The Vampire Diaries based on the L.J. Smith book series is one of the CW’s top rated shows, airing Thursday nights at 8:00 pm. The show is currently in its fifth season and already has a successfully delicious spinoff, The Originals. The show centers around Elena Gilbert, a well liked high school student, who survives the car crash that kills her parents. The Salvatore brothers are vampires who return to Mystic Falls and end up in a love triangle with the aforementioned heroine. What’s a girl to do with so many suitors? Well thank goodness she has two best friends who have a high tolerance for crazy supernatural occurrences, Bonnie and Caroline, to help a girl out. Now, given that this show is in its fifth season and has a particular knack for insane plot twists, there is far more that could be said about the characters in Mystic Falls, but there is no way to do that without getting far too spoilerish. Just know that The Vampire Diaries is a delectable supernatural romance roller coaster ride with a fabulous cast of characters. With that said, have you ever wondered what would be on one of those character’s e-readers or on the Salvatore book shelf? What are they reading in between those breakups, make-ups, and near death experiences?
Here is my recommended reading list for a few of our favorite TVD characters:
- Elena Gilbert – Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – For the girl in love with two guys who have been alive for hundreds of years, let’s suggest a little historical fiction circa World War II. The story follows, Lina, a fifteen year old Lithuanian girl, struggles to survive in a turbulent Soviet Union. This 2012 Morris Award finalist is a story about family, survival and hope all of which should strike a chord with our favorite TVD heroine.
- Stefan Salvatore – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – No one seems to value humanity in Mystic Falls more then the youngest Salvatore. He’s also romantic– he did, after all, follow his crush all the way back to high school for the umpteenth time. He seems the most likely to appreciate the popular story of Hazel and Augustus whose lives change when they meet in a Cancer Kid Support Group. (The Fault in Our Stars is a 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection.)
- Damon Salvatore – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – The resident brooding serial killer with a heart could definitely identify with the passionate tale of Heathcliff and Catherine.
- Bonnie Bennett - Cahill Witch Chronicles by Jessica Spotswood – The resident witch of Mystic Falls just might enjoy this series of books following a prophesized family of persecuted witches. Cate, Maura and Tess are sisters trying to protect each other and explore their growing magical powers in this alternate history of New England.
- Caroline Forbes – Beauty Queens by Libba Bray – The cheerleader with a bite(pun intended) needs a book packed with action and humor. Nothing says vampire cheerleader quite like a pack of beauty pageant contestants dropped on an island fighting for survival. (Beauty Queens is a 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection.)
Your turn, readers. What other books do you think our favorite TVD characters should be reading?
~Katie Shanahan Yu, currently reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Gabe did not ask for the impossible task of living in a girl’s body; really, he’s just an average guy. But being a guy in his head and a girl in his body makes him a problem, an issue, an endless source of frustration and heartache for others. Music, then, is Gabe’s primary language. And for Gabe, it all comes back to Elvis. When Gabe is doing his show on community service radio, “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children,” he captures the attention of listeners who can understand his concept of an “A Side” and a “B Side.” His physical presence, the girl called Elizabeth, is his A Side. Gabe loves his B Side, the side that doesn’t get much play, the side so many others find impossible.
Each night, Gabe pulls out his 45 with Elvis’s “That’s All Right” on the A Side. This was Elvis Presley’s first commercial recording, released in July, 1954. Like so many great songs, Elvis’s interpretation first occurred when he was just playing around with the old blues song, giving it an upbeat tempo. Fifty years later, Rolling Stone magazine called it, “the first rock-and-roll record.” Sometimes, when things get tough, Gabe hears Elvis’s voice in his head saying, “That’s all right, Gabe.”
This video recording is from a 1970 documentary about Elvis titled, Elvis: That’s the Way It Is.
Diane Colson, currently reading Minders (advanced readers copy) by Michelle Jaffe
Now that the weather’s getting colder, I’m reminded more than ever that a good book and a hot drink just go together. But wait– don’t simply grab your same-old same-old tea or hot chocolate mix as you’re reading this. Yes, I saw that. Put it back! Instead, remember that literature is the greatest escape and consider concocting a warm beverage that’s in the spirit of your current reading journey. Whether you’re having a cozy night at home on your own with a great novel or it’s your turn to provide the refreshments for your book club, it’s actually super easy to get a little creative and make something special.
But how do you decide what to make? What ingredients should you use? My advice is to keep it simple and consider just two aspects of your book: setting and main character. Read on for a drink idea to spark your imagination, and then create your own and share your recipe with everyone in the comments section!
I loved Marissa Meyer’s YA science fiction novel Cinder (2013 Readers’ Choice Booklist, 2012 Teens’ Top Ten), a unique update of the Cinderella fairy tale set in a dystopian China. Linh Cinder is a sixteen-year old cyborg, a human with a mechanical hand and foot and software components in her brain. She is a talented mechanic who unfortunately has a truly nasty stepmother who cares nothing for her. One day, however, the charming Prince Kai personally requests Cinder’s assistance with repairing his android. This development and the sudden infection of Cinder’s younger sister with plague set off events that reveal a secret about Cinder’s past and put her in the middle of attempts to stop a lunar takeover of Earth.
To create a drink which I call “The Cinder,” I kept in mind a few key aspects of the novel’s setting and main character, and the corresponding ingredients which they suggested to me:
“New Beijing” setting — green tea
The name “Cinder” — things that resembles cinders in color, texture and/or taste
Cyborg — unexpected combination of ingredients
What I ended up creating was a yummy green tea latte with a couple add-ins to call to mind the look (and hopefully something close to the taste) of cinders. I adapted my recipe below from a tea latte recipe that I found on “Foodista.com – The Cooking Encyclopedia Everyone Can Edit.”
Makes 1 serving
- 1 cup water
- 1 bag of your favorite green tea
- 1/4 cup low fat milk, chilled (almond milk would be great too)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 crumbled Oreo cookie (chunky and black like cinders)
- tiny pinch of black cardamom (smoky flavor of cinders)
- Pour water into a microwave-safe mug and heat for 2.5 minutes. Then place tea bag in this hot water and let it sit for 2-3 minutes.
- If you like, froth milk with a milk frother. But I did not froth mine and it was still delicious!
- Remove tea bag from tea. Add brown sugar and milk to tea and stir.
- Sprinkle with crumbled Oreo and a tiny bit of black cardamom to taste.
I’ll be blogging again soon with more book-inspired beverages. Now it’s your turn to have fun creating your own bookish brew and leave a comment to tell us about it!
