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1. Women’s History Month: A Book List

March is Women’s History Month! It’s never a bad time to learn about the contributions that women have made and continue to make. In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve put together a list that features some of our favorite historical ladies and great fiction for children and older readers!


  1. Women'sLittle Melba and Her Big Trombone – this award-winning book follows the life of Melba Liston, a trailblazing trombonist, composer and arranger and one of the unsung heroes of the Jazz age.
  2. Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story – Anna May Wong was the first Asian American film star.
  3. Seeds of Change – Wangari Maathai was the first African to win a Nobel prize for her
    environmental work in Kenya.
  4. The Storyteller’s Candle – Pura Belpre, was the New York Public Library’s first Latina librarian.
  5. Catching the Moon – Marcenia Lyle, was always interested in baseball. She grew up to play professional baseball for the Negro Leagues.
  6. In Her Hands – Augusta Savage was a renown sculptor of the Harlem Renaissance.
  7. Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree – A story of the childhood of Zora Neale Hurston inspired by her autobiographical writings.
  8. Irena’s Jars of Secrets – Irena Sandler, a Polish social worker helps to smuggle children out of the Warsaw ghetto during WWII.
  9. Hiromi’s Hands – Young Hiromi Suzuki is determined to become a chef in the male-dominated sushi world
  10. Dear Mrs. Parks – Rosa Parks, the “Mother of the Modern Day Civil Rights Movement,” answers letters from students.


Younger Readers

  1. The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen – Kameeka wants to beat her rival Jamara in a hula-hoopin’ contest, but she has to help her mother prepare for their neighbor, Miz Adeline’s birthday.
  2. Juna’s Jar – When Juna’s best friend Hector moves away without saying good bye, Juna uses her special kimchi jar to search for him until she finally is able to say bye.
  3. Shanghai Messenger – Xiao Mei visits china to meet her extended family. Her grandmother Nai Nai wants her to remember everything she sees.
  4. Abuela’s Weave – Esperanza goes with her abuela to the market to help Abuela sell her traditional Mayan tapestries.
  5. Drum, Chavi, Drum! – Chavi was born to drum. Even though everyone tells her drumming is for boys, she is determined to play her favorite drums, the tumbadoras, at the festival.
  6. Kiki’s Journey – Kiki returns to the Taos Pueblo reservation she left when she was a baby.
  7. Juneteenth Jamboree – Cassie who has just moved to Texas, learns about the importance of June 19th, or Juneteenth, through a family celebration.
  8. Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure – Tashi’s grandfather, Popola, is sick, so she gathers family and friends to try a traditional flower cure from his village.
  9. The Legend of Freedom Hill – Rosabel, who is African American, and Sophie, who is Jewish, become friends. When Rosabel’s mother, a runaway slave gets captured by a slave catcher, Rosabel and Sophie put their heads together to free her.
  10. My Diary From Here to There – Amada moves with her family in Mexico to Los Angeles, California.

Older Readers

  1. Under the Mesquite – Lupita, the oldest of 8 siblings, struggles to keep her family together in the wake of her mother’s cancer.
  2. INK AND ASHES cover smallSummer of the Mariposas – A retelling of The Odyssey set in Mexico.
  3. The Tankborn Trilogy – A trilogy about genetic engineering and forbidden love.
  4. Cat Girl’s Day Off – Natalie must use her Talent talking to cats to stop a high profile celebrity kidnapping.
  5. Rattlesnake Mesa – After EdNah’s beloved grandmother dies, she is sent to live with her father on a Navajo reservation, and then to an Indian boarding school.
  6. Ink and Ashes – Claire opens the door to her deceased father’s path and finds a family secret that could kill her.
  7. Killer of Enemies – In a future where technology has failed, Lozen has been gifted with a unique set of abilities, magic and survival skills that she uses to hunt monsters for the people who kidnapped her family.
  8. Rose Eagle – In this prequel to Killer of Enemies, we join Rose Eagle as she goes on a quest to find healing for her people.
  9. Tofu Quilt – Yeung Ying, a young girl who grows up in 1960s Hong Kong, aspires to become a writer, against the conventions of society and family members.

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2. Top Ten Tuesday: Winners I Haven't Read

Being the second day in the month, that means it's time for another question from Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

Today's question is: Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I Haven't/Want To Read From X Genre

Well, seeing as my "to be read" pile is thousands of books long, and I will probably never ever finish them all before I die, I wasn't sure how I wanted to spin this one at first.  But then I remembered the ALA awards for children's an YA lit came out this week (the Printz, Morris, Newbery, Caldecott, etc.).  So in honor of that, I decided to look up past winners/honorable mentions from the past few years and list the top ten books I can't believe I haven't read yet from those awards.  These are books that I have intended to read before knowing they won awards, not because they were winners. 

So here they are in no particular order:

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (Newbery Honor, 2006) - With as much as I absolutely love Shannon Hale, I have no idea why I haven't picked this one up yet.  I know pretty much I would love it, and I even own Book 2 as well, but I have never read either of them yet.

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (Printz Honor, 2004) - I've read one other book by Jennifer Donnelly and didn't really like it at all, which is why it's slightly surprising that the premise of this one has always appealed to me so much.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Morris Finalist, 2010) - Lots of hype about these books.  Still have never picked them up, even though they do sound interesting to me.

A Curse Dark As Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Morris Winner, 2009) - This one is a fairy tale retelling I've had on my to-read list for ages.  I blame my ever expanding bookshelves for hiding it away from me in the back as the reason I've never read it.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Morris Finalist, 2012) - This book interested me from the very moment that I heard about it.  I think I haven't picked it up yet because I haven't gotten my hands on the third one yet, and I have this weird thing about not starting a series until I have several of the books in case there are cliffhangers.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson (Newbery Honor, 2007) - I've gone back and forth on this book for many years now.  I keep checking it out from the library and never actually getting around to reading it before I have to return it.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Morris Winner, 2013) - Another book I've wanted to read since before it came out and I read what it was about.  Usually the books I like never get shortlisted for awards, so I was surprised that it won both this and the Cybils award in 2013 for its category. 

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross (Morris Finalist, 2014) - One of the only books from this year's awards that I feel a need to read right away. 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Newbery Winner, 2009) - This is the one book I'm a bit torn about on this list, because I have actually read a bit of it for when I was on the Fantasy/Sc-Fi committee for the Cybils in 2009.  I actually didn't like it that much, but it's gotten so much hype I figured maybe I need to give it a second chance.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Morris Finalist, 2009) - This one I'm not entirely sure if it belongs on this list either.  Mostly because I have read about 1/3 of it right before Christmas, and I LOVED it, I just haven't had the time to finish it yet (and I have temporarily lost my copy...).  But since I haven't read it in its entirety yet, I figured it deserved a place on the list. 

With the list being done, I think there is one interesting trend that popped up while I was going through these books.  I really haven't read most of the winners, and I'm not planning on reading a lot of them.  That's because I find that most of the time the bestseller, popular, and "literary" books that win awards don't really appeal to me.  Some exceptions come to mind (I found Harry Potter worth the hype, for instance) but these are the titles that really stood out to me because I was interested in many of these books before knowing they were on the lists. 

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3. Fifteen Diverse Authors You Should Resolve to Read in 2015

A new year means a new chance to get to all the things you didn’t get to last year. And by “things,” what we really mean is BOOKS. We also know that reading diversely doesn’t happen by accident; it takes a concerted effort to read a wide range of books.

So, we thought we’d help on both counts by offering up a list of the diverse authors we’re resolving to read in 2015. Some are new, and some have just been on our list for years. This is the year we plan to get to them – perhaps this will be your year, too?

1. Valynne E. Maetani, Ink and Ashes

INK AND ASHES coverInk and Ashes is Tu Books’ first New Visions Award winner! This debut novel follows a Japanese American teen named Claire Takata. After finding a letter from her deceased father, she opens a door to the past that she should have left closed.

