Welcome to the weekly round-up of what the BookNerd is reading and how many points I scored (or lost) in Library Chicken. To recap, you get a point for returning a library book that you’ve read, you lose a point for returning a book unread, and while returning a book past the due date is technically legal, you do lose half a point. If you want to play along, leave your score in the comments!
It’s my favorite time of the year: LIST TIME! There’s nothing I love more than a good list, so we’re taking a break from your regularly scheduled Library Chicken Update to present (in no particular order) Library Chicken’s Top 10 Kids/Young Adult Books Read in 2017. (Stay tuned next week for Library Chicken’s Top 10 Nonfiction Books!)
THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
LUMBERJANES by Noelle Stevenson (and others)
PAPER GIRLS by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang
One of the themes of my 2017 reading turned out to be graphic novels about awesome young women doing awesome things with all their awesome friends. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Lumberjanes series are wonderfully smart, funny, and diverse, and would make great gifts for your favorite 8- to 12-year-olds. (I’m speaking from experience, as two of my favorite 9-year-olds are now big fans after getting the first couple of volumes from their Auntie Suzanne.) For older YA readers (and fans of Stranger Things), Paper Girls is a fantastic time-traveling alien-invasion adventure set in the 80s. Definitely put these books on your holiday shopping lists, but be sure to enjoy them yourself before giving them away!
AKATA WITCH by Nnedi Okorafor
I loved this story of a 12-year-old Nigerian-American girl discovering her magical powers with the help of fellow students and an assortment of mysterious elders. It’s a wonderful read, especially for anyone who obsessively checks bookstore shelves just in case another Harry Potter novel has suddenly appeared. I haven’t yet read the sequel, Akata Warrior, but it’s on my Christmas wishlist (HINT HINT).
ONE CRAZY SUMMER (and sequels) by Rita Williams-Garcia
In 1968, three sisters travel from New York to California to spend the summer with the mother who left them to follow her own dreams. Instead of visiting Disneyland, they find themselves at a Black Panther day camp. After reading the first book, I couldn’t wait to read more about this amazing, loving, complicated family in P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy in Alabama. My only complaint is that there aren’t more books in the series, as I’d happily follow these sisters from pre-teens to 40-somethings. (As an extra bonus, the covers of all three books are gorgeous.)
THE GLASS TOWN GAME by Catherynne M. Valente
Valente is swiftly moving up the ranks in the list of my all-time favorite authors. This novel follows the four young Bronte siblings (Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne) as they accidentally find themselves in a magical world of their own creation. Similar in style to Valente’s Fairyland series with a dash of The Phantom Tollbooth, this would be a great read-aloud and introduction to the Brontes (although you may have to prepare your listeners for some post-book heartbreak when they learn about the eventual fates of the siblings). I especially loved the Jane Austen cameo, presented (as Valente apologetically notes) from Charlotte’s point of view (she’s not a fan).
THE ALEX CROW by Andrew Smith
Smith’s YA novels (including the apocalyptic Grasshopper Jungle) are bizarre, upsetting, raunchy, utterly original, and chock full of adolescent males acting as adolescent-male-y as humanly possible. They are also entertaining, compelling, and surprisingly touching (even if you happen to be neither adolescent nor male). Our protagonist here is Ariel, a young war refugee adopted by an American family, and it only gets weirder (much much weirder) from there.
LANDSCAPE WITH INVISIBLE HAND by M.T. Anderson
This YA novella was short but memorable, exploring ideas about imperialism and cultural appropriation through the alien vuvv, Earth’s new, (mostly) benign overlords. To make money in the post-vuvv economy, our hero Adam and his girlfriend livestream their romance for the aliens’ enjoyment, but that’s a little more difficult now that they’ve broken up.
GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE by A.S. King
Petrified bat drinking leads to strange visions of a near future anti-feminist Second American Civil War. Really, that’s all the info you should need to run out and read this YA novel, but if it helps it’s also a sensitive portrayal of family, loss, and friendship. (Also a good warning to readers not to drink petrified bats.)
THE RAVEN CYCLE by Maggie Stiefvater
Stiefvater’s four book fantasy YA series (beginning with The Raven Boys) includes a family of eccentric psychics, the clairvoyant daughter of the house, and a set of cute prep school boys who may have strange powers of their own. It’s great all the way through and I look forward to reading more Stiefvater in 2018.