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Batgirl of Burnside: A New Take on an Old Favorite

2014 October 13
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Batgirl #35Batgirl is my favorite superhero. Not just any Batgirl, though: Barbara Gordon is my hero. She is smart, strong, and an information professional! She has been portrayed as a librarian, an information broker for other heroes, and, in younger versions, as a tech-savvy student.

Barbara “Babs” Gordon first appeared as Batgirl in 1967, six years after the first ever appearance of a Batgirl. Most often, Babs is the daughter of Commissioner Gordon and works as part of the Bat-family alongside Batman and Dick Grayson’s Robin; however, there are variations to this in the many portrayals of her.

Batgirl has always presented as a strong female character, fighting with male heroes as an equal. She served as an important figure in conversations regarding female representation in comics after she was sexually assaulted and paralyzed during a violent attack in Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke. As this event became part of the canon, the now wheelchair-bound Barbara Gordon once again gave voice to an under-represented population in comics when she left behind her Batgirl cowl and became Oracle, an information broker who supports superheros fighting on the streets.

In 2011, the DC Universe went through a reboot of sorts with the New 52. Under Gail Simone, who had been writing Barbara Gordon as Oracle, this relaunch saw Babs going through rehabilitation, regaining the use of her legs, and heading back out to kick some baddies’ behinds as Batgirl, once again. read more…

The Hashtag that can Change the (Literary) World

2014 October 13
by Guest Blogger
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October 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. Here’s Amy Yoelin from Colorado.

Earlier this year, during the time that BookCon was being held, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, and noticed a similar hashtag among the authors, publishers, and booksellers I follow: #WeNeedDiverseBooks. These four words capture what has been absent from current and previously published novels of all genres, but especially those pertaining to young adult and children’s fiction.

So why discuss the topic now? For BookCon, they hold the prized panel of “Blockbuster Reads,” which includes the promotion of many buzzed about authors. For example, 2014’s “Blockbuster Reads” panel featured Rick Riordan, James Patterson, Lemony Snicket, and Jeff Kinney. What do these four authors have in common? Besides being male, they are all Caucasian.

Angered by this line-up, lead curator of #WeNeedDiverseBooks Ellen Oh joined forces with twenty-two members of the publishing industry, both official and nonofficial, to do something about this. Hence, the movement #WeNeedDiverseBooks was born and bred. read more…

The Monday Poll: YA Lit Parents Who Deserve Their Own Books

2014 October 13
by Allison Tran
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monday_pollGood morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we asked you to choose your favorite football-themed YA title, and your top pick was Crossing Lines by Paul Volponi, with 35% of the vote, and Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock was a close second with 32%. 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 want to know which parents in YA lit you think deserve their own book. After all, mother knows best. Who would you want to read about? Vote in the poll below, or add your choice in the comments!

Which parents from YA lit would you want to read about?

  • The Weasleys (Harry Potter by J.K Rowling) (50%, 71 Votes)
  • Natalie Prior (Divergent by Veronica Roth) (20%, 28 Votes)
  • Ari and Dante’s parents (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (9%, 13 Votes)
  • Jocelyn Fairchild (Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare) (8%, 12 Votes)
  • Lola’s dads, Andy & Nathan (Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins) (8%, 11 Votes)
  • Luke Garroway (Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare) (4%, 6 Votes)
  • Maisie Danger Brown’s parents (Dangerous by Shannon Hale) (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 142

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Assigned Reading: It’s Okay to Love the Enemy

2014 October 12
by Guest Blogger
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October 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. Today’s post is by Thien-Kim Hoang from California.

glass_menagerieThe other day, while I was looking at the recent #BookChallenge trend on Facebook, where users post a list of their top 10 favorite books, I noticed a comment written by someone who refused to participate. It was something along the lines of “Sorry, not doing this, school has completely deprived me of the ability to enjoy reading anymore.”

Given, this isn’t a particularly uncommon sentiment. But if you think about it, isn’t it a little bit ironic, since that’s the exact opposite of what school is supposed to do—which is to fuel your enjoyment of reading? So that you may learn to Appreciate Literature and become a Productive Member of Society?!

I’ve always wondered how assigned books affect us. Often, we curse them for wasting our time, yet reread them years later. In an article for The Big Read, BBC estimates that out of 100 significant and beloved novels, most people have read approximately six. That number would probably be much lower if schools didn’t assign classics, but whether or not we liked and remembered these books is a whole different topic.

While the idea of being told to do something is not very appealing, if there’s reading involved, it can still result in happy consequences. If I hadn’t been forced to read The Glass Menagerie, I wouldn’t have known that I liked plays, particularly Tennessee Williams plays. Sometimes I’m glad that it was assigned, because there’s no way I would have picked up something that boring-looking in my free time. If I hadn’t, though, I probably wouldn’t have read A Streetcar Named Desire, which has become one of my favorite stories from any kind of fiction.

