Good morning, Hub readers!
Last week, we asked you to choose the standalone YA novel you wish had a sequel. Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races topped the results with 36% of the vote, followed by The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart with 29%. Many of you also wish The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black had a follow-up, as it garnered 16% of the vote. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks very much to all of you who voted!
This week, we’re in a holiday mood and we want to know your favorite YA book set during the winter holidays. Vote in the poll below, and please comment if we’ve missed your favorite!Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
Have you finished all your Christmas shopping, or do you still have 10 gifts to find? If, like me, you like to give books as gifts, it can be a challenge to strike the right balance between a book you know someone will enjoy and a book that will give them a new experience. Graphic novels have been my new experience this year.
I am emphatically not a graphic novel reader–I have nothing against the format, but it’s just not something that I tend to pick up on my own. My 5-year-old son, however, loves comic books and my elementary school librarian mother, who also grew up loving comic books, has been helping him out by recommending graphic novels for kids his age. Since I seem to be destined, for at least the next 12 years, to be around a graphic novel reader, I’ve been trying to dip into the format a little further. As I’ve done so, I’ve come up with a few guidelines for helping graphic novel lovers lure us non-GN readers into the format.
- Choose a story to match your reader, just as you would for a regular novel. I’m not a huge fan of superheroes, which are what first come to my mind when I think of graphic novels. So a graphic novel about Superman is probably not the best bet when recommending for me. But a graphic novel version of Romeo and Juliet, adapted by Gareth Hinds (nominee for the 2014 Great Graphic Novels for Teens list)? Or a historical graphic novel set about the Boxer Rebellion in China (Boxers and Saints, by Gene Luen Yang, 2013 National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature)? Yes, please! While it may be a no-brainer, this is definitely the most important tip I can offer–just like you have to find the right story for the right reader with regular format books, you must do the same with graphic novels. Those of us who aren’t familiar with the format may not realize there’s a graphic novel with a story for us, so prove us wrong!
- If possible, start with a familiar orientation. I can now say that I’ve successfully read my first graphic novel in right-to-left format (Emma, Vol. 1, by Kaoru Mori, 2008 Great Graphic Novel for Teens). But before that, I put down several because I was intimidated by it. By all means, get us to love graphic novels enough that we don’t care which way they read (Emma, a British maid who falls in love with a rich gentleman, was right up my alley), but for the first few times, stick to a reading direction that will be familiar. Bonus points if the first right-to-left book you give us has one of those cheat sheets at the Western-front to help us on our way (yep, that’s how I got going on Emma).
- Along the same lines, learn to read the pictures. It may be hard to believe, but some of us may have forgotten our picture-reading skills from long ago. I can zip through the text part of a graphic novel, but I really have to study some of those action scenes to figure out what’s going on! I ended up loving Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, by Tony Cliff (2014 Great Graphic Novels for Teens nominee, 2014 Popular Paperbooks for Young Adults nominee), but it took me several false starts before I got caught up in the story–the action scenes kept bogging me down (crazy, I know). Romeo and Juliet worked for me largely because I already knew the story, so I didn’t have to figure out who was slashing at whom. Similarly, it helped that Boxers had wide variations in color–drabs and grays for regular activity, but bright colors for the god-inspired fights. A totally different book, Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, by G. Neri (2011 Coretta Scott King Author Honor, 2011 ALA Notable Book, 2011 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, 2011 Great Graphic Novel for Teens) helped me read the pictures by taking an almost documentary style…displaying Yummy’s wanted sign, newscasters discussing events, etc.
- Go for broke on beautiful pictures. I might not have kept going with Delilah Dirk, but the pictures were just so pretty! Since the pictures are a huge part of what makes this genre appealing, find the most gorgeous ones you can. Even we thick-novel-loving readers like a nice picture…capitalize on that!
- Tease us with the huge stack of books you’ve finished this week. I am a slow reader, something of a crutch for a librarian and a mother of young children. Once I got into the graphic novels I selected, I was amazed by how quickly I finished them. Sometimes I just want a book I can finish quickly, and graphic novels fit that bill.
So if you’re trying to convert the non-graphic novel reader in your life, see if these tips help a little. In the meantime, help me explore further! What are some graphic novels you think will further entice me (and other non-GN fans) to read more of them?
-Libby Gorman, currently rereading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Not signed up for YALSA’s 2014 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!
I won’t lie. I haven’t actually started on the challenge this year, not in earnest, anyway. I did look up all the nominated titles in my local library catalog, and I spent some quality time placing holds; I’m planning to delve in as soon as the current craziness dies down and I finish the book I’m reading now.
I have to say, both lists look amazing this year, and I’m excited to get started, especially because a lot of the titles weren’t on my radar at all, though clearly they should have been.
If, like me, you haven’t cracked open a nominated title yet, don’t despair. Check out the guidelines for this year’s reading challenge and make your plan of attack–the Morris finalists look amazing, and the Nonfiction list is awesome. The challenge ends January 27th, which is more than enough time to get serious. I’m starting with Elizabeth Ross’ Belle Epoque and The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb.
What about you?
-Julie Bartel, currently reading The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
When asked about my favorite season, I consistently respond with a classic cop-out: I like all of them, each for their own unique reasons. But to be honest, winter might edge a bit ahead of the others in my heart. There’s just something special about winter–something almost magical.
Having grown up in northeastern Pennsylvania, I have a fairly specific vision of winter. Winter means brisk wind whipping at the windows and thick, warm sweaters. Winter is spicy, sweet gingerbread cookies baking in the oven and hot cocoa steaming in a favorite mug. And of course, winter means snow–preferably in fairly large quantities. However, winter also immediately brings to mind a few of my favorite fantasy novels; this season features prominently in a range of fantasy novels in ways that the other seasons do not. So, what is it about winter that makes it so well suited to fantasy fiction?
In contemplating winter’s peculiar magic, I came up with a few aspects that might explain the season’s appeal–especially as a setting and theme in fantasy fiction. Winter is a time of transition–of change and transformation. Winter weather can transform a landscape in less than a hour, creating a glittering, icy wonderland. Winter also acts as a time of critical transformation for the natural world; animals and vegetation go into hibernation, resting for a spring rebirth. As Allison Tran pointed out in her post on winter solstice reading last year, this season also signals a shift in the daily balance of light and dark; the winter solstice occurs on the shortest day and the longest night of the year. In cultures around the world, the solstice and the arrival of a colder, darker time of year herald a variety of special celebrations or rituals.
It feels inevitable that any discussion about winter themed fantasy fiction simply must begin with Susan Cooper’s 1974 Newbery Honor novel, The Dark Is Rising. The second book in Cooper’s 2012 Margaret A. Edwards Award winning series of the same title, The Dark Is Rising not only features a snowy landscape and light & dark imagery; the narrative actually intertwines with events specific to late December. On Midwinter Day, Will Stanton turns eleven and learns that he is the last of the Old Ones, powerful immortals dedicated to protecting the world by holding back universal evil forces known as the Dark. But before Will can even begin to adjust to this shocking news, he immediately begins his first quest: collecting the six magical Signs and helping hold back the Dark as it gathers its strength and rises during the twelve long days of Christmas. The Dark’s rising power manifests in the mundane world as an increasingly dangerous snowstorm. There’s simply no more appropriate novel to read in late December.
