With Halloween fast approaching, now is the perfect time to pick up a good book about the supernatural. But which type of supernatural creature are you in the mood for?
Are you a fan of vampires?
Vampires remain a popular book topic and there are almost as many different types of vampires as there are books about vampires. The following are sure to offer something for every type of vampire fan.
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (2008 Teens’ Top Ten) – Soon to be a movie, the Vampire Academy series takes place at a boarding school specifically for vampires and their half-human protectors. The first book follows Lissa, a vampire princess and her bodyguard, Rose, as they are brought to the boarding school and must try to integrate with the student body and prevent Lissa from becoming one of the Strigoi, the most dangerous vampires of all.
The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda (2013 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers) – In a world where vampires have wiped out virtually all human life, Gene must hide himself away in plain sight. Every day is a battle to conceal his humanity from all of the vampires around him who would love to take his delicious blood. But, when he is selected to participate in a competition to hunt one of the few remaining humans, the battle to keep his true identity hidden becomes even more important and perilous.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black - Coldtowns exist to keep quarantined monsters and humans segregated from the rest of the world. When Tana finds herself amidst the victims of a massacre in one of these Coldtowns, she must find a way to save herself and her friends from this dangerous dilemma.
Perhaps you prefer the undead?
If you watch the Walking Dead religiously, try one of these stories of the undead to broaden your zombie horizons.
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion – Zombies might not seem like the ideal candidates for a love story, but Warm Bodies is the exception to this rule. On a routine hunting trip, R (he can’t remember his real name) meets Julie and, shockingly, he doesn’t want to kill her. Confused by his own behavior, he brings her back to the zombie stronghold and realizes that he just might be getting his emotions back.
Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks – In this fun graphic novel, Hicks takes on angst about college debt, the rules of zombie movies and the stress of taking exams. Set on a Canadian college campus during a zombie apocalypse, Zombies Calling is a great read for those who love the genre but are willing to laugh at it at the same time.
Would you rather read about werewolves?
Are you a fan of Teen Wolf? Were you Team Jacob while reading Twilight? Perhaps you would enjoy one of these werewolf stories.
Soulless: The Manga by Gail Carriger and REM - In this manga adaptation of Gail Garriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, readers enter a Victorian England populated with vampires, werewolves and one very strong-willed preternatural. The books are a fun romp through a steampunk setting with an irreverent tone that works just as well in the manga as it does in the original novels.
Immortal Lycanthropes by Hal Johnson - Myron is a disfigured orphan in the ninth grade when a particularly bad run-in with a bully presents him with a scary revelation: he is a shape shifter. Readers follow his attempts to find his place in a new world that he is only just starting to understand.
Ready for a good ghost story?
If ghosts are more your speed, these books offer plenty of creepy thrills and fun adventures.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (2012 Readers’ Choice) – Cas is the latest in a line of people who have tracked and killed ghosts. Like his father before him, he travels around disposing of ghosts that threaten unsuspecting humans. And, when he moves to a new town to kill the ghost known as Anna Dressed in Blood, he doesn’t expect it to be any different than any of the rest of his assignments. But, what happens when he begins to wonder if she is more than just the next ghost for him to eliminate?
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults) – When Rory starts boarding school in London, the last thing she is worried about is ghosts. Culture shock given her recent move from Louisiana? Sure. But, mysterious figures that only she can see? No, definitely not. What happens though when seemingly impossible murders copying those made famous by Jack the Ripper start to occur and Rory is the only witness? If you love this first book in the series, you will be happy to know that the second book, The Madness Underneath, is currently available.
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (2012 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens) – When Anya finds a ghost at the bottom of the well they quickly become best friends. But, does her new friend really have her best interests at heart? And, can one really be best friends with a ghost? This creepy graphic novel will keep any ghost fan entertained until the very end.
Are spells more your speed?
Check out one of these books set in worlds where witches and wizards cast spells for all sorts of tasks both large and small.
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults) - In a world where magic is starting to fade, Jennifer Strange, a 15-year old orphan is the de facto leader of Kazam Mystical Art Management. Made up of seers, wizards and other magical practitioners, the agency has fallen upon hard times of late and is struggling. But, when one of its seers predicts that a dragonslayer will kill the last existing dragon, Jennifer gets drawn into the search for this mysterious figure.
Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings – Julie’s mother is a witch, but Julie wants to start to cast spells on her own. But, when she decides to tackle an exorcism with her best friend rather than going to her over-protective mother for help, this seemingly simple activity quickly escalates drawing Julie into a conflict that will teach her more about her own family.
This list should help you find the perfect supernatural read for Halloween! Let us know in the comments if you have other suggestions!
- Carli Spina, currently reading Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
The official 2013 Teens’ Top Ten titles have been announced!
Voting for the 2013 Teens’ Top Ten took place from August 15 through Teen Read Week, Oct. 13- 19. This year, there were 28 nominees that competed for the “top ten” list. Over 32,000 votes were cast.
Without further ado, here are the 2013 Teens’ Top Ten titles!
Thanks to all the teens who voted and congrats to all the authors!
For more information about the Teens’ Top Ten, please visit http://www.ala.org/yalsa/teens-top-ten.
Last week we asked about the historical fantasy or alternate history you wish were real. Steampunk won out this time, with Scott Westerfeld’s alternate-WWI-based Leviathan capturing 32% of the vote. Assassin nuns in medieval Brittany are popular, too– Robin LaFevers’ Grave Mercy was a close second with 25% of your votes. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare earned 19% of the vote, showing more steampunk love. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!
We know the vampire trend in YA lit is waning, but let’s face it, vampires will always have their devotees, regardless of the zeitgeist. And with Halloween just around the corner, it seems fitting to give these creatures of the night a moment to shine (um, maybe not in direct sunlight, though). Vote in the poll below, and since we couldn’t possibly list them all, be sure to add a comment if we’ve missed your favorite vampire.Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
The definition of horror is not as clean cut as some other genres. In its simplest definition, horror is a genre that delivers the emotion of fear to a reader. So… what scares you? The answer to this question is different for everyone!
For the purpose of this genre guide for teens, I am working with the loose definition of horror in which the author set out to scare the teen reader. This could occur through a monster, excessive gore, or the unknown. Unlike other genres written for teens, horror allows authors to push the boundaries of content–violent deaths, disturbing creatures, gruesome gore, and even the evils of reality are all acceptable scare tactics in horror novels written for teens. These horror novels can be set in any time period–past, present, or future. They often involve a single teen protagonist or groups including teens overcoming great odds to survive the unsurvivable.
Authors to Know
- Darren Shan
- Daniel Kraus
- Rick Yancey
- Jonathan Maberry
- Carrie Ryan
- Lois Duncan
- Thomas Fahy
- Breanna Yovanoff
- R.L. Stine
- Vivian Vande-Velde
Protagonists in horror for teens are often drawn into a dire situation or a mystery where it would appear that there would be no way for the protagonist(s) to survive, or at least survive unscathed. In teen novels, the protagonist is often a single person facing the horror. If it is a group of protagonists facing horror, then you can usually expect at least one member of the group to be seriously hurt or even killed. Protagonists usually survive the horror by realizing a strength that allows them to survive. This strength can be a fantastical power, or it can be the recognition of inner strength and a strong will to survive. A common theme of horror is that the main character does survive, even though the reader may doubt this fact all the way until the end of the story. Ultimately, the protagonist is stronger because of this survival.
