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Reading Fanfiction

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 07:00

This year the teen council at my public library held a fanfiction writing contest. Though I was not a voting member, I did read all of the entries. This was my first foray into the fanfiction world, a world that absorbs many of the teens that I work closely with on a regular basis. Through this, I learned a lot about fanfiction and its appeals, and I had to check some of my assumptions at the door.

In the 2014 August issue of School Library Journal, Chelsey Philpot took an extensive look at fanfiction and teens. This highlights the creative outlet that writing fanfiction can be, and how it can be a place to explore emotions, sexuality, and identity for teen writers. One thing that surprised me through this process was that even though a lot of teens had written some fanfiction at some point, a lot of them just like to read it, and would like others to write it for them. This got me curious as to what were the major platforms they were accessing fanfiction on, especially as I will see mobile devices being passed around with a “have you seen this one?”

First thing I had to learn was some basic terminology of the types of fanfiction that there are, and how it is referred to:

  • Canon  – this is written in the world that the fanfiction is about and is something that could happen.
  • AU – “Alternative Universe” – this is where we are in the canon world but a few elements have been changed.
  • AU divergent – “Alternate Universe – Canon Divergence” – The story is set in a different universe from where the original takes place.
  • Crossover  – There are characters from different fandoms in a story.
  • One-Shot – There is only one body of text, usually a short story that is complete.

Apps:

Most teens seem to be reading fanfiction on a mobile devices through apps. These are a few of the most common:

Fanfiction.net

Most of the teens I talked to felt that this was a starter site for young readers to access fanfiction. They said that this site “can be a bit sketchy,” and felt dated because of its “bad 90s graphics.” There were some ways to filter and narrow results to whether something was “in-process” or “complete,” word count, and with ratings:

  • K  Suitable for most ages
  • K+ Some content may not be suitable for small children
  • T Contains content not suitable for children
  • M Contains content suitable for mature teens and older
  • MA Contain explicit content for mature adults only

Wattpad

Rebecca O’Neil’s fantastic piece on Wattpad for The Hub earlier this year shows what a great tool this is for writers. For avid readers, this doesn’t offer the easy access that they enjoy elsewhere, and seems to be a least favorite site among the teen readers I interviewed. It is a site where you need to create an account to access most of the content, and it is not as easy to filter to find desired content. However, they report that those that both avidly write and read fanfiction use this to build a writer’s community.

Tumblr

Of the apps, Tumblr is by far the favorite, and where most teens seem to be accessing their fanfiction. The favorite feature of Tumblr is that there are libraries and catalogs housing links to fanfiction pertaining to a particular fandom. An example of this is Phanfic, a catalog of fanfiction relating to YouTube stars Dan Howell and Phil Lester (Phil+Dan=Phan). Favorite features include “fic tags” where you can look for fiction by feels, smut levels and types of smut (smut is a very popular vocab word in the fanfic group), length, relationships, themes, and more. There are also options to submit prompts for those that would prefer to read than to write, but would like something very specific.

Websites:

Not every fandom has its own catalog on Tumblr though, but teens really like the ability to sort out the type of fanfiction that they are reading. Some of this is easier done through a web browser than through an app.

Archive of Our Own or AO3

This is the most popular site among the teens that I talked to, but doesn’t have an official app. The teens felt that this site had the best selection of fanfiction, and they really appreciated the many ways to filter by ratings (if and how explicit), warnings (how angsty and what types of angst), categories (relationship types), crossover, characters, relationships, and whether is was canon, AU, or canon divergence. You can also filter by word count, if it is a one-shot or if it has chapters, and if it is complete or in-progress. They appreciated that the site gave summaries of the fanfiction, and also liked that you could keep narrowing down by searching tags.

Quotev

This is a website that many of the teens I talked with said they first started with, and seems to be the most child friendly. Many said this is where they first posted their first fanfictions that they wrote when they were 10-years-old or younger. Some say they still go there to read as it is easier to stay away from the “smut.”

One thing that I see being a big draw for teens to reading fanfiction, and the sites that seem to be the most popular are,  that it offers them the opportunity to manage their own reader’s advisory experience through filters. There is a lot of romance happening in fanfiction, and this allows them to read about very specific situations with characters they know and love.

A lot of the teens that I work with identify as queer, and have mentioned that they mostly seek out queer fanfiction. Fanfiction is filling a hole that publishing hasn’t caught up with yet offering more variety of relationships being represented. Fanfiction seems to encourage more reading, and though a teen may read mostly fanfic it is not replacing published works and they still crave novels. Just the other day  a teen came up looking for reading suggestions of new queer books, saying, “I have been reading so much gay fanfic, I feel that I should read a real book now.”

There are other fanfiction apps and websites out there that weren’t discussed such as Kindle Worlds, Pocket Fiction, AsianFanFics, devianART, ficWad, Facebook, Goodreads, Live Journal, and some apps specific to particular fandoms such as Justin Beiber, One Direction, etc.

What are the teens in your area using? What are their favorites?

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YA Mental Health Resources

Tue, 05/24/2016 - 07:00

You may be familiar with YA fiction books that deal with mental health issues, but in honor of it being Mental Health Month, I’m highlighting mostly nonfiction YA resources  (with a few new or forthcoming fiction titles). When colleagues ask me for nonfiction books to recommend to teens to help them cope with mental health issues, I don’t find many. Sure, there are those written that will be useful for class reports, but not many nonfiction titles that offer real, practical, how-to advice.  Most of the helpful resources I have found are online in the form of blogs, articles, brochures, or pamphlets since that’s what’s easiest to keep up-to-date.

Youth Mental Health Resources – Online Resources

Medlineplus, that has health information from the National Library of Medicine, includes a teen mental health section on its database, that’s free to access.

KidsHealth  is part of the KidsHealth family of websites. These sites, run by the nonprofit Nemours Center for Children’s Health Media, provide accurate, up-to-date health information that’s free of “doctor speak.” Their site has very understandable and helpful information for teens on a variety of topics, including teen suicide.

TeensHealth has information about health  related to teens, such as information about body, mind, sexual health, food & fitness, diseases & conditions, infections, school & jobs, drugs & alcohol, and staying safe.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has information that will help teens learn more about suicide, how to prevent it, cope with a suicide loss, research, and ways to get involved in suicide prevention, such as Out of the Darkness Walks. If you are a teen in crisis, resources are available online on this site for you.

Apps for Youth that Provide Mental Health Assistance –Many of these apps focus on crisis intervention, including:

DoSomething.org’s Crisis Text Line –Provides teens with free, round-the-clock access to trained counseling and referrals.

Mood 24/7  – This app allows users, including teens, to send a daily text message about how they feel to a doctor, a therapist or loved one.

CodeBlue – This project by Melon Health, scheduled to launch spring of 2016, is designed to help teens alert members of a designated support network with a text message whenever they feel acutely depressed. It is designed to provide teenagers struggling from depression or bullying with support when they need it. Users can choose several contacts to be part of their support group. With just a few taps, the app will alert the support group that the user needs immediate help. Members of the support group can then text or call the user. The app can also share the user’s location with the support group, and members can indicate that they are on their way to see the user in person. Code Blue will be free on both iOS and Android.

BoosterBuddy –This Canadian app provides teens with a list of coping mechanisms, tips for controlled breathing exercises, types of mental health concerns, and ways to manage symptoms. BoosterBuddy was created by Calgary-based developers Robots & Pencils, Island Health, Victoria Hospitals Foundation and a $150,000 donation from Coast Capital Savings. The app helps teens do the following:

  • Check-in with how you are feeling each day
  • Use coping skills
  • Keep track of appointments and medications
  • Get started on tasks
  • Follow self-care routines
  • Increase real-life socialization

Articles or Blogs for Teens on Mental Health Topics

OK2TALK: The goal of OK2TALK is to create a community for teens and young adults struggling with mental health problems and encourage them to talk about what they’re experiencing by sharing their personal stories of recovery, tragedy, struggle or hope. Anyone can add their voice by sharing creative content such as poetry, inspirational quotes, photos, videos, song lyrics and messages of support in a safe, moderated space. The creators hope this is the first step towards getting help and feeling better.

School Library Journal has a helpful bibliotherapy booklist for teens and offers suggestions for teens struggling with depression and suicide, and other tough topics, in this article.

The #MHYALit Discussion Hub– Mental Health in Young Adult Literature posted by TeenLibrarianToolbox on School Library Journal’s online site has regular posts on mental health topics for teens.

An example: #MHYALit: Fight the Stigma, Ask for Help, a guest post by Heather Marie, April 5, 2016

 

These resources are really helpful but sometimes actually seeing and hearing about a person’s struggle to cope with a mental health issue has more impact than any article or blog post. Kevin Hines, a suicide survivor and speaker and author on bipolar disorder and mental health issues, has created a video entitled, “I Jumped Off the Golden Gate Bridge” that’s unforgettable.

Booklists:

Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt by Kevin Hines (2013) (Nonfiction)

This is the striking story of survival of author Hines, who at age nineteen jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. The fall didn’t end his life; it began a chronicle of facing mental illness – bipolar disorder – and a series of breakdowns that challenged the author’s desire to live mentally well. His is a powerful saga that offers many insights to those struggling with life after a suicide attempt; from living daily with mental illness to navigating the world and discovering keys to better living.

Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson and Dr. Olivia Hewitt (2016) (Nonfiction)

This book, published in the UK, is only available in the US as an ebook on Kindle or Nook.

James Dawson, now writing as Juno Dawson has written a frank, factual and funny book, with added information and support from clinical psychologist Dr Olivia Hewitt. The book covers topics from anxiety and depression to addiction, self-harm and personality disorders. Juno and Olivia talk clearly and supportively about a range of issues facing young people’s mental health – whether fleeting or long-term – and how to manage them. With real-life stories from young people around the world and witty illustrations from Gemma Correll.

Elena Vanishing: A Memoir by Elena Dunkle and Clare B. Dunkle (2015) (Nonfiction)

This co-authored, mother-daughter memoir recounts daughter Elena’s five-year struggle to overcome anorexia nervosa after her diagnosis at 17. Elena’s memories often highlight the interwoven nature of her relationship with food to traumatic events in her life, from childhood feelings of maternal abandonment to a rape at age 13. Ultimately, this memoir illustrates how Elena found her own path out from this illness, and the treatment she received.

(And a few new, forthcoming fiction books, because I couldn’t resist):

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom (forthcoming Jan. 2017)

For sixteen-year-old Mel Hannigan, bipolar disorder makes life unpredictable. Her latest struggle is balancing her growing feelings in a new relationship with her instinct to conceal her diagnosis by keeping everyone at arm’s length. But when a former friend confronts Mel with the truth about the way their relationship ended, deeply buried secrets threaten to come out and upend her shaky equilibrium.

A World without You by Beth Revis (forthcoming July 2016)

Seventeen-year-old Bo attends Berkshire Academy, which he believes is a school for kids with superpowers, and struggles in the aftermath of his girlfriend, Sofia’s, suicide. Convinced he can travel through time, Bo refuses to believe Sofia died. Instead, he’s certain she’s trapped in the year 1692.

