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2017 Hub Reading Challenge May Check-in

Sun, 05/28/2017 - 07:00

It’s time for another Hub Reading Challenge Check-In, and with less than a month left in the challenge it’s definitely a good time to take stock.

 

 

It’s helpful for me to remember that the challenge is intended to encourage all of us to dive deeper into the award winner and honor books and YALSA selected lists with an eye towards discovering new authors and title, exploring new genres, reading outside of our comfort zones, and improving reader’s advisory wherever that happens.  For me, I’ve noticed that a lot of my reading this year has already resulted in successfully connecting friends, family, and acquaintances with books that might not have been on my radar without YALSA recognition.  I’m especially, stunned and impressed, looking back on it as I write this, by the wide range of reader’s who have benefited from these lists and honors.

For example, I gave Julie Berry’s The Passion of Dolssa as a gift to my beloved (and very well read) mother in law, along with Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys and The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge.  Ben Hatke’s Mighty Jack and Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona have been given to my daughter’s friends and classmates and have been recommended  to more parent’s of her swim team compatriots than I can count.  Every Heart a Doorway, the first of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children books, was such a hit with my niece that I have secretly pre-ordered her a signed copy of the next book to celebrate her transition from middle school to high school.  

During one of many 13 Reasons Why conversations I’ve had with friends and fellow parents over the past few weeks the subject of other book to movie adaptations came up and I was able to knowledgeably recommend Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star by way of her Everything Everything (playing now at a theater near you.)  And when a friend who was tangentially involved in that particular discussion came to me later to ask for recommendations for her 11 year old son Jason Reynolds (As Brave As You and Ghost) was right there at my fingertips, the perfect books at the perfect time.  In another fortuitous coincidence, I’d been urging (strongly) my oldest niece to read Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan for a long time so when she received a signed copy (!) as a gift she was all the more excited, knowing it was a book she was going to love.  

The longer I stare at the list of Challenge titles the more encounters spring to mind; it’s amazing just how many exceptional books are out there, and how many readers I’ve connected to using just this one year of Reading Challenge books.  What about you?  Have you recommended any of the 2017 titles to friends and family?  Is there a particular title that you’re having success with in your library?  Please share your experiences in the comments!

Let us know how you are doing with the Challenge and don’t forget about the sortable spreadsheet! Here are the guidelines in case you don’t remember:

  • Format matters: a title that has been recognized for both the print version and the audiobook version can be both read and listened to and count as two books, but a book that has won multiple awards or appears on multiple lists in the same format only counts as one title.
  • Books must be read/listened to (both begun and finished) since the award winners and selected lists have been released and 11:59pm EST on June 22. If you’ve already read/listened to a title, you must re-read/listen to it for it to count.
  • Just about everyone who doesn’t work for ALA is eligible to participate. Non-ALA/YALSA members are eligible. Teens are eligible. Non-US residents/citizens are eligible. (More eligibility questions? Leave a comment or email us.)
  • Once you finish the challenge, we’ll contact you with details about creating and publishing your response.
  • If you have finished the challenge, let us know here!  The grand prize winner will be selected by 11:59pm EST on June 23. The winner will be notified via email.

—Julie Bartel, currently reading Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree and Princess Cora and the Crocodile written by Laura Amy Schlitz and illustrated by Brian Floca

 

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#QP2018 Nominees: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and Bang by Barry Lyga

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 07:00

The impact of shootings on survivors, families and communities is a timely topic. 

Unfortunately, the daily news may include incidents of gun violence including school shootings, police brutality, domestic violence, and tragic accidents.

Young Adult authors have increasingly been writing books that address these issues, to give teens touchpoints to identify with and help them understand their world. The following two recently published books, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and Bang by Barry Lyga, help to tackle these issues for readers.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Balzer + Bray
February 28, 2017

Starr struggles to balance her life at home living in a poor black neighborhood and the private prep school she attends with much wealthier students. When she witnesses her childhood friend shot needlessly by a police officer, her whole world is turned upside down.

This compelling story is told from Starr’s point of view, where readers follow her thought processes as she navigates difficult situations and harsh, contradictory realities. The timely social issue of police brutality in black communities will grab readers’ attention. Starr’s experience perfectly illustrates one of the biggest issues faced by African-American people in the United States today. “The talk” may be familiar to many marginalized populations, and an eye opener to others. Starr is a complex introspective character that many teens will identify with, while she must come to terms with the sobering, unequal roles society has forced upon her community.