Often times horror for teens does incorporate fantastical elements or creatures. In other instances, the horror may not be able to be explained (this is the “unseen” horror). Additionally, a horror may seem fantastical, but it is actually based in reality or has a realistic explanation. Often times, other genres are combined with horror to heighten the terror. Any genre can be used, really, to be combined with horror to scare readers. The most common are mystery, science fiction, and fantasy.
Horror appeals to teens for primarily one reason: they want to read something that will scare them! Reading horror novels is a safe way for a teen to experience terror and also to put themselves in the place of the protagonist and think, “what would I do?” It also allows teen readers a safe way to explore the dark side of reality and fantasy, where they can confront their own fears. It is definitely a way to escape the real world, and it is a genre that easily provokes an emotional response which most teens enjoy experiencing when reading horror novels.
Teen readers of horror can be a wide range, but generally teens that are horror fans know what kind of horror they like to read. It can range from supernatural creatures, to the unknown horror, to more reality-based horror (mysteries or dramatic teen issues).
Horror for teens is a solid genre. Lately, horror has been getting some good recognition thanks to authors whose works of horror have a high crossover appeal and good literary merit. A trend that seems to be getting stronger in horror writing for teens is that authors are exploiting the horrors of reality. They do this by tackling gritty teen issues in horrific ways– eating disorders, abuse, and destructive relationships are taken to a horrifying level to satisfy teen readers. Teens seek out horror most strongly in the fall as Halloween approaches, but a core collection is needed for those who enjoy reading horror all year long. Recent movie adaptations, remakes of classic horror movies, and television shows are also driving teens to turn to read more horror novels of the like.
- Monsterlibrarian.com and the Monster Librarian’s Blog.
- Check out this recent and timely post by Kelly Jensen for School Library Journal: “Horror in YA Lit is a Staple, Not a Trend.”
- Also check out Kelly Jensen’s post from earlier in the year on the blog, Stacked: “Get Genrefied: Horror.”
- Horror Writers Association and their Young Adult Fiction component.
- RA For All: Horror
- The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, second edition by Becky Siegel Spratford (American Library Association, 2012).
- Hooked on Horror III: A Guide to Reading Interests by Anthony J. Fonseca and June Michelle Pulliam (Genreflecting Advisory Series, 2009).
***Both titles are intended for use with adult readers, but are great resources for learning more about the horror genre in general.
Most publishers both large and small produce horror novels.
The Bram Stoker Awards, includes a Young Adult Novel award.
Teen novels and story collections have been considered for The Shirley Jackson Awards.
The Black Quill Awards also consider works for teens.
- I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (2013 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)
- The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey (2010 Printz Honor Book, 2010 Best Books for Young Adults, 2010 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)
- Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender (2013 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)
- The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (2010 Best Books for Young Adults, 2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)
- Lockdown: Escape from the Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith (2010Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers)
- Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick (2011 Printz Honor Book, 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
- The Gentlemen by Michael Northrop (2010 Best Books for Young Adults)
- Bonechiller by Graham McNamee (2009 Best Books for Young Adults)
- Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride (2011 Morris Award Finalist, 2011 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)
- Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
- Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz (2009 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers)
- The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)
- Ten by Gretchen McNeil (2013 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers)
- Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
- Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (2012 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
- Rotters by Daniel Kraus (2012 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)
Seriously, this list could go on and on, so feel free to comment with some of your favorite horror reads!
- Colleen Seisser, currently reading The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Carrie opens today in movie theaters across the US and perhaps this updated film version of Stephen King’s 1974 novel will bring a new generation of fans to King’s work. Carrie (1999 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults) tells the story of a high school girl who is bullied at school and at home, and who fights back with her telekinetic powers. The 1976 movie version was a success, but the 2002 TV version was not critically acclaimed. The buzz about today’s Carrie film is good, and fans are hoping it will join the ranks of the many solid Stephen King adaptations. King is incredibly prolific, and many of his books and stories have been turned into well-received movies and television shows.
The Green Mile, a story about a death row inmate who has remarkable, almost magical, healing and empathetic powers was released in serial form in 1996, coming out monthly in six small volumes before being collected in one book. The 1999 movie, starring the late Michael Clarke Duncan and Tom Hanks, was both popular and nominated for three Academy Awards, including best picture.
King’s 1982 book Different Seasons was a collection of four novellas, including Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. This was the story of Andy Dufresne, a banker who goes to jail for the double murder of his wife and her lover. Andy maintains his innocence throughout the almost thirty years he is in Shawshank prison. He befriends another prisoner, Red, and works to make his life “inside” bearable. The film made from this novella, The Shawshank Redemption, came out in 1994 and remains a favorite of both the critics and the general public. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards.
Different Seasons also contained the novella The Body, about four boys who decide to find the body of a boy from a neighboring town who went missing. They think that if they find it, they will be famous. In the story, they trek along railroad tracks and encounter mean dogs and freight trains, and after finding the body, they also encounter a gang of teenagers who menace them. Rob Reiner’s 1986 film Stand By Me was based on this novella. It launched the careers of Wil Wheaton, Jerry O’Connell, Corey Feldman, and the late River Phoenix. The film was popular and nominated for a best adaptation screenplay Oscar, and Stephen King has been quoted as saying it was the first successful adaptation of his work.
King’s 1987 novel Misery tells of a successful romance novelist who wants to break out of that genre and start writing crime novels. After being injured in a car accident, he ends up being kidnapped by a crazed fan. The woman holds the writer hostage and keeps torturing him until he writes another romance novel. Misery the movie came out in 1987 to much acclaim. It did well at the box office and actress Kathy Bates won an Academy Award for her role as the crazed fan.
The Dead Zone was a 1979 novel about a young man who gains psychic powers after a car accident. When he touches someone, he can foresee their future, even if that future is dark and horrific. He realizes that a rising politician will cause nuclear Armageddon and he must decide whether or not to assassinate the man. The 1983 movie The Dead Zone starred Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen and while it garnered no Academy Awards, it did well at the box office. This novel was also made into a television show that ran between 2002 and 2007.
Perhaps the best known adaptation of King’s work is the 1980 film The Shining from the 1977 novel of the same name. King has always been vocal about his dislike for how director Stanley Kubrick adapted his novel, and critics have called it more a Kubrick film than a King story, but it certainly has its fans. It is the story of a haunted resort, and how the caretaker of the place is driven so mad by the spirits that haunt it that he tries to murder his family. His young son has psychic abilities that he is able to use to bring help.
Under the Dome (2010 Alex Award nominee), a novel from 2009, tells of a small Maine town that is literally placed under a dome that cuts it off from the rest of planet Earth. While the rest of the world tries to dig under, fly over, or otherwise get into the dome to save them, the townspeople show the true horror of this tale by how terribly they treat each other while trapped and cut off from the world. Just this summer, CBS turned the novel into a television show that did well enough to be renewed for a second season.
