The moment everyone has been waiting for is finally here! Here are the official 2016 Teens’ Top Ten titles!
- Alive by Chandler Baker. Disney/Hyperion. 9781484706831.
- All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf. 9780385755887.
- The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books. 9780545668347.
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Macmillan/Henry Holt & Co. 9781627792127.
- Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. Random House/Delacorte Press. 9780553496642.
- Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone. Disney/Hyperion. 9781484705278.
- The Novice: Summoner: Book One by Taran Matharu. Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends. 9781250080059.
- Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf. 9780553499117.
- When by Victoria Laurie. Disney/Hyperion. 9781484700082.
- Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls. By Lynn Weingarten. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse. 9781481418584.
Altogether, over 28,000 votes were cast for the 26 nominees.
Now through December 31, 2016, teens aged 12-18 can nominate their favorite titles to be considered as a 2017 Teens’ Top Ten nominee via the public nomination form. Book title nominations submitted in the current year will be used for consideration of the following year’s list of nominees. For books to be eligible for consideration, they must be published between January 1– December 31, 2016.
Want to learn more about the Teens’ Top Ten? Visit www.ala.org/yalsa/teenstopten.
The Girl on the Train starring Emily Blunt comes to theaters October 7th. Based on the best selling novel by the same title by Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train features an unreliable protagonist that may or may not have murdered someone.
If your teens have read or will see The Girl on the Train in theaters and need more books featuring unreliable protagonists, have them check out these seven titles.
- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Cat woke up on the beach of her summer home in nothing but her underwear however she doesn’t remember what happened. Two years later, Cat suffers from an unknown illness and the only cure may be to return to her summer home to search for answers.
- Ketchup Clubs by Annabel Pitcher
Zoe has a huge secret that she’s too afraid to share with anyone until she gets the idea to confess to a death row inmate in America.
- The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Violet has a promising ballet career and Amber is an inmate in a juvenile center. Their only connection is Ori and she is the only person who can release the demons haunting Violet and Amber.
- After the Woods by Kim Savage
Witnessing an attack on her best friend, Julie fights off the attacker and gets abducted while her friend flees. One year later, Julie is safe home but continues to get horrific flashbacks of her 48 hour abduction. With her best friend spiraling out of control, Julie begins to remember things and what she recalls is unexpected.
Angela has lost three year of her life, her memories, her friends and family. With the assistance of new friends, Angela embarks on a journey to recover herself but when her memories resurface she’ll have to make life changing decisions.
- Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
After an accident Triss comes to find that her sister fears her, her parents whisper when she’s around, and she has an insatiable hunger. When Triss begins to investigate the circumstances of her accident, she uncovers a dark city with a creepy “architect.”
- The Dogs by Allan Stratton
Cameron and his mother are always on the run from their abusive father/husband. After a suspicious car shows up by their house, they are on the move again and end up in a small town in a creepy farmhouse. After a couple of taunting remarks from his new classmates, Cameron decides to do some research on his new house and uncovers a possible murder 50 years prior.
— Dawn Abron, currently reading Midnight Star by Marie Lu
This is a post from Anna Kilcullen, a Young Adult & Reader’s Service Librarian at Albright Memorial Library in Scranton, Pennsylvania, who was awarded a Baker & Taylor and YALSA Collection Development Grant. YALSA members who work directly with young adults can apply for next year’s grant until December 1st.source
This year I was awarded one of the Baker & Taylor/ YALSA Collection Development grants to create a new and improved YA collection at the Scranton Public Library’s bookstore/library hybrid branch, Library Express. Library Express is unique not only because it is a hybrid but because it is located in the Marketplace at Steamtown, Scranton’s downtown mall. Library Express is also the location of most of the teen programming that I conduct as the library’s Young Adult Librarian. The YA collection at Library Express was desperately in need of an upgrade so this grant came in very handy. With the grant funding, I was able to add about eighty-five new titles to the existing YA collection. In total, these new items circulated 107 times between June 2016 and August 2016. This much activity was in great contrast to the meager circulation statistics which were collected before we added the new titles.
When I ordered the items for the new teen collection, I decided to spend most of the grant funding on YA Fiction novels which could be classified as modern classics such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, The First-Part Last by Angela Johnson and The Giver by Lois Lowry. This strategy paid off because these titles circulated well and will not become outdated so easily. The nonfiction titles and Playaways that I added to the collection did not circulate quite as well. I had a feeling that this would be the case which is why I spent the bulk of the grant funding on YA Fiction.
The effect the new collection had on our teens was remarkable. It caused quite a stir. The teens were thrilled with the new variety of titles to choose from and enjoyed picking out new titles to read each week. One teen exclaimed, “Now I don’t have to wait for a book from another library before I can check one out!” Another teen was encouraged by the new collection to use her library card for the first time! Having many titles, mostly modern classics, to choose from made this first experience with borrowing from the library fruitful and complete. It was so satisfying to witness the teen’s excitement over their new collection.
I am so grateful for having received the Baker & Taylor/YALSA Collection Development Grant. I love that the teens in our community finally have a collection they could get excited about at Library Express. Now that they feel that they are worthy of a substantial investment, I see the teens taking ownership of their library in new and profound ways. The teens that frequent Library Express have benefited greatly from this grant and continue to do so. I must also note that the statistics showed that, in line with the national trend, adults borrowed the new additions almost as much as the teens. Thus, the Baker & Taylor/ YALSA Collection Development Grant has given the Library Express YA collection a much needed boost and, for that, all of us at the Scranton Public Library are thankful and delighted!
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One of my favorite audiences for booktalks is a group of middle school students. I love their tough exteriors, their hyper-aware disinterest, and their expectation that anything I say will be boring. For that reason, I like to line up my books on a table and ask them to pick which books look interesting. If there are a couple of picture books in the mix, inevitably someone will go for the laugh and select one of those. For example, I might set out these:
The picture books mixed in this line-up have a sarcastic edge that is just right for thirteen-year-old readers. They serve to break the ice and get the audience comfortable about choosing other books in my display. And it’s a way to raise awareness for the non-babyish appeal of many picture books.
The trick is finding these transcendent picture books. I have gathered a few favorites over the years. Maybe you have, too. These books are discovered not through subject headings or award lists, but through the experience of reading book after book and recognizing the appeal.
This is why I am excited to start an interest group focusing on picture books for young adults. It’s a small niche in the world of books, but such fun to explore!
Want to join me? An interest group is not like a committee in the sense that dedicated participation in required. We may decide to share our books through blog posts, or put together a conference program, but that’s completely up to our group. If you think this might be for you, just fill out this form. All you need is YALSA membership and an interest!
Diane Colson, currently reading All Involved by Ryan Gattis.
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As October begins, Halloween is once again around the corner, making this a great time to explore the mystical in the comic book world. When it comes to magic in comic books, witches have long been a popular option with creators because they offer so many possibilities. Here are some recent comics that have witches as their main characters.
Toil & Trouble by Mairghread Scott with illustrations by Kelly Matthews and Nichole Matthews – Have you ever wanted to know more about the witches in Macbeth? This comic retells the classic tale from their perspective, offering a completely new take on Shakespeare’s work. See what happens when these three sister fates delve into Scottish politics. This is a fresh take on a work that many have read in English class and is a great way to get comics fans more interested in the story of Macbeth. It is also a strong work of horror in its own right, making it a good option even for those who aren’t fans of Shakespeare.
Scarlet Witch Vol. 1: Witches’ Road by James Robinson with illustrations by Vanesa R. Del Rey, Marco Ruby, Steve Dillion, Chris Visions, and Javier Pulido – With her inclusion in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War, Scarlet Witch has been introduced to a whole new group of fans. This comic offers the perfect continuation for both long time and new fans. In this volume, Scarlet Witch must travel across the globe in an attempt to save magic and witchcraft from a mysterious figure who would destroy it. The series combines compelling artwork by a strong group of artists with an exciting story, resulting in a great reading experience.
Spell Checkers by Jamie S. Rich with illustrations by Nicolas Hitori De and Joëlle Jones – High school can be a hard enough time without also being a witch. At first, Jesse, Kimmie, and Cynthia might think that their magical powers will make their life easy and enjoyable, but as rumors start to circulate about them and their powers begin to falter, they are going to have to find their nemesis and come together to fight back. This is a darkly humorous take on high school witchcraft that has a strong style.
Black Magick: Awakening by Greg Rucka with illustrations by Nicola Scott – Rowan Black leads a dual life as both a police detective and a witch, but these two sides of her life come together when a powerful magical force starts attacking her. In volume 1 of this story, readers begin to see the larger forces of both good and evil at work in these events while leaving just enough mystery to keep them wanting more. The almost entirely black and white artwork adds to the dark atmosphere of the story and helps to make this a great read for fans of horror and supernatural. This book is definitely for an older audience due to its depictions of violence and brief nudity. It will particularly appeal to fans of Coffin Hill by Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda.
