Tanya Landman has written many books for children in the UK, and I Am Apache is her US debut, targeted to the young adult market.  I was originally intrigued by the cover art and the write up inside the jacket, which promises that Landman: “takes readers on a sweeping journey of the American Southwest in the nineteenth century. Drawing on historical accounts, she poignantly imagines the Black Mountain Apache as a tribe fighting to survive the devestating progress of nations.”  I like stories of young women (and men) who step outside traditional roles, rise up, and mature in the face of adversity.  This book fulfilledRead More →

Opening and closing with the funerals of 2 teens killed by drug violence, Walter Dean Myer’s Autobiography of My Dead Brother, is a stark portrayal of youth for urban teens.  I am always impressed by Walter Dean Myer’s ability to tell honest, and sometimes gritty, stories about the difficulties faced by young men, often African American, whose lives are surrounded by violence. His characters are multi-dimensional and he deftly illustrates how much everyone has in common with everyone else, and how fine the line between good and bad choices really is. Fifteen-year-old Jessie has always seen his slightly older friend Rise as a hero, and the boys made a blood-brother bond as children.Read More →

In Dyan Sheldon’s Planet Janet, we meet 16 year-old Janet, a melodramatic, misunderstood, and self-absorbed teen. Attempting to transcend life’s “mundane crap” Janet, accompanied by best friend, enters her “Dark Phase,” which is marked by dark clothing, thinking about “DEEP AND MEANINGFUL THINGS”, and calculated pursuit of Elvin, an aspiring filmmaker. Meanwhile, life at home in London grows increasingly rocky. At first we only get glimpses of Janet’s family, all seen through her sarcastic teen eyes, so we don’t really know what’s going on in the house.  But when her parents’ normal fights erupt into full crisis and her brother’s volitle personal life gets out ofRead More →

I have a copy of The Gathering by Michael Carroll and at first I didn’t realize that it was book two in a series (yes, I see the giant “2” on the cover. Whatever.). I’ll definitely go back to read book 1, but I was able to follow along alright. 10 years ago the superheroes were the rescuers of the human race. The supervillain Ragnarok created a device to strip the heroes of their powers. Now, the children of the heroes are finding out that they inherited some powers. If you like shows like Heroes or enjoyed the giant list of superhero movies this summer,Read More →

Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen, is the story of Sam Carrier. All Sam can dream of is being an average guy who can actually talk to the beautiful and perfect Naomi. However, Sam has Tourette’s syndrome, which causes his body to twitch and tic and his mouth to not cooperate with his head. However, Sam’s life is about to change, through the long lost words of his deceased father and his new (and unexpected) friends. The journey he embarks on is one of self acceptance, love, and finding out just who you are in the world. As Jonathan Friesen’s debut novel, Jerk, California is oneRead More →

Walker feels like his life has been going downhill since his father died.  In Ron Koertge’s Where the Kissing Never Stops, this high school junior has to come to terms with the fact that his dad wasn’t who he thought he was, that his life is going out of control, and to top it all off, his mom has take a job as a stripper. Walker’s relationships in the book, with his best friend, Sully, his new girlfriend, Rachel, and his mom, allow him to explore his changing feelings, insecurities, and daily challenges of growing up.  He learns his father left him some land to useRead More →

Matt de la Pena’s second novel for young adults, Mexican WhiteBoy, tells the engrossing story of Danny, a 17 year-old young man who doesn’t feel that he fits in anywhere. Certainly not in his primarily white private school north of San Diego, and even less, he feels, in National City, San Diego, with his Mexican father’s extended family.  Danny struggles with feelings of being an outsider since at school he’s seen as a Mexican kid, and in his family he’s not Mexican enough. Danny comes to National City to spend the summer at his uncle’s place.  His white mother and sister are in San FranciscoRead More →

July’s School Library Journal cover story Street Fight: Welcome to the World of Urban Lit, is a thought-provoking article about the genre of books that aim to accurately represent the sometimes harsh, violent world of today’s inner city life. Amy Pattee’s insightful investigation of the history and continued cultural relevance of this genre provides good background for those who are unfamiliar with it and yet are confronted with teen readers’ requests for these types of books.  Pattee also provides a good bibliography of urban lit titles written specifically for the teen audience, although her point that some “young connoisseurs of urban lit may find these more restrained stories babyish or inauthentic”Read More →

A few weeks ago the Sunday New York TimesBookReview ended with an essay by Margo Rabb, entitled I’m Y.A., and I’m O.K.   It’s an interesting examination, from an author’s point of view, about the very porous border between books published for the adult and the young adult market.  Here at PBC we see great books all the time that exist on both sides of that border, and I think this points to the sophistication of teens today and the realization that they deal with issues in their everyday lives that make for powerfully told stories. Posted by CoriRead More →