You might know from Twitter (or from coming into the store) that along with TEN MILLION INCHES OF SNOW, the new year has brought the Booksmith a bigger Young Adult section! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay! One of the great things about this is that, to keep all the current YA books from falling over in little lonely piles, we have to get more books to fill those new shelves up. Like, for example, a friend for Holly Black's WHITE CAT: its sequel, RED GLOVE.
These are the first two books of Black's Curseworkers trilogy, which combine con artist, mobsters, and a little bit of noir with great characters, complicated (read: dastardly) families, a tiny bit of prep school, and a whole lot of political tension over people who can "work" curses...generally on other people. By halfway through the first book these were already my favorite Holly Black books (I'm not alone--see Amy's shelf talker!), and truly, what's not to love?
Basically, though, anything with slightly criminal underdogs, clever plots, spry storytelling and a mean twist ending has got my attention. I could go on all day about pranksters, con artists and capers on screen--James Cagney flicks, Clue, Leverage, The Sting! But there are plenty of books in this genre as well.
WHAT'S YOUR ANGLE?
five kids' books to wake your brain up
The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base -- Lavish illustrations, lively text, a cast of exotic animals dressed to the nines, and a dinner party mystery whose solution is locked at the end of the book to stave off accidental spoilers. You can find this book on our website--best for elementary school.
The Westing Game by Ellen Rasking -- I always come back to this one because it's really the best. Raskin was asked for a "puzzle mystery" by her young friend, and she provided: sixteen suspects, one dead millionaire, a fortune at stake. But it's the dead man's game, and you can never be sure just what he's playing at.
The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson -- A group of (generally good-spirited) middle school con artists take on their biggest challenge yet: save a school council election from the kids who want to rig it. Diverse cast, high energy, and gleefully genre-appropriate language will propel you along through a book that's sheer fun.
The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John -- My absolute favorite book of the new year! Miles Murphy was the best prankster at his old school. He plans to be the best prankster at his new school. The problem is, someone is already pranking Yawnee Valley...someone who might just be better at pranks than he is. Will Miles find out who the other prankster is? And are they destined to be enemies...or are two pranksters better than one?
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner -- Teenage thief Gen gets pulled out of prison to find a magic rock (that may or may not exist) or suffer the consequences. A good reason to cooperate, right? But Gen has his own plans--which you won't know until the very end of the book, because he is going to lie to your face the entire time. Amazing characters, incredible plotting, and INFURIATING LEVELS OF CLEVERNESS. I first read this book fifteen years ago and it's still my favorite book in the world. Available online. Best for grade 7+.