ALSC and it’s lists and awards include books for readers up to age fourteen; so ALSC’s Notables list is always a good list to look at for young teens. It’s also always interesting to see what titles are included in both ALSC and YALSA lists.
The full list of 2013 Notable Children’s Book includes notes about what Awards each title won, in addition to the Notables nod.
Once again, I’m highlighting only those books that I read. For the full list, go to the Notables website.
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon . By Steve Sheinkin. From my review: “One of the reasons I like non-fiction is it shows why spoilers don’t matter. Most readers will know that the Americans were indeed the first to create and use the atomic bomb; so it’s not about whether it happens, but how and why.”
Moonbird : A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95. By Phillip M. Hoose. From my review: “Most of Moonbird is about the year-long migratory cycle that the rufa red knots make. Woven in is deeper information, from the process of banding birds (how the birds are captured, the color-coding different countries have used since 2003) to the relatively recent discovery that the Delaware Bay is one of the stops on that path. This is a part of New Jersey culture I didn’t know about, not at all! I love how Moonbird doesn’t just present facts and figures; it explains how that knowledge was gained. It’s not just the findings of scientists, it’s also the work of scientists, which is always ongoing
Titanic: Voices from the Disaster. By Deborah Hopkinson. From my review: “The story is told using the first-hand accounts of the men, women and children who were on the Titanic, both crew and first-, second-, and third-class passengers. While some of the people were familiar to me (teenage Jack Thayer’s miraculous survival), others were not, such as Frankie Goldsmith, a young boy travelling third-class with his family. Their voices add an immediacy to the story, emphasizing the personal stories of survival. Particularly heartbreaking are the final moments between family members.”
Seraphina. By Rachel Hartman. From my review: “Sixteen year old Seraphina Dombegh is an unlikely person to find herself in the middle of dragon and human intrigue. She is a talented musician who has recently joined the royal court of the kingdom of Goredd. . . . ; Seraphina has a secret. Prince Lucian, nephew of the murdered prince, is perceptive enough to guess it’s about Orma, Seraphina’s dragon tutor who has lived cloaked as a human for years. Lucian believes Seraphina loves Orma. The idea of human-dragon relationships disgusts many. Even when dragons assume human form, one can always tell there is something not quite right about them. They don’t understand human emotion, are overly logical, cold and calculating. Plus, who can forget their true form, or the pre-peace years when dragons hunted humans?”
Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different. By Karen Blumenthal. From my review: “Steve Jobs is a fascinating look at a complex man. Yes, he was, at times, self centered and not the greatest manager. But what really is a “great manager”? Is it someone who is liked, or is it someone who gets things done? Jobs got things done — and part of the value of a biography like this, that is not all puppies and daffodils and rainbows, is showing the reader this. Since this is a book for teens, I think it’s almost more valuable for them, who are still figuring things out, to know that someone who isn’t “nice” can accomplish great things; and that just because someone accomplishes terrific things, it doesn’t mean they are “nice.” Life is not that simplistic.”
We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March. By Cynthia Levinson. From my review: “We’ve Got A Job is a unique look at the civil rights movement, by looking at an event that was primarily about children and teenagers. Four teenagers are highlighted, Audrey Hendricks, the youngest participant at age nine, and three high school students, Washington Booker III, James W. Stewart, and Arnetta Streeter. Audrey, Wash, James, and Arnetta reflect the diversity of the African American community in Birmingham in 1963, in terms of involvement in the civil rights movement as well as socioeconomic background. Some, like Audrey, are from families active in the movement; others get involved on their own. Being African American in Birmingham 1963 means that whether a person is the child of a dental assistant or doctor, those different backgrounds don’t matter when it comes to using a library, attending to school, eating at a restaurant, or attending a movie. It’s not about whether you can afford the dress in the store or the ice cream at the lunch counter; it’s about the color of your skin.”