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Book Recommendations for Peter Pan Fans

2014 December 5
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Peter PanI happen to be a Peter Pan fan. Who doesn’t want to be young forever and be able to fly? I love J. M. Barrie’s book and like the movie versions too, even though they take liberties with Barrie’s original story.

You may not associate Peter Pan with the holidays but Barrie’s Peter Pan was written first as play in 1904 before it was a book, and pantomime adaptations of the play are still frequently staged around Christmas in the United Kingdom. Maybe that’s why Peter Pan Live! starring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken was shown on television last night. If you missed it, or just can’t wait for the Peter Pan movie with Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard coming out July 17, 2015, I have some read-alikes for you.

I’d read Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s Peter and the Starcatchers (2004) when it first came out but I’d never listened to the audio version narrated by Jim Dale, even though I’d downloaded it last summer as part of SYNC’s free summer audiobook program for young adults that pairs classics with required summer reading books. I’d forgotten how funny it was with all the hilarious characters’ names like Smee (from Barrie’s original book) and other new ones like Slank, Black Stache, Tubby Ted and Mr. Grin (the crocodile). The books in this series might seem a little young but I think they’re classics that can be read and enjoyed at any age.

In Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter, an orphan, is forced to sail from England on the ship Never Land with a group of Peter and the starcatchersother orphans, and while on broad he befriends Molly, a young Starcatcher, who must guard a trunk of magical stardust from a greedy pirate and the native inhabitants of a remote island.

In the sequel, Peter and the Shadow Thieves (2006) Peter and Tinker Bell travel to England to help save the stardust after they discover that Molly and the other Starcatchers are in danger when the sinister being Lord Ombra visits Never Land and appears to be controlling people through their shadows.

read more…

2014 Teens’ Top Ten: An Interview with Leigh Bardugo

2014 December 4
by Anna Tschetter
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The Teens Top Ten winners have been out for a few weeks and I was so pleased to see Leigh Bardugo’s Siege and Storm, the TeensTopTen_logo_websecond book of her New York Times bestselling Grisha trilogy on the list. I’m happy to present a brief interview with Leigh about her work and series in general. If you’re interested in reading the rest of our Teens’ Top Ten interview series, take a look!

Congratulations to Leigh; many thanks for answering these questions and letting me clarify on Twitter! If you’re looking for more about Leigh be sure to check out her website, Tumblr, and Goodreads page.

To me there are distinct classes in the Ravka (peasants, Grisha, royalty) and different kids of Grisha who at first stay within their own group. You have set up the binary of light and dark, Alina and the Darkling, but things blur a bit by end. So how does the blending of Alina and the Darkling, dark/light inform your view of Ravka by the end and your view of our world? Are things really so different from each other?

I do think life would be a lot easier if people, decisions, experiences could be categorized as either purely bad or good, but that’s pretty rare, and I try my best to make sure my fiction reflects that. What’s the point in creating a dictator a reader wouldn’t be tempted to follow? Why should a heroine be immune to greed for power just because her cause is supposedly just? The action of the trilogy takes place during a time of tremendous upheaval and I think it’s natural that you’d see a breakdown in the traditional order of things. But I also think it’s worth noting that, even at the end of the trilogy, Ravka remains pretty stratified in terms of class. It was tempting to just tear down all the walls and shout, “Democracy!” but that wouldn’t have been true to the world I created.

Photo by Kevin Rolly

Photo by Kevin Rolly

You used to be a makeup artist, so how does working with the creation of an image, models, makeup, and perception influence your work as a writer, other than the perhaps obvious character of Genya?

Interesting question. I think teens are keenly aware of the way beauty and image operate as a commodities, and I wanted to deal honestly with that in the story. Genya is definitely the biggest way my work as a makeup artist carried over into my writing—not just in her skillset, but in the way she embodies both beauty’s power and its limitations. That said, Nikolai and the Darkling are also invested in the power of image. They both have a gift for spectacle and are master manipulators—each playing to his own strengths. But Alina learns from their examples and, by the final book in the trilogy, she’s beginning to use her own public image strategically and become a political player in her own right.

read more…

For Those Who Love Serial (And If You Don’t What Are You Waiting For?)

2014 December 4
by Traci Glass
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Serial PodcastHappy December, Hubbers!  I am, unfortunately, sick, but that won’t stop me from bringing you a post on something that I’m pretty excited about, and I know a lot of you are, too.  So, show of hands – who likes the podcast, Serial?  I’m betting a lot of you have your hands raised and wildly waving in the air right now, as do I!  Serial is Apple’s #1 downloaded podcast of the moment and has provided many hours of discussion amongst coworkers, family and friends around the country (even though neither my husband nor any of my coworkers listen to it, so I just have to have these discussions in my head).