These adaptations are a fun way to see Stephen King’s work, but they also show the breadth of his writing – those who dismiss him as “just a horror writer” are missing out on a great many other works by this master storyteller; works that touch on love, friendship, dreams, politics, bullying, redemption, and much more.
~Geri Diorio, currently reading The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
Here’s a round up for fun, informative, or entertaining tweets from this past week. Happy Teen Read Week!
- @Marie_Lu: YA golden age covered on CNN, w quote from @jenlynnbarnes ! http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/15/living/young-adult-fiction-evolution/index.html?hpt=hp_c3 …
- @HarperChildrens: What kid doesn’t dream of being a secret agent? Check out DOUBLE VISION and CODE NAME 711 by @FTBradleyAuthor! http://bit.ly/1gSyV7x
- @PWKidsBookshelf: This year’s NBA finalists in Young People’s Literature: Meg Rosoff, Tom McNeal, Kathi Appelt, Cynthia Kadohata, and Gene Luen Yang
- @PenguinTeen: .@TMGoeglein reveals the cover for the 3rd #ColdFury book, #EmbersandAsh! http://bit.ly/195jPdx We love it, how about you?
- @sljournal: And if you need a go-to list of Horror YA Lit, look no further: http://ow.ly/pQwln #TRW13#yalit
- @randomhousekids: Set up a Magic Tree House #ReadingBuddies Program in your school, library, or bookstore: http://ht.ly/pINYG @MaryPopeOsborne
- @LibraryofCT: Want to get in the Halloween spirit? Check out 13 of the year’s creepiest books http://ow.ly/pPqs0
- @PenguinTeen: More exclusive photos from the #VAMovie! We can’t get enough of them. http://bit.ly/1972CQJ @EW @VAOfficialMovie @RichelleMead
- @PenguinTeen: Love this picture of @RichelleMead with the #VAMovie cast on @peoplemag! Read the interview with Richelle here: http://bit.ly/18jcgjP
- @realjohngreen: Last day of shooting the #tfiosmovie. Can’t believe it is coming to an end.
- @sljournal: Here’s a list of SLJ’s read-and-watch-alike posts: YA movies lead to YA books http://ow.ly/pQyDC #TRW13
- @randomhousekids: Stars filming for big screen version of “Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List” by David Levithan & @RachelCohn! http://ht.ly/pPycl @GossipCenter
- @RandomBuzzers: Lunchtime fun: create a Tandem inspired wardrobe pin, win a copy of Tandem and Tether ARC! http://ow.ly/pSl92 @ajarzab @RandomHouseKids
- @TLT16: #TRW13 Don’t forget the Teen Book Inspired Art Contest is Happening Now through Nov 1st. Read books, make art. http://www.libraryasincubatorproject.org/?p=11009
- @Candlewick: Celebrate Teen Read Week with Candlewick’s four FREE YA lit samplers: http://ow.ly/pJA03
- @PenguinTeen: In honor of #TeenReadWeek, tell us your fave YA novel to enter to win a prize pack of books! http://on.fb.me/1957UfD
- @sdiaz101: School Librarians Must Be Assertive Leaders, Technology Experts | SLJ Summit 2013 http://ow.ly/pONfk #sljsummit
- @YALSA_Director: ”@yalsa: @CNN weighs in on #TRW13 & #yalit (but not so much on role #librarians play in connecting teens 2 reading) http://ow.ly/pQLxB “
- @sljournal: Give teens a voice in collection development choices: A group of teens review books, CDs, games for SLJ http://ow.ly/pQzQU #TRW13
- @sljournal: Recent SLJ Summit keynoter @anniemurphypaul talks about pleasure reading and its connection to learning: http://ow.ly/pQuAf #TRW13
- @SSEdLib: Happy Teen Read Week! Celebrate with S&S and visit our website for quotes, curriculum guides and more! http://pages.simonandschuster.com/teenreadweek/ #trw13
- @catagator: Sarah Andersen shares about how she does reader’s advisory in the classroom and how she gets creative –> http://stackedbooks.org
- @catagator: Back Got Backlist: why the backlist matters, what it is, and why books never expire http://www.stackedbooks.org/2013/10/baby-got-backlist-and-dont-ever-forget.html …
- @TLT16: Some frightfully scary reads for October – recommended by teens http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2013/10/horrifying-reads-for-october.html …
- @TLT16: 4 #TRW13 An A – Z list of books teens love to read, by topic http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/p/book-lists.html …
Just for Fun:
- @sljournal: Librarians Represent at New York Comic Con http://ow.ly/pQByz #NYCC13
- @PWKidsBookshelf: Check out these Halloweeny All Hallows Read posters (free to download and print): http://pwne.ws/16fxk6U
- @Scholastic: What are New York’s best literary landmarks? @CBSNewYork weighs in: http://cbsloc.al/1gkELUk
- @JessicaBrody: The Traveling Story is back and better than ever! Read the first episode here! http://tmblr.co/ZbmESwxncDN0
- @RoccoA: This map of the USA shows the most famous book set in each of the 50 States. Do you agree with your state selection http://www.businessinsider.com/most-famous-book-set-in-every-state-map-2013-10 …
Have you heard of Sweetest Day? You may not have if you don’t live in the Northeast or Great Lakes regions of the United States. This holiday originated in Cleveland, Ohio in 1921 and is an “occasion which offers all of us an opportunity to remember the sick, aged and orphaned, but also friends, relatives and associates whose helpfulness and kindness we have enjoyed.” Similar to Valentine’s Day, on the third Saturday in October, friends and relatives celebrate those sweet people in their lives, most often with candy or flowers.
I thought it might be fun for us to take a day this year to celebrate our favorite YA characters. They may not always be delightfully dispositioned, but we sure are grateful they have come into our lives. I asked my fellow Hub bloggers to think of their favorite YA characters and to try to match a sweet treat to them. Little virtual treats to show our appreciation for their existence in the world.
Diane Colson - I love the character of Ezra in The Beginning of Everything by Robin Schneider. He’s a clueless nice guy until he’s badly injured. Then his popular friends seem to desert him and he spends a lonely summer recuperating. When Ezra returns to school, he begins to live his life differently. That’s when the real sweetness emerges!
For a corresponding dessert, I would choose Chocolate Marshmallow Bark. My reasoning is that Ezra is a little tough like bark and a little bitter like dark chocolate because of his injury. But once people get to know him they find him sweet and funny, like mini-marshmallows.
“Soon her eye fell upon a little glass box lying underneath the table. Sheopened it and found in it a very small cake, on which the words “EAT ME”were beautifully marked in currants.”
