Friday, July 9th, 2010

The 45 Greatest Teen Titles You Have Never Heard of From the Era When They All Mentioned "I," "Me," "You" or Some Other Key Person That Are Not 'Are You There God? It's Me Margaret'

Sylvie45. Where Has Deedie Wooster Been All These Years?

44. Trying Hard to Hear You

43. To All My Fans, With Love, From Sylvie

42. The War Between The Pitiful Teachers and the Splendid Kids

41. The Son of Someone Famous

40. The Late Great Me

39. The Kidnapping of Courtney Van Allen and What's-Her-Name

38. The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp

37. The Best Little Girl in the World

36. Stranger With My Face

35. Starring Sally J. Freeman, As Herself

34. Soup and Me

33. Soup

32. Pardon Me, You're Stepping on My Eyeball

31. Ned Kelly and the Kingdom of Bees

30. My Life as a Body

29. Mom, The Wolf Man and Me

28. Me Me Me Me Me Me

27. Me and Fat Glenda

26. Ludell's New York Time

25. Jane-Emily

24. Jacob Have I Loved

23. It's Okay if You Don't Love Me

22. Invisible Lissa

21. In Summertime, It's Tuffy

20. I'll Love You When You're More Like Me

19. If I Love You, Am I Trapped Forever?

18. I Never Loved Your Mind

17. I Am The Cheese

16. Good Night, Willie Lee, I'll See You in the Morning

15. Give Me One Good Reason

14. Ghosts I Have Been

13. From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

12. Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphy

11. Don't Hurt Laurie!

10. Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack

9. Diary of a Frantic Kid Sister

8. Dear Lovey Hart, I Am Desperate

7. Dear Lola, Or How to Build Your Own Family

6. Confessions of a Teenage Baboon

5. Call Me Heller, That's My Name

4. Are You in the House Alone?

3. Anna to the Infinite Power

2. And You Give Me a Pain, Elaine

1. And This is Laura

Lizzie Skurnick is the author of Shelf Discovery, a memoir of teen reading. She lives in Jersey City.

77 Comments / Post A Comment

petejayhawk (#1,249)

It's like going back in time to my elementary school library. I might have to order one of these from the Scholastic Book Club.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

yeah I'm having Highlights puzzle flashbacks right now-

also how on Earth did I miss the 1978 ABC Afterschool Special of Dinky Hocker?! Oh yeah, our only TV was a teensy little Sony Trinitron and I was probably watching Little Rascals reruns.

jolie (#16)

alkshflskhfklsh "To All My Fans, With Love, From Sylvie" lasfhklkhsflkshklsfh


Bittersweet (#765)

YES! Almost as much as "The Alfred G. Graebner Handbook of Rules and Regulations." We need to kickstart an Ellen Conford renaissance.

Clio (#3,719)

So I'm sure this will be the theme of a thousand comments, but who hasn't heard of I am the Cheese or Pardon Me, You're Stepping on my Eyeball, or From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler? Those are classics.

Trufax: my first-grade boyfriend got his eyeball sort-of-stepped on at recess. It was very scary and I held his hand while we waited for the nurse.

myfanwy (#1,124)

I still have nightmares about the Frankweiler book. I'll never know how I passed grade seven English.

I don't know about the Eyeball one, but I concur wholeheartedly as to the other two. (My book club actually had childhood reversion month a couple years ago with From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler and The Phantom Tollbooth.)

In news I think I've asked on this site before, can anyone remind me of what I am the Cheese is about? I remember it being disorienting when I read it, but none of the specifics.

Redacted (#2,882)

Geez, can I join your book club? Much better than Life of Pi and Middlesex…

Also, Summer of my German Solider, anyone?!

@Setec Astrology: Not enough space; Wikipedia has it.

I hated that book, but probably because we had to read it twice for school. Bah.

@Redacted: Er…we read those, too.

@Gef: Thanks; I should've checked there first.

myfanwy (#1,124)

Jacob Have I Loved!!!

sox (#652)

my sentiments exactly.

melis (#1,854)

But that book have I hated.

andj (#1,074)

I read "The Late Great Me"! It was about a teenage girl who becomes an alcoholic, like, instantly upon having her first drink. Then she joins AA and the last quarter of the book is all in AA-speak.

