Adapted For Young Readers: 15 Great Adaptations

A growing trend in book publishing is adaptations — popular adult titles rewritten to make them more appealing and accessible to younger readers. Sometimes the original author writes the adaptation, and sometimes it is left to collaborator. Regardless, the intent is to make the material available to a wider audience. Here are some recent YA adaptations in the CA Library collection:

1493 For Young People: From Columbus’s Voyage to Globalization by Charles C. Mann, adapted by Rebecca Stefoff — Traces the story of globalization through travel, trade, colonization, and migration from the fifteenth century to the present, documenting the historical impact of such influences as potatoes, the rubber plant, and malaria. “Stefoff abridges and simplifies Mann’s adult title 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (Knopf, 2011), objectively describing how European exploration and the resulting Columbian Exchange of plants, animals, and diseases rapidly made the world “global” in outlook and practice, with a mixed legacy of wealth and higher living standards, oppression, losses of entire populations, and environmental degradation” (School Library Journal).

Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species, adapted by Rebecca Stefoff — This Young Reader’s Edition makes Darwin’s cornerstone of modern science accessible to readers of all ages. Meticulously curated to honor Darwin’s original text, this compelling edition also provides contemporary insight, photographs, illustrations, and more. “An ever-increasing number of science books introduce Darwin’s work to young readers. The strength of this attractive volume is that it gives them direct access to Darwin’s words on the topic of natural selection, along with informative updates and explanations” (Booklist).

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Rivalry, Adventure, and the History of the World From The Periodic Table of Elements by Sam Kean, adapted by Adrian Dingle and Kelsey Kennedy — Presents historical background for the periodic table and follows the elements as they play out in human history and the stories of the scientists who discovered them. “The book is divided into four parts which are further distilled into chapters, enhancing its readability. The writing style is conversational and never dry” (School Library Journal).

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones, adapted by the author — As an adult book, Sam Quinones’s Dreamland took the world by storm, winning the NBCC Award for General Nonfiction and hitting at least a dozen Best Book of the Year lists. Now, adapted for the first time for a young adult audience, this compelling reporting explains the roots of the current opiate crisis. “A scrupulously researched, well-crafted tale that sheds light on a timely topic” (Kirkus Reviews).

The Far Away Brothers: Two Teenage Immigrants Making A Life In America by Lauren Markham, adapted by the author — Identical twins Ernesto and Raul Flores, seventeen, must flee El Salvador, make a harrowing journey across the Rio Grande and the Texas desert, face capture by immigration authorities, and struggle to navigate life in America. “While the twins’ immigration story is the focal point, Markham adds nuance by including their typical teen troubles with romance and social media, plus the perspectives of their friends and family back home, in addition to that of the person who took responsibility for them in the U.S. Visceral and informative, this is a necessary read for today’s youth” (Booklist).

Hitler’s Last Days: The Death of the Nazi Regime and the World’s Most Notorious Dictator by Bill O’Reilly, adapted by the author — By early 1945, the destruction of the German Nazi State seems certain. Facing defeat, Adolf Hitler flees to a secret bunker with his new wife, Eva Braun, and his beloved dog, Blondi. It is there that all three would meet their end, thus ending the Third Reich and one of the darkest chapters of history. “Short entries at the end detail particulars, and the index and time line are thorough and useful. A helpful additional resource for social studies students and WWII buffs” (Booklist).

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States For Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, adapted by Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza — Going beyond the story of America as a country “discovered” by a few brave men in the “New World,” Indigenous human rights advocate Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz reveals the roles that settler colonialism and policies of American Indian genocide played in forming our national identity. “This adaptation … should be required reading for all middle and high schoolers—and their teachers. Dunbar-Ortiz’s scrutinous accounts of Indigenous histories are well-known among history buffs, and in this revision, the same level of detail is maintained while still accommodating a teenage audience” (Booklist).

It’s Trevor Noah: Born A Crime, Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah, adapted by the author — The host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah tells the story of growing up half black, half white in South Africa under and after apartheid in this young readers’ adaptation of his bestselling adult memoir. “A necessary purchase for readers who will appreciate and understand how a parent’s love enabled Noah to become the successful man he is now” (School Library Journal).

Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight For Justice by Bryan Stevenson, adapted by the author — In this very personal work — adapted from the original #1 bestseller, which the New York Times calls “as compelling as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so” — acclaimed lawyer and social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson offers a glimpse into the lives of the wrongfully imprisoned and his efforts to fight for their freedom. “Classrooms and book groups will find plenty to discuss and debate. Compassionate and compelling, Stevenson’s narrative is also unforgettable” (Booklist).

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything American History Textbooks Get Wrong by James W. Loewen, adapted by Rebecca Stefoff — Beginning with pre-Columbian history and then covering characters and events as diverse as the first Thanksgiving, Helen Keller, the My Lai massacre, 9/11, and the Iraq War, Loewen’s lively, provocative telling of American history is a “counter-textbook that retells the story of the American past” (The Nation). “An important and necessary purchase for all secondary schools who want students to develop a love and appreciation for U.S. history while seeing it with clearer eyes” (School Library Journal).

Magellan: Over The Edge of the World, The True Story of the Terrifying First Circumnaviation of the Globe by Laurence Bergreen, adapted by the author — On September 6, 1522, a battered ship manned by eighteen malnourished, scurvy-ridden sailors appeared on the horizon near a Spanish port. They were survivors of the first European expedition to circle the globe. Originally comprised of five ships and 260 sailors, the fleet’s captain and most of its crew were dead. How did Ferdinand Magellan’s voyage to circle the world–one of the largest and best-equipped expeditions ever mounted–turn into this ghost ship? The answer is provided in this thoroughly researched tale of mutiny and murder spanning the entire globe, marked equally by triumph and tragedy. “Although condensed from the original, this version remains sophisticated and will appeal most to skilled teen readers and even adults” (Booklist).

One Person, No Vote: How Not All Voters Are Treated Equally by Carol Anderson, adapted by Tonya Bolden — In her New York Times bestseller White Rage, Carol Anderson laid bare an insidious history of policies that have systematically impeded black progress in America, from 1865 to our combustible present. With One Person, No Vote, she chronicles a related history: the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “Bolden’s adaptation will fire up a new generation of civic activists through its gripping presentation. A significant people’s history and call to action for youth” (Kirkus Reviews).

The Perfect Horse: The Daring Rescue of Horses Kidnapped by Hitler by Elizabeth Letts, adapted by the author — American soldiers, aided by an Austrian colonel who was both an Olympian and a trainer of Lipizzaners, attempt to kidnap horses that had been taken by Nazis “for the glorification of the Third Reich” and smuggle them to safety. “This account of the heroism and cooperation of unlikely people to protect these horses is spellbinding. The author’s impeccable attention to detail and exhaustive sources make this a must-read” (Booklist).

A Queer History of the United States For Young People by Michael Bronski, adapted by Richie Chevat — Chronicles the history of homosexuality in the United States from the Puritans through the twentieth century, examining the role of gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgendered individuals in shaping American culture. “This adaptation for teens of the Bronski’s 2012 Stonewall Award-winning A Queer History of the United States is doubly valuable; it serves well as a general read and fills a clear curricular need. An overall successful adaptation of an important work, rich with content relevant to all disciplines and beyond” (School Library Journal).

We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson, adapted by Tonya Bolden — Presents the argument that since the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, when African Americans make advances toward full participation in our democracy, white reaction feeds deliberate and relentless rollback of their progress. “Using this easy-to-follow informational text with a robust list of citations, readers can witness 150 years of continuous systemic racism and deeply understand the mechanism by which federal protection is given then taken away by special agency, state, or local political action. A needed resource for YA nonfiction collections” (School Library Journal).

Best YA Books of 2019!

With much fanfare, here it is — CA Library’s Best YA Books of 2019! With so many great books out there, it can be a daunting task to pick out the best of the best. After spending a few weeks compiling titles from various sources, I came up with the books that appear on the most lists (check out the spreadsheet here).

This year, I again tried to include as many reputable best books lists as I could find. I go to my usual sources of book reviews (School Library Journal, Booklist, etc.), then check out a few other media outlets that have year-end reviews as well. Here are my Top 25 Best Books list sources of 2019…

Each list is a little different — some include just fiction or nonfiction, some include both, and some include books for all ages, from which I pick the ones written for teens and young adults (again, it’s a daunting task!)

This year, of the 25 lists I drew from, two titles showed up on an amazing 13 of them: Pet by Akwaeke Emezi and Shout: A Poetry Memoir by Laurie Halse Anderson, making them the CA Library Best Books of the Year!

