On July 2, the world lost a visionary, revolutionary, and influential member of the YA community: Walter Dean Myers (1994 Edwards Award). His death at 76 has affected the whole field, but more importantly, his body of work impacted all who read his books.
Some Hub bloggers have fond memories of reading or teaching his books:
I really liked Lockdown (2011 YALSA Quick Pick) by Walter Dean Myers. It’s a good book for a guy reluctant reader (the language and tone are simple and straightforward), especially one who romanticizes a life of crime. The book’s greatest strength is its unblinking look at how hard it can be to get back on the right track once you have a record and not much hope of a better life on the outside…even if you’re only in juvie. I really liked this quote: “Every time [the other inmates] see somebody who looks like he might break the cycle and do something with his life, they want to pull him back in. Especially if you look like them, if you come from the same environment they come from. If you turn your life around, you’re putting the blame on them for not turning theirs around.”
I remember reading The Glory Field and Fallen Angels (1989 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 1998 Popular Paperbacks, Quick Picks) when I was younger. I was so inspired by the complexity of the stories and being surprised that they were written for my age group. These two titles awakened my need to read books that make you think long after you close the cover. Thank you, Mr. Myers.
When I read (actually, listened to) Monster (2000 Printz Award, 2000 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2000 YALSA Quick Pick) during library school, it was an eye-opening experience. I’ve since thought back to that book when a good friend was charged with a crime. People are so multi-faceted that any crime committed is going to have many angles–but the media (and people with a particular agenda) often don’t want us to examine all the angles. I think showing us different angles of the human experience was one of Mr. Myers’ gifts.
While I can appreciate many of Myers’ books, the one that spoke to me most when I was young was Brown Angels (ALSC Notable Book), his collection of poems set to accompany vintage photographs. It was a simple idea, but what made it fresh and validating was that all the children were black or brown, and instead of being posed-for, retouched, shopping mall photo studio portraits, the children in them look real, messy, diverse, and alive. And the poems are just beautiful. I also loved At Her Majesty’s Request, which shone a light on an unknown African princess who was received at Queen Victoria’s court.
Walter Dean Myers’ novel Scorpions transformed my understanding of what it means to grow up in a poor, urban neighborhood. The story focuses on twelve-year-old Jamal, who lives in Harlem with his mother and younger sister. His older brother, Randy, is in prison, but still trying mastermind his gang, the Scorpions. Jamal wants nothing to do with the Scorpions, but he gets thrust forward as the possible leader in Randy’s absence. He starts to carry a gun. From the outside, Jamal appears to be headed for violence, crime, and a prison stay of his own.
But this story is not about a gang-banger. It’s about a confused boy who wants to do the right thing. His dreams have nothing to do with gang life. He and his best friend, Tito, like to walk down to the boat basin and imagine owning one of the boats. Even as Jamal is on his way to confront one of the scariest Scorpion members, Tito asks if they are going to let girls come on their boat. “Only movie stars,” Jamal replies.
I love the way that Jamal was a twelve-year-old boy FIRST. However frightening his life becomes, he still thinks like a twelve-year-old. This opened my heart in a place that I hadn’t even realized was closed. Kids are kids are kids. That was the gift I received from Scorpions.
What are your favorite Walter Dean Myers books?
–Hannah Gómez, currently reading Blessing’s Bead by Debby Dahl Edwardson
The seventh annual Odyssey award presentation was held at the ALA Annual Conference on Monday, June 30, 2014.
The Odyssey Awards are the awards for the best audiobook of the year produced for children and/or teens in English and available in the United States. It is a joint award presented by ALSC and YALSA.
The room was packed full of librarians and audiobook fans. It was definitely exciting to see all the honorees that were able to make the presentation of awards. Here is a slightly blurry photo of the awards winners that were present:
From left to right:
- Booklist consultant, Rebecca Vnuk
- 2014 Odyssey Chair, Ellen Rix Spring
- Daniel Kraus (author of Scowler, 2014 Odyssey Winner)
- Timothy Federle (author/narrator of Better Nate Than Never, 2014 Odyssey Honor Audiobook)
- Kirby Heyborne (narrator of Scowler, 2014 Odyssey Winner)
- Kelly Gildea (producer of Scowler, 2014 Odyssey Winner)
- Sunil Malhotra (narrator of Eleanor & Park, 2014 Odyssey Honor Audiobook)
- Rebecca Lowman (narrator of Eleanor & Park, 2014 Odyssey Honor Audiobook)
Ellen Rix Spring, this year’s Odyssey Award Committee chair, began the presentation with a short introduction of thanks for her committee’s hard work, and gave us a brief insight on what the committee accomplished last year.
The committee worked tirelessly through the year to whittle down 550 submissions to just one winner and four honor titles!!!
Below is a snapshot of what happens in a year of an Odyssey committee member.
Ellen Rix Spring then began the awards presentation with the four honor books.
2014 Odyssey Honors
First up, Better Nate Than Ever, written and narrated by Tim Federle.
For each title, Rix Spring, gave a brief summary about the audiobook and why it was honored. We were all then treated to an audio clip that exemplified why the audiobook was honored. The clip that was shared for Better Nate Than Ever, definitely got lots of laughs out of the audience!
We were also treated to a reading by the winning author/narrator, Tim Federle, which you can hear via the video below (sorry all my filming was done on an iPhone, so it is not the best, but it gives you an idea of the treat you get in hearing and seeing the narrators perform in front of your eyes at the presentation of awards).
Chris Lynch, the producer of Better Nate than Ever, and Tim Federle then accepted the award.
The next honor title was Creepy Carrots, written by Aaron Reynolds and narrated by James Naughton.
Creepy Carrots is a picture book, and unfortunately the short video supplied by narrator James Naughton would not play at the time of the presentation, but we did get a chance to see it at the end of the presentation. The audio clip that was provided also produced lots of laughs, and had a very comically haunting style to it. Paul R. Gagne, one of the producers of Creepy Carrots, was in attendance to accept the award.
The third honor award presented was to Eleanor & Park, written by Rainbow Rowell and narrated by Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra.
For this title we were lucky enough to hear a dual narration performance by Rebecca Lowman (Eleanor) and Sunil Malhotra (Park). They both gave a compassionate and emotive reading, that was received with lengthy applause from those of us in attendance. Orli Moscowitz, producer of Eleanor & Park then accepted the award with the narrators.
Finally, the last honor award was presented to Matilda, written by Roald Dahl and narrated by Kate Winslet.
The clip that was shared generated a lot of laughs, and it was clear that Winslet’s distinctive voice easily took on the wide cast of characters in this beloved children’s novel. Dan Zitt, the producer of Matilda, shared a written speech that Kate Winslet sent to be given at the presentation. Winslet spoke of how much of a joy it was for her to go into the studio everyday and play the cast of characters of Matilda and that she was honored to be asked to bring Dahl’s story to life. Her speech ended with a quote from Roald Dahl, speaking to the importance of books and reading:
So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.
