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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Top Teen Titles #20-24

#24 Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The by E. Lockhart. Hyperion, 2008. ISBN:  9780786838189, 342 pp.

Publisher’s Description: Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14: Debate Club. Her father’s “bunny rabbit.” A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school. Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15: A knockout figure. A sharp tongue. A chip on her shoulder. And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston. Frankie Landau-Banks. No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer. Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society. Not when her ex-boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places. Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them. When she knows Matthew’s lying to her. And when there are so many, many pranks to be done. Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16: Possibly a criminal mastermind. This is the story of how she got that way.

Quotes from Readers: Feminism, pranks, & class issues. What’s not to love?

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads, TeensReadToo.

Awards: Printz Honor, 2009. Finalist for the 2008 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Cybils Award for best young adult novel. Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year list. Richie’s Picks Best of 2008 List. Tayshas List, 2009. NY Times Notable Children’s Book list, 2008. School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, 2008. Library Journal’s list of Seattle Public Library’s Fiction Favorites of 2008. Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best List. Washington Post Best Kids Books of the Year. Booklist Editors’ Choice. Morning News Tournament of Books, 2009. SLJ Tournament of Kids Books. Rhode Island Teen Book Awards Finalist. 2010 Teens Top Ten. SLJ Battle of the Kids Books. Connecticut Nutmeg Award finalist, 2011. Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award finalist, 2011. Georgia Peach nominee, 2011. Oregon Battle of the Books, 2010-2011. IRA YA Choices list.

Diane’s note: First sentence of this title isI, Frankie Landau-Banks, hereby confess that I was the sole mastermind behind the mal-doings of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds.” Okay, as soon as I stopped laughing at the image of loyal basset hounds and malfeasance, I was able to read this book in a day. I would not have picked up this title, if I hadn’t been in the room when the Printz Awards were announced and this was named an honor book. This was such a great read that I will be forever grateful for awards programs that produce winners and honorees that I’ve never seen. I am grateful to the committee for exposing me to such a variety of titles to suit all readers.

Frankie’s coming of age is funny and painful at the same time. I laughed and grimaced at her pranks. She isn’t a perfect person and I think that’s what made me love reading about her the most. Frankie is empowered. She is not prepared to let someone treat her like arm-candy. Just because she transformed into a beauty suddenly doesn’t mean she’s fried her brains. There were times I didn’t like what Frankie was doing. I think that’s the beauty of this title because you are forced to react and experience Frankie’s feelings while you are reading.

#23 Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers. Scholastic Press, 1988. ISBN:  9780545055765, 320 pp.

Publisher’s Description: A coming of age tale for young adults set in the trenches of the Vietnam War in the late 1960s, Fallen Angels is the story of Perry, a Harlem teenager who volunteers for the service when his dream of attending college falls through. Sent to the front lines, Perry and his platoon come face-to-face with the Vietcong and the real horror of warfare. But violence and death aren’t the only hardships. As Perry struggles to find virtue in himself and his comrades, he questions why black troops are given the most dangerous assignments, and why the U.S. is there at all.

Quotes from Readers: I adore the work of Walter Dean Myers and am so pleased that he won the first Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award. I was stuck for a little while about which of his books I would put here. It took me a while to get to Fallen Angels; partly because it was always checked out at my school library!

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads, TeensReadToo.

Awards: South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book Award (1991), Coretta Scott King Award for Author (1989) ALA Best Books for Young Adults (1988) A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book (1989) ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults 1998. Teens from Other Times, 1998 ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000 ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999 (36)

Diane’s note: While I was at the University of Iowa doing my student practicum for my MA in LIS, I worked with Denise Rehmke. She was an absolutely awesome mentor and I think of her lessons often. Because I was having surgery in the middle of a semester, student teaching, helping a teacher research for her book, running a computer lab part-time, and taking 15 graduate hours, Denise helped me pull some titles to booktalk to her middle school students. I was nervous because I’d never really worked with middle schoolers at that time and my own middle school/junior high experience was excruciatingly bad. We rolled our cart from class to class and I shared booktalks I’d prepared with her Language Arts classrooms. I remember booktalking this and having the teacher pull me to the side afterwards to ask whether I was concerned at the violence and language of this title for his age students. Honestly, I wasn’t. I remain a devoted fan of Walter Dean Myers after having read this title during my recuperation period. I did research and found out how often it was banned.  It remains one of the most powerful titles I’ve read about war. Here’s one of the lines that always hits me:

