The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Voyages - December 2010

Selected and annotated by Tricia Dean


Voyages to Self-Discovery

Bradbury, Jennifer. Shift. Atheneum, 2008. 256p. Gr. 9-12.
Chris Collins and his best friend Win Coggans decide to bike from West Virginia to Seattle following graduation. Win disappears and his parents become alarmed, going to great lengths to find him, but it becomes apparent he doesn’t want to be found. How far do you have to travel before you lose yourself, and find yourself again?

Brothers, Meagan. Debbie Harry Sings in French. Holt, 2008. 234p. Gr. 9-12.
Johnny dreams of Debbie Harry, and kids at school think he’s gay. He’s survived losing his father, almost overdosing and being shipped off to his uncle’s. Music, and his new girlfriend Maria, help give him the courage to be himself, even if what he wants is to wear a dress.

De La Peña, Matt. Mexican WhiteBoy. Delacorte, 2008. 256p. Gr. 7-10.
Danny doesn’t fit in anywhere. He’s an invisible Mexican at his largely white prep school, a half-white kid who doesn’t even speak Spanish with his Mexican family. He’s got an arm like a rocket but he loses it on the pitcher’s mound. Looking for his father, Danny finds family secrets, friendship and the courage to be his best.

Green, John. Paper Towns. Dutton, 2008. 305p. Gr. 9–12.
Quentin has always been in love with Margo next door, but they don’t run in the same circles, until the night Margo involves him in an 11-point ninja revenge plan. The next day, she isn’t at school, appearing to have disappeared for good this time. Margo’s parents have ceased to care, leaving Quentin to follow the clues Margo left, and try to truly understand the girl he’s worshipped for years.

Jenkins, A.M. Night Road. HarperTeen, 2008. 368p. Gr. 9-12.
Cole is called back to Manhattan to help Gordon, a new heme (one who lives on blood), learn the rules to life as a heme. Cole isn’t sure he’s up to this; his last experience guiding a one ended with the heme trying to take her own life. Teaching Gordon the rules to being a heme help Cole battle his own demons.

Johnson, Maureen. 13 Little Blue Envelopes. HarperCollins, 2005. 317p. Gr. 7-12.
Ginny’s runaway aunt Peg has left her a legacy; thirteen little blue envelopes. The first one gets her on a plane to England, and the adventure begins. When the last envelope is stolen, Ginny has to determine her own path.

Matson, Morgan. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour. Simon, 2010. 352p. Gr. 8-12.
Sometimes you need a detour to help you find your way back. Amy’s mom carefully plots a cross-country route for Amy and former neighbor Roger, but Amy is in no hurry to get to Connecticut, and Roger has his own agenda. As they detour to find places and people, they begin to find themselves, and each other.

Murphy, Rita. Looking for Lucy Buick. Delacorte, 2005. 176p. Gr. 7-12.
Rocco Sandoni won a Buick in a card game, but no-one told him about the baby in the back. Lucy is raised by the three Sandoni brothers and five Sandoni sisters, but sets out on her own to find the Buick’s, the family she believes left her. Accompanied by the loving if intrusive ghosts of the aunts, Lucy comes to realize that family isn’t necessarily about blood, but love.

Okorafor-Mbachu, Nnedi. Zahrah the Windseeker. Houghton, 2005. 320p. Gr. 6-9
Zahrah's vine-twined locks mark her as dada and different. Her friend Dari is bitten by a snake, and the only antidote is deep in the heart of the Forbidden Greeny Jungle. With no-one else willing to brave the forest, Zahrah sets out, armed with an electronic guide to the jungle and a talking compass to find win the antidote.

Voyage to Places that Never Were

Alexander, Alma. Gift of the Unmage. Eos. 2007. 389p. 7-9.
Seventh child of two seventh children, Great Things are expected of Thea. Unfortunately, Thea has shown no signs of being magical in any way. When Nothing comes and people start dying, it is only someone unmagical who can hope to conquer it.

Goto, Hiromi. Half World; illus. by Jillian Tamaki. Viking, 2010. 221p. Gr. 9-12.
It had always just been Melanie and her mother, and then one day, her mother disappeared. A mysterious call, on a phone with no service leads Melanie to Half World, where her existence is a crime and she must unravel the clues to not only reunite her parents, but put the Three Realms back in balance.

Neumeier, Rachel. The City in the Lake. Knopf, 2008. 304p. Gr. 7-10.
Timou, mage-daughter and Neill, King’s Bastard are half siblings, children of the sorceress Lelienne, who has come back to claim the kingdom. Timou and Neill voyage to the mirror-world to restore the Prince and set the kingdom aright, but only a power greater than Lelienne’s can destroy her.

