What are the Teen Choice Awards?
Each year the Young Adult Reading Program Committee of the South Dakota Library Association publishes a list to promote quality literature and to help South Dakota teachers and librarians in selecting and promoting books for adolescents. The books are selected from among the many young adult and adult books that have received positive reviews by national reviewing periodicals.
Amari and the Night Brothers
by B.B. Alston
Amari Peters has spunk, knows how to stand up to bullies, and is forging her path forward–both before and after she finds out that she has supernatural powers, as an “illegal magician” and goes on a quest to discover what has happened to her missing brother, Quinton. People in her hometown and family are convinced that he is not alive anymore, but Amari ventures to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, where nothing is easy or as it seems. With a loyal and equally outcast sidekick, she takes on supernatural creatures, self-doubt, and public scrutiny, risking it all in hopes of finding out the truth about her brother in this unreal world.
by Meg Elison
14-year-old Layla is bullied at school and neglected at home. She tries to avoid her unstable mother and the mean girls who pick on her clothes and appearance. Her love of science keeps her going, and she enters a science competition where she is to explore a biome. Mostly, she tries to stay under the radar, survive each day, and protect her brother, until she submits her biome video. Layla has recorded her own hostile home biome full of mold, filth, and decline, which goes viral and draws the attention of Child Protective Services and the bullies. Under the radar is now out of the question as she finds a new home, a new visibility, and a new self, with surprising glimmers of help and hope along the way.
by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Hazard has anger issues. To the reader, that’s pretty obvious and an understatement. Pretty obvious to the therapist he is required to see and “graduate from” before he can return to the football field. But not so obvious to Hazard. To get back on the field and past some tough stuff, Hazard is going to have to deal with those anger issues, a bad case of denial, and the heavy burden of his father’s military injuries and PTSD. Through letters, emails, texts, and therapy notes and workbooks, the reader follows along as Hazard pieces together a different kind of path forward.
by Joseph Bruchac
Malian is visiting her grandparents on the Wabanaki reservation when the COVID-19 pandemic hits and the country goes into lockdown. When she can’t return to her parents in Boston, Malian embraces this time with her grandparents (and Malsum, one of the dogs on the rez) as they all care for and learn from each other. Malian is a smart and savvy main character who challenges others and herself to confront hidden biases and beliefs to embrace the differences and beauty in others. Inspired by oral storytelling, Rez Dogs is a novel in verse that weaves multiple aspects of indigenous history and experience while demonstrating the way the indigenous community cared for one another through the plagues of the past, and how they continue to care for one another today.
by Ira Marcks
When a Hollywood film crew arrives on Martha’s Vineyard with a mechanical shark in tow, the island's residents take notice. When the crew announces a youth film contest that includes a huge cash prize, Gayle Briar sees her chance to turn her summer around. She recruits aspiring cinematographer Elijah Jones and director Maddie Grey as they set out to discover the truth of the island’s phantom shark to win the prize money. Follow the tale in this graphic novel with vibrant and expressive art to see what these friends discover when you turn your camera toward the bad things lurking below the surface.
by Maggie Edkins Willis
Smaller Sister is a debut middle-grade graphic novel about body image, confidence, and the bond of sisterhood. Lucy has always looked up to her big sister, Olivia. But Lucy notices Olivie start to change—she’s unhappy with the way she looks and she’s refusing to eat her dinner. She discovers her sister is struggling with an eating disorder. As their parents focus on Olivia’s illness and make every opportunity for recovery, Lucy feels alone and begins to shrink herself. Maggie Edkins Willis wrote this graphic novel from personal experience, and it is presented in a thoughtful and sensitive way for younger readers.
by Kay Leyh
Snap’s town has a witch–or so they say. Jacks is really an internet-savvy, Crocs-wearing old lady who sells roadkill skeletons online… after doing a little ritual to put their souls at rest. But Snap thinks it’s kind of cool. When Snap rescues some baby opossums, she doesn’t know what to do. Jacks offers a deal: Snap will help Jacks with her work, and she’ll teach Snap how to care for the opossums. Over the course of this new partnership, Snap discovers that Jacks might actually be magic–and she has a connection to her own family’s past. This tale of intergenerational friendship, identity, and found community is told in a beautifully illustrated graphic novel that will capture all readers.
by Johnnie Christmas
Bree can’t wait to start at her new middle school. However, her excitement fades when the only elective she can get into is her biggest fear: Swim 101. Luckily, her elderly neighbor, Etta, was once a swim team captain at the same middle school! Etta teaches Bree how to swim, and along the way educates Bree about the discrimination she faced in her youth as a Black swimmer. Bree’s swim team is depending on her to turn the team around and lead them to a state championship. Can Bree beat the prestigious Holyoke Prep with her newfound friends, or will they lose the swim team for good?
