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Top Teen Titles #85-89

#89 City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007.  ISBN: 1416914285. 485pp 

From Wikipedia: "City of Bones is the first book in The Mortal Instruments trilogy, a young adult urban fantasy series set in New York written by Cassandra Clare. It was originally published in the USA in hardcover on March 27, 2007, and was released in the UK on July 2, 2007. It was also released in paperback in the USA on February 19, 2008. It achieved #8 on the New York Times Best Seller list (Children’s books) in April 2007. City of Bones received considerable praise from Publishers Weekly, Locus, and authors Holly Black and Kelly Link. Criticism was also received from School Library Journal."  

Review in SLJ (you may need to register for free to read it) I thought it was interesting that Wikipedia mentioned a critical review from SLJ, so I thought you should see the link. You can see some review excerpts here.

From the Cassandra Clare FAQ page:
What is the Mortal Instruments series about?
A: City of Bones is the first of three books in my young adult urban fantasy trilogy, The Mortal Instruments. City of Bones is about a fifteen-year old girl named Clary Fray, whose search for her missing mother leads her into an alternate New York called Downworld, filled with mysterious faeries, hard-partying warlocks, not-what-they-seem vampires, an army of werewolves, and the demons who want to destroy it all. She also finds herself torn between two boys — her best friend, Simon, for whom she’s developing new feelings, and the mysterious demon hunter, Jace. She becomes a part of the secret world of the demon hunters, or Nephilim, and as she does she discovers that rescuing her mother might mean putting their whole world in jeopardy. City of Bones is followed by the second book, City of Ashes, and the third, City of Glass. You can find all sorts of detailed information about these books, their plots and characters, and release dates, on my Mortal Instruments website under FAQ: 

Official Mortal Instruments website with an excerpt of Chapter One that will make you frantic to get your hands on the entire book. 

The blog Book Reader had an interesting review, but I totally disagree with her dislike of the cover. I like male torsos on covers. I wonder if this goes back to my reading so many romance books during my teen years.  Be sure to check out this interview with author Cassandra Clare.

Catherine, Called Birdy By Karen Cushman#88 Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman. HarperCollins, 1995. ISBN13: 9780064405843. 224 pp

Quote from one of the nominators:
I tell students this all the time; my favorite is Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman. She didn’t win anything for this book, but I think it’s one of the best ever. 

Actually this title did win a few awards including the 1995 Newbery Honor Award and: 
IRA/CBC Teachers’ Choice
Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts (NCTE)
Catherine, Called BirdyGolden Kite Award
American Bookseller Pick of the Lists
ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice
Newbery Honor Book
ALA Notable Children’s Book
ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults
ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
Horn Book Fanfare
Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts (NCTE)
Golden Kite Award
American Bookseller Pick of the Lists
ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice
Newbery Honor Book
ALA Notable Children’s Book
ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults
ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
Horn Book Fanfare 

Publisher’s Description: 
Catherine feels trapped. Her father is determined to marry her off to a rich man–any rich man, no mater how awful.
But by wit, trickery, and luck, Catherine manages to send several would-be husbands packing. Then a shaggy-bearded suitor from the north comes to call–by far the oldest, ugliest, most revolting suitor of them all.
Unfortunately, he is also the richest.
Can a sharp-tongued, high-spirited, clever young maiden with a mind of her own actually lose the battle against an ill-mannered, piglike lord and an unimaginative, greedy toad of a father?
Deus! Not if Catherine has anything to say about it! 

Check out the resources on this webpage created by Carrie Rauer, Kristin Knode, Kara Clark, and Terry Davis. 

“The vivid picture of medieval life presents a seemingly eye-witness view of a culture remote from contemporary beliefs. Fascinating and thought-provoking.”

— SLJ.  
Rhapsody in Books Webblog has one of my favorite reviews on it, including a list of the things girls were not allowed to do in the year 1290. 

Houghton Mifflin published a discussion guide with questions for Catherine, Called Birdy. Of course you don’t want to miss Carol Hurst’s Children’s Literature Site review and suggestions either.

#87 Blood Red Horse by K.M. Grant. Walker & CompanyBlood Red Horse, 2006. ISBN13: 9780802777348. 277pp
Publisher’s Description:

Two Boys. One girl. The adventure of a lifetime.
You need three things to become a brave and noble knight:
A warhorse.
A fair maiden.
A just cause.

Will has a horse—a small chestnut stallion with a white blaze in his brow. Ellie is a fair maiden, but she’s supposed to marry Will’s older brother, Gavin. And as for the cause, King Richard is calling for a Crusade. The Knights of England must go to the Holy Land to fight. Will and Gavin will go. Blood will be shed. Lives will be taken. But through it all, two things will be constant—Ellie, and a blood-red horse called Hosanna. . . .

The author’s biography page helps explain so much about her writing and the background of Hosanna that I hope you take time to click through to read it. 

