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Jukebooks: Skink – No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

2014 October 1
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skink no surrenderClint Tyree, aka “Skink,” has become as much a part of the Florida landscape as mouse ears, thanks to his featured role in seven Carl Hiaasen books. Here, we first meet Skink when a teen named Richard finds him hiding in a faux turtle nest, planning to pummel anyone who tries to disturb the “eggs.” Turns out, Richard could use a friend like Skink. Richard’s flakey cousin Malley has gone missing, and Richard has become convinced that no one is taking the search seriously.

So the team of Richard and Skink take off across Florida to hunt down Malley. Naturally, a road trip means music. Skink’s choice is what Richard describes as a “Deep South Rocker” entitled “Run Through the Jungle.” The band is Creedence Clearwater Revival, appropriate since the pair are headed for Clearwater.

Richard is a little off, geographically, when he refers to CCR as Deep South. The band members hail from California. Lead singer John Fogerty wrote the lyrics for “Run Through the Jungle,” which include:

Thought I heard a rumblin’
Callin’ to my name
Two hundred million guns are loaded
Satan cries, “Take aim”

Fogerty later explained that this wasn’t an anti-war song, or that he was anti-gun. He himself is a hunter. But it seemed to him that “…so many guns were uncontrolled that it was really dangerous.” (Los Angeles Times, 1993)

-Diane Colson, currently reading Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker

The Beauty of the Short Story

2014 October 1
by Guest Blogger
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teen_blogging_contest_winnerOctober is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Our first post comes from Timber Mabes in Oklahoma.

photo by flickr use wiertz

photo by flickr use wiertz

Is your love for literature being strained by large amounts of homework? Can you no longer find time to re-read your favorite novel? Have you been seeing movies before reading their books because you “just don’t have the time?”

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I certainly have a solution for you: Short Stories!

These short and sweet tales started off as spoken fables. Some of them are still told today, but less widely believed true. Old fables would often explain how the earth came to be or why a certain animal has its name, or looks the way it does.

Another ancient form of a short story is the anecdote.  These were made popular in Roman and Greek culture and functioned as a sort of parable. These classical works of fiction would mark the onset of the world’s first published short stories.

 Today, these “mini novels” are read, and loved by many.

Because short stories naturally range from 1,500 to 30,000 words, you can complete them in an afternoon. 

Just like one of your favorite novels, short stories can:

  • Take you to another time period or transport you to a different generation.
  • Fly you all around the globe, into different countries and incredibly cities.
  • Create strong emotional bonds and attachments to their characters.
  • Surprise you with gut wrenching plot twists. And,
  • Make you anxious for a movie modeled after them. read more…

Get to Know Some YA Authors From Across the Pond

2014 September 30
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Photo Sep 28, 6 06 08 PMI spent a few weeks in London, then Edinburgh in August on vacation, and, being the librarian and book lover that I am, found myself frequently stopping in bookstores. I wondered whether the same books that teens are reading in the U.S. would be available to British & Scottish teens.

As I wandered the teen sections in Waterstones and WHSmith in London and Blackwell’s in Edinburgh, I found that many of the same YA books that are published here are also popular across the pond in London and Scotland. In Waterstones there was a special display with a sign saying “Everything’s turning green!” promoting John Green’s books. Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars were also included in another book display.

Photo Sep 28, 4 06 04 PM Photo Sep 28, 4 11 48 PMAs I scanned the shelves in the bookstores, I also saw a few authors that I wasn’t as familiar with, or that I hadn’t heard of at all. One, author, Malorie Blackman, current Children’s Laureate for Great Britain for 2013 – 2015, is a British author I had read years ago. Her book Naughts & Crosses (Noughts & Crosses in the UK) was nominated, but didn’t make the 2006 Best Books for Young Adults list.

It’s a sort of Romeo and Juliet story of teens Sephy and Callum who’ve been in love their whole lives, but their romance is forbidden because they have different skin colors. Sephy is a Cross: black-skinned, wealthy and daughter of an important politician. White-skinned Callum is a Naught, devastatingly poor and powerless. The law now allows Naughts to enter Cross schools, and Sephy is thrilled that Callum will attend her school. But the seemingly positive desegregation degenerates into a nightmarish tangle of events ranging from expulsions, to bombings by the Naught Liberation Militia, to hangings. Callum’s older brother, denied schooling, has joined the Naught Liberation Militia. Caught up in escalating violence, Callum’s family disintegrates, and there seems little for him to do but join the terrorists as well. The teens’ romance against overwhelming odds is very powerful and moving.

