# of pages of a short story written: 5
Everybody’s read the classics like Number the Stars and Tuck Everlasting and The Outsiders. (And if you haven’t read these, shame on you – visit your local library now!) Everybody’s heard of Harry Potter and the Twilight series. But there are a lot of wonderful YA books and series out there you may not have read or even heard of, and most of them you can enjoy just as much as a not-so-young adult.
THE BEST YA BOOKS YOU’VE NEVER READ
Rasmus and The Vagabond by Astrid Lindgren (1967) By the author of the Pippi Longstocking books, this tale is realistic instead of fantastic, but just as fun. Shy Rasmus runs away from the orphanage, meets a hobo, and has an wild, yet heartwarming adventure.
The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick (2000) Back before everybody and their moms were writing about post-apocalyptic worlds, Philbrick created this ingenious tale about a world where people are genetically improved and the new drug of choice is “mind-probing.” I like to call it “A Clockwork Orange for children” because Philbrick has created his own slang, and it gives this book a hip, fun, frightening vibe. It’s not too much like A Clockwork Orange, though. Don’t be afraid to give this book to a child.
Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer (1969) I love this book so much – where to begin? Well, you should know that it inspired the song “Charlotte Sometimes” by the Cure, and Robert Smith admits to using lines from the book in his lyrics. It’s also just a wonderful novel involving time travel, séances, and girls at a solemn British boarding school. What else could you possibly want? It’s smart and beautiful and melancholy – the perfect book for snuggling up with on a cold, rainy day.
The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White (1970) Of course you’ve read Charlotte’s Web, but have you read this one? About a swan who learns to play the trumpet and becomes a nightclub sensation, this book is absolutely charming. Somehow, E.B. White manages to make everything sound totally plausible.
Many Waters by Madeline L’Engle (1986) We all love A Wrinkle in Time, but I think this story, about twin boys going back in time to just before the biblical flood, might be my favorite. It’s fascinating (and a little bit racy at times!) I highly recommend it.
The Tripod Trilogy by John Christopher (1967). Back before trilogies were the “thing” Christopher wrote a legitimate series about life on earth, post-alien-takeover. In this case, the aliens may or may not be intelligent machines, and they control everyone through a metal “cap” that is implanted into the head on the day of the fourteenth birthday. Although the first book, The White Mountains, is good, my favorite is the second: The City of Gold and Lead. Then, of course, you’ll have to read the last one, too: The Pool of Fire.
Half Magic by Edward Eager (1954). Although set in the 1930’s, this book is timeless. About four children who find a magic talisman that takes them on unexpected adventures, the story is quirky, clever, and a lot of fun.
Callie’s Way by Ruth Wallace-Brodeur (1990) Apparently there is another book called Callie’s Way on Amazon about a scantily-clad bitch who’s had it with men and their selfish ways. Please don’t get that one. Get the one with a plain girl on the front with a red backpack and barrettes in her hair. That’s the one you want. My grandma bought this book for me when I was eleven. It sat on my shelf for awhile unread because it wasn’t Sweet Valley Twins or Baby-sitters Club. When I finally gave it a chance, it became one of my favorite books. Although perhaps a little dated now (none of the characters have cell phones and everyone wears topsiders), it perfectly captures the emotional landscape of being a twelve-year-old girl. Callie as a narrator is funny and observant and pitch-perfect. If I could kiss Ruth Wallace-Brodeur, I would.
What were your favorite books as a youngster? Go back and read them now, and see what you think. Are they still just as good?