Thursday, December 23, 2010

YA Favorites and orphans

The Youth Services Favorite Books for Teens 2010 is now available.  Click here to download this list.

There is no way that the YS staff would be able to hit every great book written this year. counts on teens to keep the website up to date.  Teens read and write reviews for TeenReads.  Some of the books are superb, some are just fun but they all have found readers who loved them.  Nominate your favorite book of 2010 by going to the TeenReads' Best Books Nomination list.

Let the Youth Services staff know about books that you loved. 

One of my choices for a Favorite Books is Behemoth by Scott Westerfield.  It's the steampunk sequel to Leviathan.  The story of an alternate World War I continues as two teens work together to insure the one's safety and possibly stop the war before it begins.  The steampunk elements are well done and the illustrations are amazingly detailed.
Both of the main characters, Deryn, who masquerades as a boy named Dylan, and Alek, the heir to the Austrian throne, have lost parents.  In the first book, Alek's parents are assassinated.  Deryn's father died before the book began.  Being an orphan makes plot development a whole lot simpler, since there are no pesky parents to get in the way.

Look at all the famous orphans in literature.  Starting with Oliver Twist, probably the most famous literary orphan, the concept of a child or teen set adrift on life's choppy ocean without parents to guide or control them is compelling for both the writer and the reader. 

In this list of Favorites, at least four of the books feature the adventures of orphans.  Check out the list and see if you can guess which books are "orphan" stories.

I recently read The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry.  In that book, the four children are not orphans but they sometimes wish they are.  When their less-than-perfect (understatement alert!) parents leave them in the care of a Nanny and sell the house while the children are still living there, the five of them - Nanny and the four children - become "orphans" and are thrown out into the street.  This book is a tongue-in-cheek romp through orphan story stereotypes.  Lemony Snicket fans will enjoy The Willoughbys.

Next week, I will give you an Orphans in Children's Literature Quiz.  For the quiz, the word orphan will be defined as "any child or teen whose parents are dead or absent." 

Enjoy your holidays and read, read, read.

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