Many juxtapositions help show the complexity of the social issues being tackled within the story. Police are shown in both negative and positive lights, through officer “one fifteen”, the shooter of Starr’s friend, Khalil, and her Uncle Carlos, a police officer who is striving for justice. A poor community is depicted doing its best to protect its youth against gangs and drugs, while the youth’s attraction to the money and power brought by gangs and drugs is a heart-wrenching cycle. The conflicts between Starr’s neighborhood friends and her prep school friends serve to illuminate the complicated relationships between race, class, and privilege.

Dialog features use of teen slang and pop culture references many teen readers will appreciate. In particular, Tupac is referenced often, as his “THUG LIFE” anagram is the inspiration for the book’s title. Recommended for fans of Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely’s All American Boys and Kekla Magoon’s How it Went Down.

-Jessica Ormonde and Lisa Krok

Bang by Barry Lyga
Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers
April 18, 2017

When he was four years old, Sebastian accidentally shot and killed his four-month-old sister. Ten years later, he still can’t forgive himself. When new neighbors move in, becomes fast friends with new girl Aneesa. For the first time, Sebastian has a friend who does not know his horrific history, who doesn’t see him as a baby killer instead of a regular fourteen-year-old boy.

Teens will be drawn in almost immediately with the attention-grabbing admission that Sebastian killed his baby sister. Short, candid chapters will keep readers engaged in this character-driven story. The angst-filled household he shares with his mother, where things are emotionally intense as the ten-year anniversary of the incident occurs, propels the story forward.

Sebastian is seriously considering suicide; ending things with a bang, just as they started.  Making homemade pizzas is therapeutic and gives him a form of solace. Although his relationship with his mother is strained and awkward, she genuinely loves him and supports his pizza making ventures. Despite the heavy topics, Sebastian’s friendship with spunky Aneesa creates an atmosphere of hope, as they team up to create a YouTube channel highlighting their many creative pizza making adventures. When online haters post disparaging anti-Muslim remarks about Aneesa, Sebastian sees her courageousness and questions his own. His complex inner thoughts about his family history lead him to seek out his father…the owner of the gun that killed his infant sister.

Although this book has broad appeal for many types of readers, fans of authors who write character-driven books, such as Jeff Zentner and Jennifer Niven, especially, will appreciate the thought-provoking, well-developed characters.

-Lisa Krok

 

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Happy Mother’s Day: Salute to Bad Moms

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 07:00

Mother’s Day is the celebration of the woman who supported you, saved you, and loved you unconditionally.  Unfortunately the mothers below didn’t quite make the grade.

 

Willowdean “Dumplin” Dickson is a Texan, daughter of the Miss Teen Beauty Pageant’s coordinator, and overweight.  She has best friend issues, boy issues, mommy issues but she decides to honor her aunt by entering the pageant.

Madeline suffers from the bubble boy syndrome where she’s allergic to everything and can’t go outside. Her only human contact are her mother and her nurse. One day a new family moves in and she fall in love with Olly.

Bone Gap Illinois is a little town that has gaps where one can fall into and never find their way out.  When Roza goes missing and creepy Finn doesn’t help her, the town suspects Finn but Finn suspects a mysterious stranger.

Rani’s father is having an affair and her mother ignores it.  Rani is suffering because her father is having an affair and her mother ignores her.  Rani finds poetry and live performance a comfort in this realistic fiction novel set in 1990’s Hawaii.

Flannery needs a new school book but her unemployed eccentric mother would rather blog about how to be a good parent than actually taking her own advice.  When an old friend moves back to town, Flannery falls in love but soon finds out he has big problems of his own.

Katie is in love but she’s not ready to confront it and she can’t confide in her mother because her mother’s too consumed by her mentally disabled brother as well her Katie’s grandmother who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s.   Katie soon finds out that her mother may not know how to be nurturing because of all the issues her mother had with Katie’s grandmother.

Vivi has decided that she doesn’t need to take her meds and her mother acts like she cares but she’s never around.  When Vivi meets Jonah, she not only finds love but a new family but she could ruin it if she doesn’t take her medication.

Nora is graduating and has no plans.  Her mother expects her to take care of her younger brother who steals, abuses her and her mother, and might be on drugs.  Instead of seeking help for her brother, Nora’s mother makes excuses for his behavior which escalates the situation and it doesn’t help that everyone is scared of the serial killer in the city.

-Dawn Abron is currently reading: The Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

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