“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” It is one of the most common cliches in existence. And yet, during my trip to the UK this summer, I found myself doing just that. Books that I had already seen in the U.S. (or in some cases, already owned) looked so much more appealing with the covers that were designed for the UK. This made me ask several questions:
- Why were different covers designed for the UK and the U.S., particularly given that the text itself was almost always identical?
- What was it about the UK design sensibility that I liked?
- Was I alone in my preference?
- And, of course most importantly, how many books could I reasonably bring back in my suitcase?
Being a librarian, I tried to jump into research mode, but the question of why designs differ seems to be almost impossible to definitively answer. A 2010 article in The Guardian tackled this exact question, albeit with more of a focus on translated versions of books, and found those in the industry who cited both attempts to appeal to different cultures and the simple fact that the practice had “certainly become the norm.” Sometimes the answer might be more straightforward, such as the author having a different publisher in each of the countries. Overall though, there doesn’t appear to be a single, clear reason for all the redesigns.
As for the next two questions, I think I was able to find at least a partial answer in Authors Are Rockstars! interview of Sarah J. Maas (thanks to Allison Tran for bringing the interview to my attention!). In the interview, Maas talks a bit about the U.S. and UK covers for her first book, Throne of Glass (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults). When the book was originally published in the U.S. and the UK, two different covers were used. In the U.S., the cover focused on a very realistic, close up portrait of a blonde female in a fairly static position while the UK edition featured a more stylized drawing of a female in a more active pose. Fans in the U.S. preferred the UK cover so much that the UK cover was brought to the U.S. for the paperback edition and subsequent books in the series have used a similar cover style.
This interview not only suggests that I am not the only one who, at least occasionally, prefers the UK covers, but it also made me realize that frequently (but not always), the covers I preferred in the UK tended to be more stylized drawings and/or had more of a focus on the text of the title as opposed to using photos or photo-realistic portraits.
As for the final question about how many books I could reasonably bring back with me, the answer proved to be not nearly as many as I wanted to, but I did manage to take or find pictures of several books with different covers in the U.S. and the UK. Check out the side-by-side comparisons below and let me know in the comments which version you prefer!
Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.
I remember sitting in the audience at the 2007 Michael L. Printz Award ceremony at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington D.C. and waiting a little more impatiently, and with a little more anticipation than normal, for the program to start. There were a couple of reasons for this, sure, but in large part it was because I couldn’t wait to hear what Gene Luen Yang had to say. I’d just read American Born Chinese, the first ever graphic novel to be awarded the Printz, and, like the committee, was blown away by the combination of social commentary, Chinese mythology, and American pop culture. Plus, as an ardent fan of comics and graphic novels, I was really thrilled to see his work recognized.
His speech was so worth waiting for. Not only did it educate and entertain, it also surprised me (“Two years ago, I photocopied and stapled individual chapters of American Born Chinese to sell by the dozen at comic book conventions, usually to personal friends or my mom. Today, I’m standing here in front of you.” Seriously?!) and offered one of my favorite library-related warnings: “You librarians are all that stand in the way of the entire world turning into one big, no-holds-barred MySpace discussion board.” I highly recommend you read the entire speech.
Since then I’ve snapped up each new work, and I know I’m not alone. Boxers and Saints? I mean, wow. Just so freaking good. And now we have The Shadow Hero, which is so cool in every direction and way possible. If you haven’t yet, go read them. Probably now.
Thank you so much, Gene, for taking the time to talk to me and for your good humor and thoughtfulness. I’ve been waiting a little more impatiently, and with a little more anticipation than normal, for this interview.
Always Something There to Remind Me
Please describe your teenage self.
I was a standard-issue nerd. I had asthma. My nose was always stuffed up. I read comic books and programmed computers. I couldn’t catch a ball to save my life.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
When I was really little, I wanted to be a Disney animator. I loved stories and I loved drawing. Animation seemed like a natural way to bring them together.
After I began collecting comics in the fifth grade, I felt torn. Did I want to become an animator or a comic book creator? I eventually drifted towards comics. I wasn’t old enough to know that the animation industry offered things like regular paychecks and health insurance, but I could still sense my parents’ disappointment. They weren’t all that thrilled about my dream of becoming an animator, but when I told them I wanted to be a cartoonist? Man. I might as well have kicked my old man in the stomach.
What were your high school years like?
Overall, I was pretty happy in high school. Sure, I had my share of sleepless nights. I got stressed out about grades and romance and finding my place in the world. I experienced the crushing oppression of the high school social hierarchy. I suffered bouts of crippling self-doubt.
But when I think back to those years, I remember the fun. I remember hanging out with my friends, playing mahjong late into the night. I remember being really proud of this t-shirt design I did for school. And I remember making the pilgrimage to our local comic book store every Friday to check out that week’s releases.
Mr. Matsuoka, who taught me computer science, had a huge influence on me. He was a great teacher, but he was also my first Asian American male teacher—really, my first Asian American male role model. He had a dignity about him that made you trust him. He spoke with authority. I remember feeling really comfortable in his class, like I belonged, but not knowing why. I had an easier time speaking up and asking questions in his classroom than anywhere else on campus.
What were some of your passions during that time?
I did sports, but because I couldn’t catch a ball to save my life, I was limited to sports that didn’t involve balls. I ran cross country and did high jump. I was terrible at both.
Most of my reading outside class was comics. Peter David was on a tear in The Incredible Hulk. Neil Gaiman was weaving modern mythology in The Sandman. Kitchen Sink was reintroducing the public to the brilliance of Will Eisner’s The Spirit. And in the Disney Duck comics, Don Rosa proved month after month that you can indeed create art with corporate-owned characters.
We read a lot of great books for class, but the one that sticks out was Richard Wright’s Black Boy in tenth grade English. I felt the truth beneath Wright’s words, and it was a scary sort of truth. I feel the same way about many modern autobio comics: Chester Brown’s I Never Liked You, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, David Small’s Stitches. They’re works that require a lot of courage. I’m not brave enough to do something like that yet.
I ended high school on a Richard Wright kick and did my senior paper on The Native Son.
Would you be willing to share a difficult teen experience or challenge that you feel shaped the adult you became?
At the end of my senior year, my first girlfriend and I broke up. It was rough, much rougher than I’d expected. We tried to remain friends because we went to the same college, but it ended up drawing things out for me. Sometimes you need a clean break. It doesn’t mean the other person isn’t important to you. It just means that it’s time to move on.
I learned a lot from that experience about relationships, my own weaknesses, and how my family history shapes who I am. I learned that everyone goes through rejection. Rejection doesn’t define you. It’s just a part of life. That understanding came into play later, when I started looking for a publisher.
I’ve been happily married for almost a decade and a half now. I really believe my wife and I have a successful relationship in part because of what we learned from our past romantic relationships. Every time something ends, it’s an opportunity for growth.
What about a positive experience or accomplishment that had an impact on your adult self?
I already told you that I was a horrible cross-country runner. I regularly came in last at meets. When I was a senior, I never once outran any of the freshmen.
Even so, I stuck it out. I enjoyed hanging out with my teammates, which helped a lot. But through cross-country I learned how to persist even it feels like I’m really bad at something.
I’d always considered myself good at drawing, but after entering the comic book industry and meeting many, many amazing cartoonists, I’ve come to realize that I’m an average illustrator at best. Because of cross country, I knew how to persist even when it felt like I was behind. I knew how to keep going.
What advice, if any, would you give your teen self? Would your teen self have listened?
Don’t freak out so much. The vast majority of emergencies are not real emergencies.
My teenage self would have ignored that advice. I know because I am still freaking out too much as an adult.
Do you have any regrets about your teen years? Anything left undone or anything that might have been better left undone?
I wish I’d explored the world when it would’ve been easy to do so. I’ve lived my entire life in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s a beautiful place, but I have nothing to compare it to.
What, if anything, do you miss most about that time?
I had a general feeling of hope back then, like all of life was laid out before me waiting to be explored. I miss that.
Now that I’m in my forties, certain opportunities are no longer available. I’m still hopeful, but it’s a smaller, more defined sort of hope. Even so, I have to say that I’ve been pretty happy with my forties so far.Every Day I Write the Book
Can we talk about superheroes? “I’ve loved superheroes all my life,” you’ve said, and your most current book, The Shadow Hero, is a classic superhero origin story. You’ve talked about superheroes, the immigrant experience, and juggling dual identities in the past, as well as the place of superheroes in American culture. “Superheroes are about America. They were invented in America and they are most popular in America,” you wrote in a column for Tor.com. Could you talk a little about why and how superheroes are particularly American? What do you think makes a good superhero, from the creator and fan perspective? Do you have favorites or least favorites?
There’s something goofy and young and modern about putting on a brightly-colored costume and fighting for justice. And in the family of nations, America is definitely the goofy, young, modern kid. The superhero genre is an Americanized version of Old World heroic storytelling traditions. Superman, Spider-man, and Captain America are our Hercules, our Coyote, our Guan Yu. They combine today’s technology (yes, Spandex is a technology) with old, old human ideals.
What makes a great superhero? Same thing that makes anything great: Creativity. When talented creators play with the conventions of the genre, the results are usually pretty spectacular. Take a look at Mark Waid’s Irredeemable or the current She-Hulk series.
