Teens Top 10 of 2010

Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year!   Nominators are members of teen book groups in fifteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Support Teen Literature Day during National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year.  Winners are announced in October during Teen Read Week.

Teens’ Top 10 of 2010

  1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  2. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
  3. Heist Society by Ally Carter
  4. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  5. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
  6. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  7. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
  8. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  9. Fire by Kristin Cashore
  10. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson



Booklist: Autobiographies!

Autobiographies are a little different from “regular” biographies; the person who wrote the book is also the person who the book is about!  Authors write the most interesting autobiographies; because they’re storytellers who know how to make the most out of sharing their experiences.   Some non-writers have very unique stories to share though, and often the fresh voice gives them an interesting edge.

Here are a few autobiographies by category, pulled from a much longer list we’ve created at the library.  If you want something interesting to read, try one of these and find out what other kids–some who became famous!–lived through.

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Funny Autobiographies!

Scieszka, Jon.  Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories about Growing Up Scieszka
Part memoir, part scrapbook, this hilarious trip down memory lane provides a unique glimpse into the formation of a creative mind and a free spirit. You’ll laugh out loud, guaranteed!

Dahl, Roald.  More About Boy
Everyone’s favorite humorous author for children tells about his very strange boyhood.   More About Boy is an updated version of the original autobiography Boy, with more source material, notes  and illustrations.

Peet, Bill. Bill Peet: An Autobiography
Popular picture book author Peet tells his life story, including his years in the army, followed by time at Disney studios heading projects like “101 Dalmatians”, followed by  his decision to create books for children.


Prelutsky, Jack. Pizza, Pigs and Poetry: How to Write a Poem
The man who has written over 50 poetry books gives the inside scoop on  how his childhood led to writing poetry, and shows how you can turn your experiences and stories about your family, your pets, and your friends into poems.

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Adventurous Autobiographies!

O’Grady, Scott. Basher Five-Two: The True Story of F-16 Fighter Pilot Captain Scott O’Grady
In exciting detail, U.S. Air Force pilot Captain Scott O’Grady tells how he evaded capture after being shot down in his F-16 over Bosnia and how, with little water and no food, he was able to survive on his own in enemy territory.

Paulsen, Gary. Caught by the Sea, How Angel Peterson Got His Name, Woodsong, Guts, Puppies, Dogs and Blue Northers, and My Life in Dog Years
The outdoorsman-turned-author of several famous survival stories for kids and teens shares thrilling episodes in his incredibly exciting life, some that led to the creation of his books.

Lekuton, Joseph Lemasolai.  Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna
A member of the Masai people describes his life as he grew up in a northern Kenya village, traveled to America to attend college, and became an elementary school teacher in Virginia.


Pfetzer, Mark. Within Reach: My Everest Story
In May 1996, 16-year-old Mark Pfetzer went on an expedition to Mount Everest. Not only was he the youngest climber ever to attempt the summit, but he bore witness to the tragedy in which eight climbers perished in a sudden storm. This is his story.

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Wartime Biographies!

Fritz, Jean.  Homesick: My Own Story and China Homecoming
From her early life as the daughter of missionaries in China to her return after the Cultural Revolution, author Jean Fritz relates her life story in these two volumes.


Li, Moying. Snow Falling in Spring: Coming of Age in China During the Cultural Revolution
After escaping her school in Beijing and struggling to make sense of her crumbling world, student Moying finds sanctuary in literature. But with many schools shut down and most books forbidden, can she keep her passion for learning alive?

Jiang, Ji Li.  Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution
Twelve year-old Ji Li, tells the story of growing up in China, where her family was  accused of capitalist crimes during the Cultural Revolution.


Vogel, Ilse-Margret.  Bad Times, Good Friends: A Memoir, Berlin 1945
The  combination of wartime detail, and the very real and present danger experienced by a group of friends in pre-Nazi Germany makes this an engrossing and engaging book.


