The Center for Children's Books

Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
YA Books about Music - May 2009

Selected and annotated by Laura Rancani

Benway, Robin. Audrey, Wait! Razorbill, 2008. Gr. 9-12
When a breakup song penned by Audrey Cuttler's ex-boyfriend becomes a smash hit, her daily high school routine is interrupted as her every move becomes fodder for tabloid buzz. This comedic, fast-paced novel champions making one's own voice heard in the midst of a swirl of rumors.

Brothers, Meagan. Debbie Harry Sings in French. Holt, 2008. Gr. 9-12
Drawn to Debbie Harry's glamorous punk image, sixteen year-old Johnny is confused when he realizes that he doesn't just love the lead singer of Blondie's attitude and style of dress; he wants to be her.

Caletti, Deb. Wild Roses. Simon, 2005. Gr. 7-12
The public sees Cassie's stepfather as a world-renowned composer, but behind closed doors, he's a bully. When he takes on the brilliant young Ian Waters as a student, Cassie develops a crush on the boy. Will the relationship result in an explosion of temper?

Cohn, Rachel & David Levithan. Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. Knopf, 2006. Gr. 9-12
Two mix cd enthusiasts bond during the course of a single night spent in Manhattan and find themselves on the precipice of new romance in this hip, witty novel.

Dessen, Sarah. Just Listen. Viking, 2006. Gr. 7-12
Annabelle Greene projects confidence, but her inner self is wracked with uncertainty. Can her budding friendship with music-obsessed outcast Owen Armstrong inspire her to tell her own side of the story after an intense falling out with her former best friend?

Dines, Carol. The Queen's Soprano. Harcourt, 2006. Gr. 7-10
Seventeen year-old Angelica has a stunning voice, but Pope Innocent XI has forbidden the women of Rome to sing in public. Angelica's fierce determination compels her to run away to Queen Christina's court.

Flinn, Alex. Diva. HarperTempest, 2006. Gr. 7-10
The sequel to Breathing Underwater finds the talented, persistent Caitlin auditioning for a coveted spot at the Miami High School of the Arts as she heals from an abusive relationship. What will it take for this opera-loving, self-described "diva-in-training" to truly harness her inner diva?

Gipi. Garage Band . First Second, 2007. Gr. 9-12
When an amplifier is irreparably damaged the night before a demo tape deadline, a frantic search for new equipment lands four friends in more trouble than they could have imagined. This graphic novel is translated from Italian and lush watercolor illustrations enhance the story.

Hughes, Mark Peter. Lemonade Mouth. Delacorte, 2007. Gr. 6-9
What do a dentist's jingle, a coughing fit, and a ukulele that has seen better days have in common? Find out by reading the story of Lemonade Mouth, Opequonsett High School's finest basement rock band as told by Wen, Stella, Charlie, Olivia, and Mo.

Jones, Patrick. Nailed. Walker, 2006. Gr. 9-12
Bret feels most at home when he's with his band, playing impromptu concerts in parking lots. Although he doesn't mind standing out from the crowd when onstage, he longs for genuine acceptance from peers and family members alike in this gritty tale of self-perception.

Korman, Gordon. Born to Rock. Hyperion, 2006. Gr. 6-9
Future Harvard student and president of the Young Republicans club, Leo Caraway's life is turned upside down when he discovers that his biological father is King Maggot, lead singer of Purge, an infamous punk rock band.

Lane, Dakota. The Orpheus Obsession. Tegan/HarperCollins, 2005. Gr. 9-12
Anooshka Stargirl is entranced by the music and internet diaries of rock singer Orpheus and cannot stop thinking about him. When her obsession culminates in the enigmatic musician taking notice of her, she journeys into a surreal, tantalizing underworld.

Lurie, April. The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine. Delacorte, 2008. Gr. 7-10
Dylan may not be able to control the drama of his family life—an absent mother, workaholic father, and a troubled older brother who is also a brilliant musician—but his own musical and artistic ventures provide venues for self-expression.

McDonald, Janet. Harlem Hustle. Foster/Farrar, 2006. Gr. 7-10
Abandonment forces Eric Samson live on the streets, but it's his dream of Harlem Hustle, the rapper he aspires to become, that gives him the courage to survive despite his internal struggles and the external pull of music industry exploitation.

McMahon, Jennifer. My Tiki Girl. Dutton, 2008. Gr. 8-12
When the Jim Morrison-obsessed Dahlia Wainwright comes to school and forms a band, Maggie Keller finds herself drawn to her vivacious new friend in ways she doesn't yet understand.

Nichols, Travis. Punk Rock Etiquette: The Ultimate How-to Guide for DIY, Punk, Indie, and Underground Bands. Flash Point/Roaring Brook, 2008. Gr. 7-12
This humorous, illustrated guide offers practical suggestions for aspiring indie bands including tips for selecting bandmates, suggestions for merch offerings, and the dos and don’ts of stage etiquette.

Page, Jan. Rewind. Walker & Co., 2005. Gr. 7-10
Liam is killed by falling equipment at a Battle of the Bands contest, travels back in time to witness his teenaged parents' band rehearsal, and observes a love triangle between the band members. If Liam alters the course of events, will he cancel out his own future existence?

Sachar, Louis. Small Steps. Delacort, 2006. Gr. 7-12
In this sequel to Holes , a concert ticket scalping scheme devised by a buddy from Camp Green Lake leads Armpit to a life-changing encounter with teen pop star Kaira Deleon.

Simmons, Michael. Vandal. Porter/Roaring Brook, 2006. Gr. 7-12
Will, lead guitarist in a KISS tribute band, arranges for his brother Jason to tour with him after his release from a juvenile detention center. A violent incident at a show leads to tragic consequences for their family in this novel that examines the complexities of sibling relationships.

Sonnenblick, Jordan. Notes from the Midnight Driver. Scholastic, 2006. Gr. 6-9
Underage Alex is sentenced to 100 hours of community service after a drunk driving incident prompted by his anger over his parents' separation. This novel explores his unlikely friendship with the crotchety old man who becomes his charge and their bond over jazz guitar.

Thompson, Kate. The New Policeman. Greenwillow Books, 2007. Gr. 6-9
A teen who comes from a musical family passes through a portal to Tir na n'Og, the land of eternal youth where playing music is central to existence. This exploration of Irish mythology includes a glossary, bibliography, and sheet music snippets of traditional Irish tunes.

Watts, Leander. Beautiful City of the Dead. Houghton, 2006. Gr. 6-12
When four friends form a band called Scorpio Bone, they discover the essence of "ghost metal": music so loud that a quiet place shimmers just below the surface of the sound. Their discovery sparks a spooky, supernatural rivalry with adults in their community who may not have their best interests in mind.

Westerfeld, Scott. The Last Days. Razorbill, 2006. Gr. 7-12
New York City is in crisis in this sequel to Peeps . Amidst the chaos, five teenage bandmates find refuge in their music. Are their songs a harbinger of societal breakdown or a way to fend off total destruction?

Woodson, Jacqueline. After Tupac & D Foster. Putnam, 2008. Gr. 7-10
In this coming-of-age story, an unnamed narrator and her two best friends find pieces of their own lives' truths in the music of Tupac Shakur while dealing with negligent parents, incarcerated family members, and Tupac's eventual death.

Yoo, Paula. Good Enough. HarperTeen, 2008. Gr. 7-10
High school student Patti Yoon has done well for herself, but her overachieving parents just aren't satisfied with her status as assistant concertmaster in the All-State violin competition. This novel explores life beyond parental expectations when Patti's Ivy League aspirations morph into dreams of Julliard.