I love Spider-man and Batman, but I’ve always been especially drawn to the weirder, more obscure heroes. Mr. Miracle is a part of the DC Universe’s Fourth World. When he was a baby, his father traded him to a hellish prison planet as part of a peace agreement. He eventually escaped by training himself into the universe’s greatest escape artist. Such pathos!
Speaking of identities, you told NPR that your friend “author Marsha Qualey says that an equation lies at the heart of all YA: Power + Belonging = Identity” and that your stories could definitely be described that way. “My characters long for power and belonging because they’re figuring out their place in the world, their identities,” you’ve said. The process of constructing an identity and the “natural tension between the individual and the community” are thematic elements that run through much of your work, and I’m wondering if you could describe how the intersection of power and community and identity has played out in your own life and how that translates to the stories you’re drawn to tell?
We all go through this, but it plays out in an especially intense way for immigrants’ kids. We all want to distance ourselves from our parents, but when your parents are immigrants, you end up distancing yourself from an entire culture. But that culture is in you, it’s a part of who you are, it speaks to your subconscious and effects your decisions. You can’t get away from it, no matter how hard you try.
I went through a time when I felt incredibly embarrassed whenever my parents would speak to me in Chinese in public. I couldn’t stand it. I didn’t know where that feeling came from, but it was more than just the usual embarrassment teenagers have of their families. I was trying to get away from what made me different from the culture that surrounded me. I was rejecting a community that I’d never experienced firsthand, but that still had a claim on me.
Story is about tension, right? About conflict. Since I’ve felt the tension between me as an individual and my community so deeply, it often comes out in my stories.
On a slightly different note, I love the defense of pop culture on your website. “Pop culture isn’t frivolous,” you write, “it’s empowering. It gives meaning. It is, as G.K. Chesterton described the penny dreadfuls of his day, ‘the actual centre of a million flaming imaginations.’ When people feel powerless, they look for power in the stories that surround them.” It’s clear that you’re a fan of pop culture in general, and it would be great if you’d share some of your current passions with us. More than that, though, would you be willing to share some of the pop culture touchstones that have been really important to you through the years and talk about what made those particular stories or experiences resonate?
Right now, my wife and I are making our way through Downton Abbey. I generally hate stories about stuffy rich people, but that show is so well written. There are bits of dialog that make me jump out of my seat. The writers juxtapose the world upstairs with the servants’ world downstairs to brilliant effect.
I’m also a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. I have to watch them for my job because I’m writing the Airbender comics, but let’s be real: I would follow them anyway because they’re just that good. They blend Eastern and Western elements in such engaging ways. They explore Western coming-of-age milestones in a decidedly Eastern landscape.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles black-and-white comic came out when I was in sixth grade. It set off an explosion of creativity. Suddenly, my local comic shop was inundated with small press black-and-white books. A lot of it was bad, sure, but a lot of it was really good. For instance, Stan Sakai’s long-running comic book Usagi Yojimbo got its start in that era.
The Turtles pushed the boundaries of American comics, both as a storytelling medium and as a business. Years later when I was just starting off, my first comic book was published with a grant from the Xeric Foundation, an organization created by one of the creators of the Ninja Turtles.
Finally, you’ve described writing as “satisfying suffering” as the most painful part of making a comic for you, though it’s also “in the end, the most satisfying.” In another interview you talk about the process of determining how best to convey story or information—whether through words or pictures: “Whenever I’m doing a comic, always in the back of my mind I’m thinking…why is it a comic? Why does it have to be told in panels? Why can’t this be prose?” Could you talk a little about how you decide which elements of a story to write and which to draw? Has there ever been a particular scene or sequence where figuring out the art was as difficult as “figuring out the story?” Given that you’ve “played with the idea of doing something more hybrid,” as well, what are the odds of an illustrated novel—or even a straight up novel–written by Gene Yang? What are you working on next?
Words and images convey emotion differently. Words can be more subtle, while images can be more visceral. For instance, in American Born Chinese, I wanted to attack stereotypes through image because I wanted you to feel it in your gut. I wanted that discomfort to be visceral, to be a feeling that bypassed your brain. I don’t think those passages would’ve been as effective in prose.
I’ve experimented with hybrid storytelling. I haven’t yet done anything I’m satisfied with. It was suffering, but not the satisfying kind. Maybe someday.
Right now, I’m working on a graphic novel series aimed at middle schoolers. I’m collaborating with an amazing cartoonist named Mike Holmes, who’s most well-known for his work on the Bravest Warriors comic. We haven’t officially announced it yet, but it’ll be about the magic of computer programming. Coders are awesome and deserve their own comic.Just Can’t Get Enough
Question from Stephanie Kuehn: Hi, Gene. Congratulations on all of your success and on the release of The Shadow Hero. I grew up in the Bay Area and still live here with my family, and I believe the same is true of you, too. As a woman of color, I’ve always been aware of certain kinds of racism and prejudice, even in such a diverse, progressive place and a place that I dearly love. I wonder if you could speak to how the culture of the Bay Area—the good, the bad, the weird—has influenced your work.
You’re right about the Bay Area – it is good, bad, and weird. Many of my stories are about the intersection of Eastern and Western culture, and the Bay Area definitely embodies that. This area has gone through incredible cultural changes during my life time. In elementary school, I was one of just a handful of Asian American students. By high school, we were a sizable minority. Nowadays, that same high school is mostly Asian American. Transitions always bring tension, of course, both externally and internally. I try to capture some of that in my work.
Gene has contributed a question for the next author in the series, James Dashner. Watch for an interview with him coming soon!
Gene Luen Yang began publishing comic books under the name Humble Comics in 1996. In 1997, he received the Xeric Grant for Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks. Since then he’s written and drawn a number of stories in comics. American Born Chinese, released by First Second Books in 2006, became the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association’s Printz Award. It also won an Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album – New. The Eternal Smile, a collaborative project with Derek Kirk Kim in 2009, won an Eisner as well. Dark Horse Comics is currently publishing a comics continuation of Nickelodeon’s popular Avatar: The Last Airbender, with art by Gurihiru and story by Mike DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, and Gene. In September of 2013, First Second Books released two-volume graphic novel project Boxers & Saints (winner of the 2014 LA Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature and a National Book Award finalist) and in July 2014 they released The Shadow Hero, written by Gene and illustrated by Sonny Liew.
Yang also teaches at Hamline University as part of their MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults.
–Julie Bartel, currently re-reading Changer by Jane Lindskold
This post is a reader’s response to a book read for the 2014 Hub Reading Challenge.
I had been intrigued by Marcus Sedgwick’s Midwinterblood since I first found out about it. The title combined with the cover conjured up images in my head of witches dancing in the moonlight or ancient cults performing rites of sacrifice cloaked in secrecy. I knew immediately that I had to get my hands on this book, had to dive into what I hoped would be a chilling tale of horror and the supernatural.
I often borrow books from the library instead of buy, and I eagerly anticipated the day that my library would add a copy of this book to the collection. I was overjoyed when that day finally arrived and the book I had wanted to read was finally in my hands. My initial reaction was that the book was much shorter than I had expected, and I dreaded reading through it too fast, reaching the end, and having to move on to something else.
As I dived in, I was immediately struck by Sedgwick’s use of language. He writes so vividly that I could see the island in my mind, could map its pathways, cliffs, and ports. I often found myself interrupting whatever my roommate was doing to read a sentence or paragraph out loud to her. I couldn’t get enough descriptions of the island’s flowers, inhabitants, and landscapes. No wonder the inhabitants called the island Blessed. In fact, I found the descriptions of the simplicity and beauty of the island so compelling and real that I wanted to visit the island for myself.
Thank goodness I couldn’t! An island of peace and serenity this was not, contrary to all outward appearances. As I worked my way through the plot, through each story and historical period that Sedgwick chose to include, I found myself chilled and puzzled. I spent plenty of time trying to figure out the mysteries of the island myself. Why were there no children? Why didn’t the inhabitants of Blessed ever age? What was the significance of the dragon flowers? Ultimately, though, I had to bow to Sedgwick’s masterful storytelling and simply let myself be pulled along by the plot. It was a delightful journey, steeped in history, mythology, and mystery.
And that ending! In a final story that threw back the curtain on the island’s mysteries, brought clarity to our heroes, and catapulted readers back to the present, everything came together. As I flipped the final page and closed the book, I was left in a sort of shell-shocked state. It took me quite a while to digest what had happened, make peace with it, and be able to move on to another novel.
Most of the books I read for YALSA’s Hub Challenge were books I wouldn’t normally pick up. I didn’t enjoy a lot of them, and I wouldn’t really recommend them to my friends. But Midwinterblood? A new favorite, one that I could read again and again. It changed me, left me different. So thanks for the introduction!
-Jancee L. Wright
Books and reading have been integral to my identity essentially my entire life. My parents read to me since infancy and my status as a bibliophile has been established nearly as long. We have a fairly infamous home video featuring my toddler self pulling all the books off the shelves in my room and then fiercely babbling at them the way another child might instruct toys. Even now I will occasionally refer to favorite books by their main characters’ first names and I have been known to reprimand characters out loud while reading a particularly tense scene. I have always viewed the world through a sort of double vision—there’s my ‘real’ life and then there’s my life in fiction. The fictional characters and stories surrounding me have been just as influential ‘real life’ people and experiences. Unsurprisingly, many of the reading experiences with the strongest memories attached to them are connected to fantasy fiction. Here are a few of the fantasy novels that have now become part of my story.