Jessica Miller - A character that I think grew to be utterly lovable through a series of surprisingly sweet moments hidden behind a facade of utter sarcasm and seeming self-centeredness is Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter series. As Hermione came to love him, so did I, and I was so glad for I utterly adore the often-overlooked best friend as a love interest. While I always automatically associate Ron with the infamous chocolate frogs, I like to think that his personality would also lead him to love Sour Patch Kids. For they, too, start out sour and become sweet. Who are some of the characters that you’d love to celebrate? For their sweetness or with treats in hopes of creating a slightly more delectable disposition? - Jessica Miller, currently reading Num8ers by Rachel Ward and Father of Lies by Ann Turner
I know this is not really a “genre.” But I think it’s a type of book that is different from other types, so I hope it might be useful to have a guide to what’s out there. For the purposes of this post, I am talking specifically about books written by two different authors, not books told in multiple voices by one writer. I am also not talking about books written in a traditionally single-perspective style, just by two people. This is for a few reasons: first, it narrows the playing field when it comes to putting these lists together. Second: These books just have a different feel to them. And third: co-authored books allow for a variety of interesting conversations about metafiction, authors as people (SHE is friends with HIM? Astonishing!), and what voice is.
Authors to Know
David Levithan (with Rachel Cohn, with John Green, with Andrea Cremer)
P.C. Cast/Kristin Cast
Jenny Han/Siobhan Vivian
Trish Cook/Brendan Halpin
Daniel and Dina Nayeri
James Patterson/Gabrielle Charbonnet
Ann M. Martin/Paula Danziger (as middle grade precursors, these are where your younger patrons might be coming from, or perhaps where they should go first if they’re less mature readers)
Alternating chapters. Immediacy. Strong characterization. Personality. Interesting connections between characters. Cliffhangers at the ends of chapters as you then delve into the other character’s side of the story. Perhaps a first-time or early-career author being trained alongside a more established peer.
It’s great to know that your favorite writer may not have a new book out, but s/he actually co-wrote something that just happens to be filed under the other author’s name. This allows you to satisfy your hunger for unlimited titles by one person (at least momentarily) and be introduced to authors you may not know, but who are clearly readalikes to that known author. And there’s a bonus if co-authored works inspire teens to work with their friends on writing their own collaborative story!
Other Titles To Know (from authors not mentioned above)
Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz/Michael Johnston
Doon by Carey Corp/Lorie Langdon
Team Human by Justine Larbalestier/Sarah Rees Brennan (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
The Future of Us by Jay Asher/Carolyn Mackler
Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult/Samantha Van Leer
Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen/Bruce Coville
Am I missing any? What is your favorite thing about dual-authored books? What makes you want to pick one up?
- Hannah Gómez, currently reading Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan and listening to How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Shoe Lake lives on a Tuscarora reservation in upstate New York. He’s proud of his heritage, but frustrated by the constant poverty and the cultural gulf between Native Americans and white people. It’s worsened by the fact that Shoe is chosen to be in the “brainiac” classes in seventh grade, making him the only person of color. Awkward. But he makes a friend in George, a new kid who has lived in Germany and Guam, where George’s father was stationed in the military. He doesn’t share the prejudice of the other kids in the class, and, better yet, he and Shoe share a passion for the Beatles.
The book is set in 1975, after the Beatles had disbanded. By that time, Paul McCartney was performing with a group of his own, Wings. In Shoe’s mind, a new album by Paul McCartney & Wings was the closest thing to a new Beatles’ album. Below is a video made by Michael Coulson when he attended Hornsey College of Art:
Shoe and George also discuss the “Paul is dead” hoax that began circulating in 1969. It is generally attributed to an article in a Drake University college newspaper entitled, “Is Beatle Paul McCartney Dead?”. The grist of the rumor mill was boosted when, a few weeks later, a caller on a radio show insisted that if the song “Revolution Nunber Nine” was played backwards, the words, “Turn me on, dead man,” could be heard. The “evidence” that Paul had actually died in a car accident in 1966 soon seemed to be everywhere. The rumor became quite elaborate, built on clues found in lyrics, album covers, and songs played backwards. Many web sites and YouTube videos recap the clues that prompted this international, and very morbid, investigation into Paul’s mythical death.
-Diane Colson, currently reading Juvie by Steve Watkins (advanced readers copy).
The phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” has been around forever.
Adults have been telling younger readers for years that it’s what is on the inside that matters, not the cover art. However, this is like telling a child to stop making that funny face because it just might freeze that way. We’ve all heard it, but no one believes it. Similarly, you can tell readers to merely look at the book’s description to discover its appeal, but you might as well be talking to the wall. Everyone, no matter what they say, will have an emotional reaction to the cover art of a book. It’s specifically meant to draw your attention. For the most part, books look fairly similar on the inside and, without reading a bit, the only way to gauge a reaction is by looking at the cover art.
Now to take this one step further, face-out displays are a fabulous way to get someone to stop and ponder reading a book. The cover might be bright, mysterious, or just plain beautiful. But here is another question to consider: what about the book spines? Libraries and book stores will have intriguing displays showcasing books. When you hit the shelves, what makes you pick up a book? Is it the title? Is it the color of the spine, which doesn’t always match the cover of the book? Is it the font of the title? Is it a prominently displayed author name? All of these things are factors that persuade a reader to either pick up a book or pass it by.
I asked a group of teen readers what exactly they look for in a book spine. One girl said she picks books with interesting titles. Another girl said she likes to pick up books with dark spines because they are probably scary. There was also a reader who picked green spines because she likes the color. This got me thinking a little bit. I thought about all the book spines that catch my eye and then I shifted over slightly and considered the books surrounding the eye-grabbing title. How often are these titles overlooked because they live in the shadow of the super-appealing book? So begins my quest and my challenge to you.
Often I will go up to my library’s bookshelves and randomly pick a book off the shelf. Why did I pick a particular book? I think I’m picking something randomly, but there must be something that has drawn me into this particular title. My new challenge is to shift my glance to the books next to my initially chosen title and pick one of the surrounding, not necessarily noticeable books. Who knows? Maybe that mundane book spine might be holding an unexpected sleeper hit. So I hit the stacks. The following books caught my attention– by not catching my attention:
Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony
Molly lives in a world where electricity is generated by solar panels. Oil is scarce and most people survive by crops from their own farms. When Molly has to leave her home to find her grandparents, she faces more than she expected including dealings with a crime organization.
The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine by April Lurie
While helping her friend out by starring in her film, Dylan deals with the troubles withing his family including a weed-smoking brother and a mother who has abandoned him.
Inside Out by Terry Trueman (2004 Best Books for Young Adults, 2004 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers top ten)
Zach, a schizophrenic, is caught in the middle of an armed robbery at a coffee shop where he is held hostage.
So, in closing, here is my challenge to you: take a chance and choose a book that you would have passed by.
-Brandi Smits, currently reading The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
Good morning, Hub readers!
Last week we asked about the time and place you’d most like to visit based on a YA book. 43% of you think 1920s New York as depicted in Libba Bray’s The Diviners sounds like the bee’s knees, while 1950s New Orleans from Out of the Easy by Ruta Septys came in second with 20% of the vote. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!
Now that we’ve pondered how historical fiction can transport us to another era and locale, let’s take a look at historical fantasy or alternate histories in YA lit. There are so many exciting ways authors bend the details of history to mix in magical or supernatural elements, or amazing technology that couldn’t possibly have existed– which creative version of history calls out to you? Vote in the poll below, and be sure to leave a comment if we’ve missed anything!Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
The Telegraph recently published an interview with novelist Joanna Trollope in which she stated that children should read more classics rather than fantasy novels since while “fantasy is a lovely escape, I am not sure it’s much help.” She feels that fantasy novels often do not relate to the real world and these stories can offer their readers little guidance or comfort.