Spell on Wheels by Kate Leth with illustrations by Megan Levens – Later this month an interesting new comic about witches is debuting. The story follows three witches as they go on a road trip to recover lost magical objects. Road trips and witches seems like a great combo and with the creative team of Kate Leth and Megan Levens, this one is sure to be great!
I hope this list will help you find a great read in time for Halloween! These are some of the best comics about witches to feature female authors and illustrators, but there are a lot more out there. Let us know your favorites in the comments.
— Carli Spina, currently between books
Happy Monday, Hub readers! It’s time for the Monthly Monday Poll, and this month we want to hear about your reading habits, specifically whether you’re reading a ton of ARCs or not.
Last month’s poll asked if you are a fan of these seemingly endless screen adaptations, or if you prefer that Hollywood leave the complex plot lines, interior monologues, and nuanced relationship-building to the page. Folks were largely in favor of the extra reach provided by screen adaptions, with 72% of respondents glad to see something given live-action treatment, but 28% were concerned that the perils of a poorly-received or executed adaptation can overshadow the original book(s). I thought of this when I heard that Netflix is rebooting Lemony Snicket’s beloved Series of Unfortunate Events books as a miniseries starring Neil Patrick Harris, even though the first 3 books were previously adapted into a feature film with Jim Carrey in the lead in 2004 (sidenote: I cannot believe it’s been 12 years since that movie came out). Clearly Netflix believes the books’ (legion) fans want something from an adaptation that the film didn’t deliver…
This month, we’re asking about your *typical* TBR pile, specifically your ARC habits. Do you prefer (or are you required, by the nature of your work) to have your line-up of titles be mostly pre-publication ARCs, or are you generally inching up the Holds list or browsing the stacks for your next book?Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
Happy October, and happy reading, fellow Hub readers!
-Carly Pansulla, currently reading The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
Netflix’s new TV show Stranger Things has been wildly popular. The show, set in the 80s, begins when a young boy, Mikey, goes missing, and his friends and family uncover many strange things while looking for him, including a girl with paranormal abilities.
Season two is currently filming, but if your teens have binged season one and need some books to tide them over, check out these 18 science fiction/weird YA titles.
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
What would the world be like if Hitler’s Aryan nation plan had succeeded? It’s 1956 and Yael, a skinshifter, has been assigned the task of killing the fuhrer by entering and winning a motorcycle race.
Ruby is different and her parents are afraid of her. When Ruby survived the virus that killed all the kids, her parents locked her in the garage. Desperate to escape, Ruby finds a place with other teens like her only to find out that her powers will be exploited.
Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
Mila looks like a human teen but was actually created in a lab. Sent to live like a human after a memory wipe, Mila finds herself on the run from her creators who want to destroy her and from people who want to use her powers for evil.
The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron
Nadia lives in Canaan-a Utopian city that erupts in chaos every twelve years called The Forgetting. The annual “celebration” is set to arrive but Nadia is beginning to remember things she was supposed to forget twelve years ago. Can she find answers before the next Forgetting?
The longer you’re dead the less human you are when you are rebooted. Wren was dead for 178 minutes making her almost nonhuman. When a new recruit whose mostly human joins, he’s too slow and is a detriment and Wren has begun to have human feelings for him. When he’s ordered to be terminated for his incompetence, will Wren have the “guts” to do it
Unremembered by Jessica Brody
Seraphina was the only survivor from a deadly plane crash and she doesn’t know why she survived or where her supernatural powers came from. She needs to find answers quickly before the bad guys catch her.
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Katie’s father is trying to kill the monsters and August is a monster with the gift of sucking ones soul. When Katie and August unexpectedly team up, can they reason with their feuding fathers to end the war?
Bone Gap, Illinois is a little town that has gaps where one can fall into and never find their way out. When Roza goes missing and creepy Finn doesn’t help her, the town suspects Finn but Finn suspects a mysterious stranger.
A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Marguerite is the daughter of two brilliant physicists who invent a device that allows people to travel to different dimensions. One day, one of their interns steals the device and is suspected in the murder of Marguerite’s father.Marguerite and a second intern, Theo, travel through dimensions to find and kill Marguerite’s father’s murderer.
A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
There are four Londons that exist in four dimensions and only two people in the world can travel between them and one of them is Kell. Kell is a smuggler and one day his illegal activities catch up to him.
Pivot Point by Kasie West
Addison is a searcher-she can see alternate futures. When her parents get divorced, Addison uses her special abilities to see her future with her father who lives outside their special community or with her mother who lives inside the community. Addison sees a relationship in one future and a death in the other; which one will she choose?
3:59 by Gretchen McNeil
Josie’s life is in turmoil especially when she begins to have a reoccurring dream at 3:59pm of a girl who looks exactly like her but has a perfect life. When Josie receives the opportunity to switch lives with the other Josie, will she find happiness or more mysterious problems.
Paralell by Lauren Miller
Abby’s life is planned out perfectly but she suddenly finds herself on a Hollywood movie set and then she’s in college at Yale. Unsure on how she’s jumping from life to life, Abby soon discovers she’s jumping between alternate universes and someone is living the life she planned.
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Miel fell out of a water tower one day and everyone thinks she’s a witch. Sam brings her home, finds her a family, and they eventually become best friends. Ten years later, Miel is still a mystery that is slowly being revealed.
The Rules by Stacey Kade
Ariane was created in a lab and is to live by five simple rules and one of them is to not fall in love. When Ariane is sent to blend in with other human teens a prank has potentially exposed her to the police chief’s son. With the help of Zane, Ariane must run from those who want her destroyed.
Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
Annaliese Rose Gordon disappeared from Buffalo NY a year ago. She turns up in Oklahoma. She looks like herself, visibly thinner, but she’s different. She’s Anna, a monster.
The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
Dolssa has unexplained gifts that have labeled her a heretic. On the run from the church, Dolssa is found by Botille and taken back to her small French town. When Dolssa’s gifts begin to heal people, some of the townspeople look to Dolssa to heal them while others fear her. When the church comes to town to ask questions, will Botille and her town hide Dolssa or turn her in?
Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Jonah has always known he was adopted but when he discovers his friend and other teens his age are also adopted, he begins to ask questions. A mysterious note that tells Jonah he is one of the missing sparks Jonah to investigate his background but what happens when the FBI discovers Jonah’s inquiries?
—Dawn Abron, currently reading Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Now that the school year’s back in swing, we’re bringing back the Month in Review roundup of resources for collection development, content curation, and teen library services.
Books and Reading
Amanda at Teen Librarian Toolbox has a preview of forthcoming YA titles.
YA author Mindy McGinnis on poverty in YA lit and her new book, Female of the Species.
At Epic Reads, the 23 most-anticipated YA books out in October.
Up your readers’ advisory game with this webinar from NoveList on unlocking the power of pop culture.
Banned Books Week
I.W. Gregorio says “Save a Life — Support a Banned Book” in Publisher’s Weekly.
At Teen Services Underground: Dealing with a Book Challenge.
School Library Journal shares data from a survey about book challenges and looks at the content of challenged books (spoiler: it’s mostly diverse books).
OK, this is funny. From The Onion: Teens disappointed in Banned Books.
Interested in non-traditional collections? Check out Emma’s post on TSU about Maker Kits.
At Public Libraries Online: a library is more than a bunch of books.
ALSC on video games in libraries.
The trailer for the movie adaptation of Lauren Kate’s Fallen is circling the internet, but when will it hit big screens?
— Molly Wetta, currently reading The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu
It’s a common scene across the country – hundreds of students in various grades, one research theme for all grades, and one school librarian trying to assist each student and provide a worthy library collection. Under the umbrella of a national theme, National History Day (NHD) allows students to choose a topic, event, or person from history to research and present upon.
With more than half a million middle school and high school students participating each year, it is competitive, with the final goal being accepted to nationals each summer in Washington D.C. This year’s theme is “Taking a Stand in History.” The format also varies; students can write a paper, or create a website, documentary, presentation board, or create a performance piece, which means a variety of resources can be employed during the research process.
Using NHD guidelines, grade-specific requirements, and resources provided both in the library and online, collection development and content curation for this project has evolved. It’s a collaboration between library and classroom. It incorporates the library’s physical and digital collections and online resources. The goal is to ensure hundreds of students use the library efficiently as well as meet curriculum guidelines by participating in this nationally recognized research project.
Conversation One: What Will Students Choose?
Preparation for National History Day begins in the spring semester for the next year’s theme, which is chosen by the NHD organization. I try to think of the obvious topics as well as ask all teachers what they think will be popular topics for their specific classes, such as American History or World History.