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (listed on various annual Best Books for Young Adults lists)
Like so many people of my generation, Harry Potter was and always will be a huge part of my reading history. I read the first book in middle school, just a few years after it was first published in the U.S. and preceded to read all the subsequent novels, growing up alongside the characters. I’ve spent an incalculable number of hours reading & rereading the novels, engaging in passionate conversations (and arguments) with fellow fans, or reading fanfiction featuring favorite characters. I’ve found that in times of stress or anxiety, I turn to my trusty Harry Potter audiobooks and inevitably find both comfort and inspiration in joining Harry, Hermione, & Ron on their journeys.
I cannot actually recall exactly when I first read these complex and incredibly rich fantasy novels, especially since I’ve re-read them several times since. However sometime in late middle or early high school I was first introduced to Lyra Belacqua and her alternative world–and I’ve been a little bit in love ever since. These novels are multifaceted and intricate; every time I revisit them, I discover new details and layers. During my senior year of college, I wrote a paper exploring the connection between John Milton’s portrayal of Eve in his epic poem Paradise Lost and Lyra’s role as a ‘new Eve’ in The Amber Spyglass. While I enjoyed writing many papers during college, there were few I found as satisfying as that one.
The Song of The Lioness quartet, The Immortals series, and more by Tamora Pierce (2013 Margaret A. Edwards Award)
I read my first Tamora Pierce novel in middle school, sometime in 7th or 8th grade. I have a distinct memory of completing Alanna: The First Adventure during the late hours of a sleepover; the evening had only emphasized the fact that while I wasn’t a complete outcast yet, I didn’t have any real friends. At that point in my life, my sense of self felt as tenuous and confused as my social life. But when I read about Alanna (and later Daine & Keladry), I was not only transported–I was transformed. Alanna and Pierce’s other brave, complex heroines refuse to be anyone but themselves; they embrace their strengths and pursue their dreams despite sometimes overwhelming obstacles. And when I disappeared into their world, I felt reassured that I could do the same.
My love for Tamora Pierce’s works also persisted beyond middle and high school. I made connections with friends during orientation week in college when we discovered our mutual love of these books. While working as a counselor and library assistant at my former high school’s summer ESL program, I introduced a student to the Alanna books on a hunch and was overjoyed when she devoured them. At the time I was already seriously considering going to graduate school to become a teen services librarian but that experience confirmed my decision definitively. When Tamora Pierce did an author visit to the school I now work at, it was difficult to tell who has more overwrought with excitement–me or the fans among my students!
While Tamora Pierce’s books provided lots of high fantasy action and complex female protagonists, I was always looking for more and Robin McKinley’s many novels fit the bill perfectly. The Blue Sword & The Hero and The Crown are classic high fantasy adventures and coming of age tales full of action and romance while her many fairytale re-imaginings (including Spindle’s End, Beauty, Rose Daughter, and Deerskin) are by turns whimsical, dark, and fascinating. Also, like the others on this list, they feature compelling and multifaceted heroines. They remain some of my favorite novels to this day and within the last few years I’ve happily recommended to both students and friends; just this past summer, I gave a copy of The Blue Sword to a friend as a wedding/honeymoon present.
During the winter and early spring of senior year of college, I was working on my senior thesis while also nervously awaiting news about graduate school. Amidst this perfect storm of anxiety, I picked up Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore. Both novels focus on highly powerful young women who are seeking not only to protect their countries but to discover truths about themselves and their destinies. I not only fell in love with Cashore’s rich character development and compelling stories, I also felt a strong personal connection with the novels. I might not possess supernatural powers or be able to save a nation but I too was struggling to discern my future and understand my own potential.
Which books have become part of your story?
-Kelly Dickinson, currently reading Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac
Dimple Lala was seventeen when readers first met her in Tanuja Desai Hidier’s Born Confused (2003 Best Books for Young Adults, 2013 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults); two years later she is in college and planning a trip to India with her boyfriend, Karsh. Dimple’s sense of ancient India is rattled by the hip Bombay scene and the growing rift between traditional and modern ways. She finds that she is often seized by introspection as the timbre of New India becomes overwhelming.
One evening, Dimple and her father walk along Juhu Beach. As they overlook the Arabian Sea, Dimple’s father begins to reminisce about Dimple’s mother, the way she would sing song after song. He gently sang, Zindagi bhar nahin bhoolegi woh barsaat ki raat, a phrase from a love song that means, My whole life I’ll never forget this night of pouring rain. The song is from a popular 1960 Bollywood film romance, Barsaat Ki Raat, sung by Mohammed Rafi.
I could never forget that one rainy night.
The night when I met an unknown beauty.
I could never forget it for the rest of my life…
The clip below is the original Hindi version from the movie.
-Diane Colson, currently reading 2 A. M. At the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino
There’s a famous poem by Emily Dickinson about telling the truth:“Tell all the truth but tell it slant — Success in Circuit lies Too bright for our infirm Delight The Truth’s superb surprise As Lightning to the Children eased With explanation kind The Truth must dazzle gradually Or every man be blind —” I love this poem and the idea that the truth can be “slanted,” that someone’s telling of a story – if it’s the truth to them – is important. The poem is quoted in Adele Griffin’s The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone. The book is told in a series of interviews of people who knew the titular Addison Stone who dies under mysterious circumstances at the beginning of the book: her parents, friends, boyfriends, art dealer, hangers on, etc. Interspersed in the interviews are pictures of her art, pictures of her, and articles about her. The catch? Addison Stone is not real, but with the way the book is written, you could let yourself be convinced otherwise. Adele Griffin collaborated with a number of people to create the art and pictures of the artists, including one person playing Addison Stone. Reading the book you can believe almost that Addison is real. You can even visit her Tumblr!
This got to thinking about other ways – slanted ways, if you will – to tell a story. Something like the 2013 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults pick Chopsticks, the twist-at-the-end picture and text story of two teens falling in love, or even the sadly disabled WondLa Vision from the Tony DiTerlizzi’s middle grade WondLa series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WB1YcLoCLk Some people call these efforts “transmedia” or “mixed media.” Last summer YALS published a list of transmedia books to get started with and it’s a great list. But I wonder what other boundaries we can cross when thinking about telling the truth but telling it slant? Do the LIzzie Bennett Diaries videos count as an adaptation or transmedia or something else? What are your favorite, maybe nontraditional ways to tell a story? With pictures only? Mixed media between books and Internet sources? -Anna Tschetter, currently reading Conversion by Katherine Howe
The film based on Gayle Forman’s novel If I Stay starring Chloe Grace Moretz came out this past weekend. It topped the Friday box office with a $6.8 million dollar opening and became the #3 movie of the weekend.
We YA lovers really do love a good opening weekend for the hotly anticipated and heavily marketed films based on our beloved books. If I Stay was named on the 2010 Best Books for Young Adults and Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults lists, and has legions of devoted readers. So how did director, RJ Cutler et al, do with adapting Forman’s novel? I have some mixed feelings about this one, so riffing on Jessica Lind’s post from last week’s The Hub about required reading, read on for the good, the bad and the ugly of this particular film adaptation.
Well the good news is that according to Rotten Tomatoes, approximately 75% of the audience liked the movie. And the movie does have some really great moments to it. Chloe Grace Moretz plays a beautifully awkward Mia. She plays a believable classical musician outsider, and the scenes she plays with her family are adorably humorous. Moretz also has great chemistry with Jamie Blackley who plays Mia’s Adam. Blackley is believable as the too-cool-to-know-he’s-cool rocker. These are the moments that made me emotionally invested while reading and viewing the film. My favorite scene by far is towards the end of the film when Mia is remembering her favorite day. It’s such a beautiful scene, that I won’t spoil, but all of the characters are together and the music is perfect, just the way I imagined it. You can see her for the first time feeling like she belongs. Unfortunately, the film adaptation didn’t seem to trust or utilize moments/scenes like this one enough, and they could have. A lot of the family scenes and memories play more like a montage throughout the entire movie, so you never really get to feel all that entrenched in Mia’s life. Which leads us to…
You can call me a curmudgeon for this and I wouldn’t blame you, but as a whole, I couldn’t really get into this movie. Part of the problem could be that I just read the book so Forman’s words and story structure were just too fresh in my mind while watching. It made a lot of the changes annoying especially since they didn’t seem to enhance the story or serve a purpose. Don’t get me wrong– changes need to be made in adaptations, and I’m all for it if they make the film version better. While they can be necessary, the spirit of the story should always be the central focus. Do the changes in the adaptation help fully envision the essence of what Forman created or hinder it? I’m leaning towards the latter on this one. Was it really necessary to change how her parents die? Mia is supposed to “wake up” after the car crash to the sound of her music still playing from the car, walk around and see that her parents are dead. Shocking and would be visually disturbing but there was still a way for the filmmakers to make this happen while keeping it teen-friendly. Why did this need to change and why did they have to change Teddy’s storyline too? It felt like the filmmakers were trying to time out the emotional moments in the film as opposed to allowing the initial shock of it all and Mia’s reactions carry the story through like the book does. That’s a shame because Forman does such a great job of reflecting on love, loss and pain in a very real way throughout her story. They just moved to many things around structurally that in the end the movie left me wanting a bit emotionally.