“I knew Mama loved me, but I also knew when I got back, she would expect me to be the same person, but it could never happen. She hadn’t been to Nam. She hadn’t given her poncho to anybody to wrap a body in, or stepped over a dying kid.Richie

#22 Goose Girl, The by Shannon Hale.Bloomsbury, 2003. ISBN:  9781582349909, 400 pp.

Publisher’s Description: A stunning fairy tale debut – Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s stories and learning the language of the birds, especially the swans. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady in waiting leads a mutiny during Ani’s journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to help her. She becomes a goose girl and must use her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. From the Grimm’s fairy tale of the princess who became a goose girl before she could become queen, Shannon Hale has woven an incredible and original tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can lead the people she has made her own.

Quotes from Readers: Love the fairy tale twist!

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari.

Awards: New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing (2006) Josette Frank Award (2004)Texas Lone Star Book (2004-2005)Utah Book Award (Children/Young Adults, 2003)Association for Mormon Letters Award Honorable Mention (Young Adult, 2003)ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (2010.01|Twists on the Tale, 2010)Audie Winner (2007.02|Achievement in Production,2007) Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee (Children’s Literature, 2010)

Diane’s note: I love fairy tales. Sure, I’m nearly grown up (Today is my 45th birthday so I’m considering growing up) but when it comes to reading fairy tales, I will always retain my love of the story. Shannon Hale is one of three authors of retold fairy tales that I read every title just in case they have incorporated some of my favorite tales. Her series of Books of Bayern incorporate some of my favorite lesser known tales like The Goose Girl.

#21 Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Simon Pulse, 2005. ISBN: 0689865384 , 448 pp.

Publisher’s Description: Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that? Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license — for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there. But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world — and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

Quotes from Readers:

Largely a dialogue on our perception of beauty and how society functions around it. Can’t even describe how awesome this book was.

A dystopian, futuristic, science fiction, adventure book!

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads.

Awards: Golden Duck, Hal Clement Award for Young Adult (2006), James Tiptree, Jr. Award Long List (2005), New York Times bestseller (Fiction, 2005), VA Readers Choice Book (2008), South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominee (2007-2008), Texas Lone Star Book (2006-2007), ALA Best Books for Young Adults (2006), Garden State Book Award (Teen Fiction Grades 6-8, 2008), Ditmar Shortlist (Novel, 2006), Florida Teens Read (2007-2008), ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (2006.04|Books That Don’t Make You Blush, 2006), Iowa Teen Award Nominee (2007-2008), Aurealis Award Finalist (YA Novel, 2005), School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2005), Abraham Lincoln Award Winner (2007), Prix Ado-Lisant (2009), ALA Quick Picks Nominee, VOYA – Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers, Beehive Award Master List (UT), Buckeye Teen Book Award Nominee (OH), CCBC Choices (Cooperative Children’s Book Council), Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Gateway Readers Award Nominee (MO), Great Lakes Great Books Master List (MI), Kirkus Editor’s Choice, NYPL “Books for the Teen Age”, Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, Rhode Island Teen Book Award Nominee, Rosie Award Nominee (IN), Soaring Eagle Book Award Master List (WY), Texas Tayshas High School Reading List, Thumbs Up! Award Master List (MI)

Diane’s note: Note that the awards above tend towards popular  votes by teens. This doesn’t mean I’m slammin’ the literary value of this series, but I am pointing out to you how popular this series is among teens. The award I note the most is the SLJ Best Book of the Year of course! To be more serious, I have put this book in the hands of teens who had low self-esteem, cut themselves, and were anorexic. I think the message on beauty is clear and speaks to teens in ways our counselors cannot reach them. The one question I have is how could Scot produce book #4 in a TRILOGY? Hello, authors, according to wikipedia:

A trilogy is a set of three works of art that are connected, and that can be seen either as a single work or as three individual works. They are most commonly found in literature, film, or video games, less commonly in visual art or musical works.