2. Joseph Bruchac, Killer of Enemies and Rose Eagle 

The award-winning Killer of Enemies follows seventeen-year-old Apache monster hunter Lozen in a post-apocalyptic world.

The prequel, Rose Eagle, follows seventeen-year-old Rose of the Lakota tribe.  After her aunt has a vision, Rose goes on a quest to the Black Hills and finds healing for her people.

3. Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming

Everyone’s talking about Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir in verse about her childhood in the American South and in Brooklyn that recently won the 2014 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. But have you read it yet?

Her other novels include Miracle’s Boys and If You Come Softly.

4. Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

 Junot Diaz’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel follows Oscar, an overweight, ghetto Dominican American nerd as he dreams of becoming the next J.R.R. Tolkein. This book is filled with Dominican history, magical realism, science-fiction and comic book references.

5. I.W. Gregorio, None of the Above 

In this debut novel, Kristen, has a seemingly ideal life. She’s just been voted homecoming queen and is a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college. Everything unravels when Kristen and her boyfriend decide to take it to the next level, and Kristen finds out she’s intersex. Somehow her secret is leaked to the whole school.

6. Edwidge Danticat, The Farming of Bones

This novel covers the Parsley Massacre of 1937 in Dominican Republic. Anabelle Desir and her lover Sebastien, decide they will get married at the end of the cane season and return to Haiti. When the Generalissimo Trujillo calls for an ethnic cleansing of the country’s Haitians, Anabelle and Sebastien struggle to survive.

 7. Eric Gansworth, If I Ever Get Out of Here

Lewis “Shoe” Blake, a boy growing in the Tuscarora Indian Reservation in upsate New York in 1975, isn’t used to white people like George Haddonfield being nice to him. Lewis is also the target of the bully Eddie Reininger. Will George still be Lewis’s friend when he finds out the truth of how Lewis actually lives?

8. Alex Sanchez, Rainbow Boys

Alex Sanchez’s debut novel follows three boys, Jason Carrillo, Kyle Meeks, and Nelson Glassman, as they struggle with their sexualities and their friendships.

9. Natsuo Kirino, Out

Masako Katori lives with her dead-beat husband in the suburbs of Tokyo, where she makes boxed lunches in a factory. After violently strangling her husband, she uses the help of coworkers to cover her crime.

10. Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Summer of the Mariposas and Under the Mesquite

Summer of the Mariposas is a retelling of the Odyssey set in Mexico. When Odilia and her sisters find the body of a dead man in the Rio Grande, they decide to take his body back to Mexico.

In Under the Mesquite Lupita is an aspiring actress and poet, and the oldest of 8 siblings. When Lupita’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, Lupita struggles to keep her family together.

11. Naoko Uehashi, Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, which is set in a fantasy Asian-inspired world, inspired an anime of the same name. Balsa is a body guard who is hired by  Prince Chagum’s mother to protect him from his father, the emperor, who wants him dead. A strange spirit possesses Prince Chagum that may be a threat to the kingdom.

12. Nnendi Okorafor, Akata Witch

American-born Sunny is an albino girl living in Nigeria. Although she doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere, Sunny discovers her latent magical abilities and joins 3 other students to learn how to control her powers. Sunny and her friends have to capture a career criminal who uses magic as well.

13. Zadie Smith, White Teeth

White Teeth focuses on the intertwining stories of two wartime buddies living in London with their families, and addresses topics such as assimilation and immigration in the U.K.’s cultural hub.

14. Aisha Saeed, Written in the Stars

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents say that they will let her wear her hair how she wants, choose what she will study and be when she grows up, but they will choose her husband. When Naila breaks this rule by falling in love with a boy named Saif, her parents take her to Pakistan to reconnect her with her roots. But Naila’s parents’ plans have changed, and they’ve arranged a marriage for her.

15. Alex Gino, George

Everyone thinks George is a boy, but George knows that she’s a girl. After her teacher announces that the class play is Charlotte’s Web, George hatches a plan with her best Kelly, so that everyone can know who she is once and for all.

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4. Top Ten Tuesday: Book Clubs

Hello blog readers!

I know I’ve been a bit absent lately. Still struggling to find internet access. But my goal is to work myself towards more active participation over here. Thanks to all of you who’ve stuck through these ups and downs with me over the last few months. And welcome to any new readers too. :)

Anyway, moving on to today’s post. In addition to getting back to regular posts, I just discovered this way cool weekly event called Top Ten Tuesdays hosted over at The Broke and Bookish. They post a book related question each Tuesday, and participants have the chance to come up with a list of 10 books that answer that question.

Sounds like fun. So although I don’t know how often I’ll participate, I thought it would be fun to do so today anyway. Today’s question is: Ten Books I'd Love to Read With My Book Club/If I Had A Book Club.

Interesting question for me, since for the first time ever in my life, I actually am a member of a book club. I found out in November that a group of ladies from my church do participate in a monthly book club and they invited me to join. Of course, that being said, most of the books we’ve read so far totally aren’t my thing. But since we take turns choosing books, this is actually something that I’ve thought about (for when my turn comes around).

When choosing a book for book club, I think it’s better to choose something that you’ve already read, since that way there’s no surprises content-wise that you can’t warn people about before they start the book. As a result, I’ve approached this question narrowing it down to books I’ve already read.

So here’s 10 books I’d like to read with my book club (in no particular order):

Austenland: A Novel by Shannon Hale - Normally I don’t like adult contemporary romance, but I picked this one up because it’s Shannon Hale and Jane Austen mixed together, what could go wrong? And I loved it. This is a book that everyone who I’ve ever passed it onto has liked. And the movie isn’t bad either, even though it doesn’t follow the book exactly.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer - Okay, I know full well I’m going to catch flack for this one because Stephenie Meyer has kind of become a cliché name due to the Twilight books. And yes, I enjoyed the Twilight books. Never a big fan of them, but they were fun to read the one time. However, I really liked her book The Host (her adult book) a lot more. But most of the people I talk to won’t give it a try because of how they feel about Twilight etc. So I wish more people would try this one so I could discuss it with them.

We Bought a Zoo - Also a cute movie. Although the movie is pretty much nothing like the book. The actual book is a non-fiction memoir about the opening of Dartmouth Zoological Park in England. It’s a little slow to start because there is a lot of background information to slog through before you get to the specific anecdotes about owning/refurbishing a zoo, which is why those I’ve shared it with have had a hard time with it in the past. But I love re-reading this one, because the stories are quite funny if you can get through the background information, and it’s wonderful to think that they all actually happened to someone somewhere. Definitely an escape book for me.

Agatha H. and the Airship City by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio - This one is a little weird, because I actually read the graphic novel version of it first. But knowing it might be hard to entice people to read graphic novels if they’re not used to it, there’s also a book version which pretty much follows the comic word for word. If you like steampunk, this is a great series for you. And a good introduction to the idea of steampunk if you’re not familiar with it already. I love the characters and the mystery of the whole plot of this series.

So here’s where I get into trouble. My book club is made up of adults, and although we have read one YA book since I’ve joined (Graceling by Kristin Cashore, which was excellent, by the way, and I don’t know why it took me so long to read it) but most of the books I read are YA ones. So the above four are my “adult” choices. But if I could, I would share these YA/Kid titles with my book club too.

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede - This one lands firmly in the “kid” category, but it has been one of my favorite books since childhood. Who wouldn’t want to share one of their favorites with others? No brainier for this list.

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde - Fforde normal writes adult novels, so although this book is marketed as YA (probably because the main character is 16) I think it’s very translatable to adult readers. I love the inventiveness of the world created in this one, as well as the spunky main character, and I enjoyed the sequel a lot too. Hopefully I will be able to get my hands on the third one soon.