While they may not appear to have much in common, Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver (2010 Best Books for Young Adults, 2010 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, & 2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults) fits the winter season almost as perfectly as The Dark Is Rising. Grace has always been fascinated by the wolves dwelling in the woods behind her home. As a kid, she survived the pack’s attack through the intervention of a particular yellow-eyed wolf. While tensions rise following an apparent wolf attack on a local boy, Grace finds an injured and fairly naked boy on her door step–a boy with familiar yellow eyes. His name is Sam; he spends most of the year as a wolf but as the temperature climbs, he gets a few warm months as a human. However, Sam and Grace have barely met before it becomes clear that Sam, like his pack mates, is losing his grip on humanity. As in The Dark Is Rising, the shift in seasons and winter’s treacherous power are integrated into the mythology and narrative; the changing temperature is recorded at the beginning of each chapter, reminding the reader of the weather’s influence on Sam and Grace’s lives.
Like Grace and Sam, the characters in Edith Pattou’s East (2004 Best Books for Young Adults) face beastly transformations and a wild frozen landscape. Rose dreamed of adventure, longing to see the great world beyond her family’s tiny farm in Njord. But when her chance for an adventure arrives, it isn’t anything like her dreams. Her family is about to lose their farm and her sweet older sister falls horribly ill. Then one night, there is a knock at the door. A huge white bear comes in from the snow and promises the family riches and health–in exchange for Rose. So Rose leaves her home on the back of the white bear and begins a quest larger than she’d ever imagined, traveling through ice and snow, east of the sun and west of the moon. Between the ice palaces, immense arctic tundras, and an enchanted polar bear prince, this retelling of a Norwegian folk tale is an ideal winter read for fairy tale fans.
Phillip Pullman’s now classic The Golden Compass also incorporates a snowy adventure to a cold and dangerous climate–and some highly powerful polar bears. Like Rose, Lyra Belacqua dreamed of thrilling escapades exploring the world beyond the walls of Jordan College, Oxford with her shape-shifting daemon companion Pan by her side. Then her Uncle Asriel the explorer arrives in Oxford and suddenly Lyra is plunged into an epic struggle spanning countries–and even worlds. As she travels to the frozen and hostile North among witches, gypsies, and armored bears, Lyra must face terrible truths–about her world, her parentage, and her destiny. This first novel in the His Dark Materials trilogy is an excellent novel to curl up with on a winter’s night, both for its snowy setting and its absorbing world building and compulsively readable story.
What are your favorite wintery fantasy novels?
Which books do you like to pull off the shelf and enjoy with cup of cocoa on a snowy day?
Banned and challenged books get a lot of press during Banned Books Week, but I think it’s important to discuss issues like censorship year round and not just for one week at the end of September.
Since most challenges involve material read in schools or marketed to young adults and librarians who serve teen patrons are often at the center of these issues, I thought an overview of books that were challenged in 2013 would be of interest to Hub readers. Of course, this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, but I’ve attempted to round up challenges in the United States that involved teen readers.
Most of these books were challenged for being sexually explicit, containing offensive language, or being unsuitable for the age group, and most were challenged because they were included on a suggested reading list for students, part of a class assignment, or available in a school library. These are also, in most cases, books that have received wide acclaim and can teach tolerance and understanding. I was also surprised at how many books are by authors of color. The objections overwhelmingly looked at small sections of text without considering the context or overall message and theme of the book.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- was discontinued from use in a middle school in West Virginia
- Montana students fought to keep it on the shelves in their school
- was compared to Fifty Shades of Grey in a challenge by a mother in New York
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
- was challenged, but stayed on the school library shelves in Minnesota
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time by Mark Haddon
A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
- In Georgia, a parent complained about it being included on a long list of books from which students could select a title for an assignment
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky
- was reinistated in classes in Illinois when Judy Blume (whose books are also frequently challenged) supported its use in classrooms
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
While the ALA counted almost 500 challenges in 2012, it also estimates that for 4-5 challenges go unreported for every one that does make the annual list. Preserving open access to ideas and information is a core tenet of librarianship, which is why I think it’s important to continue to discuss the issue throughout the year.
– Molly Wetta, currently reading Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
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
- #Win a signed copy of EVOLUTION by @joemanganiello & seasons 1-4 of @TrueBloodHBO (also signed by Joe)! http://bit.ly/JoeSweeps #trueblood
- Follow the Hearbeat by @escottwrites cover tour today at Alice Marvels! Spotlight & Giveaway:http://www.alicemarvels.com/archives/Spotlight-detail/spotlight-giveaway-heartbeat-by-elizabeth-scott … via @alicemarvels
- UNDER THE NEVER SKY fans! Here’s your chance to win an ARC of INTO THE STILL BLUE ––> http://bit.ly/1d6YalG pic.twitter.com/lYyuLVk7T9
- Blitz Tour & ARC Giveaway: Heartbeat by @escottwrites http://wp.me/p3WfnY-42 via @vi_dao
- Whoever wins that book from @jacksonpearce – I shall mail them this as well. pic.twitter.com/Yo6eJ8qTSg
- Check out an author interview from @MistyMoncur + an excerpt from IN ALL PLACES +Giveaway http://www.yareads.com/in-all-places-by-misty-moncur-book-blitz/author-interviews/12422 …
- Want to win a prize pack of 10 of our biggest books of the year? Head to FB to enter! http://on.fb.me/1bXhkw8
- #YAlit #Giveaway: Feral Curse by @CynLeitichSmith (@Candlewick) Dec 13-Jan 02, 2014 http://bit.ly/18TJLd7 @goodreads
- ROOMIES is out a week from today! RT the trailer to win an ARC: http://www.sarazarr.com/archives/3543 ! Giving away 1 a day until 12/23.