2014 Odyssey Winner
This year’s 2014 winning Odyssey audiobook is Scowler, written by Daniel Kraus and narrated by Kirby Heyborne.
This was the moment we were all waiting for: the presentation of the 2014 winning Odyssey audiobook. Scowler is by no means a book that will generate a lot of laughs. It is a heavy listen, but is done justice by Heyborne’s amazing narration. If nothing else, the absolute silence during the haunting clip that was played exemplifies the excellence of this production. Daniel Kraus was first to speak, and he gave much thanks but also talked about how hard it was to write Scowler; he even abandoned the book for some time. Following Daniel Kraus, the producer, Kelly Gildea, gave a beautiful speech of thanks, which you can listen to below:
Last up was Kirby Heyborne, who surprisingly got a little emotional at the podium, but after Gildea’s speech you can understand why. You can listen to his speech and narration performance in the video below. Once again, when Heyborne narrated the character of Scowler, you could hear a pin drop– and what a performance it was to see in person!
Finally, you may have heard buzz about Kiby Heyborne’s rap for librarians called, “Ain’t Nobody Change the World Like a Librarian”. Check out my recording below:
You can see a better recording from Random House Audio’s YouTube channel below:
–Colleen Seisser, currently reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Greetings, Hub readers! I have slowly been coming down from the high that was attending my very first ALA Annual Conference! Luckily, there have been some super fun tweets that I’ve been enjoying this past week! Get ready for some Sarah Dessen bookshelf love, some awesome comics news and don’t worry – I’ll work some Batman in there for you, too! And, new Harry Potter, too?! Yowza!
- @eonline: J.K. Rowling publishes a new #HarryPotter story! Brb, canceling all our plans: http://eonli.ne/1rMQLCC
- @jayasherguy: Off & on since 2008, going from children’s hardcover to paperback to new YA list, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY is today a NYT bestseller for 3.5yrs!
- @tashrow: Mary E. Pearson on The Kiss of Deception & Writing YA Books| Lisa Parkin | http://buff.ly/1zpZAoa #yalit
- @TiffanyE: I’ve actually read 7 of these, but: 15 YA Books You’ve *Probably* Never Read – But Should! from @buzzfeed http://www.buzzfeed.com/sydpres/15-ya-books-that-youve-probably-never-read-but-t-r1ey?s=mobile …
- @sarahdessen: RT @penguindanielle All my @sarahdessen books in release order. One of my favorite authors #sarahdessen
- @WIGS: Only 5 days left to relive the love on http://hulu.com/delirium . #DeliriumPilot #LastWeekofDelirium
- @DCComics: @TVGuide takes you inside the “World of Craziness” in this exclusive new #Gotham teaser: http://bit.ly/1jejDB1
- @NerdistDotCom: Braaains! We chat with @CWiZombie comic book creator @chris_roberson about @RobThomas‘ TV adaptation: http://nerdi.st/1rT1ziC by @JMaCabre
- @r_bittner: Y’all simply MUST check out SISTERS by @goraina when it comes out next month! http://unquestionably-palatable.blogspot.com/2014/07/sisters-raina-telgemeier.html?spref=tw … #HighlyRecommended #GraphicNovels
- @beckycloonan: Oh man! Check out my horror variant for Detective Comics #35!! XD #batman #manbat #manbatman pic.twitter.com/inLGpFf4JU
- @comicsalliance: Here’s The Thing, Episode 15: Why’s @MarkWaid ’s ‘Flash’ Run So Great http://bit.ly/1jraAgv
- @Jenapino: Come get your copy of #ComicsSquad:Recess @vromans! It features: @jenniholm @StudioJJK @dsantat @goraina & more!
- @LibraryJournal: LJ’s inaugural salary survey for U.S. librarians and paralibrarian – http://bit.ly/1stl2nu #salaries #librarian #mls
- @sljournal: Contests, Awards, and Giveaways for Librarians Serving Teens http://ow.ly/yXnu8
-Traci Glass, currently reading Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King
Young adult and adult novels make it to the big (and little) screen fairly often these days. So, just how smug should you feel when you have already read the book? There is no easy answer – so to tackle this issue I have broken down the movie/show tie-ins into categories.
The Book Series Made into a Show
You can feel superior, but do tread lightly as you enter this murky zone. When translating a series of novels into a series of shows major plot elements are likely to be changed to allow for the continuity of the show. Examples of the book series made into a show include Pretty Little Liars (based on the series by Sara Shepard), Gossip Girl (based on the series by Cecily Von Ziegesar; a 2003 Quick Pick & 2009 Popular Paperback for Young Adults), The Walking Dead (based on the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn and Tony Moore), and Game of Thrones (Based on the “Song of Fire and Ice” books by George R.R. Martin.)
- Pros of pre-reading the book series made into a show:
1) You read the books, you loved them…you watch the show and get more! You can translate your book reading experience into an on-going show and keep the story alive after the series is over and/or whilst you await (impatiently) for the next book.
2) Deviations from the book make for some fun and unexpected surprises. You thought you knew all there was to know about white walkers in George RR Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series… but after watching the HBO show– what?!
- Cons of pre-reading the book series made into a show:
1) Deviations from the book make for some shocking unexpected surprises. Yes, this is both a pro and a con. These changes may call into question your precognitive skills. For example AMC’s Walking Dead’s many plot changes as compared to the graphic novel series.
- Bragging rights earned from pre-reading the book series made into a show:
Monday morning talk when there was a Sunday night cliffhanger: does <insert character name> die? Then they look your way: do you know? Oh, yeah.
The Stand Alone Adaptation
Many stand-alone YA books have been adapted into movies which are quite fantastic; often they are independent productions. Some examples are Stephen Chbosky’s Perks of Being a Wallflower (2000 Best Book for Young Adults, 2002 Popular Paperback for Young Adults, and a 2000 Quick Pick for Young Adults), John Green’s The Fault in Our Star and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2006 Alex Award). Some stand-alone novels adapt well into a series such as Orange is the New Black (based on the memoir by Piper Kerman) and Hemlock Grove (based on the novel by Brian McGreevy).
- Pros of pre-reading the stand alone book made into a film or series:
1) A great book turned into a spectacular film with no over-saturation.
2) An added sense of “legitimacy” to the YA book and film world.
- Cons of pre-reading the stand alone book made into a film or series:
1) The real dud of a film – when a beloved book turns into a seriously craptastic movie.
- Bragging Rights earned from pre-reading the stand alone book made into a film or series:
OK, I admit in these cases there is not much of a smugness-factor. But since often times these quality stand-alone books make really fine films or series, that’s really the point, right?