Note, it says a trilogy is a set of THREE, not four. It’s kind of like authors who cannot let go of their favorite characters and revisit them in prequels. I love Tally’s tale, but let’s not call it a trilogy anymore. It’s actually a quadrilogy, a saga, a quartet, a tetralogy, or just a series. If you ask my students, the Uglies Quartet is just a darn good read for middle school.

#20 The Fellowship of the Rings (and The Lord of the Rings series) by J. R. R. Tolkien. George Allen & Unwin, 1954. 424 pp. My versions are from Houghton Mifflin.

Publisher’s Description: In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in THE HOBBIT. In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose. 

Quotes from Readers:

Since my #1 on my middle grade list is the inspiration for my daughter’s name, it’s only fair I put the main inspiration for my son’s name first on my Teen list. Yes, my son is named Sam; not, like, Legolas or something. Seriously people.

What can I say? Every teen (and every adult) should love this trilogy. Even if everyone doesn’t, they should, my precious, oh, yes.

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads (be sure to check that one out by Sofrina Hinton!)

Awards (as listed on LibraryThing): International Fantasy Award (Fiction, 1957) Waterstones Books of the Century (1997, No 1) Waterstones The Nation’s Favourite Children’s Books (1997, No 17) Time’s All-Time 100 Novels selection BBC’s Big Read (Best loved novel, 2003, No 01) (show all 27 items) The Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels: The Reader’s List (4) Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (40) The Observer’s 100 Greatest Novels of All Time (64) A Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan (Literary Classics) HarperCollins 100 Best Spiritual Books of the Century Meilleur livre étranger (Roman, 1972) Whitcoulls top 100, 2008 (1) 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006/2008/2010 Edition) Guardian 1000 (Science Fiction & Fantasy) The Telegraph’s 110 Best Books: The Perfect Library (2008) Prometheus Award (Hall of Fame, 2009) BILBY (Older Readers, 2002) Newsweek’s Top 100 Books: The Meta-List (2009, No. 35) Locus 1987 Poll, All-Time Best Fantasy Novel (1) Locus 1975 Poll, All-Time Best Novel (15) 100 Greatest Science Fiction or Fantasy Novels of All Time (13) Locus 1998 Poll, All-Time Best Fantasy Novel Before 1990 (1) Image: 100 Writers of Faith Fantasy: The 100 Best Books (1955) David Pringle’s Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels (1955) The Telegraph’s 100 novels everyone should read (100) Whitcoulls top 100, 2010 (6)

Diane’s note: I feel like a late-bloomer because I didn’t fully appreciate the Hobbit as a teen. I discovered the Lord of the Rings series at 18 years of age in college and I fell in love. When the films were being released, I purchased a new set and re-read all the titles again – including the appendix of more than 120 pages. I have since re-read four times. Sometimes I read for the poetry. Sometimes for the romance and the adventure. Rarely for the endless details of the surroundings. I think C.S.Lewis’ review speaks well: “Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron.”

Do I think this series is for all students? No. But there are many teens and adults whose lives have been changed through their reading the Lord of the Rings. Sometimes my students ask me if they should read The Lord of the Rings and I hesitate.  Not because I don’t think it is one of the greatest novels, but because I want their first reading to be memorable and precious.

  • Beehive Award Master List (UT)
  • Buckeye Teen Book Award Nominee (OH)
  • CCBC Choices (Cooperative Children’s Book Council)
  • Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best
  • Gateway Readers Award Nominee (MO)
  • Great Lakes Great Books Master List (MI)
  • Kirkus Editor’s Choice
  • NYPL “Books for the Teen Age”
  • Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults
  • Rhode Island Teen Book Award Nominee
  • Rosie Award Nominee (IN)
  • SLJ Best Book of the Year
  • Soaring Eagle Book Award Master List (WY)
  • South Carolina Book Award Nominee
  • Texas Lone Star Reading List
  • Texas Tayshas High School Reading List
  • Thumbs Up! Award Master List (MI)