Nancy Werlin on the National Book Awards

Presents for Teenagers

The ALA has a list of good books for holiday gift-giving for kids from pre-k through grade 8.
But I know what you really need to know.
What do you give a HIGH SCHOOL GIRL for Hannukah or Christmas or whatever winter holiday you celebrate?
Because you can't buy her clothes. Really, you can't.

Here are my recommendations. I figure, in making these recommendations, that you want to:

give the teenager something she will LIKE and think is fun and not "good for her"
give the teenager something she has not already read
give the teenager something that is of high quality and not just trashy stupidity
give the teenager somethingher parents will not be all nervous about if they pick it up, something without much sex or drugs or profanity
give the teenager something with a positive girl-power vibe

A couple shiny hardcovers that are new this season. One or two makes a perfect gift.
•Devilish, by Maureen Johnson -- it's a Faust tale set in a Catholic girl's school that is very very funny and innovatively done.
•The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie, by Jaclyn Moriarty -- hilarious and thought-provoking; a highly unusual, highly intelligent girl suspects (and maybe rightly) that someone is out to kill her.
• Sex Kittens and Horn Dawgs Fall in Love, by Maryrose Wood -- so so funny, and despite the title, very wholesome. Brainy teenagers at an avante garde high school create science experiments to discover the secrets of attraction.
• I'd Tell You I Love You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You, by Ally Carter. Girls at a select boarding school train to be Spies. So fun.
• Bad Kitty by Michelle Jaffe. Smart cookie solves a mystery in wild and crazy Las Vegas.
• Magic or Madness, by Justine Larbalestier. For the fantasy reader. Set in Sydney and New York City, both wild and scary and full of rogue magic.

The last two (Bad Kitty & Magic or Madness) have mixed-race protagonists, by the way. I think it's nice to know because it can be so important for teenagers to see themselves (and heroines who look like them) in fiction.

Happy shopping!

EDITED TO ADD: I just found out that Maureen Johnson will send you a sparkly holiday card and signature you can put in Devilish (or any of her other books) if you are giving them as gifts. Go to her myspace page and then click on "MJ signing workshop" in the blog.