The Uber-popular Movie Tie-in of the Mega-seller Series
You know the ones… here we are talking about books like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series (Best Books for Young Adults 1999 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 & Teens Top Ten 2004, 2006, 2008), Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga (Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers 2006, 2007, Best Books for Young Adults 2009, Teens Top Ten 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009), and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy (Teens Top Ten 2009, 2010, 2011 & Best Books for Young Adults 2010, 2009, Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers 2009).
In this case you will typically not be special for very long just because you read the book; once the craze hits, many viewers will also become readers. Often it is the case that moderately popular titles such as these become mega-sellers after the release of a first successful movie. Typically with this kind of movie tie in, the movie versions follow the books very accurately with no huge plot deviations.
- Pros of pre-reading the uber-popular movie tie-in of the mega-sellers:
1) The addition of a soundtrack to enhance your love of a good book. (See the end of this post for some of my favorites).
2) Being able to see what you envisioned come to life in a real way (Diagon Alley: how did they get it so darn right?) This phenomenon really helps one appreciate the shared human experience aspect of reading.
- Cons of pre-reading the uber-popular movie tie-in of the mega-sellers:
1) Watching a movie that is SO like the book you just read it can actually turn into a huge snooze fest.
2) The play-out factor of something being ubiquitous and then you start to kind of hate it.
- Bragging rights of pre-reading the uber-popular movie tie-in of the mega-sellers:
In cases such as this you could build up your ego in a respectable and subdued manner about having been one of the early fans.
Forthcoming and Rumor Mill
Sometimes the most exciting aspect of the pre-reading phenomenon is the anticipation of forthcoming films and shows: who will be cast? where will they film it? will anything change? Some of the following films have a definite release date we can be excited for and some have been “optioned” for a film adaptation but it is not certain when or if they will actually be made.
If I Stay by Gail Forman. The title was a Quick Pick For Reluctant Young Adult Reader in 2010)– the movie adaptation is due to be released on August 22, 2014.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner. The title was a Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers in 2011 and a Best Book For Young Adults in 2011 –the movie adaptation is due to be released on September 19, 2014
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn– a movie adaptation due to be released on October 3, 2014.
Daughter of Smoke and Bones by Laini Taylor. A movie adaptation is currently in development with no release date.
Legend by Marie Lu. A movie adaptation is currently in development with no release date.
This one is rechnically already released but included here since it’s under the radar: Delirium by Lauren Oliver has been made into a pilot but the series was not picked up. Therefore, no more episodes will be made at this time. It is now possible to watch the pilot on WIGS and HULU.
There are TON more on the horizon…
What are some of your favorite book to film or show adaptations?
Some Favorite Soundtracks
-Tara Keho, currently Reading: Stray by Elissa Sussman
The Margaret A. Edwards Award, sponsored by School Library Journal, is presented annually to an author whose works are deemed ”a significant and long lasting contribution to young adult literature.” Previous winners include Lois Lowry (2007), Chris Crutcher (2000) and Gary Paulsen (1997). On June 28th, at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, YALSA presented the 2014 Margaret A. Edwards Award to Markus Zusak specifically for his novels The Book Thief, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Getting the Girl, and I Am the Messenger.
I was really excited about this year’s presentation for two reasons: 1. I Am the Messenger is one of the best books I have ever read and 2. the ceremony was being held on my birthday. There was also an extra added bonus- I’m a native Las Vegan, so I didn’t have to travel to ALA this year. Instead, it came to me!
The Edwards Award ceremony was a brunch this year instead of the traditional lunch, which appealed to me because I’m a big fan of breakfast at any time. When I arrived at the Las Vegas Hotel there were already people in line waiting to get in and the ballroom was all set up and ready for us. In addition to coffee, quiche and other sundries attendees also received copies of two of Markus Zusak’s books. The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger, and reading group guides for both books. Attendees eagerly anticipated the presentation of the award and the acceptance speech and chatted throughout brunch until the presentation started.
For those of you who may not know, Markus Zusak hails from Sydney, Australia, so he came from the other side of the world to accept this award (and he has a lovely accent.) He listed Chris Crutcher, Gary Paulsen and Lois Lowry as heroes, and expressed some awe at being given an award that they had all previously won. After putting aside his speech and telling us he was going to keep it for reference, he told us that his writing career started in the backyard where he grew up, and shared some of the hijinks he and his siblings would get into, including setting up a tennis court in the house, boxing with one glove, and finding new ways of getting his mother to swear, like ruining her garden playing football (or soccer, for those of us who live here in the U.S.), because when she swore in her non-Australian accent it was hilarious.
Of course, there was also that pivotal moment when he discovered S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders when he was fourteen, and realized he wanted to be a writer, too. When Markus started to talk about writing the whole room was mesmerized. As a writer myself I find it fascinating how other writers go about crafting their stories. One way in which Markus does this is by pulling things that hadn’t worked from other stories into others, which is how some of the character building for I Am the Messenger was done. A long overdue trip to the dentist gave him the inspiration for some of the Wolfe brothers’ antics in the Wolfe Brothers series. ”I’ve always had this thing with stealing,” he said, and claimed even the most angelic person we know steals at some point- “Think about your mum-I’m telling you, she steals.” When talking about The Book Thief, the title for which he is most well-known, he said he wanted “to write a book that only I could have written,” and that in the end this is his goal with everything that he writes. He also said that even though many readers come to him lamenting that he made them cry when they read it, he points out to them that, “You think that’s bad? I had to write it!”
Here’s a glimpse at part of Markus Zusak’s excellent speech:
After the ceremony ended many of us stood in a long line patiently waiting to get one of our books signed. Even though it was announced that we wouldn’t be able to have books personalized due to time constraints, Markus was taking the time to personalize and chat with everyone. He was gracious and pleasant with everyone, and I was excited to get my copy of I Am the Messenger signed and get a chance to congratulate him.
The thing about I Am the Messenger that resonated so much with me was how real the characters felt. I like character driven stories, and I enjoyed watching Ed grow as each ace showed up at his door, pushing him closer and closer to finding out who it was that was sending him on his journey. The ability to make a character on the page seem like a real person is a gift that Markus Zusak definitely has!
-Carla Land, currently sifting through all the Advanced Reader Copies she picked up at ALA and trying to figure out what to read next!
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers is one of the most powerful, gut-wrenching novels on war ever written for a young adult audience. Since its publication in 1988, readers have vicariously lived the harrowing experiences of Richie, a bookish high school graduate from Harlem, in the jungles of Vietnam. The story portrays not only the dangers of deadly warfare in a foreign environment but also the incompetence and racism of commanders. It has been challenged many times because of its realistic use of language and violence.
There are many great protest songs from the Vietnam Era, but the one I chose to accompany Fallen Angels is “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The lyrics speak for the thousands of young men who, like Richie, were thrust into this nightmarish war.