Uchida, Yoshiko.  The Invisible Thread
The author of such accomplished children’s works as The Bracelet and The Jar of Dreams offers a firsthand account of life in a Japanese American internment camp during WWII.

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Memoirs: Autobiographies!

Lowry, Lois.  Looking Back: A Book of Memories
Photographs illustrate snippets of memories, many of which inspired some of this award-winning author’s stories.


Kehret, Peg.  Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio
In 1949,  twelve year old Peg Schultz became paralyzed from Polio; the story of her struggle  with the disease and her recovery is a compelling story.

DePaola, Tomie.  26 Fairmount Avenue
The first book in a series of short chapter books about the author-illustrator*s life growing up in Massachusetts with his large and extended family. Other titles include Here We All Are, On My Way, What a Year, Things Will NEVER be the Same, I’m Still Scared, Why, and For the Duration.

Nesbit, E. Long Ago When I Was Young
One of the first (and best) fantasy authors for children describes a childhood in the 1860s spent both with her family, but also apart from them in schools she detested.

Myers, Walter Dean.  Bad Boy: A Memoir
The teen author paints a fascinating picture of growing up in Harlem in the 1940s.

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Stop by the library and see our entire list, which also includes books by Dick King-Smith, Coretta Scott King, Anita Lobel and Stan and Jan Berenstain, among others!  As always, please ask a librarian if you’re looking for something specific, or want help with something un-specific!


Old Favorites…or not

Today was supposed to be the last Scary Old Favorite for October, in honor of Halloween.

The plan had been to talk about Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwartz.  Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and the two sequels–More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones–are three of the best collections of creepy, funny, and just plain frightening ghost stories. They’re absolutely perfect to read under your covers with a flashlight at night.  The stories were collected from all over the world, and I’m sure everyone who has been to camp and sat around a campfire listening to (or telling!) ghost stories knows  and has been scared by at least one of them.  You probably have read the easy reader adaptation In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories, a classic in the I Can Read series, which is still one of our most popular books, especially around this time of year.

The original Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book was published in 1981, and was  reprinted just this summer with new illustrations.  I loved the original Stephen Gammell illustrations, but Brett Helquist’s new pictures are wonderful too.

But “Why”, do you ask,  am I not reviewing them now?  Because they’re all checked out!  I can remember only one story clearly–Bloody Fingers, and I’m pretty sure The Golden Arm was in one of the later volumes. But without the books in front of me, it’s impossible to say more than “read any of the Scary Stories books, and you’ll be scared.”

Not really very descriptive.  But do read one  of these titles. You may be up all night shivering, but you won’t forget the experience!

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With my first choice unavailable, I thought I’d pick a YA book that scared me…Blackbriar, by William Sleator.  It’s the story of Danny, a teenage boy who moves to the English countryside with his guardian. The house she bought is in the middle of nowhere, and right from the beginning, Danny is creeped out by the place. At night, it gets worse, with the sounds of people screaming in the basement, and mysterious figures running around in the gardens. Danny thinks he can handle it, but once they find out where he’s living, no one at school will even look at him, let alone talk to him.

Danny does make friends with one girl, Lark, who says she’s not afraid of the house.  She does tell him that it used to be a plague house, where people suffering from the Black Death were quarantined until they died. But Lark knows something else about that house, something more recent, that Danny doesn’t. And if she doesn’t tell him, he may not survive to see his next birthday.

Blackbriar was originally written in 1972, and I probably read it in 7th grade. It scared me out of my wits, especially when I found out exactly what was going on in that lonely cottage, isolated from town.  But in order to give a better review, I need to reread the book and have it in front of me…and the library’s copy is lost. I have reordered it, but in the meantime, no book to refer to.  *sigh*

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So then I thought maybe I’ll write about  Prisoner of Vampires, by Nancy Garden.  It’s checked out.  Okay, so  The Silver Crown by Robert C. O’Brien. Also checked out. Fingers by William Sleator.  I couldn’t find it. The writer who really creeped me out–Stephen King–is probably a little too old for this blog.