A World Without Heroes (Beyonders) by Brandon Mull - I love pretty much everything Brandon Mull does, but I think the Beyonders series grapples with more larger and complex issues than his Candy Shop War and Fablehaven series do. I’ve always been disappointed that this one is billed as middle grade level, as I really think it would appeal more to YA readers because of its complexity, and I think most teens won’t give it a chance because it’s usually shelved in the kids section. I think this one could spark lots of great discussion with a book club.

Heist Society by Ally Carter - Again, I love pretty much everything Ally Carter does, but Heist Society has a special place in my heart among her books. I don’t know why this particular one resonated with me so much, but it is another one of those books that everyone I recommend it to loves. I even got my brother to read it (and its two sequels) and he doesn’t read “girl books”. So that’s a success story right there.

A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck - I think this one is considered a “modern children’s classic”. I picked it up because it was required reading for my YA lit class in college. Even though it’s a relatively short children’s book, the merit of this one is definitely high. It’s a great collection of connected short stories about growing up during the years of the Great Depression. Seriously, if you haven’t read this one yet, you should.

Holes by Louis Sachar - If you haven’t read Holes yet, you need to. End of story. Yes, it’s a kid’s book, but it’s great anyway. Like Harry Potter. I’m serious, go read if you haven’t. Now.

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5. Our Favorite Books for December

Our five favorite books for the month of December feature caterpillars, pigs (both large and guinea), and several incredible heroines. All make perfect holiday gifts and can be found on the First Book Marketplace.

PreK-1st (Ages 2-6)

VHC_bilingualThe Very Hungry Caterpillar / La oruga muy hambrienta written and illustrated by Eric Carle

One of the most popular books on the First Book Marketplace is back after a brief hibernation in its cocoon. Eric Carle’s unique illustrations are as charming as they were 40 years ago, but now even more students can count along as our hungry friend eats its way through fruit, junk food, and leaves in this Spanish-English bilingual board book. No matter how many times your students flip through each page, they will stay hungry for more (with minimal risk of stomachaches).

Grades 1-3 (Ages 6-9)

Mercy_WatsonMercy Watson to the Rescue written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

As it turns out, the floorboards in the Watson household are not strong enough to support a grown man, a grown woman, and a hefty pig named Mercy all sleeping in the same bed. With a BOOM and a CRACK, all three Watsons wake up to find the bed teetering over a hole, but it’s Mercy to the Rescue! Or is it? Actually, no. Mercy has snuffled her way over to their elderly neighbors, the Lincoln Sisters, in search of sugar cookies. Luckily, Mercy’s actions still might get somebody to call the Fire Department for help. With delightful illustrations and loveable characters, this Advanced Reader is sure to make any student feel all “warm and buttery-toasty inside” as they cheer along this porcine-wonder.

Grades 2-4 (Ages 8-10)

Hamster_CheeseHamster and Cheese (Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye Series #1) written by Colleen AF Venable and illustrated by Stephanie Yue

Zounds! Somebody has been stealing Mr. Venezi’s sandwiches from the counter of his pet shop. He suspects the hamsters are the culprits and threatens to send them all away if his sandwich is stolen again, prompting the exceptionally excitable Hamisher the hamster to enlist the help of Detective Sasspants, Guinea P.I.(g). But how is this reluctant pet shop Private Eye supposed to solve a mystery when the hamsters sleep through the crime, the fish are too distracted by their reflections, and Gerry, the most suspicious slithery suspect, won’t cooperate? Jump into this hilarious graphic novel to find out and test your own detective skills along the way.

Grades 5-6 (Ages 10-12)

Mighty_Miss_MaloneThe Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

In 1936, the town of Gary, Indiana, was held fast in the grip of the Great Depression, homelessness, and the ever-present scourge of racism – however, it was also home to a loving family of four uniquely talented people. Readers are given a window into this world through the eyes of the earnest, book-brilliant, and fiercely loyal protagonist Deza, the youngest member of the Malone family. With a father in search of a job and a brother in pursuit of his dream, Deza soon finds her tight-knit family torn apart. She will need every ounce of her unflappable optimism to hold her loved ones together, so they can continue, undaunted, on their journey to that place they call Wonderful.

Grades 7+ (Ages 13+)

Code_Name_VerityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity is the ultimate story of friendship and sacrifice, following the stories told by two heroines caught behind enemy lines in Nazi occupied France. Feverishly gripping and expertly plotted, this award-winning novel will make you gasp, cry, and want to go find your best friend and hug him or her right away. Whether told under the influence of horrendous torture or guiltily crammed in the lines of a pilot’s note book, you won’t be able to stop reading these confessions until you reach the stunning conclusion.

The post Our Favorite Books for December appeared first on First Book Blog.

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6. Five Family Favorites with Kat Beyer, Author of The Halcyon Bird

Kat Beyer has an M.A. in medieval history and has loved all things Italian for as long as she can remember. Her first novel was The Demon Catchers of Milan.

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7. Native American Heritage Month: 10 Children’s Books By Native Writers

November is Native American Heritage Month! Native American Heritage Month evolved from the efforts of various individuals at the turn of the 20th century who tried to get a day of recognition for Native Americans. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush approved a resolution that appointed November as Native American Heritage Month. You can learn more about Native American Heritage Month here.

For many years, Native people were silenced and their stories were set aside, hidden, or drowned out. That’s why it’s especially important to read stories about Native characters, told in Native voices. Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with these great books by Native writers:


Quiet Hero by S.D. Nelson – Ira Hayes grew up on the Gila River Indian Reservation in Arizona. When he was in his late teens, World War II raged, and Ira Hayes joined the Marine corps. Eventually they were sent to the tiny Japanese island of Iwo Jima, where a chance event and an extraordinary photograph catapulted Ira to national awareness and transformed his life forever. 

Crazy Horse’s Vision by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by S.D. Nelson – Crazy Horse, whose childhood nickname was “Curly,” defies traditional custom and risks his own life by running away, up to the hills, to seek a vision.

Jim Thorpe’s Bright Path by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by S.D. Nelson –  While Jim Thorpe struggled at school, he excelled at sports. He later went on to win several Olympic medals.


Home to Medicine Mountain by Chiori Santiago, illustrated by Judith Lowry – Two Native American brothers are sent to a strict, government-run boarding school. There, they are forced to speak English and to unlearn their Native American ways. Inspired by their dreams of home and the memories of their grandmother’s stories, the boys embark on an adventurous journey from the harsh residential school to their home in Susanville, California.

Sky Dancers by Connie Ann Kirk, illustrated by Christy Hale – John Cloud’s father is in New York City, far away from their Mohawk Reservation, building sky scrapers. One day, Mama takes John to New York City and he sees his Papa high on a beam, building the Empire State Building.

Kiki’s Journey by Kristy Orona-Ramirez, illustrated by Jonathan Warm Day –  Kiki is a city girl that calls Los Angeles her home. Her family left the Taos Pueblo reservation when she was a baby, so it doesn’t feel like home. How will it feel to revisit the reservation?


Stories for Teens

Rattlesnake Mesa by EdNah New Rider Weber, photographs by Richela Renkun – When EdNah’s beloved grandmother dies, she is sent to live on a Navajo reservation with a father she barely knows. Once EdNah finds herself getting used to her new life, she is sent to a strict government-run Indian boarding school.

Wolf Mark by Joseph Bruchac – When Luke King’s father, a black ops infiltrator, goes missing, Luke realizes his life will never be the same again. Luke sets out to search for his father, all the while trying to avoid the attention of the school’s mysterious elite clique of Russian hipsters, who seem much too interested in his own personal secret

Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac – In a future where technology has failed, Lozen has been gifted with a unique set of abilities magic and survival skills that she uses to hunt monsters for the people who kidnapped her family. As the legendary Killer of Enemies was in the ancient days of the Apache people, Lozen is meant to be a more than a hunter. Lozen is meant to be a hero.

