BBYA 2008 Top Ten with Annotations

Alexie, Sherman.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
. Illus. by Ellen Forney. Little, Brown, 2007; ISBN13: 978-0-316-01368-0; $16.99.


Junior leaves the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school, where the only other Native American is the school mascot. Is he choosing his own destiny or betraying his heritage?

Beah, Ishmael.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
. Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Sarah Crichton, 2007; ISBN13: 978-0-374-10523-5; $22.00.


A former child soldier in Sierra Leone recalls the heart-wrenching experiences that transformed him from an innocent twelve-year-old into a cold-blooded killer.

Downham, Jenny.

Before I Die
. Random House/David Fickling, 2007; ISBN13: 978-0-385-75155-1; $15.99.


Tessa, who has terminal cancer, creates a list of ten things she wants to do in the months she has left to live. This fierce and devastating novel explores end-of-life realities with honesty and grace.

Hemphill, Stephanie.

Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath
. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf, 2007; ISBN13: 978-0-375-83799-9; $15.99.


Most people know little about Plath’s biography apart from its tragic ending. Appropriately, this powerful portrait uses verse to shed light on the life of the gifted poet. A 2008 Printz Honor book.

Jones, Lloyd.

Mister Pip

. Dell Publishing/Dial Press, 2007; ISBN13: 978-0-385-34106-6; $20.00.


In the midst of guerrilla warfare, fourteen-year-old Matilda attends school to hear Mr. Watts, the only white inhabitant on her Pacific island, read from Dickens’
Great Expectations.

Landy, Derek.

Skulduggery Pleasant

. HarperCollins, 2007; ISBN13: 978-0-06-123115-5; $17.99.


When Stephanie inherits her uncle’s’ estate, she also inherits his best friend: a walking, talking, crime-fighting skeleton.

Peet, Mal.

Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal
. Candlewick, 2007; ISBN13: 978-0-7636-3488-9; $17.99.


This sweeping thriller moves between World War II and the present day as fifteen-year-old Tamar uncovers her grandfather’s hidden past as a spy in the Netherlands.

Polly, Matthew.

American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China
. Penguin Group USA/Gotham Books, 2007; ISBN13: 978-1-59240-262-5; $26.00.


On a quest to transform himself from a scrawny weakling into a kung-fu master, Polly drops out of Princeton and journeys to the legendary Shaolin Temple.

Selznick, Brian.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel
. Illus. by Brain Selznick. Scholastic, 2007; ISBN13: 978-0-439-81378-5; $22.99.


Combining words and black-and-white pictures inspired by silent films, Selznick reveals the connections between a Parisian orphan and an elderly toymaker. The 2008 Caldecott Medal winner.

Tan, Shaun.

The Arrival
. Illus. by Shaun Tan. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, 2007; ISBN13: 978-0-439-89529-3; $19.99.


Without a single word, Tan’s extraordinary images express the loneliness, sadness, anxiety, and wonder of the immigration experience.