new century), Rosie makes her first trip to the big city, along with her wide-eyed siblings and their rascally old granddad. There, amidst the breathtaking Ferris wheel and other wonders of the fair, Rosie discovers the world and herself, while coming face-to-face with some of the era’s most famous people.

 

gone-awayGone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

When Portia sets out for a visit with her cousin Julian, she expects fun and adventure, but of the usual kind: exploring in the woods near Julian’s house, collecting stones and bugs, playing games throughout the long, lazy days.

But this summer is different. On their first day exploring, Portia and Julian discover an enormous boulder with a mysterious message, a swamp choked with reeds and quicksand, and on the far side of the swamp… a ghost town. Once upon a time the swamp was a splendid lake, and the fallen houses along its shore an elegant resort community. But though the lake is long gone and the resort faded away, the houses still hold a secret life: two people who have never left Gone-Away…and who can tell the story of what happened there.

graffiti-moonGraffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she’s going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He’s out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy’s stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she’s managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they’re suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

great-wheelThe Great Wheel by Robert Lawson

“Your fortune lies to the west. Keep your face to the sunset… and one day you’ll ride the greatest wheel in all the world.” When Aunt Honora reads this fortune in his tea leaves, Conn Kilroy knows he is destined for greater things than his small Irish village can offer. A letter from his uncle Michael in America offering Conn a partnership in his New York contracting company sets Conn on his western adventure. Just a few short months later Conn’s Uncle Patrick lures him even farther west to Chicago, where they join the hardworking crew building what some called Ferris’s Folly—the first Ferris wheel—then the largest wheel in the world and the showpiece of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

greenglass-houseGreenglass House by Kate Milford

It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House – and themselves.

izzy-willy-nillyIzzy, Willy Nilly by Cynthia Voigt

Fifteen-year-old Izzy has it all – a loving family, terrific friends, a place on the cheerleading squad. But her comfortable world crumbles when a date with a senior ends in a car crash and she loses her right leg.

Suddenly nothing is the same. The simplest tasks become enormous challenges. Her friends don’t seem to know how to act around her. Her family is supportive, but they don’t really want to deal with how much she’s hurting. Then Rosamunde extends a prickly offer of friendship. Rosamunde definitely isn’t the kind of girl Izzy would have been friends with in her old life. But Rosamunde may be the only person who can help Izzy face her new one.

landry-newsThe Landry News by Andrew Clements

The bad news is that Cara Landry is the new kid at Denton Elementary School. The worse news is that her teacher, Mr. Larson, would rather read the paper and drink coffee than teach his students anything. So Cara decides to give Mr. Larson something else to read – her own newspaper, The Landry News.

Before she knows it, the whole fifth-grade class is in on the project. But then the principal finds a copy of The Landry News, with unexpected results. Tomorrow’s headline: Will Cara’s newspaper cost Mr. Larson his job?

okay-for-nowOkay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

“The Dump” is what Doug Swieteck calls his new home in upstate New York. He lands there in the summer of 1968, when the Apollo space missions are under way, Joe Pepitone is slugging for the New York Yankees, and the Vietnam War is raging. At home he lives with a father who has lost his way and a brother accused of robbery. And Doug’s oldest brother is returning from Vietnam. Who knows what wounds his missions have given him?

But Doug has his own mission, too, and it begins when he first sees the plates of John James Audubon’s Birds of America at the local library. His mission will lead him to Lil Spicer, who shows him how to drink a really cold Coke, to Mrs. Windermere, who drags him to a theater opening, and to the customers of his Saturday grocery deliveries, who together will open a world as strange to him as the lunar landscape.

perilous-gardThe Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope

In 1558, while exiled by Queen Mary Tudor to a remote castle known as Perilous Gard, young Kate Sutton becomes involved in a series of mysterious events that lead her to an underground world peopled by Fairy Folk — whose customs are even older than the Druids’ and include human sacrifice.

 

 

presidents-daughterThe President’s Daughter by Ellen Emerson White

Sixteen-year-old Meghan Powers likes her life just the way it is. She likes living in Massachusetts. She likes her school. And she has plenty of friends. But all that is about to change. Because Meg’s mother, one of the most prestigious senators in the country, is running for President. And she’s going to win.

 

 

ring-endless-lightA Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle

After a tumultuous year in New York City, the Austins are spending the summer on the small island where their grandfather lives. He’s very sick, and watching his condition deteriorate as the summer passes is almost more than Vicky can bear. To complicate matters, she finds herself as the center of attention for three very different boys.

Zachary Grey, the troubled and reckless boy Vicky met last summer, wants her all to himself as he grieves the loss of his mother. Leo Rodney has been just a friend for years, but the tragic loss of his father causes him to turn to Vicky for comfort—and romance. And then there’s Adam Eddington. Adam is only asking Vicky to help with his research on dolphins. But Adam—and the dolphins—may just be what Vicky needs to get through this heartbreaking summer.

saffys-angelSaffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay

After Saffron Casson discovers that she’s adopted, life is never quite the same again. Her artistic parents and doting siblings adore her, but Saffy wants a piece of her past. So when her grandfather bequests a stone angel to her, Saffy knows she has to find it.

Meanwhile, the rest of her family are engaged in their own wacky projects. Caddy, a hopeless student, is studying for her A Levels and desperately trying to pass her driving test. Indigo, the sole boy of the Casson family, is determined to rid himself of this fear of heights. And the youngest, Rose, a budding artist, has a knack for baiting her pompous dad…

saving-francescaSaving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys’ school that pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas, who specializes in musical burping, to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about.

Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is.

shield-starsShield of Stars by Hilari Bell

A former pickpocket, Weasel is the type of boy most people would avoid. Certainly, no one would ever trust him – except for one man. Justice Holis took Weasel off the streets, gave him a home, a job as his clerk, and a key to his house. Weasel’s new life may be a bit boring, but for the first time someone actually cares about him.

Now Justice Holis is the one in trouble. Arrested for treason, he will surely hang unless someone saves him – and that someone can only be Weasel. But what can one boy do? Not much without help.

So with a mysterious girl named Arisa by his side, Weasel goes in search of the Falcon, the most dangerous bandit in Deorthas, but also the one person who would be able – and possibly willing – to stage a prison break.

unfinished-lifeThe Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

From the moment she stepped foot in NYC, Addison Stone’s subversive street art made her someone to watch, and her violent drowning left her fans and critics craving to know more. I conducted interviews with those who knew her best—including close friends, family, teachers, mentors, art dealers, boyfriends, and critics—and retraced the tumultuous path of Addison’s life. I hope I can shed new light on what really happened the night of July 28.
—Adele Griffin

vigilante-poetsThe Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer

Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art’s Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art’s Sake. It’s up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school.

 

There’s a good mix here. In terms of genre, there’s contemporary, historical fiction, and fantasy. A surprising number of books about art and newspapers. Two books featuring the Chicago World Fair. Quite a few well-known authors whose less-famous books have slipped completely beneath the radar. A few Australian YA titles. Recent titles that have gone unrecognized by awards committees, and older decorated titles never on the Barnes and Noble Newbery shelves.

That’s all I’m going to say now; I don’t want to intrude on the judges’ territory. I’ve got more to say, but I’m going to leave that for the comments. I look forward to discussing and debating with you all!

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