-Anna Dalin, currently reading Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
It’s hard to believe that it’s been forty years since Roe v. Wade– forty years of continuous discussion, dissension, and dramatic debate on both sides of the issue. And the conversation is hardly over; earlier this year Wendy Davis made filibustering history and just last month the Women’s Health Protection Act was introduced into Congress. Given the prominence of women’s reproductive rights in the news today, it is no wonder that YA literature is also tackling this highly controversial topic.
The books examined below can all trace their thematic heritage back to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but Hillary Jordan’s When She Woke (2012 Amelia Bloomer List) is the most obvious successor to this seminal work on women’s reproductive rights. A reimagining of The Scarlet Letter, the book is set in a future theocratic American where abortion is illegal and women who are found guilty are charged with murder. Crimes are punished by a method called “chroming” wherein one’s skin is genetically altered to become a color that correlatesto the crime committed. The novel follows the story of Hannah Prynne who becomes pregnant after a steamy affair with a celebrity preacher. Her decision to abort the fetus and keep her lover’s identity secret results in an engaging, albeit disquieting, tale of the limitations of love, the effects of criminalizing abortion, and ultimately one woman’s quest for independence.
What I found most interesting about When She Woke was not the focus on abortion but rather the many ways in which Jordan explores how and why people or institutions control another person’s body. The very idea of ‘chroming’ begs the question of how much control should a government have over any individual’s body and frames the debate around imprisonment and rehabilitation in an unusual light. In fact, it furthers the discussion by looking at how these ‘chromed’ men and women are at the mercy of a system that allows for, and even encourages, an increase in violence against them as they automatically become lesser citizens. Indeed, the chromed women in the novel are continually subjected to the threat of rape, sexual coercion, and ongoing humiliation. But it is not only the chromed women who suffer; Hannah’s sister is a victim of domestic violence, while the preacher’s wife-due to his previous affairs-struggles with an STD. This focus on control and who wields it is at the heart of the novel and will make for excellent discussion and debate amongst the older teens and adults who read this book.
Amy Kathleen Ryan’s Glow (a YALSA 2013 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers) also centers on issues of control and power, although Ryan takes a very different spin on the theme by examining the psychology of survival and what humans are willing to do to ensure it. The basic premise is that two ships have departed a badly damaged Earth to seek a new planet; one is successful in having a generation of children born on board, the other falls victim to a virus that renders all the adult women sterile. When the New Horizon encounters the Empyrean, the crew launches an attack, kills the adults and kidnaps the young girls. They then forcibly remove the eggs of all the fertile teenage girls, justifying their actions by arguing that the survival of the human race is paramount and that the greater good should always prevail (a standard trope of dystopian leadership).
For a YA novel, the premise is exceedingly disturbing, and yet also believable. The teenage girls have always known that childbearing at a young age is a necessary endeavor in order to preserve the human race. The responsibility to do so weighs heavily on all of them further limiting what choices they feel like they have. The actions of the New Horizon only serve to emphasize the power that adults wield over the teenagers in their control (another common theme in YA taken to a horrifying extreme). I appreciated the author’s willingness to delve into the psychological implications of not only the terribly invasive egg-harvesting surgery but also the long-term effect of knowing that dozens of their biological children will be born to other women without their consent. Add to the mix that it is women who are largely dictating these actions, and you have a remarkably complex and sinister vision of how young girls are so often at the mercy of those in power.
Lastly, Megan McCafferty’s duology Bumped and Thumped, although also focused on how adults control and exploit teenagers, is markedly different in tone than the previous two novels. A satire that closely considers the commodification of young women’s bodies, the books describe a world where all women are infertile over the age of eighteen due to a virus. Consequently, adults in this society pay teenagers to be pregnant and give birth to their children. The world McCafferty creates borders on the absurd with tweens wearing fake baby bumps, “Born to Breed” shirts, and Gestation Celebrations. Nevertheless, she largely succeeds in her vision and the story of twins separated at birth–one fully committed to being a Surrogate and the other a conservative Christian who sees her twin’s actions as sinful—is at once hilarious, terrifying, and thought-provoking.
Bumped and Thumped are particularly successful in their ability to provoke questions rather than merely preach a message. Both sisters are flawed and neither one of their viewpoints is clearly the “right” one. The ethical considerations around paid surrogacy are examined and the question of control becomes more nuanced. In particular, class becomes a consideration as girls opt to get pregnant in exchange for college tuition, leading to larger questions of what defines ‘choice’. It’s hard not to ask if the required sex act with the girls’ bumping partner is not actually a form of prostitution and if so, what that means for the entire process these girls undergo. Finally, providing a backdrop for both novels is the relentless, insidious, and manipulative media presence that bombards the teenagers with the message that their self-worth is crucially linked to their fertility and number of pregnancies. This leads to a high percentage of teenagers making the choice to become pregnant without the maturity or agency to understand the consequences of their actions.
It’s worth noting that all these books are sci-fi—dystopias that look at the future of women’s reproductive rights from a speculative stance. Interestingly, all four books move away from abortion as the primary question at hand, instead highlighting a number of other ethical considerations. As always, the issues raised are based on some aspect of the present—from surrogate clinics in India to mass media’s effect on women’s self-perception—and as such are particularly compelling reads for both teenagers and adults to mull over, debate, and enjoy.
-Alegria Barclay, currently reading When the Sea Is Rising Red by Cat Hellison
Spotlight on YALSA’s Nonfiction Award Finalists: Fiction Readalikes for Imprisoned by Martin W. Sandler
Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II by Martin W. Sandler 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.
Just as Martin W. Sandler uses comprehensive research and first-hand accounts to bring the event surrounding the Japanese American internment to life, each of the following novels addresses the experience of young Japanese Americans in different ways. Weedflower and Thin Wood Walls tackle the internment experience head on, while Beacon Hill Boys examines the legacy of internment for the children and grandchildren of internees. Best Friends Forever takes the form of a fictional scrapbook, illustrating moments in the lives of two young girls separated by the internment.
(The following book summaries are from the publishers’ jacket copy.)
Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata – Twelve-year-old Sumiko feels her life has been made up of two parts: before Pearl Harbor and after it. The good part and the bad part. Raised on a flower farm in California, Sumiko is used to being the only Japanese girl in her class. Even when the other kids tease her, she always has had her flowers and family to go home to. That all changes after the horrific events of Pearl Harbor. Other Americans start to suspect that all Japanese people are spies for the emperor, even if, like Sumiko, they were born in the United States! As suspicions grow, Sumiko and her family find themselves being shipped to an internment camp in one of the hottest deserts in the United States. The vivid color of her previous life is gone forever, and now dust storms regularly choke the sky and seep into every crack of the military barrack that is her new “home.” Sumiko soon discovers that the camp is on an Indian reservation and that the Japanese are as unwanted there as they’d been at home. But then she meets a young Mohave boy who might just become her first real friend…if he can ever stop being angry about the fact that the internment camp is on his tribe’s land.