Two books were on 11 best-of lists: Frankly In Love by David Yoon and On The Come Up by Angie Thomas.

Two books appeared on 10 lists: Wilder Girls by Rory Power and With The Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys was on 9 lists.

Six books were on 8 best-of lists: Lovely War by Julie Berry, Laura Ruby’s Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All, Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki, Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay, and Stacey Lee’s The Downstairs Girl.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer appeared on 7 lists, and The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake and Rainbow Rowell’s Pumpkinheads were on 6 lists each, rounding out the 16 books that make up the CA Library Best YA Books of 2019 Superlist!

The Best of the Best…

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi — In a near-future society that claims to have gotten rid of all monstrous people, a creature emerges from a painting seventeen-year-old Jam’s mother created, a hunter from another world seeking a real-life monster. “A riveting and important read that couldn’t be more well timed to our society’s struggles with its own monsters” (School Library Journal starred review).

Shout: A Poetry Memoir by Laurie Halse Anderson — Inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak addressed the issue of sexual assault twenty years ago, Anderson’s poetry memoir is as vulnerable as it is rallying, and as timely as it is timeless. “A captivating, powerful read about clawing your way out of trauma, reclaiming your body, and undoing lifetimes of lessons in order to use your voice as the weapon it is” (Booklist starred review).

Frankly In Love by David Yoon — High school senior Frank Li takes a risk to go after a girl his parents would never approve of, but his plans will leave him wondering if he ever really understood love — or himself — at all. “Yoon’s light hand with dialogue and deft use of illustrative anecdotes produce a story that illuminates weighty issues by putting a compassionate human face on struggles both universal and particular to certain identities” (Kirkus starred review).

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas — Sixteen-year-old Bri hopes to become a great rapper, and after her first song goes viral for all the wrong reasons, must decide whether to sell out or face eviction with her widowed mother. “While acknowledging that society is quick to slap labels onto black teens, [Thomas] allows her heroine to stumble and fall before finding her footing and her voice” (School Library Journal starred review).

With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo — Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions — doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. “Acevedo compassionately challenges her readers with a wide variety of topics, including cultural and personal identity and the needs and desires of older women, something that is so often forgotten” (Booklist starred review).

Wilder Girls by Rory Power — Friends Hetty, Byatt, and Reece go to extremes trying to uncover the dark truth about the mysterious disease that has had them quarantined at their boarding school on a Maine island. “Part survival thriller, part post-apocalyptic romance, and part ecocritical feminist manifesto, a staggering gut punch of a book” (Kirkus starred review).

…and The Rest of the Best!

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys — At the Castellana Hilton in 1957 Madrid, eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson connects with Ana Moreno through photography and fate as Daniel discovers the incredibly dark side of the city under Generalissimo Franco’s rule

Lovely War by Julie Berry — The Greek goddess Aphrodite recounts two tales of tragic love during WWI to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, in a luxe Manhattan hotel room at the height of World War II.

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby — When Frankie’s mother died and her father left her and her siblings at an orphanage in Chicago, it was supposed to be only temporary. That’s why Frankie’s not prepared for the day that he arrives for his weekend visit with a new woman on his arm and out-of-state train tickets in his pocket. Now Frankie and her sister, Toni, are abandoned alongside so many other orphans — two young, unwanted women doing everything they can to survive.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson — When apprentice librarian Elisabeth is implicated in sabotage that released the library’s most dangerous grimoire, she becomes entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy that could mean the end of everything.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki — Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend. But as their relationship continues to spiral out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it’s really Laura Dean that’s the problem.

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay — When seventeen-year-old Jay Reguero learns his Filipino cousin and former best friend, Jun, was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, he flies to the Philippines to learn more.

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee — 1890, Atlanta. By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel Caroline Payne, the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for ‘the genteel Southern lady.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer — Eighteen for the three hundred twenty-seventh time, Prince Rhen despairs of breaking the curse that turns him into a beast at the end of each day until feisty Harper enters his life.

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake — Inspired loosely by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, teenaged Violet is shipped off to Maine after her brother’s hospitalization, where she searches for the lost shipwreck that her great-great grandmother survived and for answers about her family’s long struggle with mental illness, all while falling in love.