Rose Eagle by Joseph Bruchac – Several years before Killer of Enemies, the Lakota are forced to mine ore for the Ones, their overlords. Rose Eagle’s aunt has a vision of Rose as a healer. She sends Rose on a quest to find healing for their people.


What other books by Native American authors and illustrators do you recommend?



Filed under: Book Lists by Topic, Diversity 102, Diversity, Race, and Representation, Lee & Low Likes, Race Tagged: book list, booklist, Crazy Horse, diversity, Ira Hayes, Jim Thorpe, Joseph Bruchac, Lee & Low Books, Native American, native american heritage month, Tu Books

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8. 2014 Inky Awards longlist

Ladies and Gents, the Centre for Youth Literature interrupts your regular programming to bring you the 2014 Inky Awards longlist, fresh from the Somerset Celebration of Literature in Queensland!

Drum roll, please…


Gold Inky Award longlist (Australian books):

Zac and Mia by AJ Betts
All This Could End by Steph Bowe
Steal My Sunshine by Emily Gale
The Whole of My World by Nicole Hayes
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
The First Third by Will Kostakis
Every Breath by Ellie Marney
Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near
Run by Tim Sinclair
The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn

Award Stickers

Silver Inky Award longlist (international books):

All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry
Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
When We Wake by Karen Healey
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
ACID by Emma Pass
Man Mad Boy by Jon Skovron
Winger by Andrew Smith
Wild Awake by Hilary T Smith
Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud


This year is a transition period for the awards, as it moves from a financial to calendar year for eligibility titles.  As such, last year’s longlisted titles were discounted from proceedings.

Please see our 2014 longlist on insideadog.com.au for more details about the books.  Applications will open from 20th March to be one of our six teen judges – you have until 14th of April to get your submission in.

A reminder that the shortlist will be announced at the Melbourne Writers Festival in August, at which time voting will open. The winners will be announced at an Inky Awards Ceremony on 21st of October at the State Library of Victoria. Please sign up for our enewsletter to be advised when bookings are open.


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9. 11 Books for Back To School 4-8 yrs

Mo Willems Elephant and Piggie I broke my trunk back to school books for 4-8 year oldsElephant and Piggie: I Broke My Trunk – Mo Willems

Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In I Broke My Trunk! Gerald tells Piggie the long, crazy story about breaking his trunk. Will Piggie end up with a long, crazy story of her own?  Another hilarious escapade starring the Geisel Award-winning duo & vetted by an early-learning specialist

Yokos paper cranes rosemary wells back to school books 4-8 year oldsYoko’s Paper Cranes – Rosemary Wells

Ever since Yoko moved with her Mama from Japan, she misses her Obaasan and Ojiisan (her grandma and grandpa) very much. She especially misses doing origami with them. Luckily, Yoko knows just what to do for Obaasan’s birthday. Yoko’s Paper Cranes is a story about making paper cranes and letting them fly with your heart to those you love, even if they are thousands of miles away.

Un Alce veinte ratones clare beaton back to school books 4-8 year oldsUn Alce, Veinte Ratones – Clare Beaton

Count the animals from one to twenty while searching for the cat in this lively hide-and-seek selection that introduces animals like frogs, whales, monkeys, ducks, hens and elephants. (Spanish language edition)


Healthy Kids Maya Ajmera back to school books for 4-8 year olds

Healthy Kids – Maya Ajmera

Photographs showcase the many ways kids around the world can be healthy.

Officer buckle and Gloria Peggy Rathmann back to school books for 4-8 yearsOfficer Buckle and Gloria – Peggy Rathmann

Officer Buckle knows more about safety than anyone else in Napville, but his dull presentations put his audiences to sleep. Enter Gloria, Napville’s new police dog. Gloria knows just how to liven up the safety speeches – as long as Officer Buckle’s back is turned! Full color.


Daniel's Mystery Egg Alma Flor Ada back to school books 4-8yrsDaniel’s Mystery Egg (Bilingual) – Alma Flor Ada

Daniel encuentra en huevo. ¿Qué animal saldrá de aquí?

Daniel finds an egg. What kind of animal will it hatch?


Magic Tree House 42 Good Night For Ghosts Mary Pope Osborne back to school books 4-8yrsMagic Tree House #42: Good Night For Ghosts – Mary Pope Osborne

Jack and Annie are on their second mission to find—and inspire—artists to bring happiness to millions. After traveling to New Orleans, Jack and Annie come head to head with some real ghosts, as well as discover the world of jazz when they meet a young Louis Armstrong!


The Duckling Gets a Cooke!? Mo Willems back to school books 4-8yrs

The Duckling Gets a Cookie? – Mo Willems

The Duckling asks for a cookie – and gets one! Do you think the Pigeon is happy about that?



The very hungry caterpillar eric carle books for back to school 4-8yrsVery Hungry Caterpillar (Bilingual) – Eric Carle

Eric Carle’s classic story is now available as First Book’s newest BILINGUAL First Book Marketplace Special Edition.This bilingual edition is available exclusively through the First Book Marketplace!


Piggie Pie! Margie Palatini and Howard Fine back to school books 4-8yrs

Piggie Pie! – Margie Palatini and Howard Fine

Gritch the Witch wants piggies for dinner, but when she shows up at Old MacDonald’s farm, the pigs go undercover.



Drummer Hoff (Stories to Go!) Barbara Emberley books for back to school 4-8rs

Drummer Hoff (Stories to Go!) – Barbara Emberley

DRUMMER HOFF is a lively folk verse all about the building of a cannon. Brightly dressed in full uniform, each soldier brings a part for the remarkable machine. Corporal Farrell brings the barrel, Sergeant Chowder brings the powder, General Border gives the order-but it’s Drummer Hoff who finally fires it off and explodes the whole rhyme.

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10. Book List: Publishers’ Showcase

On Tuesday evening YA enthusiasts crowded into the State Library of Victoria to find out what titles Australian publishers are celebrating from 2012, and looking forward to in 2013…

Bloomsbury Australia

H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden (June 2012)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas (August 2012)
Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black (February 2013)
Hidden by Marianne Curley* (March 2013)


Ford Street Publishing

Riggs Crossing by Michelle Heeter* (September 2012)
Greylands by Isobelle Carmody* (October 2012)
Gamers’ Rebellion by George Ivanoff* (July 2013)
Far From Gallipoli by Pamela Rushby* (October 2013)



A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty* (October 2012)
Girl Defective by Simmone Howell* (March 2013)
Wildlife by Fiona Wood* (June 2013)
The Howling Boy by Cath Crowley* (September 2013)


Allen & Unwin

Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle* (September 2012)
Into That Forest by Louis Nowra* (September 2012)
When We Wake by Karen Healey (February 2013)
Interchange by Margaret Wild* (2013)



The Horses Didn’t Come Home by Pamela Rushby* (March 2012)
Pennies for Hitler by Jackie French* (June 2012)
Refuge by Jackie French* (August 2013)
The Big Dry by Tony Davis* (September 2013)


Walker Books

Love Notes from Vinegar House by Karen Tayleur* (May 2012)
Black Spring by Alison Croggon* (October 2012)
Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis (March 2013)
Stagefright by Carole Wilkinson* (March 2013)



Ned Kelly’s Secret by Sophie Masson* (July 2012)
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (October 2012)
Joyous & Moonbeam by Richard Yaxley*(September 2013)
Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce (October 2013)



The Farm by Emily McKay (November 2012)
Things A Map Won’t Show You edited by Susan La Marca & Pam Macintyre* (February 2012)
The First Third by William Kostakis* (May 2013)
Run by Tim Sinclair (April 2013)


Hardie Grant Egmont

This Is Not A Drill by Bec McDowell (November 2012)
All The Wrong Questions by Lemony Snicket (October 2012)
Life In Outer Space by Melissa Keil* (February 2013)
The Phoenix Files: Doomsday by Chris Morphew* (June 2013)


Text Publishing

Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield* (September 2012)
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead (September 2012)
Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman* (February 2013)
Julius and the Watchmaker by Tim Hehir* (May 2013)


Random House

The Shadow Girl by John Larkin*(2012)
Brave Heart by Brett & Hayley Kirk* (August 2012)
Steal My Sunshine by Emily Gale* (May 2013)
The Whole of My World by Nicole Hayes* (June 2013)


Which 2012 titles have you already read? And which 2013 titles have piqued your curiosity? Personally, I’m having trouble deciding between Stephan Pastis’ (aka the genius behind Pearls Before Swine) Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, Tim Sinclair’s Run, and new books from Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell, Fiona Wood, and Tamora Pierce. Bring on 2013!


