Teen Tuesday – Some Thoughts on the Hub Challenge

reading challenge logo - finisherThere it is!  My shiny badge!  I read the required 25 books plus one extra to finish the Hub Challenge by June 22nd.   My own personal goal was to read something from each category and I almost accomplished that.  I did not read anything by Tamora Pierce, winner of the Margaret A. Edwards award for her significant and lasting contribution to teen literature.  I do have First Test, book one in the Protector of the Small quartet, but I just didn’t get to it in time.  It’s now in one of my “to be read” piles (teetering stacks that never shrink and threaten to crush me in my sleep).  Here, then, are the books I did read:

If I were to pick my favorite list overall, it would be the Alex award winners—adult books with appeal for teens.  I read Chris Ballard’s One Shot at Forever, which was everything I shy away from—it was historical, nonfiction and involved sports, specifically high school baseball.  I loved this book!  There is nothing in it that hasn’t been done in movies a million times: small town team with wacky coach competes against the “big boys.”  But where the book shines is in the details.  Readers come away with a real sense of the town, the team and the English teacher/coach.   Photos and interviews with the players 40 years later reminded me that this was a true story, told with more depth and scope than any movie could.   I also read the widely publicized fictional novels Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.

In the Best Fiction category, I read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (find my review here) and Enchanted by Alethea Kontis.

The William C. Morris award is given to first time authors writing for teens, and from that list I read Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby and Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo.

Among the Odyssey winners, awarded for best audiobooks, I listened to Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian read by Nathaniel Parker and Elizabeth Fama’s Monstrous Beauty read by Katherine Kellgren.  Here again, I would never have listened to either of these audiobooks were it not for the Hub Challenge.  I had read The Last Guardian, but listening to it again was a chance to say a wistful goodbye to a favorite character and series.  As a darkly romantic mermaid tale (ha ha), Monstrous Beauty was not something I would normally pick up, but Katherine Kellgren is well known among audiobook fans.  She is quite the vocal talent, having won many awards for her performances, and I have enjoyed listening to her before.  She has a wide range of accents that make each character distinctive.  I also listened to Allan Wolf’s The Watch That Ends the Night from the Amazing Audios category, read by a cast of performers.  I commented on it back in April.

From the Popular Paperbacks category, I read Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron and Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright.

In the Quick Picks category, I read April Henry’s The Night She Disappeared, which I reviewed here, Ten by Gretchen McNeil that was reviewed by one of our teen reviewers, Taylor P., here,  and Beneath a Meth Moon: An Elegy by Jacqueline Woodson.

From the Nonfiction list, I read Deborah Hopkinson’s Titanic: Voices from the DisasterI mentioned back in April that it “was an excellent recounting of the doomed voyage, complete with photographs, menus, telegrams, and passenger accounts presented in a compelling narrative.”  Here again, was a book and topic that I was totally engrossed in, much to my surprise, but due completely to the dramatic skill and engaging voice of the author.

From the Printz award list, given to the best in young adult literature, I read In Darkness by Nick Lake, Dodger by Terry Pratchett, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, a multiple award winner that also made the Best Fiction and Stonewall award lists.  Not surprisingly, I preferred all of the honor books to this year’s winner, In Darkness, and had hoped my personal favorite, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, would take the prize.  But it did receive an honor award and won the Edgar for best young adult mystery, so I wasn’t alone in my love!

From the Great Graphic Novels category, I read Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller by Joseph Lambert and My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf thanks to fellow reviewer, Steve, and his wonderful recommendations.  I also read Raina Telgemeier’s Drama, another award book that appeared on multiple lists, and Faith Erin Hicks’ Friends With Boys that I reviewed here.

The Schneider Family book award recognizes books that embody the disability experience for children and teen readers.  Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis was this year’s teen winner and the only book listed on the Hub Challenge as the remaining winners were for younger audiences.  This was a thoughtful book that explored the traumatic brain injury suffered by Ben, the main character, when he is gravely injured during his tour of duty in Iraq.  Also included is his relationship with his younger autistic brother, Chris, and Chris’ role in Ben’s recovery.

The Stonewall award is given to the best in GLBT writing.  Benjamin Alire Saenz’ Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and Raina Telgemeier’s Drama are in this category along with another favorite discovery, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman.  When asked to contribute a review for the Hub blog after I completed the challenge, this was the book I picked.  You can read it here.

As I said in my Hub review, am I coming back next year?  You bet!

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