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Author: Guest Blogger

Interview with P. Djèlí Clark, 2019 Alex Award Winner

The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. For more information about the award and previous winners, check out the Alex Awards page on the YALSA website.

 P. Djèlí Clark wrote The Black God’s Drums, Published by, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, a division of Macmillan. Creeper has her sights on leaving the streets of New Orleans and starting a new adventure on an airship. But first she will need to partner with the reluctant Captain Ann-Marie to save a kidnapped Haitian scientist and stop the use of a dangerous weapon. Wildly original with spy nuns and sky pirates, this steampunk alternate history is a winning adventure.

Becky Reiser, 2019 Alex Award committee member, interviewed P. Djèlí Clark about his book. The recorded interview is available below.

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Interview with David Small, 2019 Alex Award Winner

The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. For more information about the award and previous winners, check out the Alex Awards page on the YALSA website.

David Small wrote and illustrated Home After Dark, published by Liveright, an imprint of W.W. Norton & Company. After his mother abandons them, his father uproots thirteen-year-old Russell Pruitt to a rundown town in 1950s California. Russell tries to fit in while navigating a landscape of homophobic bullies and a serial animal killer.  David Small’s storytelling and lush illustrations capture all the uncertainties of adolescence in this coming of age story.

Becky Reiser, 2019 Alex Award committee member, interviewed David Small about his book.

Your graphic novel Home After Dark,chronicles the 50s-era adolescence of Russell Pruitt. Although it less common to hear about a teen running away with his bike today, do you feel there are parallels to teens coming of age in 2019?
Yes, I do think there are parallels. After all, the process of the body’s hormonal development, the growth patterns of our brains haven’t changed. I’m quite sure kids now process things as they always have; there are just so many new things to process and a new rapidity to it all. We’re all on a roller-coaster of informational overload, but with teens, there is a rush to grow up, and they have the Web, with exposure to matters that are both critical and intangible. There is always, with teenagers, an incentive to seem mature about things which they aren’t even genuinely curious about until certain hormones kick in. There is a sophistication in our youth that wasn’t there in the 50’s, or at least a veneer of it. The overlay of irony and sarcasm which permeates everything nowadays gives kids an air of urbanity, though I’m sure it’s no more than a surface impression.

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Interview with Jonathan Evison, 2019 Alex Award Winner

The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. For more information about the award and previous winners, check out the Alex Awards page on the YALSA website.

Jonathan Evison is the author of Lawn Boy, published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing. Twenty-something Mike Muñoz is passionate about the art of landscaping–a fresh cut lawn and a creative topiary. Caught between taking care of his mother and brother and trying to strike out on his own, Mike is not-so-patiently waiting for a lucky break. His struggle is familiar and heartbreaking, and it’s impossible not to root for him as he chases the elusive American Dream.

Becky Reiser, 2019 Alex Award committee member, interviewed Jonathan Evison about his book.

First, of all, I really enjoyed Lawn Boy! Where did you get the idea for Mike Muñoz to work as a “landscape artist”? Was it important that he had a job doing manual labor?
I’ve always wanted to write a novel about class in America, and ultimately I decided I wanted to write it from the perspective of a laborer. Among the many jobs I worked before I managed to scratch out a living as a novelist was landscaper. For years I worked in wealthy people’s yards and became very familiar with the dynamic between the haves and the have-nots. Like Mike, I was raised by a single mom; a working class kid in an otherwise affluent community. I started working under the table when I was ten years old, bussing tables at a restaurant called Jon Patrick’s in Pioneer Square in Seattle, where my waitress sister paid me out of her tips. So most of my life I’ve been serving people one way or another. All those years laboring, I always tried to nurture my creative aspirations, though I didn’t have much of a support system in place. So, I guess more than anything I drew heavily from personal experience in writing Mike.

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Prepping for #ALAAC19: YA set in DC

Think DC is just the home of the federal government and not a place where real people live, work and play? Think again! Before you head to DC this June for ALA Annual, be sure to read some YA set in and around DC and you’ll come away with a better sense for the culture and communities in and around our nation’s capital.

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What Would Mary Shelley Read?

On January 1, 1818, the first edition of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was published anonymously in London. The author, Mary Shelley, was only 20 years old. It wasn’t until the publication of the second edition, in 1823, that Shelley was given credit for her book. This year we are seeing a surge in books commemorating the 200th anniversary of the book’s publication.

Mary Shelley was a woman ahead of her time. I think  she would enjoy reading these books by female authors.

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What Would Ruth Read?

This seems to be the summer of the documentary for me. I recently went to the movie theater to watch RBG, the biography of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and was pleasantly surprised to see a multi-generational audience sitting in cross-generational groups. There were at least two grandmother-granddaughter pairings. And that got me wondering, if Ruth Bader Ginsburg were a teen now, what would she read?

According to the documentary, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a serious young woman, not given to small talk. When she had something to say, however, she was thoughtful, articulate and powerful. She spent much of her career working for women’s rights, often coming back to the line in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that promised everyone “the equal protection of the laws.”

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OUTspoken: Teen Graphic Novels for Pride Month

Though Pride month recently wrapped up, the need for these titles lasts all year. These positive, inclusive graphic novels span many genres (contemporary, fantasy, mystery, memoir) and include LGBTQia* characters just going about their business, whether that be going to school, finding love, solving crimes, rescuing princesses, or reaping souls. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list – add your favorites in the comments below!

*lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersexual, asexual

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Continuing Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!

Last month was Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!

As described by the Library of Congress, this month is a “celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States” (Asian Pacific American Heritage, n.d., para. 1). It is when we celebrate the achievements and contributions, as well as the culture, traditions, and roles Asians and Pacific Islanders have played in shaping our society.

To continue celebrating past the month of May in your libraries and with your patrons, here is a list of books written by Asians and Pacific Islanders, that will take your readers on emotional journeys, fantastical adventures, romantic and hilarious moments, and into edgy and daring worlds.  But most of all it will introduce readers to new cultures and diverse characters whom they can relate to.

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Magic in the TeenSpot

Seemingly out of nowhere, Magic: The Gathering has become a new obsession in the TeenSpot department at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. I always find it interesting which games become popular with our teens. Most of our regulars tend to be die hard Yu-Gi-Oh players, or fanatical about Roblox. I was a bit surprised (and very excited) to watch this new passion for the Magic: The Gathering card game to unfold.

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