Olive's Ocean

Olive's Ocean

Earning a surprise (to me, at least) place at number three is Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes. Haunted by the loss of a girl she barely knew, 12-year-old Martha heads to Cape Cod where she confronts the confusions and disasters of puberty. Challenged for explicit language and sexual situations this Newberry Honor winner features a distressing first romance in which a boy leads her on only so he can kiss her on camera and a brief reference to the parents having sex. Henke's best known for his picture books ("Chrysanthemum," "Wemberly Worried," "Kitten's First Full Moon") so adults may have been surprised to find him writing about characters that weren't cartoons.