Often, teachers set guidelines for which time periods students can cover or limit how many students can research one topic. This is helpful in sharing library books if there is a limit on how many students can research one topic. Thankfully, there is budget for new books each year, but collection development goes beyond books. I include our online subscriptions and many free online resources listed with the library’s collection for this project. Teachers reserve the library for classes to brainstorm topics and talking with students helps me learn if books need to be purchased. Teachers approve the topic, but I look at a variety of sources to see if students will have enough quality material to meet the requirements – both in content and diversity of primary and secondary sources.
An example of a few museums included on the library’s website.
Conversation Two: Updating the Collection In Addition to Purchasing Books
As I tell the students, our library is also a bridge to other libraries and information sources. The library collection of the 21st century goes beyond traditional library tools and beyond these library walls.
Besides books, I suggest databases, museums within the Smithsonian Institute which provide online access to collections and unique primary sources, other local libraries, inter-library loan, and yes – a basic Google search. Students are familiar with search engines and the familiarity with Google in the brainstorming process helps the project seem tangible. Learning background information with a basic search is important in order to find other key people or details. In other words, additional search terms and resources. I teach students to look at the bibliography and footnotes of articles and books and use citations to find more information.
There are many free, online resources that fit NHD each year. For instance, the search for primary sources takes us to the Library of Congress many times. I also show students WorldCat and how to find books from local libraries or how to request through inter-library loan. Museums and Presidential Libraries provide online access to collections and while the opening of The National Museum of African American History & Culture was last Saturday, much of the collection was online earlier. As civil rights fits into this year’s theme, I had one more resource to show students.Providing subcategories within the Library of Congress, younger students can link directly to their focus in history. This is easier for them than navigating the full Library of Congress.
Database Instruction and Learning from Experience
When classes want database instruction, I walk students through basis searches with a few class specific examples. My first year as a school librarian I made a few handouts of database tips and reminders, a practice I did in my 10 years working for the public library. I believed students would come throughout the school days and pick up a handout when it was convenient.
I was wrong. Students sometimes will not ask for help, but will rely on Google. So I changed the way in which I taught database instruction. Now in my third year with National History Day, I walk students through a search for a popular topic. I found it better showcased the library’s database collection. Specific topics work better than a general reminder of search strategies and Boolean operators. Also, no one takes the handouts. Instead, I walk around the table of students as they work on laptops and make everyone click along with my step-by-step instruction hoping that after participating in a database search they can do one alone. For students who struggle with research, they are allowed to return later and we work together one-on-one. I also focus on different databases for different ages based on specific tools of each database and whether it was designed for middle grades or advanced researching.
In lieu of handouts, I update the Middle School and Upper School library’s webpage to have an NHD specific page to include online sources, journals, e-books, and primary sources. I had a realization after my first year that to better assist them – at school or at home – a helpful tool would be to create one set page for this intensive project. What appears as a collection of library resources is actually one webpage listing the online catalog and connecting students to other resources available and organizing it based by type of resource or collection.
Organizing Information: A Variety of Sources in a Variety of Locations
By having online resources, helpful links, or the online catalog on multiple parts of the webpage, I have designed it so students can find information using teacher’s terminology, alphabetically for when students know exactly what they are searching for, or list resources under a project name. This way, regardless of their level of research expertise, students can find the same resources based on their individual search habits. This ensures that students, no matter which way they search, get the full resources the library has to offer. Teachers are also able to link my NHD page to their class website which allows students to access my information another way.Organizational Pages I’ve designed for the library website. Online databases, ImageQuest, and the online catalog are direct links as well as listed on the NHD page.
Conversation Three: Curriculum Partnership and the Embedded Librarian
Students log into their online school account, which is where they find websites for their classes. The library is listed as a class in order for students to access our catalog and online subscriptions from any computer. This is an amazing chance for me to showcase the library resources. Besides updating project specific pages for NHD, I can create resources for grade specific projects.
Digital literacy and how to navigate the online catalog and the internet are introduced to our elementary students by their librarians and teachers. I am fortunate that when I get students in Middle School, they already have some library and research skills. This benefits their later research since students are familiar with reading a variety of sources, citing information, and organizing their thoughts. The partnership between the library and classrooms is built on a foundation of communication. I have found once the conversation has begun, teachers are more likely to use the library and give up valuable instruction time so that classes can come to the library to learn about the collection. This is the concept of the embedded librarian. I also familiarize themselves with library knowledge and, as a result of a successful experience, respect the library (and the librarian).
— Sarah Carahan, currently between books
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Focussing on the artistic ambitions of a group of teens living in the South Bronx in 1977, Netflix’s original series The Get Down is an explosion of force. Set in a time when Disco was large and Hip-Hop was in its earliest day, director Baz Luhrmann and producer Nas take into a time when art that would lay the path for future generations was being born.
Here is a list of books that will help continue that Get Down groove.Fiction for Fans of The Get Down
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
Also set in 1977 New York City in Queens, it captures the music, the discos, the arsons, the heat, the tensions, and the night of a major blackout that was filled with businesses getting looted. Nora is about to graduate high school and teachers are pushing her to apply for college. Her main goal is to get out, and get on her own. The Son of Sam serial killings is overshadowing the city as the murderer seems to be focussing on young couples that are staying out too late.
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (2016 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)
A slightly futuristic Bronx neighborhood permeates this somewhat science fiction coming of age novel. Aaron Seto, a Puerto Rican teen is trying to deal with the emotional aftermath of his father’s suicide, and also coming to terms with his own failed attempt. His life seems to be permeated by complicated relationships and painful memories. He begins to contemplate the Leteo Institute’s mind-alteration procedure that can assist in wiping clean certain pockets of one’s memory.
Music and the Bronx are alive in this tale of a young teen trying to sidestep the easy money of dealing drugs, and instead trying to use music to raise needed money by pulling together an underground dance party. Tyrell’s life is full of tough decisions as he tries to support his younger brother, avoid the path of his father who is in jail, and staying with his girlfriend Novisha or be tempted by Jasmine.
DJ Rising by Love Maia
DJ Ice moves you to the dance floor. Marley, caught between keeping his scholarship at a fancy prep school and caring for his heroin-addicted mother, dreams of becoming a DJ. When he lands his first job as DJ Ice, his career as professional DJ is on the rise. Soon the realities of home force him to have to choose between following his dreams or to the ties of family.
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older (2016 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)
Set in nearby Brooklyn this captures the magic of graffiti art. Sierra Santiago is a muralist and third generation Puerto Rican. She has planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season, and the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears. Something more sinister is going on.
Show and Prove by Sofia Quintero (2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
Set in the South Bronx in 1983, Smile and Nike are experiencing the pains of growing up in a time when hip-hop as proved its staying power, Reaganomics is wreaking havoc on the poor, and AIDS and crack have entered the inner-city.Nonfiction for Fans of The Get Down
Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker by Julian Voloj
Set in the South Bronx in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Benjy Melendez, son of Puerto-Rican immigrants, founded the notorious Ghetto Brothers gang. His multiracial gang promoted peace rather than violence, and ended up joining other gangs to work together to fight for tenant rights, civil rights, and ultimately helping to create a space for the emergence of hip hop.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-hop Generation by Jeff Chang
A biography for the history of the hip-hop movement that traces its foundations from Jamaica to the South Bronx. It is based on over a decade of interviews and research.
Born in the Bronx: A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop
A visual history of the the early hip hop movement that includes the improvisational artwork of previously unpublished street flyers of the era, Polaroids, and testimonials from influential figures such as Tony Tone, LA Sunshine, and Charlie Chase.
Hip Hop Family Tree: 1, 1970s-1981 by Ed Piskor
An encyclopaedic history in graphic novel format that is the beginning of a four-part series. This volume captures stars DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, as well as three kids who later become RUN-DMC.
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
What is the mystery of the purple crayon?
The post The Get Down-Booklist: A Celebration of the Bronx, Hip-Hop, Disco, and Art appeared first on The Hub.
Have you ever been reading and the word you’re reading is also mentioned by someone nearby or by someone on TV at the same time? It’s just one of those strange instances when you see or hear the same thing repeated again at the same time or shortly afterward.
It happened to me recently when reading or listening to two very different books. Both contained strange random facts about the same thing.
I’ve just learned that there’s a name for this occurrence: Baader-Meinhof. It’s the phenomenon where one happens upon some obscure piece of information—often an unfamiliar word or name—and soon afterwards encounters the same subject again, often repeatedly.
I was listening to Zac and Mia by A. J. Bett’s (2014), one of SYNC’s summer selection of audiobooks a few weeks ago. The main character, Zac, who’s got leukemia, is a bit of a nerd when it comes to knowing strange stats about how people have died. He’s trying to get to know a fellow patient in the hospital named Mia. In trying to take her mind off her own diagnosis, he tells her about all the strange and unbelievable ways people have died. One of them was a man from NJ who died in 2009 by falling into a vat of hot chocolate.