The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes (May 2016)

At Pembroke, a tiny East Coast boarding school, Willa doesn’t care about being the poor, rural weirdo among the wealthy elite, because she plans to commit suicide—until she meets the mysterious, charismatic Remy.

These are just a few of the many resources available to help teens who might be struggling with mental health issues or who may be in crisis. I hope teens, or those of you who work with them, will find them useful.

–Sharon Rawlins, currently listening to The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury and reading A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

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Gaming Anime

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 07:00

The response to the Sports Anime post was so enthusiastic that I am back again to highlight some gaming anime titles! My apologies to fans of the “stuck in a video game world” trope, you will have to wait your turn. These main characters are all into tabletop games! (If you must have a video game anime recommendation, I wrote about Summer Wars last year in my Anime Titles for Book Lovers to watch this Summer post.  

What we have this month is  a series about a haunted strategy board game, a dramatic show about a group of teens who trying to form a competitive memory card team, a slice of life comedy starring a mischievous student who distracts his classmate, and a series focused on trading card game battles.

Gaming is another broad sub-genre. While I attempted to select a range of games and themes, if you feel like I missed a show that this list cannot survive without, feel free to bring it up in the comments!

Hikaru no Go

Hundreds of years ago Sai Fujiwara flung himself into a river when he was dismissed from his position as the emperor’s Go instructor. Since his death, he has haunted a Go board hoping to someday achieve his dream of playing one “Divine Move.” Hikaru Shindo, the sixth grade boy he is currently haunting, doesn’t seem to mind his spectral hitchhiker. Will the two be able to work together to make Sai Fujiwara’s dream come true?

Hikaru no Go is the least spooky ghost story in the world, mostly because the show is so focused on the gameplay of Go and the interpersonal relationships of the players. While the 23 volume manga series is still available in the United States, the DVDs of the show are out of print. But do not despair!  both the subtitled and dubbed versions of all 75 episodes the show are available to stream (with commercials) on Viz’s website and Hulu. If you run an anime club or a convention you can contact Viz directly on their website using this form to ask for permission to screen the show to your group.

About the Game: Go

A two player strategy board game that you can pick up and play for little to no cost. The goal of Go is to capture the opposing player’s pieces by surrounding them. Learn more at the American Go Association’s website.

Chihayafuru

When she was younger, Chihaya Ayase was inspired by a classmate to take up competitive Hyakunin Isshu karuta, a matching and reflexes card game where the players memorize poetry.  Now that she is in high school she wants to draw her friends back together to compete as a team, but things are more complicated than they seem…

A skillful blend of humor and drama, there are two season so far of this series.  You get to know each character through multiple flashback sequences, so the main plot has a slow and steady build. This slow and steady pacing is balanced out by the aggressive animation of the karuta gameplay sequences. The English translation of the manga is out of print, but both seasons of the show are streaming on crunchyroll and if you are running a convention, anime club or library group you can request a commercial free account through crunchyroll’s outreach page

About the Game: Hyakunin Isshu karuta

The version of karuta played in Chihayafuru deals with poetry. The last lines of 100 different poems are printed on cards.  The goal is to match the beginning lines of these poems, which are read aloud, to the end lines printed on those cards. As each poem is read players compete to select the correct end before each other. There are also monster and regional decks, even a Shakespeare deck! Learn more about karuta here.

Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time

Toshinari Seki is busy doing anything and everything except school work. He sits at his desk in the back corner of the classroom; a master of killing time and covering his tracks. Some kids would create a flip book by doodling in the corner of their notebook or textbook. Seki records a voice track for his story, complete with sound effects. Some kids would bring in a remote controlled car and fool around with it during class. Seki sets up an obstacle course and spends all day taking a mock driving test. Rumi Yokoi is the perpetually distracted girl who sits next to him, and you really can’t blame her!

This short form anime is based off of the manga My Neighbor Seki  by Takuma Morishige and each episodes run under 10 minutes.  Since Seki rarely speaks and Yokoi doesn’t want to get in trouble during class, most of the show is Yokoi’s inner monologue and her reactions to Seki’s shenanigans are priceless. At only twenty-one episodes, the series is the shortest one featured today and will leave you begging for more! This show is available on DVD as well as streaming on crunchyroll.

Warning: many games, including a Seki-fied version of Go, make an appearance in Tonari no Seki-kun. Most are not accurate to actual game play. 

About the Game: Shogi

Shogi is played on a board, and is similar to chess in a number of ways. The goal of the game is to capture the opposing player’s king and each game piece may only move in prescribed ways (the king only one spot at a time, in any direction). One major difference is that captured members are absorbed into the aggressor’s forces.  Sadly, there are not usually trap doors, or secret identities in Shogi, that is all Seki. 

Cardfight!! Vanguard

Shy middle school student Sendo Aichi is having trouble making friends. The only thing he has going for him is that he has a super rare ‘Blaster Blade’ card from the popular ‘Vanguard’ card game, but he loses his precious card in his first match! Will he ever make any friends?

Similar to Pokémon or Yu-Gi-Oh!,  watching this show is like watching people play any trading card battle style game, except the battle sequences are brought to life in epic fashion. This would be a great series for fans of watching twitch or youtube playthroughs of games.  Cardfight!! Vanguard ran for four seasons, has had several spinoff manga, a movie Cardfight!! Vanguard Film: Neon Messiah, and an ongoing “new class” style spin off show, Cardfight!! Vanguard G. Set three years after the end of the original series, one of the main characters from the first series acts as a mentor to a new group of players seeking to be the very best, like no one ever was …

No, wait, that’s Pokémon. If you want more information on Pokémon check out this Teen Perspective post: Digitally Remastered – Comic books for gamers!

About the Game: Cardfight Vanguard

A trading card game of strategy and luck, Cardfight Vanguard has a fairly standard one-on-one battle structure. Each deck of cards is customized based on what is purchased or won from other players. The first player to receive six damage, or run out of cards, looses. In the show you actually get to see these battles taking place on the planet Cray, but in real life, that is left to the imaginations of the players. The two players decks are shuffled before the game begins, which means that a player with a less expensive deck, but a good sense of strategy and a healthy serving of luck, can win against an opponent with more powerful individual cards. 
— Jennifer Billingsley,  currently reading Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin.

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Diversify YA Life: Diversity at BEA and BookCon

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 07:00

Two years ago at Book Expo America 2014, there was some concern about the lack of diversity in an all white all male diversity panel.  The We Need Diverse Books movement formed after BEA 2014 and because of the movement, there has been a steady rise in diverse authors and characters.

Since its start in 2014, We Need Diverse Books has seen support from the publishing community, libraries, authors, and book bloggers.  Book bloggers are a unique group because they volunteer their time and money to promote literacy to the masses.  Over the past two years, many bloggers have hosted diversity reading challenges, Twitter chats, and author interviews to spread the importance of diversity in children’s/ young adult literature.  BEA and BookCon is the event YA bloggers look forward to to connect with friends, meet authors, and find new books to promote on their sites.  I got a chance to meet several YA bloggers of color and interviewed them on the importance of diversity in YA literature-Steph, Erica, and Hafsah.

Meet the bloggers.

With over 1100 website followers and 7,000 Twitter followers, Cuddlebuggery Book Blog is a leader in the YA blogging

Steph from Cuddlebuggery & Laini Taylor

community. Stephanie Sinclair started her blog in 2011 called Stephanie’s Book Nook and in 2012 joined Kat Kennedy to form Cuddlebuggery.  In 2014, Meg Morely joined the team that reviews YA lit, adult crossovers and middle grade books in a fresh, inventive and fun atmosphere.  You can follow Steph and Cuddlebuggery on the following social media sites:  YouTube channelGoogle + pageFaceBook page,Tumblr,Twitter,Instagram andGoodreads.

Erica has been reviewing YA fiction since the start of this year and she hosts a regular feature on Mike the Fanboy called Book Beat.  You can follow Erica and her 1,200 followers on Twitter at @Cambear.

Hafsah began her young-adult book review blog, IceyBooks, in late 2010 because she was homeschooled and had no one to share her love of books with. Over the years, she befriended countless people in publishing, other bloggers, authors, agents, editors, and found some of her dearest friends all because she started blogging. She now blogs on IceyBooks with her sister, Asma. You can follow Hafsah and her 8, 000 followers on Twitter and her 3,000 followers on Instagram at @HafsahFaizal.

How do you think the We Need Diverse Books movement has progressed since its start two year ago?

Steph: It’s definitely grown considerably and I’m impressed with how much its accomplished in such a short time. I feel like I can directly see some of its effects as well. There’s been more books being purchased by publishers written by marginalized people and I’m seeing them more prominently at bookish conventions, such as BEA. It’s been a very “in your face” movement, which is exactly what publishing needed. There have always been people campaigning for diverse books, but this just helps us all scream a little louder.

Erica: I haven’t been covering YA books for that long, but I think there is greater awareness across most media. There’s greater awareness that there is a lack of diversity and I think groups are getting more organized on raising their voices. Certainly the internet is quicker to pounce when something happens.

If you look to commercials, the most sophisticated marketers already know they need to feature diversity because they want to connect with as broad an audience as possible. You can see a better mix of races, ages and family units (gay, straight, adopted) in commercials. The ad industry is much further along than the media companies. They have to be or they can’t sell their product.

So there’s a proven business model out there. We need more opportunities for blockbusters (books, movies and TV) with diverse casts to prove this in other industries as well.

Hafsah: I think the WNDB movement has grown tremendously because of what it represents: the innumerable amount of people looking for themselves in the world of fiction, between the pages of a book. We need diverse books, and the WNDB movement is pushing for just that.

Why do we need diverse bloggers in the YA world?

Steph: Simple answer is that it’s important to see and hear voices of various backgrounds, no matter what field it’s in. Having marginalized voices at every level of the publishing industry is essential and allows people to get more familiar with what they don’t know. It causes everyone to be more socially aware and tolerant.

For diverse bloggers, we also have a very important role as well, and that’s reading, reviewing, supporting and challenging these diverse titles. Many authors are writing outside of what they know, and that’s awesome, but it’s not always a perfect system. I’ve run across books where most of my white blogger friends have praised a book that I found horribly offensive and books where they found the content uncomfortable, yet I felt it was true and accurate. The world is a diverse place and, therefore, by default you’ll have diverse readers. As a reader, I love following bloggers who have similar tastes as me to find my new favorite book, but it’s also good to have others who have different perspectives so I can find books I would have never picked up. Erica: Books, writers and reviewers should reflect the readers and, well, readers aren’t a homogeneous group. The crowd at BookCon this weekend was a full rainbow of all kinds of people.  Each person experiences a book through their own personal lens so having diverse reviewers mean you’re more likely to find someone who might have similar tastes to you. Hafsah: Just like we need diverse books to read, we need diverse people to spread the love for these books, to appreciate them, and to advocate them. There’s no application to become a blogger, there’s no form to fill out. Bloggers in the YA world have come together because of their love for books, and nothing else, regardless of the differences that make us who we are. What would you like publishers to know about the importance of diverse books? Steph: As a kid, I used to wish I wasn’t black because all I saw and read about were white kids going on fantastic adventures. I felt like I was being left behind and it was difficult for me to find stories where I saw myself. Nowadays, that’s changing and I’m starting to see a lot more diverse characters and marginalized voices sitting at the table, fighting dragons and saving the world. It’s fantastic and I’m excited that my kids will have a better selection of stories to dive into. Erica: People often read books to find characters they relate to whether its based on physical appearance, their attitude, their choices or whatever. The books that stay with people resonate the most and one size does not fit all. Mix things up. Check out Steph’s diverse YA book recommendations:

Naila’s parents want her to marry a man that’s been arranged for her but when she meets Saif, she doesn’t want to follow tradition.  In an effort to get Naila to appreciate her heritage, she travels to Pakistan with her parents.  Naila soon discovers that her parents planned a marriage while in Pakistan and the only person to save her is Saif.

