Library Blog: High School Reading Lists

This Christian Science Monitor article is all about the new titles being included on high school reading lists.  Classics like Shakespeare and Hawthorne are being joined by Sandra Cisneros, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Yann Martel.  The article ends with a list of books from high school reading lists across the country.  I love the juxtaposition of the old and new, exactly what teens should be filling their minds with.

Australian Crichton Award for Illustration

The 2007 Crichton Award for Children’s Book Illustration has been announced by The Children’s Book Council of Australia. 

Winner:  When Elephants Lived in the Sea illustrated by Vincent Agostino

Shortlisted:  Automaton illustrated by Aaron Hill and Clancy the Courageous Cow illustrated by Lachie Hume

CBCA Books of the Year

The Children’s Book Council of Australia has awarded their Children’s Book of the Year for 2007.  They give an award in several age groups.

Older Readers:

Winner:  Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan

Honor:  Monster Blood Tattoo by D. M. Cornish and The Red Shoe by Ursula Dubosarsky.

Younger Readers:

Winner:  Being Bee by Catherine Bateson

Honor:  The Tuckshop Kid by Pat Flynn and Bird & Sugar Boy by Sofie Laguna

Early Childhood:

Winner:  Amy & Louis by Libby Gleeson

Honor:  Doodledum Dancing by Meredith Costain and Chatterbox by Margaret Wild

Picture Book:

Winner:  The Arrival by Tan Shaun

Honor:  The Rainbirds by Sally Rippin and Woolvs in the Sitee by Anne Spudvilas

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books:

Winner:  The Penguin Book: Birds in Suits by Mark Norman

Honor:  Red haze by Leon Davidson and Queenie: one elephant’s story by Corinne Fenton


Runaround by Helen Hemphill.

This tween novel that takes place in Kentucky in the sixties, features the vivid protagonist, Sassy.  Sassy has decided after her older sister publicly humiliates her during a kissing game, to get revenge by becoming the girlfriend of the cutest boy in town.  Sassy is addicted to reading Love Confessions, a magazine all about romance.  But as Sassy goes about getting the boy interested, it all becomes more and more confusing.  No one will help explain exactly how you know a boy is interested or how you know the person is the right person for you. 

This is a well-crafted novel that is perfect for tween readers.  It has just the right amount of romance, including french kissing, but doesn’t go so far that it would make it more appropriate for older readers.  Hemphill has created a dysfunctional family that reads as  completely real.  Sassy and many of the other characters in the book reveal layers to themselves that are fascinating to read.  I also appreciated that Sassy is not always good, appropriate or honorable.  She is complex, torn and down-to-the bone real.  And that is not something that can be often said of a teen female character.  Refreshingly, Sassy is so complex she defies categorization.  She is simply Sassy.

Beyond the characters, the story is also very well done.  While I consider it primarily a character-driven story of Sassy, it does have implications that are worthy of discussion.  What makes a bad girl?  What is love?  How do you know when you have found it?  All of these questions will pull tween readers in and not allow them to put the book down until they learn whether Sassy ever discovers the answers.

Highly recommended for tween readers and middle school collections.  If you want to read a book about a girl who is unique, bold and questioning, this is the book for you.