It’s likely that many of us wouldn’t have found our most beloved tales if we hadn’t been forced to read them first. School-assigned books are often a favorite to complain about (has anyone actually picked up a copy of Les Misérables with one hand?), but they also sometimes turn out to be newfound treasures that we carry throughout our lives. Inevitably, though, we will still have to tread through books we hate, but at least it sharpens our lifelong reading skills so that we can go through the dystopian romance novels a little faster. read more…

Tweets of the Week: October 10th

2014 October 10
by Katie Shanahan Yu
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Happy October Hubbers!! Check out what happened this week in the Twitterverse.

tweets of the week | the hub

Books

read more…

Book to Movie: Soundtracks that Rock

2014 October 10
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teen_blogging_contest_winner

October 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. Here’s Dessi Gomez from California.

fault in our stars the giver if i stayMovie soundtracks can potentially make or break a movie. It’s great when they complement the movie, and they are even more poignant when they connect to the book off of which the movie is based. I compared the soundtracks of three popular books that have been recently transformed into movies: The Giver by Lois Lowry, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. These soundtracks chosen to help tell each of these stories have different tones that create unique vibes for each and every reader and viewer. The Giver is suspenseful and liberating. If I Stay is indie and quietly heartbreaking. The Fault in Our Stars is modern and mainstream. I wanted to talk about four songs from each soundtrack that I personally think really topped off the movie. [Note: time stamps for specific lyrical references are given at the end of some descriptions.]

fault-our-stars-movie-posterThe Fault in Our Stars

  • “All of These Stars” by Ed Sheeran

This song does a fine job of closing up the movie as the credits song. I thought of the title of the story when I heard the words, “I saw a shooting star and I thought of you.” Many of the songs in the soundtrack contain references to the stars. The lyric “I can see the stars from America/Amsterdam” connects the two countries in which Hazel and Augustus spend time together. The combination of “the way our horizons meet” and “skyline splits in two” speaks of how Hazel and Augustus are meant to be together, but are cruelly torn apart. “I looked across and fell in love” reminds me of how Augustus couldn’t take his eyes off of Hazel once he saw her in support group.  [Times: beginning-1:37; 2:17-2:35; 3:15 to end]

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Your Guide to the Literary References of Doctor Who

2014 October 10
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doctor_who_logoI’m a pretty big (although admittedly fairly recent) Doctor Who fan. My TARDIS “Bigger on the Inside” poster has pride of place by my desk at work and my Christmas tree will boast a Dalek and a sonic screwdriver. But some of the dialogue flies past me on the first viewing of each episode (perhaps the phrase “first viewing” gives a fuller sense of my devotion to the show).

I love that the writing is so fast and furious that I have to work to keep up, and I love being able to uncover new jokes and references when I watch again. And one of my very favorite things is when the Doctor makes a literary joke (or, better still, has an entire episode crafted around a literary reference). I mean, come on, how disappointing would it be to have a Timelord with all of time and space at his disposal who wasn’t really, really well read?!

So: what to read to get the Doctor’s best literary jokes so far? Here’s a list to start with:

 A_Christmas_CarolA Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - Doctor Who is a British icon and so is Dickens. Doctor Who Christmas specials have become a bit of a recent holiday tradition (at least in my house), and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is arguably the best-known British holiday story ever; Dickens and the Doctor are a great match, and the show has done both a straight-up Whovian adaptation (titled, helpfully, “A Christmas Carol”), and an episode featuring Charles Dickens, “The Unquiet Dead.” Of the two, I prefer the latter, because the writing is rife with moments where we get to witness the Doctor and Rose influencing future classic literature while also imagining what Dickens might have been like in person. Plus, I like the 9th Doctor a lot.

Shakespeare (all of it) -  The episode written to make lit geeks giggle, “The Shakespeare Code” is so chock-full of great quips and allusions to the Bard’s work I’m still finding new jokes a few years later. Start with the sonnets, then work through the comedies (but make sure to hit Hamlet as well). Extra fun = watching the Doctor coin some of Shakespeare’s most famous lines.  read more…

Librarians Love: Books by Non-US Authors

2014 October 9
by Gretchen Kolderup
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by Flickr user Kenneth Lu

by Flickr user Kenneth Lu

YALSA-bk is a listserv with lively discussions among librarians, educators, and beyond about all things YA lit. Sometimes one listserv member will ask for help finding books around a certain theme or readalikes for a particular title. This post is a compilation of responses for one such request.

The original request
Does anyone have some suggestions of teen lit by foreign authors? I’m looking for modern authors, with less emphasis on European countries (although, I would still like to hear your European suggestions if you really like the book). Trying to build some diversity here!

Suggested titles
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One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Andrew Smith

2014 October 9
by Julie Bartel
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Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.

My mind is still reeling from Grasshopper Jungle (which I read weeks and weeks ago…will its hold on me ever wane I wonder?) so I want to take a moment to talk about some of the disparate thoughts that have connected themselves in my head.

