The Hub

Subscribe to The Hub feed
Your Connection to Teen Reads
Updated: 17 hours 37 min ago

The Seventh Day of YA

Wed, 12/31/2014 - 07:00

This year on the Hub we are celebrating the Twelve Days of YA with a series of posts loosely based on the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. We have converted each gift into a related theme common to YA and paired it with a list of relevant titles. You may use the Twelve Days of YA tag to read all of the posts in the series.

Special thanks goes to Carli Spina, Faythe Arredondo, Sharon Rawlins, Geri Diorio, Becky O’Neil, Carla Land, Katie Yu, Laura Perenic, Jennifer Rummel, Libby Gorman, Carly Pansulla, Anna Dalin, and Allison Tran for their help creating the booklists and organizing this series.

On the seventh day of YA, my true love gave to me seven swans-a-swimming.

Remember when I mentioned that there were a lot of birds in the original song? Yep, we’ve got seven more here with the swans. So, we converted this one into an ugly-duckling-to-swan theme. Rather than focusing only on make overs for this theme, we looked mostly at books that included characters that were non-traditional beauties, but others saw that they were beautiful all along. We hope you enjoy the stories of lovely swans that we picked and encourage you to share your favorites in the comments!

  

  

- Jessica Lind, currently reading My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

Jukebooks: Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo

Wed, 12/31/2014 - 07:00

It really isn’t fair. Leigh’s dad buys a graveyard (why not a Taco Bell? why not a Ferrari?) and guess who ends up working the office? Fourteen year-old Leigh, that’s who. Never mind child labor laws. Never mind the incongruity of pushing aside Algebra homework to sell cemetary plots to sobbing customers. Leigh’s cup runneth over. Until tragedy makes her realize how good she really had it.

The song that goes with this book is completely improbable. It’s based on a conversation Leigh has in a Spanish class that goes like this:

Me: ¿Te gusta musica?
Ken Dale, my Spanish partner: Sí, yo prefiero Sade. Mucho gusto “Smooth Operator.”
Me: Sí. Yo también.
Ken Dale: ¿Vamos a la playa ahora? ¿O quizás Taco Bell?
Me: Bueno! Sí, como no. ¡Vamos!

It was Sade Adu’s performance of this song that captured the attention of Epic Records. “Smooth Operator” is included on Sade’s first album, Diamond Life, released in 1984.

-Diane Colson, currently reading Breaking Butterflies by M. Anelais

The Sixth Day of YA

Tue, 12/30/2014 - 07:00

This year on the Hub we are celebrating the Twelve Days of YA with a series of posts loosely based on the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. We have converted each gift into a related theme common to YA and paired it with a list of relevant titles. You may use the Twelve Days of YA tag to read all of the posts in the series.

Special thanks goes to Carli Spina, Faythe Arredondo, Sharon Rawlins, Geri Diorio, Becky O’Neil, Carla Land, Katie Yu, Laura Perenic, Jennifer Rummel, Libby Gorman, Carly Pansulla, and Allison Tran for their help creating the booklists and organizing this series.

On the sixth day of YA, my true love gave to me six geese-a-laying.

For day six, geese-a-laying, our theme is teen pregnancy in YA books. Whether a main topic or a side-story involving a secondary character, we were able to come up with quite a few titles. We hope you enjoy the stories of teen pregnancy we picked and encourage you to share your favorites in the comments!

          

 

- Jessica Lind, currently reading My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

What Would They Read?: Holiday Edition

Mon, 12/29/2014 - 07:00

OK, it’s time for a little make believe.  I’d ask you to close your eyes, but I know that will make reading the rest of this fairly difficult.  Imagine it’s Christmas morning and you just noticed that your stocking is filled to the brim with goodies.  Upon closer inspection, you notice that it’s not just any random gift.  Santa has stuffed your stocking with books upon books.  It truly is a merry Christmas.

Everyone makes their own personal Santa.  One Santa would only ever bring candy and never socks.  Another Santa would leave the sweets at home and fill up the stocking with silly little knick knacks.  In my imagination, Santa stuffs as many books as possible in my stocking.  The question is, how well does Santa know your personal reading tastes?  Below are several of our favorite holiday characters.  Let’s see what books Santa stuffed in their stockings.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Rudolph’s story is a familiar one.  I mean, the basics of his life are squeezed into a song.  Aside from the magical ability to fly and his glowing nose, Rudolph’s story is about trying to fit in when others make you feel like an outcast.  This is a common theme in many teen books.  Rudolph would definitely enjoy science fiction stories that include other characters with powers.  For example, I guarantee there were several “X-Men” graphic novels.  Who wouldn’t want to relate their issues with the issues of superheroes?  In addition to the “X-Men” graphic novels, I bet Santa would throw in the “Maximum Ride” series by James Patterson, starting with The Angle Experiment.  Similarly to the X-Men, Patterson’s books are about kids with powers that would normally exclude them.  Instead, these powers bring the kids together.  Who could forget about Harry Potter?  Harry Potter spends his whole life up to the age of ten thinking that he wasn’t as good as the other kids.  Then he discovers in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling that he is actually more special than his rude family.  Also, just like Rudolph and his reindeer friends, Harry gets to do the same things as the other wizards, but still must deal with being treated different.  Rudolph’s nose will always glow and Harry’s scar will always remind people that he was not killed by He Who Must Not Be Named.  Of course, let’s not forget the parallels between Rudolph’s relationship to Santa and Harry’s relationship with Dumbledore.  The similarities are definitely there.  Obviously, Rudolph will have quite a few books to read in the time before next Christmas.