- Hey, you can win the entire WINTERLING trilogy by @SPrineas here: http://sarah-prineas.com/2013/12/play-the-sentence-game-and-win-the-winterling-trilogy/ …
- The HEARTBEAT by @escottwrites blog tour continues…visit Nightly Reading for your chance to win an ARC! http://wp.me/p1n2P9-1Oy
- It’s LIVE!! Cover Reveal: Some Fine Day by Kat Ross + Giveaway (International) – The Official YABC Blog http://ow.ly/rVmNC
- A new story in the #ShatterMe world is out today! Read Adam’s POV in FRACTURE ME http://bit.ly/HCAVGL I pic.twitter.com/T5X59zMKdv
- :) RT @seeCwrite: Aaaaand happy novella birthday to @kamigarcia & @mstohl and DANGEROUS DREAM! Love these girls http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Dream-Beautiful-Creatures-Story-ebook/dp/B00F3GBRBM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1387288470&sr=1-1&keywords=kami+garcia …
- Yessss!! RT @TaherehMafi: fracture me is here! fracture me is here! fracture me is hereeeee! http://shrd.by/AWZmES
News and Events
- ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ movie poster is absolutely stunning http://huff.to/1cRcIrt
- The first #Divergent film clip is here! http://shrd.by/ResdSk via @YahooMovies
Just For Fun
- Loving @DailyCandy‘s 16 gifts for #book lovers (especially that #HungerGames iPhone charger…! #want) http://bit.ly/1fhbe9G
- 10 Great Gifts for Hunger Games Fans: http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20317203_20449625,00.html?stitched …
- Whitney Etchison, currently reading The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
As one of the posts highlighting the 2014 Morris Award finalists, we are very excited to share an interview with Carrie Mesrobian. Her debut novel, Sex & Violence, is about a boy who has moved from school to school and never really developed close relationships with people, though he’s very good at identifying the girls who will say yes to sex without the burden of an emotional attachment he doesn’t have the time or inclination to form. After a brutal attack that leaves him physically and emotionally broken, he spends the the summer on a Minnesota lake getting to know his family, a girl he comes to see as a person and not just a conquest, and ultimately, himself.
First off, congratulations on Sex & Violence being named a William C. Morris Debut YA Award Finalist! Sex & Violence is a novel that I’ve continued to think about months after first reading it. I read that Sex & Violence was a working title that ended up sticking. Do you think the bold title has affected the way the book has been received?
I think so. And this is a credit to my editor, Andrew Karre, because the title was his idea and, because I couldn’t think of anything better, I just stuck with it until I became accustomed to it. Recently, he and I were on a panel discussing sex in YA lit and someone asked a question about the title. Andrew explained that he feels that good titles set up expectations and reverberations in the minds of readers. While there are sexual and violent scenes in the book, the book is more about sex and violence as topics, not literal portrayals. And so that provides a kind of surprise to readers going in thinking one thing and getting another.
I think certainly some readers were probably turned-off or hesitant about picking up the book because of the title. And some readers felt the opposite. And still other readers thought it was a YA version of 50 Shades of Grey. Credit to Andrew Karre, again, because no matter what you did, the title made you contend with the book, right away.
Evan’s dealing with some heavy issues during the book, like coping with PTSD, but he’s still got quite a sense of humor. How did you find that balance?
Well, I like to think that we all can take a lesson from Ron Weasley and understand that life cannot be entirely serious. I think so much humor is dark at its roots, anyway. The books I like the best are dark and funny; I think when a character is funny, this creates a strong sense of trust in readers. At least it does for me as a reader. Books like Eireann Corrigan’s Ordinary Ghosts, Geoff Herbach’s Stupid Fast & Adam Rapp’s Under The Wolf, Under The Dog were certainly influential to me in this, as all those books deal with difficult subjects, yet they all made me laugh a lot.
One of my favorite parts of the book were when Baker and Evan explore the island in the center of Pearl Lake. Was that inspired by a real place?
Not just one place! Where I live in Minnesota, by my house there are several parks with ponds or lakes that have lake islands in them. And growing up, we’d visit my grandparents’ lake cabin up in Northern Minnesota and I remember being out on the boat and going past these wild, uninhabited lake islands and thinking if only the grown-ups I was with had any sense of adventure, they’d let us go explore. The Archardt House is completely fictional – I’ve never been on a lake or pond island that had an old ruined house on it. Unfortunately for me.
What have you found most surprising about being a debut author?
It’s more emotional than I would have guessed. I mean, I knew it would be emotional, but not to this degree. There is a kind of embarrassment I had at first in the revision process, talking to Andrew about this fake world I’d made up, analyzing it in such serious ways, as if it were real! I’d sit there during our lunch conversations and think, “THIS IS ALL FAKE! I CAN’T BELIEVE HE’S GETTING SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS THING I MADE UP!” It took me a while to get over this embarrassment. It was really me feeling uncovered, I think, because nothing tells people more about what you think personally than your stories, than what your constructed version of the world looks like. And so even when people love your book, it’s still strange; it’s like they are meeting your family and know all your family secrets and meanwhile, I’m just here at my house, being my same old self, as if I hadn’t just shared all this really big information about how I think the world really is. On top of that, I’m sharing all this minutiae about my life, my kid or my dog or how much I love Norman Reedus, and previously, I assumed I was talking to the void. Now people will be like, Oh, I know, I read your Tumblr! And I get all cringe-y, because this had been just my personal dorky space for my blabbering and I lived like it was being subsumed by all the other blabbering noise out there online. But some people actually read it now! That’s a little weird, too.
I’m very gratified to learn how many people blog about books and feel passionately about stories. I’m in awe of librarians and book bloggers and how much they read and think and talk about books. It just makes me feel so good to know this firsthand, of their generosity and enthusiasm about books and reading both.
Also, I have to say that getting to know people in the kidlit community has been so much fun. Here in Minnesota, we have such a great group of people who write kidlit and they are excellent people to hang out with and have been so welcoming and nice to me. I’ve also ‘met’ so many great people via Twitter that I cannot wait to meet in real life. Having these people in my life is such a privilege and a perk of this life.
What are you reading now?
While I’m waiting for the other Morris finalist books to come in the mail – just ordered Belle Epoque, In The Shadow of Blackbirds and Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets a couple days back; I’ve read Stephanie Kuehn’s beautiful Charm & Strange already—I’m enjoying Sarah Waters’ The Little Friend. So juicy and mysterious and dark and gothic!
– Molly Wetta, currently reading Dr. Birds Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
Last month I carefully chose YA lit suggestions for the male characters from TV’s The Big Bang Theory. This month I plan to finish off the recommendations by selecting a few choice titles for the girls of The Big Bang Theory. Sure, I could merely suggest a recently released best seller or two. Instead, I am going to tailor each suggestion to their specific interests or quirks. With no further ado, here are the possible favorites for a trio of nerd lovers.
Penny – While Penny is not much of a reader, I’m sure there are a few titles that may grab her interest. One of the first things you find out about Penny is her background. She is from Nebraska and learned how to be both girly and tough. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is a recent book, published only this year, about twin sisters who are about to begin their college lives and learn a bit about themselves. Cath and Wren’s story takes place in Nebraska, Penny’s home state. While she may find a commonality between the girls, she also might be interested in Cath’s fan fiction based on a Harry Potter-esqe book series. She is new to the world of pop culture fandoms, but she has sure learned a thing or two from her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Leonard. Speaking of Leonard, another title that Penny may enjoy is called Geek Charming by Robin Palmer. In this story, the popular Dylan accidentally throws her expensive, brand name bag into a fountain. Geek Josh rescues her bag in exchange for Dylan’s permission to use her as the subject of his documentary. Penny will relate to the juxtaposition of the romance between Josh and Dylan and possibly draw parallels to her own relationship. Finally, I want to add one more title, mainly because Penny does show in interest in sports and breaking down the gender stereotypes by being both feminine and tough. In Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (2007 Best Books for Young Adults), D.J. struggles with balancing her work on her family’s dairy farm, her love of football, and her attraction to a member of the opposing team. While I know that Penny doesn’t play football, she may enjoy D.J.’s story of identity and unsuspecting love.