Beacon Hill Boys by Ken Mochizuki - Like other Japanese American families in the Beacon Hill area of Seattle, 16-year-old Dan Inagaki’s parents expect him to be an example of the “model minority.” But unlike Dan’s older brother, with his 4.0 GPA and Ivy League scholarship, Dan is tired of being called “Oriental” by his teachers, and sick of feeling invisible; Dan’s growing self-hatred threatens his struggle to claim an identity. Sharing his anger and confusion are his best friends, Jerry Ito, Eddie Kanagae, and Frank Ishimoto, and together these Beacon Hill Boys fall into a spiral of rebellion that is all too all-American.
Thin Wood Walls by David Patenaude – Eleven-year-old Joe Hanada likes playing basketball with his best friend, Ray, writing plays and stories, and thinking about the upcoming Christmas holiday. But his world falls apart when Japanese planes bomb Pearl Harbor. His country goes to war. The FBI takes his father away. And neighbors and friends in his hometown near Seattle begin to suspect Joe, his family, and all Japanese Americans of spying for the enemy. When the government orders people of Japanese heritage living on the West Coast to move to internment camps, including Joe and his family, Joe turns to the journal his father gave him to record his thoughts and feelings.
Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook by Beverly Patt – German-American Louise Kessler, 14, starts a scrapbook when her best friend, Dottie Masuoka, leaves for the Japanese internment camps. Louise’s scrapbook includes items from her life “on the home front” as well as Dottie’s letters and drawings from the internment camp. Together, their intertwined stories tell of a friendship that even war cannot tear apart.
-2014 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults committee
I belong to a book club where we do a roll call to see what everyone is reading. I am always interested to know what other people are reading or waiting to read- but just knowing what is popular in Ohio or the whole United States no longer satisfies my curiosity. I want to know what teens are reading all over the world.
Canada has a population of 34,000,000 people. Toronto is the largest city with 6,000,000 people but it is not the capital. Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec form the National Capital Region. (Canada)
The Canadian best seller list includes some titles that popular here in the United States like House Of Hades by Rick Riordan, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Divergent by Veronica Roth. (TheGlobeandTheMail) Canada’s best seller lists are divided into Juvenile, Adult and Canadian only. Canada has inspired many famous teen book authors such as Gordon Korman who wrote The Hypnotists, Cory Doctorow who wrote Pirate Cinema (nominated for the 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults list), Graham McNamee who wrote Beyond; a Ghost Story. (Authors)
Which makes me wonder: what are all of them reading?
Thank you to Norma of the Toronto Public Library who has the answers.
- “What are the most popular titles for teens at your library right now?
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, The Fault In Our Stars and Looking For Alaska by John Green, Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth, The Mortal Instruments series and Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Matched series by Allyson Condie, The Maze Runner series by James Dashner, The Dark Rising series by Kelley Armstrong (Fun Fact – Kelley Armstrong was born in Canada and calls Sudbury, Ontario home), The Lying Game and Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen.
- What genres are most popular with your library’s teens?
Dystopian, some paranormal, and contemporary fiction is seeing increased interest
- In your teen collection, what languages do you carry?
English and French
- Do your teens prefer to read print novels or ebooks?
Hard to say definitively but I’d say print.
I hope to learn and share about teen reading around the world. If you or someone you know lives overseas and works as a teacher or librarian with teens, please message me so I can do a post about the country they live in. To learn more about what other teens are reading, check out my previous posts in this series, like What Are You Reading, Russia? and What Are You Reading, Ukraine?
- Laura C. Perenic, currently reading Crash Into You by Katie McGarry (author of Pushing the Limits, a 2013 Teens Top Ten winner)
Last week, we wanted to know which quest from YA literature you’d want to be a part of. Harry, Hermione, and Ron’s search for the horcruxes from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came in first with 38% of the vote, followed by the quest to find Glendower from The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater with 19%. The quest for Smaug’s treasure from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was third with 15% 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, to celebrate the theatrical release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, we’re asking which Hobbit creature you’d like to be. Tolkien created a rich and varied world in Middle Earth, populated by fascinating beings. Vote in the poll below, and be sure to leave a 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.
The fall lineup on The CW has been running for a couple of months now, and we are finally getting used to some familiar faces while we get accustomed to lots of new ones as well. Century-old intrigue, new secret facilities, fallen angels and some old-fashioned family drama are surprising us at every turn. Even if you don’t watch every show on the Network of Beautiful People, we all feel a little connection to the network for the plethora of stories it’s told over the years. If you’re a fan, there are a certain group of “types” you might have in regards to your kind of fiction. You might love the supernatural, or have an affinity for people who kick a little ass. So let’s take the time to check out a few pages–new and old–that can act as alternative entertainment as we approach that time: holiday hiatus.
Hollyweird by Terri Clark. In this lighthearted comedy, a blue-eyed fallen angel must protect a young girl who has just won a trip to meet a TV star. This Hollywood heartthrob, who on his show drives around in a classic car killing monsters in every state, is actually the son of the devil! Written by a Supernatural fan, this novel has all the in-jokes you could ever want, on top of a funny and adorable story in its own right. (I’ll be honest: it was actually this book that spurred me to watch Supernatural, as I’d been afraid by that point that I would never catch up–then after reading it I decided to do what I could to make it so!)
Infinity, by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Set in the universe originally created by Sherrilyn Kenyon for the Dark-Hunter series, Infinity is a reset button for a character who is an adult in that universe. In New Orleans, Nick Gautier does odd jobs and runs into weird happenings. This paranormal version of the Big Easy includes an under culture of all kinds of shapeshifters and immortals, including those who drink blood. If you’ve already read The Vampire Chronicles and Ruined, The Chronicles of Nick are your obvious next choice for Paranormal in the Big Easy. And there are already four of them, with a fifth coming soon!
Sloppy Firsts, by Megan McCafferty. Jessica Darling loves three things: running, writing, and her best friend Hope, who has just moved away. In a series of five books, Jessica grows through her high school career and experiences the growing pains of both high school and college. And we can’t forget Marcus Flutie, who flits into and out of the series, taking our hearts with him wherever he goes. Much like those of Carrie Bradshaw, Jessica’s growing pains don’t just involve dealing with life, but with the way she approaches her writing. After you’ve finished reading this series, take it back even further (the Jessica Darling series was written in the early 2000s) and try out the Weetzie Bat series by 2005 Edwards Award winning author, Francesca Lia Block. You will thank me.