Check out the SLJ review: 
“Based on the Third Crusade with England’s King Richard I and the Muslim leader Saladin, this novel takes readers from the de Granvilles’ Hartslove Castle to the bloody battlefields of the Middle East. It is a story of loyalty, honor, and nobility and centers around the loves of two brothers, Gavin and William; the fair maiden Eleanor whom they leave behind; and Will’s beloved red horse. Readers are caught up in the bloody battles, with alternating chapters revealing what is happening on the ‘home front,’ and in the Christian and in the Muslim camps. Tying these stories together is the red horse, Hosanna, who is the book’s most compelling and empathetic character. The futility of war is a theme throughout and readers will discover that, much like war today, combat in the 12th century had devastating consequences. The historical setting and the vocabulary may challenge younger readers but ensure that older ones will find the book a rewarding adventure, one not soon forgotten and one that lends itself to great discussion.”

Read a sample chapterTake a quiz from the author page. Download the reading group guide. Do all of those things, but be sure to purchase all three of the de Granville titles: Blood Red Horse, Green Jasper, and Blaze of Silver. 

While I was reading reviews online (like BookWormom’s), I noticed a trend of students who were forced to read Blood Red Horse leaving negative comments on blogs. Usually they were ranting and railing against the teachers who made them read this. Interesting trend?

#86 America by E.R. Frank. Simon & Schuster/Anthenum Books for Young Readers, 2002. ISBN13: 0689847297. 224pp

Awards and Nominations:
Garden State Teen Book Award Nominee (NJ), German Youth Literature Award Nominee, Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults

TeenReads review.   Reading Rants (Out of the Ordinary Teen Booklists) has a review and 15 comments from teens – most of whom recommend this book. Check out the interview with author E.R. Frank where she explains how her frustration with how children are treated in our child-welfare and criminal justice systems may have been slyly at work in her writing America. 

I’ve blogged on some other titles that involve abuse and depression. My students read and re-read A Child Called It, Everything’s Fine, and The Rules of Survival. I’ll be adding America to my collection soon to meet this demand.

Publisher’s Description:

You try not to think. You try not to imagine, but then those cracks pop up, and these flashes squeeze right through. At first, some of it’s not too bad, and you get stupid, maybe even wanting a little more, but then you pull yourself together, knowing what all is likely going to ooze out if you’re not careful….

Fifteen-year-old America has been nowhere, has been nobody. Separated from his foster mother. A runaway. A patient. Without love. Without hope. And, eventually, without the will to live.

Until Dr. B. steps in. To listen. To explore. And to find within America both the story and the boy who are lost.

Information on the America Lifetime movie can be found here at the Glenside Public Library.

#85 All-American Girl by Meg Cabot. HarperTeen, 2002. ISBN13: 9780060294694. 256pp

I’m happy. A funny, silly, light-hearted novel showed up on this list. A quick reading comical book that’s great for the beach.  Do I think it will stand the test of time? Naw, but then, I’m not the one who nominated it for this list. I can still enjoy this and all of Meg Cabot’s books just as much as the teenage girls in my school do. Meg Cabot understands teens and has their voice down.

Author’s note about All-American Girl:
Samantha Madison is just your average disenfranchised sophomore gal living in D.C. when, in an idle moment sandwiched between cookie-buying and CD-perusing, she puts a stop to an attempt on the life of the president. Before she can say "MTV2" she’s appointed Teen Ambassador to the U.N. and has caught the eye of the very cute First Son.  

I found many student video "takes" on All-American Girl. While I was researching this, my students enjoyed viewing these with me. Hope you have a light-hearted moment, too. 

Teen girls like to write about this book. You can find reviews on GoodReads and on I enjoyed all these cover images from GoodReads, too.
All-American Girl (All-American Girl, #1)All-American Girl (All-American Girl, #1)All-American Girl (All-American Girl, #1)All-American Girl (All-American Girl, #1)Pahlawan Amerika (All-American Girl, #1)All-American Girl (All-American Girl, #1)A Garota Americana (A Garota Americana, #1)Samantha, Tome 1 : Héroïne d'un jourAll-American Girl (All-American Girl, #1) Washington D.C.Total verliebt (All-American Girl, #1)A garota americanaSamantha, total verliebt (All-American Girl, #1)Samantha, 15 ans, héroïne d'un jour (All-American Girl, #1)All-American Girl (All-American Girl, #1) Should I mention there’s a sequel, also? Ready or Not, it’s there for you.


  1. I think it’s fun that ALL-AMERICAN GIRL made the list. I’ve read quite a few books by Meg Cabot, and I think it’s my favorite — though it didn’t make my top ten list.
    This set actually has two books I’ve read and one that I have checked out to read.–There weren’t many higher on the list. I find that interesting, since I have read the vast majority of those on Fuse #8’s middle grade list. But half the fun of these lists is discovering great books to read.