April 16, 2012

Exceptional Novels in Verse for Young Readers

With April designated as National Poetry Month, I thought I'd include a post about a unique genre of poetry. Free verse novel, novel in verse and the verse novel are all epithets used for novel-length stories told in verse.  Writing a book is challenge enough, but to write it in verse, rhyming or not, seems almost inexecutable.  Luckily, more than a few Canadian authors have successfully tried their pens at it, with several writers like Pamela Porter and Alma Fullerton finding their voices in this writing style.  Judging by the awards bestowed upon these tomes, it is a style that all readers appreciate.

Ann and Seamus  
by Kevin Major
Groundwood Books
978-0888995612
2003
 
In 1828, seventeen-year-old Ann Harvey helps her father rescue Irish immigrants stranded off the coast of Newfoundland when their ship runs aground.  The story, based on a real event, is told in Ann's voice alternating with that of Seamus, a young immigrant looking for a future in America.


The Crazy Man
by Pamela Porter
Groundwood Books
978-0888996954
2005

After twelve-year-old Em loses her right foot in a farming accident, her father blames himself and ultimately leaves.  Her mother enlists the help of Angus, a quiet, hard-working man from the local mental hospital, to help with the farm. While dealing with her own disability, and desperately trying to find her father, Em witnesses how prejudice and abuse, particularly that levelled against Angus, has its roots in fear.


In The Garage
by Alma Fullerton
Red Deer Press
978-0889953710
2006

Living with her port-stain birthmark on her face, overweight Barbara Jean has been outcast by all, except Alexander.  Their friendship, however, is challenged when Barbara Jean betrays him for the opportunity to be socially accepted. 


Walking on Glass
by Alma Fullerton
HarperCollins Canada
978-0060778521
2006

Through his journal which his therapist has encouraged him to keep, a young man reveals his thoughts about his mother's suicide attempt which has left her in a coma and his father devastated.


Zorgamazoo
by Robert Paul Weston
Razorbill
978-1595141996
2008

On the run from her wicked guardian, Katrina Katrell meets Morty the Zorgle who is looking for all the missing Zorgles.  Together Katrina and Morty look to save the mythical creatures from the evil Dulbert Hohummer III of the planet Graybalon-Four. 


Libertad                                
by Alma Fullerton                
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
978-1554551064
2008                                     

Libertad tells the painful yet hopeful story of a family struggling to survive in a garbage dump in Guatemala City.  After the tragic death of their mother, Libertad and his brother Julio realize they cannot stay in the dump, and they begin an incredible journey to find their father in the United States.


The Apprentice's Masterpiece: A Story of Medieval Spain
by Melanie Little
Annick Press
978-1554511907
2009

In fifteenth century Spain, the Benvenistes, a family of conversos (Jews who converted to Christianity) must keep their secrets well once Queen Isabella comes to power and imposes her intolerance on the country. After Amir, a young man in Muslim attire, is welcomed by the family, shocking events, including the Spanish Inquisition, transpire to divide and destroy the family.


Wolf Pack of the Winisk River                                         
by Paul Brown                                 
Lobster Press
978-1897550106
2009                                     

Wolf, a lone wolf, makes his way through the northern landscape south of Hudson Bay, dealing with humans, hunger, rivals, and other animals to make it to the mouth of the Winisk River.



Burn
by Alma Fullerton
Dancing Cat Books
978-1897151952
2010

When Casey's mom leaves to go on the road and perform as she did before she settled down with John and had Ginny, Casey's autistic sister, Casey is overwhelmed by what she must endure, virtually alone:  John’s despair, heartless bullying, Ginny’s special needs, and her own need to connect with her mom again.  Sadly, the concept of smoke signals, familiar from childhood, becomes one of her choices to amend her life.


Yellow Mini
by Lori Weber
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
978-1554551996
2011

After his dad dies, Mark is left his yellow mini, which Mark enthusiastically drives around town.  Through Mark’s voice, and those of his new girlfriend, Stacey, and other teens, the reader bears witness to their hidden fears and desires, as they all try to make sense of their worlds and their places in it.


I’ll be Watching
by Pamela Porter
Groundwood Books
978-1-55498-096-3
2011

In 1940’s Saskatchewan, the Loney family endures hardship upon hardship.  Their mother, Margaret, has passed on; their dad, George, drinks and remarries bitter and self-righteous Effie Slade; eldest son, Ran, enlists in the military to make some money for the family which disappears repeatedly in the mail; and fourteen-year-old Nora is ultimately left in charge of her younger brother with little money for lights, heat or food. 


Karma                                   
by Cathy Ostlere
Penguin
978-0143174721 
2011

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen-year-old Maya and her father carry the ashes to India.  However, it is 1984 and their arrival coincides with the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the prime minister.   In the mayhem, Maya is separated from her father and gets help from Sandeep, a mysterious boy, who she grows to love.  

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