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Canadian Bookstores' Top Tween and Teen (YA) Fiction in 2013

In their busiest season of the year, the staff at Ella Minnow (Toronto), Kaleidoscope Books (Ottawa), Woozles (Halifax), and Babar Books (Montreal) and McNally Robinson (Winnipeg and Saskatoon) nonetheless pulled together a selection of excellent Canadian tween and teen fiction – complete with the reasons they love them and in addition to the list of books for littler kids we featured earlier this week. It's with much appreciation that we present this fantastic list ... please check out all the books here.


Middle Grade: This can be such a tricky age to buy for, as reading level and also maturity can be so variable among tweens. Here are some books that just might be the right fit for the tween in your life:


Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom by Susin Nielsen (McNally Robinson): "The title makes you pick this book up but the story makes it all worthwhile as Violet tries to help her mom cope after a devastating divorce."

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire by Polly Horvath (McNally Robinson): "A hilarious over-the-top mystery from the author of Everything On a Waffle, translated from Rabbit."

That Boy Red by Rachna Gilmore (Ella Minnow): "This depression era novel set in PEI features a handy, clever, but not bookish Red. It is a smartly told and engaging historical fiction for boys. Red is a rich character children will relate to easily."


The Stowaways by Meghan Marentette (Woozles): "This book is a beautiful package featuring delightful, old-fashioned illustrations and a charming cast of characters. In the tradition of Stuart Little and other such well-loved tales of animal adventures, this book brings us the story of the Stowaway family and young Rory Stowaway’s dream to have adventures and visit the World Beyond. It is a captivating tale for newly independent readers as well as a wonderful story to read aloud."


The Summer of Permanent Wants by Jamieson Findlay (Kaleidoscope):"Emmeline and her grandmother transform their barge, Permanent Wants, into a second-hand bookstore and spend the summer travelling the Rideau Canal finding adventure, mystery and magic along the way."


Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (Kaleidoscope): "Sky pirates, impossible flying creatures, airships, a determined and fearless heroine and a resourceful and courageous hero come alive in this Governor General’s Award Winner."

One Year in Coal Harbour by Polly Horvath (Babar Books): "A companion book to Everything On a Waffle. A wonderfully evocative portrait of life in a small coastal town on Vancouver Island. The characters will be forever etched upon your memory."

Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt (Babar Books): "A young girl living in Montreal finds solace in reading Jane Eyre when bullying and body image issues make her life unpleasant. The book is both sensitive and droll."

Teen (YA) Fiction: From tough issues like abuse to laugh-out-loud (sorry, LOL) humour, these books have it all:

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Ella Minnow and McNally Robinson): EM:"You think you know all about dragons until you read this novel. Fascinatingly re-imagined, the dragons in Seraphina are both creepy and sympathetic. Seraphina herself finds herself mired in palace intrigue, never sure who to trust or where to turn."


The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten (Woozles, McNally Robinson and Babar Books!): Woozles: "This Governor-General’a award winner is touching and insightful and yet also utterly hilarious as it relates the Story of Adam, a teen who is struggling to deal with his obsessive-compulsive disorder along with a semi-typical array of day-to-day problems with family, friends and self-esteem. When he meets Robyn, a new girl at his OCD suport group, he is instantly smitten and is determined to win her heart. But there are many things that he is juggling in his life and sometimes wanting to get better is not enough. A wise, witty, wonderful book that has a mystery element to add to its appeal."

Fishtailing by Wendy Phillips (McNally Robinson): From the BookCentre review on our site: "This debut novel by author Wendy Phillips, told entirely in verse and in six voices, touches on a number of difficult topics such as bullying, abuse and cutting. The poems of the teens alternate between each character’s internal thoughts, which move the action along, and the assignments they are completing for class, which are often dark and emotionally raw. "The poems are excellent and the author beautifully captures the complex emotions of the teens."

This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel (McNally Robinson): From the BookCentre review on our site: "In the first book in a new trilogy that precedes Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Ken Oppel masterfully creates a story that will grip readers from its opening pages."


Nix Minus One by Jill MacLean (Woozles): "An exquisite novel in verse, this book adeptly captures all the complex emotions that introvert Nix Humboldt experiences as he tries to navigate the realities of his world. It beautifully evokes the emotionally-charged relationship between brother and sister and clearly, succinctly reveals the full range of emotions that Nix experiences beneath his quiet exterior."

Swim the Fly by Don Calame (Kaleidoscope): "Seriously one of the funniest books in the store and a perennial staff favourite. When Matt, Sean and Coop set their summer goal – to see a real live naked girl – laugh-out-loud hilarity ensues. The boys’ adventures continue in Beat the Band and Call the Shots."

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen (Kaleidoscope): "Henry's therapist recommends that he keep a journal to help him heal after his family is torn apart when his older brother shoots his tormentor and then himself. Nielsen knows precisely how to pepper the text with humour to keep it palatable. One of my all-time favorites."

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel (Ella Minnow): "Who hasn't always wanted a monkey? This novel might be the first time a young reader re-considers this desire. A YA recent historical novel that explores what it means to be human, live in a family and make decisions that affect other living beings. Entertaining and hard hitting."


The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester (Ella Minnow): "This novel is an Ella Minnow favourite – a flying girl in a family where anything out of the ordinary is suspect. Piper is sent to a 'school' for special children that really isn't as it seems. A cast of quirky classmates, an evil adult in charge and things just take off."

When you check out all the books on their own list page, Booksellers' Picks for Tweens and Teens, you can link to them for full descriptions and "buy" information. Have a look!

For the littler kids in your life, our booksellers created this list.

December 12, 2013
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