Swanee was a free spirit, which is part of the reason Alix loves her so much. But Swanee dies of cardiac arrest while out on a morning run, leaving Alix to mourn the love of her life. Her grief is soon mixed with betrayal when she discovers that Swanee was also in a serious relationship with another girl.
Swanee’s funeral reflects her flamboyant style. Alix observes that it has “…a carnival atmosphere about it.” In addition to balloon bouquets, a flowered arch, and teddy bears, Swanee’s parents have hired a mariachi band that is playing “Livin’ la Vida Loca.”
It’s been fifteen years since Ricky Martin released what would become his signature song. The title is a Spanglish invention that translates as “Livin’ the Crazy Life.” The instant success of this song fueled Latin pop music internationally, while swoon-worthy Martin’s dance moves inspired a revival of Latin dance.
Here is a 2001 live performance featuring Ricky Martin and Kylie Minogue.
-Diane Colson, currently reading Skink – No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen
Last Friday, Katie Shanahan Yu posted a tribute to Robin Williams that included wonderful video clips and a booklist of young adult novels that echo the joyful spirit of Williams’ work. This week, Jennifer Rummel and I extend the tribute with YA lit readalikes paired with some of Robin Williams’ most memorable movies (and one iconic television show.)
Earlier this year, TIME magazine made history by putting Laverne Cox on its cover, declaring that America is in the midst of a “Transgender Tipping Point.” While many would argue we’re not quite at that point yet, given the long way we still need to go to achieve the equal rights, protection, and respect transgender people deserve, there is no denying the definite increase in visibility and support of the this community. Indeed, the past year alone has seen Laverne Cox not only on the cover of TIME magazine but also the first openly transgender person nominated for an Emmy, Barney’s unveiled a trail-blazing spring ad campaign featuring 17 transgender models from all walks of life, and Comic Con had its first panel devoted exclusively to transgender issues…and that’s just in popular culture.
On the legal front, Washington state just opted to provide transgender-inclusive healthcare for all public employees, the Department of Labor is now including transgender workers under its non-discrimination policy, and Maryland passed the Fairness for All Marylanders Act prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Progress indeed and heartening news for anyone who advocates for and supports equal rights and social justice.
As someone who works with youth, it’s equally exciting that this increase in visibility extends to young adult literature. Indeed, YA has been ahead of the curve. Luna, the first YA book to feature a transgender protagonist, was published over a decade ago to wide critical acclaim. In the ten years since then, the number of novels with transgender characters have been slowly but steadily increasing (for a well researched list of titles, see Talya Sokoll’s booklist published in YALS and Malinda Lo’s list on her tumblr “Diversity in YA”.) Which leads us to 2014, where in YA as well as larger society, there is a noticeable shift in terms of sheer visibility and volume. That said, I’ll focus the rest of my post on recently published and soon-to-be-published books that feature characters of all genders.
I was lucky enough to attend the Stonewall Awards Brunch this year at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas and saw Kristin Cronn-Mills accept her award for Beautiful Music for Ugly Children (2014 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults). She spoke passionately about the need for allies, about the power of music to transcend differences, and the need for cisgendered people to take the initiative to educate themselves about the transgender experience. (Interestingly, hers was the not the only book focused on gender identity issues to win a Stonewall Award this year, Lori Duron also won for her memoir Raising My Rainbow.)
If you haven’t read Beautiful Music for Ugly Children yet, the book tells the story of Gabe, who is in the early stages of transitioning, much to the dismay of his family. He finds solace in his passion for music and with the help of his close friend and elderly neighbor, John, becomes a DJ on the local radio station. His sudden rise to local fame as a DJ results in a number of confrontations that result in both tragedy and redemption. What I enjoyed most about Cronn-Mills’ novel is the fact that it does not solely revolve around Gabe’s gender identity. It’s obviously at the heart of the novel but, equally so, is his passion for music. In that sense, he felt more fully developed as a character–lending the novel a depth often lacking in other books about trans teens. read more…
Summer vacation is drawing to a close, but whether you have time to squeeze in one last trip or you just have time to remember the trips you already took, it’s always fun to curl up with a good book about vacation spots. Both YA and picture books abound with these stories, and here are some suggestions if you need a last (literary) getaway for the summer.