* denotes an Australian author.

Note: The publishers listed were those that accepted our invitation.  They were asked to only present on four books – two from 2012, two to be launched in 2013.

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11. Book List: Cameos

While Adele was regaling us with stories from her American visit, I was intrigued by one of the talks she went to titled ‘Literary Friendships’. I was struck anew by the regard authors hold for other authors. The following is a list of books that are interconnected in different ways.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Just Listen by Sarah Dessen and Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Speak is one of those novels that really sticks with the reader – and authors are readers too. Some Girls Are pays homage to Speak, and the scene where Miranda is sexually assaulted, by mirroring it in the first scene of the book. That scene is used as the spark for the rest of the plot. Just Listen has a similar sexual assault scene at a party. Much more muted than Speak and Some Girls Are, it still manages to retain Speak’s message and tone.


I think it speaks to how moving and essential Speak (especially that scene) is. It’s been brought back to life in all of these literary variations. I’m so glad the message is still being talked about and that each of the above titles offers a slightly different tone and reaction by the characters. It’s also interesting to see the many variations of the social fallout from such an attack. In Some Girls Are the sexual assault against the main character is used as a platform to begin an extreme and escalating bullying campaign.



Tithe Series by Holly Black and The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare

These two literary friends cheekily wrote in scenes containing characters from the others’ work. The band Clary listens to ‘Stepping Razor’ appears in Tithe as a secondary character’s (Ellen) band. Clary and Jace also meet the Unseelie Queen, while Kaylee in Tithe catches glimpses of Jace and Clary throughout the series.



Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen often has previous main characters make cameos in her later books, due to her setting. Dessen has her stories centered in the fictional town of Lakeview, and her characters will often vacation in Colby. They aren’t always known to our main protagonist of the moment, so sometimes it’s just a description or the way the character thinks and you are left with an ‘I know that voice’ feeling.


Melina Marchetta

Melina tricks me every time.  Don’t get me wrong, I knew The Piper’s Son was a companion to Saving Francesca, but did you know that Ben (the violinist) from Jellicoe features in Piper’s? (He is Justine’s crush). One of the mullet brothers ends up dating the kitchen hand who Tom works with at the pub.  Jonah’s little brother, Danny (Jellicoe), is the protagonist of The Gorgon In The Gully.

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12. Book List: Banned Books Week

With a tagline like ‘celebrating the freedom to read’ is it no wonder bannedbooksweek.org is a favourite?

For thirty years banned book week been reporting on book censorship in America.

Hundreds of books have been either removed or challenged in schools and libraries in the United States every year. According to the American Library Association (ALA), there were at least 326 in 2011.  ALA estimates that 70 to 80 percent are never reported.

In 2011, the 10 most challenged books were:

ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

ttyl is a constant stream of IM chat, email and texts between three friends ‘SnowAngel’, ‘zoegirl’ and ‘madmaddie’. It’s a little of a shock to read as the language is expressed in a short hand that seems impossible, yet is a reflection of how teens are interacting online, and the topics discussed break the barriers of ‘polite’ conversation.

The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

A graphic novel that explores a daughter’s relationship with her mother, and the social ramifications of being a ‘single’ mother in Korea. The minimal nudity and implied sexual acts pales in comparison to the lyric-like qualities in the writing and the strength of the mother-daughter relationship.

The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence

A very popular series that has encouraged many ‘non-readers’ to open up it’s pages and delve into a world of action, adventure and romance. I find it interesting that in it’s ‘book’ format, The Hunger Games finds itself on the 10 most challenged book lists. In ‘movie’ format, it finds itself the number one box hit of 2012. This implies to me that there are two standards when a story is told. When in a movie format, the level of ‘violence’ is more readily accepted then in a book format.

My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

A children’s picture book that describes the experiences of Elizabeth, a soon to be older sibling as her mother goes through pregnancy. There is language about the human body, reproduction and child development. Some of the language, such as sperm, has caused parents to ask for the book to be banned from their libraries.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

Alexie chose to respond in the Wall Street Journal, in 2011, about the push to ban his book due to it’s content.

“I have yet to receive a letter from a child somehow debilitated by the domestic violence, drug abuse, racism, poverty, sexuality, and murder contained in my book. To the contrary, kids as young as ten have sent me autobiographical letters written in crayon, complete with drawings inspired by my book, that are just as dark, terrifying, and redemptive as anything I’ve ever read.”

With books that deal with such strong issues it can be quite confronting and distressing for some. When that is balanced against the children it has managed to reach because they know the same type of pain or humiliation or depression and find solace in knowing that they are not alone, then you need to make that book accessible to them.

Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint

A twenty-four strong series that explores the world through the eyes of Alice, who is on the cusp of becoming a teenager. There are cringe worthy moments of embarrassment, new friends, new love interests and a role model or two.

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit

When a book is 81 years old and still in-print, I find it shocking that people would still wish to ban it. It’s not longer just a work or fiction, but part of the history of fiction.

What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit

Another of those lighter books that explores being a teenage girl and all that entails. I’m extremely disappointed (although not surprised) that nearly all the books on this list involve women protagonists. It feels like we’re continuing a 1950′s women belong in the kitchen mentality. I have to question why women aren’t allowed to explore their sexuality and men are.

Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit

Another book that has made itself onto the (not as) big screen. As a weekly television show for CW it sees millions of viewers. As a book it sees itself in the number 9 position for most banned books in 2011. Too rich teenagers, drugs, drinking and sexual encounters. It looks at it all.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Reasons: offensive language; racism

New rule; if a book has been in-print for 52 years, it also shouldn’t find itself on the most challenged book list. When complaints are made that To Kill a Mockingbird should be censored because of ‘racism’ I’m unnerved by the lack of comprehension of social commentary and injustice. When a book chooses to hold a mirror up to the law to demonstrate the social inequity that was part of American history… well I’m on board with that book.


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13. Book list: Fame

Despite my fervant love of the movie, today’s book list looks at young adult novels that pick apart the lives of the rich, famous or just plain popular.

Audrey,  Wait 

Robin Benway

Audrey’s been mentioned several times in recent book lists.  It could sound shallow.  A girl breaks up with her self-involved boyfriend on the night of a gig, he pens a song about her and it becomes a hit.  A huge hit.  So big that it takes over Audrey’s life and paints her as the cold-hearted wretch that broke a poor musicians heart…never mind his flaws.  Most interesting of Benway’s work is that Audrey infamy is sketched out in the way it affects those around her in both negative and positive forms.  She’s a gal that chooses to stand strong in spite of the way people’s perceptions of her have been clouded by a pop hit.  A fun read with plenty of spark.


Hollywood Ending

Kathy Charles

Charles’ debuted on the Australian YA scene with this tale of a dead celebrity obsessed teen and the unlikely friendship she forms with a senior citizen.  Hollywood Ending (re-titled John Belushi is Dead in the US) is anything but predictable.  Hilda isn’t a character who has fame thrust upon her, instead she is an individual fascinated by the death of those in the pop culture spotlight.

