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2017 Hub Reading Challenge June Check-in

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 07:00

Today it’s time for one last Hub Reading Challenge Check-In before the challenge comes to a close.

How is everyone doing in the final days of Challenge reading? This year, as always, there a lot of great options eligible for the Challenge. As a big fan of graphic novels and illustrated works more generally, one thing I really appreciate is that there are so many of these that are part of the Challenge and that they appear across so many awards and lists (plus they are a good option if you are looking for some quicker reads in the last couple of days).

This year’s Challenge includes something for absolutely everyone, from a picture book biography entitled Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley and Jessie Hartland to the full-cast audio adaptation of Nimona. The diverse set of illustrated works (or graphic novel adaptations in the case of the Nimona audiobook) shows the broad appeal of these works, but I do have my own personal preferences.

As a fan of graphic memoirs and autobiographies, I’m excited to see a classic like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood on the Popular Paperbacks list. This book not only tells the story of Satrapi’s life, but also gives readers a glimpse of life in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, a time period that many teens may know little about. Though it focuses on a very different historical time and place, March: Book 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell similarly brings alive a significant period, the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. It is a powerful story and a very worthy addition to the March series, so it is no surprise that it is on the Great Graphic Novels list and also won the Excellence in Nonfiction, Printz and Coretta Scott King Book Awards. If you haven’t yet had an opportunity to read March, I highly recommend moving it up on your list!

Though also a graphic autobiography, Becoming Unbecoming by Una (a pseudonym) offers a very different but equally engrossing reading experience. This book, set in 1977 in the north of England, combines artwork, photo-based illustrations, and press clippings to create an intense reading experience about sexual violence. Set at a time when a serial killer was murdering prostitutes, the book touches on these events, but also on the violence and bullying that Una experiences at school.

The Challenge has also offered an opportunity to read some great and diverse fiction. Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze is both a great superhero story and a perfect introduction to the character for any patrons who are intrigued after Black Panther’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War. From the world of manga, this year’s Great Graphic Novels also included Orange: The Complete Collection 1 by Ichigo Takano, which is a very engaging science fiction romance that touches on questions of time and changing the future. Though this one makes for a very different read than Black Panther, it is also a fun read and a great book to recommend to manga lovers. The final book on my list, Romeo and/or Juliet: A Choosable-Path Adventure by Ryan North, might not be fully illustrated, but it does have enough artwork to make it interesting to graphic novel fans. It also has a great deal of humor and a very unique take on the classic story of star-crossed lovers. Reading (or in some cases re-reading) these books has reminded me of how broad and wonderful the world of illustrated books is. There truly is something out there for everyone!

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

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

– Carli Spina, currently reading A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass.

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Month in Review: May 2017

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 07:00

What happened in YA this month? Here is a quick round up of featured posts on The Hub and other links to keep you up to date when collecting for your teens.

At the Hub

Books & Reading
  • SLJ’s Xpress Reviews of May releases, including Melissa De la Cruz’s new novel.
  • Do you know yet about Salaam Reads? See this interview with Hena Khan and Karuna Riazi.
  • YALSA’s Bookfinder is fully up and running and is such a great resource.  Check it out now if you haven’t yet!
  • New Releases for May including some from our favorite authors: Sarah J Maas, Julie Murphy, Jenny Han, and Renee Ahdieh.
  • May was Mental Health Awareness month, and mental health is a topic very popular in YA lit currently.  See this reading list from YA Highway for books featuring depression, anxiety, eating disorders and more.
Movies & TV
  • A Grasshopper Jungle movie continues to inch forward.
  • Have you been following #FindFinch?  Jennifer Niven is posting weekly on Mondays with a new potential actor to play Finch in the film adaptation of All the Bright Places (Elle Fanning is set to play Violet).
  • Shadowhunters, the wildly popular TV show based on Cassandra Clare’s books is renewed for a third season coming in 2018, while we impatiently wait for the drop of new episodes (Season 2B) on June 5th. 
Video Games In the News
  • Let’s get our government to support libraries in the federal budget!
  • 13 Reasons Why, opening communication?  Or encouraging suicide ideation?  Tara’s post on the Librarian who doesn’t say shhhh blog about paternalism and censoring for the sake of the children is spot on for librarians promoting the Right to Read (and view :) )  Also check out these reusable infographics about teen dating violence and suicide.
Just for Fun
  • Fan Art – Have you ever daydreamed about how your favorite characters look IRL?  Have you wished you could have their faces plastered all over your walls?  Welcome to the world of Fan Art.  Think of your favorite characters, and I guarantee someone has drawn them for you.  Tumblr is a great place to discover artists, and if you want to buy prints, Etsy, RedBubble, and society6 are great places to shop.