Bernadette – Bernadette is most often known in connection with Howard. However, she is also a scientist, specializing in diseases and over aspects of microbiology. Because of what I know about Bernadette, I thought it fitting to choose one book that corresponds with her romantic life and one title that fits in with her professional life. Her romance with Howard is bizarre, but also endearing. This past season of the show left Bernadette coping with being separated from Howard while he was in space. This is why my first recommendation is a love story in space. Across the Universe by Beth Revis (2012 Teens’ Top Ten) is not precisely about astronauts, but it is about love in space. Amy is technically cargo after she is cryogenically frozen and loaded onto a ship that while travel to the other side of space to a new Earth. When she is suspiciously thawed, she joins up with Elder, the second-in-command of the ship, to uncover a devious plot that has left others less fortunate than Amy, dead. My second suggestion for Bernadette is more about her interest in microbiology than her personal life. Streams of Babel by Carol Plum-Ucci is a story about a town that is targeted by a terrorist organization. The terrorists poison the water supply resulting in severe side effects and even death. This story is right up Bernadette’s alley. Maybe she even knows a biohazard or two that could have been used in the story.
Amy – Amy Farrah Fowler may be the newest addition to The Big Bang Theory cast, but could be one of the most interesting. Other than her relationship with Sheldon, Amy is focused on her work as a neurobiologist and hanging out with her besties, Penny and Bernadette. Amy speaks often about her work with cigarette-smoking monkeys. In response to scientific research, I would recommend Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel. In this book, Ben’s father brings home a chimp for his behavioral science research and treats him like one of the family. I’m sure that Amy will have a thing or two to add in regards to the research presented in this book. There are several series that focus of on the close friendships of girls like “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” series by Ann Brashares and the “Pretty Little Liars” series by Sara Shepard. However, I would definitely suggest The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson (2006 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults). Johnson’s story focuses on three friends, Nina, Avery, and Mel. When Nina goes away for summer camp, she returns to find that Avery and Mel are a bit closer than when she left. In fact, her stories about her summer romance with a boy named Steve are pushed aside when the truth surfaces that Avery and Mel had their own summer romance…with each other. Amy alludes to a best friendship that borders on undisclosed feelings that may be closer to a romantic infatuation with Penny.
So what do you think? Did I get it right? Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section. Also, if there is another cast on TV that you want to hear recommendations for as well, let me know!
-Brandi Smits, currently Reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling & The Selection by Kiera Cass
Jodi so loves Jackson Gatlin, the lead singer of The Regulators, that she ends up dragging him home after his concert. Oops. The thing is, the famous Jackson is sick of being famous, sick of the celebrity life. Now he doesn’t want to leave Jodi’s garage. It’s up to Jodi (and her best friend Mac) to launch Project Celebrity Cold Turkey to save Jackson from his own success.
The fire behind Jodi’s determination comes from her grandfather, who gave her the advice: “Don’t Dream It, Be It.” Obviously, Grandpa was a Rocky Horror Show fan, which premiered as a stage play in London, 1973. Two years later, it was developed into a film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The rest is truly history; TRHPS is the longest running theatrical release in film history.
This film plays a small role in my personal history that testifies to its endurance. In 1977, I was studying theatre in college when a good friend of mine came back from London with a cast recording of The Rocky Horror Show. Without seeing the movie, my circle of drama friends fell in love with the songs. It was a big deal when The Rocky Horror Picture Show played briefly in my hometown. Thanks to the flexibility of the youthful brain, I remember every word.
So it’s no surprise that there are Grandpas out there quoting song lyrics from that strangely appealing movie. After all, Tim Curry is 67 years old. Dr. Frank-N-Furter, on the other hand, is as saucy as ever.
This video clip is from the production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. “Don’t Dream It, Be It” is playing in the background.
-Diane Colson, currently listening to The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, narrated by David Pittu
Some of my favorite novels are those where the narrator is unreliable. This is usually due to an impaired mental state like schizophrenia or amnesia. Whatever the case, unreliable narrators don’t usually present themselves right away, but when they do they seem to turn the novel you are reading upside down–and I love it when that happens! Reading becomes exciting, because you realize that you don’t know where the story is going and you have to decide: are you going to risk it and put your trust in your narrator or are you going to be suspicious of him or her all the way to the last page?
There has been a bit of buzz about unreliable narrators recently. Teen Librarian Toolbox recently posted about unreliable narrators, inspired by reading Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead. Beth Revis posted a cool look at why she thinks unreliable narrators are so popular right now and why she chose to make her main character in Across the Universe unreliable. Finally, check out this post on Stacked that talks about the mini-trend of amnesia fiction. Generally if your main character has amnesia, there is something unreliable about them; they are missing some key parts of their memory that would definitely make the mystery easier to solve.
If you’re interested in taking a chance with an unreliable narrator, then check out the list of titles I compiled below. But don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Unreliable narrators with impaired mental states:
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
This is my favorite unreliable narrator to date– I was blown away by this novel! Mara Dyer’s PTSD surrounding the death of three former friends, is causing her to question her basic reality. She is plagued by nightmares and hallucinations. Mara is determined to figure out what happened, even if that means confronting the fact that she may be the killer.
Going Bovine by Libba Bray (2010 Printz Winner)
Cameron has been diagnosed with mad cow disease; a disease that slowly eats away at the brain. Cameron is determined to live up his final days and beat the disease, so of course he takes off on a road trip to defeat an evil scientist with a cute punk girl who might be an angel and a talking garden gnome.
Liar by Justine Larbalestier (2010 Best Books for Young Adults)
Micah is a compulsive liar, and when a boy she’s been having a secret relationship with winds up murdered, Micah’s story is filled with twists and turns that leaves readers questioning whether or not to believe this dishonest narrator. It’s no wonder why Micah is a suspect!
Invisible by Pete Hautman (2006 Best Books for Young Adults)
Doug and Andy are best friends, but a very unlikely pair. Doug is a weird guy who is bullied and a self proclaimed nerd. Andy is the perfect jock and popular. As Doug gets into more and more trouble and shows signs of mental instability, the reader begins to question the friendship and whether or not it is real.
Scowler by Daniel Kraus
This dark novel centers on Ry, who is haunted by his father who was sent to jail for the horrible abuse he inflicted on Ry’s family. During a meteor shower, Ry’s dad breaks free and returns to the family farm. What follows is a horrifying story of the meteor shower’s affect on the family and their disturbing downfall.
Melinda experienced a traumatic event at a end of the summer party. Now, starting her freshmen year, Melinda is an outcast because she broke up the party when she called the police but will not speak about what happened–in fact she has a hard time speaking at all…
17 and Gone by Nova Ren Suma
Lauren believes that she is the only one that can save the missing girls–the ones that only she can see standing before her. As Lauren becomes obsessed with finding the girls, especially seventeen-year-old Abby, her reality begins to break down and readers question what to believe.