Frosty the Snowman – Frosty’s story, also explained quite extensively through a song, reminds me a a ghost story.  He can only stay for a short time and then the story is over.  That being said, if I were Santa, I would stick a few ghost stories in Frosty’s stocking.  First, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (a 2012 Teens’ Top Ten pick) would definitely  be stuck in there.  The kids aren’t exactly ghosts, but like Frosty, their existence is short-lived and dependent on outside factors beyond their control.  On the lighter side of subjects, I also believe that Frosty would love fairy tales.  Magic is the reason that he was able to play that day and a few books that focus on magic would be right up his alley.  While this can skew a bit younger, I could see Santa bringing Frosty The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer.  This story includes several magical items that allow the siblings to travel to the fairy tale world as well as grant them the ability to go back home.  Finally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev.  This story includes magical creatures, cursed items, and life on the stage.  It’s my impression of Frosty that believes he would love all things theatrical, all the time.

The Grinch – Continuing on with characters with their own songs, I felt I needed to include The Grinch in this post.  What do you get the guy who hates everything?  Santa knows!  The Grinch likes all things gross and rotting.  Of course Santa would bring him all the zombie books he could carry!  That is, if Santa can find The Grinch’s stocking under all of the garbage in his house.  Even the cover of Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Mayberry screams Grinch.  The eye on the cover is the perfect shade of Grinch green.  In this story, Benny works as a zombie hunter.  Cue the revolting display of zombie dismemberment.  In addition to Mayberry’s series, Santa would also sneak in Zom-B by Darren Shan.  Shan is no light-weight when it comes to the horrid, puss-filled zombie descriptions that fill the pages.  In this story, B is trying to survival the zombie attack any way he can.  In addition to the books by Mayberry and Shan, The Grinch would also enjoy The Enemy  by Charlie Higson. Finally, Santa would be remiss to leave out “The Walking Dead” graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman.  Knowing The Grinch, I wouldn’t be surprised if he rooted for the zombies instead of the survivors.

It’s true that some might balk of the selection for The Grinch, stating that Santa is all about happy and cuddly things.  I wholeheartedly disagree. Who’s to say that Santa wouldn’t want a little zombie apocalypse once in a while.

So there you have it!  There’s a book for everyone and Santa knows what to bring you.  What books did Santa bring you this year?

-Brandi Smits, currently reading My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

The Fifth Day of YA

Mon, 12/29/2014 - 07:00

This year on the Hub we are celebrating the Twelve Days of YA with a series of posts loosely based on the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. We have converted each gift into a related theme common to YA and paired it with a list of relevant titles. You may use the Twelve Days of YA tag to read all of the posts in the series.

Special thanks goes to Carli Spina, Faythe Arredondo, Sharon Rawlins, Geri Diorio, Becky O’Neil, Carla Land, Katie Yu, Laura Perenic, Jennifer Rummel, Libby Gorman, Carly Pansulla, and Allison Tran for their help creating the booklists and organizing this series.

On the fifth day of YA, my true love gave to me five golden riiiiiiiings.

Marriage! Marriage is what brings us together today. In honor of five gold rings, we give you five golden stories of marriage in YA. We hope you enjoy the marriage-related stories we picked and encourage you to share your favorites in the comments!

            

  • The Selection series by Kiera Cass
  • The Story of Us by Deb Caletti
  • Twilight series by Stephenie Meyers
  • The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt
  • I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan

- Jessica Lind, currently reading My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

The Monday Poll: Your Favorite Makeover in YA Lit

Sun, 12/28/2014 - 23:10

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we asked which YA lit companion novel you’re most looking forward to reading in 2015. 44% of you are looking forward to Fairest by Marissa Meyer, while 12% are eager to read more about Tiny Cooper in Hold Me Closer by David Levithan. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!

Now that the new year is just around the corner, we’re thinking about new years’ resolutions, turning over a new leaf, forming new habits, and all of those things people usually think about around the end of December. So, speaking of turning over a new leaf, what’s your favorite makeover in YA lit? It could be looks-wise, style-wise, or personality-wise. 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.

The Fourth Day of YA

Sun, 12/28/2014 - 07:00

This year on the Hub we are celebrating the Twelve Days of YA with a series of posts loosely based on the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. We have converted each gift into a related theme common to YA and paired it with a list of relevant titles. You may use the Twelve Days of YA tag to read all of the posts in the series.