Ack!  Are you sensing a trend here?  Every “Old Favorite” creepy story I  wanted to talk about is either out, missing or in some way unavailable!  I guess that’s what happens when October rolls around.


So anyway, if you want another scary old favorite,  try one of the books listed in this entry (even if they weren’t the best write-ups)  or go back to either the Haunted House or  Ghosts! Booklists  posted earlier this year for more current suggestions if you’d like to find something spooky to read on Halloween weekend. Just remember after reading to lock your windows and put a clove of garlic by the bed, just in case…


Teens: All types of Halloween Reads

Girls who are witches, a traveling freak show, goofy stories, missing persons, spooky short stories, the undead, monsters, down right horror… a little something for everyone!

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Nobody Owens is a normal boy, except that he has been raised by ghosts and other denizens of the graveyard.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Through twists and turns of fate, orphaned Mary seeks knowledge of life, love, and especially what lies beyond her walled village and the surrounding forest, where dwell the unconsecrated, aggressive flesh-eating people who were once dead.

Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan

Two boys who are best friends visit an illegal freak show, where an encounter with a vampire and a deadly spider forces them to make life-changing choices.

The Demonata by Darren Shan

Presumably the only witness to the horrific and bloody murder of his entire family, a teenage boy must outwit not only the mental health professionals determined to cure his delusion, but also the demonic forces only he can see.

The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum Ucci

Torey Adams, a high school junior with a seemingly perfect life, struggles with doubts and questions surrounding the mysterious disappearance of the class outcast.

Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan

Suspicious and uneasy about the atmosphere at her new boarding school, fourteen-year-old Kit slowly realizes why she and the other three students at the school were selected.

I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

Four teenagers who have desperately tried to conceal their responsibility for a hit-and-run accident are pursued by a mystery person seeking revenge.

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding

As Thaniel, a wych-hunter, and Cathaline, his friend and mentor, try to rid the alleys of London’s Old Quarter of the terrible creatures that infest them, their lives become entwined with that of a woman who may be either mad or possessed.

Boy in the Burning House by Tim Wynne-Jones

Trying to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance from their rural Canadian community, fourteen-year-old Jim gets help from the disturbed Ruth Rose, who suspects her stepfather, a local pastor.

Gothic: Ten Original Dark Tales edited by Deborah Noyes

Drawing on dark fantasy and the fairy tale as well as horror and wild humor, ten acclaimed authors pay homage to the gothic tale in wide-ranging stories of the supernatural and surreal.

Up All Night: A Short Story Collection

Presents five short stories about teens who stay up all night, written by award-winning authors.

Possessed by Kate Cann

Sixteen-year-old Rayne escapes London, her mother, and boyfriend for a job in the country at Morton’s Keep, where she is drawn to a mysterious clique and its leader, St. John, but puzzles over whether the growing evil she senses is from the manor house or her new friends.

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

In 1888, twelve-year-old Will Henry chronicles his apprenticeship with Dr. Warthrop, a New England scientist who hunts and studies real-life monsters, as they discover and attempt to destroy a pod of Anthropophagi.

Witch and Curse by Nancy Holder

Holly, Amanda, and Nicole are about to be launched into a dark legacy of witches, secrets, and alliances, where ancient magics yield dangerous results. The girls will assume their roles in an intergenerational feud beyond their wildest imaginations, and in doing so, will attempt to fulfill their shared destiny.

Evernight by Claudia Gray

Sixteen-year-old Bianca, a new girl at the sinister Evernight boarding school, finds herself drawn to another outsider, Jared, but dark forces threaten to tear them apart and destroy Bianca’s entire world.

Shimmer by Dallas Reed

When the opening of a weird box releases a virus-like ailment that turns the citizens of a remote Colorado town into deranged and sometimes deadly maniacs, a group of high school students flees through a blizzard, struggling to survive.