I had never heard of ‘death hags’ before this tale and while the celebrity is explored it is much more.  Charles’  explores her characters, their connections to one another and the outside world with an unblinking gaze.  It’s a lovely character piece that peers beneath the gloss to the darkened underbelly of LA and its inhabitants both alive and dead.

Text Publishing

Catching Fire

Suzanne Collins

Stay with me….Collins explores what her protagonist’s success in the Hunger Games arena means for Katniss and all those who care for her.  The ramifications for her rebellion are seen everywhere; her relationships, the political arena and all those who stood in her place since the Games began.  In becoming ‘the girl on fire’, Katniss has become a much needed signpost for those suffering in Panem, and cause for fear in those satisfied with the status quo.  While many prefer the return to the Games setting with the Third Quarter Quell, the political machinations of the novel’s beginning are fascinating to behold.


Teen Idol

Meg Cabot

Teen heart throb, Luke, attends small town high school to learn about the “real teen experience”.  The irresponsibility of his time in high school is handed to Jenny, small towngirl and the anonymous contributor behind the school newspaper’s advice column.  Turns out Luke might have more to impart to Jenny than visa versa.  Like all Cabot novels, Teen Idol is full of spark, sass and sensational heart flutterings.  Luke’s presence sets Jenny’s world on edge but it’s what his friendship achieves that is way more interesting.



Cecil Castellucci

Katy’s not famous.  She’s just a bookworm who has been forced to spend her summer holiday in LA.  With her famous dad…who might be better described as infamous.  Known as ‘The Rat’ he was once  the drummer of the punk band, Suck, and has since sought rehabilitation after a drug addition.  Katy has nothing in common with The Rat.  She’s a good girl – but maybe that could change.  Castellucci is a master at creating real characters with flaws declared for the world to see.  She has a firm handle of humour, heart and finding the colour where there once was only beige.

Walker Books

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14. Book List: “Go back to where you came from”

Immigration, refugees, asylum seekers… it’s a hot topic, laden with emotion and misconceptions. SBS takes an innovative look at the issue with their series Go Back to Where You Came From, as well as having some great school resources available online. But what are the best YA reads that address this issue in a modern way?

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Really, does it get any more beautiful than Shaun Tan’s wordless, sepia sketched story of a man’s immigration from a country of darkness to a bewildering (but safe) new society? No. No it doesn’t.





No Safe Place by Deborah Ellis

Ellis is renowned for sharing the stories of those affected by war, from the fictionalised account of a teenager trying to live outside a refugee camps in the Middle East in Shauzia, to the non-fiction account of Iraqi child refugees in Children of War.

No Safe Place is a tale of adventure, following three teen asylum seekers trying to make it to the safety of England.

Allen & Unwin

Growing Up Asian in Australia edited by Alice Pung

A collection of stories that takes a first-hand look at the experience of migration and multiculturalism. Shaun Tan, Leanne Hall, and Oliver Phommevanh (see also: Thai-riffic) are among the many contributors.

Alice Pung has also shared her own family’s immigration story in the exquisitely written Unpolished Gem and Her Father’s Daughter.

Black Inc

The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta

Marchetta is well-known for the Italian-Australian character Josie Alibrandi - her transition from teen to adult, and the family secret her grandmother has kept hidden since her migrant days.

I’d really love to highlight Marchetta’s latest work, however. The Lumatere Chronicles explores the devastating situation of refugees in a fantasy (but all too real) world. This is not a place of wizards and elves, but a land of curses and displaced people. Placing this contemporary issue in a fantasy world only serves only to highlight the universality of these emotions and experiences. The final installment in the trilogy, Quintana of Charyn comes out next week (26 September), so now you can read them all at once.


Walk in My Shoes by Alwyn Evans

Gulnessa and her family are ‘boat people’. Fleeing war-torn Afghanistan they make the perrilous journey to Australia, only to be placed in a detention centre.





Watership Down by Richard Adams

The original but timeless refugee story – where anthropomorphised rabbits must find a new home after their warren is destroyed.

Simon & Schuster




Other titles to consider:

  • Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah looks at the contemporary life of a Muslim teen girl, primarily focussing on the broader theme of multiculturalism in Australia, but also touching on the immigrant experience.
  • Only The Heart by Brian Caswell and David Phu An Chiem – Toan and Linh flee post-war Saigon.
  • Boy Overboard and Girl Underground by Morris Gleitzman, for Middle Grade appropriate depictions of the journey of an asylum seeker, and life in a detention camp, respectively.

What are your recommendations?

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15. Book List: Music in YA

I think I was a little ambitious when I went with this list; there are too many to choose from! I’ll revisit the topic at a later date for part two.  For the moment, here is a small selection of books that use music in some way.

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Piper is a strong and fearless character with a voice that jumps out of the page at you. She also just happens to be deaf. It was one of those wonderful moments where I realised the author had pulled the wool over my reading eyes and I had no idea until Piper told me outright (page 5) that she’s deaf. In those two little words, ‘I’m deaf’, the author had me questioning the way I read characters – why is the assumption that they can always hear? or see?

If I Stay Series by Gayle Forman

A little different from the rest of our selection, If I Stay focus is that of classical music and the bond Mia feels with music and her instrument, all the while

Audrey Wait by Robin Benway

When Audrey breaks up with her musician boyfriend, he ends up writing a song about her that becomes an instant hit.  Suddenly Audrey is notorious and everyone has an opinion about her.  But do they want to know the real story behind the song?

Chasing Charlie Duskin by Cath Crowley

Interspersed throughout the book with song lyrics, Chasing Charlie Duskin follows Charlie – a shy and lonely character who begins to live with the help of music and friendship – and Rose – who appears to live life to the full, but is desperate to escape her small town. Crowley’s writing often comes at you with such raw intensity and so poetically, it feels like a song lyrics.

Love Struck Summer by Melissa Walker

Quinn is an indie rock music junkie on summer vacation – no where near the music internship she would have died to have gotten. Making the best of a music-less situation, she sets her sites on local DJ Sebastian, but then there’s Russ who has no idea about music, but is an all around nice Austin guy…and what’s a music indie rock chick to do? Love Struck is a romantic comedy with a musical twist.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

Two starry-eyed teenagers, on the cusp of adulthood, embark on a musical journey to find the fabled rock band Where’s Fluffy. On the way there is angst, New York City, love, friendship, more angst and lots of playlists.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

For Charlie, our protagonist, music moves him. It invites him to feel deeply about things around him. He spends his time paying it forward by making mix tapes for his friends. At one stage, he reminisces about when he was younger and stole the mixed types his sister’s boyfriend would give her. While music isn’t the main focus of Perks, it does show how Charlie is able to connect with his friends via his gifts of mixed tapes.

-Charlie’s mixtape 

Asleep by the Smiths
Vapour Trail by Ride
Scarborough Fair by Simon & Garfunkel
A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum
Dear Prudence by the Beatles
Gypsy by Suzanne Vega
Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues
Daydream by Smashing Pumpkins
Dusk by Genesis (before Phil Collins was even in the band!)
MLK by U2
Blackbird by the Beatles
Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
Asleep by the Smiths (again!)

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16. Book List: Read Any Good Books Lately?

This week was a bit of a hectic week for the CYL team; there was Inky and his shortlist announcement and there was MWF.

MWF was great fun for us all. We met some really great authors and had a lot of great panel conversations. Below is a recommended reading list from the panel ‘Read Any Good Books Lately’, with Adele Walsh, Lili Wilkinson and Melissa Traverso.