Simon isn’t quite out of the closet and neither is Blue, his anonymous email friend. When Martin accidentally sees Simon’s emails, Simon finds himself on the other side of blackmail and is forced to hook up Martin and his friend Abby.

When Michelle runs away from a drug addicted mother, she finds herself in NYC alone and out of money.  She meets a nice looking boy that offers her a place to stay but she soon finds herself in the world of child prostitution.

Check out these diverse YA recommendations by Erica.

Three unrelated stories come together with an interesting twist.

This is the story about Rashad and Quinn, one black and one white, and their experiences with racism in America.

  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Lara Jean writes her crushes love letters because she’s too shy to tell them in person.  When her secret box of letters gets mailed, Lara Jean must meet her crushes face to face.

Erica also recommends Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.

 

Hafsah been reading a lot more diverse fiction these days, and she’s especially drawn to fantasy set in the Middle East and Asia, because the majority of fantasy is set in Europe. The ones she most recently loved are:

This is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights. King Khalid kills all his brides by dawn. When Shazi’s best friend dies by dawn, she vows to avenge her death by becoming Khalid’s bride and killing him.

Inspired by Indian Mythology, Maya’s future life of love is cursed with death. When Maya is forced to marry for political reasons, her new reign as the queen of Akaran soon becomes marked with magic and mystery.

Vika and Nikolai are enchanters and they are being sought by the Ottoman Empire for political gain.  In order to find the best enchanters, the Tsar announces a duel where the losers must die.  Vika and Nikolai see this as an opportunity of varied reasons but what will happen when they fall in love knowing that they both can’t survive?

Dawn is currently reading – The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

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2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #17

Sun, 05/22/2016 - 07:00

Not signed up yet for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm EST on June 23 (that’s still a solid month of reading and listening time), so sign up now!

I’m currently on an audiobook kick. I just finished Randall Munroe’s What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, read to great effect by Wil Wheaton, and I’m partway through Libba Bray’s Lair of Dreams, in which January LaVoy creates a stunning auditory landscape with approximately one million different character voices. What If? frequently had me laughing out loud (on the treadmill, so I was that person in the gym). Randall Munroe is probably most famous for his (beloved) xkcd webcomic, so I was expecting to laugh, and Wheaton’s energetic narration was a lot of fun. For me, it took awhile to get through simply because the content felt more digestible in small-ish doses; I personally wouldn’t have wanted to listen to so many thought experiments for hours on end (for instance, on a road trip), but taken in twenty minute chunks I found them completely delightful. I don’t listen to a ton of audiobooks normally (my listening time tends to go to podcasts and radio), but I love to be read to (file under: things we carry with us from childhood; thanks Dad!), so I’ve been really enjoying the change of format.

I’m loving Lair of Dreams, and I’ve discovered an awesome benefit of listening to this particular title; I’m enjoying the 1920’s slang that is peppered throughout everyone’s (especially our main protagonist from book 1, Evie’s) speech a lot more when I can hear it. The cast of characters is still expanding (and representing an increasingly diverse NYC as it does), and the story is reeling me back in quickly. I almost didn’t start this, because I didn’t feel like I had time to revisit The Diviners first (it’s almost 600 pages!), and I really needed a refresher on everything that had happened (I read it well over 3 years ago), but a quick detour to the time-saving Recaptains site brought me back up to speed quickly (the site is awesome, and designed to refresh readers’ memory about previous volumes in a series, so it’s all spoilers. Consider yourself warned. I use it a lot for next installments, especially if the time between volume publications was long).

I’m also working through The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Geek Girls by Sam Maggs (in print). The overall tone of the text is refreshingly positive – fandom being, at its heart, about celebrating something that moves you – and incredibly direct, leaving zero room for the idea that anyone can shut anyone else out of a fandom, or that any group of fans could be more “legit” or authoritative than any other. I am excited to share this with a ton of my students, and I’m also finding it to be a great overview for me in collection development and reader’s advisory terms; there is so much content out there, it can be overwhelming, and although I certainly am an enthusiastic fan in many arenas (*she wrote, with an eye on her complete Buffy dvd collection*), there are plenty of shows, games, series, etc. that I know some of my students love but that I won’t realistically have time to consume in their entirety. I’ve already found lots of fun ideas for possible displays and read-alike recommendations, and there are a lot of potential programming ideas to be found here too.

What have you been reading for the Challenge lately? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and join the conversation on social media; look for the #hubchallenge on InstagramTwitter, and our Goodreads group. If you’ve finished the Challenge, a) bravo! and b) fill out this form.

-Carly Pansulla, currently reading We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with M.T. Anderson

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 07:00

There are cultures, for example, where teens are not considered to be, first and foremost, consumers.

Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.

I’ll admit right up front to being horribly intimidated at the prospect of this interview.  I put off drafting questions by collecting other interviews, reviews, and articles; by sifting through YouTube for conference appearances and even more interviews, by reading and re-reading the essays and speeches on his website…you get the idea.  But all that research and preparation just made it worse, actually.  So much worse.  M.T. Anderson’s reputation as one of the nicest and funniest (Whales on Stilts, right?) authors around seems, from my limited experience (which mostly involves award speeches and receptions and secondhand stories from totally reputable sources), to be well founded and supported by evidence.  And I’ve seen with my own eyes (as an audience member etc.) how downright goofy he can be so I know that’s true too.  And yet.

And yet.

You simply can’t read Octavian Nothing, or Feed, or (wow!) Symphony for the City of the Dead without becoming a little overwhelmed at the incredible intellect and spirit behind the words.  And I think it’s impossible to not want to rise to the occasion, so to speak, but when I finally had to sit down and write this introduction (which of course I put off as long as I could) all I could do was sputter and gesture and shake my head because really, what can I say? (Thankfully I was alone.)

So I guess I’ll just say thank you for the opportunity, for–as always–making me think, and for championing teens, intellectualism, and intellectual teens in a climate that routinely dismisses all three.

Always Something There to Remind Me

Please describe your teenage self.

Thin to the point of mantis-like. Eager to explore the world in front of me. Already unhappy that someday I’d have to die.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

A writer! I always had stories I wanted to tell. I spent a lot of time reading, and I was eager to become part of the ancient conversation of literature.

What were your high school years like?

There was some fun. I was in plays and musicals. I made movies with my friends. I spent an extra high school year in in England, and that was incredible – full of those eccentricities we now would see as Hogwartsian (students wearing black robes, medieval courtyards, all the entertaining rigors of a British boarding school). That place really stepped up my intellectual and artistic game. We studied Anglo-Saxon history, read Lear, sang Renaissance church music, and created a Cubist play about Picasso’s youth on a stage made entirely of cabbages.

What were some of your passions during that time?

When I was younger, I read mainly science fiction and fantasy. By the time I was in my later teens, I was reading a lot of British lit (favorites were Virginia Woolf, Evelyn Waugh, and Ronald Firbank). I loved music written before 1750. Some favorite movies from when I was a teen: The Time Bandits, Brazil, Monty Python and the Holy Grail … wow, the Monty Python team seem to have had a big effect on me … Angel Heart, The Thing, True Stories, and yes, The Breakfast Club.

Would you be willing to share a difficult teen experience or challenge that you feel shaped the adult you became?

Not in the slightest.

What about a positive experience or accomplishment that had an impact on your adult self?

For me, a big turning point was going to school in another country and realizing that there were places and cultures where it was actually not embarrassing to know things – that thinking wasn’t discouraged everywhere as something like masturbation that probably everyone did at some point, but did on their own, ashamed, and tried to conceal. In American high schools at the time, there definitely seemed to be the sense that too much thinking was a kind of perversion. The idea of “geek chic,” which saves so many kids now, was definitely not a movement in the 80s. It was so important to me to find other kids who were passionate about knowledge, about history, about joking our way through the echoing, statued halls of human civilization …

What advice, if any, would you give your teen self? Would your teen self have listened?

You don’t need to be as homely as you are. A lot of it is frankly just attitude.

No, I wouldn’t have listened.

Do you have any regrets about your teen years? Anything left undone or anything that might have been better left undone?

Are you kidding? Why do you think I became a writer for teens?

What, if anything, do you miss most about that time?

The sense that the world lay before my classmates and me, ready to be explored – and we were the new generation poised to explore it. We didn’t know enough to realize that the world wasn’t our oyster.

 

Every Day I Write the Book

In a 2010 piece you say that “ideology is always present, vibrating in the text, whether it’s there consciously or unconsciously,” and you confess to being fascinated by the impulse to explore a particular question without necessarily knowing the answer. In fact, you wonder, might not the books that endure be those where “the author’s ideological certainty and ideological doubt both continue to inspire debate within readers…” Could you give us an example of a book that embodies this tension?  What about your own work? Is there a book that you feel successfully explores a particular question while remaining honest about your uncertainty? 

Choose a book at random … Say, The Great Gatsby. At once, there’s a sly satire of a cheap, capitalist world taken in by glitter and illusion – and yet what’s so powerful about that book is that, at the same time, the narrator (and the reader!) can’t help to some extent be taken in by that glitter, charmed by that illusion, feel empathy for the charlatan Gatz.

And, come to think of it, that’s partially the way my novel Feed worked out. I set out to write a furious assault on a blind, infantilizing consumer culture that I felt had made me miserable as a teenager … but also, as I wrote it, I thought a lot about how that culture had created me, too … I was partially taken in by it. I found myself sympathizing not just with the dissident girl in the book, Violet, but with my irritating narrator, Titus, too, and I think it wouldn’t have been as good a book if I hadn’t found things in him that were dangerously close to dreams and desires I myself had.

“Teens,” you said in your 2009 Printz Honor acceptance speech, “are conspicuously the opposite of bland and blank: They are incredibly eccentric, deeply impassioned about their interests, fantastically – even exhaustingly – knowledgeable…Their commitment to complexity of thought is, if anything, fiercer than an adult’s – because they have to fight so fiercely to defend it.” You’ve spoken elsewhere, and often, about the sophistication and diversity of teen interests and capabilities, and you’ve urged your fellow writers to help woo “readers away from the anti-intellectualism and self-congratulation that imperil our nation,” suggesting that powerful moments “for teens…actually come about precisely because they’re reading things that are complicated and sophisticated.” There seems to be a disconnect between the popularity and rabid consumption of so many elements of “teen culture” and the popular disdain for teen interests, abilities, and certainly, their intellectual capacities. Could you talk a little about that disconnect, and about the way you approach writing for teens? 