This Light Between Us
by Andrew Fekuda
This is a historical novel about World War II. But it is unlike any that you have read before because it has new viewpoints to offer to the narrative. Alex Maki is 10 years old and lives on an island in Washington. He ends up with a pen pal, Charlie Levy from Paris, France, who he is disgusted to find out is a girl. Their letters and relationship become more complicated as their letters cross the Atlantic. Alex is sent to the internment camp, Manzanar, while Charlie is sent to Auschwitz. All they have left is their letters, their memories, and hope beyond the horrors. Nothing can dispel the light between them.
What About Will
by Ellen Hopkins
Trace has always looked up to his older brother, Will. When Will sustains a brain injury during a football game, everything changes. Now, their family lives under the burden of “the incident,” which left Will with a facial tic, anger issues, and depression. Will is a whole new person, and not in a good way. Trace covers for Will when he discovers that he is addicted to pain pills, but when Will starts ditching school and stealing money to fuel his addiction, Trace realizes that some secrets are better out in the open. This novel-in-verse explores heavy topics such as depression and addiction in an easily digestible way for middle-grade readers.
by Jennifer Ziegler
A bullied 12-year-old boy must find a new normal after his widowed mother has a stroke and his eccentric, artist aunt moves in, turning his life upside down. William Wyatt Orser, a socially awkward middle schooler, is a lover of logic, words, and grammar, who, much to his annoyance, acquired the ironically ungrammatical nickname of “Worser” so long ago that few people at school know to call him anything else. In his search for acceptance, Worser discovers that the members of the Literary Club at his school share his love of words. The club is in need of a place to meet, and Worser finds a used bookstore which opens its doors to them. Worser, in turn, finds himself a member of a group of friends he can finally open up to. He begins to share his thoughts, feelings, and even his Masterwork- an epic lexicon of words collected over many years. However, when change threatens Worser’s new reprieve from his troubles, his destructive response forces him to reckon with the inevitability of change.
By Rebecca Caprara
This novel-in-verse follows twelve-year-old Collin who manages his anxiety by mapping out survival plans for any disaster he may encounter—avalanches, riptides, even a bad case of halitosis. He lost his mother in a car accident, and both him and his father struggle in the aftermath of their grief. Collin with his anxiety and his father by hoarding. No one knows what is happening in Collin’s home, and he’s determined to keep it that way. Luckily for him, he has two great friends, Liam and Georgia who help him navigate middle school, but will they stick by him when they learn his big secret? Worst-Case Collin explores the complexities of family relationships, the challenges of mental health and grief, as well as the transformational power of friendship.
by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson
The Agathas follows two teen girls—rich and popular Alice Ogilvie and her less popular, less well-off tutor, Iris Adams as they collaborate to solve the murder of Alice’s ex-best friend. Alice is motivated to solve the mystery to clear her ex-boyfriend’s, the primary suspect’s, name, while Iris is motivated by the hefty reward being offered for information about the missing girl. Using the complete works of Agatha Christie, Alice is convinced they’ll be able to solve the case, but the teens have no idea how much danger they’re walking into
All Boys Aren't Blue
by George M. Johnson
George Johnson is a journalist and an activist. He is also Black and queer, which have contributed to his unique viewpoint in this collection of essays. From getting beaten up as a child, to his special relationship with his grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this book covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy.
Alone Out Here
by Riley Redgate
What do you do when the world is ending and you are stuck in space with a group of teenagers? This retelling of Lord of the Flies answers that question. Leigh Chen is the president’s daughter, and she is touring the Lazarus, a spaceship equipped with a catalog of human artifacts, frozen animal DNA, and supplies to sustain the members of the ship, with other children of world leaders, top scientists, and engineers when the apocalypse arrives ahead of schedule. Leigh and a small group of leaders, including the pilot’s daughter, Eli, determine how to survive in this new environment. It isn’t long before contention arises within the survivors, and Leigh is tested when she has to decide between doing what she can to ensure they all survive, or letting the group fade into oblivion.
Blue Lock Vol. 1
by Muneyuki Kaneshiro with art by Yusuke Nomura
Based on a hit anime, this manga tells the story of a pro soccer team looking for the next ace. When Japanese pro soccer seems to plateau at a place that is just short of making the final rounds at the World Cup, a plan is born to find the top striker among high school soccer players. Blue Lock, a training school, is formed and 300 boys soccer players are gathered in a facility with this challenge: Emerge as number 1 and lead Japan to victory in the World Cup or be number 2-300 and never play pro soccer in Japan. The trainers are looking for someone with ego, someone who takes the shot to win. They will put these 300 players through several psychological and physical challenges to see who rises to the top and who will be sent home.