Yeah, some folks inherit star spangled eyes
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord
And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
Oh, they only answer, more, more, more, oh
Twenty years later, Myers returns to war with Sunrise Over Fallujah, which follows Richie’s nephew, “Birdy’, through his service during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Birdy’s unit is part of the Civilian Affairs team, charged with helping people living in a war zone. Working closely with Iraqis is both dangerous and enlightening, as Birdy struggles to understand how they are meant to help. Again, Myers does not shy away from the harsh realities of IEDs, tribal warfare, and rape. Like its predecessor a generation earlier, Sunrise Over Fallujah also faced many challenges over content.
In the book, Birdy’s closest friend is Jonesy, a blues guitarist with the ambition of opening a blues club after the war. Jonesy’s outlook on the world is filtered through his immersion in the blues, as when he says about Saddam Hussein: “…Saddam got a tune in his head and he wants to play it real bad. And when it don’t go right he just play it louder. A lot of dudes do that. They call it music, but it could just be war.” (p15)
American band Green Day released “21 Guns” in 2009, after establishing a role as blunt, outspoken patriots with their award-winning album, American Idiots. The lyrics express anger at wars that have lost a clear objective, and yet continue killing thousands of soldiers and civilians.
Do you know what’s worth fighting for?
When it’s not worth dying for?
Does it take your breath away and you feel yourself suffocating?
Does the pain weigh out the pride?
And you look for a place to hide?
Did someone break your heart inside,you’re in ruins
In 2013, Myers stepped back in time to the battlefields of World War II. This time our narrator is a young white soldier from Virginia named “Woody” Wedgewood. The Perry family is not excluded from the story, however, as Woody knows Marcus Perry, father of Richie from Fallen Angels, from their shared home town. But the army is segregated in this time period. Woody and Marcus serve separately. Their paths meet coincidentally in France.
Woody becomes part of the D-Day invasion that signaled U.S. military involvement in World War II. It is a gruesome slaughter, as American troops land on the beach while German snipers mow them down. As Woody describes, “I hadn’t yet seen my first live German. The dead and the wounded, twisted and still in the wet sand, said they were there. We had run onto a great invisible death machine.” (p50)
World War II is frequently remember as a “just war.” There was a clear wrong, a defined enemy that had transgressed both political boundaries and human decency. Even still, as Myers demonstrates, it was a war that left its soldiers wounded in their hearts and minds, if not their bodies. To accompany this book is Muse’s “Soldier Poem,” written by Matthew Bellamy. The song does not specifically apply to World War II, but it captures the emotions of Myers’s soldiers as they face death so far from home.
How could you send us so far away from home
When you know damn well that this is wrong
I would still lay down my life for you
And do you think you deserve your freedom
Walter Dean Myers himself served in Vietnam. His younger brother was killed there. His war novels offer a perspective that does not refute the bravery or patriotism of American soldiers. His characters are ordinary teenagers who believed that military service would be a good option for them. All of them came to ponder that decision in the heat of battle.
In A Conversation with Walter Dean Myers about Sunrise Over Fallujah, the Scholastic interviewer asks what Myers hopes readers of his war novels will take away with them. “I want young people to be hesitant to glorify war and to demand of their leaders justification for the sacrifices they ask of our citizens,” he responds. “The young people who read Fallen Angels some twenty years ago are the same ones who are the senior officers in today’s military. I hope that reading Fallen Angels has made them prudent leaders. And when they progress to becoming decision makers, I hope that the earnest literature they have encountered, including Fallen Angels and Sunrise Over Fallujah will cause them to deliberate wisely.”
My science fiction knowledge extends to Star Wars, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the new Star Trek movies. That’s about it– so I was excited to attend the session at ALA Annual that was all about science fiction for people like me: who know very little about the genre.
The program was presented by Dr. Karin Perry, Assistant Professor of Library Science at Sam Houston State University in Texas. She expertly went through a variety of books (some I had actually read!) and broke them down in the subcategories: Apocalyptic/Post-Apocolypic, Steampunk/Biopunk/Cyberpunk, Robots/Androids/Cyborgs/Artificial Intelligence, Space/Aliens/Extra-Terrestrials, Time Travel/Parallel Universe, and Virtual Reality/Gaming.
She covered so many books that it would be impossible to list here, but Karin put her slideshow online which I know I will be referring to for reader’s advisory.
Be sure to check it out if you struggle with science fiction like I do!
Sci Fi on the Fly from Karin Perry
Following the fabulous YALSA Coffee Klatch that Lalitha Nataraj wrote about, several of my tablemates and I needed to get the 2014 Alex Awards presentation. The trek, like the layout of the Vegas strip, seemed walkable and relatively close by on paper, but ended up being at the very end of the convention center. Thankfully, all the caffeine that we had just consumed while meeting fabulous YA authors allowed us to powerwalk and arrive on time for the session.
Danielle Dreger-Babbitt, chair of the 2014 Alex Awards committee, got things started by reminding the audience of how the Alex Awards were first given out in 1998, became an official ALA award in 2002, and honor the work of Margaret A. Edwards, who was called “Alex” by her friends. Book jackets of the ten winning titles were shown along with short descriptions.
Typically, three to four winning authors attend the award presentation at ALA Annual. This year, only one author was able to make it – John Searles, who won for his book Help for the Haunted. As John began his presentation, he joked that when he heard there were nine other winning authors he killed them all and buried them in the backyard (a nice tip of the hat to 2014 winner The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell).
What followed was a truly delightful, heartfelt presentation that included home movies (cinematic proof that from an early age John wanted to be an author as the super 8 pans his childhood living room and we see him writing away in a mini steno pad); a picture from high school (with John writing, of course); a scan of a truly scathing rejection note for an early manuscript submission, and photos of John’s hometown library (where he has been immortalized on a quilt featuring local authors).
Books read during adolescence directly informed John’s writing. He pointed out that Help for the Haunted was a combination of Sidney Sheldon plot twists, Stephen King eeriness, and quirky John Irving characters.One of my favorite stories that John told related to his first published book. As a young boy, John would take pages from his mother’ s book of wallpaper samples which he would use to cover pieces of cardboard and then sandwich in construction paper to make books that he would sell to his family members for 25 cents. He sold his first volume, Stories and Stories and Stories, which included “Over the Rainbow” and “Behind the Rainbow,” to his grandma.
As the presentation came to a close, John told some insider stories from his job as a correspondent with The Today Show – the funniest relating to a book giveaway of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations with a manic audience member first demanding a copy and then insisting that John sign it. Not knowing what else to do, he wrote “Best of luck, Chuck” and handed the book back.
Audience members were treated to copies of Help for the Haunted (generously donated by HarperCollins and handed out by the awesome Virginia Stanley). The epitome of graciousness, John stayed for over an hour after the event had ended – taking the time to talk at length to every person who had waited to meet him, listen to their stories, and sign his book.
