GMBA Finalists -- 08/09

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This is the list of finalists, with links for more info, for the 2009 Green Mountain Book Award, which was won by Ellen Hopkins, for her book Crank.

To see more about the 2009/10 finalists, click here. And to participate in a blog about the 2009/10 blogs, click here

YWP is keeping forums active for anyone who wants to read any of these books and discuss them. To see all the forums, click here. To participate in the forums, a student must log in (or register for a new account) and then go to this link. Choose the book discussion you want to join and create a new topic (or thread) or participate in an existing topic (or both.) Questions? Email Geoffrey Gevalt, YWP Director, or call YWP at 802-860-0570.

The 2008/09 year was the fourth year of the Green Mountain Book Award, a reader's choice award for students in grades 9-12.
Previous winners:

    2008 - John Green. Looking for Alaska. Dutton, 2005.
    2007 - Jodi Picoult. My Sister’s Keeper. S & S, 2004.
    2006 - Angela Johnson. The First Part Last. S & S, 2003.

The award is co-sponsored by the Vermont School Library Association, Vermont Library Association and the Vermont Department of Libraries, this program is designed to introduce to high school students some excellent books for their pleasure reading.

Click "Read More" to see the complete list and to access links to interviews with the authors, study guides and the individual forums.

These books comprised the master list for the award made in 2009. The master list titles have been selected to satisfy the reading interests of young adults in grades 9-12, and include both adult and young adult books. All books on the list were first published in 2003-2007 and are available in paperback. The list and links:

Anderson, M.T. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party. Candlewick, 2008. $10.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-3679 (pap.); Candlewick, 2006. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-2402-6.
Various diaries, letters, and other manuscripts chronicle the fictional experiences of Octavian, a young African American, from birth to age sixteen, as he is brought up as part of a science experiment in the years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War. In this, the first of three volumes, Octavian, fearing a death sentence, and his tutor, Dr. Trefusis, escape through rising tides and pouring rain to find shelter in British-occupied Boston. Sundered from all he knows -- the College of Lucidity, the rebel cause -- Octavian hopes to find safe harbor. Instead, he is soon to learn of Lord Dunmore's proclamation offering freedom to slaves who join the counterrevolutionary forces. Links:

Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Mariner Books, 2007. $13.95.
ISBN 978-0-6188-7171-1 (pap.); Houghton Mifflin, 2006. $19.95.
ISBN 978-0-6184-7794-4.
In this memoir in graphic novel format, Bechdel tells startling stories of her childhood growing up in a restored funeral home. The story focuses on her father, an angry and disturbed man, and how she came to terms with his secrets. Links:

Castellucci, Cecil. The Plain Janes. Illustrated by Jim Rugg. Minx, 2007. $9.99.
ISBN 978-1-4012-1115-8 (pap.).
When Jane moves to the suburbs she thinks her life is over, but she meets three friends who form a club P.L.A.I.N., but can art really save a group of misfits from high school?

Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bucking the Sarge. Laurel Leaf, 2006. $6.99.
ISBN 978-0-4404-1331-8 (pap.); Wendy Lamb, 2004. $15.95.
ISBN 0-385-32307-7 (Tr.); $17.99. ISBN 0-385-90159-3 (PLB).
Deeply involved in his cold and manipulative mother’s shady business dealings in Flint, Michigan, fourteen-year-old Luther keeps a sense of humor while running the Happy Neighbor Group Home for Men, all the while dreaming of going to college and becoming a philosopher.

Hopkins, Ellen. Crank. SimonPulse, 2004. $9.99. ISBN 0-6898-6519-8 (pap.).
Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, she is introduced to the monster: crank, and what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul and her life.

Johnson, Maureen. 13 Little Blue Envelopes. HarperTeen, 2006. $8.99.
ISBN 978-0-0605-4143-9 (pap.); HarperCollins, 2005. $15.99. ISBN 0-06-054141-5 (Tr.); $16.89. ISBN 0-06-054142-3 (PLB).
When seventeen-year-old Ginny receives a packet of mysterious envelopes from her favorite aunt, she leaves New Jersey to criss-cross Europe on a sort of scavenger hunt that transforms her life.

Lyga, Barry. The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl. Graphia, 2007. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-6189-1652-8 (pap.); Houghton Mifflin, 2006. $16.95.
ISBN 978-0-6187-2392-8.
A fifteen-year-old “geek” who keeps a list of the high school jocks and others who torment him, and pours his energy into creating a great graphic novel, encounters Kyra, Goth Girl, who helps change his outlook on almost everything, including himself.

Lynch, Chris. Inexcusable. SimonPulse, 2007. $6.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-3972-6 (pap.); Atheneum, 2005. $16.95. ISBN 978-0-689-84789-9.
High school senior and football player Keir sets out to enjoy himself on graduation night, but when he attempts to comfort a friend whose date has left her stranded, things go terribly wrong.

Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. Dairy Queen. Graphia, 2007. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-6188-6335-8 (pap.); Houghton Mifflin, 2006. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-6186-8307-9.
After spending her summer running the family farm and training the quarterback for her school’s rival football team, sixteen-year-old D.J. decides to go out for the sport herself, not anticipating the reactions of those around her.

