Best Young Adult Books with Pat Schmatz, Author of Lizard Radio
It’s not an easy thing, a “books I love” list. There are so many…and I love them for so many reasons. Some I tear through in a hurry, loving the world between the covers so much that I carry it with me everywhere and submerge whenever I can, only coming up for air when I have to work or sleep or be an adult for some inane reason. Others I read slowly over days, with bits and pieces filtering through my mind for months to come. Some books drop my jaw over the skill and beauty of the writing, and some speak direct-arrow to my heart in that moment and a few weeks later I can’t remember what touched me so deeply. It’s a tough assignment, and the best I can do is choose five YA books that, if I were shipwrecked today, I’d want with me.
Written by Laura Amy Schlitz
Villains! Heroes! Brave kids, thieves, a dog, puppets, evil adults, plot twists and troublesome weather and unexpected horrors. Splendors and Glooms is an extremely well-written gripping page-turner. The characters are incredibly vivid and complex, and the web of their relationships is a tangled one. My favorite part was the scene on the ice. It transported me.
Ages 9-12 years | Publisher: Candlewick | 2014 (Reprint) | ISBN-13: 978-0763669263
Written by Kwame Alexander
Crossover is fun and fast and gripping. It puts basketball to poetry. I love the vocabulary moves, the musicality, the humor and the anger. I read a library copy quickly, but I’ll be buying my own copy so I can move through it slowly and savor poem by poem.
Ages 10+ | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-0544107717
Written by Patrick Ness
This one spoke to me personally on so many levels – nightmares and fear and a talking tree and a monster with some rich ideas. Grief and fury and connection and love and fear, all wound up together. I’ve used this book in classrooms for several years now. One of my favorite things to do is to read the first few pages aloud and then….stop. Mid-sentence. There’s always a scramble to the library afterwards. I never get tired of reading that opening scene.
Ages 12 and up | Publisher: Candlewick | 2013 (Reprint) | ISBN-13: 978-0763660659
Written by Markus Zusak
I cannot really say enough about all the reasons I love this book. It’s such a step away and apart and above most books I’ve read, it’s hard to even put it in the same category. The language, the rhythm of the staccato chapters, the heartbreak characters, the rich cultural and historical backdrop, the heartbreaking loyalty and love and courage and fierce defiance in the face of cruelty and evil, and the steady consistent voice of Death…this is high on my Best Book Ever list for reading pleasure, escape, history, teaching writing, and general all-around awesomeness.
Ages 12 and up | Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf | Sept. 11, 2007 | ISBN-13: 978-0375842207
Written by Maggie Stiefvater
I’ve always loved a good horse story, and The Scorpio Races is one to beat all horse stories. It’s so full of longing and yearning, and the water and weather are themselves vivid characters. All of this is told by two narrators I love from the start, and the two of them are up against each other for high, high stakes. It’s a realistic novel with just enough twist of magical fantasy to leave me questioning reality. At the end of the book I wasn’t sure if those sea horses were real things or not. I actually had to look it up.
Ages 12 and up | Publisher: Scholastic | 2013 (Reprint) | ISBN-13: 978-0545224918
About the Author
Pat Schmatz is the author of the critically acclaimed Bluefish. About Lizard Radio, she says, “I keep a notepad with sketches and ideas, and one day a lonely lizard wearing headphones came out of my pencil. The young lizard was desperate to pick up a signal, and from that moment on, so was I. When I tuned in, I found this story.” Pat Schmatz lives in Wisconsin.
For more information, visit: PatSchmatz.com
Written by Pat Schmatz
Publisher’s Synopsis: In a futuristic society run by an all-powerful Gov, a bender teen on the cusp of adulthood has choices to make that will change her life—and maybe the world.
Fifteen-year-old bender Kivali has had a rough time in a gender-rigid culture. Abandoned as a baby and raised by Sheila, an ardent nonconformist, Kivali has always been surrounded by uncertainty. Where did she come from? Is it true what Sheila says, that she was deposited on Earth by the mysterious saurians? What are you? people ask, and Kivali isn’t sure. Boy/girl? Human/lizard? Both/neither? Now she’s in CropCamp, with all of its schedules and regs, and the first real friends she’s ever had. Strange occurrences and complicated relationships raise questions Kivali has never before had to consider. But she has a gift—the power to enter a trancelike state to harness the “knowings” inside her. She has Lizard Radio. Will it be enough to save her? A coming-of-age story rich in friendships and the shattering emotions of first love, this deeply felt novel will resonate with teens just emerging as adults in a sometimes hostile world.
Ages 14+ | Publisher: Candlewick | Sept. 8, 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-0763676353