It’s important to note that we all, grown and growing, seek out role models and try to match their skills, their attitudes, their excellences. Different cultures hold out different models, and we tend to allow certain parts of us to atrophy if we don’t see them being positively reflected in the culture around us.

There are cultures, for example, where teens are not considered to be, first and foremost, consumers. And here let me segue directly into your next question, which provides a perfect example of what I’m talking about …

You’re clearly inspired by history, not only by the events or people, but by the construction of history itself. “History isn’t just sitting there under a tarp, waiting to be discovered. It’s assembled, each and every time we tell it,” you said in a recent interview, in which you also talked about the importance of connecting the past to the present in ways that illuminate both.  “We assume that our life is our life and history is stuck in the past,” you’ve said, “And then there are those terrifying moments where you realize, ‘Oh, wait a second. My life is a part of history.’…These things could happen to us.” How does your fascination with history and the empathy you bring to your research color the way you view the world today? Have you had that “Oh wait” moment yourself? 

I thought of one of those moments while answering the last question. When I was in college, I remember reading a Time Magazine article about Chinese students gathering in Tiananmen Square to protest the oppressions of their government. I was stunned: Here were students conceived of as radicals, people my own age and just a few years older who were changing the course of their country’s history, standing up for what they believed. I was sitting outside reading the article; I flagged down a friend and told him how incredible it was, these students risking everything.

He waved his hand in a vague, lofty, Cantabridgean flourish, and said, “Oh, yes … I think they all got shot yesterday or something …”

It was true. The Time I was reading was a week out of date. The students had been massacred by their own government since that article came out. Tanks had driven straight into the crowds of protestors. These young men and women had given their life to stand up for what was right.

That was one of the moments when I first realized how differently the idea of “student” plays out in different cultures. In ours – even more now than when I was in college – the student is first and foremost constructed as a consumer. We invite them to understand themselves in that way. They become thinkers despite the role we groom them for. And that’s a tragedy.

Every American child should feel that the world of knowledge – the whole of human history and culture – belongs to them. It’s just waiting for them to pick it up and use it.

Your latest book, Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad, has been described as a story about how music and musicians can change the world, and you’ve spoken yourself about the power of music, about how it can bolster the human spirit and help people “remember to be human,” even in the darkest times. “Music has always been really important to me,” you’ve said, “especially classical music, [which]…is intensely emotional and intensely visceral.” Could you talk a little about the impact classical music has on your work?  Where would you point a classical music novice who was interested in exploring new works and composers?

For me, music plays into how I write in all kinds of ways – though I don’t actually listen to stuff while I write! If I do, I get all moved and think, “Wow, this is incredible … I am ON FIRE today!” And then read it the next day and realize that it’s absolute crap and I was just moved by the music.

As for learning about music, one of the best ways you can explore classical music – even without a streaming service – is YouTube. Find one piece you know about and love, and the margin suggests a bunch more from similar watch lists. I have found some incredible pieces and composers this way – stuff I never would have heard if there hadn’t been algorithms saying, “If you liked that, you may like this …”

 

Just Can’t Get Enough

Question from Noelle Stevenson: You’re quite prolific in the literary world, but my question is: if you were given a blank check to personally oversee an adaption of any one of your books into another medium, no matter how far-fetched, obsolete, or experimental, what book and medium would you choose? What role would you choose to play in adapting it?

Next year, my graphic novel Yvain, an adaptation of Chrétien de Troyes’s 12th– century epic, will come out with illustrations by Andrea Offermann. It’s already an illustrated version of a script of a medieval epic, so it has already changed form a few times already – and I think it’s absolutely ripe to turn into a French Baroque opera. I’ll bring the plumes!

 

M.T. Anderson has contributed a question for the next author in the series, Francisco X. Stork. Watch for an interview with him coming soon!

 

M. T. Anderson is the author of Feed, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, as well as The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party, winner of the National Book Award and a New York Times bestseller, and its sequel, The Kingdom on the Waves, which was also a New York Times bestseller. Both volumes were also named Michael L. Printz Honor Books. Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad was a 2016 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist. M. T. Anderson lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

You can visit M.T. Anderson at his website, or follow him on Twitter.

 

–Julie Bartel, currently reading The Raven King by Maggie Steifvater and (re-reading) A Stranger Came Ashore by Mollie Hunter

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Adult Books for Young Adults: Psychology & Sociology

Tue, 05/17/2016 - 07:00

As teens become more self-aware and motivated to learn for job training or college preparations, there are some intelligently-researched self-help/psychology books designed to get readers thinking. So while many are targeted to adults, they’re absolutely useful for the inquiring teen.

The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Duhigg shares the mechanisms through which humans form habits and by using examples of every day habits such as smoking or exercising and he automatically gets the readers attention. The book is useful to any teen looking to make a change, little or big, by understanding routine. Not brushing twice a day? It might change after this.

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

Making a decision is a blend of both feeling and reason. This goes for everyone from airplane pilots to serial killers and investors to poker players. Lehrer then blends science and story to share with readers how rational and emotional elements combine to allow us to decide, though we can use recommendations to trick our brains too. This mix is as much entertainment as education.

Your Playlist Can Change Your Life: 10 Proven Ways Your Favorite Music Can Revolutionize Your Health, Memory, Organization, Alertness, and More by Galina Mindlin, Don DuRousseau, and Joseph Cardillo

Knowing that music plays a significant role in teen lives through radio, downloads on the Play Store and iTunes, in movies and video games is motivation enough to read this book with a catchy premise. The repetition and basic idea is that remembering noises and sounds as well as identifying the music you listen to and tweaking it when necessary is akin to having a Rocky Balboa moment with “Eye of the Tiger”. So, similar to Amy Cuddy’s proposals in body posing to prepare for an interview or how someone reacts to defeat, Midlin, DuRousseau, and Cardillo advocate creating playlists for when you’re learning, when you need to de-stress, and when you need to feel happy– mixed tape anyone?

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Appreciate the introverts, that is Cain’s premise. On top of that, be sure to appreciate your introverted qualities since the world tends to value extroverts when the power of introverts can be more useful and valuable. With stories of successful introverts, introverts will be empowered and calmed by the psychology and neuroscience that Cain relays in real-world stories that celebrate the quiet people.

And we couldn’t finalize a piece on psychology books suitable for teens without talking about the most accessible: Malcolm Gladwell. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, Outliers: The Story of Success, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Each of them offer a different angle on topics that can inspire readers. Easy to read and succinct enough to sustain anyone’s attention, they should be the first offered when wanting to delve into psychology or sociology.

 

— Alicia Abdul, currently reading Sunny Side Up by Jennifer and Matthew Holm

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School Library Journal 2016 Day of Dialog Recap

Mon, 05/16/2016 - 07:00

Each year, School Library Journal presents a Day of Dialog, which allows librarians, educators, and library students the chance to come together and learn the latest about childrens and teens publishing trends and upcoming releases.  This was the first time I have attended a Day of Dialog and I would definitely recommend future attendance to anyone who works with children and/or teens promoting books and reading. Check out my recap of the middle school/high school panels and speakers from the day!

The day opened with the keynote speaker, Richard Peck.  He spoke about writing, the importance of reading, and his new book The Best Man.  Here are some of his key points from his talk:
  • I am a writer because of a teacher, any writer will tell you that.
  • My junior high students made a writer out of me… They taught me how to write.
  • As a writer, you introduce the reader to the characters they want to be and then you spend six drafts trying to erase yourself from the pages.
  • The only way you can write is by the light of the bridges burning behind you.
  • The Best Man is about a boy putting himself together with parts of various role models, but it will be labeled as a book about same sex marriage because one of his role models wants to marry a man.
  • Putting the right book in the right young hands is no more important than now.
Peck infused his presentation with humor, even inserting a good political zinger at one point, courtesy of Mark Twain:

Peck also read from his new novel, The Best Man:

Panel: Some Nonfiction! Dynamic Information Books for Young Readers Most of the titles listed on this panel were for young readers, but the topics covered are of interest to anyone who enjoys reading both fiction and nonfiction.

Panelists:
Candace Fleming & Eric Rohmann, Giant Squid
Julia Kuo, The Sound of Silence
Mara Rockliff, Around America To Win the Vote
Jane Sutcliffe, Will’s Words
Melissa Sweet, Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White

Moderator: Deborah Stevenson, Director for Children’s Books at GSLIS, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Editor of Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

How does fiction and nonfiction relate? What are the rules?
  • Rockliff: He feels responsible to tell kids the truth. Illustrated nonfiction books can’t be held to the same standard as text only books because the illustrated characters on the page have to be doing something. Her top priority: what are kids going to walk away with.
  • Kuo: The Sound of Silence is the true story of the author’s memory. When you illustrate it’s all about interpretation, but it’s almost impossible to be true with nonfiction because the illustrations are her best way of creating the environment of the story.
What is the role of text in the page design along with illustrations?
  • Fleming: it’s amazing what design can do to tell a story. It is important that illustrations are supporting rather than decorating the text.
What choices did you have to make through the editing process and what was left on the cutting room floor?
  • Kuo: most of the editing was done to the text. Kou drew what was left.
  • Rohmann: there’s a hierarchy and you have to ask questions like: what do you want the reader to see first? Is it a color? Is it a thing? Is it a breather or a break from the imagery? Where do you want the audience to look?
  • Sweet: When the book is done you don’t remember what was lost because it is so right… It is the essence of what you set out to create.
Any unexpected challenges?
  • Most challenges were with the illustrations, like finding references and the best medium for the material.
Panel: Truth Be Told: Big Questions in Middle Grade Fiction and What Adults Keep From Children
The theme for this panel was that all these author’s books all deal with the truth and they also think deeply about the truths that people speak to themselves. Panelists:
Kelly Barnhill, The Girl Who Drank the Moon
Adam Gidwitz, The Inquisitor’s Tale
Jennifer L. Holm, Full of Beans
Jason Reynolds, As Brave As You
Raina Telgemeier, Ghosts Moderator: Betsy Bird, Collection Development Manager at the Evanston Public Library

The panelists introduce themselves and their books:

  • Reynolds: has two middle grade novels to be published this year. As Brave As You is an homage to his “country cousins.” He wanted to write the story about those who migrated north and then as a city kid being sent to the South for the summer.
  • Holm: her new novel Full of Beans, is a companion (prequel) to Turtle in Paradise.
  • Gidwitz: his new novel is The Inquisitor’s Tale. He’s excited and nervous, because this was a big project and dear to his heart. While in Europe, for his wife’s dissertation, he collected stories. One was The Holy Greyhound (written in what was called an inquisitor’s notebook) and was the inspiration for The Inquisitor’s Tale.
  • Barnhill: her latest title is The Girl Who Drank the Moon. She is very interested in the notion that if you change the narrative, you change the world.
  • Telgemeier: her new graphic novel is Ghosts. This is her first foray into magic/supernatural stuff. This is magical realism, though, because she needs to be grounded in realistic stories. This graphic novel also ties in to her interest in the tradition of The Day of the Dead.