While I am sure conference attendees and my fellow members of the 2014 Alex Awards committee would have enjoyed getting to fete the other winning authors as well, I felt with John’s presentation we got an extra special treat by getting to learn so much about the development of his writing career from childhood to adulthood and the work that went into the creation of a truly haunting tale.
-Paige Battle, currently reading a very large stack of books for the 2015 Alex Awards committee
The original request
A year ago I asked the group a question about books for black MG and YA boys, especially those who were reluctant readers. The response was Bluford High and Walter Dean Myers, and not much else. In the light of the recent loss of Myers, I wanted to pose the question again. Who do you guys see as the next go to author for books to suck in black male readers? Do you know of any such books you would recommend. I was at a session a few years ago where Matt de la Pena spoke and said a young hispanic male had told him “that’s my life in your book.” Who do you see as the authors who could wring a response like that from today’s (and future) black teens?
- Sasquatch in the Paint by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Death of Jayson Porter by Jaime Adoff
- The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
- He Said, She Said by Kwame Alexander
- How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen
- Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth
- Brendan Buckley’s 6th Grade Experiment by Sundee T. Frazier
- Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It by Sundee T. Frazier
- Nowhere to Run by Claire Griffin
- The Great Green Heist by Varian Johnson
- Secret Saturdays by Torrey Maldonado
- When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
- 8th Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
- Saving Baby Doe by Danette Vigilante
- Eddie Red Undercover by Marcia Wells
- Ultimate Comics Spider-Man trade paperback series
- Barbara Binns
- Christopher Paul Curtis
- G. Neri
Have more titles you think should belong on these lists? Add them on the YALSA wiki or leave a comment! Looking for more compiled booklists? Check out the YALSA wiki or other booklists here at The Hub.
– Gretchen Kolderup, currently reading The Riverman by Aaron Starmer
I love the twang of country music, the songs about trucks, independence, and falling in love. I think I fell in love with country music because most of the songs seem to tell a story, and being a bookish nerd, I loved that.
Here’s a video from Trace Atkins explaining why he sings Country in Songs About Me.
July 4th was National County Music Day and in celebration, I’ve created a list of YA books featuring country music.
Wildflower by Alicia Whitaker
Bird’s family play together with her Dad as the front man, but when he’s sick, he asks Bird to step in a lead the band. At first, Bird’s nervous, but then she finds her groove and starts to shine in the spotlight. There’s a talent scout in the crowd and he requests a meeting with her father. Everyone’s excited about the possibility of being signed – but it turns out he just wants Bird. It’s too good of an opportunity for her to pass up, but is she ready for the hard work and fame?
Somebody Everybody Listens To by Suzanne Supplee (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
Retta Lee Jones takes the advice from her best friend and, after high school graduation, leaves her small town behind in hopes of making it in Nashville. After a string of bad luck, she meets a friend who helps her out. Can she survive and strike it big?
Paradise by Jill S. Alexander
Paisley Tillery lives and breathes drums. They could be her ticket out of small town Texas. Her dreams might be able to come true now that the band has a hot new lead singer. When Paisley falls for him, she can’t help wondering if he could help her soar or hold her back. Paisley’s mother doesn’t know about the band because she wouldn’t approve. How can her dreams come true if she can’t tell her family and have their support?
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Reagan lives life on the edge, while her BFF maintains a clean image. Lilah’s a country music star and when her long term relationship ends, she invites Reagan on tour. When a scandal erupts about Lilah, her management brings in a star for the opening act that can help with damage control. Only Regan falls for Matt and he seems to like her too.
Love Struck Summer by Melissa Walker
Quinn just graduated high school. Since she lives for music, she decides to call up her favorite record label and ask for an internship. She’s surprised enough to have someone answer the phone at 3 a.m., let alone an affirmative answer to her question. She heads for Texas to stay with her cousin where she’s excited about her job and can’t wait to find the perfect boyfriend. Her summer doesn’t go exactly as planned.
~ Jennifer Rummel Currently Reading: The Year of Luminous Love by Lurlene McDaniel
Good morning, Hub readers!
Last week, in honor of the World Cup, we asked your opinion on which YA book features the best soccer game. The top choice was Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor with a whopping 40% of the vote, and close behind was The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares with 32% of the vote. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!
This week, as summer is in full force, we’re longing to know your favorite YA summer romance. Choose from the following options, or leave a comment to tell us which summer love story makes you swoon!Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
Happy Independence Day! Welcome home from Vegas if you went to Annual; happy long weekend (you earned it) if you didn’t! Catch up on the Twitter world this morning before you (hopefully) unplug and enjoy the fireworks.
You know about net neutrality, but have you heard about Facebook’s mood experiment? That, along with Annual, are some of the big issues of the week. Oh, and a SCOTUS kerfuffle. And a little event happening in Brazil. It was a bit much.
ALA Annual Conference
- @misskubelik the MOST repeated comment about plots they like in ANY book is any that are DIFFERENT. take note! #WeNeedDiverseBooks
- @edrabinski Offered a librarian a pen, she declined, brandishing her quill. true #alaaac14 stories!
- @arielkturner I must remember to dl these when I get home #cardsagainstlibrarianship http://shelfcheck.blogspot.ca/2014/01/cards-against-librarianship-lets-play.html?m=1
- @sarahatmls Library staff have been info keepers, bt w/ tech,it’s critical that we establish ourselves as co-learners, not experts #act4teens #alaac14
- @roselovec TeachingTrayvon.org : curating resources for talking about race. #alaac14
- @molly_wetta More info on readers’ advisory on tumblr — #TumblarianTalk #alaac14
- @librarycourtney I’ve been inaugurated as President of the American Library Association. ♡♥ #alaac14
- @katecrawford Let’s call the Facebook experiment what it is: a symptom of a much wider failure to think about ethics, power and consent on platforms.
