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 nonfiction and fiction books
and picture books.
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler:
Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club.
By Phillip Hoose. illus. Farrar, $19.99
(9780374300227). Gr. 7–10.
It’s a story more unbelievable than fiction:
during the WWII occupation of Denmark
by the Nazis, a group of teens dubbed the
Churchill Club staged acts of resistance by
cutting German phone wires, stealing weapons, and destroying assets. A staggering
account of courageous dissent in the face of
the worst possible enemy.
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New
Orleans. By Don Brown. Illus. by the author.
HMH, $18.99 (9780544157774). Gr. 6–9.
This graphic-novel account of Hurricane Katrina is bruisingly straightforward, with blunt
facts and fearless illustrations staring straight at
the worst of what the storm wrought: the swamp
of dead bodies, the stench of the Superdome,
and the failures of local and federal governments. A necessary, unflinching reminder of an
Ebola: Fears and Facts. By Patricia Newman.
illus. Millbrook, $31.99 (9781467792400).
This well-researched, clearly written title
covers many aspects of this disease without
sensationalizing its dangers and is particularly
up-to-date when discussing the recent epi-
demic, the economic circumstances that may
have led to the outbreak, and the overblown
response of worldwide media.
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the
Secret History of the Vietnam War. By Steve
Sheinkin. illus. Roaring Brook, $19.99
(9781596439528). Gr. 6–9.
Nonfiction superstar Sheinkin examines
the tangled narrative of the Vietnam War
via Daniel Ellsberg, the government insider
who leaked the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg
is a fascinating protagonist, and Sheinkin
turns his tale into a page-turning political
thriller that foreshadows today’s high-tech
My Seneca Village. By Marilyn Nelson.
Namelos, $21.95 (9781608981960). Gr. 6–9.
The multiethnic nineteenth-century society of Seneca Village is resuscitated by poet
Nelson, who tenderly introduces a cast of
characters in the manner of Spoon River Anthology. Using the name of actual residents,
Nelson brings to vivid life a passionate community through events, laws, movements,
Symphony for the City of the Dead:
Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad.
By M. T. Anderson. illus. Candlewick,
$25.99 (9780763668181). Gr. 9–12.
Anderson skillfully interweaves amazing
details from Shostakovich’s life with pivotal historical events, particularly Russia’s
role in WWII, while evocative descriptions of the composer’s music illuminate
the tight link between art and history. A
captivating look at a turbulent period and
brilliant artist. (Top of the List winner—
Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of
the Deadliest Cook in America. By Susan
Campbell Bartoletti. illus. HMH, $17.99
(9780544313675). Gr. 6–9.
Bartoletti chronicles the case of cook
Mary Mallon (aka Typhoid Mary), an
asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever who
infected dozens. Mallon was quarantined
against her will for much of her life, which
raises questions about her treatment, prejudices that may have existed against her, and
This Book Is Gay. By James Dawson. Illus.
by Spike Gerrell. Sourcebooks/Fire, $15.99
(9781492617822). Gr. 8–12.
Breezy, witty, and ever informative, Dawson’s compendium of facts and stories about
“the full and infinite spectrum of sexual and
gender identities” tackles everything from
afraid-to-ask questions to straight talk about
what to expect if you’re outside the cisgender
category—or if you’re inside it, looking outward. An invaluable, welcoming resource.
This Strange Wilderness: The Life and
Art of John James Audubon. By Nancy
Plain. Univ. of Nebraska, paper, $19.95
(9780803248847). Gr. 7–10.
In this handsome biography, Audubon
emerges as a complex figure who struggled,
with little success, to balance his love of nature,
adventure, and family. Plain chronicles Audubon’s adventurous life in a succinct, absorbing
narrative that is well researched, meticulously
documented, and beautifully written.
Tommy: The Gun That Changed America.
By Karen Blumenthal. illus. Roaring Brook,
$19.99 (9781626720848). Gr. 8–11.
Blumenthal presents a gripping study of
America in the 1920s and 1930s by looking at
how the tommy gun impacted life during the
Prohibition era. Peppered with action-filled
scenes, infamous gangsters, and period photographs, this account traces the history of the
early automatic weapon and the continuing
controversies surrounding gun violence.
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My
Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights
March. By Lynda Blackmon Lowery and
others. Illus. by PJ Loughran. Dial, $19.99
(9780803741232). Gr. 7–12.
Growing up black in Selma, Alabama,
during the troubled 1960s, Lowery and her
friends were arrested multiple times before they
marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on
Bloody Sunday. Plainspoken and full of detail-rich memories, her inspiring personal story
illuminates pivotal events in America’s history.
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the
Dead Calaveras. By Duncan Tonatiuh.
Illus. by the author. Abrams, $18.95
(9781419716478). Gr. 3–5.
This exceptional picture-book biography
TOP OF THE LIST WINNER
No longer does the march sound cute. Its full brutality has been revealed,
and then it comes to a climax in a gesture
Shostakovich used often: a brief intake
of breath followed by huge, held, ghastly
chords, tremulous with hatred—a vision of
From Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich
and the Siege of Leningrad, by M. T. Anderson