When the American Booksellers Association added a separate Children's Institute to the calendar, booksellers worried YA and children's books might no longer be a part of the Winter Institute. But as the great list of authors appearing at WI10 shows, those writing for younger readers are still very much a part of the mix--and part of the buzz leading up to the event. (Also see our previous WI Buzz Books articles: Fiction, Nonfiction, Indie Presses)
Undertow by Michael Buckley (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May, $18.99, 9780544348257)
Known for his Sisters Grimm and Nerds series, Michael Buckley is writing for an older audience for the first time in a YA trilogy that kicks off with Undertow. Comparisons are being made to Rick Yancey and Marie Lu, but booksellers said Buckley corners his very own brand of creepiness in Undertow. When a society of sea-dwelling warriors surfaces on Coney Island, 16-year-old Lyric Walker's world will never be the same--especially when her efforts to help the sea creatures' crown prince assimilate leads to an impossible love. Undertow raises questions about identity, race and belonging and has a xenophobic subplot reminiscent of the movie District 9. "I just love everything that he does," observed Kate Schlademan, owner of the Learned Owl, Hudson, Ohio.
When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid (Arsenal Pulp Press/Consortium, April, $15.95, 9781551525747)
Not even 25, Raziel Reid is the youngest person to win Canada's prestigious Governor General's Award for Children's Literature--but there is also a campaign across the border to have the award rescinded for the book's content, which, of course, has made U.S. booksellers even more eager to grab a galley at WI. Reid was just 18 when he heard about an event that greatly influenced his debut novel, the shooting at school of a 15-year-old California boy by the boy he had asked to be his valentine. Newsweek called the crime the "most prominent gay-bias crime" since the killing of Matthew Shepard. In Reid's fictional school, Jude envisions those around him as playing parts on a film set--there are the stars, whom everyone knows and/or wants to know; the crew, who make all the things happen; and the extras, who are anonymous. Jude does not fit in, but with the reluctant help of his best friend Angela, he might be the flamer who challenges all their set roles.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (HaperTeen, Feb., $17.99, 9780062310637)
At the Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, where Drew Sieplinga is the events coordinator, she said Red Queen was the top book the store's teen book club voted to read. "That bodes well for it," she added. Victoria Aveyard's debut, about a 17-year-old girl with latent magical powers, has been called Graceling meets The Selection. "Power politics, intrigue and romance--wow," was the take from Laura Donohoe, children's buyer at Malaprop's in Asheville.
Mosquitoland by David Arnold (Viking, Mar., $17.99, 9780451470775)
Debut author David Arnold is getting some buzz because he is a stay-at-home dad who wrote Mosquitoland while his son watched Sesame Street, but his character will be remembered for what happens when she does not stay at home. Forced to leave Cleveland to go live with her father and his new wife in Mississippi, Mim hops on a Greyhound back north to be with her "real" mother who is very sick. Along the way she learns a lot about love and loyalty and staying sane. "The characters are really interesting, and they get more interesting as she goes on the long bus trip," said Sieplinga.
Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert (Disney/Hyperion, May, $17.99, 9781423197386)
Another closely watched debut, largely because Kelly Loy Gilbert teaches creative writing to teens in San Francisco and also serves on the board of NaNoWriMo--an unarguable phenomenon in the YA world. Conviction is about a kid named Braden who has a fastball that has minor league scouts watching him, but he is up against the nephew of the police officer his father has just been accused of murdering. It is a weight that haunts his every pitch, as Braden faces an unbearable choice.
We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach (Simon & Schuster, Mar., $17.99, 9781481418775)
The premise of Tommy Wallach's debut sounds like classic YA fare--four teenagers grapple with finding themselves and their paths in high school--except an asteroid is hurling toward earth, and with a blurry future and everybody else looking up, this group just might find a present more meaningful than they ever imagined. Suzanna Hermans, co-owner of Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck, N.Y., said We All Looked Up is one of her favorite YA reads of the year.
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley (HarperCollins, Apr, $17.99, 9780062320520)
A YA debut from the author of King of Queens: A Novel of Cleopatra, the Vampire and The Year of Yes, who has also edited an anthology with Neil Gaiman. Aza Ray is a girl born with a lung disease who is literally drowning in thin air when she hears someone calling to her from the deck of a ship she sees in the sky--something only her best friend (or more than a friend) Jason believes. But before she can sort out those feelings, Aza finds herself on the sky plane of Magonia, where she can not only breathe but also has special powers, which she might have to use to prevent war between Earth and her new world. The 150,000-copy announced first printing is not bad for buzz, either.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (Razorbill, Apr., $19.95, 9781595148032, 1595148035)
In this debut, a scholar named Laia goes undercover as a slave in an attempt to save her brother, who has been accused of treason by the Martial Empire--but when she meets the empire's finest (and secretly reluctant) soldier, has she found an ally or a foe? According to Robert McDonald, children's buyer at the Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka, Ill., "This story of a meek girl who must find the steel within in order to save her brother feels as contemporary as a headline. And the brutal realm in which she and the boy soldier Elias live feels as real and frightening as any repressive military regime, from any time."
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Scholastic, Feb. $19.99, 9780545576505)
From the author of Esperanza Rising and other award-winning multicultural bestsellers comes a new tale of music, magic and maybe even a real-life miracle. Echo opens in a forbidden forest, where Otto meets three strange sisters who set him on a quest involving a prophecy, a promise and a harmonica that turns up years later in the lives of three other children. A master storyteller delivers a novel where the characters' telling of their stories ties everything together in the most unexpected ways. "I couldn't put it down," said Schlademan at Learned Owl. "It's one of the few times I have read a book and immediately wrote to the publisher about it."
Fallout (Lois Lane) by Gwenda Bond (Switch Press/Capstone, May, $16.95 9781630790059)
In Fallout, Gwenda Bond (author of Girl on a Wire and Blackwood) imagines her girlhood hero Lois Lane as an army brat trying to deal with her new high school--in the big city of Metropolis. Bond's Lois is reminiscent of Veronica Mars and Buffy, and yet is completely original. Bond will release two short stories about the teen Lois prior to the book's publication.
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (Algonquin, Mar., $17.95, 9781616203726)
From the author of Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone comes a ghostly story told in alternating voices of the living and the dead. The characters are Violet, a dancer on the verge of success who worries her secrets about how she got there will come out; Amber, who's been in a juvenile detention center for so long she cannot imagine ever getting out; and Orianna, who, in death, ties them together. Calling The Walls Around Us Suma's best work to date, Hermans at Oblong said: "She weaves a story that will suck you in and chew you up, leaving you dazzled."
Nowhere but Here by Katie McGarry (Harlequin Teen, May, $17.99, 9780373211425)
The author of the Pushing the Limits series launches a new issue-driven series with Nowhere but Here, about a spoiled 17-year-old girl who spends a summer with distant relatives. Emily learns things about her absent biker dad that make her question just about everything. Then there's Oz, with his "suck-me-in-eyes," who wants nothing more than to join the biker club. When Emily's father asks Oz to keep her safe from a rival club, he sees his big chance for both the club and the girl--even if no one else wants them together.
A Real Guide to Really Getting It Together Once and for All: (Really) by Ashley Rickards (Harlequin, Mar, paper $19.95, 9780373893133)
The star of MTV's Awkward, Ashley Rickards knows just what being awkward means. She's compiled a self-help book that is designed to make teens feel less awkward in every way--just like the big sister you always wish you had. That is, if your big sister was hilarious and had access to experts like Deepak Chopra, financial consultant Zac Bissonnette and celebrity trainer Lalo Fuentes, whose tips she shares here. --Bridget Kinsella