Special thanks goes to Carli Spina, Faythe Arredondo, Sharon Rawlins, Geri Diorio, Becky O’Neil, Carla Land, Katie Yu, Laura Perenic, Jennifer Rummel, Libby Gorman, Carly Pansulla, and Allison Tran for their help creating the booklists and organizing this series.

On the fourth day of YA, my true love gave to me four calling birds.

Music is a fantastic partner for books. Many YA authors are very open about the influence that music has on their stories. Whether it’s providing a playlist that was on repeat while writing, song lyrics at the beginning of each chapter, or having the plot of the story based on the characters’ love of music, you cannot ignore musical YA. We hope you enjoy the rockin’ titles we picked and encourage you to share your favorites in the comments!

   

             

- Jessica Lind, currently reading My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

YALSA’s 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-In #3

Sun, 12/28/2014 - 07:00

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. If you’re finished, fill out the form at the bottom of this post to let us know!

With the new year fast approaching, I’m sure many of you are still busy with holiday commitments and travel, but even if you haven’t yet had an opportunity to get started with the Hub’s Morris/Nonfiction reading challenge, I hope that you will consider it! Given that the challenge doesn’t end until February 2nd, there is still plenty of time to join us. In fact, this would make a perfect New Year’s Resolution! So, get started now to find some awesome new nonfiction or some amazing new young adult authors. Who knows? You might find a new favorite author or finally get to read a book that you have been meaning to read all year! And, as an added bonus, reading you do as part of the challenge will count towards the upcoming Hub Reading Challenge, which starts in February! So, what are you waiting for?!? Start reading now and don’t get left behind by your friends!

Whether you are still reading or have already finished the challenge, leave us a comment about what you have liked so far or which books you can’t wait to read. Personally, I’m most excited to start reading Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw which I’ve been wanting to read since I first hear about it. How about you? And, if you’ve already completed the challenge, please fill out the form at the end of this post to tell us about your accomplishment and to share your favorite!

– Carli Spina, currently reading Grandville Noel by Bryan Talbot

Loading…

The Third Day of YA

Sat, 12/27/2014 - 07:00

This year on the Hub we are celebrating the Twelve Days of YA with a series of posts loosely based on the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. We have converted each gift into a related theme common to YA and paired it with a list of relevant titles. You may use the Twelve Days of YA tag to read all of the posts in the series.

Special thanks goes to Carli Spina, Faythe Arredondo, Sharon Rawlins, Geri Diorio, Becky O’Neil, Carla Land, Katie Yu, Laura Perenic, Jennifer Rummel, Libby Gorman, Carly Pansulla, and Allison Tran for their help creating the booklists and organizing this series.

On the third day of YA, my true love gave to me three French hens.

There is something so romantic and exciting about stories set in foreign countries. France is certainly no exception. Rather than three French hens, today we are giving you eight French stories. The following books all take place, at least in part, in France. Ooh-la-la! We hope you enjoy the titles we picked and encourage you to share your favorite French stories in the comments!

         

      

- Jessica Lind, currently reading My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

Tweets of the Week: December 26th

Fri, 12/26/2014 - 07:00

If you celebrated a holiday this week, I hope it was a happy one! If not, I hope you enjoyed your day off! Here are some things that had Twitter going this week.

Books/Reading/Authors

Movies/TV

Giveaways/Contests

Librarianship

  • @LibWardrobe Weigh in, friends: “@SamanthaMarcy: Dear @LibWardrobe, which is more appropriate for work on Christmas Eve eve: taffeta or sweatpants?”
  • @boundtoferguson Good morning! It’s nearly Christmas! As you’re checking your list twice, make sure you sent a book to @fergusonlibrary thru #boundtoferguson

Miscellaneous/Just for Giggles

  • @ComplexMusic Azealia Banks shares her thoughts on Iggy Azalea and her response to Q-Tip’s hip-hop lesson. http://bit.ly/1wYhttZ
  • @mandy_wan I kind of wish I had a gym membership just to people watch those who take gym selfies.
  • @maureenjohnson If you got one of my books today, Twitter, just a reminder: it means I can get into your home through the electrical wires now.
  • @zlikeinzorro I don’t know any of the things trending. So. Let’s talk about cake.

–Hannah Gómez, currently reading Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell

The Second Day of YA

Fri, 12/26/2014 - 07:00

This year on the Hub we are celebrating the Twelve Days of YA with a series of posts loosely based on the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. We have converted each gift into a related theme common to YA and paired it with a list of relevant titles. You may use the Twelve Days of YA tag to read all of the posts in the series.

Special thanks goes to Carli Spina, Faythe Arredondo, Sharon Rawlins, Geri Diorio, Becky O’Neil, Carla Land, Katie Yu, Laura Perenic, Jennifer Rummel, Libby Gorman, Carly Pansulla, and Allison Tran for their help creating the booklists and organizing this series.

On the second day of YA, my true love gave to me two turtle doves.