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Born into a family of witches, seventeen-year-old Tamsin is raised believing that she alone lacks a magical “Talent,” but when her beautiful and powerful sister is taken by an age-old rival of the family in an attempt to change the balance of power, Tamsin discovers her true destiny.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

When Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, she is exiled to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

Bras and Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski

Living in New York City with her mother and her younger sister, Miri, fourteen-year-old Rachel tries to persuade Miri, who has recently become a witch, to help her become popular at school and to try to stop their divorced father’s wedding.

Teens: If You Liked Wicked Lovely or want other Fairy Novels


Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Seventeen-year-old Aislinn, who has the rare ability to see faeries, is drawn against her will into a centuries-old battle between the Summer King and Winter Queen, and the survival of her life, her love, and summer all hang in the balance.

Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston
When seventeen-year-old actress Kelley Winslow meets Sonny Flannery, she discovers he is a changeling and guardian of the gate between the faerie Otherworld and the mortal realm.  She also learns that her mother had otherworldly powers that she has passed on to Kelley.

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black

Sixteen-year-old Kaye, who has been visited by faeries since childhood, discovers that she herself is a magical faerie creature with a special destiny.

Glimmerglass by Jenna Black
16-year-old Dana runs away to find her father in Avalon:  the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the captivating, magical world of Faerie intersect.  It turns out she isn’t just an ordinary teenage girl*she’s a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and the only person who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
When Tristan Thorpe leaves his ancient English town in order to retrieve a falling star and win the heart of his lady he enters a new world of faerie and more.

The Faerie Path by Frewin Jones
Anita, an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl, is transported from modern-day London to the realm of Faerie where she discovers that she is Princess Tania, the long-lost daughter of King Oberon and Queen Titania.

Chronicles of Faerie by O.R. Melling
Book one is The Hunters Moon.  Two teenage cousins, one Irish, the other from the United States, set out to find a magic doorway to the Faraway Country, where humans must bow to the little people.

Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan
Troubled by family problems, Henry finds his life taking a whole new dimension when he and his friend, old Mr. Fogarty, become involved with Prince Pyrgus Malvae who has been sent from the faerie world in order to escape the treacherous Faeries of the Night.

The Fairy King by Julie Kagawa

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life but she could never have guessed the truth– that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face… and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart

Teens: War stories for middle schoolers

Under the Blood Red Sun by Graham Salisburg
Tomikazu Nakaji’s biggest concerns are baseball, homework, and a local bully, until life with his Japanese family in Hawaii changes drastically after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury
Following orders from the United States Army, several young Japanese American men train K-9 units to hunt Asians during World War I

Shooting the Moon by Frances O’Roark Dowell
When her brother is sent to fight in Vietnam, twelve-year-old Jamie begins to reconsider the army world that she has grown up in.

Year of the Bomb by Ronald Kidd

In 1955 California, as “Invasion of the body snatchers” is filmed in their hometown, thirteen-year-old Arnie discovers a real enemy when he and three friends go against a young government agent determined to find communists at a nearby university or on the movie set.

Elephant Run by Roland Smith
Nick endures servitude, beatings, and more after his British father’s plantation in Burma is invaded by the Japanese in 1941, and when his father and others are taken prisoner and Nick is stranded with his friend Mya, they plan a daring escape on elephants, risking their lives to save Nick’s father and Mya’s brother from a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata
In 1975 after American troops pull out of Vietnam, a thirteen-year-old boy and his beloved elephant escape into the jungle when the Viet Cong attack his village.

Code Talker:  a Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac
After being taught in a boarding school run by whites that Navajo is a useless language, Ned Begay and other Navajo men are recruited by the Marines to become Code Talkers, sending messages during World War II in their native tongue.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Bored and lonely after his family moves from Berlin to a place called “Out-With” in 1942, Bruno, the son of a Nazi officer, befriends a boy in striped pajamas who lives behind a wire fence.

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
A black family living in the South during the 1930’s are faced with prejudice and discrimination which their children don’t understand.