Unreliable narrators with amnesia:
Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst
Recently published, this novel centers on Eve who has been placed in witness protection but has no memory as to what she witnessed. Readers must decide to believe what Eve has started to remember, dream about, and the visions she is experiencing–even if they seem to be beyond reality.
After waking up from a coma, Jenna has almost no memory of her life up until the moment she opens her eyes. As she works hard to reclaim her memories, aided by home movies, Jenna finds that she has more questions than confirmations of who she is.
With a brother who has the ability to remove and alter memories, Cassel suspects that he is the victim of his brother’s work when he finds that he has been having strange dreams involving a white cat that also shows up in his reality. What Cassel suspects, however, is nothing compared to the truth that is revealed in this supernatural novel set in a world where people have the ability to effect a wide range of things like emotions, memories, and even luck with the touch of a hand.
Hysteria by Megan Miranda
Mallory cannot remember what happened the night she killed her boyfriend, but she was not arrested or even suspected by the police. However, everyone is suspicious of Mallory and she decides to leave her town to attend prep school. Her haunted dreams follow her, as does murder. When a student is found dead, Mallory is a prime suspect and slowly things become unraveled as Mallory learns the truth about what happened on the night her boyfriend died.
Unremembered by Jessica Brody
Violet is the only survivor of a plane crash, but with no injuries and no memories, readers suspect that Violet is not completely human.
Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon
Noa wakes up on an operating table with no memories of the past couple of weeks and an incision on her chest. Barely escaping, Noa taps her hacking skills to reconnect with fellow hacker Peter. Together they stumble upon a secret that has them both fighting for their lives.
Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
Annaliese has been missing and presumed dead for a year. So, when she shows up with no memory of what happened to her or of her life at all, she tries to be put together what happened to her. As memories start to return, Annaliese discovers the terrible truth and realizes that she has no choice as to the monster she has become.
–Colleen Seisser, currently reading Relic by Renee Collins
In 2014 YALSA Nonfiction Award finalist, Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design, Chip Kidd walks readers through all the different elements that come together to form good (and sometimes bad!) design.
If you like Kidd’s exploration of the principles of design, here are some other titles that might catch your fancy. The following books deconstruct different kinds of media, help readers think critically about what they see, and offer help for those interested in creating their own original content.
(The following book summaries are from the publishers’ jacket copy.)
Ads are everywhere: they try to be your friend on social media, pop up in the background of your video game, and even message your phone when you walk by a store. Increasingly kids are the prime target of these marketing messages. But they also have more power than ever to fight back. From the earliest roots of advertising to the undercover marketers of the 21st century, this revealing book shows where ads come from, how they work, and why kids need to be informed. Bursting with real-life examples, thought-provoking questions, hip illustrations, and plenty of tips to empower young consumers, Made You Look is every kid’s ultimate guide to the advertising universe.
New in the “100 Ideas that Changed…” series, this book demonstrates how ideas influenced and defined graphic design, and how those ideas have manifested themselves in objects of design. The 100 entries, arranged broadly in chronological order, range from technical (overprinting, rub-on designs, split fountain); to stylistic (swashes on caps, loud typography, and white space); to objects (dust jackets, design handbooks); and methods (paper cut-outs, pixelation).
Praised throughout the cartoon industry by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Matt Groening, and Will Eisner, this innovative comic book provides a detailed look at the history, meaning, and art of comics and cartooning.
A zine is a handmade magazine or mini-comic about anything you can imagine: favorite bands, personal stories, subcultures, or collections. They contain diary entries, rants, interviews, and stories. They can be by one person or many, found in stores, traded at comic conventions, exchanged with friends, or given away for free. Zines are not a new idea: they’ve been around for years under various names (chapbooks, flyers, pamphlets). People with independent ideas have been getting their word out since before there were printing presses. This book is for anyone who wants to create their own zine. It’s for learning tips and tricks from contributors who have been at the forefront of the zine movement. It’s for getting inspired to put thoughts and ideas down on paper. It’s for learning how to design and print your own zine so you can put it in others’ hands. Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine? is for anyone who has something to say.
-2014 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults committee
Leading up to Thanksgiving we issued a challenge. We asked all of you Hub readers to send us photos of what you planned to read over the holiday and the response was great! Now that we are even deeper into the holiday season, though, we wanted to recapture that fun without adding to the potential stress of your lives.
So, instead of a new challenge, a few of us decided to get into the spirit of the season and to show you what we are planning to read over the holidays, in hopes of inspiring all of you to remember to take some time for yourselves to relax during the frantic pace of the next few weeks. May this prompt you to put down the rolls of wrapping paper, to wait an hour before baking the next batch of cookies, and to pack a book or two for that family visit, so that you can fall into a world of your own choosing and lose yourself…if even for only an hour at a time!
Sharon Rawlins: (Who has an ARC of Graduation Day! I may have to beg to borrow it after the New Year…)
Laura Perenic: (With one of my favorite picture books!)
Jennifer Rummel: (Checking out some more upcoming releases…)
Carla Land: (Catching up on some things she’s missed!)
Jessica Miller: (Which includes my favorite Christmas book, Skipping Christmas by John Grisham – a great holiday read!)
So now that you’ve seen our holiday reading wish lists, I hope that we’ve inspired you to add a little reading to your holidays. Amid the family, fun, and festivities, don’t forget too that a great story can helpt to bring everyone together!
- Jessica Miller, currently reading Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
“Best of…” lists are all over the place this time of year, leading librarians to mad end-of-year purchasing sprees and readers to bookstores with holiday gift shopping inspiration. The titles under consideration here came from The Horn Book, School Library Journal, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal’s Best of YA Lit for Adults.
Before we begin, I want to acknowledge Kelly Jensen (@catagator) who wrote this post in 2011 and 2012. (And who continues her fearless analysis at Stacked.) Her posts are inspirational and I can only stumble along after her, a pale imitation.
To set limits and keep things manageable, I only included books that were fiction and marketed to people ages 12 and older. Cutting out nonfiction and memoirs only eliminated four titles overall. I included graphic novels and graphic hybrids because:
- there were not so many
- it is interested to see the growing mainstream popularity of books that include illustrations
- and “one” such book, Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers and Saints, was the only title to be on all five lists
I felt the Printz-winning author could not be left off. Also, I am non-scientifically counting Boxers and Saints as one title.
I used Edelweiss and Amazon and various publishers’ websites to help me determine the age a title was marketed to and what it was marketed as, genre-wise. The genre labels here either come from Edelweiss or from my own knowledge of the book. To make the various charts, and to make sorting the spreadsheets easier, I collapsed genres and kept only seven: fantasy, realistic, science fiction, historical fiction, mystery, horror, and graphic fiction. These are totally subjective, by the way.
There are 64 titles we are looking at here. This is down from 89 from last year. Let the discussions and arguments about what that means for quality YA literature begin!