Now, not only did that get my attention, because I love chocolate and couldn’t believe that anyone would actual die in such a bizarre way, but because I live in NJ and didn’t remember hearing anything about it at the time.
Then, a few days after finishing listening to Zac and Mia, I started reading the galley of Holly Goldberg Sloan’s upcoming (Jan. 2017) middle grade book called Short. It’s about a girl named Julia who is grieving her beloved dog’s recent death and spending the summer playing a Munchkin in a community theater’s production of the Wizard of Oz. Their director has accidentally fallen off a ladder and broken his coccyx. One of the adults in the production, also playing a Munchkin, tells Julie that falling can be very serious. He then mentions the same case of the NJ man falling and dying in the vat of chocolate.
Even though the books weren’t written at the same time, or by the same authors, it’s just a bit strange that two different people would write about the same incident and I’d be reading about both instances at around the same time.
Has this kind of synchronicity ever happened to you? If so, what were the books and what were they describing?
I wonder whether the authors have an interest in these odd facts and try to find a way to incorporate them into the text, or do they present the facts more organically through the plot and development of their characters? I’m curious.
Now I’m reading Essential Maps for the Lost by Deb Caletti (2016) (current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee) and I just finished listening to SYNC’s summer offering of Chris Weitz’s audio edition of The Young World (2014). Guess what book the characters from both of these books really like? From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg!
Just one of those things, I guess.
— Sharon Rawlins, currently reading Essential Maps for the Lost by Deb Caletti and listening to My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
In much of current YA literature readers will find the that the main character is well off, does not have to work, travels often, and has everything designer (car, clothes, electronics, etc.). This does not reflect the reality of most teenagers or new adults, today. While it can be nice to read about something that is different than one’s daily life, characters should also be relatable.
I work at a school library and I see kids every day that come in to finish their homework, sometimes forgoing their lunch, because they have to work directly after school and do not get home until 11 o’clock, or later. Then they wake up and do it all over again. They deserve a lot more credit than they appear to receive. The following list of books includes characters that work while going to school or managing another difficult aspect of life. They work to get what they want. These are often things that teens today have to do. Many come home from school, change and head to work, then finish their homework after getting home late at night. These real teens are strong, hard workers. It is important to show them that they are not the minority and that the idealized life is not necessarily one where someone has everything handed to them. Some of these situations may not be ones that your average teenager might find themselves in, but the work ethic is very relatable.
The main characters in these books all have to work to help support themselves and their families.
Macy in The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
The Truth About Forever is the story of Macy’s summer after her father passes away. She is prepared for a monotonous summer of working a quiet job, studying, and coping with her loss. When she decides instead to take a job at a catering company, Macy meets an eclectic group of people that change her summer. By choosing a job that she is interested in and working hard, she turns her possibly depressing summer into one she will never forget.
Annie in The Ruining by Anna Collomore
In The Ruining Annie is moving from her stagnant hometown, to gorgeous California. She has been accepted to school out there, but needs to work to afford her tuition. In order to not lose out on her dream she accepts a job nannying for a family. Annie has found the perfect job, because the family is willing to assist her with her tuition as long as she meets their needs. Sound like it’s too good to be true? In a story like this, it is, but that doesn’t stop her from working hard. When everything appears to be falling apart around her and she feels off track, Annie works hard to keep herself where she needs and wants to be.
Katniss in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Katniss is a whole different type of working teenager. Not only does she work, but she is the sole provider for her family. She hunts for their food, along with whatever else she can sell. She risks her life by putting her name in for the Reaping multiple times, just so her mother and sister can eat. She is not afraid of doing what it takes to keep her family alive. Her work continues as she goes to the Games, and as her life changes afterwards.
Juliet in The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd
After Juliet’s father is banished from London’s high society and her mother dies, she is forced to forgo her lavish lifestyle and work to survive. She goes from balls and carriages, to being a maid at a college. She scrubs the floor while the society she used to mingle with doesn’t even bat an eye at her. As difficult as this is on her, she does so to live, and to find out the truth about her father…and possibly even bring him home.
Doug in Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
When Doug’s family moves he is forced to work to help pay for things for the family, as well as anything he might want himself. He works for the local deli, delivering groceries, which he does with a little red wagon. From this job he earns other jobs, such as babysitting, and even acting in a play. Actions from his brother and his father often wreak havoc with the trust his boss, and customers, have in him, but he does not let that get him down. Doug works hard to prove his worth and shows that he is so much more than they even know.
Romy in All the Rage by Courtney Summers
After being assaulted by a fellow student, Romy must suffer attacks on her integrity on a daily basis. Needing to work, she takes a job in the closest town nearby, where no one knows her. Every day she must go to school, deal with her harassers, go to work, come home, and start all over again the next day. On top of this, another girl connected to the boy who hurt her goes missing. Soon her personal life follows her to work and the friends she has made outside of her small town. Romy uses her job to attempt to keep her life as on track as possible.
Kacey in Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker
In this new adult novel, Kacey is forced to move to Florida from her Michigan hometown to protect herself and her little sister, Livie. Having not graduated or gone to college, Kacey feels limited in her job choices, but knows that she must find something. Her neighbor helps her get a job bartending and she takes it, despite her reservations. By working this job she is able to provide for herself and her sister, but is also able to come to terms with the traumatic accident that took the life of her parents.
Scarlet in Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
All of the characters in The Lunar Chronicles work hard, but Scarlet stuck out to me more than the others. She runs her grandmother’s farm single handedly after she disappears. She continues delivering food to the restaurants that buy from them, as well as taking care of all of the crops and land. While doing this she also deals with speculation and ridicule from her fellow townspeople. Scarlet doesn’t ask for anything from anyone and will fight and work to get what she needs.
All of these characters are hard workers and do not sit around and wait for things to be handed to them. They are wonderful role models for the readers of their books. I hope that teenagers that work, along with balancing school and home life, get more credit and representation in today’s literature. Is there a hardworking fictional, teenager that you would add to this list?
— Tegan Anclade, currently reading The Invisibles by Cecilia Galante
September 19th marks International Talk Like a Pirate Day. In addition to talking and dressing like pirates, if you would like to read like a pirate, here are some great swashbuckling young adult titles!
Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
This is an origin story for Blackbeard the pirate. Edward “Teach” Drummond loves the ocean and can’t wait to return to it. Anne has been recently orphaned and, without any money to her name, is forced to find work in the Drummond home. Teach and Anne both must decide whether they will play the roles society has given them or set off to follow their dreams.
Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy by L.A. Meyer
This first book in a series of twelve follows the story of Jacky Faber who, as the title suggests, disguises herself as a boy and serves aboard a pirate ship.
Boston Jane by Jennifer Holm
Jane Peck has been trained to be a lady, but when she sails to the western United States to wed her betrothed, she finds that her training did not prepare her for a life at sea or the adventures of the wild west.
The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King
Emer was a teenage pirate in the 17th century and was cursed to live one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body. Now she’s an American teenager and she wants to find the treasure she buried long ago.
Pirates! by Celia Rees
Nancy, the daughter of a rich merchant, and Minerva, a former slave, escape their lives by joining a pirate crew.
Piratica: Being a Daring Tale of a Singular Girl’s Adventure Upon the High Seas by Tanith Lee
Art is a boarding school student, and a nasty bump to her head brings back memories of a life at sea when she was young. She tries to recreate this pirate life, but runs into a few bumps along the way.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
While Goldman’s classic tale is not exclusively focused on pirates, the Dread Pirate Roberts does play an important role in this story.
Steel by Carrie Vaughn
Jill loves fencing, but when she picks up a piece of steel on a beach, she never expects to be transported back in time to a pirate ship. How will she get back to her own time, and will she survive long enough to do that?
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
There have been many movie and book reboots of this classic title, but some teens may really enjoy the original story of Jim Hawkins and may be encouraged to read other classic works as well.
The Wreckers by Iain Lawrence
John Spencer, the youngest member of the pirate crew, is the only one to survive the shipwreck. Unfortunately, his ship crashed near a community that thrives off the treasures washed ashore after shipwrecks. Will he be able to escape these land pirates?
What pirate stories have you loved that should be added to this list?
—Jenni Frencham, currently reading Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
The post Sail the Seven Seas: Books for International Talk Like a Pirate Day appeared first on The Hub.
Looking for books with a male protagonist? Check out the list below.
- Half Bad Series by Sally Green (2014 Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)
Nathan is the illegitamate son of the most evil witch in the land and is caged and beaten. Finally freed from his prison, Nathan sets on a journey to find his father.
- The Summoner Series by Taran Matharu
Fletcher, an orphan and blacksmith apprentice, has discovered a hidden talent. When he travels to a school for kids like him, Fletcher finds himself in the middle of power hungry forces.