Novik, Naomi. His Majesty’s Dragon. Del Rey, 2006. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-3454-8128-3 (pap.).
Plenty of Napoleonic swash is buckled in this alternative history (think Master and Commander or Jane Austen with dragons). After bonding with the dragon Tremaire, an elegant, intelligent creature once destined for Napoleon himself, Captain Will Laurence leaves the Royal Navy for the Aerial Corps and a new life as battle-filled as his old one.

Parrado, Nando & Vince Rause. Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home. Three Rivers Press, 2007. $13.95. ISBN 978-1-4000-9769-2 (pap.);
Crown, 2006. $25.00. ISBN 978-1-4000-9767-8.
In 1972 a plane full of young Uruguayan rugby players crashed in the Andes Mountains. Thirty-four years later, after much reflection and soul-searching, crash survivor Nando Parrado shares his side of the story.

Vizzini, Ned. It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Miramax, 2007. $8.99. ISBN 0-7868-5197-X (pap.); Miramax, 2006. $16.95. ISBN 978-0-7868-5196-6.
A humorous account of a New York City teenager’s battle with depression and his time spent in a psychiatric hospital.

Volponi, Paul. Black and White. Puffin, 2006. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-1424-0692-2 (pap.);
Viking, 2005. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-6700-6006-1.
Two star high school basketball players, one black and one white, experience the justice system differently after committing a crime together and getting caught.

Vowell, Sarah. Assassination Vacation. S&S, 2006. $14.00. ISBN 978-0-7432-6004-6 (pap.).
Sarah Vowell travels across the United States, bringing into sharp focus the figures involved in the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley, as well as the social and political circumstances that led to each. She exposes some glorious conundrums of American history in a witty, sometimes irreverent manner.

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief. Knopf, 2007. $11.99. ISBN 978-0-3758-4220-7 (pap.);
Knopf, 2006. $16.95. ISBN 978-0-3758-3100-3.
Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and storytelling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

Bucking the Sarge

I recently reread BUCKING THE SARGE and found it even better the second time. It is a very rich book that leads one in lots of directions. One direction I went in was to research the artist Jacob Lawrence -- Luther mentions wanting to have Lawrence's work on his walls. Lawrence's art tells a story, and I realized how much Luther uses stories to tell the story of his life. One often uses the literary term "foil" when discussing works of Shakespeare, as the qualities of the main character in the play are brought into sharp focus by placing the character next to the other characters. That is the way we get to know Luther -- he doesn't tell us what he is like, but we see how he treats the men under his care, his crazy friend, the girl he has a crush on, and his mother, and we hear about the philosophers and the art he admires. All these pieces put together make us admire Luther, a solid person maintaining his place in a fractured world.

Assassination Vacation

I read Assassination Vacation a year ago, and the past two weeks I have been listening to the audio version as I drive back and forth to school. The audio version is a full cast recording with "actors" like Stephen King and Jon Stewart. It is great listening to this book instead of to the current news -- I come into school laughing from Vowell's perspectives. One wouldn't think that a book about assassinations would be funny, but it is. The assassinations themselves are tragic, and Vowell is respectful of the dead presidents -- she is particularly passionate about Lincoln, but her trips around the country tracking down sites relevant to the presidents and to their assassins are funny -- and she manages to pack in lots of American history. Vowell never passed a historical plaque she didn't stop to read and didn't find illuminating. I have recommended this book to my Scholars' Bowl team, and the AP history teacher gave a copy to each of her graduating seniors last June.

Asssassination Vacation

I completely agree this is a great audio book. Sarah Vowell, who also does a lot of stuff on public radio's "This American Life" has a unique voice and it's very cool to try to figure out who is doing what other voice.

But even when I was reading this book, I kept thinking, this is kind of like going on vacation with your weird but somehow cool aunt. Sarah Vowell notices all the little things, like how high she has to jump if she wants to see herself in Lincoln's mirror. She manages to make history seem very real, and not long ago at all.

Kathy Q.J.

Kathy Q.J.

Miracle in the Andes

Quick update--NPR just reviewed a documentary that ties in with this book. You can read a review at

This is one cool survival story.

Kathy Q.J.

Kathy Q.J.

His Majesty's Dragons

If you like Jane Austen, or Master and Commander, or the Sharpe books or videos, and you like the alternative history kind of fantasy, you'll find a lot to enjoy in this book. I gotta tell you, by the time I finished it, I wished I could have a dragon, especially if it could be like Tremaire.

Kathy Q.J.

Kathy Q.J.

Dairy Queen

In some author's hands, D.J. Schwenk would come have been spunky, but Catherine Gilbert Murdock makes her determined instead. D.J. has a lot on her plate--her older brothers are away in college and aren't speaking to her dad, dad has a bum hip and uses a walker, mom is a school principal (they don't get to spend much time at home), her little brother doesn't talk a lot anyway, and D.J. is basically running the family farm single-handed. If you've ever felt like you had way more than your share of responsibility, you'll be able to relate to D.J. But when she decides to get a little respect by going out for the football team, life gets really complicated. There's also a sequel: The Off Season, so you can see what happens next.

Let me know if you like D.J. as much as I did.

Kathy Q.J.

Kathy Q.J.