A Short Guide To Recent Youth Fiction Fixations

September's creepin' and school season is almost here. Lots of reading to do, but make sure to keep it interesting. We all need fiction! Here are some carefully curated choices from the shelves at Academie D&Q:

Welcome to the Town of Remarkable Where Every Day in this Remarkable Place filled with Remarkable People is Positively Remarkable for Absolutely Everyone Except Jane
by Lizzie K. Foley
(middle grades)

Woah, what a title! It's almost a book in itself. Thankfully, there's lots more story to be told inside, specifically the story of little ol' ordinary Jane Doe who's only the only student at Remarkable's public school. Enter: The Grimlet Twins, an ex-pirate, a lake monster and more and Jane's life starts getting more remarkable by the page.

[Foley] does [not] aspire to heavy moralizing about the virtues of ordinariness. Instead, she sets herself the more modest goal of showing how even a self-­proclaimed former nobody can dream up a lot of outlandish entertainment. - Ann Hulbert, New York Times

Supergirl Mixtapes
by Meaghan Brothers
(grade 8 and up)

Named a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age and the winner of a GLBT Table ALA award Brothers follow-up to her acclaimed Debbie Harry Sings in French with the story of Maria and her reunion with her troubled and eccentric artist mother in New York City. Alienated in the city and hating her new school, Maria finds solace in the girl group heavy mixtapes sent to her by the best friend she left behind in South Carolina.

The 1990s New York City setting is captivating in its detail...[m]essy and often heartbreaking, Maria’s journey is one well worth taking. - Publisher's Weekly

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky
(older teens)

Some heavy themes are visited in Chbosky's cult-classic 1999 novel (it was third on the American Library Association's list of the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2009) and, with the release of the film next month, the controversy over it's suitability for teen audiences will continue. Wherever you stand, though, there can be no debate over just how much the book has permeated pop culture and resonated with a generation that has adopted as their very own Catcher in the Rye.

by R.J. Palacio
(middle grades)

"I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse."

Auggie, Wonder's 10-year old protagonist, is a boy born with facial anomalies who is entering middle school for the first time after years of home-schooling. Beautifully written and with a light touch, Palacio's novel has been receiving raves upon raves since it was first released last May (it's been re-ordered several times here at the shop).

...delivers what it promises – an emotional roller-coaster ride in which tears, laughter and triumphant fist-pumping are mandatory. But it is better than that. In its assured simplicity and boldness, it also has the power to move hearts and change minds. - Simon Mason, The Guardian

by Rachel Hartman

For those of you who like a little escape from the sometimes harsh realities of life this, the debut from author Rachel Hartman, should do the trick nicely. A New York Times bestseller, Hartman's book is about the musically gifted Seraphina Dombegh who stumbles upon a sinister plot that threatens her kingdom's 40 years of peace their neighbours: a nation of shapshifting dragons who disdain art and emotion.

The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate
Illustrated by Patricia Castelao
(grades 3 and up)

Brought from Africa by hunters, Ivan, a silverback gorilla, inhabits a plexiglass and concrete enclosure at The Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade where he's been entertaining visitors for twenty-seven years - so long that Ivan has not only all but forgotten his homeland but also what true freedom feels like. Once new arrival Ruby, a young elephant, arrives and shakes him from his malaise Ivan decides to do everything he can to get her out of the mall and into the zoo.
Narrated by Ivan himself (and loosely based on a true story), The One and Only Ivan has drawn raves for it's spare style, and it's thoughtful and non-preachy approach to detailing the lives of animals in sad circumstances.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. - Kirkus Reviews

by Carl Hiaasen
(grade 5 and up)

Another book featuring animals, but this time hilarious. Son of an animal trainer and living in a zoo in Florida, Wahoo Cray has grown up around all kinds of critters. When his dad gets a job on a reality TV show called "Expedition Survival" Wahoo finds that humans are even harder to deal with than denizens of the wild.

[Hiaasen] proves that it is possible for a modern author to put a Moral in the Story without losing savvy young readers, most of whom can sniff out a Message from a mile away. But these readers are laughing all the way to the point, and coming back for more. - Jenny's Book Review

The Disenchantments
by Nina LaCour

Colby and Bev are best friends. Bev's in a band (The Disenchantments) and when she decides to quit after graduation it throws Colby into a tailspin: he'd been waiting, eagerly, to roadie for them that summer. Colby goes anyway but dealing with the loss of his friend and the question of what will happen next is always on his mind. Breezy but deep, The Disenchantments features a lot of what like to be in a small band that still plays music for fun and a teenager who's whole life lies ahead.

LaCour perfectly blends the fun and adventure of a road trip with the sadness of things coming to an end with the hope of new beginnings. - Michelle Krys

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