If you’ve got absolutely no idea what’s going on in Reign, Antonia Fraser’s Mary, Queen of Scots might be a good place to get some background on the historical figures running about in the show, including Queen Mary herself, her fiance Francis, and her future mother-in-law, Catherine de’ Medici. The book is a bit of a tome, but it’s got lots of good information. If you’d like a bit of court intrigue included, try The Selection series by Kiera Cass, or maybe try Philippa Gregory’s Order of Darkness for that touch of supernatural that Reign adds to a historical setting.
Whether you’re more a fan of Arrow, Nikita, or The Tomorrow People, Marvel NOW’s Young Avengers is a great new comic series to start reading. Hawkeye (in the form of the great Kate Bishop, if you didn’t know there was more than one) is an Only-Human genius with a bow, who finds herself getting into trouble alongside a superhuman heir from a different dimension, a couple of good looking aliens, a witch with too much power and a very small god of Mischief. If you find that you enjoy reading clever comics, go ahead and try out the ample plethora of Arrow’s original source material, DC Comics’ Green Arrow.
As an honorable mention, and because its sequel just came out, I’m going to add Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger to the mix if you have not yet read it. It is perfect for The CW–awesome clothing, intrigue, vampires, werewolves, and combat training all come together in one coming-of-age boarding school story set in Victorian times.
And finally, here are some other stories that might be appealing to you watchers of the unmentioned Hart of Dixie, America’s Next Top Model, and Beauty and the Beast, and others that I didn’t reference above:
Any other suggestions for reads viewers might like? What do you think of the ones listed here?
-Jessica Pryde, about to start reading Allegiant. Finally!
It’s official: there are now seven weeks until ALA’s Youth Media Awards, where the winners of the William C. Morris Award, the Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, and all of YALSA’s other book awards will be announced– so it’s time to start our Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge! We’re hoping the challenge will encourage you to read as many of these outstanding titles as possible.
Challenge objective Read all of the finalists for the William C. Morris Award for debut YA authors, all of the finalists for YALSA’s Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, or both between now and the Youth Media Awards on January 27.
Challenge rewards Beyond experiencing the best of the best that new YA authors and YA nonfiction have to offer, everyone who finishes the challenge may use what they read toward our 2014 Hub Reading Challenge. The Hub Reading Challenge includes prizes, so by participating in the Morris/Nonfiction challenge, you’re getting a head start on reading some of the best books published this year and you’re giving yourself an advantage in trying to win those prizes.
- The challenge begins at 8:00AM Eastern Time on December 9 and ends at 7:45AM Eastern Time on January 27.
- Participants may count the reading they have done since the finalists for each award was announced last week (December 4th for the Morris and December 5th for the Nonfiction Award, to be exact). If you read one of the finalists before the announcement of the shortlist for that award, you must re-read it for it to count.
- Participants may read either all of the finalists for the Morris Award, all of the finalists for the Nonfiction Award, or both. The challenge cannot be completed simply by picking five titles between the two lists; participants must read the entire list of finalists for one or both awards.
- Just about everyone who doesn’t work for ALA is eligible to participate. That means non-ALA/YALSA members are eligible. Teens are eligible! Non-US residents/citizens are eligible! (More eligibility questions? Leave a comment or email us.)
How to participate
- Ready to start reading? Great! Comment here announcing your intention to participate. If you’re going to be tracking what you read on your blog, Goodreads, LibraryThing, YouTube or some other site, include a link to your blog/shelf/channel/profile in your comment. If you’re not tracking your reading online, keep a list some other way.
- Still undecided? It’s okay to take your time. You may register for the challenge by leaving a comment here and starting your reading any time during the challenge period.
- Every Sunday, we’ll publish a check-in post. Leave a comment letting us know what you’ve read since the last check-in post. If you’ve reviewed those titles somewhere online, include links to those reviews! Otherwise, let us know what you thought of the books in the comments. We are eager to hear your thoughts.
- If you’ve finished the challenge since the last check-in post, fill out the embedded form with your name and contact information. Please fill out the form only once.
-Allison Tran, currently reading The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb
Last week I had the opportunity to attend a portion of the 2013 Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the NCTE (ALAN) Workshop. This two-day event, which brings together a wide range of young adult authors, English teachers, librarians and others, was held in Boston this year, so I decided to take the opportunity to attend and I’m very glad I did! Though I was only able to attend a portion of the first day of the workshop, I heard both Jack Gantos and Chris Crutcher speak about their work and saw some great authors speak on panels about everything from humor to dystopias. While I could go on at length about everything I learned, this post will focus on some of the most interesting speakers and particularly on the panels I was able to attend about genre writing for young adults.
The morning started with a short speech by Jack Gantos, who spoke about history. This topic encompassed both his own books, such as Dead End in Norvelt, and the way each reader’s book history has an impact on their life. He emphasized the importance of making sure that kids have access to books– not just to give them the inspiration to write, but also so that they all have a rich life of the mind. As someone who has never read any of Gantos’ books, I was impressed by his humorous account of the town he grew up in and it definitely made me want to go out and read his books. Existing fans will be interested to know that he is currenty working on the next and last Joey Pigza book.
Next up was a panel on fantasy books entitled “Enchanting Reads: Encountering the Magical Worlds of Young Adult Books,” which featured Tamora Pierce, A.G. Howard, Holly Black and Nancy Werlin. They all spoke about their inspiration in writing fantasies and it was fascinating to hear how their responses were alike and different. 2013 Edwards Award winner Tamora Pierce went first, talking about how she watched the Robin Hood TV show as a child and then moved on to reading everything she could about Robin Hood and Richard the Lionheart. She admitted that she often read “boy books” because of the types of stories that interested her and that when she started writing her focus was on the sorts of books that she would have liked to read, including female heroines and plenty of sword wielding characters. This led her to write the Alanna series. Now she sees that there are more strong girls out there in young adult literature but that there is still a struggle.