Such statements were bound to fire up fantasy fans–and Hub bloggers Kelly Dickinson & Chelsea Condren were no exception.
So why did you feel so compelled to respond to this article?
KD: Well, I’ve been an avid fantasy fiction since early childhood. My gut reactions run the gamut from instinctual outrage to resigned frustration. The idea that fantasy is “unhelpful” or unconnected to the real world is one that I’ve heard often—from non-fantasy fiction fans—and it frustrates me to no end!
CC: I wanted to respond to this piece for very similar reasons. Also, there are so many fantasy novels that I personally think of as life-altering and some of these novels are classics in their own right. I’m thinking specifically of Madeleine L’Engle, J.K. Rowling, or Terry Pratchett.
How do you counter Trollope’s statement that “classics” offer a “stronger sense of guidance” while fantasy is purely escapist?
KD: Well, my snarky response would be that the classics she mentions are set in 19th century Britain, a world fairly different from the realities facing kids today– at least on the surface. But to be less flippant, I understand her love of Jane Austen & George Eliot–it’s a love I share! There are concepts in those books that bridge the changes since their publication–they can still be very meaningful to readers today. However, I don’t think that fantasy fiction is any different in that regard.
CC: I think what is fundamentally lacking in Trollope’s assertion about real world guidance is her misunderstanding of how fiction actually provides guidance. Children aren’t nearly as literal as adults, for one thing. Both children & teens have a much higher capacity for imagination and fantasy but they are also generally able to separate fantasy from reality, despite what adults may think.
KD: Definitely–children & teens frequently are much more willing to suspend disbelief, especially in the contest of a good story! Readers can recognize that even though Hogwarts might not exist outside a book, Harry Potter’s longing to belong and his search for a home and family are experiences that very much exist in the ‘real’ world.
CC: Yes! The way that we receive guidance from books is not a literal process. We are influenced by something much deeper in literature, which is the connections we share as humans and the ways in which some experiences are unique, and some are universal.
KD: In fact, books that force guidance upon the readers or explain their own meanings too thoroughly feel clumsy and repulsive–especially to children & teens.
CC: Definitely–I think children and teens known when an author is being disingenuous. There has always been an effort to use literature to teach lessons, but if a story wraps up too neatly it won’t teach anybody anything because it won’t feel real.
So, how does fantasy fiction relate to the real world?
CC: Fantasy isn’t necessarily an escape from the “real” world, it’s a way to express emotions and ideas that are sometimes hard to put down in a literal sense. As a teen, I read Ursula LeGuin’s Left Hand of Darkness, about a society where inhabitants change gender at will, and I was able to think really deeply about gender in a way I had never done before, and certainly wouldn’t have done with a standard feminist-leaning teen novel.
KD: I completely agree! Tamora Piece’s Song of the Lioness quartet was my first experience reading about a heroine who didn’t end up with her first love but instead had a series of relationships as she grew up. As a shy, romantic teen, this narrative made me think about relationships & adulthood–and gendered expectations about romance & sexuality in our society–in ways that no other narrative had.
CC: Harry Potter has shaped my ideas about about relationships–I think because the books allowed us to watch the characters grow up and their relationships change as part of that. Additionally, Diana Wynne Jones’ work had a profound impact on me. I remember her characters never got exactly what they wanted or their expectations of what they wanted always changed–they really compromised without compromising their character, and I think that type of realism is hard to find in any novel, fantasy or otherwise.
KD: There are so many other examples I could give! From Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy to Kristin Cashore’s recently published books, I’ve found fantasy books to be some of the most complex, thought-provoking, and relatable stories out there.
CC: Also, I think Trollope’s assumption about what teens relate to is dangerous, because it assumes a pretty narrow, monolithic point of view. Who am I to say that The Hunger Games isn’t realistic for some teens? Maybe none of them are fighting to the death in a reality competition, but they are certainly experiencing poverty and governmental cruelty. For some readers, these types of scenarios hit far closer to home than classics like, say, Little House on the Prairie.
KD: Yes! And sometimes, the seemingly ‘escapist’ aspects of fantasy can be an advantage for such readers. It might be easier to read about a young person dealing with such issues when the novel is distanced from your daily experiences.
CC: In the end, literature, particularly fantasy and science fiction, is so much richer and more complicated than we sometime realize, and that complexity affects our response to it–no matter our age.
So, readers, what do you think about Joanna Trollope’s statements about fantasy fiction? What fantasy titles have been influential in your life?
-Kelly Dickinson & Chelsea Condren
Well, readers and movie buffs, today marks the release of a new Romeo and Juliet movie adaptation, this time with Julian Fellowes (of Downton Abbey fame) putting the Bard’s words to screen. Take a gander at the trailer if you haven’t already:
Which movie actors would you cast as Romeo and Juliet?
“I think Rose Byrne would be a good movie actress to play Juliet, because she landed her first role at 15 years old, and they were about the same age, and I think Romeo should be played by Leonardo DiCaprio.” –Genoa Juliet
“Orlando Bloom on Broadway” –Helen
“If we’re going more age-appropriate, I agree with the casting of the new movie: Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth. If you’re looking for actors a little bit older, I think I’d cast Eddie Redmayne as Romeo. He has that suave, leading-man quality about him from what I saw in Les Mis. For Juliet, I’d go with Condola Rashad. I just saw her on Broadway as Juliet (opposite Orlando Bloom) and she was fantastic!” –Luke
“I think that it’s stayed popular because I feel like some people idealized/want their relationships to be like that. even though r and j only knew each other for a day, there was that sense of unconditional love and love at first sight and the person you love will do anything for you is so romantic. and they have been immortalized as the most romantic and loving couple. I also think it’s so popular because of how it is written and who it is written by. the words and the poetry are so beautiful. Somehow Shakespeare had manipulated the words to have such beautiful meanings.” –Helen”I think it has stayed popular because people of every age love the unblessed relationship between the two Romeo & Juliet and love playing parts in plays.” –Genoa Juliet
“I think because forbidden love will be as relevant as ever for as long as humans exist. So many people have experienced that feeling of caring about someone but not being allowed to be with them for reasons neither person can control. Love is so universal that it speaks to everyone in a way. And Shakespeare’s deft writing is also part of it. The way he uses the form to help enhance the piece without the reader even being aware of it is just brilliant.” –Luke
What do YOU like about the play? What do you dislike about it?
“I liked it because my favorite thing about any story is the narrative behind it. If it has a good story, I will certainly read it. If it doesn’t, I will not.” –Jake S.