- @TheAtlantic Even the editor of Facebook’s mood-experiment study thought it was creepy http://theatln.tc/1sOOJmY
- @normative One of the more extreme surveillance dystopias I sometimes imagine is a macro version of the Facebook emotiona experiment…
- @DanaM_RD and what about the inclusion of #children in the #Facebook #experiment?! They have special protections. http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/policy/populations/children.html
- @LaurenDeStefano When people criticize YA, we get so angry, but why really? In 100 years these books will still be loved and no one will remember the critics
- @JudyBlume It’s official! Best part of writing this summer. Can’t wait to get to NM
Judy Blume Novel for Adults Set for 2015 http://nyti.ms/1qJtb9z
- @nebrinkley YA Interrobang will switch to a daily format. Yes, it’s a little nuts. ALL YA NEWS ALL THE TIME! http://yainterrobang.com
- @IWGregorio The @alscblog white paper talks on how to avoid “tourist approach” to library collections (1/2) http://tmblr.co/ZWNYhn1K6ZKUe #WeNeedDiverseBooks
- @SourcebooksFire 7 things only YA book fans will understand @HuffPostBlog http://huff.to/1mcdOPf via @HuffPostBooks
- @RazorbillCA One of our most anticipated fall titles has been optioned for film! Congrats @jandynelson! http://ow.ly/yqR7k
- @TigerEyesMovie Tiger Eyes is finally available on DVD!!! ORDER NOW!!!! http://tinyurl.com/nmwzlyv
- @PageToPremiere 5 reasons why Chloë Moretz is going to rock the role of Cassie in The 5th Wave movie: http://wp.me/p3tZcR-9yN pic.twitter.com/FWEm4e6HBp
- @RickYancey Here’s the news! “@Variety: ‘Monstrumologist’ Movie in the Works at Warner Bros. (EXCLUSIVE) http://on.variety.com/1qHp8dJ
- @CynLeitichSmith Seth MacFarlane pledges up to $1 million for ‘Reading Rainbow’ http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/27/showbiz/celebrity-news-gossip/seth-macfarlane-reading-rainbow/index.html
- @neilhimself What’s currently happening with the TV adaptation of AMERICAN GODS. (This is Real Actual News) http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2014/07/01/starz-developing-american-gods-series/278786/
- @kzickuhr Our new “community” quiz tool allows you to gather info about the library habits of your own community or group: http://pewrsr.ch/1nWD3GK
- @hacklibschool Thinking about an #LIS PhD? Gain insight from @BookishJulia & friends as they explore their paths to PhD: http://ow.ly/yzhkD
- @LSMatson And u can win an ARC of @pstokesbooks LIARS, INC! Go here: http://cahreviews.blogspot.com/2014/06/cover-reveal-liars-inc-by-paula-stokes.html :) <333
- @ChristinaFarley SILVERN’s Cover Is Revealed! – The cover reveal and a chance to read the first chapter of SILVERN are live… http://tmblr.co/ZfI4Wy1K9FTPg
- @IWGregorio Check out the amazing cover for @meligrey’s THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT! Cover Reveal & Giveaway http://iceybooks.com/blog/2014/06/the-girl-at-midnight-by-melissa-grey-cover-reveal-and-giveaway.html via @IceyBooks
- @anna_karenm These Flying Pages is having a big BEA giveaway! Three (3) coveted ARC’s + a tote bag & bookish swag! http://www.theseflyingpages.com/2014/06/bea-2014-recap-haul-giveaway.html
- @zlikeinzorro #TheVastAndBrutalSea is out today! Did you get your copy? Then you’re qualified to win! http://bit.ly/TMhnW2 #YA http://fb.me/1dn0A3u3Z
- @ryansara New term of art for y’all: upnerd. It’s like upvoting, but instead you’re making something nerdier.
- @sujeilugo July is International Zine Month! http://www.stolensharpierevolution.org/international-zine-month/ #IZM2014
- @jezebel Chimpanzees can develop their own fashion trends http://bit.ly/1qvvKMv
–Hannah Gómez, currently reading The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen
For the past few years, one of my favorite events at the ALA Annual Conference has been YALSA’s YA Author Coffee Klatch. A ticketed event, the Coffee Klatch provides attendees with the opportunity to chat with fabulous young adult authors about their books, youth literature in general, and- in the case of Internet Girls author Lauren Myracle- most overused emoji. Most of the authors participating in the Coffee Klatch have had their work recognized on at least one of YALSA’s six annual selected lists and/or have been recipients of one of YALSA’s five literary awards.
Similar to speed dating, there are approximately 30+ round tables set up around the ballroom at which 8 or so people are seated. Every 5 minutes, a whistle goes off and a new author joins you at your table. To give you an idea of how memorable this event is: my husband reminded me of the 2008 Coffee Klatch we attended at ALA in Anaheim, along with our tiny infant son strapped to his chest (“Hey, that’s where we met John Green!”). This year, I brought along my sister, Nirmala, who happened to be experiencing ALA and Las Vegas for the very first time (!). She’s a writer, and getting to sit with fellow authors and commune about literature and the writing process engaged her on a whole new level. As a librarian who regularly reads and share these authors’ works in a professional and personal capacity, the Klatch is basically my chance to fangirl them (but not in a creepy way, of course…yeaaaaah).
This year’s literary line-up included Josephine Angelini, Paolo Bacigalupi, Jessica Brody, Ally Condie, Jim Di Bartolo, Matt de la Pena, Matt Dembicki, Becca Fitzpatrick, Jonathan Friesen, Carol Goodman, Alan Gratz, Claudia Gray, Collen Gleason, Ryan Graudin, Nathan Hale, Jenny Han, PJ Hoover, Katherine Howe, Lindsey Leavitt, Marie Lu, Jonathan Maberry, Lauren Myracle, Blake Nelson, Jandy Nelson, Caragh O’Brien, Mary Pearson, Jason Reynolds, Graham Salisbury, Neal Shusterman, Jon Scieszka, Marcus Sedgwick, Clare Vanderpool, Scott Westerfeld, Cat Winters, and Meg Wolitzer.
Here are some highlights from my table:
Blinding Us with Science
Jon Scieszka’s new middle-grade Frank Einstein series is STEM-based with a lot of appeal for reluctant readers. Claudia Gray discussed A Thousand Pieces of You, the first book in her forthcoming Firebird series, featuring time-bending, parallel universes, and a healthy dose of romance.
It Gets Real
Lauren Myracle’s yolo is the latest in the popular Internet Girls series, and is set during the girls’ transformational freshman year in college.
Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun is a “tapestry of interwoven love stories and complex familial relationships.” Following this program, my sister pretty much ran to the exhibits hall to grab a copy of the ARC.
Having enjoyed Meg Wolitzer’s adult fiction novel, The Interestings, I was really pumped to hear about Belzhar, her first YA book. Described as “Breakfast Club meets Prep with shades of The Bell Jar,” Belzhar is an intimate read and like, as my friend, Anne put it, peeking into one’s teenaged diary.
I was super elated to hear that Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds takes some of its inspiration from the Hindu Vedas and features an Indian-American girl as its main character.
Jason Reynolds wrote When I Was the Greatest to show that children living in urban cities should not have to feel ashamed or fearful of where they come from.
Way Back When
Cat Winters, who was named a 2014 Morris Award finalist for her debut novel In the Shadow of Blackbirds, talked about her upcoming title, The Cure for Dreaming– an atmospheric novel set during the early 1900s that combines the supernatural with radical feminism.
Alan Gratz’s steampunk fantasy middle grade novel, The League of Seven is set in an alternate 1870s America – this ain’t your mama’s history book!
Ally Condie’s new standalone novel, Atlantia, references the lost city of Atlantis, and focuses on the complex relationship between sisters. There is also plenty of mystery and romance.
Thriller in the Mountain!
Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush, Hush series) is coming out this fall with a romantic thriller about a girl who is kidnapped during a backpacking trip in the mountains of Wyoming.
These are just a small selection of the authors who presented at the Coffee Klatch – if you were there, what exciting new titles did you hear about?
-Lalitha Nataraj, currently reading The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi
The ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas has drawn to a close, and what a whirlwind of activity it was! More than 13,000 attendees were there to explore the over 2,500 presentations, meetings, and discussion groups, and exhibits available during the event. Over the next few days, we’ll be posting lots of great coverage of YA lit events at ALA Annual, so stay tuned– even if you couldn’t make it this time, you’ll feel like you were there too!
I’m kicking off our event coverage by setting the stage with some scenes from around the conference.
Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas!
Attendees at the Odyssey Award Ceremony were given a terrifying Scowler mask as seen on the cover of this year’s Odyssey Award winning audiobook Scowler, written by Daniel Kraus and narrated by Kirby Heyborne, and were encouraged to take and share a #scowlerselfie!
The Exhibit Hall
There’s always an enthusiastic crowd waiting to enter the Exhibit Hall on Friday evening. Not gonna lie– the thought of this sea of people rushing in to explore the vendors’ booths was more than a little terrifying. But it went surprisingly smoothly once the doors opened, and there were lots of great books to see and learn about at the publishers’ booths.
In the days leading up to the conference, we reported about the #DiversityatALA movement, and I’m pleased to say I saw lots of intriguing titles featuring diversity of all types, including cultural, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. I talked to publicists at a wide variety of publishers’ booths, and every single one had great recommendations for me when I inquired about their upcoming diverse titles. It was exciting! I very much got the sense that we will be seeing more diverse YA lit in the coming seasons.
Here are some other ALA attendees’ experiences with #DiversityatALA:
Sharing Personal Expression
One of the fun things to see at ALA conferences is the Graffiti #UnWall, where attendees are invited to write anything they like. It’s a free space for librarians, library workers, library supporters, and book lovers to come together and visibly share their enthusiasm for everything libraries stand for, make collaborative jokes, or just jot down their happy thought for the day.
There was a lot of this going on at the conference… and of course, stopping to charge your phone is also an opportunity for networking and conversation– and sharing about what ARCs you picked up that you’re most looking forward to reading!
Your Friendly Neighborhood Hub Bloggers
These are some of the people who make The Hub such a great resource for YA literature– and we want to thank YOU for reading our posts and sharing our love of books!
We’ll have more posts coming soon about ALA Annual in Vegas. In the meantime, mark your 2015 calendars for June 15-30 for ALA Annual in San Francisco!
-Allison Tran, currently reading Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Great Britain has always been a popular setting in all types and genres of literature. While I have read many books set there over the years, I never really thought about exactly how many books I enjoy are set in Great Britain until I started planning a trip to England and Scotland. But as I did start reflecting on some of my favorites, I realized how integral the British setting is to many great YA books across multiple genres. Whether you are an Anglophile looking for a new read, or are simply interested in reading books set there before planning your own trip, this list offers great British settings for fans of all genres.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults) - Rory Deveaux isn’t sure what to expect when she moves from the U.S. South to a boarding school in London, but it definitely isn’t getting caught up in a series of horrifying killings copying those of Jack the Ripper. When she becomes a key witness to one of the crimes, Rory gets dragged into the case and might even become his next victim if she isn’t careful. In this, the first of the Shades of London series, plot twists and laughs both come fast and furious. You won’t be able to stop with just one book; but if you start now, there is still plenty of time to catch up with the first two books before the next one comes out early next year.
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults) - The first young adult book from Jasper Fforde, the author of the Thursday Next books, this story combines Fforde’s particular brand of off-kilter humor with a fun story of a world where magic exists but is slowly fading away. Teenage Jennifer Strange is struggling to keep a magic business afloat in this environment when it is revealed that a dragon has been found. As questions arise around who will slay this dragon, Jennifer finds her unexpected place in the world. If you enjoy this book, you might also want to try books by Tom Holt or Terry Pratchett.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Readers Choice Nominee 2011) - Combining vintage photographs with a fantastical story of children who have unusual powers, Riggs creates a creepy and bizarre story set primarily on an island off the coast of Wales. The remote setting as well as the main character’s isolation contributes to a sense of uncertainty throughout the book, which helps to explain why this book remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for so long.
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (Printz Award Winner 2005) – When Daisy is sent to London to visit her aunt and cousins, she expects an adventure, but she could never anticipate the horror of what happens. After bombs go off in London while her aunt is away, the children are left to fend for themselves as the country descends into war. While the exact time and the reasons for the war are left vague, the book feels like it could be happening in modern day England, which contributes to its power.
Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell – Set in a future where birthrates have declined to dangerous levels and robots have been developed to fill the void for couples who want to have children, this book is a fascinating and wholly original consideration of the line between robots and humans and what it means to be “real.” It is told entirely from the point of view (and mostly through the diary) of Tania Deeley, a creative young girl who lives a life surrounded by hidden robots never knowing which of the children around her is human and which are not. Powell navigates Tania’s voice particularly well as she matures and grows over the course of the book. It is a great option for those with an interest in robots and the moral issues they could bring with them.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – While not technically considered a young adult book and with much of the action taking place in space, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy may seem like an odd choice for this list, and yet I couldn’t leave it off. A classic in both the science fiction and humor genres, this book follows Arthur Dent, a quintessential English man as his day goes from bad to worse as he discovers that first his house and then his planet are slated for destruction. This might not sound like the funniest premise, but in the hands of Douglas Adams, it is laugh-out-loud funny, which explains why it has spawned a TV show, a radio show, a movie and even a video game. If you haven’t read this one yet, do so immediately!
Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith – Missing a flight is rarely a good thing, but when Hadley Sullivan does just that on the way to her father’s wedding in London, she finds herself stuck in JFK airport with Oliver, a British boy who is headed home. When they arrive in London and are separated, Hadley is disappointed that she will never see him again, but might fate have more in store for them? If you’ve already read this one, check out Smith’s new book, The Geography of You and Me, which takes place partially in Scotland.
Westminster Abby by Micol Ostow – Strong-armed into a summer abroad in London by her overprotective parents who want to get her away from her (now former) boyfriend, Abby arrives with mixed feelings. But, she decides that she wants to break out of her shell. As she makes new friends, changes up her style, and flirts with another student at her school, she starts to really enjoy her time in England. But, when her ex-boyfriend shows up, Abby must decide what is most important to her.
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (Best Books for Young Adults 2006) – When Ginny’s beloved aunt passes away, she leaves a challenge for Ginny: follow the instructions in thirteen different envelopes. Designed to push Ginny out of her comfort zone and send her on international travels, the first task is to fly immediately to London. From there, she embarks on a life-changing adventure that takes her far and wide, but ultimately brings her back to London.