As mentioned before, there are a lot of birds in the traditional song, so we focused on the turtle dove’s association with love for today’s list. Love and romance are pretty common topics in a wide-range of YA books, so it was not difficult to come up with titles. We hope you enjoy the titles we picked and encourage you to share your favorite stories with love in the comments!

      

      

- Jessica Lind, currently reading My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

The First Day of YA

Thu, 12/25/2014 - 07:00

This year on the Hub we are celebrating the Twelve Days of YA with a series of posts loosely based on the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. We have converted each gift into a related theme common to YA and paired it with a list of relevant titles. You may use the Twelve Days of YA tag to read all of the posts in the series.

Special thanks goes to Carli Spina, Faythe Arredondo, Sharon Rawlins, Geri Diorio, Becky O’Neil, Carla Land, Katie Yu, Laura Perenic, Jennifer Rummel, Libby Gorman, Carly Pansulla, and Allison Tran for their help creating the booklists and organizing this series.

On the first day of YA, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.

This is the first of many birds that appears in the original song, but the only theme on our list that has to do with the feathered fliers. We selected titles for this list that included bird imagery including those that have birds as part of the story, characters with bird wings, or just really amazing bird-centric artwork. We hope you enjoy the titles we picked and encourage you to share your favorite avian stories in the comments!

      

      

- Jessica Lind, currently reading The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

What are you reading over the Holidays?

Thu, 12/25/2014 - 07:00

Tis the season for reading! December is one of my favorite times of year. It gives us the crisp cold of winter (depending on where you live) and many holidays to celebrate. It’s a cheerful and festive month, even though it contains the shortest day/longest night of the year (happy belated winter’s solstice!). Maybe it’s all the twinkly lights that puts everyone in a good mood or the copious amount of sugar that seems to be everywhere this time of year, but there is always something special and fun about the month of December. It could also be that this is the time where many of us get a break from our normally hectic lives and take some time off to travel, visit with family and friends and of course read! In the spirit of the holiday season, we wanted to share with you what we were planning on reading during our winter breaks. Here are pictures of your Hub bloggers reading or the stacks of books that they are planning on tackling. May this put you in the reading spirit this holiday season or at the very least give you some new books to check out in the new year!

Geri Diori recently attended the ALAN Workshop (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English) and got her hands on some books she’s looking forward to reading this holiday season

Jessica Lind has quite a few books she’s going to be tackling over her break.

Laura Perenic was caught reading reading The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier at a coffee shop in German Village, Ohio while visiting family. 

There’s Laura again! This time she’s been caught reading Greenglass House by Kate Milford at the mall while waiting to see Santa. 

 

Carly Pansulla has a very YALSA-inspired to-read list! She has two 2015 Morris award finalists The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley  and The Scar Boys byLen Vlahos. I even spy one of the 2014 Printz Honor titles The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal. 

 

Jennifer Rummel is planning on reading some ARCs this holiday season to get a jump start on her reading goals for 2015.

Carli Spina has a very graphic novel inspired reading list.  

 

Sharon Rawlins and her snowman friend have some fun reading to do before the new year, perhaps they can talk to Jennifer R. about Greenglass House by Kate Milford when they’re done! 

Frosty, our favorite snowman, and Lena Dunham make their second appearance in this post courtesy of Lalitha Nataraj’s winter reading adventures!

 

Kelly Dickinson has a sizable stack of books for her break! I spy some more 2015 Morris Award Finalists in her list, The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston and The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. 

 

 

My very own reading list for this break includes a recommendation from our very own Carli Spina’s post about teens taking a stand in YA literature, Sally Heathcoate: Suffragette by Mary M. Talbot with illustrations by Kate Charlesworth.

 

 

Hopefully our holiday reading lists will inspire your own. What about you? What are you planning on reading this holiday season?

 

-Katie Shanahan Yu, currently reading Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Jukebooks: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

Wed, 12/24/2014 - 07:00

Some of your favorite authors in the young adult literature world have put their own spin on the holiday season in a brand-new collection of holiday-themed short stories. For this incredible collection, we have a full playlist.

To get the connections, you’ll have to read the stories!

 

 

1. “Midnights” by Rainbow Rowell
A Thousand Years by Kristina Perry

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/01-01-A-Thousand-YearsedDC.mp3

 

2. “The Lady and the Fox” by Kelly Link
Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me by The Smiths

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/01-06-Last-Night-I-Dreamt-That-Somebody-Loved-Me-ed-DC.mp3

 

3. “Angels in the Snow” by Matt de la Pena
Yo Amo La Navidad by Tercer Cielo

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/01-06-Yo-Amo-La-Navidad.mp3

 

4. “Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me” by Jenny Han
Last Christmas by Wham

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/01-01-Last-Christmas-edDC.mp3

 

5. “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown” by Stephanie Perkins
O, Christmas Tree by Winter Solstice

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/05-O-Christmas-Tree.mp3

 

6. “Your Temporary Santa” by David Levithan
Don’t Stop Believin’ by Glee Cast

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/01-Dont-Stop-Believin.mp3

 

