And just as we did last week, here are some more book recs for 12 & up girls from the fabulous What a Girl Wants crew:
Loree Griffin Burns suggests: "My WAGW holiday book picks are a collection of truly fantastic nonfiction that I read this year. The books themselves cross genres and reading levels but are united in their exploration of one amazing organism: the mighty redwood tree. I think it's fascinating how the different authors explored this single topic, and teenaged girls with an interest in science, discovery, or writing will surely enjoy a jaunt through their pages.
REDWOODS, by Jason Chin is not exactly written for teenaged girls, but it will interest them anyway. Chin takes the idea of a redwood forest and builds it into a grand, visual adventure. This picture book was actually my first introduction to redwoods, and it inspired me to learn more. (I love when picture books do that!)
OPERATION REDWOOD, by S. Terrell French. This middle-grade novel tells the story of three kids who take the preservation of a certain stand of redwood trees very, very seriously. The math is perfect: Kids = Heroes.
EXTREME SCIENTISTS, by Donna M. Jackson. This middle-grade photo-essay explores three different scientists, one of whom is Steven Sillett, the first scientist to climb up into the redwood canopy and explore. How he gets up there is just as fascinating as what he finds when he gets there, and the stunning photographs make this book a great complement to the others on the list. (CM: I reviewed Extreme Scientists in my feature on nonfiction titles in the new issue of Bookslut. Loved it!)
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine is one of my favorites, and a subscription starting with the October 2009 issue would make a perfect addition to a redwood-themed holiday gift basket, because it features a cover article on these super-trees â€¦ complete with a pullout poster that is crazy amazing.
The last redwood book on my list is the one that intrigued me most, and since it was published first, I suspect that it might just have inspired the other books on this list. THE WILD TREES, by Richard Preston is creative non-fiction at its very best: intensely readable and full of information that is so interesting you wonder after reading it why you hadn't explored the topic before. The book was primarily marketed to adults, but I think it will be equally interesting to teenagers; who can resist a book that inspires, motivates, saddens, and scares one witless all at the same time? [Parents will probably want to know there is a love scene in the book. And, yes, it takes place in the redwood canopy!]
CM: This is an inspired subject and some excellent choices for sure. For readers looking for other woodsy type stories I highly recommend The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy about two girls who meet in the woods, become friends and eventually join a summer writing program - it works for both nature lovers and would-be writers. Also Girlwood by Claire Dean which is about friendship, saving some trees and also has a pretty unexpected fantasy spin and Write Naked by Peter Gould which is about Rose Anna and Victor who fall for each other while writing about saving the world.
Kekla Magoon suggests: "The book I fell in love with this year was Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (Also excellent! Read it first!). This series has become extremely popular, which initially almost prejudiced me against it, but in my opinion it is among the most dynamic series out there for teens. I can't wait for book three!
Here are some others to check out:
Jumped, by Rita Williams-Garcia (National Book Award Finalist!)
Locomotion, by Jacqueline Woodson, and its companion, Peace, Locomotion
Between Us Baxters, by Bethany Hegedus
When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead (for middle grade readers, but lovely)
Once Was Lost, by Sara Zarr"
CM: I second the mention of Locomotion here - and actually pretty much anything by Jacqueline Woodson; she's fabulous. When You Reach Me has been recommended to me so many times that I finally added it to my own wishlist because I think this is a must read (read Betsy's rave to see just why I'm so excited). And I'm so pleased to see Sara Zarr on Kekla's list. She's - well, she's a literary wonder and teens today are so lucky to have her. Sara is the real deal, period.
I feel like I just woke up from a wonderful dream. I just finished reading In Summer Light by Zibby Onealâ€”it's about Kate, a seventeen-year-old, and about her summer, her father, her family, and falling in love with a visiting graduate student, Ian, who's twenty-five. It's one of the few books written about someone my age which gives a teenager any bit of credit for the ability to think, to be mature, to not be an idiot in love.
When I was a teen, in so many of the books I read and movies I saw, love seemed to be more about dithering over superficial make-out sessions and mindless crushes than about anything deep and real. This book explored a kind of mature, real, friendship-love that I'd felt but had never seen articulated. I began to realize what novels could do: that there were feelings I'd felt and experiences I'd had that I couldn't comprehend until I read about them in books.
The novel is out of print now, but there are almost 100 used copies available on Amazon. I think there's something magical about finding used, out-of-print books--how they endure and find their way through the world from owner to owner, and I hope these copies find their way into the hands of lots of readers this season.
I wrote an essay about this book recently in Lizzie Skurnick's anthology Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading, which was just published this summer. I loved reading Lizzie's book too, and re-discovering all the books I loved from the 70s and 80s. Her book is a great choice for anyone who wants to re-live all those favorites from the past, and discover new ones."
CM: First, I LOVE that Margo shared an entry from her own teen diary! What fun! Young love is a perennial favorite subject for teen girls and I think all of us share fond memories of romance novels we read in junior high and high school. (Do check out Shelf Discovery for a great section on teen romance - and actually any former teen girl will find something appealing in this fun title.) I would suggest readers check out Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and also the other titles mentioned by Readergirlz Postergirlz when the group hosted Rachel.
Neesha Meminger suggests: "I have a whole list, but since you are asking for just *one*, I am going to have to say BORN CONFUSED by Tanuja Desai Hidier for my YA pick. I absolutely *loved* this book when I first read it for so many reasons, but mainly because it was the first novel I'd read that had a cool, hip teen South Asian female protagonist who drank, tried smoking pot, and wasn't afraid of her sexuality. The book is raw, unique, beautifully written, edgy, and honest. I think it is a must-have for anyone interested in the lives of South Asian teens and multicultural literature in general.
For MG, I will say BINDI BABES, by Narinder Dhami. The BABES books are hilarious, fun, poignant in parts, and just very satisfying reads, overall. They are particularly special to me because in reading them, I discovered that South Asians could write all kinds of stories, including humourous, romantic, with wild and high concept storylines. This was all new to me as a beginning writer. Most of the books I had read by South Asians until then were literary, usually adult, romantic and nostalgic remembrances of the "homeland," and either set long ago, or were epic multi-generational tomes that I sometimes found difficult to slog through, as much I loved that they reflected a part of me. In contrast, the BABES books were light, fun, and quick--perfect beach, summer, or holiday reads."
CM: Neesha's mention of a multicultural tale immediately called to mind the works of Justine Chen Headley and Mitali Perkins both of whom I highly highly recommend. Readers should also check out the WAGW discussion on multicultural characters for teen girls wherein many excellent books were discussed (as was our mutual frustration over the fact that there still are not enough.)
Finally, do check out the books by my WAGW panelists. Tracking Trash by Loree Griffin Burns remains the science book I most frequently recommend to others - of any age. It blows away children, teens and adults and as the "garbage patch" become the focus of more international interest it would behoove all of us to know more about it. Beachcombers in particular will find it quite interesting. Kekla Magoon's The Rock and the River remains an impressive piece of historical fiction on a subject so rarely discussed that it pretty much blew all of us away when it first showed up. Margo Rabb is my hero for writing Cures for Heartbreak, don't miss it, please. And Neesha Meminger's Shine, Coconut Moon is still on my TBR pile (I'm so ashamed about this) but Doret loved it and so did Ari and so did Zetta. And that should tell you everything you need to know about why this book is fabulous!