Rodda, Emily. The Key to Rondo. Scholastic, 2008. 368p. Gr. 5-9.
Leo Langlander inherits a music box from his ancient aunt, with strict instructions about how to treat it: never wind it more than three times, never move the box when open, never close the box before the music ends. His cousin Mimi breaks the rules, and they set off on a voyage to the world of Rondo, where Langlanders are themselves fairy tales.

Voyage to Space

Gaiman, Neil and Reeves, Michael. InterWorld. Eos/HarperCollins, 2007 256p. Gr. 5-7.
Everyone gets lost sometimes, but Joey got lost All the time, right up until he got lost in time and space. Now Joey has to work with multiple versions of himself from multiple universes, walking between parallel dimensions to keep the Multiverses safe from evil HEX and Binary.

Kostick, Conor. Saga. Viking, 2008. 334p. Gr. 7-10.
Erik / Cinderella Dragonslayer won the virtual reality (VR) game Epic, he’s moved on to Saga. But Saga’s not what you’d expect. The local characters are sentient and have a hard time believing they’re a game. Saga is more than just VR; the Dark Queen is poisoning people in real life (RL) as well as killing them in the game, in a bid to take over both the game and RL.

Nelson, Peter. Herbert's Wormhole; illus. by Rohitash Rao. Harper/HarperCollins, 2009. 295p. Gr. 4-6.
Alex promised his parents that he would go out to play, as soon as he won Alien Slayer 2. Game over, his parents set him up for a play date with his odd neighbor Herbert. Herbert has the new virtual reality Alien Slayer 3, but has reconfigured its suits to create a wormhole, sending the boys into the future.

Trondheim , Lewis. Kaput & Zösky; tr. by Edward Gauvin; illus. by Eric Cartier. First Second, 2008 80p. Gr. 4-6.
Kaput and Zösky are bent on conquering the universe, if only it wasn’t so difficult. A series of separate vignettes has them fleeing and discovering the perils of democracy; you have to deliver on your promises! Interspersed with shorter strips entitled ‘The Cosmonaut’ which is wordless, but fully expressive.

Voyages in Time

Carey, Janet Lee. The Beast of Noor. Atheneum, 2006. 512p. Gr. 7-10.
Bargaining with Death, a man turns over his beloved dog, who becomes the horrible Shriker, a Death Hound. Miles wants to be a sorcerer and Hannah wants not to be hated in the village; to have a hope they need to find a way to kill the Shriker and stop the curse.

Humphreys, Chris. The Fetch. Knopf, 2006. 361p. Gr. 6-9.
Sky is haunted by a draug, a spirit form of an ancestor. Is his grandfather helping him avoid the draug and learn to direct his Fetch (body double) or using him and his cousin Kristin as pawns in his search for immortality? Find out as the runes take Sky and his Kristin from England to Norway, from today to hundreds of years ago.

Jubert, Hervé. Dance of the Assassins. tr. from French by Anthea Bell. Eos/HarperCollins, 2005. 400p. Gr. 9-12.
Roberta Morgenstern has been called in to solve a vicious murder in virtual London, which has all the hallmarks of Jack the Ripper. Clues lead to further murders in virtual Paris and Venice. Morgenstern and her partner race off to virtual Tenochtitlán to stop someone from summoning the Devil himself. First of trilogy.

Lombardi, Tom. My Summer on Earth. Simon Pulse, 2008. 256p. Gr. 9-12.
Clint is a long way from home, a home where they’ve evolved past sex and physical bodies. He has a mission on Earth - if he can focus on something other than the very human Zoë. The instructional videos didn’t prepare him for this!

Prévost, Guillaume. The Book of Time. tr. by William Rodarmor. Levine/Scholastic, 2007 224p. Gr. 5-8.
Sam’s father disappears regularly, but never for over a week. Looking for his father, Sam stumbles on a keystone, and begins leapfrogging through time. Now he just needs to solve the mystery of the keystone, and find out where his father is in time. First in series.

Scarrow, Alex. Time Riders. Walker , 2010. 416p. Gr. 7-10.
Liam, Maddy and Sal are saved from certain death and given a second chance, becoming TimeRiders. Sal can spot an inconsistency, Maddy’s programming can pinpoint when and where it happened, and Liam travels back with sidekick cyborg Bob. But being back in time

Tan, Shaun, illus. The Arrival. Levine/Scholastic, 2007. 128p. Gr. 6 up.
A brilliant and intriguing picture book, its’ sepia and gray tones lend moodiness and atmosphere. The story begins with a leave-taking, in a familiar world, then departs. The journey is evident, as well as disorientation in unfamiliar surroundings without being disturbing.

Townley, Roderick. The Red Thread: A Novel in Three Incarnations. Jackson/Atheneum, 2007. 294p. Gr. 7-9.
Dana has disturbing dreams; an awful uncle who took credit for her work, and a little boy shut left to die behind a wall. The dreams are enough disturbing, but she starts seeing people from her past lives walking around in her present. Dana struggles to discover who she really was then, and who she truly is now.

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