Kaz, a member of the Dregs gang, has scored a big heist but he needs help. He enlists five others to help him break into the unbreakable Ice Court to steal some precious cargo.
- The Mark of the Thief Series by Jennifer Neilsen
Nic is a slave in Ancient Rome and on a mission to raid Julius Caesar’s tomb, he finds Caeser’s bulla. After he puts the bulla around his neck, he gains world ending powers that are coveted by the good and the bad.
Jeremy Johnson Johnson lives with his father above their Two Book Bookstore in the little town on Never Better. He’s smart, shy, and has a ghost for a best friend-Jacob Grimm. One day, Jeremy meets Ginger, a spunky classmate, and the two of them and Jacob get involved into a bit of trouble.
- A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
In this reimagination of Sherlock Holmes, Charlotte Holmes is a distant relative of Sherlock and a high school student in American. James Watson, a distant relative of Dr. John Watson, is student at the same school and Watson and Holmes eventually meet up to solve a murder.
- Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach
Parker hasn’t spoken since his father’s death but when he meets an interesting girl who claims to be over one hundred years old, he challenges her to live her life to the fullest.
- Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
Solomon suffers from agoraphobia. Lisa is determined to get out of her town and into her dream school by saving Solomon but who ends up saving who?
- Booked by Kwame Alexander
Although gifted with the written word, soccer star Nick must use his words to fight bullies, deal with his parents, and admit his feelings to his crush.
- 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
A freak accident when he was a child has left Finn with epilepsy. With an award winning author as a father, Finn has two things all to himself-his best friend and the new girl in town. When Julia moves away, Finn and his best friend set on a road trip so that Finn can express his feelings to her.
- Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Darrow is a red and a member of the lowest class. He and the other Reds believe their hard work hard is for a better planet for their kids but when Darrow finds out he’s basically a slave for the richest class, he infiltrates their Institute to find answers.
Michael is a gamer and spends most of his time in a virtual reality world. When the makers of the game discover a hacker that is turning other gamers brain dead, they enlist the help of Michael to find and disable the hacker.
- The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith
Three stories converge. Ariel a foster child in West Virginia, a schizophrenic man on a journey, and a failed sea voyage from the Alex Crow in the late 19th century.
- A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
There are four Londons that exist in four dimensions and only two people in the world can travel between them and one of them is Kell. Kell is a smuggler and one day his illegal activities catch up to him.
- The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Dai has been sentenced to stay in the walled city for a crime and must find a way to get out. Jin is searching for her sister who was forced to work in a brothel from some big time mobsters. Dani and Jin join forces to obtain the freedom they desire.
- Dan vs. Nature by Don Calame
Dan’s mother is getting remarried to a nature lover and she thinks a survival weekend will be just the ticket to get them to bond. Dan on the other hand does not want a new father and will everything he can to sabotage the weekend.
- The Haters by Jesse Andrews
Wes and Corey are at band camp and find themselves at the bottom of the talent level. When Ash, avery interesting girl, has to play her solo for the group, she plays in an unconventional way. While the group and the teacher criticize her piece, Wes and Corey praise it and they decide they all three of them are too cool for band camp and set out on a band tour of their own.
- Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff
Lesh is a gamer, wears all black, and listens to metal. Svetlana wears embroidered skirts and listens to Bjork. A chance run in begins horribly bad but soon Lesh and Svetlana discover they have feelings that two opposites normally don’t have.
- The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer
Ethan attends Selwyn Academy for the arts and when a sleazy reality show plans to do their next season at Selwyn starring their students, Ethan and his friends write a letter to the show in protest. Ethan thinks their letter worked but he soon finds out that the show will go on.
- Skink So Surrender by Carl Hiaasen (2014 Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)
Richard’s cousin has decided to run away with a guy she met on the internet and when she stops answering his texts, Richard enlists the help on Skink to find her and bring her back home.
Dawn is currently reading Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
I tried for a long time to juggle these two lives until the day when one of my project friends got killed in a stupid accident playing chicken with a train. I decided then I would try to live only one life – one that had some kind of purpose.
Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.
Researching and formulating questions for this series (especially well ahead of deadline) is one of my favorite parts of interviewing; it’s a process that invariably leaves me with a whole new appreciation for the author in question. I love how one interview gives a glimpse, and a couple blog posts present an idea, but immersing yourself in as many of an authors’ words as you can find offers–well, it’s not a whole living person, obviously, but the shape of their collected words is, I think, maybe a shadow of the whole?
I usually come away from the experience with a desire to be president of the fan club, or the conviction we could be best friends, or possibly wishing they would adopt me (sometimes all three.) I always come away from the experience beyond thankful they agreed to participate in this series, and never has this been more true (including the fan club/best friends/adoption part) than the weeks I spent getting to know the word-shape of Francisco X. Stork. I read the interviews and the reviews and the articles and learned a lot. But I was sick earlier this year, really sick, and ended up indulging myself by reading his complete online journal, something I don’t normally have time to do. It was kind of an extraordinary experience. I was left not only wanting to immediately re-read all his books, but also wanting to read everything, to talk and listen and explore and to ask questions every day forever. I wanted to be kinder and more creative and honest and to think carefully about all kinds of topics. I was inspired. What an extraordinary man. And then I got to interview him and that felt pretty extraordinary too.
Thank you, Mr. Stork. (And if you would like to start a fan club or are looking for a new best friend or possibly want to adopt me, I’m totally in.)Always Something There to Remind Me
Please describe your teenage self.
I was a mixture of outgoing and shy. I did things like act in plays and compete in speech tournaments but I also spent a lot of time alone reading and writing very corny poems and stories. I was a little insecure about my looks. I thought maybe my nose was too big.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
I always wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid. But there was a period during my high school years when I really, really wanted to be a light house keeper. Doesn’t everyone at one point or another?
What were your high school years like?
I went to Jesuit High School in El Paso, Texas. The school had a very rigorous academic program and I struggled at first. But after a few months I discovered that I could actually get good grades if I studied and from then on high school was more enjoyable than not. I actually liked going home and spending my evenings doing homework, Jesuit High School was an all-boys school so the other thing that was fun was going to speech tournaments at high schools where there were actual girls! During those four years I met many teachers that were inspiring but I will always be grateful to Father John Hatcher (now the director of St. Francis Mission in the Rosebud Reservation of South Dakota) who saw that I was smarter than I let on and challenged me to just be myself.
What were some of your passions during that time?
I tried out for football and cross country and basketball but the only thing I was really good at was tennis and that was the sport I played. It turns out that it was the sport I enjoyed the most so it worked out well. The tennis team shared the same locker room with the football team and we got a lot of grief when we put on our white shorts but it was worth it. But my favorite extracurricular activities were acting and speech. In speech, my specialty was original oratory where I got to write my own speech, memorize it and deliver it. In my most successful speech, I imagined Don Quixote riding down the streets of El Paso and wondering where all the people with ideals had gone.
Would you be willing to share a difficult teen experience or challenge that you feel shaped the adult you became?
While I was going to high school, my mother and I lived in subsidized housing or projects which was a very different world from the orderly and civil world of Jesuit High School. It was like living two lives. During the week I was a star student that gave speeches about the need for ideals and in the evenings and on weekends I did all I could not to get noticed. Eventually I did get noticed and I had to become friends with some of the project kids in order to survive. These friendships led me to participate in high risk activities. I tried for a long time to juggle these two lives until the day when one of my project friends got killed in a stupid accident playing chicken with a train. I decided then I would try to live only one life – one that had some kind of purpose.
What about a positive experience or accomplishment that had an impact on your adult self?
Each year, Jesuit High School gave a full tuition and living expenses scholarship to one of their seniors so they could attend a Jesuit college. Receiving that scholarship, which allowed me to attend college. Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama determined the direction of my life.
What advice, if any, would you give your teen self? Would your teen self have listened?
Despite all my accomplishments, I had this nagging feeling that I was not good enough. I didn’t know it then, but I know now that feeling like that was a symptom of the illness of depression that I was already suffering from. There was also sadness and shame at the way I was feeling. These were feelings I wrote about in my journal but never talked about with anyone. Looking back, I now see that there were lots of people that would have listened and understood. So the advice that I would give my teen self is to seek out one of those people and talk to them about what was happening inside of me.
Do you have any regrets about your teen years? Anything left undone or anything that might have been better left undone?
My mother and I fought a lot over nothing. Maybe it was the economic pressures we were feeling or maybe it was the crazy life I was leading on weekends. It could be that she was just lonely and needed more of my attention. It takes a long time to learn how to truly love someone. I wish had learned how to truly love her a little sooner than I did.
What, if anything, do you miss most about that time?
Sometimes I miss the “newness” of those days. There were many new things that I was experiencing. Discoveries about myself and others and life. I try very hard to keep that newness going even now in my old age.
