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Author: Casey OLeary

The end of the story?

Chronicles of Harris Burdick book cover
Courtesy of schoollibraryjournal.com

Chris Van Allsburg is a masterful author and illustrator. He’s known for a diverse collection of works, including The Polar Express and Jumanji. His work is creative, entertaining, mysterious, and just a little bit creepy. It’s also inspiring, which is evident in his latest work that was just named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2011.

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Beyond “Forever”

Lauren Ortega, 20
Lauren Ortega. Photo by Claudio Sanchez/NPR

Back in July I heard an interview on NPR with Lauren Ortega, a 20 year old Latina woman, who was struggling to earn her high school diploma while raising two children she had as a teen.  My heart ached for her as I listened to her talk about the challenges of teen pregnancy and motherhood.

Then I received my Summer 2011 Young Adult Library Services in the mail, which included a study by Caroline McKinley of current YA female characters and their sexual behaviors and attitudes. These YA characters have complex emotions about their sexual experiences.

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Remember Sweet Valley High?


My name is Casey and I am a Sweet Valley High junkie.

I was a HUGE fan of the series created by Francine Pascal in 1983. The books, about identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, hold a special place in my heart. The numerous ghostwriters who actually wrote the books used their words to create incredible visuals in my head; I loved the detailed descriptions of the twins’ looks, their rooms, their friends, their clothes. The characters and storylines are beloved memories of my childhood and adolescence.

Then…I grew up. I still have my original books, but I didn’t read the other series about the Wakefield twins in junior high and elementary school. I didn’t watch the TV show. Series creator Francine Pascal continues to publish compelling YA lit; her series Fearless was featured in 2001 on YALSA’s list of “Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.”

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