7. “Krampuslauf” by Holly Black
Auld Lang Syne  by Rod Stewart

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/13-Auld-Lang-Syne.mp3

 

8. “What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?” by Gayle Foreman
You Can’t Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/01-08-You-Cant-Always-Get-What-You-WantedDC.mp3

 

9. “Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus” by Myra McEntire
Away in a Manger by Brad Paisley

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/01-04-Away-in-a-MangeredDC.mp3

 

10. “Welcome to Christmas, CA” by Kiersten White
Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Disc-2-07-Wonderful-Christmastime-Edited-Version-2011-Remaster.mp3

 

11. “Star of Bethlehem” by Ally Carter
O Holy Night by Jackie Evancho

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/01-03-O-Holy-NightedDC.mp3

 

12. “The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor
Beautiful Dreamer by Roy Orbison

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/01-11-Beautiful-Dreamer-Album-Version.mp3

 

2014 Best Books by the Numbers

Tue, 12/23/2014 - 07:00

Welcome to the end of 2014. Year-end best-of lists are all over the place, so it is time for us here at The Hub to take part in the quantifying madness! There were so many amazing YA books released this year, but for this post, we’ll be taking a look at the ones deemed “best” by Kirkus, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Horn Book. (Last year, we included the ‘Best YA for Adults’ list from Library Journal, but it appears they did not create such a list this year.) I am grateful that The Hub let me do this post again and while I am delighted to look at all the best-of lists and try to makes sense of them, I confess to being a bad statistician. I did not keep everything the same from last year to this one. Here’s what I changed, and why:

This year, in addition to including fiction marketed to people aged 12 and older, I added in nonfiction as well. My reasoning is that due to the Common Core standards, more and more nonfiction is being read in and out of schools. Also, we’re heading towards the fifth anniversary of YALSA’s Excellence in Nonfiction Awards (have you taken part in The Hub’s reading challenge yet?) so it seems like nonfiction is a viable genre to include here, with ten titles represented in the lists. Also, while there are seven genres considered this year, same number as last year, they are slightly different ones. This year, I added poetry and nonfiction and eliminated horror and historical fiction. This does not mean that there were no horrific, historical books in the lists, but ‘genre’ is such a troublesome category. I used Edelweiss, publisher’s websites, Amazon, and my own knowledge of the books in question to try and accurately label them, perhaps not always successfully. I’ll get into more specifics about ‘genre’ below. If you would like to see the spreadsheet I was working from, it is here.

There are 74 titles on the ‘best-of’ lists this year. This is up ten from last year (counting those ten nonfiction titles), but still down from the 89 fiction-only titles from 2012. Who is writing these terrific YA books? Still mostly ladies.

Male writers are gaining on females, last year only 27.7% of the authors on the lists were male and this year, 31.1% are. Will it ever reach a 50/50 balance?

Since the William C.Morris Award nominees were recently announced, let’s see how many books on our list were written by debut authors.

There were 17 debuts in the lists and 56 titles were written by established authors. What’s that I hear you say? That doesn’t add up to 74? You are correct! There is one outlier, a book that would not fit into the seemingly A or B categories of debut author or not - Dreaming in Indian, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale is an anthology of works by Native American authors – some of whom are established, some you’ve never heard of. Thus my wonky math.

Now we come to the most problematic area: genre. Publishers label their books without any kind of consistency. They are trying to market them to the widest possible audience. The official descriptions include such terms as fiction, mystery, supernatural, historical fiction, magical realism, fables and mythology, nonfiction, biography, graphic nonfiction, even fantasy based on fan fiction!

In looking over the lists and checking the classifications, I tried to collapse the genres into something manageable and coherent. Apologies to those who would like a romance category. While I acknowledge the dominance of romance in the publishing world, the publishers’ descriptions I was working with here just didn’t include that term enough times to merit giving it its own column. Thus, once again, the catchall term “realistic” includes romance, historical fiction, coming of age, and almost any plot that doesn’t involve magic or mystery or science fiction. Probably because so many subgenres are lumped into “realistic,” it is the biggest category here.

Fantasy is up a couple of percentage points from last year, while graphic fiction is down a couple. Speaking unscientifically (as I have been throughout this post), I believe in the popularity of realistic fiction; in the library where I work, more and more teens are borrowing realistic books and the popularity of dystopian fantasies is waning.

Looking at the four lists, we can see that 58 books made it onto at least one, ten books made it onto two, four books hit three lists (Grasshopper Jungle, Egg & Spoon, Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, and The Family Romanov), and only two books, This One Summer and We Were Liars, hit all four.

Does getting onto multiple lists hint at Printz or Morris or Excellence in Nonfiction greatness? Maybe. Some books on past best-of lists got honors, some have won, some were not on the awards’ radar at all. What books on multiple lists does mean for certain is that you should read them, because they are really, really good. Not sure where to dive in? Keep an eye on The Hub– next week Tara Kehoe will give you some great annotations of books on the lists.