“What I like about it is that you get the chance to speak, dress, act, and understand the story better. I don’t like that we have to memorize the way they speak.” –Genoa Juliet
“There is nothing I don’t like about the play, I mean some scenes are frustrating but there are some scenes like the Tybalt and Mercutio fight scene or any of the Romeo and Juliet scenes. So it’s all balanced out, but it’s all written so beautiful I love it all. Ugh I am a Shakespeare fan girl and you can quote me on that. He was just so eloquent with his words and his immortal poetry. Changing his words or cutting out lines it’s like butchering immortal poetry. (I say that because I saw the new movie trailer and they seemed to have changed the words and added scenes.)” –Helen
“I like the themes within the play: love should conquer all, but it doesn’t always happen that way. It doesn’t just take the easy way out and say, “And their parents got over their issues and they lived happily ever after!” It’s realistic in that I’m pretty sure the only way the Capulets and the Montagues would stop fighting is if their children die. I love a story that isn’t afraid to be at least a little tragic to help make their point. As far as what I don’t like…I really am not a fan of the characters of Romeo and Juliet. Their stupidity at their own feelings are just ridiculous. I could rant forever on how stupid they are. I understand how lustful they feel, and their desire to be together at that moment, but really? *facepalm*” –Luke
What is your favorite Shakespearean insult?
“You kiss by the book.” –Genoa Juliet
“Thou art as loathsome as a toad.” –Helen
“Hang thee, young baggage!” –Helen
“Thou saucy clapper-clawed hugger-mugger!” –Luke
Which two groups could be seen as the Capulets and Montagues of today?
“Prince William and Kate’s family, because it’s royalty, just not enemies.” –Genoa Juliet
“Two words: government shutdown. I’m pretty sure Congress and their stubbornness could easily qualify as the Capulets and Montagues of today. I feel like the Democrats and Republicans don’t like each other at this point solely because they’re the “dark side”, not because of their actual opinions. The Montagues and Capulets had reason to hate each other at one point, but Romeo and Juliet have no reason to continue the feud. After all, as Juliet says, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”" –Luke
Another way to ask this question: what kind of couple today would not be allowed by their parents to date each other?
“I could see this happening in quite a few different instances, probably in a similar situation as Romeo and Juliet: the children of rivals whose parents won’t let them see each other for various reasons. Maybe they’re business rivals. Maybe one’s a jock and one’s a geek. Sadly, I think many teenagers will still have to deal with this.” –Luke
Thanks to Carly Young and the drama club at Genoa Middle School, Helen from Columbus School for Girls, and Luke from NYU for their help with this post! :)
–Becky O’Neil, currently reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
As usual, Twitter has been busy this week with YA related news, events, giveaways and more. Here are some of the highlights, in case you missed anything…
Contests and Giveaways
- We can’t give you a #Hogwarts Hallowe’en Feast, but we can give you #HarryPotter books in our #BookOLantern #Contest http://ow.ly/ptXgt-@Teenreads
- “steampunk! vampires! Sherlock Holmes!” Win The Clockwork Scarab By Colleen Gleason! via @thestorysiren http://www.thestorysiren.com/2013/10/giveaway-clockwork-scarab-colleen-gleason.html#more-7895 …-@yaReads
- Enter the giveaway to win a copy of EVERTRUE, @brodiashton‘s electrifying conclusion to the Everneath series http://shrd.by/W0fl8l -@harperteen
- “@DebbiMichiko: Spotlight interview w awesome YA author @JoKnowles! Win a signed copy of LIVING WITH JACKIE CHAN! http://wp.me/p1K8Cj-r6 ”-@JoKnowles
- One more time! Double-Crossed=the FREE novella in the worlds of Gallagher Girls AND Heist Society. Available wherever eBooks are sold.-OfficiallyAlly
- Enter to win a signed, hardcover copy of THE BROKENHEARTED by @AKahaney! ––> http://ow.ly/pE5Qb -@PitchDarkBooks
- ICYMI: Cover reveal for STOLEN is on the blog, plus a chance to win a preorder –> http://www.embowman.com/2013/stolen-cover-reveal/ …-@erin_bowman
- RT @Cuddlebuggery: Check out the cover reveal for EXILE by @kcemerson and enter to win an ARC! http://shrd.by/6Nm23L @harperteen @epicreads-@harperteen
- Read an excerpt of ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA and enter to win signed copies: http://www.dianapeterfreund.com/across-a-star-swept-sea-chapter-1/ …-@dpeterfreund
- HIDEOUS LOVE: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein, is on sale today. Start the fascinating story today: http://bit.ly/1dLLnX9 -@harperteen
- Happy pub day to @akahaney & THE BROKENHEARTED! You should come see her (w/@MindyMcGinnis & me!) today at Books & Co. in Dayton.-@raecarson
- Also, I just released a zombie short story collection! THE DEAD AND EMPTY WORLD – more here: http://carrie-me.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-dead-and-empty-world.html … #zombies #halloween-@carrieryan
- The brilliant and funny and humane @AdamGidwitz‘s THE GRIMM CONCLUSION is out today. There will be blood and tears (of laughter).-@gayleforman
- And for all you duet fans out there *waves hands wildly* @tamaraistone‘s TIME AFTER TIME is out today. And she and I are talking duets 1/2-@gayleforman
- Actually, it’s a big Book B-day!!! @jamesdashner , #EYEOFMINDS , @camphalfblood #HOUSEOFHADES and @haleshannon #EVERAFTERHIGH !!!-@AprilynnePike
- The charming, romantic, adorable TIME BETWEEN US is out today from @tamaraistone! Go wish her the best :) http://hyperionteens.tumblr.com/post/63479505211/anna-and-bennett-are-back-time-between-us … #BenAnna-@HyperionTeens
News and Events
- “The Fault in Our Stars” gets a release date! http://huff.to/199TjAf -@HuffPostBooks
- RT @Nobelprize_org Alice Munro is the 13th woman to receive the #NobelPrize in #Literature & the 110th Nobel Laureate in Literature-@PublishersWkly
Just For Fun
- Look at this great idea from Douglas County Libraries in CO: mystery bags of books to check out. pic.twitter.com/yoIstLDCRl-@haleshannon
- And for the afternoon crowd, a PREVIEW of my @realjohngreen and @hankgreen fanfic for @TheHPAlliance: http://maureenjohnsonbooks.tumblr.com/post/63641836104/john-green-fanfic-preview …-@maureenjohnson
- Whitney Etchison, currently reading The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
I belong to a book club where we do a role call to see what everyone is reading. I am always interested to know what other people are reading or waiting to read– but just knowing what is popular in Ohio or the whole United States no longer satisfies my curiosity. I want to know what teens are reading all over the world.
Russia is a country of 143,500,000 people. Its capital and largest city, Moscow, has a population of 12,000,000. (Russia) About 27% of the people in living in Russia are 24 years old or younger, so that’s a lot juvenile and teen readers. Which makes me wonder, what are all of them reading? Here are some answers provided by Jessica Lind, fellow Hub blogger. You can learn more about her life in Russia from her Hub post, From Russia with YA.
*These views are Jessica’s own and not those of the school, or of any person or organization affiliated or doing business with the school.
- Where do you work?
I am working in Moscow, Russia right now. I work at the Anglo-American School of Moscow and this year I am primarily in the library for middle and high school students. My title is Library Assistant. We are a school library, but in many ways we also function as a community library since Russia is not the most English-friendly country. We order materials suited for students, parents, and staff, including a large DVD collection.