YA Pick: The Moon by Night by Madeleine L’Engle (1998 Margaret A. Edwards award winner)
This is still the quintessential camping book to me–the book that still makes me imagine I will one day take my family on a cross-country camping trip, seeing all the great national parks out west. The Moon by Night follows the Austin family (from, among others, Meet the Austins and A Ring of Endless Light) as they make just such a trip, but the vacation gets especially interesting for Vicky when she inadvertently picks up an admirer with a bad boy streak and the romantic plan to pursue her across the country. Vicky’s interactions with Zachary, her family’s disapproval, her upcoming move to New York City, and her ordinary growing up struggles are all on Vicky’s mind in the midst of enjoying the astounding beauty of her surroundings.
YA Pick: Patiently Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
I’ve loved the Alice series since I was a kid, and this is one that stands out as being a good mix of fun and serious issues. Alice, Pamela, and Elizabeth decide to spend part of their summer as assistant counselors for a camp for disadvantaged kids. Their camping experience is a mixture of learning how to handle all sorts of issues (including racial issues) with their young charges and counselor hijinks during their breaks. There’s less romance for Alice than in other installments of the series, but Elizabeth has a summer romance that can keep the romantically-inclined reading!
Picture Book: Carl’s Summer Vacation by Alexandra Day
Lovable Rottweiler Carl gets into adventures with his young charge, Madeleine (now getting to be less of a baby and more of a little girl) while they are supposed to be napping on the back porch of the family’s summer cabin. They enjoy a boat trip (until the boat overturns!), berry picking (before they have to run away from a family of skunks), time on the playground, and sneaking a snack from another family’s picnic. When it’s time to get up for dinner and fireworks, Madeleine’s parents can’t understand why the buddies are so tired. If you enjoy this, there are lots of other Carl episodes.
Picture Book: Lost in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy by Carl R. Sams, II, and Jean Stoick (2005 Independent Publisher Book Award Winner, Children’s Picture Books 6 and under). This isn’t so much a camping story as a story that might inspire young readers to get out into the woods. This husband-and-wife team are nature photographers who took the beautiful, up-close photos that make up the pictures, then created a story to go along with them. Readers follow a young fawn as he waits for his mother. Other animals are sure the fawn is lost, but the fawn knows he’s just supposed to wait… read more…
As a reader, I’m not sure if I went to the movies because I wanted to watch The Giver or because I wanted to hatewatch it.
I did a little of each. I’ll try to explain my reaction to the film, while also leaving out enough information to keep the movie surprising if you’d like to be surprised. That may leave this post incomprehensible until after you’ve seen the movie. I’m not sure. You’ll have to let me know. But be forewarned: this post either has spoilers or is impossible to understand.
I think your liking of this film will depend on how passionate you are about the book. I’m not someone who thinks movies have to stick to the book word-for-word; different media require different approaches. But I’m also not someone who likes it when a movie slaps a book title on its poster and does nothing else to base it on the novel. The Giver is somewhere in between, and it’s not really a bad movie so much as a film that suffers from the glut of dystopian movies, TV, and books and designed itself to be attractive to people just catching on to that genre, not people curious to see Lois Lowry’s beloved book come to life.
That’s not to say that readers won’t enjoy this film. The creators did a brilliant job of dealing with the colorless world. The slow transitions and back-and-forth from plain to color and back again, as Jonas learns new colors and as he goes back and forth between the colorful world of the Giver’s home to his own bland dwelling, is just perfect. The set design is spot-on, and the costumes and props are stylized but not too corny. This film has excellent trappings, but it didn’t do much to translate the power of the book to the screen. read more…
Good morning, Hub readers!
Last week, we asked you to choose the best book to cool off with during the summer heat. In the lead was The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, with 67% of the vote, followed by The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean, with 19%. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!
This week, we’re all excited that the highly-anticipated film adaptation of Lois Lowry’s YA classic, The Giver, is now playing in theaters everywhere! Have you seen it? Did you love it? In light of this beloved book being brought to moviegoing audiences, our question for you this week is: what other YA classic would you like to see on the big screen? Vote in the poll below, or add your choice in the comments.
Happy Friday, Hub Readers! Check out these tweets of the week with Lauren Oliver, Red Sonja & of course, Batman! In case you missed it…I’m here to compile it all for you!