Every Day I Write the Book
You’ve spoken many times about journaling, and about the importance of having “a place to write where you don’t lie to yourself; you don’t care what or how you write; you don’t expect any other living person to read what you write.” In fact, your advice to aspiring authors is to “keep a journal and write every single day. Put anything you want in there and don’t think too much about what you are writing” though it’s clear you view journaling as much more. You’ve written about how keeping a journal helped you gain perspective on depression, and about how it helps you become “a deeper, more reflective person,” about how the act of writing for yourself alone honors “the creative impulse and enthusiasm you were born with.” You’ve also said that for you the “motivation to write is different from the motivation to be read,” and I’m wondering if you could talk about the ways that journaling both frees you from your life as a professional writer and fires your creativity. Do you ever re-read your past journal entries? What advice would you give those of us who would like to foster the habit but feel self-conscious or unmotivated?
I started writing in a journal when I was in high school and I’ve kept up an almost daily practice since then. Although I studied literature in college and graduate school, I never took any creative writing courses. I never went to writing retreats or participated in a writing group. I say all this because I truly believe that it was in my journal where I learned to write. Journaling gave me the ease and lack of self-consciousness that I needed as a writer. Journaling is the equivalent of practicing the scales every day for a pianist. After many hours of practice, the pianist’s fingers move quickly over the keys without conscious thought and the pianist can concentrate on things like the emotion expressed in the music.
Journaling also helped me develop a kind of internal solitude that allows me to write the book that is in me while quieting the ever present internal critic. That freedom that I feel in journaling when I forget about a reader can be carried over to some extent to the novel I am writing. It at least allows me to get through a first draft which is when that sense of “going for your book” really matters. I rarely go back and read what I’ve written in a journal. But sometimes when I do, I find the seeds for future stories and characters.
The thing about journaling is that it has to be done with honesty. My journal is the one place where I never lie to myself. Being honest with myself often means digging and sifting through motivations and feelings until I get to the truth and it is an exercise which becomes extremely valuable in the creation of my characters. The more I know myself the more I will know the characters I create. I think that a lot our self-consciousness and lack of motivation with respect to journaling stems from our impatience. We really would like to jump right in and get going on that best seller that in us. Journaling takes you on a different, slower path where what is most important is the creation of your soul so that then you can give something that is lasting and of personal value to your readers.
I want to highlight two different journal posts from the last couple years and ask if you could tease out some of the connections, if any, between them. In “Writing That Opens Windows” you champion writing that “opens up windows,” that offers readers a new way to process thoughts “shaped since childhood by ancient prejudices and fears, by commercial expectations of success, by the media.” This kind of writing is “a practice, a technique, a decision that is made before you start to write and constantly as you progress in your work,” you say, “an ever-present, bold search for the unpredictable.” It comes down to choices, to the “innumerable places when your story can go in one direction or another, when your character can be this way or that, when you can choose to say or not say something.” In “The Diversity Discussion” you talk eloquently about not having all the answers, about simply writing “what comes out,” about the potential for divisiveness in diversity discussion, and about the seemingly obvious need for empathy and representation. I’m wondering to what extent “diversity” considerations impact your quest to create writing that opens windows? What works have opened windows for you?
Writing about Mexican-American young people was never a decision. It was a very natural process for me and will continue to be one. The real decision was more about what kind of Mexican-American young characters I wanted to portray. I’ve always felt that it was important to create characters that inspired young people and helped them to be proud of who they were. That doesn’t mean that all my characters are good. There’s some really bad people in my novels. But it does mean that my main characters, despite their inner flaws and outer problems, grow and at the very least begin to develop the kind of virtues that we all need to be fully human.
I remember feeling inferior when I was a teenager. Part of that was just me but part of that came from how others saw me. What can I do so that a young person doesn’t feel that way? I can create characters who open the windows in a young person’s mind so that they can see, recognize and feel how valuable, special and unique they are. I think that my own inner windows were opened by the Latin American authors that were beginning to be recognized world-wide when I was in high school. There was something about Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude and Borges’ Ficciones that made me feel so proud about Spanish speaking writers who were the best of the best and who were writing about universal themes. Their characters were like me and they were like all human beings at the same time.
There are a number of openly religious YA authors, and many others who easily discuss matters of faith or spirituality, but religion in YA fiction is still considered by many to be “the last taboo.” You write extensively about these topics, and your fiction often features characters grappling with the spiritual, with the sacred, or who in some way embody the exploration of Big Questions within the story. Your uniquely gentle and inclusive vision of faith and religion permeates your work, and as a result you’re often asked about the lack of “genuine engagement with religious and spiritual issues” in the field. You’ve cited the high degree of difficulty, the potential for alienation, the fear of being didactic as reasons some authors choose not to include spirituality in their work. But what are the consequences? Given our current social, cultural, and political climate, what does it mean that religion is the last taboo of YA fiction? What happens to us—readers—if the explicit exploration of faith and spirituality is frowned on, or when those questions are deemed irrelevant in modern society? Why do you feel that young adult literature is the perfect vehicle for exploring those questions while so many others see religion as a line they simply won’t cross?
I write about issues of spirituality and religion and faith because they are matters of personal concern and the writing process is that much more interesting and relevant if I write about things that I deeply care about. Writing is for me a path of discovery and revelation. The important thing in this process is the genuine questioning that takes place, the opening toward mystery. This is different than writing from the perspective of having the answers and arguing for their truth via the characters and plot of the story.
I write about spiritual issues because I remember my own adolescence as a time when childhood beliefs no longer rang true and I needed to find my own spiritual path. To write stories about young people without acknowledging the questioning and search for values and for transcendence that goes on during this period of their lives would be to leave out a vital fact of human development. The sad part is that this search for meaning, which is innate in all of us, can be, not lost forever, but certainly diverted into things and activities that are ultimately not satisfying or worse. So writing about this inner search is my small way of trying to revive what may be a dormant need in the heart of the young person. The great works of literature have always been preoccupied with life’s purpose, why should YA fiction bow out of, as T.S. Eliot says in his Four Quartets, “…the fight to recover what has been lost and found and lost again and again and now under conditions that seem unpropitious.”
Speaking of appearing didactic… “It’s not really cool for a writer of young adult literature to confess that his books are motivated at least partly by an intention to teach. Such a confession creates horrible images of pedantic, preachy, boring books,” you said in your 2011 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award acceptance speech. But writing just those sorts of books “is where the gladness in my heart meets one of the world’s great needs,” you write. It’s rare for an author to admit right up front that there might be more to their work than simple Story, and yet, it seems a bit disingenuous to suggest that most authors don’t have, as M.T. Anderson puts it, an “ideology” that they are exploring in their work. How do you tackle the big questions, especially with an active eye towards teaching or helping young people, without becoming didactic, preachy, or overbearing? You examine part of the question, I think, in your journal entry “Integrity,” when talking about the tension between “responsibility to the work and responsibility to the reader,” but I’d love to hear how those seemingly disparate goals interact in practice, and how you know you’ve reached a balance in your work that feels honest.
One of the things that happens when I read a book that affects my life and how I am living it is that I sense behind the words of the story a kindred spirit – someone who has anguished and struggled with what I anguish and struggle. When I think about my books touching someone that way, I feel a great responsibility as a writer and as a person. If I’m going to write about characters with moral courage, I need to try to have some it myself otherwise a) I’m going to feel like a big phony and b) I’m not going to touch that other person’s soul.
There is an ethical component to my writing that affects not only the subject matter of what I write but also (I often wish this wasn’t the case) how I must act in the world. I’m okay confessing that I seek to provide hope through my writing just as I’m okay confessing that I hope my books teach. The key to resolving the tension between the artist and the educator and the person of faith comes down to craft. At the moment of writing, my personality, my aspirations, my beliefs, all that constitutes my “self”, needs to disappear as best it can so that the “self” of the characters can become real in the eyes of the reader. Some of my characters share some of my own ultimate concerns, of course they do, they are part of me. But they must also be their own persons and have their own beliefs and doubts and their very own faith and hopes and loves. So if there is any teaching to be done and any hope to be conveyed, they, my characters and their lives, will be the vehicle through which teaching happens and hope comes. This will only occur if I succeed, through the application of careful craft, to make my characters believable and unique in their own right and not just a mouthpiece for their poor creator.Just Can’t Get Enough
Question from M.T.Anderson: You tend to choose grim subject matter – murder, mortality – and yet your characters often find redemption. Now, what would you write about if you had to write a comedy, pure and simple?