The bright white light. I mean, really?!
Cutler directs this scene at the very end of the film where Mia is finally making her choice, and it’s visually beautiful. They did such a great job with those last few minutes of the film. It was perfect. The visual creativity that they showed there only furthered my annoyance at their clichéd use of the white light throughout the earlier part of the film. It felt like you were being knocked over the head with a bad visual metaphor. White light = afterlife. It just felt hokey after awhile.
Like I said earlier in this post, I don’t mean to be a curmudgeon. I really wanted to like this film, and there were parts that I loved. It’s also amazing that these YA films keep finding these incredible young actors and actresses to play such wonderfully complicated and interesting characters. Like a lot of YA adaptations I’ve seen lately, If I Stay benefited a great deal from the actors’ talents and chemistry, but overall, the storytelling just emotionally missed the mark for me this time.
What did you think of the movie, readers? Do you think I’m crazy and If I Stay is the best movie ever, or were you a little disappointed too?
-Katie Shanahan Yu, currently reading Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood
It’s time once again to consider what books our favorite TV characters would read. While reading isn’t boring, it’s not that exciting to watch. So the question remains, what books would they read? This month I decided to bring the past to the present. Our six beloved teens from the 1970s probably read the classics like The Hardy Boys and books by Judy Blume. It definitely makes me wonder what books would the gang from That 70s Show read if they were teens today.
Eric Forman – Let’s start with the unofficial leader of the group. When Eric is not obsessing over his on-again, off-again girlfriend or battling with his hard ass father, Eric has one other fixation, Star Wars. We know he went to see the original several times and has even had fantasies in which he is Luke Skywalker. I know he would plow through all of the different amalgamations of Star Wars graphic novels, from the first episode to the Clone Wars and beyond. I would also like to give him something I stumbled upon a few months ago that is just fantastic. Ian Doescher has blended together two things that have never combined before: Star Wars and William Shakespeare. I would give him Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope (2014 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults). Just the image of Jabba the Hut in Shakespearean dress is enough to make this title a favorite.
Jackie Burkhart – We know that Jackie is a reader. On several occasions Jackie mentions reading Nancy Drew mysteries. I’d like to bring Jackie to the new millennium with a few options that are a bit more modern, but still with the Nancy Drew core. First, I’d give Jackie Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls by Bennett Madison. Unlike Nancy Drew, Lulu isn’t that excited to beginning investigating a mystery, but when her designer purse is stolen, she takes the case. Instead of ending every mystery with a hot fudge sundae like Nancy Drew would do, I’d bet Lulu would celebrate every mystery with a latte. I’m sure millennial Jackie would approve.
Michael Kelso – Kelso is probably the easiest of the group to entertain. Throw in a good fart joke and he’ll be laughing for hours. That is why the first book that comes to mind is Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford. The first installment of Carter’s high school experiences will be just the ticket for Kelso. Once he gets to the taco explosion movie theater scene, he will be hooked. Also, when Kelso dated Jackie, he would always try his hardest to please Jackie, even though he was usually miles away from accomplishing his goal. With that in mind, I would hand him the short story collection, Zombies vs. Unicorns. Authors Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black assembled several authors’ stories regarding which is better, zombies or unicorns. Kelso will believe he has scored, unicorns for Jackie and zombies for him. I’m sure we can all envision Jackie’s tone when she tells Michael that Diana Peterfreund’s story about killer unicorns are not the unicorns she likes.
Steven Hyde – Hyde fit right into the rebellious, authority-bad stereotype of the time. However, if Hyde were to live in the new millennium, I would see him standing up against the Big Brother government tendencies of today. He would trade in his aviator sunglasses, jean jacket, and bong for a laptop and top notch hacker skills. In short, Hyde would read every book written by Cory Doctorow. Little Brother (2009 Best Books for Young Adults) tells the story of a teen hacker who breaks down the strict government surveillance after the wake of a deadly terrorist attack to which he was a suspect. I’d also throw him Pirate Cinema, the story of a group of filmmakers who ease around the laws restricting the use of materials for artistic use. Seventies Hyde and millennial Hyde are just two sides of a forty-year-old coin.
Fez – Fez is the perfect example of someone with very simple needs. There are only two things that Fez truly craves, woman and candy. He is always trying to find a way to win over a girl. In fact, he’s really not that picky and has no specific type. Big Rhonda, Caroline, and Nina are all very different girls, but all share the experience of dating Fez. With his lifelong quest to find himself a woman, I would give Fez Swim the Fly by Don Calame (2014 Top Ten Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults). In this book, three friends make a summer goal to see a woman naked, in person. The boys aren’t incredibly successful, so maybe Fez could use this as a guide of what not to do. Secondly, I would point Fez towards Voss: How I Come to America and am Hero, Mostly by David Ives. Being as we never do find out where Fez is from, I believe he would enjoy this fictionalized account of a guy sneaking into America from his fictional country. Maybe Fez and Vos share a home…in Slobovia.
Donna Pinciotti – Donna discovered a very lucrative hobby when she inadvertently became the local radio station’s “Hot Donna.” Donna, who was always viewed as less-than-feminine by her friend, is now a local celebrity who gets to hang out with rock stars. Because of her interest in radio, I would recommend Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell. In this story, Chloe takes over her school radio station. In comparison to Jackie, Donna may not seem like much of a girly girl, but I bet she would like a romance or two once in a while. What ’70s girl didn’t have a copy of Forever… by 1996 Edwards Award winner Judy Blume stashed somewhere?
I think our gang from Point Place could start a reading circle in Forman’s basement. If it’s one thing they like to do, it was sitting in a circle.
-Brandi Smits, currently reading Guy in Real Life by Steven Brezenoff and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Good morning, Hub readers!
Last week, in celebration of The Giver movie hitting theaters everywhere, we wanted to know what YA classic you’d like to see on the big screen. The top pick was Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword, with 27% of the vote, followed by Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat, with 21%. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!
This week, with Labor Day just around the corner, we’re thinking about travel. Are you going on one last summer getaway? What would your preferred mode of transportation be, if you were in a YA novel? Vote in the poll below, or add your choice in the comments.Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
A few weeks ago, The Hub posted a poll asking for your favorite assigned summer reading in high school. With 49% of the 134 votes, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was the top selection. This got me thinking about how required reading has impacted us as YA readers.
It’s a safe assumption that we’re all readers over here on The Hub. The results of the poll show that there were some fantastic experiences, but does it mean that all of our past reading experiences were great? I turned to some of our bloggers to get the scoop on required reading: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Read on to hear how assigned readings have made our bloggers stronger feminists, wish fatal illnesses on heroines, and really, really love bacon.
Jessica Lind: “When I was in 7th and 8th grade, I had an English teacher who really challenged us with reading. During her class, I fell in love with Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, and 1984. I was transitioning out of the books of my childhood and these classics helped to keep me reading.”
Gretchen Kolderup: “My 10th grade US History class was combined into a two-period class with our English class. We learned history and we learned English, but it was all through the lens of social movements in America. The books that we were assigned were really thoughtful choices that illuminated social issues and that weren’t what you’d typically have as required reading — Power by Linda Hogan, All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller are the ones I remember. I loved that what we were reading was actually put into context so I could understand it — I would have missed so much of the meaning in the books if I hadn’t known what was happening in the world at the time they were published.”
Carla Land: “When I was in tenth grade I was in an honor’s English class and one of our required readings was The Great Gatsby. I absolutely hated it! My teacher was obsessed with the “eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleberg” and spent weeks talking about how important they were. I swore off of F. Scott Fitzgerald forever after that class. Fast forward to my sophomore year of college when I took a Modern Literature course- taught by a professor who was a Hemingway and Fitzgerald scholar. He’d spent his whole career studying them and their words. When we got to The Great Gatsby I held my breath and waited for the inevitable week long lesson on T.J. Eckleberg and his eyes. My professor commented on them once and they weren’t even on the test. After listening to him talk about the book and the author I had to take his Hemmingway and Fitzgerald course the next semester. It’s now one of my favorite books!”
Sharon Rawlins: “I fell in love with the short story I read for a women’s studies class in high school called “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892). It’s the story of an woman who’s had a nervous breakdown after the birth of her child and been confined to her room by her husband. She’s not allowed to write in her journal or do anything at all. The lack of stimulation causes her to slowly go mad. She becomes obsessed with the texture and smell of the room’s yellow wallpaper and sees women trapped within the wallpaper and identifies with them. She locks herself in the room & attempts to free them by tearing the wallpaper off. Her husband breaks in to find her crawling around & around the edges of the room making ridges in the walls as she endlessly circles. He faints and she just continues to circle around climbing over his body as she goes. It’s such a powerful and evocative feminist story that’s stayed with me ever since I read it.”
Lalitha Nataraj: “During my junior year, I distinctly remember being one of the very few students who truly enjoyed reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. For me, that book spurred an enduring love affair with gothic literature which continued throughout college. I know many of my friends hated the book, but I loved Hawthorne’s prose and his flair for the dramatic. I mean, come on, meteors in the sky and burning symbols of sin? Love.”