~ Geri Diorio, currently reading Spillover by David Quammen

 

YA/Picture Book Pairings: Holiday Reads

Mon, 12/22/2014 - 07:00

It’s almost Christmas–which means that many of us have a few days off to look forward to, hopefully with some reading time scheduled in. I always look forward to picking up one of my new Christmas gift books, but I also like to read and share with my kids fun seasonal stories at this time of year, too. Here are some possibilities for both you and the young kids in your life this holiday season:

Picture Books

Captain Sky Blue. By Richard Egielski. Jack receives the pilot Captain Sky Blue (“Sky”) and a model plane kit one Christmas, and the two of them have great fun building and flying the plane. When a fun trick, an errant hat, and a bad storm blow Sky far away, he has a wild adventure getting back to Jack–and he saves Santa’s flight on the following Christmas along the way.

Hershel and the Hannukah Goblins. By Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. This is an older Hanukkah book–I remember reading it when I was a kid–but the pictures that earned Ms. Hyman a Caldecott Honor and the fun story about Hershel tricking goblins continues to make the book a fun choice.

It’s Christmas, David! By David Shannon. Shannon’s David books are hits around my house, and the Christmas installment was no different. Poor David gets in constant trouble in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and even believes for a short period that he’s going to be stuck on Santa’s “bad” list. My kids love David’s crazier antics (note that there are bodily fluids involved) and I love the realistic portrayals of how parents sometimes deal with those antics (guilty!). Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending.

The Nutcracker. Retold and illustrated by Susan Jeffers. We went through a post-Christmas Nutcracker story binge in my house last year, so I have read LOTS of Nutcracker retellings. In my humble opinion, this is the best one for anyone who’s going to have to read a story aloud 50 times. It covers basically the same plot as most of the ballet productions, it has beautiful pictures, and it’s not too long.

Rabbit’s Snow Dance. Retold by James and Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Jeff Newman. This is a fun retelling of an Iroquois folktale: it both relates a fun story of when Rabbit decides to make it snow in the summer and explains why rabbits have such short tales. Great for read-alouds, young children will both enjoy the rhyme that goes along with Rabbit’s snow dance and identify with wanting snow right now.

 

YA Books

Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances. By John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle. This is just what it sounds like: three fun romances, set during a snowstorm in rural Virginia. While the characters and romances are great, what really makes the book is how each of the three stories ends up being interconnected.

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. Edited by Stephanie Perkins. A fabulous collection of holiday short stories, by a wide variety of well-known YA authors, including Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan, Matt de la Peña, and others. Like Let It Snow, this collection is heavy on romance, but there’s also some hilarious moments and some thought-provoking ones.

Wintersmith. By Terry Pratchett (Best Books for Young Adults 2007). Witch-in-training Tiffany Aching runs into a new challenge when the Wintersmith–the one who brings the snow and cold–falls for her. She’ll need all her skills and the help of the hilarious “Wee Free Men” to save her home from endless winter. This is the third book in the series about Tiffany Aching–readers may want to start with The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky.

Winterspell. By Claire Legrand. This dark fantasy based on the Nutcracker story is not one to share with young children. In 1899, Clara Stole lives a double life: as the New York City mayor’s proper daughter, and as her Godfather Drosselmeyer’s well-trained spying and self-defense apprentice. When her corrupt father is kidnapped on Christmas Eve by otherworldy beings, Clara must join forces with a deposed prince to save him.

WinterTown. By Stephen Emond. Evan looks forward to the holidays mostly because it’s the one time of year he gets to see his childhood best friend, Lucy. This year, though, Lucy shows up with a nose piercing, hair chopped short and dyed black, and talking in one word sentences. Evan isn’t sure he can break through the ice and reconnect with his old friend, or even that she wants him to–but he’s at least going to give it a try.

Whatever you pick up for your holiday reading, enjoy!

-Libby Gorman, currently reading WinterTown, by Stephen Emond

The Monday Poll: 2015 Companion Novels

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 23:44

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we asked you to predict the biggest YA lit trend for 2015. While we won’t be able to answer that question in any way definitively until next year, let’s see how your predictions stacked up.  The top pick was stories about older/college-aged teens, with 38% of the vote. Another strong prediction was spin-off books set in the same universe as already beloved series, with 16% of the vote. Quite a few of you expect to see a lot of unreliable narrators in YA lit next year, with 14% 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!

Let’s keep thinking ahead to 2015, and let’s take a closer look at your prediction about spin-off books that go along with beloved series– aka companion novels. While these books are set in the same universe as previous books by the author, they often introduce new characters or go deeper into the perspective of a character readers already know. Check out Hub blogger Jessica Lind’s post about companion novels, and tell us what upcoming companion novels you’re looking forward to in 2015! Vote in the poll below, and please elaborate or add alternative choices in the comments!

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

YALSA’s 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-In #2

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 07:00

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. If you’re finished, fill out the form at the bottom of this post to let us know!

Hello Readers!

