A few weeks ago, I attended a pretty good conference called The Best Young Adult Books of the Decade. I walked in a half hour late and there was an overweight man in a sweat-drenched shirt reading out loud with a strange lisp at the front of the conference room. This was Jonathan Hunt and he turned out to be one of the most informative and passionate people I have ever met on the subject of young adult literature. Reading over 300 young adult books a year and having served on the Newbery award committee didn't necessarily give him authority in my eyes, but I was completely won over by his breadth of knowledge and enthusiasm by the end of the day. Now I have read three of his top twelve books of the last ten years and each one has been unequivocally great. I am going to try to read the other books on his list this summer. Here is the list:
1. Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins
2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
3. Countdown to Independence by Natalie Bober
4. Tangerine by Edward Bloor (told from middle school boy's perspective. best from the middle to end, with a smattering of intense soccer games. more of a psychological thriller for teens.)
5. Postcards from No Man's Land by Aiden Chambers
6. Silent to the Bone by E. L. Konisburg
7. The River Between Us by Richard Peck
8. The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriaty (a girlie book – and very satisfying. about three high school girls with assigned penpals from a tougher and poorer school. sassy and very australian. i found myself sneaking off to read…i'll go back and read Moriaty's other work too.)
9. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (my kid got it as birthday gift from my sister, after she and her husband had not only read all three books, but also seen a two-night theater production of the trilogy. my kid hasn't read any of the set yet, but C and I couldn't stop once we had started. the second and last were excellent audio books.)
10. Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Saenz (this is the next one I intend to track down)
11. Lord of the Deep by Graham Salisbury
12. The Land by Mildred Taylor
Jonathon Hunt also gave us a master list of some 60+ great books of the decade – I am trying to collect as many as I can to add to my class library. I still haven't heard about the coaching job yet, so I am mentally preparing myself to be in the classroom again next year. This whole week I am attending the training for an intensive reading intervention program called Language! and my student teacher is subbing for me. And next week is the last week of school and the week I paint and move into my new house.
I am thinking that maybe I want to read young adult lit for some publishing house. Could I make a decent living that way?