A.G. Howard’s inspiration came from her childhood love of Alice in Wonderland. Even as a grown-up, she still wanted to know what happened to Alice, which led her to write own books, Splintered and the soon-to-be-released Unhinged. For Holly Black, inspiration came from her mother, who raised her believing in ghosts. She said that they lived in a 100-year-old house that had been her grandparents’ and her mother had played with a ghost in the attic who she still blamed when she lost things as an adult. She also warned Holly to never astral project because if you do, anyone can possess your body. Holly also spoke of her husband’s childhood experience moving Star Wars toys back and forth between his mother’s house and her boyfriend’s house so that he could play with the boyfriend’s son. When his mother broke up with him, her husband never got his toys back. All of these childhood stories help to inspire her work and particularly her 2013 middle grade book, Doll Bones.
Finally, Nancy Werlin, who writes in multiple genres, talked about how each theme and story demands a particular genre. She made an analogy to a carpenter who builds a house that will work on the piece of land available for the project, which I found very interesting. During the question and answer period at the end of the panel, Tamora Pierce summed up the panel and young adult fantasy writing overall quite well by saying that “fantasy is a literature of passion and idealism” and that “teenagers are passionate people and fantasy answers that passion.”
After a brief remembrance of Robert Cormier by Connie Zitlow, past president of ALAN, there was an interesting panel on young adult mysteries entitled “Intrigue and Romance: Uncovering Secrets and More in Mystery Books for Teens” that included Megan Frazer Blakemore, Michaela MacColl, Julie Berry and Andrea Cremer. The authors on this panel had all written very different stories, many of which straddled multiple genres beyond mystery, such as historical, fantasy and steampunk. On this panel, I found it particularly interesting how each of the writers’ works focused on strong relationships seemingly as much as they did on mysteries, whether this meant romantic relationships or family relationships.
Perhaps my favorite panel of the day was one on dystopia, entitled “The Future Is Ours! Daring to Disturb the Universe and Other Dark Adventures,” which included Neal Shusterman, Cristin Terrill and Jeff Hirsch. The authors shared a sense that their work is just an extreme version of our own world, rather than being a completely fantastical world. In many ways, they repeated some of the same sentiments that I heard at the panel on dystopian fiction at the ALA Annual conference last summer. In fact, Terrill said practically the same thing that Patrick Ness said at that panel when she said “it’s a little glib to say high school is a dystopia, but it kind of is.” Simmons went on to add “I think teenagers feel oppressed.” Several of the authors talked about how directly they were influenced by real world events and things they heard on the news. As a fan of dystopian fiction, it was fascinating to hear them talk about how they build the worlds in their books and what elements of their own lives and current events seep into their work.
Another highlight of attending the conference was hearing 2000 Edwards Award winner Chris Crutcher speak eloquently about the importance of resisting censorship and the inspiration for his books. He spoke specifically about Whale Talk and about “this sense that there is some shame in being treated badly” and one particular girl who inspired that book. His talk mixed powerful and inspirational thoughts with humor. Perhaps the funniest moment of the day for me was when Crutcher was asked of his large body of work, “What novel or novels would you like to be remembered for?” and responded without hesitation “I’d like to be remembered for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” (…by frequently-challenged author Sherman Alexie, in case you didn’t immediately get the joke!)
You can see more info on the ALAN Workshop (including all the amazing panels I had to miss!) on their website. I would highly recommend attending future ALAN Workshops if you have the opportunity to do so. I heard from some great authors and discovered a bunch of fun books that I can’t wait to read!
This time of year always means one thing to me: baking. My family and I have always baked (and cooked) a lot between Thanksgiving and the New Year since the weather is finally cool and we have a lot of get-togethers. Instead of doing the predictable “holiday” contemporary books, I decided to focus on the bakers or those whose lives were affected by food. I searched for some male protagonist bakers, but couldn’t find any. Let me know if you know of any!
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (2012 Teens’ Top Ten)
This is the story of McLean Sweet who loves with her father since her mother ran off with the college basketball coach. Her father is a chef and it’s because of his job that she and her father have moved four times in the last two years. Each time they move, McLean takes on a new personality in her new city, but she seems to find her true ‘self’ in Lakeview, just as her father decides to move to Hawaii, forcing McLean to figure out what she really wants and how to deal with her mother.
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
While on winter break, Dash is perusing through his favorite bookstore, The Strand, when he happens upon a Moleskin notebook filled with clues. Dash responds and begins a relationship with Lily through the notebook. Lily is full of holiday spirit (including baking a lot of cookies) while Dash prefers to be left alone, but neither one can quite let go of the notebook and all its clues.
The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski
Sheridan Well is happiest when she is baking a cake. She can forget about her mom abandoning her, that her dad is more interested in his restaurant, and that she doesn’t have a boyfriend. She decides finding her mom will solve all her problems, but when her dad gets his own reality show in New York everything changes.
The Cupcake Queen by Heather Helper
Penny’s mom moves them to a small town from a big city to open up a cupcake shop and leaves her dad behind. As Penny settles in and gets used to her new life, her parents make a decision that will change it all.
Taste Test by Kelly Fiore
Nora Henderson can’t wait to leave her hometown behind when she get accepted into the teen cooking reality show Taste Test. Things don’t go as planned since she has run-ins with other contestants and the kitchen seems to be overrun with real life accidents.
I know about Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler, but I am saving that for a later post!