- What are the most popular titles for teens at your library right now?
Schoolwide (pre-k to grade 12), we have students representing over 60 nationalities. Our school is sponsored by the American, Canadian, and British embassies, though, so thanks to the internet, the interests of the students are fairly in line with what you would expect from students in these countries, I think. John Green is huge with our high school students this year; we cannot keep his books on the shelf. Popular series such as The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan, and Delirium by Lauren Oliver circulate very well. There are a few series that may circulate more here because we are in Europe, including Sophie McKenzie’s The Medusa Project since she is a British author. We also get high circulation on books by Brandon Mull, Sophie Jordan, and Curtis Jobling because of recent author visits to our school.
- What genres are most popular with your library’s teens?
From what I can tell when doing readers’ advisory, fantasy seems to be one of the most popular genres. Contemporary life, realistic fiction is probably a close second. We recently had a number of students express interest in booktalks about sci-fi and steampunk, so I hope to see a rise in these genres in the coming months. We have a few classes that are focusing on historical fiction and students in that class seem most interested in stories stories from WWII or the time of the last Russian tsar. While they are not selecting historical fiction on their own, they are selecting the time period.
- What languages are the books in your teen collection?
Our collection is primarily in English. We have World Language collections, the largest of which are in Russian, French, Korean, and Spanish, but they are no where near the size of our English collection. Steps have been taken to grow both the Russian and Korean collections recently as they are two wide-spoken languages in our community. Between our two libraries, I think the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling can be found in at least four languages.
- Do your teens prefer to read print novels or ebooks?
As for ebooks vs. print, it’s difficult to say. Sometimes if we do not have a book available and I offer to place a hold, the student will tell me that it’s not necessary because he or she will just download it on Kindle. Other times, though, when we have an ebook version of a title available, but the print copy is checked out, the student will say they would rather wait because they want the physical book. I never know what to expect, so I always offer as many options as possible.
I hope to learn and share about teen reading around the world. If you or someone you know lives overseas and works as a teacher or librarian with teens, please message me so I can do a post about the country they live in.
-Laura C. Perenic is reading To Be Perfectly Honest : a Novel Based On An Untrue Story by Sonya Sones (author of 2002 Best Books for Young Adults title, What My Mother Doesn’t Know)
When Jasmine decides that college isn’t part of her future, she is kicked out of her house. With little but her dream of joining a band, Jasmine sets out for Santa Cruz. It seems a perfect fit when she meets three guys looking for a roommate and a “fierce lead guitarist.” Perfect… almost.
Author Tara Kelly is a big music fan and a one-girl band. It came naturally to select songs that match the personalities of characters in Amplified. Once that was accomplished, Kelly chose a song that would demonstrate how the fictional band, C-Side, would sound.
Red Stars by The Birthday Massacre is that song. The Canadian electronic-rock group has been playing together since 1999, although the original name for the band was stolen from the title of a Clive Barker novel, Imajica. Red Stars is from their 2007 album, Walking with Strangers.
Diane Colson, still reading The Ink Bridge by Neil Grant and listening to Can’t Buy Me Love by Jonathan Gould, read by Richard Aspel
Although I like to read a wide range of books, I always take a while to get into something new– which makes me a regular re-reader of old favorite books and authors. It’s always nice for me when an author I love writes a new series or in a new style, because it makes me more likely to try it out– and in the case of genres, once I find one book I like, I’m likely to try others. I’m naturally a fantasy or historical fiction reader, but Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series got me to like mysteries, enough that I tried Ian Rankin and grande dame Agatha Cristie.
Of course, the big genres like fantasy have sprouted a whole bunch of sub-genres, and there are tons of fantasy sub-genres that I haven’t fully explored. Luckily, one of my favorite authors, Robin McKinley, has written in a wide variety of fantasy sub-genres. Even better, she’s got a new book, Shadows, just out two weeks ago that will hopefully entice me to give another go to what she refers to on her blog as her “alt modern” style.
Here’s my guide to exploring fantasy sub-genres through the works of Robin McKinley:
Fairy Tale Retellings
Many authors like to start with a well-known fairy tale or folktale and give it their own unique twist. Robin McKinley has done this with a number of fairy tales, often resulting in heroines who are a little more proactive than the original tale suggests.
This retelling of Beauty and the Beast has gotten attention on The Hub before, at least in part because it’s been listed on YALSA’s Ultimate Teen Bookshelf. This was the first Robin McKinley book I read, so it’s always going to be one of my favorites– but I think it has appeal for anyone who likes fairy tales, plus it was one of the earlier fantasy novels to feature a strong female protagonist. Incidentally, McKinley has written another retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Rose Daughter. Although the retellings are very different, they both have a “fairy tale world” feel.
While Beauty fleshes out the story of Beauty and the Beast, Spindle’s End almost seems to take apart and reweave the story of Sleeping Beauty. All the traditional elements are there (the christening, the angry fairy, the spindle, the briar hedge), but there’s also talking to animals, blacksmithing, and a strong friendship. If you think you know how the tale ends, keep your eyes open for a twist!
In addition to retelling traditional stories, McKinley has written a number of original stories that might be considered “high fantasy.” When I think of high fantasy, I think of worlds that contain magic, but that otherwise seem old fashioned… maybe people travel by horseback instead of car, or they still have to grow most of their own food, for example.
McKinley’s best-known high fantasy works are her Damar books: The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, largely because the second book won the 1985 Newbery Medal. They aren’t the only great high fantasy McKinley’s done though. Consider trying one of the following:
Imagine your country falling apart, and finding out that you have just been chosen to be one of the ruler’s top advisors in putting it back together. That’s essentially what happens to Mirasol, the protagonist of Chalice. Of course, instead of the everyday coup d’etat, she has to deal with the new ruler being a Priest of Fire whose touch can burn to the bone… and her career before this new job was in beekeeping.
Those who like series will be happy to discover Pegasus, if they can stand a little waiting… it’s the first in a trilogy, and the second installment is currently set to come out in 2014. Sylvi is a princess in a country that has an alliance with pegasi, and so she is assigned one pegasus to be her counterpart. What she doesn’t expect is being able to talk to her pegasus, Ebon. An unlikely friendship develops that will affect the future of both peoples.
The books that fall in this category feel like they could be happening in the present day, probably in the United States, except for a few major differences. Maybe magic is an accepted part of life or creatures we think of as imaginary really exist. McKinley introduces the rules of whichever world she builds organically, so it doesn’t take too long to figure out what makes these stories alternate modern tales.
Sunshine (a 2005 Best Books for Young Adults selection)
Before the Twilight craze, Sunshine tells the story of a young baker who ends up in an unlikely alliance with a vampire. This story feels more urban to me than many of McKinley’s others, and I am looking forward to comparing Shadows to it.
Unlike Sunshine, Dragonhaven is modern but rural… very rural– as in, middle-of-the-wilderness-in-a-restricted-national-park rural. Jake has grown up in Smokehill National Park, but neither he nor anyone else has ever had close contact with real dragons… until he stumbles across a dying mother dragon and automatically saves the only surviving baby.