How do to make a book truthful to your experiences and also so that the kid will believe them?

  • Reynolds: If you are authentic others will recognize this. There’s a universality of truth if the person is being truthful.
  • Telgemeier: Your emotions are true no matter what the details are. You edit to get to the truth.
  • Barnhill: Memory and imagination are similar. If all memories are partially fictional, what is the truth of the moment? Both the accurate and invented tell about why the moment matters to you. Try to give the reader enough raw materials to create something that is true to them.
  • Holm: Keep things authentic and truthful, and keep it grounded in a young persons point of view. Focus on telling a story using details of what are kids focused (i.e.: eating, family, the media of their time)
  • Gidwitz: He creates his protagonists so that they are avatars of him at that age and then he thinks how would he act and react.
  • Reynolds: It’s not about disseminating the truth it’s about presenting questions that they think about all the time and putting it on the page.

 

Post lunch speaker: Laini Taylor
Laini Taylor spoke about such things as genre reading, how she became a writer, finding her characters, and her new book: Strange the Dreamer

  • This book, Strange the Dreamer, started out  as stand alone novel but has become a duology.
  • Genres should be encouraged to marry each other and have mutant babies.
  • “Follow your heart” is her creed as a writer.
  • She started writing Strange the Dreamer and the title was “Muse of Nightmares” where the female lead was both the victim and the villain. It was her story… so she thought… but another character ended up stealing the story.
  • When she was 21, she had all of two dramatic life experiences and once she wrote about them she didn’t know what else to write about. She had no trauma or drama in her life. She closed that door (to writing), and went to art school. Thinking back it was probably the worst alternative that she can think of to a career of writing, but it worked out. She learned creative strategies and she met her husband.
  • She read Harry Potter when it was first published and that opened the door for her to reading more fantasy and when she went to write again she found she had so much to write about.
  • How do our minds interact with stories and how do genres affect this?
    • Her Fantasist explanation: think of our mind as a harp. Each string at its own frequency. Frequencies that resonate and play us like music. Genre is about finding these direct and pure resonances and playing them.
  • With fiction it’s feelings we are after. Feels (as the kids say) are the drug of fiction. Genres comes in as the scope for these feelings.
  • How and why did books like Twilight and Harry Potter resonate with readers? They tapped into the craving to be special. We have a “myth hole” that wants to be filled.
Here’s a short clip of Taylor speaking about her new book Strange the Dreamer:

Panel: Mind-Bending Women of YA An all female panel speaks to the struggles females face as writers and stigmas of female characters in YA lit. Panelists:
Sharon Cameron, The Forgetting 
Roshani Chokshi, The Star-Touched Queen 
S. J. Kincaid, The Diabolic
Laura Ruby, Bone Gap
Laini Taylor, Strange the Dreamer Moderator: Janice Del Negro, Associate Professor and Follett Chair at Dominican University What are the expectations of women writers and expectations of the feminine in your work?
  • Kincaid: People are very sensitive to female characters that are weak or timid. There is more criticism towards female characters, in general, when it comes to writing.
  • Taylor: She hasn’t felt pressure with her female characters but she sees this expectation that YA female characters should be Katniss-y and if they aren’t, they are criticized.
  • Cameron: She has felt the expectation for her females to be the Katniss trope. But when she writes characters she wants to write human characters in the way the world is. She asks, are you telling an incredible human story about this character? Her new novel’s character is a quiet rebel. This came about from reaction the Katniss trope agenda. This character has a rich internal life. She always wants to move to the humanness of her characters.
  • Ruby: She wants to limit the word strong when it comes to female characters. She’s lucky that she hasn’t felt the pressure to write a certain type of female character. There are feminine powers that we have that we don’t have to borrow from men.
  • Chokshi: When it comes to female writers, you can’t always shout about how proud you are about what you are doing. You have to wait for someone else to say it first then you can repost or talk about it. Women are power hungry just like men and they shouldn’t have to hide it. We also need to think before we throw around accusations of the girls that are not how we want them to be.
How about depictions of sexual feelings or encounters– can you speak to the depiction of sexuality in your work or in YA Lit in general?
  • Cameron: She has never written a story that warranted an explicit sex scene. She is very Austen about this and likes the tension and when the small things mean a lot. That’s ok, that’s the way her stories go.
  • Taylor: She likes the smolder. But there’s two different kinds of sex scenes: explicit sex when someone is learning about sex is invaluable and helpful when it’s based in reality, but explicit sex scenes like those found in romance novels where everything is perfect is not her favorite thing. She likes the scenes that are about discovery.
  • Chokshi: She would have liked to write more kissing and whatnot scenes, but she was living at home with her parents, and it was weird. She just couldn’t. The way we talk about sex and the different ways we show intimacy in YA novels is beautiful. Sex is not the seal of soul mates and it’s OK to explore. She likes that we are moving towards this message.
  • Kincaid: A lot of what she wrote had to do with her comfort level as a writer. It’s important to be true to the character’s experience.
  • Ruby: has written hazy magical bee sex as well as more realistic sex scenes. She thinks a lot is about point of view. But she does think you can get away with a lot more in fantasy rather than in contemporary fiction.
Do you think sex as a seal for the soulmate is more for feminine readers rather than masculine readers?
  • Taylor: It is promoted towards girls but boys will read it and like it, but don’t tell anyone.
  • Ruby: Boys aren’t allowed to say things like they want a girlfriend.
  • Chokshi: It’s for both. The first time you fall in love is intoxicating.  Romance is often a fantasy and plays to our what ifs.

What do you think of the labels of Boy Books vs. Girl Books?

  • Kincaid: Her first books were packaged as boy books. It was a divide both ways, but an artificial divide that doesn’t need to be there because it has to do with the presentation of the book.
  • Cameron: Covers are changing lately and are not playing one against the other. The attitude of writing for those who are reading books (traditionally females) is changing.
  • Chokshi: Separation is not nice. Story is an incredible treasure that can be given to a person. Reading choices don’t emasculate you, they strengthen you.
  • Taylor: She loves the covers that welcome in anyone. Covers need to reflect the neutrality, if that is what the story is about.
 –Colleen Seisser, currently listening to All Fall Down by Ally Carter

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2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #16

Sun, 05/15/2016 - 07:00

Not signed up yet for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm EST on June 23, so sign up now!

 

There’s a first time for everything, they say, and Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson has the honor of being the first non picture book that my daughter read first and then recommended to me.  She’s seven, so the recommendations usually flow the other direction, but if Roller Girl is the caliber of suggestion I have to look forward to I am in good hands for sure.  A 2016 Newbery Honor book, in addition to showing up on the 2016 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels & Top Ten Popular Paperbacks lists, Roller Girl tells the story of Astrid’s summer at roller derby camp, her struggles with friendships both old and new, and the looming specter of middle school.

It’s wonderful.  I loved Jamieson’s clever and creative style, full of visual clues and asides, and I especially loved her pitch-perfect and affectionate depiction of preteen angst.  That my daughter has taken up rollerskating (and me too, I guess) is testament to the vivid descriptions and joyful illustrations in Roller Girl, but the fact that she hounded me into reading the book immediately, wrote an unsolicited book review to share with her class, and has already given the book as a gift at multiple birthday parties tells me that this is a story that resonated with her, as it did with me, one I imagine I’ll be reading again.

What have you been reading for the Challenge lately? Have you shared any specific titles with friends or family, or have you read anything on the recommendation of others?  Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and join the conversation on social media; look for the #hubchallenge on InstagramTwitter, and our Goodreads group.  And if you’ve finished the Challenge, a) bravo! and b) fill out this form.

–Julie, currently reading (at last!) Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven King

 

 

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So you want to read a Sarah Dessen book?

Wed, 05/11/2016 - 07:00

If you’ve never read a Sarah Dessen book before, it’s time to start. She’s a master of contemporary fiction with female leads. Her books have been nominated for the Teens’ Top Ten list several times. Check out this interview from 2012 when What Happened to Goodbye? landed in the top ten.

 

You could of course read them in order of publication date. There is something to be said for reading them in order as some of the characters are referenced in later books.

Order of Publication:
That Summer
Someone Like You
Keeping the Moon
Dreamland
This Lullaby
The Truth About Forever
Just Listen
Lock and Key
Along for the Ride
What Happened to Goodbye
The Moon and More
Saint Anything

But it’s not necessary to read them in order. Summer is the perfect time to read Sarah Dessen’s books because most of them take place during the summer. The books are set in two different towns, Colby and Lakeview. You could read them based on setting.

Colby:
Along for the Ride
Keeping the Moon
The Moon and More

Lakeview:
That Summer
Someone Like You
Dreamland
This Lullaby
The Truth About Forever
Just Listen
Lock and Key
What Happened to Goodbye
Saint Anything

Of course you can read them in a random order. If that’s the case and you’re not sure where to start, check out this list to find your answer. (This list has a hint of the book’s subject)

To Read about:
1. Music, read Just Listen
2. Giving up a stuffy library job for chaos in the kitchen, read The Truth About Forever
3. Reinventing yourself, read What Happened to Goodbye
4. Experiencing moments you wish you had in your childhood, read Along for the Ride
5. Falling for your BFFs brother, read Saint Anything
6. The summer before college, read The Moon and More
7. A reluctant Cinderella, read Lock and Key
8. Breaking all your dating rules, read This Lullaby
9. Getting out from your sister’s shadow, read Dreamland
10. Seeing yourself in a new light, read Keeping the Moon
11. Role reversal in your relationship with your best friend, Someone Like You
12. Seeing the past differently, That Summer

Happy Reading!

~ Jennifer Rummel, currently reading Night Study by Maria V. Snyder

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Literary Jukebox: A Tell Me Three Things Playlist

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 07:00

Teens’ Top Ten participants are invited to share reader responses on The Hub. This is a post by Ally Bolin.

Songs Jess from Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum (published April 5, 2016) would enjoy.