When I think about Andrew Smith, I think about the guys who hung out in the library at the private Catholic school where I was librarian before my daughter was born: my TA, the members of the anime club, the boys who ate lunch in my office and talked about books and video games with me.  I wish so much that I had been able to give them Winger or The Marbury Lens or 100 Sideways Miles then, at that time, because those books…they would have loved those books.  (Luckily, social media keeps us all in touch and it doesn’t matter that they’re all in college now because they’re awesome and we still talk about books.)  I think about my friend Walter and how I pushed other books aside to read Grasshopper Jungle because he raved about it and because I trust his judgement implicitly, and how his wise comments about books offer more than just literary insight, and how he gave me by far the best parenting advice I ever received.  Thinking about my daughter and Walter’s advice and my hopes for her future brings to mind a man, someone connected to the school, who changed the course of my life, and how much I wish I could sit him down with Grasshopper Jungle and A.S. King’s Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, and ask him to reevaluate.  That’s another connection; I read those two books back to back and they are inextricably linked in my brain now and I doubt I’ll ever recover (at least I hope not!)

And more than anything, thinking about Andrew Smith and his books–all his books–makes me think about my brother, who grew up with seven sisters, and our fascinating, infuriating, wonderful, complicated conversations about representation and cultural expectations.  My brother is so awesome.  And you know what else is awesome?  That a book about identity and history and connections and giant insects who eat people’s heads can tease out so many essential connections, creating a through-line that feels genuine and illuminating to me.  And that’s just one book.

Thank you so much Andrew, for writing honest books and giving honest answers.  Reading them was (and is) a very good idea.

Always Something There to Remind Me

andrew smithPlease describe your teenage self.

As a teen, I was pretty much a loner. I had a few close friends, I suppose, but being so much younger than my classmates in high school was a social obstacle that was difficult to overcome. I read a lot, but came into reading later in high school. And I wrote all the time.

What did you want to be when you grew up?  Why?

I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I still don’t know if I can say why. It was just something that I felt like I had to do. Jobs and employment—a means of simply making money—never really mattered to me at all, and I never once thought I would make a job out of writing until I was challenged by a friend into giving it a go.

What were your high school years like?

I attended high school in Southern California. I also played soccer when I was in high school (don’t hold that against me). I will say that I don’t really have any significant or inspiring adult influences in my background, but one time when I wrote a short story for an English teacher, she gave me an F on it because she said there was no way that a kid my age could ever write a story like that, so, therefore it must have been plagiarized. That made an impact on me. Also, I still remember the story. Oh boy! It was terrible!

What were some of your passions during that time?

Well, like I said, I played soccer and tennis when I was in high school. I also did track and field one year for my father, who was a track coach. I hated track. My dad forced me to do it. I had a brother who was quite older than I was, so I grew up listening to bands like the Who, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and the Doors. And, as far as reading tastes went, when I had money to spend on books, I would buy the thickest paperbacks I could get my hands on because I wanted to get as many pages for my money as possible. So I actually did read Moby Dick, and books like Jude the Obscure and The Idiot when I was a teen. read more…

Life, Love, and the Young Adult Novel

2014 October 9
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teen_blogging_contest_winner

October 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. Here’s Ryan Goodlett from Kentucky.

PaperTownsCover

Do you ever look back at your life and remember it in segments defined by the relationship you were in at that time? For me, it would be like “the Hayden* phase” or “the Elliott phase” and then “pre-Weston” and now currently “the Weston phase.” (Although I’m one billion times sure I’m gonna marry this one… we’re going on 10 months strong). This is my longest relationship, and I’ve never felt better. I strut through those cold high school hallways like it’s my red carpet, seeing everything through new eyes. I like to think I am very independent. I’m fine on my own or trying to fix the broken, and I won’t be with someone just because I think it’s “the thing to do.” But I didn’t realize that trying to fix the broken can be very painful; after all, broken things have sharp edges.

I met Weston in the midst of my endeavor to repair, and was already covered in cuts, waist-deep in someone else’s pain. I mean, I’ve read so many books about teenage love, where one character goes to the ends of the Earth for another, but the other character will just never be satisfied, but I could not recognize this in my own life.

Most recently, I witnessed this scenario unfold while curled up with John Green’s Paper Towns, an exhilarating mystery/romance novel which features Quentin Jacobson and Margo Roth Spiegelman of Orlando, Florida. As I tapped into Quentin’s thoughts and feelings about Margo, and learned of all the crazy things she did, I found myself feeling so very sorry for Quentin because it was so obvious that Margo Roth Spiegelman was not quite on the same planet (or at least had a very different view of the planet) as him. Such a simple yet intricate storyline, I could compare this story metaphorically to not only my own, but to the stories of many others I knew. Young love, the loss of love and the search for love are all captured beautifully in this novel, giving readers plenty of reason to both laugh and cry. read more…