How is your reading challenge going?  Any early favorites?  I am not participating in the challenge, but have read some of the titles in my selection committee. Interesting to see some overlap on both the YALSA’s Award for Excellence in Nonfiction and the William C. Morris YA Debut Award.

If you haven’t signed up for the challenge there is still plenty of time! This will also help with the annual Hub Reading Challenge that will start in February after the Youth Media Awards. If you have finished be sure to brag about it in the comments and fill our the form. I’ve read some of theses books and they are great! Don’t miss out!

-Faythe Arredondo, currently in the middle of too many books to list

Loading…

Genre Guide: Matriarchy, Magical Realism and Family Sagas

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 07:00

Minoan society and theology was matriarchal.

Definition and Background
I recently read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton (2015 Morris Award Finalist), after having had the ARC on my shelf for months (I’m sorry!) and being begged to by a coworker and about five students. I was amazed by the beautiful writing and loved the story. It also got me thinking a lot about family sagas and how they are such a big part of literature in general, but they don’t seem to appear much in YA. That said, anything that spans generations, like Ava Lavender, should feature and engage adults and teens alike.

Another interesting thing about these stories is that family sagas tend to center around women or follow a woman’s line in a family, when we all know that in general, Serious Literature is about (white) men. And yet books like The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende or Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman get critical acclaim anyway. That is seriously feminist.

Did I mention that these books are also subversive when it comes to how they trick everyone into reading magical realism without complaining that they’re reading genre fiction? Genius, I tell you.

This is more of a subgenre than a genre, and this guide is something that could use fleshing out. Reading Ava Lavender whetted my appetite for stories of matriarchal families, but I can’t say that I’ve found many yet. That said, there are many adult authors who may satisfy teens, as well as some stories of young women going off on their own magical realism adventure, possibly to start the first branch of a matriarchal family tree.

Characteristics
As mentioned, these stories tend to employ magic realism elements, and they most commonly come out of traditions that support these notions as par for the course, such as folklore and history from Latin America, West Africa, and the American South. However, that’s not always true, as Ava Lavender itself shows. Often there is a sort of quest or journey involved. Rather than love stories, these tend to be about love lost or love cursed, with an element of destiny attached to that. Family, either born or created, is what ties characters together. Mother-daughter, grandmother-granddaughter, and sister relationships are key. There are some authors who accomplish this type of storytelling through book series, and I’ve noted a few below (you could even count Tamora Pierce’s entire Tortall universe as a big family epic), but in general, I think it’s most interesting when all of these relationships between family members and generations happen in one novel.

Appeal
For me, it’s about intersectional feminism (the idea that feminism is more than just your position as a genetic female or gender-identified woman but also works with, against, and through your sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and more) and how these stories engage with what it means to be a girl or woman in the world and, on a meta level, what it means to be a woman in a story. There’s also the appeal of magical realism, as mentioned; ethnic and racial diversity; and representations of love as more complicated, possibly lusty, and less saccharine than your average romance novel. Finally, tales of multiple generations of people (and the fact that many books in this genre are published under adult imprints) may be appealing for older teens straddling the YA/adult line and want complex, literary stories with characters they can identify with.

Authors to Know
Isabel Allende (key title: The House of the Spirits)
Julia Alvarez (key titles: How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, ¡Yo!)
Francesca Lia Block (2005 Edwards Award winner) (key titles: Weetzie Bat series [YALSA 100 Best Books], How to (un)cage a Girl)
Laura Esquivel (key title: Like Water for Chocolate)
Alice Hoffman (key titles: Practical Magic, The Dovekeepers)
Lisa See (key titles: Shanghai Girls, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan)

Other Recommended Titles
MG
Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood
I Am Lavina Cumming by Susan Lowell
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (1995 Newbery Medal)

YA
All Our Pretty Songs/Dirty Wings by Sarah McCarry (read both together) (2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound)
Blessing’s Bead by Debby Dahl Edwardson (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (2009 Printz Award, 2009 Best Books for Young Adults)
Kendra by Coe Booth (2009 Best Books for Young Adults, 2009 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2011 Popular Paperbacks)
Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata
Night Flying by Rita Murphy (2001 Best Books for Young Adults)
Shabanu/Haveli/The House of Djinn by Suzanne Fisher Staples (read all three together) (1990 Newbery Honor, YALSA 100 Best Books)
The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor
Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow
Splintered by A.G. Howard (2014 Teens’ Top Ten)
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (2009 Best Books for Young Adults)

Adult for YAs
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros (2004, 2009 Outstanding Books for the College Bound)
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (YALSA 100 Best Books)
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (2011 Alex Award)
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (2013 Alex Award)
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Witches of East End (series) by Melissa de la Cruz

–Hannah Gómez, currently reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

“Marley was dead: to begin with.” The enduring charm of A Christmas Carol

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 07:00

I personally love the book A Christmas Carol and I read it every December. It’s not a long book, which is probably why it’s a favorite classic of the overwhelmed high school student as well as this librarian with a “to read” list a mile long. I’m also a big fan of Christmas, and Christmas specials, and books about Christmas. I’ll admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of Dickens’ longer works. In high school we read Great Expectations, and I remember very little of it except that it was particularly hard to follow, which kind of turned me off of anything else he’d written for a while. But a few years ago I decided I’d give A Christmas Carol a chance, and it became one of my favorite books.

