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Up To Date

Best Books Of 2013 For Children And Teens


The cold weather is starting to set in, and your kids will need something to keep them occupied—or you may risk a case of cabin fever.

In the second part of Wednesday's Up to Date, three librarians join us to offer their recommendations for the best children's, young adult and teen reads.

The "Best of 2013"

From Kate McNair, young adult librarian, Johnson County Library:

  • Far Far Away by Tom McNeal (Middle school and up):
    When Jeremy Johnson Johnson's strange ability to speak to the ghost of Jacob Grimm draws the interest of his classmate, Ginger Boltinghouse, the two find themselves at the center of a series of disappearances in their hometown.
  • The 5th Wave by Richard Yancey (High school): 
    High school Cassie Sullivan, the survivor of an alien invasion, must rescue her young brother from the enemy with help from a boy who may be one of them.
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (High school): 
    When seventeen-year-old Tana wakes up following a party in the aftermath of a violent vampire attack, she travels to Coldtown, a quarantined Massachusetts city full of vampires, with her ex-boyfriend and a mysterious vampire boy in tow.
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (High school):
    Feeling cast off when her best friend outgrows their shared love for a favorite celebrity, Cath, a dedicated fan-fiction writer, struggles to survive on her own in her first year of college while avoiding a surly roommate, bonding with a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words and worrying about her fragile father.

Up to Date's Beth Lipoff reads a selection from Rainbow Rowell's 'Fangirl.'

  • Reality Boy by A.S. King (High school): 
    An emotionally damaged seventeen-year-old boy in Pennsylvania who was once an infamous reality television show star, meets a girl from another dysfunctional family, and she helps him out of his angry shell.

From Dennis Ross, youth services librarian, Johnson County Library:

  • Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman (Grades 3 - 6): 
    While picking up milk for his children's cereal, a father is abducted by aliens and finds himself on a wild adventure through time and space. 

Up to Date's Stephen Steigman reads a selection from Neil Gaiman's 'Fortunately, the Milk.'

  • Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (Grades 4- 6):
    Rescuing a squirrel after an accident involving a vacuum cleaner, comic-reading cynic Flora Belle Buckman is astonished when the squirrel, Ulysses, demonstrates astonishing powers of strength and flight after being revived.
  • The Key & the Flame by Claire Caterer (Grades 4 - 8):
    While visiting Hawkesbury, England, eleven-year-old Holly Shepard, her younger brother, Ben, and new friend Everett, travel to a parallel universe where she learns that the adventures she has always dreamed of can be messy and dangerous. 
  • Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi (Grades 4-6): While practicing for their next baseball games, thirteen-year-old friends Rabi, Miguel and Joe discover that the nefarious activities of the Delbe, Iowa, meatpacking plant have caused cows to turn into zombies.

Up to Date's Cody Newill reads a selection from Paolo Bacigalupi's 'Zombie Baseball Beatdown.'

  • Doll Bones by Holly Black (Grades 4 - 8): 
    Zach, Alice, and Poppy, friends from a Pennsylvania middle school who have long enjoyed acting out imaginary adventures with dolls and action figures, embark on a real-life quest to Ohio to bury a doll made from the ashes of a dead girl. 
  • Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt (Grades 5 - 8): 
    When Max's parents leave the country without him, he must rely on his wits to get by, and before long he is running his own--rather unusual—business.
  • Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley (Grade 6 and up): 
    The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, the talented cartoonist Lucy Knisley loves food. In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. (Also recommended by Kate McNair)
  • The Prisoner of Cell 25 (Michael Vey #1) by Richard Paul Evans (Grades 6 - 12): 
    To everyone at Meridian High School, fourteen-year-old Michael Vey is nothing special, just the kid who has Tourette's syndrome. But in truth, Michael is extremely special--he has electric powers.  

From Debbie McLeod, adjunct assistant professor of children's literature at Johnson County Community College:

Up to Date's Danie Alexander reads a selection from Kathi Appelt's 'The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp.'

When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.