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Author: Kate McNair

Kate is the Young Adult Librarian for the Johnson County Library in the Kansas City metro area. She loves, playing roller derby, crafting and being surprised!

Author Interview: Richard Ross

Richard Ross is the author of Juvenile In Justice, a 2013 Alex Award that’s a photographic essay of lives in over 200 juvenile detention centers in 31 states. His photos, and the stories of the teenagers feature in them, are on display as a part of a traveling exhibition and on his blog.

JuvenileinJusticeAs a librarian who works with incarcerated teens, I am always surprised by how rarely society seems to think about them. Most teens in our community, luckily I suppose, never even seem to realize we have a juvenile detention center. It seems that if you don’t know someone in detention, it is easy to forget it exists. I know your goal with your book and exhibition is to shed light on the juvenile justice system. What initially sparked your interest in the topic?

I did the project Architecture of Authority, which was more successful in terms of intellect and recognition than I imagined it would be (success can me a difficult mistress). So I look[ed] for the work that had been done as part of it that could be mined in more depth [… A]s I explored the world my kids disliked, high schools and adolescent corridors of power, that led to a more in depth investigation….

Some of the facilities you go into have hundreds of residents. How do you choose who to interview?

I try to get a range of kids, ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, length of stay, charges. [I]t also depends on which kids are willing to speak. Although most of them are happy to have attention paid to them as they may be intensely bored.

Getting into these buildings can be a challenge, as you mention in your afterword. Is there a white whale for you? A facility that you really want to photograph but you just can’t get in the door?

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Where are they now: Printz Winners

printz award sealThe ALA Youth Media Awards always make me think about past winners and where they are now. So today we look back at past Printz Award-winning authors and see what they have been up to since the auspicious day they won the award.

2012 Winner: John Corey Whaley
Since the exciting day in January 2012 when Whaley won both the Printz and the Morris Award for his debut novel, Where Things Come Back, he hasn’t published much. I can’t really blame him as I am sure he has been busy with book tours and interviews. When I interviewed him for The Hub back in January of last year he mentioned that he was working on a few projects, so I am sure we will see something soon!

shipbreaker2011 Winner: Paolo Bacigalupi
Bacigalupi had quite the wild ride in 2010 and 2001. Between his adult book The Windup Girl winning three major awards and his debut young adult novel Ship Breaker winning the Printz Award and being considered for the National Book Award, he stayed pretty busy. Since then, Bacigalupi has written The Drowned Cities, a companion novel to Ship Breaker.


Five Books for the End of the World

I am not a superstitious person. But if I were, and I thought the world was going to come crashing down around us in less than a month as some are predicting, here are the five books I would want in my post-apocalyptic handbag.

(Note: However tempting it is to choose things like The Physicians’ Desk Reference, the spirit of this game is more like “what 5 books would you want to read over and over?”, not “which 5 books will help you survive?” For thoughts on survival and YA lit, check out Sarah Debraksi’s recent post about her life post-Sandy.)


Good Reads for Black Friday Shoppers

It is 3 a.m. and you are sitting in a folding chair outside your favorite retail store, along with 400 other bargain hunters. Sounds like you could use something good to read. Here are my suggestions for Black Friday shoppers … you brave souls.

Books for the reader who wants a new camera


The Next Big Things That Never Were: Predictions That Haven’t Come True…Yet

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

As much as we love to look into our crystal ball, not everyone can be Nostradamus. Some predictions just never take off. As we near the YA Literature Symposium, let’s take a moment to look at the trends that didn’t quite get off the ground.


In 2010, as we were sure the vampire trend was waning and the dystopian train was still gathering steam, we began looking for the next big thing. Publishers guessed that paranormal was going to continue to be popular and were looking for the next hot creature. Vampires were old news, werewolves were even a little dated, zombies were hot but had probably hit their peak — mermaids, they decided, were where it was at! Some of the highlights:

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Animals Who Shine

September is Animal Remembrance Month, and when I started this post it was going to be about lost literary pets. I started compiling my list and became sadder and sadder with each title. These were the animals I fell in love with while reading, who mattered more than some (or all) human characters in their books. Instead, I thought, I will write a post about our favorite animal characters, focusing on their lives, not their deaths.

Manchee from The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (2009 Best Books for Young Adults, 2011 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)

“The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say. About anything.” With this opening line, Ness introduces the reader to Manchee, the talking dog who will work his way into their hearts. Machee mostly spends his time thinking about squirrels and poop, as I am sure most dogs do. I tried to read this book several times and Manchee always annoyed me until I listened the audiobook. Manchee is brought to life by Nick Podehl and you can’t help but love his blind loyalty and earnest love for Todd. If you had told me that Manchee would quickly become one of my favorite characters, I would have laughed in your face … now I can’t imagine the book without him.

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Back-to-School Reads

Teens around the country are headed back to school, some terrified of a new school, some looking forward to seeing old friends. These books that start on the first day of school will assure you that it could be worse.

Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford (a 2010 Amazing Audiobook)

Carter has big plans for his freshman year of high school. He is going to be the champion of his football team, the most popular guy in school, and a ladies’ man. Unfortunately for Carter a dislike of tackling sweaty guys leaves him on the second string of the football team, and a few offhand comments in the locker room makes him a social outcast, especially with the ladies. Carter’s year isn’t off to a good start, but what he lacks in athleticism he makes up for in acting as he joins the school’s musical.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection)

Rory is ready to start her first year abroad at a London boarding school, but learning the ropes of English culture is harder than she expects — especially after a string of murders has all the students confined to their dorm rooms. When Rory and her roommate sneak out for a bit of fresh air, she sees a mysterious stranger on campus … a stranger no one else can see who might be connected to the deaths around London.

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Art in the Stacks: books for creative teens

Summer means that it is time to delve deeply into your passions and spend a few weeks immersed in your favorite topics at summer camp. As teens flock to soccer camps, language camps, and space camps, here are some books for teens headed to art camps.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (2000 Printz Honor) is about expressing yourself. After ending her 8th grade summer with a traumatic event that’s shrouded in mystery until the final few chapters, Melinda is an outcast at her new high school. Unable to talk openly with her ex-friends and unwilling to talk to her teachers, Melinda’s only way to communicate is through her art class. Melinda’s art reflects her inner emotions: confusion, depression and feeling lost. By the end of 9th grade, Melinda has begun to tell a story with her drawings and sculptures — and then she is finally able to tell her story.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick): Reeling from the loss of her older (and revered) sister Bailey, gifted clarinetist Lennie is trying to hold the pieces of herself together. One piece of her longs for her sister, and in an effort to fill that empty space in her heart, falls in love with her sister’s boyfriend, Toby. Another piece of her, longing to live and to play, is drawn to the charismatic, musical, and optimistic new boy in town, Joe. The book is also filled with Lennie’s beautiful poems that she writes on bubblegum wrappers, scraps of paper, and cereal boxes, leaving a wake of words behind her.

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