Breaking things down by gender, we see that almost three quarters of the list comes from female authors.
There are 47 women and 16 men represented. This gender breakdown echoes last year, when women also dominated the lists. Who knows what this means, except perhaps more women are writing YA literature these days. There is plenty of discussion out there regarding gender in YA lit (like Maureen Johnson’s Coverflip challenge). For this post, we’re just looking at raw numbers.
Let us next consider debut authors. The Morris list was just announced, and three of those authors appear on these lists. There are a dozen debut authors in the lists. This means that the vast majority of authors are not newbies.
Next we consider genre; the biggest “problem” when looking at the lists by the numbers. Genre is certainly subjective, and even if we stuck only to the labels the publishers offer, there is still not enough consistency to make things fit into a neat pie chart. Publishers labeled these works everything from graphic memoir to paranormal romance to historical fable. As mentioned above, I streamlined everything into seven: fantasy, realistic, science fiction, historical fiction, mystery, horror, and graphic fiction. “Realistic” includes romance, LGBTQ, action, coming of age, and many other genres that could be separated out. Feel free to email me to initiate a spirited discussion about which books should be considered what. In the meantime -
Realistic for the win! Who knew? My money would have been on fantasy. Perhaps, after years of fantasy and paranormal everything, the tide is turning?
But again, this is the simplified version of the genres. Kirkus labels Chasing Shadows a “graphic fiction hybrid” and while I’ve never seen those three words in that order before, that perfectly describes the book. Boxers and Saints are graphic fiction for charting purposes, but more accurately, they should be called graphic historical fiction. Far Far Away and September Girls get called fairy tales or fables, but here, I’ve shoved them into the all-purpose fantasy category. And is Two Boys Kissing most accurately described as LGBTQ? Or romance? Or realistic? Or some combination thereof?
There are six titles on these lists that are graphic novels or heavily illustrated or have important graphic elements. I’ve included them this year because ever since Gene Luen Yang won the Printz for American Born Chinese, graphically illustrated work has been seeping into mainstream consciousness. More authors and illustrators are using images to help move the story along, and more librarians, teachers, and readers are buying, reading, and studying graphic books now. Even one of the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young People nominees is all about graphic design and how it impacts everyday life, Go! A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd. Graphic novels of all stripes are getting so much attention, in fact, that the only book to make all five lists is Yang’s Boxers and Saints. Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park is nipping at its heels, appearing on four lists. Does this mean Yang is a Printz contender again? Who knows. But it does seem to speak to the importance with which reviewers are taking graphic novels.
44 books made only one list. 14 are on at least two. Five hit three lists. Eleanor & Park and Boxers and Saints stand alone at four and five lists respectively. You can view all the titles on this public spreadsheet.
What does this all mean? In the end, I think it means only one thing: you’ve got 64 books to get busy reading!
-Geri Diorio, currently reading The Fury by Alexander Gordon Smith
Good morning, Hub readers!
Last week, we asked which creature from The Hobbit you’d want to be. Evidently most of you are fans of long, shiny hair, because elves came in first with 54% of the vote. 16% of you would choose to be a hobbit, followed closely by the 15% of you who would opt to be wizard. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks very much to all of you who voted!
This week, we want to know the YA standalone novel you wish had a sequel. YA lit is rife with series these days, and some readers complain of “sequel fatigue.” (Let’s face it: sometimes it’s hard to commit, okay?) But on the other hand, sometimes one book just isn’t enough. Maybe you want more time in that world, more time with those characters. Vote in the poll below for the book you wish had a sequel, and be sure to leave a comment with suggestions for more titles!Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
Jane Austen was born 238 years ago today in Steventon, England. Her work has grown more popular, even though she only finished six novels. Who could forget the masterpiece Clueless (based on Emma)?
With so many spin-offs, prequels, and modernizations of her work, we’re celebrating her today with a list of teen titles.
Titles inspired by Pride and Prejudice:
Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman (2013 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)
When Julie’s best friend geeks out, she goes all in. Ashleigh’s decided that Julie’s love of Pride and Prejudice is the next big thing. Soon Ashleigh’s convinced Julie to wear a vintage gown while sneaking into a dance at the local all boys prep school. Could they find true love waiting for them?
I was Jane Austen’s Best Friend by Cora Harrison
Jane’s cousin Jenny chronicles their daily routine, where we get an in-depth look into the Austen’s way of life. When Jane falls deathly ill, Jenny sneaks out of school to mail a letter to Jane’s mother. While outside, she meets a boy and fancies herself in love.
Pies and Prejudice by Heather Vogel Frederick
The 4th book in the Mother-Daughter Book Club series takes Emma and her family to England for her first year of high school with a house swap. To make the others feel included, the club reads Pride and Prejudice and chat via video. The remaining members of the club at home start a pie business in order to bring Emma back home for spring vacation. The family who swapped houses with Emma’s family has two teen boys that act just like Bingley and Darcy.
Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard
Callie buys a pair of Prada shoes to impress a pair of popular girls. She doesn’t care that the shoes are too big – until she trips and falls. She must have hit her head harder than she imagined because when she wakes up in 1815. After a case of mistaken identity, Callie’s taken into a house where she makes numerous mistakes, falls in love, and tries desperately to adapt to a very different life.
Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg (2013 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)
Longbourn Academy is obsessed with prom season –except Lizzie Bennet. She’s at the academy on a musical scholarship. Her BFF Jane hopes that Charles will ask her to prom. He’s just returned from a semester abroad. She convinces Lizzie to hang out with her, Charles, and Will. Naturally, Will and Lizzie don’t get off on the right foot.
Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance
Strawberry Fields (Berry) works for her father – who’s a private investigator. She and her BFF Mary Chris Moss (they bonded in elementary school over weird names) are at a stakeout when they meet the boys – Ryan and Tanner. After Berry leaves the stakeout, she witnesses a handoff of papers with her mother’s name on them. Her mother’s been dead for 8 years and Berry isn’t going to let this go, even if it means destroying everything.
Titles inspired by Sense and Sensibility:
Sass & Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler
Gabby and Daphne don’t have much in common. Daphne’s the younger sister – she’s romantic, believes the best in people, social, and outgoing. Gabby’s the older more responsible sister. She helps run the household, studies constantly to win a scholarship for college, and has one best friend. When their mother goes out of town for job training, the two sisters must learn to live together to survive their mother’s absence. Will they ever be able to see eye to eye?
Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood by Abby McDonald
Hallie and Grace Weston’s father dies, leaving everything to his new wife. Now they have to move out of their childhood home in San Francisco for Beverly Hills. Shy Grace yearns for her old life and pines for a boy who isn’t hers while her sister Hallie finds new friends in a heartbeat.
Dashwood Sisters’ Secrets of Love by Rosie Rushton
Ellie, Abby, and Georgie Dashwood’s lives are turned upside down when their father dies suddenly from a heart attack. Everything, including their house goes to his new wife and she’s asking them to leave their home. They move from London to the country where the practical one, the drama queen, and the tom boy dealing with romance and acclimating to their new situation.