-Faythe Arredondo, currently reading The F-It List by Julie Halpern
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
- I just entered to win a kindle and a bunch of awesome books! @AmberGarr1 #ambergarrgiveaway http://www.ambergarr.com/2013/11/celebrating-1000-likes-giveaway.html …-@yaReads
- Solstice give away to U.S. librarians & reviewers – I usually do a giveaway once a year, and I know I… http://tmblr.co/ZAGFix10Bj5yc -@melissa_marr
- #Win one of @InsomniaBooks favorite 2013 debuts! International #giveaway #yalit http://inspiringinsomnia.com/2013/12/2013-debut-authors-giveaway-international.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+InspiringInsomniaBlog+%28Inspiring+Insomnia%29 …-@yaReads
- Hey, look! Diviners PB swag! #swell RT @DailyQuirkBlog Win a copy of @LibbaBray‘s ‘The Diviners’ & a custom tote! http://wp.me/p2iFlb-7uU -@libbabray
- Book Bangin’: My Top Ten Contemporary Book Boyfriends (Plus a GIVEAWAY!) http://wp.me/p34MKi-26G via @bookrockbetty-@HarlequinTeen
- “@HeroinesAddict: Hottest Heroine Covers [Round 2] + Giveaway! http://www.addicted2heroines.com/2013/12/hottest-heroine-covers-round-2-giveaway.html … Thanks for including SNAKEROOT!-@andreacremer
- Look at these lovely jewel-toned beauties we’re giving away this month! #prettybooksarepretty http://www.yabookscentral.com/info/10186-ya-and-kids-books-giveaways … @strangechem-@yabookscentral
- Check out @stdennard in the dress from the cover of @MeaganSpooner & @AmieKaufman‘s THESE BROKEN STARS http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2013/12/05/these-broken-stars-dress-tour/ … +a giveaway!-@bethrevis
- #RebelSpring by @MorganRhodesYA is on sale today! Have u ordered your copy yet? http://www.fallingkingdoms.com/book.html #bookbirthday pic.twitter.com/oArkcmXjIs-@PenguinTeen
- MIND GAMES by @kierstenwhite is now available in paperback with a bonus short-story! http://bit.ly/1aNYeb9 pic.twitter.com/jcUpN6uAEn-@harperteen
News and Events
- Announcing the winners of the 2013 #GoodreadsChoice Awards! See the best books of the year in 20 categories! http://bit.ly/1b643ND -@goodreads
- The DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE movie is happening! Hollywood, don’t eff this up. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/michael-gracey-set-direct-universals-661636 …-@4everYA
Just For Fun
- The strangest creatures in children’s literature http://huff.to/1chRCCz -@HuffPostBooks
- Truth. pic.twitter.com/To5vjJYJ9g-@Scholastic
- Whitney Etchison, currently reading Doll Bones by Holly Black
YALSA selected five books as finalists for the 2014 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults, which honors the best nonfiction books written for young adults between November 1, 2012 and October 31, 2013. YALSA will name the 2014 award winner at the Youth Media Awards at 8 a.m. ET on January 27 during ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.
At the end of World War II, Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi leader responsible for organizing the deportation and imprisonment of millions of Holocaust victims, went into hiding under an assumed identity. Eventually he fled to Argentina where he lived and worked under a false name for 10 years. Bascomb tells the story of Eichmann’s crimes, his years in hiding, and his eventual capture and trial with rich detail and riveting suspense. At the same time, Bascomb introduces readers to the courageous Israeli agents, Holocaust survivors, and their families who worked together to track down, capture, and bring Eichmann to justice.
This innovative book offers an introduction to the history and basic concepts of graphic design from one of the most successful designers working today. Using real world examples and rich visual aids, Kidd teaches readers how effective design can communicate ideas and messages, and he suggests ways to think critically about the design elements that infuse the media around us. Kidd invites readers to experiment with design themselves by ending the book with a series of 10 design challenges and offers a venue to share their work online.
After the Japanese military bombed Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, forcing the internment of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans. This detailed and compassionate chronicle of the internment years incorporates many first-hand accounts and photographs. Sandler skillfully provides context for the internment and also examines its lasting legacy by examining anti-Japanese sentiment in America before World War II and then the redress movement, which advocated for compensation and formal apologies for internees after the war.
“What is it like to jump out of an airplane? Imagine.” From these opening sentences, Stone chronicles the courage and persistence that were the hallmarks of the Triple Nickles, the African Americans who pushed through military barriers to become the first black paratroopers. Their individual efforts, the eventual recognition of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, and the broader issues of segregation during the war period are illustrated with a with a rich collection of interviews, letters, and photos. Stone’s afterword, the timeline, and the detailed source notes offer valuable insights into her research methods. Ashley Bryan’s foreword and artwork add personal insight and extend the power of this skillfully told story.
James Swanson takes readers back in time with a thoroughly researched and tightly written narrative of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Beginning with a succinct introduction to Kennedy’s early life and presidential administration, Swanson sets the scene for a detailed and engaging examination of the events before, during, and after November 22, 1963, when JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald crossed paths in Dallas with tragic results. The book brings events to life with extensive photographs, diagrams, and primary documents, and illuminates Swanson’s research and writing process with detailed source notes, an extensive bibliography, suggestions for further reading, and a comprehensive index.
Excited about the finalists? Be sure to participate in our Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge, which begins next week!
The Snow Queen is one of those fairy tales where you really can talk about “the original.” Unlike other fairy tales, in which we use the term “original” to talk about any number of versions from various times in history we can’t really pin down, this one was written and published by Hans Christian Andersen in 1845. It almost feels not like a fairy tale at all, because if you’re used to the usual (I could say Disneyfied, but it’s really far more common than that) fairy tale structures and characters, this one doesn’t follow. It’s about children, not teenagers or adults; it’s quite long and divided into chapters; and it’s really more of a classic hero’s epic, with challenges and magical beings trying to deter the hero – only the hero is a girl, Gerda, and the person she’s rescuing is her childhood best friend, Kai, who otherwise isn’t all that interesting.
So that’s what’s interesting about The Snow Queen. It’s about a girl doing stuff. Being the boss. Having an adventure and traveling. Rescuing a boy who doesn’t even try to rescue himself because he has ice stuck in his chest, freezing his metaphorical heart. So, like everyone else, I waited with baited breath for Disney to mess it all up.
Warning: from here on out, this post contains what you may or may not define as spoilers, depending on how much you think the surprise of a Disney movie lies in the plot, as opposed to in the sound and look of it all.
And I don’t think they ever really did. (Note: It seems that the look of the movie is boringly similar to Tangled, if you’ve seen it – I haven’t – and since Disney continues to have a race problem, I recommend, for entertainment and edification, taking a look at the fabulous Tumblr This Could Have Been Frozen. But I digress.)
Frozen has a complicated backstory in lieu of the complicated journey of the Andersen tale. There are two sisters instead of a childhood friend, and one (Elsa) has magical powers that she has to shield from the other (Anna), causing her to withdraw from her younger sister completely. When they come of age and the magical elder sister is crowned queen, her emotions get the best of her and her magic comes out, covering the summery kingdom in a cover of ice and snow. She runs away and builds a castle of her own out of ice (“The cold never bothered me anyway!” sings Idina Menzel as Elsa). It’s amazing, because you see a young woman who throws off all the ways that her body was controlled and shamed when she was young and decides that she wants to be who she is, the hell with everyone else. In a nod to Beauty and the Beast, Anna’s suitor sends people after Elsa to hunt her down and bring summer back (but if they happen to kill her, that’s okay, too), but Anna fends them off and goes off on her own. At this point, the movie goes for the comedic and the more common journey trope – Anna picks up a sarcastic ice salesman and his reindeer, and the three are followed by a goofy snowman (played pretty perfectly by Josh Gad) who just wants to go to the beach. There are none of the more classic challenges, like identifying something tantalizing as a temptation meant to steer Gerda off her journey, but there are the silly ones you’d expect, like needing winter clothes and finding them all on huge markup because supply is down and demand has just gone way up due to that eternal winter Elsa’s caused. However, once we get to the climax, you see another huge departure, and it’s not what you’d expect from Disney. When Everything depends on an act of True Love or All Is Lost, the True Love that saves all is the sisters sacrificing themselves for each other – because Disney just learned that FAMILY MEMBERS CAN LOVE EACH OTHER. It’s brilliant.
Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of flaws in the film, the usual Disney ones and general ones. Everyone is white and skinny and beautiful. The only parents are dead parents. For something clocking in at close to two hours, there is very little singing, and Menzel’s “Let it Go” is the only song with guts and emotion. But Frozen did some things right, and here’s why:
In my book, fairy tales are not technically very interesting. They are usually either weak on plot or heavyhanded with it. The tropes get tired. They’re either Disneyfied or horrifying. The prose in just about any collection (picturebooks notwithstanding) is dry and without much art. But that’s what makes them fun to play with. That’s why creators take the skeletons and re-dress them, placing them in exotic locales or modern settings, gender swapping them, satirizing them… But what’s really great about looking at a fairy tale adaptation isn’t seeing Cinderella in a kimono instead of a ball gown. It’s seeing what tiny piece of the fairy tale the adapter wanted to point out, what thing they saw as relevant to their life and time, what they saw as fascinating or troubling. In the 1997 film Snow White: A Tale of Terror, it’s the idea that a woman could be so desperate to remain beautiful that she would cut out the heart of a child. In Anna Sheehan’s A Long Long Sleep, it’s the question of whether it’s abuse or protection to hide your child away to keep her from a destiny you think is bad. In Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, it’s that things that are forbidden are sometimes the sexiest things of all.
Disney’s Frozen plays with your expectation of how things in fairy tales are supposed to work, because the studio knows what their audience expects. And in their Disney way, I think they presented an interesting take on gender and family roles in fairy tales – at least the Disney ones. For that, I applaud them. For that, I think they’ve come a long way. They may yet have a long way to go, but Frozen is a promising new beginning for them.
There are, of course, YA and Middle Grade adaptations of The Snow Queen that you should take a look at as well. First, Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs, for its looks at what happens when kids start becoming aware of gender and change their relationships with their peers because of it, and for how it discusses transracial adoption. Cameron Dokey’s Winter’s Child, for how it makes the female character the one who puts the ice in Kai’s heart AND the one who takes it out. Frost by Wendy Delsol, because it seems to mix the fairy tale elements with the usual YA tropes. Alice Hoffman’s The Ice Queen, because I just heard about it right now, but apparently there’s a librarian in it. ;-) And for even more on the original tale, adaptations, criticism, and more, head to the great site Sur La Lune Fairy Tales.
What did you think about Frozen?
Edit: I just learned that the special edition of the soundtrack includes demos of the many other songs that were cut from the film. While they have varying levels of musical success, the ideas expressed in them show how interested the movie’s creators were in exploring gender in fairy tales. While the movie is undoubtedly better without the prophecy that apparently existed in early versions (less magic in the world makes Elsa stand out more), the songs are worth looking at, because they make Anna a more developed character who’s interested in her own agency.
- Hannah Gómez, currently reading (since June, on and off – SIGH) A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Today marks the anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition in the United States, brought about on this date in 1933 with the passage of the 21st Amendment. As such, it was the end of an era for all of the groups who had taken up the cause of national prohibition of alcohol and lobbied for it to be written into law (via the 18th amendment).
One of the most active of these groups, the Anti-Saloon League, was so important in the history of Westerville, Ohio, that it has its own museum attached to the Westerville Public Library, where I work.
So what’s the teen tie-in to this topic? Local History Coordinator Beth Weinhardt confirmed that The American Issue Printing Company (the League’s publishing arm) likely employed many teens as it became nationally known for its sheer output of leaflets — over 40 tons of mail per month.
In fact, all of this mail meant that Westerville became the smallest town to have a first-class post office.
When considering the recent teen book series focusing on this era — I’m thinking of The Flappers series by Jillian Larkin, the Bright Young Things series by Anna Godbersen, and The Diviners series by Libba Bray (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults Top Ten, 2013 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults) — I couldn’t help but notice that two of these kicked off with girls leaving their small Ohio towns for the big city. Evie in The Diviners has this in common with Bright Young Things’ Cordelia Gray.
These girls’ stories are more focused on the thrill of rebellion in the Jazz Age than fighting for the elimination of liquor, but an imaginative reader could still wonder if they knew about Westerville when they left home. Did they have peers working at the Anti-Saloon League? Did any hometown disappointment about the Repeal reach them on December 5, 1933, wherever they were?
-Becky O’Neil, currently reading Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh
YALSA selected five books as finalists for the 2014 William C. Morris Award, which honors a book written for young adults by a previously unpublished author. YALSA will name the 014 award winner at the Youth Media Awards at 8 a.m. ET on January 27 during ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.
The 2014 finalists are:
Drew, also known as “Win,” has been isolated in a New Hampshire boarding school since he was 12. Though he excels at both academics and athletics, he is concealing a horrific secret that has driven him to the brink of madness. With the help of his friends, can Win confront the beast within him before it’s too late?
Evan Carter bounces from school to school—he has no friends and views girls as nothing more than a means to sexual release. When a brutal attack leaves him physically and mentally broken, Evan must evaluate what matters in his life and learn how to “accept responsibility, but not blame.”
James has a lot on his plate: strained relationships, a fractured family, and an all-consuming anxiety. He deals with depression by hugging trees, “yawp”-ing at the world like his idol Walt Whitman, and conversing with his imaginary therapist—a pigeon named Dr. Bird.
When Maude Pichon moved to Paris, she never dreamed she would end up working for the Durandeau Agency as a “repoussoir”—a foil for society’s elite who believe a plain face alongside them makes them look more beautiful. A countess hires Maude as a companion for her daughter, Isabelle, but as the girls’ friendship grows, Maude finds herself torn between her integrity and her livelihood.
At the height of the Spanish flu pandemic, WWI, and the Spiritualism movement, outspoken Mary Shelley Black is adrift in a fear-ravaged San Diego. While her childhood friend Stephen challenges her heart, his antagonistic spirit-photographer brother, Julius, represents everything her scientific mind abhors. When the unthinkable happens, how will Mary Shelley endure the unbearable losses, not to mention the evolution of her supernatural abilities?
Excited about the finalists? Be sure to participate in our Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge, which begins next week!