  1. Every Breath You Take” by The Police
    This song is all about his guy watching this girl with every breath she takes. She doesn’t know that he watches her or loves her. My character Jess has no idea this guy is watching her and she doesn’t know who he is.
  2. Miss You” by the Rolling Stones
    Jess misses her mother who died a year before and now she has to deal with the tragedy of her mom’s death. This song is all about missing someone who you once loved.
  3. Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne
    This song really symbols someone running out on themselves and my character Jess does the same thing. She feels like she can’t keep doing right anymore. She is mentally and morally running on empty.
  4. Somebody that I used to Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra
    Jess used to know her father but now he is a stranger she used to know.This song is about a lover realizing he used to know the woman he loved and now they are total strangers.
  5. I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
    Jess will always love her late mother even though she now has a step mom. No one will ever take her place no matter what. This song symbols loving someone even after they may be gone or out of your life or just a promise to always love them.
  6. American Girl” by Bonnie McKee
    If Jess was in a good mood she would love this song and would just jam out to it. Jess has a good life and she knows that and this song is all about being happy and embarrassing that “All American Girl”.
  7. Royals” by Lorde
    Jess is at a new school which means she is a target for the mean girls. They believe they are the “royals” of the school. Jess will prove them wrong and show them they are far from that. The song “Royals” shows that the popular or rich people aren’t anything that fancy or fantastic.
  8. That’s What Friends are For” by Dionne Warwick & Friends
    The title says it all. Jess had to leave her best friend and now make new friends at her new school. Jess believes her best friend will always have her back and be there for her.
  9. Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars
    This “SN” person keeps talking to Jess and making her enjoy her new life a little bit more. This song is perfect because this mysterious guy sees the real Jess and like her for who she is, not the way she looks.
  10. Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding
    Jess would relate to this because she wants someone to love her and to believe she is worthy of love. She isn’t the prettiest or smartest but she will find someone that loves her.

Thanks for sharing, Ally!

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Resources to Help Teens Choose a Career

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 07:00

It’s the time of year when many schools and groups focus on careers and career readiness. I don’t know about you, but I always felt dismay when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “What do you want to do for a job?” I think many teens feel the same pressure to choose, perhaps long before fully knowing themselves and their options. Here are some titles for considering the possibilities.

 

Careers: The Graphic Guide to Finding the Perfect Job for You by Sarah Pawlewski, consultant

In this one-volume, comprehensive guide, each career’s two-page spread includes what skills and interests would lead to this career, related careers (and their page numbers in the book), and something I’ve never seen in a career book, “The Realities.” For instance, the photographer realities are, “Many hours are spent editing photos rather than shooting. Networking and building a reputation are key to having a successful career.”

 

Encyclopedia of Careers and Vocational Guidance from Ferguson’s

This solid career reference set expands with each edition, including the changes brought about by social media and digital technology. Interested in different career tracks? Not sure what a job title means? There are over 820 different job descriptions here.

 

Occupational Outlook Handbook by the U.S. Department of Labor

Benefit from the very latest information on various jobs, straight from the source: the Department of Labor. The 2016-2017 version of the print book will be out on May 13, but the web site is a nice supplement for staying current between printings. (There is also a Young Person’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, from the publisher Jist Works, but its latest edition is from 2010.)

 

You got this!: Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path, and Change Your World by Maya Penn

Teen entrepreneur and activist Maya Penn shares her passion and ideas for helping other teens realize their own ambitions, get motivated, and change the world for the better, with anecdotes and suggested activities.

 

 

What Color is your Parachute? For Teens, Third Edition: Discover Yourself, Design Your Future, and Plan for your Dream Job by Carol Christen

This perennial favorite is updated and focused on helping high school and college students discover their skills, interests, passions, college majors, and best-matched jobs.

 

Online Resources can also be of help for teens thinking about their future careers. 

What are your go-to resources for career exploration? Let me know if I’ve missed any in the comments!

—Rebecca O’Neil, currently listening to Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin

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Election Resources for Teens

Thu, 05/05/2016 - 07:00

Whether working in a public or an academic setting, or simply getting out in the community, yard signs and political ads bombard our lives during this election year. So how do we help teens navigate the serious issues, avoid bias, and understand the importance of voting?

By providing a variety of sources and creating an environment where teens can both ask questions in a safe environment and obtain accurate, and updated, information. In other words, we keep it professional and try to keep the teens respectful. We remain a library, a classroom, and professional. Here are some helpful election tools for your teens to learn about the election process and this year’s candidates.

CC image via Flickr user Michael Fleshman

 

Rock the Vote

Rock the vote is the “largest nonprofit and nonpartisan organization” where teens can register to vote, demystifying the myths of what is needed to vote ahead of and on voting day for each state. Celebrities and musicals of various genres are used heavily as PR tools. The goal is to get youth to the polls.

I Side With

I Side With provides a 10 minute quiz that covers foreign policy, environmental issues, social issues, domestic policy, and more. What makes this unlike any other quiz and far better than other quizzes is the depth of each question (Tip: expand each section for additional questions so that you take the full quiz). Don’t feel pressure to know all the topics, the I Side With quiz is prepared to help the most uninformed or confused quiz taker. There is a box in which the issue is explained in a lengthy summary should you need. I was a little surprised at the small percentage difference between my results.

Ted-Ed: Lessons Worth Sharing

This Ted-Ed video explains the Electoral College in a quick, informative layout of a Ted Talk.  Ted Ed offers lessons from professionals with the entertainment of animators. In this video, teens can learn the difference between the Popular Vote and the Electoral College and how different states have different levels of importance.

Our Time

Our Time focuses on issues important to teens. The contributors are a vast group of individuals and partners focused on the issues that matter to the youth of America. They identify as “pro-generational” focusing on the majority views of their generation without focusing on political parties. They use the news, trends, and statistics to choose what to cover. If it’s in the public eye or on social media, they will cover it.

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch covers human rights issues on a global scale.  Human Rights are a local and international issue. Candidates vary in opinions on issues such as the Syrian Refugee, LGTB issues, and National Security. Teens can search by issues or countries, can read for personal use or school use, and they will learn about foreign policies and basic human rights issues on a global scale.

Five Thirty Eight

Five Thirty Eight offers statistics on politics (and sports). Whether you care about primaries or the NBA playoffs, any stats fan or people who want knowledge at a quick glance, will enjoy the instant gratification of this site. There is also an Election Podcast if people prefer. No need to go to the website in that case, just search “fivethirtyeight” in your podcast app.

Real Clear Politics
With Real Clear Politics, politics and recent news are covered on a daily basis.  From primary results, interviews, and any news worth reporting, contributing articles are gathered from a variety of newspapers, magazines, and reporters.  It’s a bit overwhelming at first, but the layout separates topics by clear subjects so it can also be a quick reference.  There are also other Real Clear sites: Books, Religion, Health, Science, Market, Technology, and Education.

—Sarah Carnahan, currently reading A School For Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin and The Girl With the Wrong Name by Barnabas Miller

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Reading Star Wars Legends

Wed, 05/04/2016 - 11:00

With the announcement that Disney had purchased the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas, everyone got excited about the possibility of new content and story lines breathing life back into the franchise. It’s safe to say that The Force Awakens did that very thing as it made an approximate billion trillion dollars at the box office in December.

Now we’ve got new main narrative films in the pipeline and cool one-shot movies like Rogue One coming out. (I dare you to try to tell me you watched that trailer without drooling. You can’t. Trust me.) And we’ve also got new books just released or soon to be released connecting the movie stories together.

There are more than just these three obviously, with plenty more slated to come. These are just the ones I’m particularly excited about reading. Naturally, the folks at Disney had to come up with something to do with all of the books that had been written about what happened after Return of the Jedi. The most recent “non-canon” series showed Luke, Leia, and Han well into their sixties. Ultimately, the decision was made to cast these books as Star Wars “Legends.” Kind of like when comic book writers write a super hero’s story that is way different than the hero’s typical narrative and everyone just sort of labels it as something that “could happen” or something that happened in an alternate timeline or reality. Superman: Red Son is an example that comes to mind, where Superman actually ends up landing in Russia instead of Kansas and his whole story is changed based on that scenario.

All in all, Disney wanted to be able to move forward in their own direction with this franchise which is why they made the move. Maybe that will turn you off from reading any of the Star Wars Legends books, but if you make that choice, I think you’ll be missing out. There are some really cool characters and story lines out there and who knows? It’s quite possible that future stories will showcase characters and plot lines from these books. I already think that’s happening with Kylo Ren’s character and a character from one of the series mentioned below. So my recommendation is to read all the new Star Wars books coming out (naturally) but to also delve into these “Legends” and see how/if Disney adapts some of these stories.

Here are some interesting characters that are either introduced or expounded upon in Star Wars Legends novels:

 

Grand Admiral Thrawn – With the loss of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, an effectively intimidating character was needed to provide an antagonist for Han, Luke, and Leia. Luckily for Star Wars fans, Timothy Zahn stepped into the gap and wrote what is still often considered one of the best Post-Return of the Jedi book series. A trilogy comprised of the novels Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command introduced readers to Thrawn, a tactical genius who takes over the remnants of the Empire to battle the “New Republic” that Han and the Skywalker siblings are trying to establish. Thrawn is quite different from Vader or Palpatine but no less dangerous.

Boba Fett – Everyone loves Boba Fett despite his lack of actual lines in the Star Wars movies and the fact that he meets a less than exciting end in Return of the Jedi. K.W. Jeter’s The Bounty Hunter Wars details Boba Fett’s escape from the Sarlacc’s stomach, as well as some of his interactions with other jobs and bounty hunters prior to his stay at Jabba’s Palace depicted in the movie.

Another great Fett story line lies in the Legacy of the Force series (various authors). Tensions arise when Boba Fett becomes the leader of the Mandalorians and a member of his family is killed by a Solo. That whole series is great but Boba Fett’s character makes it particularly interesting.

Mara Jade – A strong female character was added to the universe with the addition of Mara Jade. Formerly a pupil of Emperor Palpatine, she leaves the service of the Empire and is introduced in the aforementioned Thrawn series. She eventually becomes a jedi and plays an important role in later book series including Legacy of the Force and even marries a well-known character from the movies.

Jacen Skywalker – One of three children Han and Leia have in the Legends universe, Jacen has a twin sister named Jaina and a younger brother named Anakin. The Skywalker children play a big role in a lot of different series including Young Jedi Knights (Kevin J. Andersen), The New Jedi Order (assorted authors), and Legacy of the Force. Jacen’s character arc is maybe the most interesting as he learns more and more about the Force. He begins to see stop seeing issues as black and white and this eventually leads him down a dangerous path. The character of Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens definitely had a lot of inspiration from this character.

So if you’re waiting in eager anticipation for new Star Wars stories and have never had the opportunity to delve into some of the Legends, I highly recommend it. You may find some similarities to the new movie(s) that you didn’t expect. But be warned, you may also find some stories you hope that Disney will use as well!

What are some of the new Star Wars books you’re most looking forward to reading?

— Ethan Evans, currently reading Star Wars: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray and listening to Dark Places by Gillian Flynn whenever he’s driving somewhere

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What Would They Read?: Rey from Star Wars The Force Awakens

Wed, 05/04/2016 - 07:00

As we celebrate a beloved series and await the next installment, let’s explore some fantastic reads for our newest favorite heroine, Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Here are some great books, new and old, that I would recommend to Rey if she came into the library during her breaks from lightsaber training and flying the Millennium Falcon.

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

Emilia and Tio, adopted siblings and best friends, are budding young pilots who are caught on opposing sides of a war to control Ethiopia, the last unconquered African country. This is an engaging historical fiction pilot story for Rey, who would have no trouble drawing parallels between herself and Tio, who is captured by the Italians and doing his best to escape, and her friend Finn with Tio’s sister Emilia, who follows after to help save him.