Naughts & Crosses was published in the UK in 2001. In a Wikipedia article on Blackman, The Times interviewer Amanda Craig speculated about why the Noughts & Crosses series was not published in the United States the same year, “though there was considerable interest, 9/11 killed off the possibility of publishing any book describing what might drive someone to become a terrorist.” Naughts and Crosses was published in the U.S. in 2005, and the paperback published in 2007 under the title Black & White.

read more…

Remixing The Classics: Young Adult Novels Inspired By Classic Literature

2014 September 30
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DJ at Cafe de moc eyalnow flickr

Image courtesy of Flickr user eyalnow

From the multiple big and small screen Sherlock Holmes adaptations to the Web sensation The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’ rewriting of Pride & Prejudice for the YouTube era, entertainment media continue to look to well-known literature for inspiration.  In the world of young adult literature, re-imagining familiar stories in contemporary settings or with unique twists has become quite a tradition. Throughout 2012 and 2013, Hub bloggers Jessica Pryde and Jessica Miller traced this very trend in their series “From Classic To Contemporary,” covering a wide range of re-imagined classics in both young adult literature and film.  Additionally, a number of new titles remixing classic novels or plays have appeared on the scene in just the past year.  As the school year gains momentum and students study such classics, it seems only appropriate that we highlight a few of their young adult lit remixes.

conversionConversion – Katherine Howe  St. Joan’s Academy is one of the top high schools in Danvers, MA.  Within its hallowed walls, teenage girls battle for valedictorian, labor over applications to the best colleges in the country, attempt to sort out first relationships, and manage shifting friendships & high parental expectations. Senior Colleen Rowley and her friends knew they had a lot to balance but they were keeping it together–or so they thought.  Then the seemingly flawless Clara Rutherford is overcome by uncontrollable tics in the middle of homeroom and within hours, the strange symptoms have spread to her friends.  Suddenly, St. Joan’s becomes into a media circus as more students become ill and everyone fails to come up with an explanation or a cure.  But only Colleen, who has continued to work on her extra credit project researching The Crucible,  realizes that Danvers used to be called Salem Village and another group of girls was once at the epicenter of a similar episode a few centuries ago.

This modernization of Arthur Miller’s play interweaves the events unfolding at St. Joan’s with a fresh perspective on the witch hunt hysteria in historical Salem. read more…

What Would They Read?: Firefly

2014 September 29
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firefly-title-card-logoI was nervous a few months ago when I tackled the popular series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the “What Would They Read” series here on The Hub, where we pair up favorite TV characters with YA lit recommendations– but I’m even more apprehensive with this blog entry.  Joss Whedon’s Firefly found its end far too soon and yet has been kept alive by extremely passionate fans.  This is a massive undertaking in the vast world of fandoms.  Feel free to comment on my selections below.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Firefly, here is a brief synopsis: Firefly takes place in a future world with new star systems with moons and planets that have been terraformed to replicate life on Earth.  Although the technology of the future is far more advanced that technology today, the new settlements on the moons most resemble the Old West.  The Alliance is the central government, comprised of the only two superpowers left; America and China.  Because of China’s power, Chinese influences in fashion and language and dispersed throughout everyday life.  The show follows a specific ship that resembles a firefly named Serenity.  Captain Malcom Reynolds and his crew live on the shady side of the law, delivering stolen government goods to planets in need and making deals with some unpleasant people.  In an attempt to appear more respectable and make a little extra money, Mal decides to take on a few passengers.  Instead situations because even more complicated.

It is true that a majority of Serenity’s crew would no sooner read a book than play professional football, I would like to believe my statement that there is a book for every reader.  With no further ado, here are my reading recommendations.

Mal Reynolds – Initially, Mal has a stern, no-nonsense personality.  Although, as the show progresses, legendwe see a bit of a sense of humor emerging for time to time.  There’s no question that Mal would prefer a book with a strong action-packed plot with a slight hint of a romance.  Mal may think he’s kidding everyone with his love/hate relationship with Inara, but we know it’s there.  Also, Mal was on the losing side of the civil war against the Alliance and thus does not respect government authority.  For Mal, I would definitely recommend Legend by Marie Lu (2012 Teens’ Top Ten) as well as the other two books in the series, Prodigy and Champion.  Mal and Day have similar personality traits, the main one being their need to help out the little guy from being trampled by the oppressive government. read more…

We Need Diverse Books: Spotlight on Sara Farizan

2014 September 29
by Alegria Barclay
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diversity images

Graphic courtesy of cci.utk.edu

In April of this year, the We Need Diverse Books campaign took the YA literary world by storm.  Sparked by an initial Twitter exchange between Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo, the movement quickly grew to encompass a wide array of authors, librarians, publishers, bloggers, and readers—a group fittingly representative of the diversity they seek to promote.  We Need Diverse Books’ mission is straightforward: “to promote or amplify diversification efforts and increase visibility for diverse books and authors, with a goal of empowering a wide range of readers in the process.”