In Eat, Brains, Love by Jeff Hart, the zombie virus has changed everything for Jake. The career aptitude test, unhelpful as it was, now means nothing. After you become a zombie, you have no tasks beyond eating. Optimistically, however, Jake reflects on a song lyric, “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places.” Nice sentiment for a guy with such a grisly lifestyle.
The song, Scarlet Begonias, is by The Grateful Dead, a band that compliments Jake’s new lifestyle. The group was formed in 1965, just in time to play a role in the emerging psychedelic scene. Their music defied categorization, with bits of rock, reggae, country, and countless other genres appearing in their performances, which generally included long improvised segments. Their music was so unique that the band attracted a loyal group of followers, known as Dead Heads. More than a band, The Grateful Dead was a musical force that lasted for over three decades.
“Our audience is like people who like licorice,” Jerry Garcia said. “Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.”
-Diane Colson, currently reading This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This annual, United Nations-sponsored event aims to “further raise awareness of disability and accessibility as a cross cutting development issue and further the global efforts to promote accessibility, remove all types of barriers, and to realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and shape the future of development for all.” This year the theme is “Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all.” In recognition of this day, below is a list of books set around the world featuring characters with a variety of disabilities who are facing a host of barriers in their own lives.
The White Bicycle by Beverly Brenna – This 2013 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book follows Taylor Jane Simon, a Canadian teen with Asperger’s Syndrome, as she travels around France during the summer. While I have not yet started this book, one of the main points that has been mentioned again and again in relation to it is the way that Taylor’s voice and perspective shine through.
Enemy Territory by Sharon E. McKay – Sam, an Israeli teen who is waiting to learn whether his leg will have to be amputated, ends up sharing a hospital room with Yusuf, a Palestinian boy who has already lost one eye and is battling the risk of infection in the other. At first, their prejudices make them suspicious of one another, but over the course of one crazy night wandering around in Jerusalem they learn a lot about not only each other, but also about the different cultures that inhabit the city.
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein – This companion to Wein’s amazing Code Name Verity (2013 Printz Honor Book) follows a young, female pilot from America during World War II who has come to England to fly planes for the war effort. While on a mission, she is captured by the Germans and sent to Ravensbrück, a concentration camp that houses many women, including a group who are permanently disabled due to medical experiments and procedures that the German doctors have conducted on them.
Among Others by Jo Walton – Set in Wales and England, the main character of this book is Morwenna, a young girl coping with the permanent effects of an injury that she received in the same incident that left her twin sister dead. The book follows her as she deals with this injury and her own unhappy family circumstances, involving a distant father and a mother who dabbles in dark magic, which was the root cause of her own injury. This book is also a great option for science fiction fans as significant portions of the book highlight real science fiction books that Morwenna turns to during her period of isolation. These scenes are sure to inspire you to go out and read those books yourself.
Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan – In this book, which is another on my to-be-read pile, Habo is a young teen in Tanzania who is obviously different from those around him. In addition to his visual impairment, he also has white skin, yellow hair and very light eyes. While he knows that this impacts how everyone treats him, it is not until he seeks refuge outside of his community that he learns that the term for his condition is albinism, a trait that can put him at great danger in this part of Africa.
The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida – The New York Times bestseller that was recently covered on The Daily Show is the autobiography of a 13-year-old Japanese boy who has autism. Unable to verbalize his views, this autobiography was written using a grid with the letters of the alphabet on it. Many reviewers have noted that it gives a rare insight into at least one experience with autism.
Some of these books are ones that I have read and enjoyed and others are on my to-be-read list, but they all highlight stories of people with disabilities. While I hope that these books will pique your interest, this is hardly a complete list of books that offer positive portrayals of characters with disabilities; let me know about any great examples you think I missed in the comments!
- Carli Spina, currently reading Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz
Good morning, Hub readers!
Last week, we wanted to know which YA book makes you the hungriest. A lot of you must be in the mood for lamb stew, or maybe it’s Peeta’s delicious baked goods that make your stomachs rumble– The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins topped the poll with 36% of the vote. Relish by Lucy Knisley came in second with 20% of the vote, followed by The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson with 16%. Several commenters weighed in with their most delicious suggestions, including Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams, Sunshine by Robin McKinley, A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park, Gabrielle Zevin’s Birthright books, and the Mythos Academy series by Edie Ramer. Thanks for the great suggestions, Bridget, Tiffany, Alissa, and Kelsey!
You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks very much to all of you who voted and commented!
This week, we’re asking which literary quest you’d like to join. Adventure? Mystery? Danger around every turn? Vote in the poll below, and be sure to leave a comment if we’ve missed your ideal quest!Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
We posted a teaser last month about our upcoming Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge, and now that it’s just one week away, it’s time to share some details of this exciting challenge.
The 2014 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge will begin on Monday, December 9. Once the challenge starts, you’ll have until the Youth Media Awards at ALA Midwinter (which begin at 8AM Eastern Time on Monday, January 27) to read all of the books on the shortlist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, all of the books on the shortlist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults, or both.
Only books that you both begin and finish within the challenge period count, so if you’ve read any Morris or Nonfiction shortlist titles before December 9, you’ll have to re-read them to count them. However, if you complete the Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge, the books you read for this challenge may be counted toward our 2014 Hub Reading Challenge. So by participating, you get a head start for the next challenge, which involves fabulous prizes! It’s like earning extra credit in school, only way more fun.
The William C. Morris YA Debut Award, first awarded in 2009, honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.
The award’s namesake is William C. Morris, an influential innovator in the publishing world and an advocate for marketing books for children and young adults. Bill Morris left an impressive mark on the field of children’s and young adult literature. He was beloved in the publishing field and the library profession for his generosity and marvelous enthusiasm for promoting literature for children and teens.
The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, first awarded in 2010, honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults (ages 12-18) during a November 1 – October 31 publishing year.
Keep track of what you read every week and which titles you’ve finished. Every Sunday, we’ll publish a check-in post, so please comment on the post with what you’ve read that week and what you thought of it. If you’ve completed the challenge, fill out the form embedded in the post to give us your name and email address so we can congratulate you after the challenge is over. The challenge will run on the honor system, so be good!
All readers of young adult literature — teachers, librarians, publishers, booksellers, bloggers, parents, teens, anyone and everyone! — are welcome to accept our reading challenge. If you’re a librarian or teacher, consider encouraging your patrons, collagues, or students to give it a try!
Have questions about the 2014 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge? Let us know in the comments or send us an email. Otherwise, we’ll see you when the challenge kicks off next week!
-Allison Tran, currently reading Better Nate Than Ever, by Tim Federle