Breaking Sky by Cori McCarthy

In the near future, daring pilot Chase Harcourt flies one of two elite prototype jets in a race to save the United States from a deadly cold war with China. Rey would love this book because Chase is a superbly gifted pilot, just like Rey, who also finds herself on the forefront of a battle between two great powers.

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (2013 Margaret A. Edwards Award)

Alanna is a young girl determined to be a knight, so she trades places with her twin brother, pretends to be a boy, and enlists as a page. Alanna discovers her magic and her true identity which continues in a four-volume series. Akin to Alanna, Rey is discovering her connection to the Force as well as the secrets of her past. I think Rey would enjoy reading Alanna grow up from a stubborn young woman to a strong knight determined to protect her kingdom and break cultural barriers.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Beginning an epic dystopian trilogy, Ruby is sent away by her family to a containment camp for children with special abilities but manages to escape. Together with other runaways, Ruby searches for safety and the means to find her family while being chased by the military, bounty hunters, and an undercover rebellion. Since Rey’s family left her on Jakku and she’s waiting for them to return for her, Rey would identify with Ruby’s determination to be hopeful, even in the face of failure, to find her family and learn that maybe her friends can also be a type of family.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2016 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults,2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012 Teens’ Top Ten)

First in the Lunar Chronicles series, orphan and gifted mechanic Cinder sacrifices her chances at freedom to bring Prince Kai his android, secretly harboring vital information designed to thwart the Lunar queen Levana from ruling the Empire. Rey, too, has a penchant for helping droids and would love the opportunity to read about brilliant and noble Cinder and her later adventures.

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Orphan and former criminal Solara wants to find a new life, buying her way onto a ship run by an old classmate and enemy, Doran. When he discovers her, a series of events land them on a smuggling ship, the Banshee, and chased by galaxy police. Though opposite from her own background, Rey can still relate to Solara who wants to leave from a bad situation, and enjoy this exciting space pirate odyssey sure to kindle excitement.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (2012 Alex Award)

Orphaned Wade lives a harsh existence in a slum but is a gifted gamer. Together with a small group of friends, he begins a virtual quest for a vast fortune which pits him against a powerful organization. Since Rey can relate to surviving a hard life, this journey of an unlikely hero might find her interest.

Lastly, since Rey viewed Han Solo and General Leia Organa as fascinating legends of her world, she might also like reading the adventures of their imagined children.

Young Jedi Knights: Heirs of the Force by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta

Jedi trainees Jacen and Jaina Solo, Lowbacca, Tenel Ka and the droid Em Teedee discover a wrecked TIE fighter and run into the fighter’s wrecked pilot who has been in hiding waiting for his chance to fight again.

May the 4th be with you!

— Kara Hunter, currently reading Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare and Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch

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Women in Comics: 2016 Eisner Award Nominations

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 07:00

It’s that time of year again! The 2016 Eisner Award nominations have been announced and the list includes a ton of great female creators. So many, in fact, that there are too many for a single post. Rather than try to talk about all of these great comics, this post focuses on the nominees that will have the greatest appeal among teens and other fans of young adult literature.

Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover has once again earned a double nomination in both Best Digital/Webcomic and Best Continuing Series. This is an extremely fun series that follows a thief with a heart of gold on her adventures. Two volumes are currently available, Presto! (which was on YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels 2014 list) and Stealers Keepers! Also on the list for a second year in a row is Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona, which is nominated in the Best Graphic Album-Reprint. This one also qualifies for the currently ongoing 2016 Hub Challenge, so check it out now if you are participating!

Also nominated in the Best Continuing Series category is Giant Days by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Max Sarin, a series that follows a group of friends through their lives at college. The irreverent and off-beat stories are hugely entertaining and have so far been collected in two volumes. For more college adventures, but with a superhero twist, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson, which was nominated for Best New Series, follows Doreen Green as she tries to balance her life as a secret superhero with college life.

This year’s nominees in both the Best Publication for Kids (9-12) and the Best Publication for Teens (13-17) include a wealth of great titles by women, all of which are well worth checking out. Of particular note, Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola with art by Emily Carroll is an updated take on the Baba Yaga folk tale and is sure to appeal to those who enjoy creepy artwork and a modern take on familiar stories. Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova is also a great book that will have wide appeal. It tells the universal story of trying to fit in and make friends at a new school. Fans of This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki will also be excited to see that Mariko Tamaki’s newest work, SuperMutant Magic Academy has been nominated. These offbeat comics are all set at a boarding school that is slightly reminiscent of Hogwarts, but even more weird and hilarious.

In the category of Best U.S. Edition of International Material-Asia, both A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Oima and A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori made the list. These series have both earned YALSA recognition in the past as well and should definitely be in your Manga collection. As an added bonus, A Silent Voice qualifies for the 2016 Hub Challenge, so you have no excuse not to start reading it now!

Older teens will find plenty of interest amongst this year’s nominations as well. Lady Killer by Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich brings a 1960’s style to the world of assassins. And, it just so happens, that the particular assassin in question is a housewife whose family has no idea about her extracurricular activities. Unabashedly violent and extremely engaging, Lady Killer’s nomination for Best Limited Series is well deserved. For those who prefer realistic stories and memoirs, Lucy Knisley’s Displacement, which is the moving story of a vacation that Knisley took with her grandparents, has been nominated for Best Lettering.

In addition to these categories, new members will be inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame at this year’s ceremony. Tova Jansson, the famed Finnish cartoonist who created the Moomin strips, has been selected as one of the Judge’s Choice candidates, who will be automatically inducted. Beyond this, Eisner voters have also nominated a number of possible inductees including Lynda Barry, Francoise Mouly, and Rumiko Takahashi. Lynda Barry is the creator of Ernie Pook’s Comeek and a well-known educator on creativity who has written a number of books on the topic including Syllabus, a book that is sure to fascinate anyone interested in teaching creativity. Francoise Mouly is an editor and publisher who, with her husband Art Spiegelman, launched Raw magazine which would go on to publish Spiegelman’s Maus. Rumiko Takahashi is probably best known in the U.S. for Ranma 1/2, but U.S. fans may not know that she is considered “the bestselling female comics artist in history” with her work sold all around the world.

Picture of The Moomins by Tove Jansson.

Whether you are a long time comic fan or new to the format, these books are all great additions to your to-be-read list. Who’s read some of them already? Let me know which are your favorites in the comments!

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Month in Review: April 2016

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 08:00

Here at The Hub we hope you all are getting in the swing of spring! Here are some highlights of posts at The Hub and around the web of interest to library workers serving teens.

At the Hub:

Books and Reading:

Teens and Librarianship:

-Emily Childress-Campbell, currently reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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It’s Your (Monthly) Monday Poll: May

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 07:00

Happy first Monday of May, Hub readers!

Last month, we asked which series finale or next installment you’re most looking forward to this spring, and Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven King was the favorite by a landslide (48% of the vote!). Tied for second were The Crown, Kiera Cass’ final book in the Selection series, and The Last Star, the final book of Rick Yancey’s 5th Wave trilogy, with 16% percent each. A Court of Mist and Fury was a close third, with 14%, and The Rose and the Dagger had 8% of the vote.

Today we’re going to revisit a poll theme from several years ago: your favorite YA siblings, updated with some more recently-published characters. Did we leave out your favorite siblings? Tell us in the comments!

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

-Carly Pansulla, currently re-reading The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (yes, I did flip back to the first page as soon I finished my first fevered read-through).

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2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #14

Sun, 05/01/2016 - 07:00

Not signed up yet for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm EST on June 23, so sign up now!

 

I’m feeling a little shocked that it’s May already (I work in a school; crunch-time is descending!), but there are still over seven weeks of reading time left in this year’s Hub Reading Challenge, and I’ve got lots of titles I’m hoping to fit in before June 23rd.

Lately, I’ve read the latest Ms. Marvel installments (Vol. 3: Crushed, from the 2016 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten list, and Vol. 4: Last Days as well, which is not for the Hub 2016 Reading Challenge, but I really really love Ms. Marvel, so I’m planning to keep reading the series as long as G. Willow Wilson is writing them). I also finally got my hands on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (this year’s Morris Award Winner), and am half-way through The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds, a 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book.

 

Ms. Marvel continues to delight me because of its many progressive (and sometimes very meta) components. We’ve got a female superhero whose physical form is not mega-sexualized in the artwork, an origin story that nods cheekily to fandoms and the way they inform and influence what becomes canon, an American protagonist whose Muslim faith is prominently and positively portrayed as the source of her strong moral compass, a teenager whose relationship with her family is both fraught and deeply loving, and genuinely action-packed storylines. Plus, jokes. It’s been fun to see the characters reach new depths as we get to know them better, and watching Kamala try to survive her first real crush and save the day (again) was equal parts hilarious and tender.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda follows Simon through several months of turmoil when a classmate sees  – and takes screenshots of – his anonymous emails with another guy, which are decidedly flirtatious in nature. Simon isn’t out. The classmate suggests Simon help set him up with a girl Simon is close friends with; it feels like blackmail. Simon’s voice in this was direct, funny, and endearing, and I hadn’t previously realized it was set in my current city-of-residence (Atlanta), so there were some fun local elements for me. I’m happy to have read this, and be able to book-talk it (I’ll be targeting my theater students, as much of the novel’s drama unfolded parallel to Simon’s musical rehearsals).

I’m currently reading* The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds, and have been struck by the quiet but implacable power of grief propelling the novel along. Our protagonist, Matt, is clearly hurting (he’s just lost his mother), and I’ve been very moved by Reynolds’ depiction of the ways Matt can acknowledge his pain, to himself and others, and the ways he just can’t yet. Equally compelling is the strong sense of place in this work; Matt’s neighbors know him, and he knows them, and the specific intimacy of community – when it holds you up, when maybe it feels too close – is very effectively drawn. I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes.

What have you been reading for the Challenge lately? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and join the conversation on social media; look for the #hubchallenge on InstagramTwitter, and our Goodreads group. If you’ve finished the Challenge, a) bravo! and b) fill out this form.

-Carly Pansulla, currently reading The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

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SYNC Audiobooks for Teens

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 07:00

The SYNC Audiobooks for Teens program, sponsored by AudioFile Magazine, and powered by OverDrive, will start next week on May 5th to give teens, librarians and educators the opportunity  to download a selection of free audiobooks during a 15-week program that ends on August 17, 2016.

Each week, SYNC offers a thematic pairing of  two YA books or a YA book with an classic adult book. You must download the Overdrive app to the device of your choice to access the audiobooks each Thursday after 7 pm (EST). Each week’s selections are only available for download for one week, so if you don’t download them during that time period, you won’t be able to get them later, since they aren’t archived. Teens, librarians, club leaders, and educators can sign up for email or text alerts to receive reminders of when they’re available.

Many of the selections are award-winners or titles frequently assigned for summer reading. They are notable for their excellent narration that enables readers to master the listening skills so necessary for literacy. During the summer of 2015, the SYNC program gave away more than 129,000 downloads to 41,000 participants.