A Straight Line to my Heart by Bill Condon

A warm tale about Tiff and that in-between time of life where you’re no longer and teenager but not yet an adult. A fairly simple plot where the strength lies in it’s feelings and connections of family, friends and life.

Allen and Unwin

Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield

Vikki Wakefield has such a unique voice and writing style that her stories leave you slightly off kilter. Like you’ve missed a step and had to skip to catch up. Friday Brown finds herself in the seething underground of Australian slums; homeless, afraid and trapped by a curse.

Text Publishing 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

A very very laugh out loud funny story of Greg, his best friend Earl and Rachel (recently diagnosed with leukaemia). Greg is a jokester; funny, self-deprecating and honest. It would be easy to dismiss this book as just another ‘cancer’ book, but instead it takes on the role of showing the lighter side of a serious subject. There is no miracle save or life lesson. Sometimes death is just death.

Allen and Unwin

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Much like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is not just a ‘cancer’ book, John Green’s Fault in Our Stars takes a walk on the humorous side of death. There are tears of laughter and despair throughout Hazel and Augustus’ tale. It was a glimpse at the sweetest of every emotion, because there was always the thought that this might be the last.


Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Another cusp of life story featuring Ed and Lucy. The adventure they take over one night, the hardships and prejudices they must face, and the decisions they must make to keep their lives moving forward and their futures bright with possibility.

Pan Macmillan

Other titles discussed as must reads-

Only Ever Always by Penni Russon

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

The List by Siobhan Vivian

The Deep: Here be Dragons by Tom Taylor and James Brouwer



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17. Book Lists: Champions Read

To celebrate the end of book week I decided to take a leaf out of the CBCA’s shoes and go with their 2012 theme: Champions Read!

So here is a list of books with protagonists, or characters, who read.

Harry Potter Series by JK Rowlings

Hermoine is the unsung hero of all the Harry Potter books (personal opinion). Where does she get all her knowledge from? Books, books and more books.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

What made Matilda special was that books were given emotional currency. They were a lifeline, an imaginary escape, from her reality. Matilda found friends, adventure, acceptance and comfort in the world of books.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Jo March; head in a book, clouds in her eyes and a determination to stand up and be heard. Her book reading inspired stories and play time with her siblings. Books inspire Jo to dream of changing the world to make it a better place.

Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald

What’s fresh about this protagonist and her reading is that she rediscovers the joy of reading. Sadie’s life for the last two years has been about Garrett. What Garrett does. What he likes. What he reads. Her crush has caused her to lose herself and become a Garret puppet. So instead of reading Garrett Delaney sanctioned pretentious literature, Sadie is reading romance and sci-fi and having a dandy time of it.

Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

In-between falling in love with vampires, having werewolves fall in love with her and acing her history quiz, Bella always found a quite moment to sit in the sun and have a bit of a read with the classics. Say what you will about Twilight, but it made classics like Wuthering Heights in-vogue again.




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18. Book List: Best Friend Betrayal

The teen years are full of adventures that usually involve a friend that one might call ‘best’.  The friend who gets in trouble, becomes a close confidant and trusty sidekick all on one package.  Today’s book list looks at the best friend who turns to the dark side and does the unforgiveable ….dum….dum…..dahhhhhhh.

Some Girls Are

Courtney Summers

Regina is the henchwoman of the most powerful group of girls in school AND the best friend of quiet possibly one of the most evil girls in YA.  When Anna (evil best friend) believes  Regina’s made a move on her boyfriend, the world of Hallowell High dives into chaos as retribution is handed out.  Except Regina’s not going to take it laying down….


Just Listen

Sarah Dessen

When Annabel is found in a compromising position with her best friend’s boyfriend, Sophie excommunicates her from their group. (Yes, this sounds familiar to the previous title but emotionally they are two very distinct stories.)  Annabel retreats into herself and it is through her friendship with the rehabilitated Owen (anger issues)  that she starts finding her voice at school and at home.



The (Not Quite) Perfect Boyfriend

Lili Wilkinson

Spurred on by her best friend Tahni’s jibes that she’s without a love life, Midge creates a fictional boyfriend.  When the boyfriend she invented turns up at school, Midge’s untruth has the potential to unravel but Ben saves the day.  But he may not be as perfect as the boyfriend she created.

Allen and Unwin


Other titles to check out:

  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (Text)
  • Notes from a Teenage Underground by Simmone Howell (Macmillan)
  • Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard (HarperCollins)

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19. Book List: Spin-Off Series

One world.

New characters.

Twice the adventure.

Bloodlines Series by Richelle Mead.

A spin off from her YA Urban Fantasy series; Vampire Academy, the Bloodlines series follows the characters Sydney (from book 4 onwards of the Vampire Academy) and Adrian (the spurned love interest of Rose from Vampire Academy). Mead has created a new dynamic with her Bloodlines series; Sydney is a human Alchemist who has been indoctrinated to find vampires abhorrent. This POV lends a new vision and a different tone to her Vampire Academy series. The Golden Lily (book 2) was released this week.

Penguin Australia

Darkness Rising Series by Kelley Armstrong

In her Darkest Powers series we were introduced to the Edison Group, a sinister group of paranormals who experimented on their own to find ways to enhance their powers. The Gathering (book 1) introduces us to our new protagonist: Maya. This go round we get an intimate look into the werewolf persona, the usual secrecy, adventure and mystery, and a side of romance. For all your urban fantasy/ paranormal romance readers.


The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

Set five years after Saving Francesca, The Piper’s Son follows Thomas Mackee. Thomas is lost. Stuck between his teenage and adult life, he exists in the status quo. He’s lost his momentum forward. As with everything Marchetta writes this has a strong sense of family, teal life problems and incredible writing. Piper’s Son is for your older and mature readers (the protagonist is in his early 20s).

Penguin Australia

The Infernal Devices Series by Cassandra Clare

Technically a prequel, Infernal Devices is set a 150 years in the past. It’s the same Mortal Instruments world, with all your favourite creepy crawly creatures, but it has the added benefit of English accents and London architecture.

Walker Books

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20. Book List: The Best Animal Companions

This book list is dedicated to our hard working, adorable and friendly Inky of insideadog.com.au. He’s not just a 9 to 5 dog, he’s on the book hunt all day every day.

So here’s to Inky, the best friend a book lover can have.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.

Possibly the most vocal in our best animal companions, Manchee is ever adventurous and always excitable dog companion to Todd Hewitt (our protagonist). For those of who haven’t yet gotten around to the KoNLG, be warned: Manchee induced tears are probable. He’s such a joyous character you will instantly fall in love with him.

Walker Books

Wood Angel by Erin Bow.

Broken hearted and lonely after her father’s death Plain Kate agrees to give up her shadow to have her deepest wish realised. Her heart’s wish is to make the loneliness go away, so she is gifted with being able to understand her cat, Taggle. Taggle, in his own cat-like way, loves Plain Kate and knows that she’s in deep danger. He is the means by which she navigates as she journeys into the unknown.

Chicken House

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier.

Rather an unusual journey companion is Gogu, a telepathic frog, to our protagonist Jena. Wildwood dancing is the retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Frog Princess (with a little vampirism thrown in for fun!). As with anything Marillier touches it is steeped in history, lore and beautiful writing.

Pan Macmillan

Eragon by Christopher Paolini.

It doesn’t get any better than a pet dragon. There’s the flying and the fire breathing, and the emotional connection between Eragon and Saphira, as you journey in this fantasy world of Dragon Riders.

Random House

Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver.

Is the story of a young boy named Torak who is fo

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21. Book List: Secret Societies

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

Frankie’s new boyfriend is part of a secret society. A secret society that not only takes her boyfriend away from her, but is also behind the feminist times. It’s all male. Happily male. There’s prestige, social politics, pranks and intrigue. What is so compelling about Frankie is that she’s not perfect. She’s just as flawed as the characters around her, occasionally more so.

