In addition to working on my own writing at least four hours a day, I have been reading some of the new Printz award winning books. Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi was the top 2011 winner. The author details a chilling dystopian future rife with poverty and cruelty. The main character is Nailer, probably around thirteen or fourteen, who works on a light crew to rip salvage from abandoned oil tankers in the Gulf area. In Nailer's brutal world the crew makes their quota or suffers the consequences and they are deadly. Nailer and his friend Pima find a hurricane wrecked clipper ship with a survivor, a rich and beautiful girl. Her jewelry alone would free Nailer and Pima from their life of near slavery. Nailer does not want to kill her; Pima does. She's just a "swank" after all. This story is exciting and a compelling read, but although it is very worthy, I would have placed two others above it in the award.
Perhaps my personal favorite is Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King. This Printz Honor book is exceptional in many ways. The story's structure allows the author to give great detail about all of the characters. Written in first person, each character gets their say. Vera goes through life hanging back, seeking to be ignored, getting good grades in school and working forty hours a week as a pizza delivery person. Her father, a recovered alcoholic, is convinced that alcoholism is a genetic possibility for Vera. Since he got her mother pregnant when she was only seventeen, he fears that could happen to Vera as well. So, no boys until after Vera successfully completes college. To Ken Dietz, especially after Vera's mother abandons them, work is the solution to every problem. Vera's childhood friend Charlie Kahn has died, but he's not out of Vera's life. She "sees" him everywhere, and not just one but "thousands of Charlies." It takes the whole book to find out what Charlie did, what he didn't do, and how he died. Even Charlie gets his story told in his own narrative sections.
Another of the honor books that really held my attention as a reader is Stolen by Lucy Christopher. The author is English, the story setting in the Sandy Desert of Australia. Gemma, age sixteen, has been kidnapped in an airport in Bangkok while traveling with her parents. Her kidnapper feels he has "rescued" Gemma from the false city life she has led. In the vastness of his beloved desert, he wants her to see the beauty, the freedom. Gemma fights and runs away several times, but her escape attempts are useless. Her kidnapper Ty MacFarlane has stalked her for years, wants her to be his companion, his love. Although he treats her well, Gemma knows she should not give in to loving him. The story is beautifully written with a sad, but truthful, ending.
Author of Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction
Published by Guardian Angel Publishing December 2014:
Jeremiah Lucky and the Guardian Angel
Jeremiah needs a little help and he gets it with the sudden appearance of his guardian angel. Chapter book for ages 7-10.
Jeremiah Lucky Finds Puppy Love
Jeremiah dodges a kiss from a princess and falls head over heels for a lost puppy. Chapter book for ages 7-10.
Watch for these titles coming soon:
The Whispering Chimney
Eleven-year old Bethany finds a stone chimney and discovers a beautiful but terrifying past. (upper middle grade)
(Beyond the) Stone Eagle Gate
David, age fifteen, flees a false accusation and takes refuge in a haunted, abandoned mansion. (YA, historical fiction ghost story)
The Interplanetary Adventures of Yan Sunnara: Book I Rescue on Lato
Cultural scientist Yan Sunnara rescues an unusual child on the planet of Lato with the help of an exotic and beautiful Uvian archaeologist. (Adult, soft Science Fiction, Rescue on Lato is the first of a series of four novellas.)
Three teens are connected by a mysterious and sometimes frightening ability to cross over from one dimension here on earth to another. This YA novel placed in the top three in Florida Writers 2013 RPLA competition. Speculative Fiction.
Some Great MG and YA books
- Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
- These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
- Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
- Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
- Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood
- The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
- Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
- Red Blood Road by Moira Young
- On Little Wings by Regina Sirois
- Nation by Terry Pratchett
- Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
- Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (Printz 2012)
- The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
- Fire by Kristin Cashore