Saturday, January 9, 2010

Kirkus' Best YA of 2009

Since I've declared January my catch-up month for reading, I thought I'd browse around for some more "Best of 2009" lists. Not sure how I overlooked Kirkus' lists - there are so many! I was most interested in their Young Adult Best Books of 2009, so here are three that I've decided to add to my to-read pile:

Serendipity MarketSerendipity Market by Penny Blubaugh
published March 2009, HarperTeen
288 pages (hardcover), YA

Inside flap:
When Toby breathes on Mama Inez's bird-shaped invitations, giving them the power to fly, plans for the Serendipity Market begin. Soon, eleven honored guests travel from afar and make their way to the storytellers' tent to share their stories. Each tale proves what Mama Inez knows—that magic is everywhere. Sometimes it shows itself subtly—a ray of sun glinting on a gold coin, or a girl picking a rose without getting pricked by the thorn—and sometimes it makes itself known with trumpets and fireworks. But when real magic is combined with the magic of storytelling, it can change the world.

Once Was LostOnce Was Lost by Sara Zarr
published October 2009 by Little, Brown
224 pages (hardcover), YA

Inside flap:
Samara Taylor used to believe in miracles. She used to believe in a lot of things. As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy in to the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reason to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town is kidnapped, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already-worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel.

Crossing StonesCrossing Stones by Helen Frost
published September 2009 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
192 pages (hardcover), YA

Inside flap:
Eighteen-year-old Muriel Jorgensen lives on one side of Crabapple Creek. Her family’s closest friends, the Normans, live on the other. For as long as Muriel can remember, the families’ lives have been intertwined, connected by the crossing stones that span the water. But now that Frank Norman—who Muriel is just beginning to think might be more than a friend—has enlisted to fight in World War I and her brother, Ollie, has lied about his age to join him, the future is uncertain. As Muriel tends to things at home with the help of Frank’s sister, Emma, she becomes more and more fascinated by the women’s suffrage movement, but she is surrounded by people who advise her to keep her opinions to herself. How can she find a way to care for those she loves while still remaining true to who she is?

Except for Once Was Lost, which has gotten quite a bit of media exposure, I hadn't heard anything at all about these books. Which makes me think about a recent blog post I read (and for the life of me, I can't remember where it was or who wrote it) about popular books receiving tons of media attention, especially when they get reviewed on blogs, which generates even more buzz and readership. But books from smaller presses don't get much hype at all and tend to get overlooked. It also made me think of So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld, which deals with how trends are created - and now I'm being challenged to read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, which apparently deals with similar topics. Although it all seems tangential, these are the thoughts that came to me while I was browsing through a "Best of" list - because wouldn't you think that if a book makes it to such a list that I would have heard about it before then? But if only Kirkus seems to think it's a "Best of" book, then no, probably not. It makes me wonder about how much influence bloggers really have about what gets promoted/read/sold - and that's a scary thought.


readwhatyouknow said...

Never heard of "Serendipity Market" either, but I've already put it on hold at the library. And HarperTeen isn't a small publisher by any strides -- amazing that it wasn't well promoted or buzzed about. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

- Katie

NatalieSap said...

Glad I could spread the word. Oh, and I didn't mean to imply that the books I was talking about had small publishers - I was paraphrasing the blog post I had read earlier this week and making a loose connection. :)

Jan von Harz said...

Great post and I agree. I have been making the circuit of kidlit blogs, and I am always looking for new books to read. Unfortunately, many of the same books pop up on all the blogs. I also recently saw a post that said Kirkus was going to stop reviewing have you heard this?

NatalieSap said...

Yes, sadly, Kirkus was on the brink of shutting down, but it looks like they are
working toward a solution
to keep running.

Caroline said...

I enjoyed Crossing Stones, it was good as a story but it was crafted in such a way that it was also like a finely tuned piece of art.

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