Gilt by Katherine Longshore – Set in the court of King Henry VIII, this book follows Kitty Tylney as her close friend Catherine Howard makes her way into King Henry VIII’s court and heart. Filled with love interests for both Catherine and Kitty, beautiful gowns, secrets, intrigue and more, this book will appeal to fans of romance and historical fiction. It is also a great book to recommend to fans of the CW’s Reign.
Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed – With a strong Downton Abbey vibe, this book and its sequel, Diamonds & Deceit, show an England populated by both rich estate owners and their servants. These books tackle both historical and modern issues, including England’s actions in their colonies, financial struggles, and issues of diversity. But, this is not to say that they are dry. On the contrary, they are also full of secrets, lies, intrigue and romance.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (2013 Printz Honor book) – As this novel opens you will think that it is a simple story about female pilots and prisoners of war in England during World War II; but as you are slowly absorbed into this superbly plotted and suspenseful novel you come to realize that there is more to the story than you realized. A stunning read even for those who do not usually gravitate towards historical fiction.
She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick – This one is cheating a bit since only the very beginning of the book takes place in England, but since the main characters are British, I decided to include it. This book follows Laureth Peak and her brother Benjamin as they run away from England to track down their author father who has disappeared in New York. Given Benjamin’s age, Laureth must rely largely on her own investigative skills, despite the fact that she is blind. The puzzle at the heart of this book will keep you turning pages and Sedgwick’s descriptions bring alive both the settings and the characters.
Secret Letters by Leah Scheier – What would you do if Sherlock Holmes might be your father? For Dora, the answer is travel to London to find the sleuth and convince him to help her solve a mystery. But, when she arrives in the city to discover that the great detective has died, she must rely on her own investigative skills and those of a young man who also hopes to one day become a detective if she wants to solve her mystery.
The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd – How can anyone disappear from the London Eye? That is the question at the heart of this book. When Ted’s cousin Salim got on the London Eye but doesn’t get off, he sets off a panic amongst the family and also prompts Ted to use his unique way of viewing the world to partner with his sister Kat to track him down. Told entirely from the point of view of Ted, this book gives a window into the life of a person who views the world very differently and offers an engaging mystery to go with this strong voice.
Have I missed any of your favorite books set in Great Britain? Do you also find yourself reading books set in countries where you hope to travel? Let me know in the comments!
- Carli Spina, currently reading Un Lun Dun by China Miéville
Those of you familiar with the lives of the employees of the Pawnee Parks Department know how they feel about the Pawnee Public Library. The presence of Ron Swanson’s crazy ex wife, Tammy, doesn’t help to mend the fences between these two village departments. However, I would like to believe that this rivalry between the parks Department and the library would in no way hinder Leslie Knope and staff in their love of reading. I mean, obviously they would probably have to get their books through Amazon or a bookstore so as not to encounter Tammy. Let’s see what books the Parks Department would read!
Leslie Knope – Leslie is a very powerful woman who strives at excellence in everything she does. When I think about Leslie, I immediately think of Frankie Landau-Banks. In 2009 Printz Honor book The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, Frankie orchestrates a mission to infiltrate The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, an all-male secret society on her school campus, of which her boyfriend is a member. Of course, being a member is not enough for Frankie’s ambition. Instead, she starts to design school pranks and directs the Bassets in carrying them out. Frankie is definitely a teen Leslie would be proud of if she were a citizen of Pawnee. Another title that I would set aside for Leslie is Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer. Bauer’s story includes a mayoral race in a small town. When Hope moves to the small Wisconsin town from a fairly big city, she does not expect to get caught up in the situations of her new home. However, when the owner of the diner she works at decides to run for mayor against a corrupt politician, Hope jumps into local politics with both feet. Bauer’s book combines two of Leslie’s loves: politics and diners.
Ben Wyatt – While Leslie is more serious and set on addressing the issues of Pawnee, Ben is a bit more on the whimsical side of things. When he was eighteen-years-old and mayor of a small town in Minnesota, he tried to create Ice Town, which failed miserably. He also loves board games and video games. I would give Ben the recently published book, Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff. This story follows the two gamers, Lesh and Svetlana, who meet both in real life and in an MMO game world. Also, the book takes place in Ben’s home state of Minnesota. While I don’t know if Ben would want to read this next book for fun, I do feel like he can relate to the main character and commiserate over their similarities. Janet Tashjian’s second book in her Larry trilogy called Vote for Larry, follows the story of a teen boy who has such a following that he eventually runs for president. Things aren’t exactly what he expected them to be.
April Ludgate – April brings sarcasm to an entirely new level. Everything she says is snarky and leaves people unsure of what she truly meant to say. If the main character of Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer and April were to have a conversation, bystanders would be amazed as the sarcasm storm created by the two. Therefore, I would definitely have to give her Colfer’s book. April shows compassion to only two things. The first is her lovable, clueless husband Andy. Other than Andy, April cares about animals. Animals, particularly dogs, were the first things to ever get April to show effort in her role at the Parks Department. Because of that interest, I would give her Straydog by Kathe Koja. In Koja’s novel, a moody teen who doesn’t fit into the cliques at her school begins to volunteer at a local animal shelter. April shows her softer side in her relationship with her rescued dog, Champion, and the other dogs in need of homes in Pawnee. See April, we knew you didn’t hate everything.
Andy Dwyer – Andy is clueless about a lot of things except for his wife April, his band Mouserat, and his desire to be in law enforcement. In response to his love of music and his goofy personality, I would recommend Dogbreath Victorious by Chad Henry. I’m sure Andy would get excited just by the name of the band, being as it is similar to his band, Mouserat. In Dogbreath Victorious, Tim’s band Dogbreath is ready to win Seattle’s Battle of the Bands. He did not expect to be beaten by anyone, especially not The Angry Housewives, a band started by his own mother. Andy loves to put on the persona of Bert Macklin, FBI agent. Occasionally he will act as Bert opposite a femme fatale role portrayed by April. Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell is the story of a serial killer named Kit who has perfected the art of murder through anonymous letters directing her to her next victim. This definitely sounds like a case for Bert Macklin, FBI!
Stay tuned for the next installment of What Would They Read?: Parks and Recreation. What book would Ron Swanson cuddle up with after a long day of widdling? Can I find a book that is cool enough for Tom’s rep?
Currently Reading: The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
Good morning, Hub readers!
Last week, we asked which summer sequel you’re most looking forward to this season. Your top pick was Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater, with 33% of the vote- and you don’t have long to wait, since that book is out on July 1! Many of you are also looking forward to yolo by Lauren Myracle, which took in 19% of the vote. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!
World Cup fever has taken hold, and this week we want you to weigh in on which book features the best soccer game in YA lit. Cast your vote from the choices below, or add your suggestions in the comments!Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.