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Alex was date raped. Her school, Themis Academy, trust their students to, in essence, police themselves. When the student body turns a blind eye, Alex takes matters into her own hands. A secret society called The Mockingbirds are dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow classmates. What unfolds questions the ideas of justice, and right and wrong.

Hachette US

Secret History by Donna Tartt

Our protagonist, Richard, begins this tale by looking back to his college days and the murder in the woods that changed everything. He and his friends are snobs. Ancient Greece reading, cravat wearing, scotch drinking snobs. The circle of friends are integral to each other, and when the harmony is threatened by one of their own there isn’t anything they wouldn’t do to save it. Including murder.


An Ivy League Novel by Diana Peterfreund

Before Peterfreund was writing about murderous unicorns and virgin hunters, she was writing about deception and secret societies. Invited into Rose & Grave, Amy never expected the dazzling life she entered was based on deceit and crime. What was interesting about Secret Society Girl is that female members, like Amy, had only recently been allowed into the society. Before this it was a haven for men. The atagonism and dynamics with the now co-ed society is what makes this book stand out.

More in the list:

The Reluctant Hallelujah by Gabrielle Williams

The Billionaire Series by Richard Newsome

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

The Giver by Lois Lowry

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22. Book List: Sisters

The relationship between siblings is often removed to a tertiary plot point position in young adult literature.  If it is the main focus quite often one of the siblings is a) missing, 2) run away, or 3) dead.  In this book list I shall endeavour to give you a mix of the above with some exploration into less dramatic sister relationships.

Little Women by L.M. Alcott

You cannot talk about sisters and not mention the March family.

Four sisters as different from one another as girls can be with the familiar push/pull of familial relations.  Whether it be the closeness of Jo and Beth, or the antagonism between Jo and Amy – the reader knows these sisters are tight.


The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

This is a novel in which the older sister has just died but it is the consequential fall out that captures the imagination.  Lennie’s grief is intertwined with that of her sister’s boyfriend, her family as well as coping with the new guy in her life.  All is depicted with a beautiful emotion balance that is at time filtered through Lennie’s poetical writing.


The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June by Robin Benway

Upon their parent’s divorce sisters April, May and June recover their childhood powers.  The oldest sister is a worrier and has the power of precognition, the second feels invisible and can become so when she wills it and the youngest can read minds.  Benway’s witty and fluid dialogue allows the sister’s love and loathing for one another to play authentically.  Family upheaval, high school and the onset of magical powers make this a fun read.


Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

A challenging exploration of two sisters dealing with the need to assert independence whilst also competing for the attentions of others.  Lanagan has  created a complex world that allows the sisters to self actualise despite the challenges and threats of an uncertain world.  For sophisticated readers.

Allen and Unwin

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23. Book List: Heartbreak & Other Aches

Heartbreak is an experience we all go through.  It’s the universal heart crushing, tear inducing, stomach clenching ick fest that seems to dominate our teen existence.  Enjoy!

Getting Over Garrett Delaney

Abby MacDonald

Sadie is deeply in love with Garrett, her best friend.

He’s going away and she finally realises they are never going to be a couple.  Time for the twelve step detox program to get over him and find herself again.

McDonald has created a wealth of characters in this novel that I would like to adopt as my gang.  Strong, vibrant, diverse women who help Sadie move on and out into the world.  The dialogue is snappy and the detox involves Sadie wading into many of my favourite things in life (one of which is Veronica Mars).

Candlewick Press

Where She Went

Gayle Forman

Adam isn’t just heartbroken.  His heart was ripped out, shredded, set alight and then stomped on when Mia left.  It has been five years and he’s still angry, resentful and lost.

And then she’s back.  One night. New York City.  The lights, the music, the people.  A chance for Adam to get over Mia, to understand why and where she went.  A chance for a new start.

A great exploration of a ‘new adult’ character dealing with the rage of being left behind by the girl who meant everything.

Random House

Why We Broke Up

Daniel Handler

Mim and Ed are finished.  Over.  Dunzo.

In her last act of their history she is returning a box of items that act as signposts from their time together.  Accompanying the box is a letter in which she provides the origin of each item and how they contributed to the end of their relationship.

Bitterness, humour and everything in between are portrayed in Handler’s words and Kalman’s whimsical illustrations.

Hardie Grant Egmont

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

John Green & David Levithan

Two perspectives from two different Will Graysons, as written by two different authors.  It sounds chaotic enough to work and it does, exceedingly well.

If there’s ever a character to remember it is that of Ti

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24. Book List: Comics, An Introduction

Our booktalker event on Tuesday (31st of July) concentrated on engaging reluctant readers through the middle years.

One of the avenues discussed was comics. The following is a suggested list to get you started in comics. There are a host of different ages and genres to engage any reader.

Australia’s only full-time comic book writer, Tom Taylor’s recommendations:

Super Dinosaur by Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard

10+ is the perfect age group for this. Derek, our protagonist, and SD (super dinosaur), fight evil and save the world. You know how it is.

Image Comics

Buffy Comics by Joss Whedon

Follows a ’season 8′ storyline (season 7 was the last for the tv show). For all your students who love the Buffy tv series, it has the same sense of darkness with humour that Whedon is known for. Not to mention lots of fighting action scenes. Plus, who doesn’t love a strong female protagonist, ridding the world of evil?

Dark Horse Comics

X-Men by Joss Whedon

Much like the Buffy comics, Whedon’s X-Men series mixes dark issues, humour and action scenes to create a balanced reading experience.


I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly

A girl protagonist who escapes the reality of her life into a fantasy world filled with giants. Convinced she is meant to kill the giants and save the world, reality and fantasy begins to merge into something new. While the protagonist, Barbara, is in fifth grade, this would be more suitable to a slightly older audience, grade 6 up.

Joe Kelly is the creator of the Ben 10 series, should you need to ’sell’ it a bit to your student.

Image Comics

Locke and Key by Joe Hill

Joe Hill is the son of the son of horror giant Stephen King. So he does suspense, horror and terror really well. Definitely for your older students, 15+.

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman

A darkly gothic tale of Morpheus, the personification of Dreams. Captured and held prisoner for 70 years, Morpheus escapes. Left without his powers he goes on a quest to regain everything he lost during his years of imprisonment. There is violence, nudity and disturbing scenes, in The Sandman, so caution is

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25. Book List: Video Games

Technology changes our world and the way we live, so of course authors have long been taking great delight in speculating how else it might change us. This list focuses on one particular popular pastime – video games:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Three hidden keys open three secret gates…

In the dystopian world of 2044 the online world of OASIS is the ultimate escapism. Its creator has died leaving no heir – whoever finds and solves the riddles hidden within OASIS will inherit control of it (and a massive fortune to boot).

MMORPG meets 80s arcade games in this nerdalicious read.

Random House

Erebos by Ursula Poznanski

Are you playing the game – or is the game playing you?

Erebos is a highly addictive but eerily sinister computer game (MMORPG). You cannot buy it, you cannot talk about it, and you don’t get second chances. When Nick finally gets his hands on a copy, he’s so immersed that – like so many players before him – he doesn’t think twice when the game starts giving him tasks to do in the real world.

Caution: the book is as addictive as the game it’s named for.

Allen & Unwin

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

In China and India the skills of teenage game-players are exploited by adults and companies for real-world profits and gains. These people are so ruthless that the teens will need real-world cooperation as well as the biggest online hack ever, in order to escape and survive.

Doctorow uses MMORPG to explore complicated real-world economics and social issues such as (un)fair working conditions and unionism.


or free download from the author’s website

.hack manga series by Tatsuya Hamazaki

There are several series (and anime, and games) in the “dot-hack” franchise, all centering around a fictional online role-playing game (MMORPG) called The World.

.hack//Legend of the Twilight follows t

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