Friday, November 7, 2008

PW's Best Books of the Year - Children's Fiction

Below are Publishers Weekly's choices for best children's and YA fiction (annotations are theirs). For once I'm feeling on top of things - I may not have read them all, but the titles I haven't read are either physically or virtually on my to-read shelf. The full list of adult and children's titles is here.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (Simon & Schuster) - my review
A young slave in New York City offers readers a provocative view of the Revolutionary War, within the context of a fast-moving, emotionally involving story; an NBA finalist.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 2: The Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson (Candlewick)
With an eye trained to the hypocrisies and conflicted loyalties of the American Revolution, Anderson resoundingly concludes the finely nuanced bildungsroman begun in his National Book Award–winning novel.

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall (Knopf)
Even better than the National Book Award–winning original, this vivid sequel finds the four Penderwick sisters plotting to foil their aunt's matchmaking schemes for their widowed father.

Masterpiece by Elise Broach (Holt) - my review
With overtones of The Borrowers and Chasing Vermeer, this inventive mystery about a boy, a beetle and an art heist is packed with seductive themes: hidden lives and secret friendships, miniature worlds lost to disbelievers.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Harcourt)
An exquisitely drawn romance, political intrigue, a take-charge heroine and a magnificently imagined fantasy realm—this riveting debut offers something for almost everyone, adults as well as teens.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
In a dystopian fantasy that blends elements of classical mythology, a kill-or-be-killed competition and reality television, the author explodes a series of surprises, all the while challenging readers to consider how far her heroine can go while retaining her humanity.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor) - my review
Filled with sharp dialogue and detailed descriptions of how to counteract real-life surveillance, this techno-thriller imagines a teen arrested and held in a Guantanamo-like setting by an out-of-control Department of Homeland Security after a terrorist attack.

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd (David Fickling)
The discovery of a child's ancient corpse launches this multilayered novel about moral choices, set in Northern Ireland amid the Troubles in 1981.

Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos (Atheneum)
The smooth, jazzy flow of the narration—along with very funny writing—sweeps readers through a '60s-era story about a Cuban-American teenager in search of his identity.

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (Knopf) - my review
Dense, atmospheric prose holds readers to a cautious pace in an often dark fantasy that explores the savage and gentlest sides of human nature and how they coexist.

Savvy by Ingrid Law (Dial) - my review
A cinematic and vibrant debut novel introduces a family whose members are each endowed with a different supernatural gift, or “savvy,” on their 13th birthdays.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Hyperion) - my review
Big ideas—about class and privilege, feminism and romance, wordplay and thought—are an essential part of the fun in this sparkling, mischievous novel, an NBA finalist, about a sophomore girl who decides to infiltrate an all-male secret society at an elite boarding school.

Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers (Scholastic)
Written from the point of view of the rank-and-file, this pointed novel allows American teens to grapple intelligently and thoughtfully with the war in Iraq.

Nation by Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins)
In a superb mix of alternate history and fantasy, Pratchett balances the somber and the wildly humorous as his protagonists, lone survivors of disasters, suffer profound crises of faith.

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