Titles inspired by Persuasion:
Trouble with Flirting by Claire LaZebnik
Franny’s not attending the Mansfield Summer Theater Program as an actress – instead, she’s helping her aunt (the costume designer) for the summer. Although Franny spends her days sewing – her nights and meal times are free. She finds herself drawn into a group of friends, most of them starting to pair off. As Franny gets to know the group, Harry starts paying attention to her. She’s never gotten over her crush on Alex. Even though he has a girlfriend, they have moments together. Will she have to choose between two boys?
Austen-inspired adult reads with YA apeal:
Austenland by Shannon Hale
Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
Longbourn by Jo Baker
Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange
Pride and Prescience by Carrie Berbis
~ Jennifer Rummel, currently reading Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally
Not signed up for YALSA’s 2014 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 challenge readers!
Have you signed up and read the guidelines for this year’s reading challenge? The Morris/Nonfiction challenge runs until January 27th, so you have plenty of time to sign up if you were still debating.
I had every intention of having at least one book read, but I accidentally started reading another one. Ooops. I have started Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian, but it’s on my iPad along with all my games (I have an addiction to Clumsy Ninja)! As soon as I finish up If You Find Me, I will get serious about the challenge. I’m hoping to at least make it through all the Morris Finalists.
So, how are you doing in your reading? What’s your plan of attack? Let me know in the comments!
-Faythe Arredondo, currently reading If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
I spend a lot of time thinking about Batman in my daily life – his comics, his movies, could we be friends, does he like sandwiches, etc. And it’s only become more intense lately due to the new Superman vs. Batman movie that will be coming out in 2015 starring Henry Cavill as Superman and Ben Affleck as Batman (reserving judgment on performance = I am an adult). What story will they be telling? Will it be original or based on a comic already in existence? Will the movie be any good? Now, we all know that with new movies and television shows based on literary properties becoming more and more popular, there will be more and more readers interested in reading whatever comes close to what they are watching on the screen.
So, I thought I might put together my all-time, top-five list of Batman titles in celebration of this event that isn’t even going to happen for another two years. Oh, well– there’s no time like the present to get ready. These are books that appeal not only to those who are excited for the new movie, but any readers who like any televised form of Batman and his crew. And, yes, I know Superman’s in the movie, too, but come on – we all know that Batman’s the real star, right?
The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller & Klaus Janson: This is the Batman that many have speculated that Ben Affleck’s Batman will be based on. He’s weary, tired, and older in this future nightmare Gotham where crime has gotten worse since Bruce Wayne hung up his cape and cowl. This is a story of gloom and sadness, but ultimately hope and faith. It’s dark and gritty and brings in all the favorites from Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery – Two-Face, Joker, Selina Kyle. Oh, yeah – Batman and Superman really seem to hate each other’s guts in this one.
Batman: Year One by Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli: Yup – here’s another one by Frank Miller. He covered the gauntlet of Batman’s life – DKR is Batman at the, seemingly, end of his career, and this one – Year One – is the seminal origin story for Batman that’s been the starting point for Batman enthusiasts since it was published in 1987. It’s the story of Bruce’s first year on the job as Batman. This is when he gets to know Jim Gordon and the city that he’s come back to protect. No real villains in this one, just a story of beginnings.
Batman: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo: In 2011, DC Comics relaunched their universe back to zero – they called it a reboot, and it was meant to allow new and lapsed readers to get back into comics at the ground floor without having to know all the past storylines they might have missed. Lucky for us, the powerhouse team of Snyder & Capullo landed on the Batman book, and they keep telling better and better stories as the years go by. This collection of the first issues of Batman to come out of the reboot tells the story of The Court of Owls – a Gotham nursery rhyme that warns of a secret society that watches everything and everyone in Gotham. Just superstition, right? Nope – the Court of Owls is real, and they are attempting to take over Gotham as their own. Batman must stop them, but can he? (a 2013 Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection)
Gotham Central by Greg Rucka & Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Michael Lark: You know how Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a pretty cool show that reveals what all the non-superhero agents are working on? Well, Batman’s got one of those, too, albeit in comic form. Gotham Central follows the hard working and sometimes corrupt police officers of the GCPD fighting all the crime and solving all the cases Batman doesn’t get to. I mean, we can’t expect Batman to solve everything, can we? And, yeah, there’s no Batman in these books, but it’s a super awesome series, and he’s alluded to a lot, so that counts, right? And, now that Fox has announced its new series, Gotham, will focus on Jim Gordon with no Batman, let’s hope they take a page from Gotham Central.
Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale: For readers that want every possible Bat-villain crammed into one book, this is the one for them. The origin story of Two-Face, appearances by Riddler, Joker, Scarecrow – all of them and more grace the pages of this epic story of a murderer who strikes on holidays, and who the Batman must stop before another holiday arrives. It reminds me of a film noir with its murder mystery and heavy use of greys to color the story. And, for readers that like ambiguous endings, this one is the best – can anyone be truly happy in Gotham?
Well, there’s my list of recommended reads for the Bat-fiends in your life. Whether they like the movies, the animated series, the original show from ’66 or none of the above, these titles will get them ready for Bat-mania in 2015 and beyond.