City_Dater (#2,500)

I've heard of ALL of them, and read most of them!
Not only was I of the target audience in the late '70s/early '80s (the golden age of teen novels), I worked as a page in the public library, shelving in the children's room.

God, I miss Paula Danzinger…

Man, I think I read maybe two of these. I guess I was too busy reading every Doctor Who novelization that I could get my nerdy little hands on.

Mar (#2,357)

I've read about half of these. A lot of them are by Norma Klein, who's kind of like the Jewish, free love, intellectual, "Squid and the Whale" version of Judy Blume (except better.)

Miles Klee (#3,657)

I Left My Sneakers In Dimension X

This list is making me want to re-purchase Ellen Conford's entire body of work. So, so many great books.

jolie (#16)

This, but with Lois Duncan, for me. "Stranger with my Face" oh but yes. Reminds me of summer camp.

hortense (#2,780)

"Anything For A Friend" is the one that immediately springs to mind, as you don't come across many heroes in YA lit named Wallis.

Bittersweet (#765)

"Stranger with my Face" asdaldfjlsfjlk. Why I'll never ever even try astral projection.

synchronia (#3,755)

Aww, no The Face On The Milk Carton?

chevre4evre (#3,871)

Lizzie Skurnick! So nice to see you on The Awl! I was a huge fan of Fine Lines — in fact, it was the last thing that drew me to the rapidly deteriorating Jezebel on a regular basis. Once you were gone, so was I.

chevre4evre (#3,871)

Also: Are You Alone in the House? is seared into my memory. Seared. I didn't sleep for weeks.

cherrispryte (#444)

I'd like to second the love for Lizzie. So pleased to see your byline!

hortense (#2,780)

Nightmares forever with that one. Forever.

shelven (#1,992)

@chevre4evre and other lady who box is blocking…and HELLO hortense…thank you! I have another piece coming up here soon, when my brain defogs

jolie (#16)

Oh no, and now I'm remembering "A Summer to Die" and I'm welling up at my desk and can someone hold me please?

shelven (#1,992)


I don't know if it was my best, but I was ordered by several BFFs to comply.

jolie (#16)

Oh thank you so much! I have the strongest memories of reading that book on my bunk at summer camp, sitting on my navy blue sleeping bag during rest hour with my walkman on, listening to "Tunnel of Love" by Bruce Springsteen on whatever the local radio station was in Maine and oh golly now I'm just a complete sniffling mess and how about that hug now?

Moff (#28)


I was really surprised/excited for a second there.

mgw (#89)

The Great Gilly Hopkins!

shelven (#1,992)

Rats. Merci.

Also, no Johnny Tremain? Even seeing the cover of that book gives me wicked summer-reading flashbacks.

keisertroll (#1,117)

"They should call that book JOHNNY DEFORMED!"

NinetyNine (#98)

If I Love You, Am I Trapper Forever is pretty much the handbook of why I am a miserable failure at relationships to this day. And I had nothing in common with any character in the book.

jolie (#16)

"I like watching you out there. It's comforting."

Kevin Knox (#4,475)

M.E. Kerr ruined my life, but not in a bad way.

hillary (#5,965)

Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones!

hillary (#5,965)

Also, Up in Seth's Room, which I just saw yesterday in the stacks.

Robert Cormier and Lois Duncan always gave the best fucked up nightmares.

HiredGoons (#603)

Christopher Pike.

Oh God, he was awful too. The biggest thing that bugged me about Stranger with My Face is that her parents had blue eyes and she had brown and it still never occurred to her that they might not be biological?
Also, the twincest in Fade gave me douche chills fo' life. Why were YA writers from that time so hell-bent on fucking us up?

Kevin Knox (#4,475)

Disturbed my universe, for sure.

Kat Kinsman (#5,966)

My head just fell off from the mention of Anna to the Infinite Power. I was so obsessed, I wrote a horrible play about cloning and made my whole 5th grade class perform it. Was lucky enough to have access to nearly identical twins.

That plus The Silver Link, The Silken Tie and The Changeover made the rusted inside of my head what it is.

Pombous (#1,937)

This makes me want to re-read Go Ask Alice.

Meeg (#309)

I read Jay's Journal recently which was written by the same fake psychologist and is about devil worship. It was kind of disappointed

HiredGoons (#603)

'Soup' & 'Soup and Me'!!!


keisertroll (#1,117)

I remember bringing one of the Soup and Dear Mr. Henshaw on my family trip to Canada. And little else of said title.

Annie K. (#3,563)

Hey Lizzie! You here? Yay!

shelven (#1,992)

Yes, I was worried you might not have anyone to drink with

Annie K. (#3,563)

You're a plumb sweetie.

Jane-Emily! I think it's out of print, though.. :(

Kevin Knox (#4,475)

Thank you, thank you thank you for Deedie Wooster.

I had completely forgotten about that amazing book, and her pre-internet wingnut habit of Capitalizing words she found Meaningful.

C_Webb (#855)

WOW! It's OK if You Don't Love Me, second-string Norma Klein, who made us 80s suburban shiksas think that 70s UWS Jewish girls had it really good. The arty parents! The freedom! The unapologetic sex!

Mar (#2,357)

Playing tennis with your shiksa trophy boyfriend in a halter!

C_Webb (#855)

Sex on bathroom floors in Scarsdale! Picking Haverford over Harvard! (Or was it Yale?)

Mar (#2,357)

It was Harvard (she was a legacy! BOTH of her parents had gone!)

Carina (#4,319)

I'm shocked at both how many of these titles I'd actually read and that there weren't more Lois Duncans.

shelven (#1,992)

I'm writing a piece on Duncan for Bookforum now — "writing", "now" — so I had to save some. They are all in front of me, no worries, although actually quite a few don't apply to the rules. "My Gift of Magic to My Family," maybe.

Slackferno (#197)

A Crack in the Sidewalk – Ruth Wolff

Kevin Knox (#4,475)

Also: Francine Pascal's Hangin' Out with Cici.

shelven (#1,992)

One of the greatest books ever, hands down. There is an essay about it in Shelf Discovery, not that you have to buy it, just sayin'.

Kevin Knox (#4,475)

(It's on my Amazon wishlist, but this listicle may have upgraded the priority some. Just sayin'.)

Sunflowercat (#5,980)

A million thanks for being someone else who loved And You Give Me a Pain, Elaine and …Deedie Wooster.

Also: The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, Summer of My First Love, A Horse Named Peaceable…

paperbackwriter (#2,844)


keisertroll (#1,117)

Win The Reverse Order For Alphabetical!

I read the shit out of The Kidnapping of Courtney Van Allen and What's-Her-Name, twice back-to-back, if I remember right. There's an eccentric aunt who keeps full-grown tigers in her apartment.

Liquid (#546)

I have a friend who has begun The Christopher Pike Project, in which she is going back to re-read the Pike books and, ah, 'critique' them with no-longer-teenage-girl eyes.
Highly enjoyable.

Kevin Knox (#4,475)

It is highly enjoyable! Thanks for the link.

Pandemic Endemic (#3,825)

Setec, it's called I am the Cheese because the cheese stands alone. That's pretty much it.

Also, no I Heard the Owl Call My Name?

Or was that only popular in the PNW?

nyssa23 (#4,503)

Lovey Hart! Invisible Lissa! Dinky Hocker! I loved so many of these books.

However, I'm disappointed that If This Is Love, I'll Take Spaghetti didn't make the list. I really enjoyed "I Hate You, Wallace B. Pokras."

shelven (#1,992)

Oh one of the rare SHORT STORY collections! I love that one. There's also Cormier's Eight Plus 1. I was going to do a story on collections but I was waiting for a third. I'll add "I This is Love" to my expanded follow-up list of the 67,000 of these on my blog, thank you.

shelven (#1,992)

IF this is love. Not enough coffee.

pajamarama (#6,019)

Who Put That Hair in My Toothbrush? was a good one. Also, Adorable Sunday, which was about a teen model whose teen-model friend tried to kill herself Virginia Woolf-style when she developed acne. Reading it was the first time I ever heard of Virginia Woolf!

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