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell — Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends. Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked at the best pumpkin patch in the world. They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1. But this Halloween is different — Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together — their last goodbye.


New Nonfiction at CA Library

Here are some books we have recently added to the nonfiction section at CA Library. Look for them in the New Books section!

American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures, edited by America Ferrera with E. Cayce Dumont — Award-winning actress and political activist America Ferrera has compiled a vibrant and varied collection of first person accounts from prominent figures about the experience of growing up between cultures. “Teens will find lots to connect with, as many of the entries focus on childhood, coming of age, and the growing pains that accompany adolescence and identity formation. A strong selection where anthologies and personal essay collections have a readership; a good choice for supplementing civics courses” (School Library Journal).

Beautiful on the Outside: A Memoir by Adam Rippon — Former Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon shares his underdog journey from beautiful mess to outrageous success in this hilarious, big-hearted memoir. “Rippon may have started his career as an underdog, but he prevailed, thanks to his resilience, laser-focused work ethic, and acerbic sense of humor” (Booklist).

The Body: A Guide For Occupants by Bill Bryson — Bryson (A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail) once again proves himself to be an incomparable companion as he guides us through the human body — how it functions, its remarkable ability to heal itself, and (unfortunately) the ways it can fail. Full of extraordinary facts and irresistible Bryson-esque anecdotes, The Body will lead you to a deeper understanding of the miracle that is life in general and you in particular. “Bryson’s splendid stroll through human anatomy, physiology, evolution, and illness is instructive, accessible, and entertaining” (Booklist).

Caesar’s Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us by Sam Kean — Kean (The Disappearing Spoon) takes readers on another round-the-globe journey through the periodic table, exploring how the air people breathe reflects the world’s history, tracing the origins and ingredients of the atmosphere to explain oxygen’s role in reshaping continents, steering human progress, and powering revolutions. “A witty book that turns the science of the stuff we breathe into a delightful romp through history” (Kirkus Reviews).

The End of Chiraq: A Literary Mixtape edited by Javon Johnson and Kevin Coval — Johnson, a professor of African American studies, and Coval, cofounder of Chicago’s Louder Than a Bomb youth poetry festival, curate this collection of poems, rap lyrics, short stories, essays, interviews, and artwork about Chicago, the city that came to be known as “Chiraq” (“Chicago” + “Iraq”), and the people who live in its vibrant and occasionally violent neighborhoods. “Socially aware YAs, especially hip-hop fans, will find much enlightenment and encouragement here” (Booklist).

Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister — An exploration into the transformative power of female anger and its ability to transcend into a political movement, tracking the history of female anger as political fuel — from suffragettes marching on the White House to office workers vacating their buildings after Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court. “Recommended for burgeoning activists and teens interested in politics, history, and current events” (School Library Journal).

How To Start a Revolution: Young People and the Future of American Politics by Lauren Duca — Teen Vogue award-winning columnist Lauren Duca shares a smart and funny guide for challenging the status quo in a much-needed reminder that young people are the ones who will change the world. Duca investigates and explains the issues at the root of our ailing political system and reimagines what an equitable democracy would look like, beginning with young people getting involved. “This call to action will resonate even with those who are not already involved in progressive politics” (Publishers Weekly).

cover_imageA Light in the Darkness: Janusz Korczak, His Orphans, and the Holocaust by Albert Marrin — From National Book Award Finalist Albert Marrin comes the moving story of Janusz Korczak, the heroic Polish Jewish doctor who devoted his life to children, perishing with them in the Holocaust. “This fascinating work will terrify and educate readers about the dangers of autocracy and racism. Highly recommended for all young adult collections” (School Library Journal).

Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound by James Rhodes — In a stunning and innovative performance, piano maestro James Rhodes introduces today’s readers to seven of the greatest composers of all time. Discover their backstories and how each one shaped and defined classical music. “This dynamic and infectious introduction to classical music is sure to capture a new generation of musicophiles” (Kirkus Reviews).

Women: The National Geographic Image Collection, with an introduction by Susan Goldberg, editor in chief of National Geographic Magazine — From Silicon Valley to politics and beyond, women are reshaping our world. Now, in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, this bold and inspiring book from National Geographic mines 130 years of photography to showcase their past, their present, and their future. “In addition to the diverse historical depictions of women and girls throughout the world, teens will be inspired by the words of the contemporary trailblazers” (Booklist).