-Traci Glass, currently reading Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book One by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, and John Totleben
Here’s some bookish news from Twitter this week, in case you missed it…
- @catagator: Series vs. stand alones, hardcovers vs. paperbacks, publisher representation and more on “best of 2013 YA” part 2: http://www.stackedbooks.org/2013/12/best-of-2013-ya-list-breakdown-part-2.html …
- @catagator: Gender, POC, LGBTQ, Debut vs. Seasoned authors and more on part one of the “Best of 2013 YA” data breakdown (charts!) http://www.stackedbooks.org/2013/12/best-of-2013-ya-list-breakdown-part-1.html …
- @PWKidsBookshelf: ”When a kid opens one of my books, they instinctively feel it’s not work, but fun”: Jeff Kinney http://pwne.ws/19h2Sys
- @IceyBooks: It’s our 100th Hitting Shelves post! See what books hit shelves today: http://iceybooks.com/blog/2013/12/hitting-shelves-100-december-10th-2013.html …
- @sljournal: SLJ’s Top 10 Latino-themed Books of 2013 | School Library Journal http://ow.ly/rDjMs #sljtop10@JensBookPage: 12 Days of Mysteries: Day 1 at Sleuths, Spiies, Aliblis with fine #kidlit mystery picks from @KKittscherhttp://ow.ly/rBlid
- @Scholastic: Looking for the just-right children’s #book this holiday season? Our Give the Gift of #Reading Guide can help: http://bit.ly/18x5PtQ
- @Scholastic: Afternoon reading: 25 Books that Changed History http://www.businessinsider.com/books-that-changed-history-2013-12 …#readeveryday
- @catagator: Need a book that’s content-conscious (“clean” or “gentle,” what-have-you)? I made a flow chart: http://bookriot.com/2013/12/09/green-light-ya-reads-a-flowchart/ …
- @YAmzine: Top 10 YA Films of 2014 to look forward to http://pinterest.com/pin/343751384029523988/ …
- @Hypable: Forthcoming YA novel ‘The Red Queen’ to be adapted by ‘Breaking Bad’ writer http://www.hypable.com/2013/12/10/red-queen-ya-book-movie-screenwriter/ …
- @bkshelvesofdoom: Movie news: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. http://bit.ly/1kt4WoC
- @EW: Peter Jackson on bringing the ‘Hobbit’ villain Smaug to life: ‘He’s the Hannibal Lecter of the dragon world.’ http://ow.ly/rz89Q
- @bkshelvesofdoom: ‘Narnia’ Sequel Taps David Magee to Write Script | http://shar.es/DPAHF via @TheWrap
- @TLT16: Put a little STEM in your MG & early teen #library #programming w/NICK & TESLA from @quirkbooks http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2013/12/tpib-stem-projects-with-nick-and-teslas.html?m=1 …
- @boothheather: Seriously, librarians. If you need a pick me up & reminder of why we do what we do: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA33jRlhpOI …
- @HMHKids: Drooling over the @nytimes 2013 Notable Books list? You’re in luck, @100scopenotes is giving away a full set! http://ow.ly/rBmZf
- @TinaSpringer: My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours Paperback release contest! Lots of goodies! Info on blog. http://bit.ly/19f4Ong #MG#giveaway#win
- @yabooknerd: If you’ve been meaning to read the Diviners by @libbabray, now’s your chance to win a copy! http://yabooknerd.blogspot.com/2013/12/contest-diviners.html …#TheDiviners. @lbkids
Just for Fun:
- @sljournal: Happy Dewey Decimal Day! December 10, 1851 is the birthday of Melvil Dewey http://tmblr.co/Zkm-Mv10pthwL
- @TLT16: Guide to Literary Tumblrs http://tmblr.co/Z2Ipfr10lnIyX
~ Jennifer Rummel Currently reading History Decoded by Brad Meltzer
When awards season rolls around, the main biggies are the most anticipated. Newbery, Caldecott, Printz. Who will win? How many honor books will each committee award? These are all really exciting for me, especially since I became a librarian about two years ago, but the one award I always wait for is the Odyssey Award.
For those of you who don’t know or haven’t heard of this honor, it goes to the best audiobook production of the year. As a big audiobook fan and listener, I’m always looking for the next one to bring with me on my 40-minute commute, or on my morning runs. The Odyssey Award helps me out in a big way. But what makes a great audiobook?
Of course, one of the biggest criteria is the narration. Without a good narrator, an audiobook is not worth the time. Anyone who has listened to a bad audiobook can tell you that. But it goes beyond just “good;” factors like distinction between characters, effectiveness and accuracy of accents and pronunciation, clarity, and believability are all taken into consideration. Basically, listeners have to believe the narrator is the character, or if told in third person, believe they are in the world and know the characters they are describing. It has to feel genuine.
One of my very favorite audiobooks is The True Meaning of Smekday, written by Adam Rex and narrated by Bahni Turpin. I didn’t know until afterward that there were illustrations in the book, but it didn’t matter; Turpin is a master. Her voice for J.Lo and the other Boov aliens is priceless. I don’t know if I would have stumbled across this masterpiece if not for the Odyssey Award, which it won in 2011. I’ve listened to it twice since.
Sound quality is also something that has to be taken into consideration. Is there some weird humming in the background? Is the audio quality as good as it possibly can be? Is it consistent? The committee also takes use of sound effects and music into account. Are they well done, and do they work in the context of the story? An ill-timed use of effect or music can ruin the experience.
In the end, I would argue that it all comes whether the audiobook can do justice to the original in every way possible, and in fact enhance the experience of the book itself. Because that’s what listening to an audiobook is, right? It’s an experience, a new way to immerse yourself in the story and the writing and the lives of the characters. A truly excellent audiobook can take you right into the characters’ experience and suck you into their world, making you a part of it. Finding out what happens next is great motivation for hitting the pavement and trails, and I always look forward to driving anywhere because I know I’ve got a good story to keep me company.
-Tahleen Shamlian, YALSA Booklist & Award Marketing Task Force member
Spotlight on YALSA’s Nonfiction Award Finalists: Fiction Readalikes for Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone
Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone is one of the finalists for the 2014 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Great nonfiction can encourage readers to find out more about its subject matter, which often leads them to seek out great fiction based on the same topic.
Racism and discrimination of all kinds on the home front and in the military didn’t stop when the US entered the war in 1941. Just like in Tanya Lee Stone’s Courage Has No Color, the following novels examine the wartime experiences of young African Americans at home and in the armed forces during World War II.
(The following book summaries are from the publishers’ jacket copy.)
Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis - Octavia and Tali are dreading the road trip their parents are forcing them to take with their grandmother over the summer. After all, Mare isn’t your typical grandmother. She drives a red sports car, wears stiletto shoes, flippy wigs, and push-up bras, and insists that she’s too young to be called Grandma. But somewhere on the road, Octavia and Tali discover there’s more to Mare than what you see. She was once a willful teenager who escaped her less-than-perfect life in the deep South and lied about her age to join the African American battalion of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.
Caleb’s Wars by David L. Dudley - A powerful novel about growing up black on the World War II home front in the Jim Crow South. Caleb lives in a world at war. War news is on everyone’s mind, and Caleb’s older brother, Randall, is likely to be sent overseas. The presence of German POWs in Caleb’s rural Georgia community is a constant reminder of what’s happening in Europe. Locked in a power struggle with his domineering father and fighting to keep both his temper and his self-respect in dealing with whites, Caleb finds his loyalties shifting and his certainties slipping away. This coming-of-age story, set in a time before the civil rights movement emerged, traces one young man’s growing commitment to justice and to the courage needed to protect it.
Jump Into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall - It’s May 5, 1945. Carrying nothing but a suitcase and a bag of his aunt’s good fried chicken, 13-year-old Levi Battle heads south to a U.S. Army post in search of his father—a lieutenant in an elite unit of all black paratroopers. The fact that his father doesn’t even know he’s coming turns out to be the least of his problems. As Levi makes his way across the United States, he learns hard lessons about the way a black boy is treated in the Jim Crow South. And when he arrives at his destination, his struggles are far from over. The war may be ending, but his father’s secret mission is just beginning—and it’s more dangerous than anybody imagined. . . .
- Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith - All Ida Mae Jones wants to do is fly. Her daddy was a pilot, and years after his death she feels closest to him when she’s in the air. But as a young black woman in 1940s Louisiana, she knows the sky is off limits to her, until America enters World War II, and the Army forms the WASP – Women Airforce Service Pilots. Ida has a chance to fulfill her dream if she’s willing to use her light skin to pass as a white girl. She wants to fly more than anything, but Ida soon learns that denying one’s self and family is a heavy burden, and ultimately it’s not what you do but who you are that’s most important.
-2014 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults committee