— Cathy Outten, currently reading Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner


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Women in Comics – 2017 Eisner Award Nominees

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 07:00

The 2017 Eisner Award nominees are here and once again they include a number of female creators. Though there are too many to list, below are some noteworthy nominees that you may want to add to your reading list or library collection.

Beasts of Burden returns this year in a standalone story named What The Cat Dragged In, which earned a Best Single Issue/One-Shot nomination for Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, and Jill Thompson. In addition to being a good new story in this universe, it is a great starting place for those who haven’t read Beasts of Burden in the past. This is also a great recommendation for any horror fans you may know.

Not surprisingly, Fiona Staples has two personal nominations (for Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team and Best Cover Artist) and a nomination with Brian K. Vaughan for Best Continuing Series all for her great work on Saga. If you don’t already have this series in your library, you should definitely consider it for your older comic fans.

The Best Limited Series has two great nominees by women. Marjorie Liu and Mark Brooks’ Han Solo limited series is perfect for your library’s Star Wars and science fiction fans. Follow Han’s adventures as a spy for the rebellion and find out more about this iconic character along the way. Kim & Kim, Volume 1: This Glamorous, High-Flying Rock Star Life by Magdalene Visaggio and Eva Cabrera is a very different take on interplanetary adventure, which follows two queer women named Kim as they become space bounty hunters. Filled with fun, friendship, diversity and great art, this book will thrill your comic book fans.

This year is also a good one for female-led superhero comics. Both Faith by Jody Houser, Pere Pérez, and Marguerite Sauvage and Mockingbird by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk are nominated in the Best New Series category and both of them offer fresh takes on the superhero genre that is sure to appeal to fans of high-quality female representation and excellent superhero comics.

In the Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17) category, four of the five nominees come from female creators. The nominees in this category also include two more great female superhero series, with both Batgirl by Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson garnering nominations. Both are great for teen readers and combine humor with fun adventures.

Erica Henderson earned a second nomination in the same category for her work with Chip Zdarsky, Ryan North, and Derek Charm on Jughead (which itself was also nominated for Best Humor Publication). The series focuses on Jughead’s quest to make sure that the school cafeteria doesn’t replace its normal tasty options with healthy food and is perhaps best known for the fact that it features Jughead coming out to his friends as asexual. It’s a good option for fans of both Archie comics and the new Riverdale series on the CW, though it does offer a different take on the character.

Also nominated in this category are Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars by Jessica Abel, which combines roller derby (or in this case hover derby) with life in space for an engaging romp, and Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, which is a dark and violent tale of fantasy set in a steampunk version of Asia where humans and Arcanics are at war.

All of these comics are sure to delight comic fans at your library and entice a whole new audience to give comics a try. Be sure to consider these and other Eisner nominees when you are looking to build your comic and graphic novel collection.

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#QP2018 Nominees: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson and Overturned by Lamar Giles

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 14:54

Questionable Convictions: Guilty, or Not Guilty?

The emergence of advanced scientific forensics has resulted in the ability to re-evaluate convictions. DNA via hair, blood, saliva and other bodily fluids have been used to overturn some guilty convictions for violent crimes. Newer technologies can pinpoint details better. Highly trained dogs can sniff out corpses or drugs. Appeals must be filed, but rarely a change in verdict results. With so many crime fiction and forensic television shows on the air, it may look easier than it is in reality.

These two Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers delve into this world of questionable convictions and their suspenseful plots and gritty topics make them great books for readers interested in the criminal justice system.

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen Books
January 24, 2017
ISBN: 9780062422644

The jury said she did it. The media said she did it. Only nine years old and convicted for manslaughter, Mary B. Addison didn’t say anything. Three-month-old Alyssa was in the care of her babysitter, Mary’s mother, when she died of suspicious circumstances while sleeping in Mary’s room. Six years later Mary, now fifteen, is released from “baby jail” and is living in a supervised group home wearing an ankle monitor. The issue-oriented storyline is brought to the forefront when a pregnant Mary now finally wants to attempt to clear her name, so that her own baby is not taken away by social services.

This dramatic hook grabs the reader’s attention very quickly, and pacing intensifies throughout the saga. Although flawed in character, Mary is somewhat vulnerable and garners sympathy at times. Portrayed by the media as a baby killer with rage tendencies, Mary struggles with revealing her true self while in a group home with violent criminals as roommates. The home is a menacing place full of bullying, brutality, theft, and much verbal abuse.  

While performing her community service hours at a local nursing home, she meets Ted and begins a discreet relationship. Ted has his own demons, and does not inquire about Mary’s crime or Alyssa. He supports her quest to take the SAT and go to college, but his methods are sometimes dubious. Readers may find themselves rooting for Mary as she is bullied in the group home, just wanting to study for the SAT and do the best she can for her future baby.

With the looming threat of social services taking the baby, Mary brings a lawyer into the equation. Divulging information that may incriminate her mother while exonerating herself, some involved with the case become swayed. Even baby Alyssa’s mother advocates on Mary’s behalf. The complex relationship Mary has with her own mother unfolds as readers learn more about that fateful night. The intense, gritty descriptions of the group home, cultural implications, and other challenges Mary faces are engaging and hauntingly realistic. The effect of the media condemning Mary’s situation is thought-provoking and on target.

Aficionados of Paul Volponi’s Riker’s High, Gary D. Schmidt’s Orbiting Jupiter, and Piper Kerman’s book inspired television series, Orange is the New Black, are ideal readers for author Tiffany D. Jackson’s first novel.

-Lisa Krok

Overturned by Lamar Giles
Scholastic Press
March 28, 2017
ISBN: 9780545812504

Nikki Tate’s father has been on death row for the past five years. During that time, she has taken the lead on running their family owned casino, running illegal card games to save money for escaping Vegas and going away to college. When new evidence overturns her dad’s conviction, he is released from death row, obsessed with finding out who set him up for killing his best friend over a gambling dispute. However, Nikki’s time with her dad is limited, as he is murdered shortly after returning from prison. Nikki is determined to find both her father’s killer and the person who set him up to go to jail in the first place.

The Las Vegas atmosphere is fast paced and intriguing.  The attention-grabbing premise and the drama of her father’s release and sudden violent death drives the plot. A strong African-American female, Nikki embraces her independence, which surfaces in her character as both spirited and gutsy.  At first, cash is what entices Nikki, as she maneuvers wagers to exploit easy marks in back room games of Texas Hold’em.  Pacing intensifies as Nikki investigates her father’s ordeal. Along the way, she begins a relationship with Davis Carlino, son of rival casino owner, “Big Bert” Carlino.  When Nikki’s reveals her new relationship to her mother, a deeper rivalry with secrets from the past emerges.  Readers become further engrossed in what could be Nikki’s biggest gamble of all, her safety, as the gritty dark side of Vegas threatens to keep its secrets at all costs.

Overturned is a great fit for crime fiction readers, especially Jennifer Lynn Barnes series, The Naturals and The Fixer, and Joe Schreiber’s Con Academy. Additionally, television viewers of Riverdale and the original CSI, set in Las Vegas, will relish this casino-based crime mystery.

-Lisa Krok and Jessica Ormonde

Find all of the 2018 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominees in the index or browse the posts.

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Monthly Monday Poll: Favorite Dual-Market *Nonfiction* Author

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 07:00

It’s time for the monthly poll!

Last month, a reader (and YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Honor writer!) pointed out that while I said the poll was asking about “authors,” based on the options provided, what it was really asking about was fiction authors. So true! My *personal* reading habits are heavily biased towards fiction, and it’s showing in the poll! So this month, I’m taking up the excellent suggestion to run a poll featuring nonfiction authors who write for multiple audiences. I’m sure I’ve missed some good ones; please shout them out in the comments!

The results for Fiction dual-market authors were as follows: Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling ran away with the 1st and 2nd spots, with 34% and 25% of the vote, respectively. Next up was Meg Cabot (11%), then Sherman Alexie (9%). Kelley Armstrong and James Patterson both snagged 6%, then Victoria/V.E. Schwab (5%), Isabel Allende (3%), and Julie Buxbaum (1%). Fiction authors I neglected to include given shout-outs in the comments are: Kim Harrison, Melissa de la Cruz, Melissa Marr, Stephanie Meyer, MaryJanice Davidson, Ellen Hopkins, Holly Black, and Rick Riordan. Also, you guys, I can’t believe I forgot to include Terry Pratchett!!

Putting the below poll together showed me that a) there are a lot of nonfiction authors who write exclusively for either adults or young people. It was challenging to find those writing for both, although as we’ve established above, Nonfiction is not my greatest area of strength! Please let me know in the comments authors I’ve neglected to include, and b) I’ve been missing out on way too many fascinating-looking titles in my fiction cave. I must’ve added over 20 titles to my to-read list while putting this poll together!

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

—Carly Pansulla, currently reading The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

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