With the continued discussions of the loss of reading skills over the summer, SYNC hopes to help keep teens engaged and stimulated throughout the summer. Public librarians have also used SYNC as part of their summer reading programs.

SYNC has a toolkit you can use to publicize it to teens and other librarians by going to their website. There are downloadable posters and a brochure with the list of each week’s audiobooks, and even audio snippets of the books you can listen to.

I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to listen to books I may not have read, or adult books I wouldn’t normally listen to. I really love that they’re free and that I can keep them forever once I’ve downloaded them. I’ve only participated over the past three or so years. Since this is the seventh year of the program, I’ve missed out on a lot of great audios! So you don’t miss out like I did, the list of what’s available is here, with annotations from WorldCat. You can also go to SYNC’s website to see the list too.

VIVIAN APPLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Katie Coyle (Dreamscape Media) 

Sixteen-year-old Vivian Apple returns home after the alleged ‘Rapture’ to find her devout parents gone and two mysterious holes in the roof. Vivian never believed in the Rapture, or the uber powerful Church of America. Now that she has been left behind, Vivan’s quest for the truth begins.

WITH

THE GREAT TENNESSEE MONKEY TRIAL by Peter Goodchild (L.A. Theatre Works) 

Presents a dramatization of the Scope Trial in a small-town Tennessee courtroom in 1925 which set the stage for the ongoing national debate over freedom of inquiry and the separation of church and state in a democratic society.

 

THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER by Melinda Salisbury (Scholastic Audio)

For four years sixteen-year-old Twylla has lived in the castle of Lormere, the goddess-embodied, whose touch can poison and kill, and hence the Queen’s executioner–but when Prince Merek, her betrothed, who is immune to her touch returns to the kingdom she finds herself caught up in palace intrigues, unsure if she can trust him or the bodyguard who claims to love her.

WITH

DIVINE COLLISION: AN AFRICAN BOY, AN AMERICAN LAWYER, AND THEIR REMARKABLE BATTLE FOR FREEDOM by Jim Gash (Oasis Audio)

Los Angeles lawyer and law professor, Jim Gash, tells the amazing true story of how, after a series of God-orchestrated events, he finds himself in the heart of Africa defending a courageous Ugandan boy languishing in prison and wrongfully accused of two separate murders. Ultimately, their unlikely friendship and unrelenting persistence reforms Uganda’s criminal justice system, leaving a lasting impact on hundreds of thousands of lives and unearthing a friendship that supersedes circumstance, culture and the walls we often hide behind.

100 SIDEWAYS MILES by Andrew Smith (Tantor Media) (2015 Best Books for Young Adults)

Finn Easton, sixteen and epileptic, struggles to feel like more than just a character in his father’s cult-classic novels with the help of his best friend, Cade Hernandez, and first love, Julia, until Julia moves away.

 

WITH

THIS BOY’S LIFE by Tobias Wolff (Highbridge Audio)

Wolff’s account of his boyhood and the process of growing up includes paper routes, whiskey, scouting, fistfights, friendship, and betrayal in 1950s America.

 

 

EVERY LAST WORD by Tamara Ireland Stone (Ideal Audiobooks) 

Consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off, a girl coping with Purely-Obsessional OCD learns to accept herself and take control of her life through her experiences in poetry club.

 

WITH

EGG & SPOON by Gregory Maguire (Brilliance Audio) (2015 Best Books for Young Adults)

In 1905 czarist Russia, an impoverished country girl Elena and the aristocratic Ekaterina meet and set in motion an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and the witch Baba Yaga.

 

WORDS IN THE DUST by Trent Reedy (Scholastic Audio)                                   

Zulaikha, a thirteen-year-old girl in Afghanistan, faces a series of frightening but exhilarating changes in her life as she defies her father and secretly meets with an old woman who teaches her to read, her older sister gets married, and American troops offer her surgery to fix her disfiguring cleft lip.

 

WITH

THE BOY BORN DEAD: A STORY OF FRIENDSHIP, COURAGE, AND TRIUMPH by David Ring, David Wideman, John Driver (christianaudio) 

In 1953, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, a baby boy was born–dead. The attending physician set his little body aside and tended to his mother for eighteen minutes. Now, more than sixty years later, that boy leads an internationally known ministry that encourages hundreds of thousands every year. The Boy Born Dead traces the roots of this harrowing, humorous, and heartfelt story … the real-life events of David Ring.

 

ZAC AND MIA by A.J. Betts (Dreamscape Media)

The last person Zac expects in the room next door is a girl like Mia, angry and feisty with questionable taste in music. In the real world, he wouldn’t–couldn’t–be friends with her. In hospital different rules apply, and what begins as a knock on the wall leads to a note–then a friendship neither of them sees coming.

WITH

I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson (Brilliance Audio) (2015 Michael L. Printz Award, 2015 Best Books for Young Adults)

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways … until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else — an even more unpredictable new force in her life.

 

HOW IT WENT DOWN by Kekla Magoon (Recorded Books) (2015 Best Books for Young Adults)

When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot to death, his community is thrown into an uproar because Tariq was black and the shooter, Jack Franklin, is white, and in the aftermath everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events agree.

 

WITH

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN EX-COLORED MAN by James Weldon Johnson (Tantor Media)

In James Weldon Johnson’s emotionally gripping and poignant look into race relations, a half-white half-black man of very light complexion must chose between his heritage and the art that he loves and the ability to escape the inherent racism that he faces by passing as a white.


BOY MEETS BOY
by David Levithan (Full Cast Audio) (2016 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner)

When Paul falls hard for Noah, he thinks he has found his one true love, but when Noah walks out of his life, Paul has to find a way to get him back and make everything right once more.

 

WITH

DONNY’S BRAIN by Rona Munro (L.A. Theatre Works) 

The acclaimed Scottish playwright Rona Munro has created a remarkable story about a man who wakes up from a car crash with brain damage. Now, he sees the world as the person he was three years ago, when his life and loves were in a very different place.

 

THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA: THE SECRETS BEHIND WHAT YOU EAT, YOUNG READERS EDITION by Michael Pollan (Listening Library)

In a smart, compelling format with updated facts, plenty of photos, graphs, and visuals, this book encourages kids to consider the personal and global health implications of their food choices.

 

WITH

GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE by Andrew Smith (Listening Library) (2015 Printz Honor Winner)

Austin Szerba narrates the end of humanity as he and his best friend Robby accidentally unleash an army of giant, unstoppable bugs and uncover the secrets of a decades-old experiment gone terribly wrong.

 

THE YOUNG WORLD by Chris Weitz (Hachette Audio)

Jefferson, with his childhood friend Donna, leads a tribe of teenagers in New York City on a dangerous quest to find an antidote for a mysterious illness that wiped out all adults and children.

 

WITH

SYMPHONY FOR THE CITY OF THE DEAD:DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH AND THE SIEGE OF LENINGRAD by M. T. Anderson (Brilliance Audio) (2016 YALSA Excellence in NF Award finalist)

National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson delivers a brilliant and riveting account of the Siege of Leningrad during World War II and the role played by Russian composer Shostakovich and his Leningrad Symphony.

 

FAT ANGIE by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo (Brilliance Audio)

Fat Angie’s sister was captured in Iraq, she’s the resident laughingstock at school, and her therapist tells her to count instead of eat. Can a daring new girl in her life really change anything?

 

WITH

ON THE JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta (Bolinda) (2009 Michael L. Printz Award)

Taylor Markham is now a senior at the Jellicoe School, and has been made leader of the boarders. She is responsible for keeping the upper hand in the territory wars with the townies, and the cadets who camp on the edge of the school’s property over summer. She has to keep her students safe and the territories enforced and to deal with Jonah Griggs, the leader of the cadets and someone she’d rather forget. But what she needs to do, more than anything, is unravel the mystery of her past and find her mother who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road six years before.


MANDELA: AN AUDIO HISTORY
by Nelson Mandela (Highbridge Audio)

The award-winning radio series documenting the struggle against apartheid through intimate first-person accounts of Nelson Mandela himself, as well as those who fought with him, and against him.

 

WITH

THINGS FALL APART by Chinua Achebe (Recorded Books) 

First published in 1958, this novel tells the story of Okonkwo, the leader of an Igbo (Ibo) community who is banished for accidentally killing a clansman. The novel covers the seven years of his exile to his return, providing an inside view of the intrusion of white missionaries and colonial government into tribal Igbo society in the 1890s.

 

JUBA! A NOVEL by Walter Dean Myers (HarperAudio)

In Five Points, New York, in the 1840s, African American teenager William Henry “Juba” Lane works hard to achieve his dream of becoming a professional dancer but his real break comes when he is invited to perform in England. Based on the life of Master Juba; includes historical note.

 

WITH

PENNIES FOR HITLER by Jackie French (Bolinda)

It’s 1939, and for Georg, son of an English academic living in Germany, life is full of cream cakes and loving parents. It is also a time when his teacher measures the pupils’ heads to see which of them have the most ‘Aryan’ shaped heads. But when a university graduation ceremony turns into a pro-Nazi demonstration, Georg is smuggled out of Germany to war-torn London and then across enemy seas to Australia where he must forget his past and who he is in order to survive. Hatred is contagious, but Georg finds that kindness can be, too.


THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS
by Cristina Henríquez (Penguin Random House Audio)

Arturo and Alma Rivera have lived their whole lives in Mexico. One day, their beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, sustains a terrible injury, one that casts doubt on whether she’ll ever be the same. And so, leaving all they have behind, the Riveras come to America with a single dream: that in this country of great opportunity and resources, Maribel can get better. When Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panama, sees Maribel in a Dollar Tree store, it is love at first sight. It’s also the beginning of a friendship between the Rivera and Toro families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at this novel’s core.

WITH

MOST DANGEROUS:DANIEL ELLSBERG AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE VIETNAM WAR by Steve Sheinkin (Listening Library) (2016 YALSA Excellence in NF Award)

From Steve Sheinkin, the award-winning author of “The Port Chicago 50” and “Bomb “comes a tense, exciting exploration of what the Times deemed “the greatest story of the century”: how Daniel Ellsberg transformed from obscure government analyst into “the most dangerous man in America,” and risked everything to expose the government’s deceit.

 

BONE GAP by Laura Ruby (HarperAudio) (2016 Michael Printz Award winner; 2016 Best Books for Young Adults & 2016 Top Teen Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Eighteen-year-old Finn, an outsider in his quiet Midwestern town, is the only witness to the abduction of town favorite Roza, but his inability to distinguish between faces makes it difficult for him to help with the investigation, and subjects him to even more ridicule and bullying.

WITH

CLASSIC AMERICAN SHORT STORIES by Jack London, Ambrose Bierce, Stephen Crane, Kate Chopin, James Fenimore Cooper, Mark Twain, and O. Henry (Naxos AudioBooks)

Represented here are 16 short stories by seven great American writers, dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

 

Sharon Rawlins — currently reading The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

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