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broodings from the burrow

June 1, 2013

armchair bea: from picture books to young adult
posted by soe 11:40 pm
Armchair BEA logo design by Emily of Emily's Reading Room
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Emily’s Reading Room

The final genre topic of Armchair BEA is one near and dear to my heart: kidlit and yalit.

Until last fall, I would have told you that I was a young adult aficionado. I like Sarah Dessen, John Green, and plenty of others who are shelved in the teen room at the library. But then I was chosen as a Cybils young adult realistic fiction judge and I was simultaneously inundated with recently published novels aimed at teenagers and by fellow panelists who read books at speeds that put me to shame. And I discovered I don’t love all young adult fiction equally.

I do not love books with depressing endings. In fact, it might be fair to say that an unhappy ending can entirely reverse my opinion of a book. I also don’t love books that feature virulent illnesses or with serial killers in them.

What I do love is books with strong characters who create a sense of family with people who aren’t related to them. I also love books with characters who make interesting choices or who can be described as quirky or offbeat.

And it may be that I like middle-grade fiction, where the stakes are a little lower and where the stress isn’t as ratched up, just as much as young adult fiction. I had previously suspected that middle-grade fiction was all Wimpy Kid books, but it turns out that some of my favorite books — the early Harry Potter, the Little House on the Prairie books, Anne of Green Gables — all fall into the middle grade category.

If you’re looking for a place to start in either category, these are some of my favorites (with linked reviews where I wrote them) from the past three years:

And thus far this year my favorites have included Wonder by R.J. Palacio, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, Dodger by Terry Pratchett, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde, and Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George.

How about you? What’s been your favorite YA/MG book of recent years?

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