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 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.

Fire in the Streets

By Kekla Magoon. Aladdin, $15.99 (9781442422308). Gr. 6–10.

Set in 1968 Chicago, this powerful sequel to the multi-award-winning The Rock and the River (2009) follows Maxie, 14, who joins her older brother in the local chapter of the Black Panther Party.

The Girl with Borrowed Wings.

By Rinsai Rossetti. Dial, $17.99 (9780803735668). Gr. 7–12.

In Rossetti’s spellbinding debut, Frenenqer—a girl bound by her father’s strict rules—and a shape-shifting Free person with wings fly to far-flung lands. This is magic realism and paranormal romance at its best.

Grave Mercy

By Robin LaFevers. Houghton, $16.99 (9780547628349). Gr. 9–12.

This dark, sophisticated novel, true to fairy-tale conventions, follows fifteenth-century Ismae, a handmaiden to Motrain, the god of Death, as she tries to protect a young duchess.

Keeping the Castle

By Patrice Kindl. Viking, $16.99 (9780670014385). Gr. 7–11.

This delicious Regency romp takes readers through the Yorkshire countryside, as 17-year-old Althea Crawley sets out on a quest to marry rich in order to secure the family’s only inheritance, a dilapidated castle. A witty spin on Pride and Prejudice.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

By Emily M. Danforth. HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray, $17.99 (9780062020567). Gr. 9–12.

Danforth’s ambitious, sophisticated debut follows Cameron Post, a lesbian, as she falls in love for the first time and is forced to attend God’s Promise, a church camp that attempts to “cure” young homosexuals.

My Book of Life by Angel

By Martine Leavitt. Farrar/Margaret Ferguson, $17.99 (9780374351236). Gr. 9–12.

Using searing free verse, Leavitt tells the harrowing story of 16-year-old Angel, who prostitutes herself through a drug haze while still fighting to save 11-year-old Melli—and herself, if she can.

Never Fall Down

By Patricia McCormick. HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray, $17.99 (9780061730931). Gr. 9–12.

McCormick tells the story of a young Cambodian boy who survives the killing fields only to become a soldier with the Khmer Rouge. The authentic first-person voice makes the horror all the more unimaginable—but unforgettable, too.

Quarantine: The Loners

By Lex Thomas. Egmont, $17.99 (9781606843291). Gr. 10–12.

The best high-concept YA thriller of the year is this paranoia-soaked novel in which an infected Colorado high school is quarantined by the government, leading to various cliques that transform into warring tribes. Gritty and fearless.


By China Miéville. Illus. by the author. Del Rey, $18 (9780345524522). Gr. 9–12.

Miéville continues his rampage as one of sf’s new titans with this blazingly original twist on Moby-Dick, which radically reinvents everything: a barren, railroad-snarled future; great monsters of the dirt; even language and punctuation.