Gretchen Kolderup: “I hated Jane Eyre. The copies we were given had a hideous salmon-colored cover, and I remember very clearly when Helen contracted typhus thinking to myself, “Maybe Jane will get it, too, and she’ll die and the rest of this book can be about something interesting.” The twist is that when I was in college, I took a class on the Victorian novel and read (and loved!) Villette and Sense and Sensibility and other novels that I know high school Gretchen would have hated. I think that some of it was that my appreciation of writing had matured, but a lot of it was my professor — her love for her subject was contagious. (I still think Jane Eyre is terrible, though.)”
Carla Land: For some reason between middle school and college I’ve been assigned to read George Orwell’s Animal Farm at least five times. Every time I read it I hated it a little more, and the last couple times I was assigned it in college I didn’t bother rereading it and just used class notes from years gone by to refresh my memory. English classes, history classes, political science classes- it seems like at least one teacher a year forced this little book on me. I understood the lesson, but I disliked the book so much, and was forced to read it again and again so many times, that I will never touch a George Orwell book without being forced to. It is the only book from college that I didn’t keep when I graduated. The only thing to really come out of Animal Farm for me is that I’ve learned to really dislike pigs and love bacon!”
Gretchen Kolderup: “This could have just been a story about required watching rather than required reading. In my AP English Lit class, we’d just finished reading Heart of Darkness and my teacher decided to spend a few days showing us Apocalypse Now. Because it was rated R, we were required to get parental permission slips, and anyone who didn’t would be given “an alternate activity.” I don’t like violent movies or TV shows, so I asked to be excused from watching the movie and given the alternate activity instead. I don’t think my teacher had expected anyone to opt out — and no one else but me did — so she didn’t actually have anything prepared. In the moment, what she decided on was that I had to read The Scarlet Letter and write a paper about its major themes — all in just three days. I was furious about the inequity of spending class watching a movie vs having to read an entire book and crank out a paper in a short period of time, but I figured the best way to stick it to my teacher was to succeed, wildly, so I dove in. I’m not sure it’s the best paper I wrote in high school, but it’s probably the one I’m most proud of.”
Traci Glass: ”So, the one book I remember that has haunted me all these many years is The Scarlet Letter. I was assigned to read it the summer before my junior year, and I just didn’t. I couldn’t get into the story, I hated all the characters (except Hester), and I didn’t get any of the symbolism. I ended up reading the Cliff’s Notes about it just so I wouldn’t feel like I had done absolutely zero work on it.”
Jessica Lind: ”I have always loved reading, so it bothered me any time I struggled with assigned reading. I usually worked through it, but I just could not get into The Odyssey when it was assigned in 9th grade. I read the chapter that I was required to do a report on and that’s about it. I still feel guilty about it to this day.”
- Jessica Lind, currently reading Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick
It was rough week in the news– lots of people were talking about Ferguson over the Twitterverse. There are a couple blog posts about it in this week’s tweets.
- @PWKidsBookshelf :Make Way for New Children’s Bookstore in Boston http://pwne.ws/1rmqnkj
- @EpicReads : This list is for after you see IF I STAY in theaters on Friday! ––> http://bit.ly/1rTifTT
- @FierceReads :Sign up for our new #MacTeenBooks newsletter for updates on your favorite books and authors! http://bit.ly/1sunhKH
- @yainterrobang : Happy Tuesday! It’s time to head to the bookstore and pick up new #yalit releases. What will you be buying? http://www.yainterrobang.com
- @BNBuzz : ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER is HERE! @naturallysteph tells us what was cut from the book & other cool things http://bit.ly/1yRLKbf
- @catagator : If you want to be a Cybils judge, the call is out! Consider it. Also? The new website is lovely: http://www.cybils.com/2014/08/call-for-judges.html …
- @PenguinTeen : Head on over to @wattpad to read Part One of @maureenjohnson‘s novella, #TheBoyInTheSmoke, for FREE! http://w.tt/1BtPrYK
- @sljournal : Books to Films – Coming Soon so Be Prepared! — @fuseeight http://ow.ly/AtVby A Fuse #8 Production
- @PWKidsBookshelf : Not in Narnia Anymore: ‘The Giver’ Marks Walden’s First Push Into PG-13 http://pwne.ws/YoZlf8
- @catagator : Making the jump from lit to comics: where to start http://bookriot.com/2014/08/19/from-literature-to-comics-where-to-start/ …
- @PWKidsBookshelf : YA Lit And The Gender Gap in Education | Huff Post http://pwne.ws/1AtorXY
- @Jennifer_Castle · Why English departments should teach and embrace young adult fiction @insidehighered http://shar.es/1ninyN
- @TLT16 : Thinking about #Ferguson, bearing witness to racism in the stories of others http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2014/08/thinking-about-ferguson.html?m=1 …
- @catagator : Left Bank Books put together a “how we got here” book list relating to #Ferguson: http://www.left-bank.com/ferguson-how-we-got-here …
Just For Fun:
- @jenbigheart :Smithsonian Adds LGBT History to Museum Collection – @ABC News http://abcn.ws/1sRsDzN
- @quirkbooks · In today’s How-to Tuesday, learn how to make a chocolate TARDIS. http://bit.ly/1o9sqQH
- @PWKidsBookshelf : It’s back-to-school time at Cake Wrecks: http://pwne.ws/1rRS93q
- @harperteen :YA lovers: plan your next roadtrip with this: http://shrd.by/9mvnvn
- @catagator : Here are 28 must-follow Tumblrs if you are a fan of YA, including authors, group blogs, libraries, and more –> http://bookriot.com/2014/08/16/tumblr-ya-fans/ …
- @PWKidsBookshelf ·Singing Sorceress Takes to the Stage in J.K. Rowling’s New Pottermore Post | THR http://pwne.ws/1pESfgI
~ Jennifer Rummel currently reading The Wide-Awake Princess by ED Baker
In the summer of 1988, President Reagan proclaimed August 21 “National Senior Citizens Day.” With health care constantly improving, and people living longer, more active lives, it is a good thing to honor seniors, who can give younger folks the benefit of their experience.
Seniors and teens go together like peanut butter and jelly. Events like Senior Citizen Proms, and Teens Teach Tech, show how seniors and teens can benefit from spending time together. This is not to say that it is all smooth sailing from the start. People are people no matter their age, and there are ups and downs to any relationship. But everyone has something to share, and when you cross generations, the results can be so very positive.
This type of inter-generational relationship has been beautifully portrayed in YA literature. Here are six titles to explore…
Pop by Gordon Korman
New to town, Marcus is desperate to join his new high school’s football team, so he spends his summer practicing in the local park. There he meets former NFL great Charlie Popovich, who takes Marcus under his wing. While this is great for Marcus’ football prospects, it puts him in direct conflict with Charlie’s grandson Troy, Marcus’ new school mate and rival for a spot on the team. Charlie and Marcus are antagonistic not just because of sports rivalries, but also because of Charlie’s illness, an illness Troy and the rest of the Popovich family want to keep secret.
Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick
(2008 Best Book for Young Adults) Alex makes a really huge mistake involving vodka, a car, and a garden gnome statue. For this, he is sentenced to 100 hours of community service. Alex spends the time in a retirement home with Sol Lewis, the meanest old man on the planet. Alex would rather shirk all responsibility and Sol seems to hate the world. But Sol was a jazz guitarist and Alex is studying guitar, so perhaps they can find some way to connect…
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
In this classic by the 2002 Margarest A Edwards Award winner, John and Lorraine are bored, trouble-making teenagers . They play pranks on people and crank call old man Pignati (the Pigman). Somehow, their nihilistic attitude towards life does not upset the Pigman; instead, his good-natured love for life rubs off on them. This book is over 45 years old, but it still feels timeless.
The Canning Season by Polly Horvath
(2004 Best Book for Young Adults) The summer that Rachet is thirteen, she is sent from home by her neglectful mother to live with two elderly cousins – Tilly and Penpen – in their very remote house in Maine. Penpen has espoused a new philosophy: take in whatever shows up at your door. This leads to the acerbic Harper, another abandoned teen, arriving at the house to stir things up. Tilly and Penpen may be in their 90s, but they are not fading away. They tell the girls gruesome stories as everyone gets ready for canning season: that time when what is ripe and ready gets stored up for the future.
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
After Davey’s father is murdered, her mother packs the family off to New Mexico to live with family. Davey is lost and grieving while her mother sinks into a depression, her little brother seems to bounce back too quickly, and her aunt and uncle are well-meaning, but overbearing. She begins volunteering at a nursing home and befriends an elderly Native American man who whose son becomes close to her and helps her through her grief. While Davey and Wolf’s relationship is central to the story, Davey’s relationship to Wolf’s father is touching and shows the first time Davey allows someone to get close to her since her father’s death. A deeply moving book by the 1996 Margaret A Edwards Award winner Blume.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
(2006 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers) The vampire Edward Cullen is over 100 years old when he begins romancing 17 year old mortal Bella Swan. ;-)
~ Geri Diorio, currently reading The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi
Swanee was a free spirit, which is part of the reason Alix loves her so much. But Swanee dies of cardiac arrest while out on a morning run, leaving Alix to mourn the love of her life. Her grief is soon mixed with betrayal when she discovers that Swanee was also in a serious relationship with another girl.
Swanee’s funeral reflects her flamboyant style. Alix observes that it has “…a carnival atmosphere about it.” In addition to balloon bouquets, a flowered arch, and teddy bears, Swanee’s parents have hired a mariachi band that is playing “Livin’ la Vida Loca.”
