#59 Band of Brothers by Stephen E Embros. Simon& Schuster, 1992. 336pp hardcover. Available from Pocket Aug, 2002. ISBN13: 9780743464116. 480 pp.
Publisher’s Description: On the bloody battlefields of World War II Europe, Easy Company, 506th Airborne Division, U.S. Army, got the toughest missions. As good a rifle company as any in the world, Easy was always in the thick of the fight — from parachuting into France under a hellish crossfire early D-Day morning, to the final capture of Hitler’s supposedly impregnable Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden.
New York Times bestselling author Stephen E. Ambrose tells of the men in this brave unit who fought, went hungry, froze, and died for their country, and for one another — taking 150 percent casualties and earning Purple Hearts as combat pay. Drawing on interviews with survivors as well as the soldiers’ journals and letters, Ambrose chronicles the gripping true stories of these American heroes.
Diane’s note: My students knew the HBO mini-series based upon the book and the interviews with Easy Company soldiers. Few of them had read the book in middle school, but the high school brothers visiting snatched this title from the displays. Several of the students knew of the new HBO mini-series The Pacific and were seeking similar videos. Telling them about adult stories that appeal to high schoolers opened a new world to them. An excellent nonfiction read.
#58 Holes by Louis Sachar. Yearling Books, 1998. ISBN: 0440414806, 240 pp.
Publisher’s Description: As further evidence of his family’s bad fortune, which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a hellish boys’ juvenile detention center in the Texas desert. As punishment, the boys here must each dig a hole every day, five feet deep and five feet across. Ultimately, Stanley “digs up the truth” — and through his experience, finds his first real friend, a treasure, and a new sense of himself. Winner of the 1998 National Book Award for young people’s literature, here is a wildly inventive, darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment — and redemption.
Quote from Reader: Holes shows what happens if you become one of the bigotted people.
- Newbery Medal (1999)
- National Book Award for Young People’s Literature (1998)
- Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Fiction (1999)
- Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (2001)
- Massachusetts Children’s Book Award (2001)
- Sequoyah Book Award (2001)
- Sunshine State Young Readers Award Winners (2002)
- Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader’s Choice Award for Junior (2001)
- Zilveren Zoen (2000)
- A Christopher Award for Juvenile Fiction
- An ALA Notable Book
- An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
- An ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults
- A New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of the Year
- A Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon Book
- A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
- A Publishers Weekly Notable Children’s Book of the Year
- A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
- A Horn Book Fanfare Title
- A Riverbank Review 1999 Children’s Book of Distinction
- A New York Public Library Children’s Book of 1998-100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
- A Texas Lone Star Award Nominee
- A NECBA Fall List Title
Diane’s note: Holes was #6 on Betsy Bird’s Top 100 Children’s Novels’ list. I credit the 5th grade teachers at Rutland Elementary school for reading this to my #3 son’s class. He and his classmates informally arranged a trip to the movie theatre to see Holes the weekend it was released. Since my son was basically a non-reader and had never displayed any enthusiasm towards any book, Louis Sachar was my hero! Since then I continue to see Holes read-aloud to alternative classrooms in high schools and to middle schoolers. Disenfranchised teens need titles like Holes. Every middle school collection must have Holes available. Here is a snippet of the Q&A with the author Louis Sachar from his webpage:
Why do you think book’s lead character, Stanley Yelnats, connects with so many children?
Stanley isn’t a hero-type. He’s a kind of pathetic kid who feels like he has no friends, feels like his life is cursed. And I think everyone can identify with that in one way or another. And then there’s the fact that here he is, a kid who isn’t a hero, but he lifts himself up and becomes one. I think readers can imagine themselves rising with Stanley.
#57 Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. TOR/MacMillan, 2008. ISBN: 978-0765319853. 384 pp.
Publisher’s Description: “Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.
But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.
When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.”
Quote from Reader: If I had a dollar for every time I tell someone that they must “read this book immediately…” I would have a lot of dollars.
- Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (2009),
- Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2008),
- John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (2009)
- Emperor Norton Award (2008),
- Sakura Medal Nominee for High School Book (2010),
- Florida Teens Read Nominee (2009)
- Amazon.com Top 10 Editor’s Picks: Teens
- Book Sense Children’s Pick; CYBIL Award
- Booklist Editors’ Choice
- Kirkus Best Book of the Year
- Publisher’s Weekly Kids Galley to Grab
- School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
- VOYA’s Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror
- Texas TAYSHAS High School Reading List
Diane’s note: One of my very favorite books and a delight to put in the hands of my teen readers. It addresses my inner geekness and makes me want to go back in time to change the world. How was it we allowed the infringements on our Constitutional rights under the previous administration? How could Cory Doctorow create such an entertaining and thought-provoking book? It will change many readers and open eyes.
#56 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle . Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1962.
ISBN: 0-374-38613-7. 230 pp.
“It was a dark and stormy night.”
Publisher’s Description: “Meg Murry, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their mother are having a midnight snack on a dark and stormy night when an unearthly stranger appears at their door. She claims to have been blown off course, and goes on to tell them that there is such a thing as a “tesseract,” which, if you didn’t know, is a wrinkle in time. Meg’s father had been experimenting with time-travel when he suddenly disappeared. Will Meg, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin outwit the forces of evil as they search through space for their father?“
Diane’s note: Wesley Yandell Jr. wrote an article for SLJ on 04/01/2007 called “Big Is Beautiful: For struggling readers, large-print books may make a huge difference.” I’ve found students refusing to try a classic if the cover is ugly or worn, the print is tiny, and the illustrations washed out. Wesley purchased large print editions and found students reading the classics. My favorite quote in this book comes from Meg: “Maybe I don’t like being different”, Meg said, “but I don’t want to be like everybody else, either.” This is book 1 of the Time Quintet. Last year’s Newbery winner When You Reach Me is heavily influenced by A Wrinkle in Time. I usually put this in the hands of fourth through sixth graders and since it came in at #2 on Betsy Bird’s Top 100 Children’s Novels, I feel vindicated. Still, you readers thought it should be on the Teen list, also. There are many students at my school who have not discovered this series, so having it on both lists is a good thing! How many of you didn’t discover A Wrinkle in Time until you were adults?
#55 Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson. Candlewick Press, 2006. ISBN13: 9780763624026. 358pp.
Publisher’s Description: It sounds like a fairy tale. He is a boy dressed in silks and white wigs and given the finest of classical educations. Raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers, the boy and his mother — a princess in exile from a faraway land — are the only persons in their household assigned names. As the boy’s regal mother, Cassiopeia, entertains the house scholars with her beauty and wit, young Octavian begins to question the purpose behind his guardians’ fanatical studies. Only after he dares to open a forbidden door does he learn the hideous nature of their experiments — and his own chilling role in them. Set against the disquiet of Revolutionary Boston, M. T. Anderson’s extraordinary novel takes place at a time when American Patriots rioted and battled to win liberty while African slaves were entreated to risk their lives for a freedom they would never claim. The first of two parts, this deeply provocative novel reimagines the past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today. A gothic tale becomes all too shockingly real in this mesmerizing magnum opus by the acclaimed author of FEED.
National Book Award for Young People’s Literature (2006),
British Fantasy Award (2007),
Book Sense Book of the Year Award Nominee for Children’s Literature (2007),
Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Fiction and Poetry (2007),
Horn Book Fanfare Best Book (2006),
BCCB Blue Ribbon Book (2006),
ALA YALSA Printz Honor book (2007)
SLJ reviewer Sharon Rawlins notes:
The novel is written in 18th-century language from Octavians point of view and in letters written by a soldier who befriends him. Despite the challenging style, this powerful novel will resonate with contemporary readers. The issues of slavery and human rights, racism, free will, the causes of war, and one persons struggle to define himself are just as relevant today. Andersons use of factual information to convey the time and place is powerfully done.
M.T. Anderson’s work is astonishing. I cannot tell you that I “enjoyed” reading this title because it was so intense. I’m glad I read it. I was amazed by how it was crafted. I was captured and yet appalled at the treatment of the main character. I was intrigued with the historical details of this novel set in time and tone of the American Revolution. I was angered by the master’s treatment of his slave as an experimental subject instead of a real person. I was involved in the reading. Yet, I don’t put this in the hands of most of my middle school students. I think this is a strong YA or adult book. It takes a special person to persevere in the reading, yet M.T. Anderson has created a work of art.