YA Book Recommendations for Our Favorite Classic YA Characters

Posted by Blair Thornburgh

It’s human nature to imagine what your favorite book characters get up to off the page: what they do on weekends, what they make for dinner, what they like to read. Which got me thinking: what would my favorite characters from classic children’s chapter books read if they were browsing the YA shelves today? Luckily for my fictional friends, these days there’s a YA book for every kind of teenager–now I’ve just got to find a way to get the books into the books.


For Meg Murry: Parallel by Lauren Miller

The intelligent, dimension-hopping heroine of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic sci-fi series would find a lot in common with Abby Barnes, the protagonist of Parallel, who finds her carefully-planned world literally thrown off track when a cosmic collision sets her life on two different—but still intertwined—courses.



For Harriet M. Welsch: The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter

With titles like I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You and Don’t Judge A Girl by Her Cover, this series of adventures in teenage espionage would be perfect reading for a spy-in-training, and the new book drops in September. Heroine Cammie Morgan gets up to all kinds of code-breaking, combat, and chemical warfare—Harriet, take notes.



For Jeffrey Lionel “Maniac” Magee: Rotten, by Michael Northrop

Jerry Spinelli’s fearless but homeless sprinter could relate to Northrop’s JD, a teenager with a past he can’t seem to shake and Johnny Rotten, a shelter dog that’s troubled but not, you know, rotten. As an orphan who’s—literally—on the run, Maniac knows a thing or two about not fitting in.


For Anne Shirley: Red, by Alison Cherry

As Anne herself says, “People who haven’t red hair don’t know what trouble is.” Red’s Felicity St. John lives in a world (Scarletville, to be precise) where red rules and her crop of copper hair is her key to success. But what happens when anonymous—and true—accusations of dye jobs turn up in Felicity’s mailbox? Anne, surely, would sympathize.



For Sam Gribley: Everything You Need to Survive The Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss

This story of high school sophomore Phillip slogging through crappy friendships, a terrible track coach, and the ups and downs of his first love has a title that’s much more metaphorical than literal (though Phillip’s widowed dad does dump out an impressive collection of doomsday supplies that remind him of his late wife). Still, survival-minded Sam could probably stand to learn a thing or two about human interaction after all that alone time in the wilds of the Catskills, and this book wouldn’t be a bad start.

Blair Thornburgh

Blair Thornburgh

BLAIR THORNBURGH is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she earned a B.A. in medieval studies and delivered a pretty good commencement speech. She lives in Philadelphia.