It’s been fifteen years since Ricky Martin released what would become his signature song. The title is a Spanglish invention that translates as “Livin’ the Crazy Life.” The instant success of this song fueled Latin pop music internationally, while swoon-worthy Martin’s dance moves inspired a revival of Latin dance.
Here is a 2001 live performance featuring Ricky Martin and Kylie Minogue.
-Diane Colson, currently reading Skink – No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen
Last Friday, Katie Shanahan Yu posted a tribute to Robin Williams that included wonderful video clips and a booklist of young adult novels that echo the joyful spirit of Williams’ work. This week, Jennifer Rummel and I extend the tribute with YA lit readalikes paired with some of Robin Williams’ most memorable movies (and one iconic television show.)
-Jennifer Rummel, currently reading Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen, and Diane Colson, currently reading Bombay Blues by Tanuja Desai Hidier.
Teens today are coming of age in an environment saturated with social media, so it’s no surprise it’s featured prominently in the plots of many young adult novels. When I started noticing a trend of books that explore the impact that social media has on the lives of teens, I decided it would be interesting to compile a list showcasing the various ways that teens’ use of Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and other social media are depicted in young adult literature.
Lauren Myracle’s Internet Girls series is inventive in structure and form, but the story of girls chatting online and communicating in a virtual space is also groundbreaking in the way it examines the social lives of teens. TTYL was a 2005 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, and the fourth installment in the series, YOLO, is due out this year. Two other recent publications also explore internet culture. Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff explores the social aspects of online role-playing games, and the main character in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, is more at home in the online world of the fandom of her favorite book than in the real world where she’s freshman in college. These novels explore teen identity through the juxtaposition of online identity and “real life” personas.
Even as Facebook’s popularity among teens is on the decline, it’s still a part of most teen’s daily lives. #scandal by Sarah Ockler and Unfriended by Rachel Vail are both about how social media effects friendships. #scandal is about a girl whose unexpected kiss from her best friend’s boyfriend being revealed publicly on Facebook and the fallout that causes, and will be of interest to older teens who like realistic drama and romance. Unfriended has more appeal for younger teens, and examines the way social media augments a group of middle school students. Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt is about finding balance. When she catches her boyfriend “cheating” on her with an online girlfriend, she swears off modern conveniences and social media in an attempt to take control of her life.
Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar, Great by Sara Benincasa, and Don’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley all explore how internet fame through blogs, and its impact on the identity of teens. The anonymous narrator Gossip Girl is an inventive device used to peer at the drama of fashionable teens in New York City. In Great, a teen constructs an entirely new and false identity as a fashion blogger in order to connect with a long lost childhood friend. The protagonist of Don’t Call Me Baby has had her life since birth shared online by her mother, a popular blogger, and resents the attention and lack of privacy. In these novels, the pressures of an online persona complicate the protagonists lives. While an online identity can provide freedom, it can also be create unfair expectations.
The narrators of #16thingsIthoughtweretrue by Janet Gurtler and Adorkable by Sarra Manning are both Twitter-obsessed and have hordes of followers—but does that mean they have “real” friends? Like the young adult novels that feature social media, teens today are grappling with the issues presented in these books about the sometimes false intimacy of online interactions, and of constructing an identity both on and offline.
The world of social media provides fodder for the reboot of Scholastic’s horror imprint, Point. In Defriended by Ruth Baron, a teen is excited to meet a girl online who shares his interests, only to find that an online search reveals the link to her obituary. In Followers by Anna Davies, someone is live-tweeting the murders of the cast of the school play. In Davies’ other contribution to the line, Identity Theft, a popular overachiever is impersonated online by a doppelganger who creates a “fake” profile to embarrass her. These plots give a modern twists to the mystery and horror novels popular in the ’90s. Think R.L. Stine or Lois Duncan for the internet generation.
Young adult literature is also speculating about how elements of social media will impact society in the future. What if you could crowdsource all your decisions through an app? Lauren Miller examines this premise in Free to Fall. In Scott Westerfeld’s Extras, a 2008 Teens’ Top Ten Selection, social media has become a kind of currency. In Feed by M.T. Anderson, teens have the internet hard-wired into their brains. The implications of extending current trends in social media just a little bit further is frightening, most of all because it seems possible.
Social media is embedded in the daily lives of teens, so it’s safe to say it will continue to play a prominent role in the plots of young adult novels. Fiction is a great way for teens to explore the issues they are grappling with in real life, including the way that social media impacts identity and relationships.
Do you think that young adult literature accurately reflects the reality of the way teens use social media? Are there other titles that explore this dynamic?
– Molly Wetta, currently reading Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers and The Fever by Megan Abbott
Earlier this year, TIME magazine made history by putting Laverne Cox on its cover, declaring that America is in the midst of a “Transgender Tipping Point.” While many would argue we’re not quite at that point yet, given the long way we still need to go to achieve the equal rights, protection, and respect transgender people deserve, there is no denying the definite increase in visibility and support of the this community. Indeed, the past year alone has seen Laverne Cox not only on the cover of TIME magazine but also the first openly transgender person nominated for an Emmy, Barney’s unveiled a trail-blazing spring ad campaign featuring 17 transgender models from all walks of life, and Comic Con had its first panel devoted exclusively to transgender issues…and that’s just in popular culture.
On the legal front, Washington state just opted to provide transgender-inclusive healthcare for all public employees, the Department of Labor is now including transgender workers under its non-discrimination policy, and Maryland passed the Fairness for All Marylanders Act prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Progress indeed and heartening news for anyone who advocates for and supports equal rights and social justice.
As someone who works with youth, it’s equally exciting that this increase in visibility extends to young adult literature. Indeed, YA has been ahead of the curve. Luna, the first YA book to feature a transgender protagonist, was published over a decade ago to wide critical acclaim. In the ten years since then, the number of novels with transgender characters have been slowly but steadily increasing (for a well researched list of titles, see Talya Sokoll’s booklist published in YALS and Malinda Lo’s list on her tumblr “Diversity in YA”.) Which leads us to 2014, where in YA as well as larger society, there is a noticeable shift in terms of sheer visibility and volume. That said, I’ll focus the rest of my post on recently published and soon-to-be-published books that feature characters of all genders.
I was lucky enough to attend the Stonewall Awards Brunch this year at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas and saw Kristin Cronn-Mills accept her award for Beautiful Music for Ugly Children (2014 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults). She spoke passionately about the need for allies, about the power of music to transcend differences, and the need for cisgendered people to take the initiative to educate themselves about the transgender experience. (Interestingly, hers was the not the only book focused on gender identity issues to win a Stonewall Award this year, Lori Duron also won for her memoir Raising My Rainbow.)
If you haven’t read Beautiful Music for Ugly Children yet, the book tells the story of Gabe, who is in the early stages of transitioning, much to the dismay of his family. He finds solace in his passion for music and with the help of his close friend and elderly neighbor, John, becomes a DJ on the local radio station. His sudden rise to local fame as a DJ results in a number of confrontations that result in both tragedy and redemption. What I enjoyed most about Cronn-Mills’ novel is the fact that it does not solely revolve around Gabe’s gender identity. It’s obviously at the heart of the novel but, equally so, is his passion for music. In that sense, he felt more fully developed as a character–lending the novel a depth often lacking in other books about trans teens.
Susan Kuklin’s ground-breaking book Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out delves into the lives of six transgender or gender-neutral teenagers from a variety of backgrounds. Kuklin spent four years working on the book with the intent to do justice to these young people’s unique and inspiring personal journeys. Through candid interviews and vibrant photo essays, we come to understand the many struggles, heartbreaks, joys, and successes each teen has encountered in their quest to become their truest self. This book is the first of its kind and well worth an in-depth read…it captures such a complexity of experiences and does so through intimate first-person portraits.
Kristin Elizabeth Clark unusual novel in verse, Freakboy (2014 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults), released last year is notable in that it explores gender identity from three different perspectives. The novel follows three intersecting lives: Brendan, a young wrestler struggling with his gender identity which doesn’t seem to fit neatly into any category; Vanessa, his devoted girlfriend who is the only girl on the wrestling team; and Angel, a trans woman who works at the local LBGTQ center. The focus on gender fluidity is apparent and provides us with valuable insight into the wide range of experiences that exist. Part coming out story, part coming-of-age, the novel is particularly successful in conveying that there is often no simple solution or answer but that there are always a number of paths and support to be found.
Further proof of the shift in sensibility towards transgender people and their experiences can be found in this fall’s line-up of non-fiction books focused on the transgender community. That publishers have moved beyond fiction and are embracing the real-life stories of transgender teens and their unique stories is testimony to the fact that both the industry and the prospective audience have changed.
The romance between Katie Hill and Arin Andrews was big news last year when they were featured on a segment of TV show 20/20. The two met in a support group for transitioning teens and fell in love. Although now broken up, the two remain close and have each written a memoir about their experience to be released simultaneously in September.
Arin Andrews’ memoir entitled Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen follows his often heart-breaking journey from childhood to adolescence as he attempts to make sense of his gender identity. A failed suicide attempt convinces his mother of the gravity of his situation and with her support, Arin underwent sex reassignment surgery as a high school junior. As Andrews says, the book “gives me an opportunity to open the hearts and minds of those that just don’t understand and inspire those that do. It’s a story of acceptance, love, triumph, and standing up when you’ve been knocked down.”
Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill is an honest and moving account of one young woman’s struggle to live in a body that matches her gender identity. Hill recounts her numerous suicide attempts and the accompanying realization that she wanted to survive and thrive. As she says, “I don’t want this book to just appeal to transgendered people or their allies, I want all kinds of people to read it and to find some way to relate to it. I want people to understand that there really is no such thing as ‘normal.”
Both memoirs are excellent coming-of-age stories that will speak to transgender and cisgender teens alike in their exploration of what it means find your voice, to navigate falling in love, and to become the person you know yourself to be.
Finally, although not published specifically for a YA audience, the upcoming book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves edited by Laura Erickson-Schroth is too important a text to leave out of this post, particularly as it was written with older teens in mind as a potential audience. Operating as a manual, an encyclopedia, and a resource guide, this anthology of essays written by transgender people for transgender people covers a range of issues from social to legal to medical. Certainly the most comprehensive book of its kind, this will be a must-have for all libraries seeking to serve not only the transgender community but the families, friends, partners, social workers, and health professionals who support them.
In researching this post, I was both heartened and dismayed by what I found. I was thrilled to see the growing number of books featuring transgender characters but still found that there are surprisingly few books out there that reflect the full spectrum of the transgender identity. Thankfully, the recent trend in publishing seems to be trying to address this and, better still, extends beyond YA to picture books and adult books. As the We Need Diverse Books campaign states, “embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality.” Here’s hoping that as transgender characters becoming more common in YA literature, we see teens of all genders feeling increasingly valued, heard, and accepting.
~Alegria Barclay, currently reading Love Is the Drug
Summer vacation is drawing to a close, but whether you have time to squeeze in one last trip or you just have time to remember the trips you already took, it’s always fun to curl up with a good book about vacation spots. Both YA and picture books abound with these stories, and here are some suggestions if you need a last (literary) getaway for the summer.
YA Pick: The Moon by Night by Madeleine L’Engle (1998 Margaret A. Edwards award winner)
This is still the quintessential camping book to me–the book that still makes me imagine I will one day take my family on a cross-country camping trip, seeing all the great national parks out west. The Moon by Night follows the Austin family (from, among others, Meet the Austins and A Ring of Endless Light) as they make just such a trip, but the vacation gets especially interesting for Vicky when she inadvertently picks up an admirer with a bad boy streak and the romantic plan to pursue her across the country. Vicky’s interactions with Zachary, her family’s disapproval, her upcoming move to New York City, and her ordinary growing up struggles are all on Vicky’s mind in the midst of enjoying the astounding beauty of her surroundings.
YA Pick: Patiently Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
I’ve loved the Alice series since I was a kid, and this is one that stands out as being a good mix of fun and serious issues. Alice, Pamela, and Elizabeth decide to spend part of their summer as assistant counselors for a camp for disadvantaged kids. Their camping experience is a mixture of learning how to handle all sorts of issues (including racial issues) with their young charges and counselor hijinks during their breaks. There’s less romance for Alice than in other installments of the series, but Elizabeth has a summer romance that can keep the romantically-inclined reading!
Picture Book: Carl’s Summer Vacation by Alexandra Day
Lovable Rottweiler Carl gets into adventures with his young charge, Madeleine (now getting to be less of a baby and more of a little girl) while they are supposed to be napping on the back porch of the family’s summer cabin. They enjoy a boat trip (until the boat overturns!), berry picking (before they have to run away from a family of skunks), time on the playground, and sneaking a snack from another family’s picnic. When it’s time to get up for dinner and fireworks, Madeleine’s parents can’t understand why the buddies are so tired. If you enjoy this, there are lots of other Carl episodes.
Picture Book: Lost in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy by Carl R. Sams, II, and Jean Stoick (2005 Independent Publisher Book Award Winner, Children’s Picture Books 6 and under). This isn’t so much a camping story as a story that might inspire young readers to get out into the woods. This husband-and-wife team are nature photographers who took the beautiful, up-close photos that make up the pictures, then created a story to go along with them. Readers follow a young fawn as he waits for his mother. Other animals are sure the fawn is lost, but the fawn knows he’s just supposed to wait…
YA Pick: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
As she spends the last summer before college in her hometown of Colby, NC, Emaline faces unexpected twists in her family, her love life, and her personal goals. She’s accepted to Columbia, but has to settle for the closer state school when her birth father goes back on an offer to help pay; she has a steady boyfriend, but the relationship ends unexpectedly; and she has a job she likes, but her summer is turned upside down by the arrival of a documentary filmmaker from New York. Dessen’s fans will enjoy the return to a familiar setting, and Emaline’s struggles will resonate with anyone who’s been through, or is anticipating, the transition from high school to college.
YA Pick: September Girls by Bennett Madison (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults). After his mom abandons the family, Sam’s father takes him and his older brother to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for “a summer you’ll never forget!” Sam doesn’t know what he thinks of all this manly togetherness, and things get even stranger when they reach the beach. Beautiful blond girls are everywhere–everywhere–and they all seem interested in Sam (not the normal course of events, especially when his brother is around). As Sam gets to know one Girl in particular, DeeDee, he starts to learn that these girls really aren’t normal. With echoes of The Little Mermaid (the Andersen fairy tale, not the Disney version), and colorful portrayals of male-female relationships (not just the romantic kind), this is a summer read that will stick with you.
YA Pick: The Summer Boys and Summer Girls series, by Hailey Abbott
Those looking for the perfect escapist beach read need look no further. Cousins Ella, Beth, Jamie, and Kelsi, and later Jessica, Lara, and Greer, come to their family’s regular beach rentals in Maine each summer looking for fun, parties, and above all boys. Drama and romance abound, and the bonds that grow between the cousins are as much a part of the story as their romantic endeavors.
Picture Book: Harry by the Sea by Gene Zion, pictures by Margaret Bloy Graham
Fans of Harry the Dirty Dog will enjoy this further adventure of Harry and his (nameless) family as they go to the beach. Harry gets into some seaweed and manages to scare sunbathers all up and down the beach who think he’s a bizarre sea monster. The sea monster aspect makes this fun read a big hit with my kids.
Picture Book: The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, pictures by Dan Hanna
Ok, so this book isn’t actually a beach book, but it is a great summer read that refers to many of the creatures that might come up in beachy conversations. Add to that the fun of getting kids to say the refrain (it’s a rhyming book) with you in their poutiest voices and you’ve got a winner. Be warned that the fish overcomes his gloominess by becoming a “kiss-kiss” fish, so some readers may be let down by the ending (or feel that it warrants shrieking and running around)!
YA Pick: Are We There Yet? by David Levithan (2009 Popular Paperback for Young Adults)
Two brothers get tricked into traveling in Italy together: Elijah, a soon-to-be senior is laid-back to the extreme, while his older brother Danny has just finished college and is obsessed with his advertising job. Against the beautiful backdrop of Venice, Florence, and Rome, readers learn why the brothers drifted apart and start to see them come back together again.
YA Pick: Plague in the Mirror by Deborah Noyes
After her parents’ divorce, May agrees to spend the summer before her senior year in Florence with her best friend, Liam, and his mom, who is a travel guide researcher. The trip quickly veers away from an average summer-in-Europe experience when May encounters the ghost of a girl, named Cristofana, who looks exactly like May. Cristofana lures May into the Florence she knows, Florence of 1348–right before the Black Death strikes the city. This book has an interesting mix of paranormal, romance, historical fiction, and realistic fiction, and the descriptions of both eras of Florence are vivid enough to appeal to the armchair traveler as well.
Picture Book: Olivia Goes to Venice by Ian Falconer
With her characteristic style, little girl pig Olivia takes Venice by storm. She enjoys Venice as only a kid can: with LOTS of gelato, a gondola ride, the joy and fear of feeding the pigeons, and an endless search for the perfect souvenir. This last ends in a “smashing” success that has elicited squeals of glee from my test audience with every single read.
Picture Book: Madeline and the Gypsies by Ludwig Bemelmens
I almost hesitate to include this, because it is emphatically NOT a politically correct portrayal of the Roma…but the pictures of the French countryside are just beautiful, and I am impressed at how Bemelmens works all these landscapes in while still telling a fun, funny, kid-friendly story. Fans of the other Madeline books will enjoy it, and adults will appreciate the index of all the French locations at the back of the book.
Picture Book: Possum Magic by Mem Fox
Grandma Poss uses her magic to make her grand-possum Hush invisible, but when the two possums want to see Hush again, they run into trouble. They have to travel around Australia eating magic foods in order to make Hush visible again. Although they don’t travel abroad, for those of us who haven’t been to Australia their trips make a delightful visit to a faraway land.
YA Pick: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (2007 Printz Award Honor Book)
After being dumped by his 19th girlfriend named Katherine and lamenting that he’s missed the boat on being a genius, Colin Singleton decides to get out of his hometown, Chicago, with his best friend, Hassan. They make it as far as Gutshot, Tennessee, where they are roped into a summer job of interviewing townspeople for a local history project by the owner of Gutshot’s largest business. Colin participates in the interviewing only reluctantly, spending his spare time on an equation to predict the course of romantic relationships. As the summer goes on, though, Colin and Hassan find out why listening to other peoples stories is so important, and their new coworker, Lindsey, may even help Colin get over his Katherine problems.