Are you trying to tell me something Tobin? My light and funny book would be about this guy who falls madly in love with the most beautiful girl in town. Only he’s not all that bright, kind of not all that good looking either and has zero talents or anything else going for him for that matter. But he knows all this and that’s his saving grace. He decides that the only chance he has to win her is to dress like a knight and go out jostling every weekend against other like-minded idiosyncratic individuals. There are events where this happens on a regular basis. Fairs and what not. He hopes to win the Grand Tournament and be knighted Caballero Numero Uno by a good politician, when they find one. With a little good press and some old fashioned self-promotion his beloved will hear of his exploits and . . . well, how could she resist when he tells her it was all for her. All of this happens in Vermont, of course.
Francisco X. Stork has contributed a question for the next author in the series, Melissa Marr. Watch for an interview with her coming soon!
Francisco X. Stork is the author of the acclaimed Marcelo in the Real World which received five starred reviews and won the Schneider Family Book Award for Teens; The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, named a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection; and most recently The Memory of Light, which has received multiple starred reviews. He was born in Monterrey, Mexico, spent his teenage years in El Paso, Texas, and now lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, with his family.
–Julie Bartel, currently reading A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
The post One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Francisco X. Stork appeared first on The Hub.
“Books where stuff happens…but easy to read. Not a book for kids.” This is a common readers’ advisory question for reluctant or struggling teen readers (and their adults). Such readers often feel keenly the gap between the books they are able to read, and the topics they *want* to read. Must they read from the children’s section, with its juvenile topics and the same titles they would have picked in grade school? Not at all. This is a gap that hi/lo books aim to fill.
The term “hi/lo,” or “high/low,” refers to books that have a high interest level and a low vocabulary or readability level. These books won’t intimidate those reading below their grade level, but will not bore them to death, either. Michael Sullivan’s 2012 School Library Journal article is a great primer for this topic, touching on both the subjective (what makes a book really interesting?) and the scientific (what are the readability formulas used by hi/lo publishers?).
So what does make a book really interesting? Hi/lo books are characterized by exciting (often edgy) topics, short or linear time frames, and action-driven plot. In standard teen fiction, there are many titles with these features. For example:
- Alex Rider is forced to work as a spy for M16 in Stormbreaker (Alex Rider, #1), by Anthony Horowitz.
- Kyra runs away to avoid becoming her uncle’s seventh wife in The Chosen One, by Carol Lynch Williams.
- Mickey’s girlfriend disappears, and her trail reveals that she’s not who she seems, in Harlan Coben’s Shelter (Mickey Bolitar, #1).
- Jamal is pressured to become the leader of a gang when he is only 12 in Scorpions, by Walter Dean Myers.
- Micah reveals that her boyfriend is dead, and also that she is a compulsive liar, in Liar, by Justine Larbalestier.
Additionally, some publishers write specifically for the hi/lo audience. Along with featuring the high-interest characteristics listed above, they use readability formulas to level the text, and offer physical appeal factors such as friendly font size, white space, and controlled page count. A few highlights:
- Saddleback Educational Publishing offers series in both fiction and nonfiction, including “Graphic Biographies” and “Gravel Road” (realistic fiction titles).
- Orca Book Publishers has several imprints, such as Orca Currents (targeted at middle-school reluctant readers), and Orca Soundings (for teen readers).
- Epic Press provides simultaneous series releases for binge readers who hate waiting for the sequel.
- Lerner Publishing includes the Darby Creek imprint, which publishes series fiction for emerging, striving, and reluctant readers in grades 2-12.
- Townsend Press publishes high-interest fiction classics as well as the ever-popular Bluford series.
Do you need personal knowledge of hi/lo titles and publishers to help match a reluctant reader to a book? Of course not! Check out these additional resources:
- High/Low Handbook, Fourth Edition, by Ellen V. Libretto and Catherine Barr, has both a High/Low section and a “Young Adult Materials for the Reluctant Reader” section of lists.
- Booklists on the Hub.
- YALSA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers.
- Although hi/lo fiction is often requested, nonfiction, magazines, and graphic novels can all grab a reader’s interest with the same features.
- Talk to teens! Their definition of a book where “something happens” may range from the Harry Potter series to Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why. They may reveal a certain author whose books they devour, from Ellen Hopkins to David Levithan. Use this information to find readalikes.
What are your go-to titles or sources for the hi/lo question? Share your thoughts in the comments!
— Rebecca O’Neil, currently listening to Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan
The post “Books Where Stuff Happens”: An Exploration of Hi/Lo Books appeared first on The Hub.
It’s that time of year again. A new school year is beginning! And while some may be excited and others sad, a new year of classes is no reason to stop reading comics. Why not make some time this Fall to try a new comic that will give you a different perspective on high school?
Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey by Özge Samanci – Özge Samanci’s memoir of growing up in Turkey is simultaneously about school and about far more than that. As a child growing up in Turkey, Özge felt immense pressure, which she brings to life in this memoir in a way that will be relatable to all readers. The artwork and design of this book is particularly noteworthy, as Özge uses multiple art styles and techniques throughout the story. This is a great read for budding artists and those with an interest in graphic memoirs.
Skim by Mariko Tamaki with art by Jillian Tamaki – Set in a Canadian Catholic school in 1993, this story follows Skim, a 16-year-old Canadian-Japanese, Goth girl, through her struggles with high school. This is a book that tackles complicated topics, including suicide, friendship, high school gossip, academic pressure, and romantic relationships, including a relationship with one of her teachers. This book earned a place on the 2009 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens list and is sure to appeal to fans of Mariko and Jillian’s other works, including This One Summer.
Mercury by Hope Larson – This is another one set in Canada, this time in Nova Scotia. The story alternates between the events at the Fraser family farm in 1859 and a present day high schooler named Tara Fraser who is dealing with the fallout of a fire that destroyed her house. Now her mother has been forced to take a job in a distant town, leaving Tara to stay with her relatives and re-enter school after a couple of years of homeschooling. Over the course of the book, readers discover how these two stories intertwine. Illustrated with black and white images, this book weaves in elements of magic and fantasy without losing its relatable and realistic emotional core.
Tina’s Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary by Keshni Kashyap with illustrations by Mari Araki – Set in Southern California, the framing device for this book is a diary consisting of letters to Jean-Paul Sartre that Tina is writing for a class project. In the process of exploring existentialism, she re-evaluates her friendships, family relationships, and crushes in a highly relatable and entertaining fashion. The book combines the art and text in a nontraditional manner, but the two elements of the book come together seamlessly.
Orange by Ichigo Takano – What would you do if you received a letter from your future self? On the first day of her junior year of high school, Naho must consider just this question when she receives a letter from the future warning her about a boy who is about to transfer into her school. This hugely popular manga has attracted a loyal following and has been adapted as both a live action movie and an anime that recently debuted, and anyone who reads it will understand its immense popularity. It is a great pick for manga fans who want a mix of science fiction and romance.
This list offers just a few options, but if you’re interested in more books, be sure to check out our previous list and let me know what your favorite school-related comics are in the comments!
– Carli Spina, currently reading I.D. by Emma Rios
Happy Labor/Labour Day, everyone!
Last month, The Hub asked which recent page-to-screen adaptation you were most stoked about, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children took solidly half the vote, followed by A Monster Calls with 26%, and Me Before You with 12%, and then Alice Through the Looking Glass (6%), Nerve (3%), The Queen of Katwe (2%), and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life(1%). Thanks to everyone who voted!
In researching the screen adaptations (projects already released and those on the horizon) it is abundantly clear that, where YA lit is concerned, film-or-tv rights are big business. True, many projects may languish “in development” for years (I’m looking at you, Lunar Chronicles!), but it can sometimes feel like everything YA that readers have loved on the page has a screen adaptation in the works, or has at least been optioned.
So…how do you feel about the deluge of page-to-screen adaptations? Do you find film/tv adaptations to be an awesome tool for expanding the potential audience for a story, offering a strong incentive for readers to try the book version, OR do you dread the inevitable bungling of beloved character nuances and rich, complex details that get cast aside in favor of time and clarity on the screen?Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
-Carly Pansulla, currently reading The Novice by Taran Matharu (for YALSA’s Backlist Bingo Reading Challenge, running now through October 15)
The post Monthly Monday Polls: September – Screen Adaptations; Yay or Nay? appeared first on The Hub.
Scott Westerfeld is one of the most inventive sci-fi writers writing for teens right now. His book Uglies helped lay the groundwork for the dystopian trend that would take hold in a few years with The Hunger Games. With a new co-authored series in the works, a movie adaptation of Uglies in development, and a new multi-platform middle grade series launch later this year, Scott Westerfeld is definitely an author you should know.
Not sure where to start with so many series, standalones, and sub-genres to choose from? Don’t sweat it, this post has you covered!
If You want a Space Opera:
- The Risen Empire: Captain Laurent Zai of the Imperial Frigate Lynx is tasked with rescuing the immortal Child Empress when she is kidnapped by machine-augmented humans threatening the empire. This story, originally packaged as one book called Succession, begins in The Risen Empire and concludes The Killing of Worlds.
