Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for Youth

About the Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for Youth
Committed to providing a broad selection of outstanding books that mixes popular appeal with literary excellence, the Books for Youth editorial staff has chosen the titles below as best-of-the-year fiction, nonfiction, and picture books.

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2012 Selection(s)

Older Readers

The Children and the Wolves

By Adam Rapp. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763653378). Gr. 9–12.

Rapp returns with his most nightmarish vision yet. A 14-year-old genius keeps two boys in her thrall via drugs and sex, and together they hide a kidnapped 3-year-old in a basement. The mounting horror heightens the final glimmers of hope.

Code Name Verity

By Elizabeth Wein. Hyperion, $16.99 (9781423152194). Gr. 9–12.

A masterpiece of historical verisimilitude and gut-wrenching mystery, this is the tale of a powerful WWII friendship between a pilot named Maddie and a spy named Verity (among other things). Breathtaking, heartbreaking, and bursting with life.


By Terry Pratchett. Harper, $17.99 (9780062009494). Gr. 8–12.

One stormy night in an alternate Victorian London, a young tosher (sewer scavenger) named Dodger rises from the sewers to rescue a mysterious lady in distress and alters the course of his life. Always imaginative, Pratchett creates a romp of a novel that is lovingly crafted, often amusing, and completely enjoyable. (Top of the List winner—Youth Fiction.)


By Raina Telgemeier. Illus. by the author. Scholastic/Graphix, $23.99 (9780545326988). Gr. 6–9.

Telgemeier (Smile, 2010) demonstrates a sure sense of young teen life and sensibilities in this spot-on graphic-novel portrayal of the middle-school theater scene.

Every Day

By David Levithan. Knopf, $16.99 (9780307931887). Gr. 9–12.

What would it be like to wake up in a different body every day? Levithan explores this intriguing, highly original premise through A (his only name), who is sometimes a girl; sometimes gay; sometimes ill.

The Fault in Our Stars

By John Green. Dutton, $17.99 (9780525478812). Gr. 9–12.

Beautifully conceived and executed, this story about 16-year-old Hazel living with stage three cancer artfully examines the largest possible considerations—life, love, and death—with sensitivity, intelligence, honesty, and integrity.

The Final Four

By Paul Volponi. Viking, $16.99 (9780670012640). Gr. 9–12.

A triple-overtime NCAA game yields surprising personal drama as Volponi expertly weaves in backstories via four different player points of view. Nailbiting stuff for sports fans, though anyone who gives it a shot will come out a winner.


2012 Selection(s)

Young Readers

Just Ducks!

By Nicola Davies. Illus. by Salvatore Rubbino. Candlewick, $15.99 (9780763659363). K–Gr. 3.

As a young girl tells about the mallard ducks living near her home, her easygoing narration and the fresh look of the watercolor illustrations make the information in this winning picture book surprisingly easy to absorb.

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

By Claire A. Nivola. Illus. by the author. Farrar/Frances Foster, $17.99 (9780374380687). K–Gr. 3.

Illustrated with exquisitely detailed artwork, this stunning picture-book introduction to Sylvia Earle incorporates many of the world-renowned marine scientist’s poetic words into the graceful text.

Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas

By Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm. Illus. by Molly Bang. Scholastic/Blue Sky, $18.99 (9780545273220). K–Gr. 3.

Never underestimating its child audience, this ambitious, visually brilliant picture book shows how the sun supports life by sustaining the ocean’s microscopic phytoplankton, an essential part of marine food chains and a major supplier of the earth’s oxygen.