YA Pick: Going Bovine by Libba Bray (2010 Printz Award Winner, 2010 Best Books for Young Adults)
In this mother-of-all-road-trip stories, which Publishers Weekly called “inspired lunacy,” Cameron Smith sets out on a quest to find a mysterious doctor that can cure his Creutzfeldt-Jakob (aka Mad Cow) disease, taking along with him a teenage dwarf and a Norse god trapped inside a yard gnome. Inspired by, and referring to, Don Quixote, Going Bovine takes readers on a crazy journey filled with both hilarious and thought-provoking moments.
Picture Book: Let’s Go for a Drive! by Mo Willems
This is possibly my favorite of Willems’ amazing Elephant and Piggie series, and that is saying something. In this installment, careful, serious Gerald has the fun idea of going for a drive. His best friend Piggie joyfully joins in with the preparations–until Gerald’s carefully laid plan hits an unexpected bump.
-Libby Gorman, currently reading The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats
As a reader, I’m not sure if I went to the movies because I wanted to watch The Giver or because I wanted to hatewatch it.
I did a little of each. I’ll try to explain my reaction to the film, while also leaving out enough information to keep the movie surprising if you’d like to be surprised. That may leave this post incomprehensible until after you’ve seen the movie. I’m not sure. You’ll have to let me know. But be forewarned: this post either has spoilers or is impossible to understand.
I think your liking of this film will depend on how passionate you are about the book. I’m not someone who thinks movies have to stick to the book word-for-word; different media require different approaches. But I’m also not someone who likes it when a movie slaps a book title on its poster and does nothing else to base it on the novel. The Giver is somewhere in between, and it’s not really a bad movie so much as a film that suffers from the glut of dystopian movies, TV, and books and designed itself to be attractive to people just catching on to that genre, not people curious to see Lois Lowry’s beloved book come to life.
That’s not to say that readers won’t enjoy this film. The creators did a brilliant job of dealing with the colorless world. The slow transitions and back-and-forth from plain to color and back again, as Jonas learns new colors and as he goes back and forth between the colorful world of the Giver’s home to his own bland dwelling, is just perfect. The set design is spot-on, and the costumes and props are stylized but not too corny. This film has excellent trappings, but it didn’t do much to translate the power of the book to the screen.
The problem with The Giver, of course, is that there’s a lot you just can’t bring to life from the book. It’s not practical. It’s hard to find a bunch of 12-year-old actors who can carry the gravity present in the original novel, so I can understand the choice that was made when the filmmakers upped the age to 18. People don’t really like murdering children in any context, but it’s especially hard to stomach when you have to watch it, not just read about it. And I can understand, for financial reasons, why this movie was framed in its trailers, promotional posters, and even in the film itself, as another Divergent, though I think it does the movie and the book a disservice. Nearly every misstep this film makes is that it turned itself from a powerful children’s novel (not without its faults, especially if you reread it as an adult, but still an exceptionally well done book) that forces us all to confront our notions of childhood and humanity and protection into yet another movie about a teenager taking on the system and winning.
If you’d like a teen dystopia, this is a very good movie. There are still some important questions it asks, but in that insulting way that other dystopian stories for teens ask the questions and immediately push you toward an answer, this film assumes you need a lot of help coming to the right conclusion. Where the book is thoughtful and lets you mull over things by watching the result of Sameness and overzealous order, like Asher being beaten by teachers for misspeaking, or less healthy twins being euthanized for having the wrong kind of similarity, or puberty being instantly stopped at its first stirring (see what I did there) without discussion, or not even having the words to describe color, the film lets you see it and then instantly tells you, via the Giver himself or Jonas’ voiceover narration (an unfortunate addition that more firmly insinuates that the source material is a teen melodrama) or his worldly, deep phrasing when he tries to convince Fiona that she’s being duped. The way characters instantly come to terms with huge information that took Jonas a lot of training to understand, just because it’s convenient to the film if they can understand it right now, is obnoxious, if unsurprising. It’s like the movie relies on your knowing the book to fill in the blanks, while simultaneously wanting you to believe that this is a completely original story. And the entire quality of the film changes when it’s a teenager being given responsibility and having it taken away at the same time – that’s what adolescence is. That’s what we are used to thinking stories about teenagers are about. What is so chilling about the novel is that it’s children who are being put into these positions.
Then, of course, there’s the matter of the ending. This issue goes beyond the book and the movie, since you and I may be in very different camps as to how we feel about it. The film, because it takes what was an implied post-apocalyptic setup and makes it So Very Important (and yet so vague and uninteresting) that it needs to be printed at the beginning of the film, stated by Jonas as soon as the words are wiped from the screen, then spoken again by the Chief Elder at the ceremony, and then referenced again by the Giver, necessarily has a more hopeful and in-your-face, action-packed ending.
I understand that Lois Lowry herself is pleased with the movie and the changes that were made. Given her almost complete recanting of the traditional reading of the novel’s end, I’m not surprised. But I don’t agree with it. The curmudgeon in me thinks each of The Giver‘s subsequent sequels was a bigger and bigger mistake, and the student of literary theory in me is firm in her belief that authors have no business modifying and correcting the readings of their books once they’re out in the world. (The author is dead, after all.) It’s not that I take pleasure in bleak, depressing book endings (though I do think The Giver did it right, making it bleak and only slightly ambiguous), it’s just that I think instantly fixing the world is disingenuous, not to mention less interesting than prompting questions like “Was it worth it?” or “What is sacrifice?” or “Whom does Jonas’ journey benefit?” as the novel did.
If you want to get the same emotional hit you likely got from the book, you will not get it here. But if you want to see a movie that’s not bad, this is as good a choice as any.
What did you think?
–Hannah Gómez, currently reading Science…For Her! by Megan Amram
Good morning, Hub readers!
Last week, we asked you to choose the best book to cool off with during the summer heat. In the lead was The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, with 67% of the vote, followed by The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean, with 19%. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!
This week, we’re all excited that the highly-anticipated film adaptation of Lois Lowry’s YA classic, The Giver, is now playing in theaters everywhere! Have you seen it? Did you love it? In light of this beloved book being brought to moviegoing audiences, our question for you this week is: what other YA classic would you like to see on the big screen? Vote in the poll below, or add your choice in the comments.Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
Happy Friday, Hub Readers! Check out these tweets of the week with Lauren Oliver, Red Sonja & of course, Batman! In case you missed it…I’m here to compile it all for you!
Books & Reading
- @oliverbooks is continuing her Twitter #ghostlygoodreads story: They drank chai and pumpkin lattes. The conversation was easy, even when they moved away from books on to other topics. #ghostlygoodreads tinyurl.com/op78zz6
- @harperteen: 12 quotes that describe your relationship with your BFF perfectly: http://bit.ly/1p7Pwfj
- @galleycat: Remembering Lauren Bacall Through Her Writing http://mbist.ro/1lUNgn4
- @harpercollins: “Mean it. Whatever you have to say, mean it.”—Neil Gaiman on speaking in public. Share your favorite @neilhimself quotes using #GaimanSays.
- @novaren: A BLIND SPOT FOR BOYS is out this week & I have @JustinaYChen sharing a touching story on Books of Her Heart: http://wp.me/pM1Z-51l
- @TheMarySue: ICYMI, #GameofThrones’ Sophie Turner (Sansa, my Queen) is going to be Mary Shelley in an upcoming movie. http://www.themarysue.com/sophie-turner-mary-shelleys-monster/
- @Robot6: Reflecting on Robin Williams and the weird, underrated ‘Popeye’ http://on.cbr.cc/1sVr9mu (my very favorite Robin Williams movie)
- @screencrushnews: ICYMI, WB is developing an ‘Aquaman’ movie >> http://screencrush.com/aquaman-solo-movie/ …
- @DoctorWho_BBCA: RT @anglophenia Tours, trailers and travelling TARDISes, it must be #DoctorWho’s Day: http://bbc.in/1mFQX00
- @NerdistDotCom: From IRON MAN to THOR: THE DARK WORLD, here is every easter egg in the @Marvel universe. You’re welcome. http://nerdist.com/?p=171530
- @CBR: #SDCC: Fans, Friends and Family Remember Bill Finger http://on.cbr.cc/1vI3ucJ
- @gailsimone: Very proud of Red Sonja #11, out today! In stores: http://tinyurl.com/q5y9v64 and at Comixology: http://tinyurl.com/q22gcgw
- @Marvel: RT @TSpence92 Ms Marvel is absolutely terrific. It’s easily the first book I want to read each month. Love it @GWillowWilson @Marvel #comics #Marvel
- @comicsalliance: IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Comics Are The TMNT Comics You’ve Wanted Since 1989 http://bit.ly/1sVpblZ
- @DCComics: This is us sitting back and waiting for Tumblr to break under the weight of all the BATGIRL #34 posts.
- @geoffreyfowler: What beats Amazon, Oyster and Scribd for all-you-can-read ebooks? Your local public library: http://on.wsj.com/ViYF8J
- @innovates_ed: The Public Library as a Community Hub for #connectedlearning | via @ifla http://ow.ly/Ag6C3
- @parisreview: “Is she cheerful? Has she a knowledge of books? Are her vibrations pleasant?” A vintage guide to becoming a librarian http://tpr.ly/1sViAav
– Traci Glass, currently reading My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal