Fruits Basket Vol. 1, by Takaya Natsuki

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Natsuki, Takaya. Fruits Basket. 1. Los Angeles, CA: TOKYOPOP, 1998. Print.

Annotation: When her mother dies, leaving her an orphan, self-sufficient Tohru finds herself living alone in a tent while she goes to school and works. But some new friends take her in, and accidentally share with her a family secret—they’re cursed, possessed by the spirits of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac!


Tohru Honda’s a pretty determined girl. After her mother dies, she’s left an orphan, and her extended family isn’t able to keep her. Living alone in a tent, keeping up with a job, and going to school every day is enough to wear anyone out. One of her classmates lives nearby, the fantastically cute Yuki Sohma! When they hear of her living situation, he and his family invite her to stay with them. But there’s more to this quirky group than meets the eye. Their secret? Sometimes—and they can’t always control it!—members of the Sohma family turn into animals. Living in their house, Tohru sees this happen. All the members of their family, they explain, are possessed by the spirits of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac…and the angry, displaced cat.

If you’re a newcomer to shoujo manga (Japanese comics for young adult girls), this is a fun place to start. Meet the Sohmas and learn their secret along with Tohru. Maybe you can find out why Kyo, the cat, is so angry…


Kodansha Manga Award, 2001

American Anime Award, 2007


A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

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L’Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time. New York, NY: Square Fish, 2010. Print.

Annotation: Meg, with her exceptional younger brother, Charles Wallace, and new friend, Calvin, must travel through space and time to save her long lost father. Terrifying foes and strange new allies meet them along the way.


I was starting to think my father really had run out on us. I’d never have said so, of course, but I just couldn’t stand it, and everyone kept saying such horrible things. I was having a really truly terrible day, but just when it was picking up, something very odd happened. This remarkable old woman showed up at my house. My little brother, Charles, seemed to know her, but that only made her seem more strange. Now she and her two even more remarkable friends say that my brother and I, and our new friend, Calvin—of whose company I am very glad, indeed—are needed to help my father and bring him home. Of course I’ll do anything to bring him back safely, but just what is involved here? Who are these women, what kind of “darkness” are they fighting? And what’s this tesseract they keep talking about, and how did it get us to—wait, to another planet?! I don’t know what’s coming, but I’m very afraid. But for Father, maybe I can hold on to Charles and Calvin and face another wrinkle in time.


Newbery Medal

Sequoyah Book Award

Lewis Carroll Shelf Award

Upstate, by Kalisha Buckhanon

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Buckhanon, Kalisha. Upstate. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2005. Print.

Annotation: Ten years of correspondence tie two young people together, in and out of prison, college, and love.


“Baby, the first thing I gotta know from you is do you believe I killed my father? I need to know if you believe what everybody saying about me because I need to know if you got my back.”
Antonio is in jail, and Natasha writes to him from her home in the Harlem projects. Their young love is strong, but 10 years is a long time. The whole world is opening up for Natasha, but it has to close in on Antonio before he can see the world open before him.

What really happened that night that Antonio’s father died? And where will ten years take Antonio and Natasha?



ALA Alex Award

Hurston/Wright Legacy Award

A Step From Heaven, by An Na

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An, Na. A Step From Heaven. Boyds Mill Press, Inc., 2009. Ebook.

Annotation: Young Ju tries to adjust to American life after her family moves from Korea, but her family itself may fall apart with the stress of a new culture.

Booktalk: Family means a lot of things to a lot of people. What if your family moved to a new country, with a completely different culture and language? Young Ju’s family moved to America, believing life there would be almost like heaven. But with a difficult new language, and a wildly different culture and value system, things don’t feel very heavenly.

Her parents want to remember where they come from. They make Young Ju speak Korean at home, but then struggle with English due to their own lack of practice, and force her to translate for them. They wanted her to be a real Mi Gook (American) girl, but she’s punished for not remembering how to be a Korean girl.

Throughout the separate stories in the book, we watch as Young Ju’s father is crushed by the difficult and sometimes humiliating life of immigrant families; and also see how Young Ju herself, and her mother and brother, rise to the challenges of valuing two cultures, themselves, and their family.



2001 National Book Award Finalist

2002 Children’s Book Award in YA Fiction – International Reading Association

Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

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Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 2003. Print.

Annotation: Iranian history and stories of the religious and political revolutions of the 1980s are told through the eyes of young Marji in this graphic novel.

Booktalk: Marji tried to be aware of her heritage, her history, and her surroundings. She watched the news, and she read history and philosophy books, even when she was just 10 years old. Then she had to come to the realization that many of the things she had been told, especially by the media, were completely false, and that maybe the emotional truths of her history and philosophy books should be called into question.

Marji lived in Iran in the 1980s, when political and religious revolutions pummeled the citizens from every side. Her French school closed down, and she had to go to a Muslim school; she was forced to wear a veil, and to observe religious practices that were not her own. The attempts made to keep the people of her country submissive and similar to one another could do nothing to flatten Marji’s personality—Nikes and Michael Jackson were not just for Americans in the 80s, much to the chagrin of the Iranian rulers—but they could do much harm to those in need of medical care outside of the country, to those who lost their homes to wartime bombs, and to those imprisoned for their beliefs or ideals.

How did it all happen? What was Marji’s family history that made it all so personal, and how did it end for her? Maybe I should let Marji tell you.


Time Magazine Best Comix of the Year

New York Times Notable Book

The Princess Diaries, by Meg Cabot

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Cabot, Meg. The Princess Diaries. New York, NY: HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2000. Print.

Annotation: Fourteen year-old Mia was struggling enough with starting high school; then she finds out she has to be princess all of a sudden! Nobody asked her if she wanted to be a princess! Now she has to come to terms with high school, her family, and a crown, too!

Mia Thermopolis thought things were bad enough when she started out high school as a tall, flat-chested freshman with hair that looks like a yield sign. Then she failed algebra. Then her mom actually started dating her algebra teacher! Even all of that doesn’t seem so bad anymore, though, compared to what she gets hit with next. Now, right now in the middle of all of this, her dad comes to tell her that he’s actually the prince of Genovia, that he can’t have anymore kids, and that she now has to prepare to be a princess! Now she can’t even be Mia Thermopolis—she has to Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo!

Add to all of that some confusing boys and some best friend drama and you’ve got just a little bit too much stress for one girl! See how Mia handles it all (or doesn’t, sometimes), in the first book of the Princess Diaries series.


ALA Best Book for Young Adults

ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

Volunteer State Book Award (Tennessee)

Evergreen Young Adult Book Award (Washington)

IRA/CBC Young Adult Choice

The Summoning, by Kelley Armstrong

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Armstrong, Kelley. The Summoning. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008. Ebook.

Annotation: When Chloe starts seeing terrifying hallucinations, she gets sent off to a group home for mentally disturbed teens. But throughout her stay there, she comes to question the nature of her “hallucinations,” and the truth about the group home and its residents.


A blur passed me. The air shimmered about ten feet ahead, a figure taking form in a custodian’s shirt and slacks. I wheeled and broke into a run.

The man let out a snarl that echoed down the hall. A student rounded the corner, and we almost collided. I stammered an apology and glanced over my shoulder. The janitor was gone.

I exhaled and closed my eyes. When I opened them, the blue uniform was inches from my face.

Just as Chloe feels like she’s starting to grow up, everything falls to pieces. After a horrifying vision at school leads her teachers to direct her to a group home for disturbed teens, she’s faced with a series of terrifying revelations. But which of these revelations are true? Can Chloe handle the sudden challenges to her reality? New friends and new frenemies make everything just a bit more interesting.

What secrets do the walls of Lyle House hold? What really makes each of its resident teens different from those outside its walls? Are they mentally disturbed, or could it be something…different?


Texas TAYSHAS Reading List

Stellar Award 2010/2011