Young Adult Lit/Crit

February 29, 2008

An Interesting List for Us

Filed under: from your prof — sunyprof @ 2:44 pm

Dear Teachers,

This list of titles comes from one of my listserv’s most active reader. In fact each yr. there’s a JHUNT award winner, named after Jonathan, for the best YA title for that year. I hope you will take a look at this list of what he believes are “neglected” YA titles, titles that should have gotten more attention. Some will be familiar–some not. Mandy, glad to see TAMAR? Mandy also read THE NEW POLICEMAN. SOMEDAY THIS PAIN. . . is a lit circle title going forward. I think at least one of you read MISTIK LAKE. Allison “read” THE ARRIVAL. Taking a look at one of these titles for an upcoming book club would be a good move. Do share in the comment space here how you are stretching yourself as a YA reader. KES

THE ARRIVAL by Shaun Tan. . . Yes, it won the CBCA (sort of like the
Australian Caldecott); yes, it was starred and listed by all six
journals; yes, it was a NYT Best Illustrated Book and a BBYA Top
Ten. Still, it should have gotten more. Dare we hope for the Boston
Globe-Horn Book Award?

TAMAR by Mal Peet . . . This one wrested the Carnegie Medal away from
THE WHITE DARKNESS and the unshortlisted NEW POLICEMAN, was a BBYA
Top Ten, and was starred and listed by no less than four review
journals. The most excellent example of the literary crossover novel
I touted in my Horn Book article last year.

ANGEL ISLE by Peter Dickinson . . . Speaking of Horn Book articles,
DREAMQUAKE, DARKWING, and DARKLING PLAIN fared well in head-to-head
competition with realistic fiction this year, and specialized awards
such as the Cybils and the Norton have caught up some of the equally
deserving books such as BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS, THE LION HUNTER, and
HARRY POTTER. NEW POLICEMAN and RED SPIKES did well, too, in terms
of awards and reviews, but I’d still like to see ANGEL ISLE get its
just due. It’s not a book for everybody, but for its audience, it’s
as good as any book published this year. Is the Mythopoeic Award
jury listening?

reviews, striking narrative voice, and some of the best dialogue of
the past year. I thought this one would be an NBA finalist and a
BBYA Top Ten . . . I’m looking forward to our discussion of this one.

MISTIK LAKE by Martha Brooks . . . People have complained here and
elsewhere that it was too predictable and too soapy, but I never felt
that way. Another book with terrific reviews. Can we all agree to
give her the CLA Book of the Year? Please?

FORGED IN THE FIRE by Ann Turnbull . . . My pet book that nobody else
liked. No love for this one. Some nice reviews, but no stars.
Would be easier to take if NO SHAME, NO FEAR had gotten its just
due. It did make the Outstanding International Books list, though.

EINSTEIN ADDS A NEW DIMENSION by Joy Hakim . . . My other pet book.
Nonfiction is a hard sell, particularly in this kind of presentation,
but no author impressed me more this year.




  1. Jonathan,
    Thanks for sharing the this list with us. I’m hoping to start a discussion of THE ARRIVAL. Has anyone else read this book? What does everyone think? I must admit, I’m a little unsure if I like it. The first time I read through it, I was lost. I looked for reviews online, and understood it a little more. If I were to use this in my classroom, I would use it to discuss allegory. It could also be used to look at cultural theory or new historicism. Although the book is supposed to be free of a specific time or incident, I believe it draws from historical events and cultural knowledge to make it work. Really, for any visual text to be effective, it must draw upon some prior knowledge. So, the book can be used to teach semantics as well as several critical theories. In this way, I think the book has merit.


    Comment by allison — March 3, 2008 @ 10:12 am

  2. Hi all, Strange gremlins are at work. Jonathan’s name is on the bottom of my post. Jon, looks like we’re in sync without even knowing it!! My error somehow. KES

    Comment by sunyprof — March 3, 2008 @ 10:23 am

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