New Novels in Verse for Teens
Looking at realistic fiction published for teens and tweens in 2014, it seems like the year of verse. Some people love novels in verse, and some people hate them. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, here are a few you will want to consider for your library.
Kevin, in Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt, is a bully. On the first day of seventh grade, he already has targets in mind. At home, he is the target, and his older brother Petey is the bully. Kevin keeps a notebook with him full of poems that tell his side of the story. He writes: “If I am stone / my fist is a gargoyle, / scaring people away.” When his notebook falls into the hands of a classmate, Kevin’s target takes aim at him. This is valuable look at bullying that will be great for classrooms and book discussion groups. Rhyme Schemer might be compared to Love That Dog, but it’s a bit more subversive. After all, Kevin isn’t just a poet. He’s a Poetry Bandit. He rips pages out of library books and creates poems out of them. Teachers and librarians looking for a poetry related activity: gather up your old weeded books and have students create their own poems from the pages. (9781452127002. 2014. Gr. 5-8)
The Crossover is a fast-paced story about basketball and family featuring twin brothers Josh and Jordan Bell. Josh narrates the story with a rhythmic verse and a vocabulary that shows an obvious love for language. Basketball is his first love, of course, and his plan is to play professional ball, like his dad did before he was injured. The twins’ dad has passed on his love for the game along with his “rules” for the players. Rule #1: “In this game of life / your family is the court / and the ball is your heart. / No matter how good you are, / no matter how down you get, / always leave / your heart / on the court.” This is a book that will stand out from the crowd of novels in verse this year and beyond for its “fundamentally poetic” narrative, to quote the Booklist review. (9780544107717. 2014. Gr. 6-9)
I wrote about The Red Pencil (9780316247801. 2014. Gr. 5-8) and A Time to Dance (9780399257100. 2014. Gr. 7-12) in my post featuring diverse books back in September. Both of these books are offer young readers a chance to understand cultures and circumstances other than their own, and the verse narration provides a powerful sense of emotion to the story while keeping it accessible. Veda in A Time to Dance and Amira in The Red Pencil each has their own obstacles, including family members who do not initially understand or support their dreams, but they find a way to keep going and turn their dreams into their realities. They are eye opening and inspirational stories with connections to the real world.
More new novels in verse:
Caminar by Skila Brown. 9780763665166. 2014. Gr. 6-9
Dust of Eden by Mariko Nagai. 9780807517390. 2014. Gr. 5-7
Silver People by Margarita Engle. 9780544109414. 2014. Gr. 5-8
The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe. 9780670015535. 2014. Gr. 9-12
Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank. 9780307979742. 2014. Gr. 9-12