So how can YA librarians actively support this campaign? Simple…by reading more widely, by book talking and recommending diverse books, by promoting a culture of empathy, and by educating ourselves on the many layered and complex issues that accompany being both allies and agents of change.

To that end, I’ve decided to devote a monthly post to highlight author and books that truly exemplify the diversity we wish to see reflected in our literature at large.  By diversity, I mean books that bring a rich, nuanced understanding of a particular viewpoint or experience to their readers; a viewpoint traditionally ignored or made invisible by the mainstream media.  What this means is that while I love Cho Chang as much as the next Harry Potter fan, her presence does not qualify the series as being an example of diversity. Rather, the books I’m interested in promoting are those that move beyond mere representation (or worse, tokenism) to portraits of diverse individuals that are authentic, unique, and relatable.

Photo Credit: Mark Karlsberg /  Studio Eleven

Photo Credit: Mark Karlsberg /
Studio Eleven

That said, I can think of no better author to kick-off this series than Sara Farizan, author of If You Could Be Mine (2014 ALA Rainbow List Top 10 Title) and the upcoming Tell Me How A Crush Should Feel (out October 7th). The daughter of Iranian immigrants, Farizan grew up proud of her heritage while also fearful of what her community would think of her sexuality.  Her struggle to reconcile her sexual identity and her cultural identity manifests itself in her writing and provides a compelling honesty to both her works. read more…

Are You Ready for Some Football?

2014 September 29
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It’s that time of year again– pull up a chair and get ready for football. Football season started already. If you can’t get enough football, here are some books for you. Of course, there are more football books than those below, so add your favorites in the comments.

football display

The Bridge from Me to You by Lisa Schroeder
Lauren’s new to town and she’s trying to put her past behind her and move on. Colby lives in the same small town, but has visions of escaping somewhere where he isn’t known for his football skills.  Can the two of the find a way to belong in this small town?

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Jordan’s the quarterback for her high school football team. She’s awesome at her job, loves being in charge of the team and being one of the guys. When another QB comes to town, could her position be on the line? read more…

The Monday Poll: Love-to-Hate Evil Leaders in YA Lit

2014 September 29
by Allison Tran
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villain_eye_credit_pumpkincat210

photo by flickr user pumpkincat210

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we asked which Fall sequel you’re looking forward to reading. 40% of you are eagerly awaiting the next book in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Boys series, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, followed by 25% who are holding your breath for Robin LaFevers’ Mortal Heart. 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 we flip the calendar page to October and the season of spooks and scares, we’ve got villains on the brain. We want to know about your favorite evil leader in YA lit. And not just any old run-of-the-mill bad guy– we’re talking about those really conniving, manipulative characters who have managed to get into a position of authority and influence. [insert evil laugh here]

Vote in the poll below, or add your choice in the comments!

Who's the evil leader in YA lit you love to hate?

View Results

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Genre Guide: Steampunk for Teens

2014 September 26
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By Catherinette Rings Steampunk (Daniel Proulx) (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Catherinette Rings Steampunk (Daniel Proulx) (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Definition

Steampunk, believe it or not, is a term that has been round since the late 1980s. It is usually defined as a sub-genre of science fiction and features a late 19th century or early 20th century setting, but with steam-powered and clockwork inventions and machines.  Steampunk can also be identified as a sub-genre of speculative fiction and is often described as alternate history.  Most steampunk novels are set in Victorian England or America, but are also known to be set in the Wild West of America.

Authors to Know

Characteristics

Steampunk is often characterized by the setting of the story and inventions that are fantastical and magical. Steampunk uses a lot of visual descriptions, especially when it comes to the machinery and fashion. Oftentimes, a lot of description will go into how a machine works.  Supernatural elements are typically included in a steampunk story. Steampunk plots are adventure-driven stories, where machines play the part of moving the adventure along.  Since there is so much action packed into most steampunk novels, the pacing is usually fast.

The characters of steampunk novels are quirky and include inventors, mad scientists, or the like. Characters in steampunk novels also take on the punk mentality.  Usually the main character or characters is individualistic often goes against the mainstream, and he or she may be fighting for a cause or movement.   Many times the plot of a steampunk novel involves good vs. evil, where the good guys and bad guys are clearly defined. read more…

Tweets of the Week: September 26th

2014 September 26
by Jennifer Rummel
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This is Banned Books Week and I have some tweets on the topic below, but also check out the entire #bannedbooksweek hashtag for more tweets.

Books:

Banned Books Week:

read more…