The language that Dickens used is unlike anything we use in everyday communication in 2014. Not once does Tiny Tim ever LOL, and none of the Ghosts ever *smh* at Scrooge and his cluelessness. Honestly, I can see how it could be hard for some to sit down and read page after page of the lengthy descriptions Dickens used- after all, we want to get to the meat of the story with the ghosts and the grumpy old man learning to appreciate kindness and friendship over money- but when we take the time to read what Dickens wrote he paints some amazing images in our heads.

Take the opening line: “Marley was dead: to begin with.”* As far as first lines in a book go, that one is pretty darn good.
His description of Ebenezer Scrooge leaves no doubt we are dealing with a very unpleasant character:

“Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!”
Dickens is not without humor, as evidenced by this part of Scrooge’s conversation with Marley, whom we must remember was dead to begin with, that always makes me chuckle:

     “You will be haunted,” resumed the Ghost, “by Three Spirits.”

     Scrooge’s countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost’s had done.

     “Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob?” he demanded, in a faltering voice.

     “It is.”

     “I — I think I’d rather not,” said Scrooge.

     “Without their visits,” said the Ghost, “you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first to-morrow, when the bell tolls One.”

     “Couldn’t I take ‘em all at once, and have it over, Jacob?” hinted Scrooge.
The Ghost of Christmas Present makes a great impression upon Scrooge when they first meet by completely transforming Scrooge’s barren rooms into something he had never seen before, and Dickens describes it to every detail:

It was his own room. There was no doubt about that. But it had undergone a surprising transformation. The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove; from every part of which, bright gleaming berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light, as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there; and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the chimney, as that dull petrification of a hearth had never known in Scrooge’s time, or Marley’s, or for many and many a winter season gone … In easy state upon this couch, there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see; who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty’s horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge, as he came peeping round the door.”

 

And let’s not forget the chills we get when we first meet the Ghost of Christmas Future:

“The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When it came, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery.”
Redemption, second chances, and hope are all themes in the book, along with the misappropriation of love for money, and greed, and the fleeting happiness that comes those things. And these are powerful themes, which make for powerful storytelling, and this is a story that has been told over and over. As far as adaptations go, there are many- enough to fill a whole Wikipedia page. Everyone from The Flintstones to Sesame Street has done an adaptation of this classic. There are even Doctor Who episodes that have a direct relation to this most famous work of Dickens’ (the Ninth Doctor meets Charles Dickens at Christmastime in the rebooted series one episode “The Unquiet Dead” and the Eleventh Doctor Christmas special “A Christmas Carol” from series five is obvious.) The following adaptations are my favorites- maybe not the ones with the most critical acclaim, but certainly the ones that I watch every year.

Scrooged, 1988, staring Bill Murray, is set in the high pressure world of television. It’s one of my favorite Bill Murray movies, and his comedic genius shines even though the script- about a TV executive putting on a live Christmas Carol adaptation on Christmas Eve- is probably the least true to the book of all the versions listed here. The essence of the story is still there, though, and the dramatic change we see in Ebenezer Scrooge in the book is just as dramatic when it happens to Frank Cross on the screen. This movie is also ridiculously quotable, and even though it was made in 1988 it doesn’t feel too dated, though there is an abundance of shoulder pads that screams 1980s!

 

 

Mickey’s Christmas Carol, released in 1983, is an animated version starring Mickey Mouse and other familiar Disney characters including Uncle Scrooge, who was named after Ebenezer Scrooge when he was created in 1947 and went on to star in his own TV series (anyone else remember Duck Tales?) This short film adaptation is only about half an hour long, but it hits most of the key points of Dickens’ classic and is one of the more emotionally heart wrenching. When Mickey’s Bob Cratchit puts Tiny Tim’s crutch against his son’s gravestone, I sob just as hard today as I did when I first watched it as a little kid.

A Muppet Christmas Carol, released in 1992, is probably the closest adaptation to the actual book that I’ve seen, minus the catchy tunes and ice skating penguins. The narration comes straight from the book, and is delivered with zeal by Gonzo the Great as Charles Dickens. In fact, I often hear Gonzo in my head when I read the book because of how much of the book made it into the movie. Starring Michael Caine (who may be more recognizable these days as Alfred in the most recent Batman franchise), it takes place in 1840s London…well, 1840s London if it had been populated by a menagerie of Anything Muppets. My favorite line is spoken right as the credits start to roll at the end of the film and Gonzo- that is, Mr. Dickens- says, “If you like this, you should read the book.”

 

And I agree.

 

-Carla Land, currently reading The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

*book quotes taken from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, published December 2010 by Tribeca Books

Pages