Libby eBook | Series
Don't Look Back
by Achut Deng and Keely Hutton
How exciting to have a book by a SD author from Sioux Falls on our list! This memoir tells the story of a six-year-old Achut Deng whose village in southern Sudan was attacked by rebel soldiers in the middle of the night. The adults had heard rumors and knew they needed to flee, to run into the forest at night, a forest filled with predators and poisonous snakes. You may have heard of the lost boys of Sudan and this story has a similar ring. The months-long walk to Kenya. Years in a refugee camp. But Achut’s story tells of the power of adults who held out hope and words of wisdom that saved her life. “Don’t look back, it will slow you down. We just have to survive till morning. No one has told you your parents are dead. Until then we will believe they are alive.” Adults who kept her alive despite snake bites and illness and parasites. Adults whose belief in God helped her not give up when so many around her just sat down and died.
by Samira Ahmed
Safiya Mirza hopes to become an objective journalist and is doing her best to do just that on her high school paper. But then she finds the body of a murdered boy. Jawad Ali was murdered after a bizarre chain of events. It started with him building a cosplay jet back that a teacher mistook for a bomb. From there, he was arrested, was given the school-wide nickname of Bomb Boy, and eventually murdered. Safiya learns to trust her instincts and listen to the voice that urges her on as she tries to find out what happened to Jawad.
I Must Betray You
by Ruta Sepetys
Cristian Florescu is a 17-year-old high school student who lives in Romania during the Cold War. He likes English class because learning English helps him understand the music he hears when he listens illegally to Voice of America. Cristian keeps his thoughts in a notebook because he wants to be a writer–also illegal under a Communist dictatorship. He is called to the Director’s office at the beginning of the book and is met by a hulking member of the Secret Police who opens with, “You’re Cristian Florescu, and I know what you’ve done.” Cristian is frantically trying to figure out which of his betrayals, radio, writing, etc. had made him easy bait to be blackmailed. His family is threatened, and he is blackmailed into spying on his friend’s family.
In the Same Boat
by Ruta Sepetys
Sadie Scofield is days away from the race of her lifetime—The Texas River Odyssey. This race is 260 miles over multiple days in a canoe complete with downed trees, alligators, and the hallucinations that come with pitch black night and lack of sleep.
In last year’s event, Sadie caused a wreck that broke her father’s twenty-year streak of finishes; and she hopes to redeem herself with her brother as her teammate. However, Tanner decided to ditch her for another team at the last minute. Sadie must suck up her pride to team up with Cully, her former best friend turned worst enemy. Does Sadie have what it takes to succeed this year, or will she bring further disappointment to her father.
Magical Boy Vol. 1
by The Kao
Max is an average trans man trying to get through high school as his authentic self, all while coming out, navigating crushes, and keeping on top of classes. Max’s life is turned upside-down when his mom reveals that he’s descended from a long line of “Magical Girls,” superheroes tasked with defending the world from a dark, ancient evil! Max takes on this task reluctantly with a feline sidekick and his group of friends. Can Max save the world and become the next Magical Boy?
The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin
By Kip Wilson
Hilde is an 18-year-old orphan, now a resident of Berlin in the months leading up to Hitler’s rise to power in 1932. After experiencing a period of homelessness and unemployment, she gains employment at the Cafe Lila, a queer nightclub. Hilde finds not only a job at Cafe Lila, but friendship, security, and Rosa: a Jewish performer and waitress who quickly captures Hilde’s attention. This novel-in-verse captures the worsening antisemitism and homophobia in pre-Hitler Germany while crafting a hopeful coming-of-age story about finding love and overcoming your fears in the face of massive societal change.
Walking in Two Worlds
By Wab Kinew (a member of the Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation in Canada)
The opening scene of this book takes place in a virtual world, the Floraverse, where the main character Bugz (an Ojibwe or Anishinaabe girl) is fighting Alpha and his clan named Clan:Less made up of 500 members. Bugz, without a team, fights them alone and wins. Across the world in China, Feng who is part of Clan:Less asks his fellow brother warriors, how she always defeats them? Interestingly enough, Feng will be sent by his parents to live with an Aunt on the same reservation in the United States where Bugz lives. Can Bugz forge a bridge with the enemy? Or will betrayal put an end to their new friendship?
The Weight of Blood
By Tiffany D. Jackson
When the residents of Springville are questioned about what happened on prom night, they all point the finger at the same person—Maddy. Madison Washington is an outcast in her small-town Georgia high school. She has been hiding a secret, up until a surprise rainstorm outs her: she is biracial, and her abusive father has been making her pass as white since her mother is dead.
When a racist bullying video goes viral, the leaders of the student body come up with a plan to clean up their school’s image: host the school’s first integrated prom as a show of unity. But everything goes horribly wrong. Told non-linearly through podcast episodes, letters from Madison’s mother, and from Madison’s point of view, this modern-day retelling of Carrie delves into the depths of family secrets, small-town mysteries, and the haunting legacy that binds generations.