In addition to her books, McKinley has been writing a serialized story on her blog called “Kes,” which also falls in the alt modern subgenre.
Who are some authors that have introduced you to diverse stories? What are some genres you want to explore more?
-Libby Gorman, currently reading Shadows by Robin McKinley
Good morning, Hub readers!
Last week we asked you to choose the fictional book from YA lit you’d like to get your hands on. The majority of you share Hermione’s enthusiasm for “Hogwarts: A History” from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, as it captured 50% of the vote. 23% of you are willing to overlook fictional author Peter Van Houten’s character flaws and want to read “An Imperial Affliction” from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and 11% of you would choose the magical book-within-a-book of Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!
Just as an author can invent a book for the purposes of their story and make it seem real, good writing can bring a particular time and place to life for the reader. This week, we want to know which time and place from a YA book would you most want to visit. Granted, not all of these visits might be entirely pleasant, since history is full of conflict and tragedy– but there are many reasons a reader might feel drawn to a certain time and place. It’s up to you!
This poll is only a small sampling of the many compelling depictions of eras and places in YA historical fiction, so vote from the following options or make a suggestion in the comments!Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has designated October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The word “awareness” is critical when approaching a crime like domestic violence, because abuse within the home is a rarely a one-time thing. It can continue, unidentified, for years, and down through generations. Physical abuse can be clothed in many disguises, such as legitimate discipline, or excusable bad temper, or some fault of the victim. The consequences, particularly for victimized children, can leave lifelong scars.
While some commentators are appalled when YA lit addresses dark issues like abuse, these books can be the first light of understanding encountered by an abused teen. CORA (Committee Overcoming Relationship Abuse) reports that three to ten million children witness domestic violence/abuse each year in the United States.
Children and teens exposed to an abusive parent are often isolated; called names; humiliated; manipulated into abusing the non-abusive parent; threatened with abandonment, suicide, harm to self or pets; intimidated; denied access to healthcare, proper nutrition, clothing and shelter; sexually and physically abused. The abusive parent will resort to these behaviors in an effort to maintain power and control over their partner and children.
What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen is about sixteen year-old Sara: clarinet player; sister of Matt, now deceased, and daughter of a man who communicates by throwing temper tantrums and hot skillets. Life at home, Sarah remarks, is like, “…drowning in a giant bowl of oatmeal.” Sara’s mother finally makes a plan to leave to leave Sara’s father for good, telling Sara that she will pick her up at lunchtime the following day. Sara is both relieved and uneasy. Her mother seems to have no practical plan for their post-escape destination. Sara waits for her mother at the meeting place for hours. But she never shows up… anywhere.
Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for families. Teens may reason that anywhere would be better than life at home. Will and Zoe in Kristin Halbrook’s Nobody But Us are both looking for a clean start. Will, abandoned by his parents, is now too old for foster care but has no where to go. Zoe is running from her abusive father. Their escape is far more dangerous than they could have imagined. Their love, however, is the strongest bond they have ever known.
Fourteen year-old Faye, in Carolita Blythe’s Revenge of a Not-So-Pretty Girl, chases away the despair of her life in the slums of Brooklyn, 1984, by dreaming of her idol, Michael Jackson. Another way she escapes her hateful alcoholic mother and the void left by her missing father is by running the streets with her friends. Faye has no problem taking part in mugging pretty girls, but when they hurt an eighty-year-old woman, Faye’s conscience kicks in. Faye allows an older person to care for her, and it affects her whole life.
How different for Nikki, in Terra Elan McVoy’s Criminal (a 2014 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers nominated title). She ran from the neglect of her drug-addicted mother and landed in the arms of Dee, a mean-spirited, controlling man. Nikki is not a criminal, but she would do anything for Dee- lie to police, destroy evidence- anything to get his approval. Nikki has no family structure showing how healthy relationships function, so she’s left to create a relationship born of her desperate need.
The flip side of neglect is over-protection. Although this sounds benign compared to other forms of domestic abuse, it can leave a teen vulnerable, unable to recognize abusive patterns, and unsure their own instincts. For Joy, in Holly Cupala’s Don’t Breathe a Word, this over-protectiveness is literally stifling; Joy has severe asthma and struggles to find enough air to breathe. Her boyfriend, sadistic Asher, is one more element of her life that leaves her gasping. Joy has to escape. She chops and dyes her hair, stages her own abduction and runs to stay with street people in Seattle.
Escape can bring both relief and regret, especially if someone vulnerable is left behind. Split, by Swati Avasthi, (a 2011 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults selection) depicts such a situation. Teenager Jace leaves home to track down his estranged older brother. Christian. Christian left home when Jace was eleven, changing his last name, fading into anonymity. Now Jace needs reasons, answers. And to get them, he has to leave his mother alone with his abusive father.
Outcomes vary, but the significance of books such as those listed above is their glimpse of alternatives to staying in an abusive situation. They have the power to imbue hope, or caution, or the simple recognition of domestic abuse.
For more book suggestions, as well as resources to help teens in abusive relationships, check out Molly Wetta’s Hub post, Mend a Broken Heart: Homeless and Abused Teens in YA Fiction.
-Diane Colson, currently reading The Ink Bridge by Neil Grant and listening to Can’t Buy Me Love by Jonathan Gould, read by Richard Aspel
YALSA-bk is a listserv with lively discussions among librarians, educators, and beyond about all things YA lit. Sometimes one listserv member will ask for help finding books around a certain theme or readalikes for a particular title. This post is a compilation of responses for one such request.
The original request
Does anyone have any recommendations for nonfiction titles for teens on environmental awareness/”going green”? So far I have Girls Gone Green and Generation Green, but I’d appreciate any other suggestions.
- Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
- Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
- Flush by Carl Hiaasen
- Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald
- They Came From Below by Blake Nelson
- Gaia Warriors by Nicola Davies
- We Are the Weather Makers: The History of Climate Change by Tim Flannery
- Girls Gone Green by Lynn Hirschfield
- Going Blue: A Teen Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, and Wetlands by Cathryn Berger Kaye
- MySpace OurPlanet: Change is Possible by the MySpace community with Jeca Taudte
- Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices by Mindy Pennybacker
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat, Young Readers Edition by Michael Pollan
- Get Real by Mara Rockliff
- The Green Teen: The Eco-Friendly Teen’s Guide to Saving the Planet by Jenn Savedge
- A Teen Guide to Being Eco in Your Community by Cath Senker
- Generation Green: Generation Green: The Ultimate Teen Guide to Living an Eco-Friendly Life by Linda Sivertsen and Tosh Sivertsen
- Changing the World by Sharon Smith
- The Young Activist’s Guide to Building a Green Movement by Sharon Smith
- Green My Parents by Adora Svitak and Jordan Howard
- It’s Easy Being Green: A Handbook for Earth-Friendly Living by Crissy Trask
- Teens Go Green! Tips, Techniques, Tools, and Themes for YA Programming by Valerie Colston
Have more titles you think should belong on these lists? Add them on the YALSA wiki or leave a comment! Looking for more compiled booklists? Check out the YALSA wiki or other booklists here at The Hub.
– Gretchen Kolderup, currently reading The 100 by Kass Morgan