Books & Reading
- @oliverbooks is continuing her Twitter #ghostlygoodreads story: They drank chai and pumpkin lattes. The conversation was easy, even when they moved away from books on to other topics.
- @harperteen: 12 quotes that describe your relationship with your BFF perfectly: http://bit.ly/1p7Pwfj
- @galleycat: Remembering Lauren Bacall Through Her Writing http://mbist.ro/1lUNgn4
- @harpercollins: “Mean it. Whatever you have to say, mean it.”—Neil Gaiman on speaking in public. Share your favorite @neilhimself quotes using
- @novaren: A BLIND SPOT FOR BOYS is out this week & I have @JustinaYChen sharing a touching story on Books of Her Heart: http://wp.me/pM1Z-51l
The loss of actor Robin Williams this week has been both shocking and sad for so many of us. He was always so full of life in his interviews and stand-up
performances. You always felt like you were watching someone special. He is probably best known for his television and movie performances. Today’s teens might not remember him in Mork and Mindy, but I encourage them and you to Youtube those old episodes. It’s a show from a long-ago TV era, but one that has special place in my heart alongside I Love Lucy from the Nick at Night of yesteryear. His comedic talents and sheer charisma in the show are timeless, so is his impressive work in film.
Two of his many films he made were selected for YALSA’s Fabulous Films for Young Adults – Dead Poet’s Society and Good Will Hunting, both 2010 selections. Williams was an artist who connected with many people and across many generations. Look to the sheer volume and diversity of people responding to his death on social media, in the news and on television. Just look at what’s been happening at the bench in Boston where they filmed Good Will Hunting. The cynics among us may believe this is just another example of a society obsessed with celebrity, but I believe it’s more than that. I believe he was one of the rare artists who touched our hearts and souls with the joy and love he infused in his work.
He was a teacher that showed his students that words and ideas could change the world and asked his students to find their voice before it was too late. He was a straight shooting psychologist that helped a lost genius reconcile his anger and grief and asked him to make a move because someone can’t do everything for you. He was a wish granting genie and a best friend to a street rat. He was Peter Pan, a crossdressing father trying to see his kids, a night club owning gay dad pretending to be straight for the parents of his son’s fiancé, and a US president who comes to life afterhours in a museum. Robin Williams was all of these people to us because he brought them to life with his talent. He had the ability to make us believe in him and laugh with him. Just watch this moving tribute from super fan Jimmy Fallon:
Lately, I’ve had to weed my Young Adult Graphic Novel collection because I am just running out of room. Weeding is always a sad process, be it in a public library or in your personal collection – I just always think, well, if I just give them another month or another week, someone will pick up this book! I always like to think that there’s a book here for every person, and unfortunately, some books just don’t get a lot of love or get matched up with their perfect person during their time in the collection.
That got me thinking about this post; I wanted to spotlight older titles, but how would I choose them since there are so many great books out there from years past? Then, aha! I had an epiphany – what if I highlighted some of my favorite comics & graphic novels from YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens lists?
So, I went back through all the GGNT lists, and picked out some of my favorites from the 2007-2011 lists. Now, some of these books are pretty popular and some are not, but they are all great graphic reads for all different kinds of readers. From Star Wars to cat burglars to Batman (well, Batwoman, but, close enough), everyone will find something fun to read on this list – and these are old books! Well, oldish – and older books can be some of the best books. So, join me, readers, on this walk down memory lane as we revisit some favorites and hopefully, put the spotlight on some forgotten or overlooked treasures.
Star Wars: Tag & Bink Were Here by Kevin Rubio & Lucas Marangon: From the inaugural GGNT list, I chose one of very favorite comics ever! Tag & Bink are two bumbling rebels who, when they come face to face with Stormtroopers, decide to knock them out and steal their uniforms, and thus, their times as members of the Imperial Army begin. They aren’t the most savvy or smartest of the bunch, so in addition to not being found out by Darth Vader and his minions, they are also trying to stay alive and get back to the other members of the rebellion. What’s funny about this book is that Tag & Bink are involved in every major event that happens in the movies – and they’re usually on the verge of messing something up or getting themselves found out. This book is great for Star Wars aficionados as well as newbies – because it introduces something new and hilarious to established movies with no prior knowledge needed. All of your favorite characters from Episodes IV-VI make appearances here, and this book will definitely keep you laughing until the very last page! read more…