If You Want to Read a Standalone (Mostly Contemporary) Novel:
- Afterworlds (2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): Chapters alternate between Darcy Patel’s journey as a debut author of what promises to be the next Big YA Novel and excerpts from Darcy’s novel about a girl named Lizzie who slips into the “Afterworld”–a place between life and death–during a terrorist attack.
- So Yesterday: Hunter Braque moves through New York searching for Innovators–people who create the latest trends before they’re cool. Then he sells the ideas to clients who disseminate the ideas (via trendsetters) until each new fashion innovation becomes mainstream. When Hunter teams up with an Innovator to get to the bottom of his best client’s disappearance, he finds himself at the center of a far-reaching mystery involving trends, innovations, and the coolest sneakers he’s ever seen.
If You Like Urban Fantasy:
- Peeps (2006 Teens’ Top Ten): A parasite called Toxoplasma causes vampirism and it’s been infecting more and more people. Recruited by a secret government organization, Cal has to track down all of the girlfriends he has infected since he became a carrier. Be sure to pick up the sequel The Last Days to read the rest of the story as Toxoplasma begins spreading at a rapid rate and all hell starts breaking loose in New York City.
- The Secret Hour: Time stops every night at midnight in Bixby, Oklahoma. For that one hour no one moves in Bixby except for the few Midnighters who travel freely and have extraordinary powers. When Jessica Day arrives in town, she finds out that she is a Midnighter. And the creatures who move through Bixby after dark are hunting her. First in a series. The story continues in Touching Darkness and Blue Noon.
If You Want a Dystopian Story:
- Uglies (2016 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): In a world where everyone is movie-star-gorgeous, regular people are ugly. Tally Youngblood has spent most of her life looking forward to when she will turn 16 and can become a surgically-enhanced Pretty. But when her friend Shay introduces Tally to The Smoke, Tally begins to wonder if there might be another way. Tally’s story continues in Pretties and Specials.
- Extras (2008 Teens’ Top Ten): This companion novel set in Japan follows Aya Fuse. In Aya’s world, fame is the only currency that matters. Hoping to raise her rank and achieve true fame, Aya begins investigating a sensational clique called the Sly Girls. As she learns more about the clique, Aya realizes that her story is big–maybe the biggest story since Tally Youngblood changed the world.
- Uglies: Shay’s Story (2013 Great Graphic Novels): This graphic novel companion presents the events of the Uglies trilogy from Shay’s perspective as she rebels against life in Prettytown and finds herself at the center of a revolution. Shay’s story concludes in Uglies: Cutters
- Bonus Non-Fiction Companion Book: Bogus to Bubbly: An Insider’s Guide to the World of Uglies: Westerfeld provides readers with a detailed history of the world of Uglies, a glossary of slang used in the series (and his inspiration for it), detailed breakdowns of the various cliques found throughout the series, and more.
If You Want Some Steampunk:
- Leviathan (2010 Best Books for Young Adults, 2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): Alek–heir to the clanker Austro-Hungarian Empire–and Deryn–a girl disguising herself as a boy to serve as a Darwinist airman–have to form an uneasy alliance if they hope to stave off the coming World War. Which begs the question: Do you oil your war machines? Or do you feed them? Alek and Deryn’s story continues in Behemoth and Goliath. All books include illustrations by Keith Thompson
- Bonus Non-Fiction Companion Book: The Manual of Aeronautics: An Illustrated Guide to the Leviathan Series: Westerfeld teams up with illustrator Keith Thompson to delve into the steampunk world of the Leviathan series with descriptions and illustrations of Darwinist beasties, Clanker walkers, weapons, uniforms and more.
If You Want Heroes, Super or Otherwise:
- Zeroes: Scam, Crash, Flicker, Anonymous, Bellwether, and Kelsie all have superhuman powers that help them to unbelievable–and usually not heroic–things. When the Zeroes are reluctantly brought back together to help Scam after his latest disaster, the teens soon realize they are in over their heads. Again. (Co-written Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti.) The trilogy continues with Swarm.
If You Prefer Middle Grade:
- Horizon: Westerfeld’s new multi-platform series will launch this December. The seven book middle grade series begins with Westerfeld’s novel following kids who survive a plane crash only to find themselves stranded and forced to deal with each other and dangerous creatures. Westerfeld developed the plot arc for the entire series but the subsequent books will be written by other authors. This book will release in December.
Thus concludes your crash course intro to all of Scott Westerfeld’s books. Where will you start? Which ones have you read already?
–Emma Carbone, currently reading Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
The post Booklist: So You Want to Read a Scott Westerfeld Book appeared first on The Hub.
What are the chances that two different books, one for middle grades, and one for older teens, would be published within six months of each other, both about heretics, set in medieval France in the years 1241 and 1242?
I don’t know about you, but aside from the story of Joan of Arc, I’ve rarely read many YA books about characters who can perform miracles (fantasy books don’t count) and who are considered heretics. A heretic, as defined by the dictionary is, “a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church.” Although there are many YA books where characters are accused of being witches who could also be labeled heretics by the church, I’m limiting this discussion to just two new books.
If you’ve ever read Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, you’ll recognize the structure of Adam Gidwitz’s medieval tale called The Inquisitor’s Tale that’s set in France in 1242 (and this one’s written in more modern language and even has a farting dragon in it!). A stranger has stopped at the Holy Cross-Roads Inn, a day’s walk north of Paris on a dark night, the perfect kind of night for a story. The inn is packed with all sorts of people (female brewsters, peasants, priests, butchers, knights, and many others) all anxious to regale this stranger with the tale of how they’ve seen the miraculous children and their holy dog who are all wanted by King Louis IX.
These miraculous children are William, a giant of a boy, and a monk who is Muslim, whose mother was from Northern Africa, and whose father is a lord. William’s capable of performing feats of strength that would make Samson tremble. Jeanne (named for Joan of Arc) is a girl who sees true visions of the future and Jacob, a Jew, who can heal a wound as fast as Saint Luke himself. Holy dog Gwenforte loved Jeanne when Jeanne was a child but was killed by Jeanne’s parents after they mistakenly think Gwenforte attacked a killed Jeanne, when actually Gwenforte saved her. Ten years later Gwenforte has been miraculously resurrected.
These children meet each other as Jeanne’s running from a huge knight with red hair, Jacob’s fleeing the burning of his community by Catholic boys and William’s been sent on a mission to another monastery with books for the abbot. They realize that, despite their differences, they can talk easily with each other because they all feel like they’re different from other children. And they are! William tears a donkey’s leg off and fights off bandits with it then miraculously reattaches it to the unharmed donkey! The children are chased throughout France by the huge knight who finally catches up with them in Mont-Saint-Michel. The adventure tale is full of humor, heartbreak and amazing historical characters and legends – both real and made-up – with an afterward by Gidwitz that explains where the origins of the book came from.
Julie Berry’s The Passion of Dolssa (Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee), tells the story of a young woman, Dolssa de Stigata, who hears God and is branded a heretic in medieval France in 1241. When a church inquisitor warns Dolssa she will be excommunicated, and her soul will burn in hell and her body will burn in a heretic’s pyre, she says, “I dwell with my beloved, and when you slay me, I will dwell in his arms forever.” In trying to make her confess, they condemn her mother to burn at the stake, and when it’s her turn, she’s mysteriously saved. On the run from her inquisitors, she’s aided by the Flasucra sisters.
Teenaged matchmaker Botille finds Dolssa, and she and her sisters, Sazia, a fortuneteller, and beautiful Plazensa, the oldest, hide Dolssa away in the tavern they operate in their village. They had a tough life, wandering from town to town stealing to get by after their mother died, leaving them with her drunkard husband, until they settled down in Bajas (now Bages). Dolssa, grateful for being saved, begins performing miracles, like bringing dying villagers back to life or making sure the sisters’ jugs of ale are continuously full.
Saving Dolssa puts their entire village in mortal danger when Dolssa’s pursuers, particularly dogged Friar Lucien and a former knight get wind of the miracles occurring there. This book might seem a bit daunting in length, but the characters are distinct and engaging, and the earthiness and realism of how life must have been during that period, really shines through. It’s a beautifully written story that’s alternately funny, poignant, and sad and a testament to the power of belief.
Dolssa’s story was discovered by a friar who recreated her story from various places – as the tale told at a bishop’s deathbed; from papers belonging to a priest that were really written by a woman and from a tale by a friar in Barcelona. By putting all these pieces together, the friar recreated Dolssa’s story. Like Gidwitz’s book, the afterward contains the author’s notes about how this fictional book came to be, with it’s real locations and mixture of real and made up characters.
Both of these books about heretics are very different from one another, yet are both gorgeously written (as is the illuminated artwork in Gidwitz’s book).
— Sharon Rawlins, currently reading Naomi Novik’s Uprooted