Blatant Bibliophile Blog

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Best Books of 2007 from School Library Journal

Posted by blatantbibliophiles on November 26, 2007

SLJ2

School Library Journal recently selected their Best Books 2007. The sixty-three chosen books represent 4700 of those reviewed by SLJ this year. The past year was a great year for historical fiction, fantasy, and humor. For a complete list of this year’s top picks, click here. You can also see their best adult books for young adults. Here are some of the books recommended for high school students:

ALEXIE, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. illus. by Ellen Forney. Little, Brown. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978–0-316-01368-0.
Gr 7-10–Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, a Spokane Indian, is a bright, geeky teen who transfers from the reservation school to a rich, white high school. With honesty, humor, and unfailing optimism, he comes to terms with tragic realities and family frailties, and learns who he really is.
BARAKAT, Ibtisam. Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood. Farrar/Melanie Kroupa Bks. Tr $16. ISBN 978-0-374-35733-7.
Gr 7 Up–A Palestinian child discovers the Arabic alphabet while a refugee during the Six-Day War, giving her a way to cope with and escape from the deprivation and fears in her daily life. A beautifully crafted memoir that takes readers into the heart and experiences of this talented writer.
CAREY, Janet Lee. Dragon’s Keep. Harcourt. Tr $17. ISBN 978-0-15-205926-2.
Gr 6-10–A princess wears golden gloves to hide the fact that she was born with one dragon talon until it comes time to fulfill her destiny. A complex fantasy, filled with plot twists, betrayal, and a revenge-seeking dragon.
CRISLER, Curtis L. Tough Boy Sonatas. illus. by Floyd Cooper. Boyds Mills/Wordsong. Tr $19.95. ISBN 978-1-932425-77-2.
Gr 8 Up–The gritty realities of life in the crumbling, postindustrial city of Gary, IN, are brought to life in powerful poems that palpably capture the anger, frustration, camaraderie, and audacious dreams of its poor young residents.
FREEDMAN, Russell. Who Was First?: Discovering the Americas. Clarion. Tr $19. ISBN 978-0-618-66391-0.
Gr 5-9–Written records, artifacts, DNA evidence, and conjecture are all given their due in this accessible and balanced examination of the human presence in the Western world. The plentiful black-and-white and color photos, reproductions, and maps add detail and information about ancient settlements and contemporary scholarship.
GARDNER, Lyn. Into the Woods. illus. by Mini Grey. Random/David Fickling Bks. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-385-75115-5; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-385-75116-2.
Gr 5-9-Three sisters who live near a rat-infested village are pursued by evil Dr. DeWilde, who is determined to have the musical pipe their mother left them. Kidnapping, hair-raising danger, and a host of fairy-tale themes make up this wild romp through Victorian England.
GRANDITS, John. Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems. illus. by author. Clarion. Tr $15. ISBN 978-0-618-56860-4; pap. $5.95. ISBN 978-0-618-85132-4.
Gr 5-9–Jessie voices her witty, often-irreverent opinions about ninth-grade life, her less-than-harmonious family relationships, and her search for her “signature style.” With imaginative writing, crisp graphics, and artful layouts, this clever collection of concrete poems will grab language lovers and poetry-phobes alike.
HALE, Shannon. Book of a Thousand Days. Bloomsbury. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-1-59990-051-3.
Gr 5-9–Refusing to marry the villainous man her father has chosen for her, Lady Saren is imprisoned in a tower for seven years with her maid, Dashti, a clever, resourceful girl and the story’s narrator. Wild escapes and dangerous romance on the Asian steppes will keep readers on the edge of their seats in this novelization of the Brothers Grimm’s “Maid Maleen.”
HORNBY, Nick. Slam. Putnam. Tr $19.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25048-4.
Gr 9 Up-A teen who learns that his girlfriend is pregnant is whisked into the future by his idol, Tony Hawk, to witness his life as a father. Though hilarious scenes abound, they never undermine the seriousness of the situation, which is handled with sensitivity and insight.
JINKS, Catherine. Evil Genius. Harcourt. Tr $17. ISBN 978-0-15-205988-0.
Gr 7 Up–Once enrolled in the Axis Institute for World Domination, teen hacker extraordinaire Cadel Piggott begins to question his teachers’ motives and to sift through multiple layers of deception, manipulation, and subterfuge. A fast-paced and absorbing look at good and evil in a high-tech world.
JOCELYN, Marthe. How It Happened in Peach Hill. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-375-83701-2; PLB $17.99. ISBN 978-0-375-93701-9.
Gr 5-9–In this high-spirited novel set in upstate New York in the 1920s, an itinerant fortune-teller forces her 15-year-old daughter to pose as a mentally disabled person in order to eavesdrop and gather information for her séances. Longing for a stable life and a chance to show her real intelligence, Annie feigns a “miraculous cure” in public, but her mother is not about to be upstaged.
JOHNSTON, Tony. Bone by Bone by Bone. Roaring Brook/A Deborah Brodie Bk. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-59643-113-3.
Gr 6 Up–Despite his unyielding physician father’s racist rules, David, who is white, forms a blood-brother relationship with Malcolm, who is black. As the protagonist turns 13, this taut story of prejudice, love, and rebellion in 1950s Tennessee comes to a shattering climax.
KEPHART, Beth. Undercover. HarperFestival/A Laura Geringer Bk. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-123893-2; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-123894-9.
Gr 9 Up–Introspective Elisa writes love verses for the boys in her class, including her secret crush, to woo their sweethearts, and finds release by skating in the dark on a desolate pond. This quiet coming-of-age story about a keenly perceptive “winter girl” has an authentic voice and multiple layers of soul-satisfying reading.
KOSTICK, Conor. Epic. Viking. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-670-06179-2.
Gr 8 Up–This well-crafted fantasy features a society in which violence has been banned and people must settle their disputes in Epic, an all-consuming virtual-reality game. Erik chooses a female avatar who uses her beauty and wits in lieu of more conventional weapons and teams up with his friends’ characters to save his father and take on the powers behind the game.
MURPHY, Jim. The Real Benedict Arnold. Clarion. Tr $20. ISBN 978-0-395-77609-4.
Gr 7 Up–Murphy presents a compelling portrait of a complex figure. Arnold was an intelligent and talented businessman, a brilliant strategist and a gallant general, and a true believer in the patriots’ cause. So what went so terribly wrong? The comprehensive text and excellent supporting graphics piece together a thrilling look at the American Revolution and its successes and failures.
MYERS, Walter Dean. What They Found: Love on 145th Street. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-385-32138-9; PLB $18.99. ISBN 978-0-375-93709-5.
Gr 9 Up–These masterfully crafted urban tales highlight a contemporary New York City community, but they have a more universal sensibility in their humor, their heartbreak, and their humanity. They reflect the hopes and dreams of youth, the dilemmas and drama of parenthood, and the debilitating effects of despair.
PEET, Mal. Tamar. Candlewick. RTE $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-3488-9.
Gr 8 Up–This gripping thriller unfolds in parallel narratives. An omniscient narrator vividly describes the struggles of Allied spies sent to support the Dutch resistance, and 15-year-old Tamar, the granddaughter of one of the undercover operatives, tries to piece together the clues to the old man’s past left to her following his suicide in 1995. An intricate and powerfully written read about love and loyalty, deceit and betrayal.
RESAU, Laura. Red Glass. Delacorte. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-385-73466-0; PLB $18.99. ISBN 978-0-385-90464-3.
Gr 8 Up–A timid Arizona teen’s life is radically changed when her family takes in an orphaned six-year-old, the sole survivor of an illegal border crossing. Sophie, her free-spirited Bosnian great-aunt, the aunt’s boyfriend from Guatemala, and the man’s son become unlikely travel companions as they escort Pablo back to Mexico to visit his relatives. An evocative and metaphorical road trip, full of cultural richness and romance.
ST. JAMES, James. Freak Show. Dutton. Tr $18.99. ISBN 978-0-525-47799-0.
Gr 9 Up–A teenage drag queen extraordinaire takes a conservative boarding school by storm, startling everyone with his outrageous behavior, his exuberance, and his couture, all the while simply wanting acceptance. The story is witty, bold, and bawdy, but it’s also a telling account about what it’s like to live in Billy Bloom’s skin.
SHARENOW, Robert. My Mother the Cheerleader. HarperCollins/Laura Geringer Bks. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-114896-5; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-114897-2.
Gr 8-10–Thirteen-year-old Louise is stuck at home helping run a dilapidated boarding house while her mother and the rest of the “Cheerleaders” gather every morning to hurl verbal abuse at six-year-old Ruby Bridges as she attempts to integrate the New Orleans public schools. When an outsider comes to observe these events, the high emotions turn to violence in this harrowing and painfully honest historical novel.
STEWART, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict Society. illus. by Carson Ellis. Little, Brown/Megan Tingley Bks. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-05777-6.
Gr 5-9–Four children without families are selected to enter an isolated school where they must foil an evil master who plans to take over the world. Mysterious clues, puzzles, danger, creative problem-solving, and zany humor all play a part as the youngsters use their special abilities to thwart the villain, restore order, and find a place for themselves.
THOMPSON, Kate. The New Policeman. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-117427-8; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-117428-5.
Gr 7-10–The hours are slipping through everyone’s fingers in the Irish village of Kinvara, so when J.J.’s Mum requests more time for her birthday, the 15-year-old musician goes on a quest that leads him into the fairyland of Tír na n’Óg and the heart of his family’s deepest secrets. Fantasy, folklore, and musical zeal harmonize into a tantalizing and finely tuned coming-of-age tale.
WEIN, Elizabeth E. The Lion Hunter. Viking. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-06163-1.
Gr 7 Up–This sweeping historical fantasy set in sixth-century Africa is replete with splendid characterization, vivid detail, political intrigue, and adventure. Twelve-year-old Prince Telemakos has endured physical and emotional pain at the hands of captors and loses an arm in a lion attack, but remains steadfast in his commitment to caring for his baby sister and to protecting the Askumites from treachery and tyranny.
WELLS, Rosemary. Red Moon at Sharpsburg. Viking. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-03638-7.
Gr 7 Up–A 13-year-old experiences the horrors and dangers of the Civil War and witnesses the appalling medical practices of the time. A powerful novel, unflinching in its depiction of war, as seen through the eyes of a courageous, determined teen who never gives up her dream of going to college.

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