For those of you who don’t listen, and I’m serious when I say that you really should, the podcast is an episodic telling of a murder case from 15 years ago.  Adnan Syed was tried and convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, while they were both students at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County.  Sarah Koenig, the narrator and co-creator of Serial, leads listeners on a journey each week through ignored evidence, trial transcripts and interviews with Adnan and others involved to create an engaging, well-told story that has intrigued and captivated readers for 10 episodes so far (episodes are released every Thursday morning, which has made Thursday morning the easiest day for me to get out of bed on time).

Since Serial is so popular with teens and adults alike, I thought I’d make a list of books that might interest someone who is obsessed with Serial.  I’ve included not only murder mysteries, but true crime stories and books where you’re not exactly sure how to feel about the narrator.  I’ve heard that the first season of Serial will be done after 12 episodes, which we are getting mighty close to, so hopefully, this list of books will give those of us addicted to the show a way to get through those Serial-less Thursdays until the new season starts again.  Here we go – let’s start with one of my very favorite books from this year…

We Were Liars by E.Lockhart:  I never knew what to think about Cadence, the narrator and star of E. Lockhart’s unbelievably great and haunting book, We Were Liars.  The story of Cadence and her time with her cousins and great love Gat on her family’s private island off of Cape Cod is a story of love, friendship and the joy of being young.  Then, a terrible accident occurs, and neither readers nor Cadence understand just what happened to make her cousins and Gat desert her in her time of greatest need.  With her memory spotty, her pain tremendous, and her need to know what happened two years ago that made everything change, Cadence tells her story through a series of flashbacks to her magical fifteenth summer to the current day, where she is alone and confused.  E. Lockhart tells an engaging story that will keep readers guessing and on the edge of their seats until the end when all is revealed.  Cadence is a character that readers will feel sorry for, but also never exactly trust as she is the epitome of an unreliable narrator.  You just don’t ever know what’s going to happen in the story, and that’s what’s makes you want to keep reading until the bitter end. read more…

Jukebooks: October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman

2014 December 3
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13530012Matthew Shepard would have turned 38 years old this week.

Matthew’s story has been told many times since the night of October 12, 1998, when he was brutally beaten, tied to a fence, and left for dead. Matthew was killed because he was gay. In her award-winning novel, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, Lesléa Newman explores the tragedy from multiple viewpoints, writing in powerful free verse.

She writes:

two thin white tear tracks
one red swollen blood-caked face
this is someone’s child

Could it happen again? It can, and does, in large and small ways.

In 2013, an Irish musician named Hozier released the song, “Take Me to Church.” The dark, measured tone of the music, combined with Hozier’s sorrowful voice and heart-wrenching lyrics, call to mind the gravity of dangerous love. In creating this 2014 music video, it was Hozier’s suggestion to show two young male lovers. The fear it evokes reminds the viewer of Matthew Shepard, as well as countless unnamed men and women who have been tortured, and even killed, because they are gay.

-Diane Colson, who is currently reading How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon.

2014 Teens’ Top Ten: An Interview with A.G. Howard

2014 December 3
by Katie Shanahan Yu
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TeensTopTen_logo_webThe Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in sixteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Celebrate Teen Literature Day, the Thursday of National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year.

The votes are in for 2014, and the winners have been announced– and we’re featuring them here on The Hub. Today we bring you an interview with A.G. Howard, who is on this year’s Teens’ Top Ten list for Splintered.

Could you describe what your journey has been like from working in a school library to published author? Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?

Before Splintered, I had already written several adult books that I still haven’t submitted to publishers. But it was while working at a middle school library that I was exposed daily to young adult novels. Once I started reading them (the covers were too hard to resist!) I fell in love because they were fueled by emotion and drama, the perfect venue for coming-of-age elements and social issues. What attracted me most to YA, though, was that crossing genres was not only acceptable, but encouraged. There aren’t many formulaic limitations like a lot of adult genres have.  This was perfect for me because my voice and stories often blur the lines between commercial and literary / urban and epic fantasy / horror and gothic romance-not an easy thing to ascribe one genre to. So with YA, I knew I’d found a safe haven to let my imagination run free. :)

As for me “always” knowing if I wanted to be a writer? No. I always liked dabbling in words, and English Lit was my favorite subject, but I’d never written a novel when I was young like a lot of writer’s have. In fact, I didn’t take my writing too seriously until after I’d married, had two children, and lost my grandfather to brain cancer. The night he died, I sat down and wrote a tribute to him and his life. My family read it and it touched them so much they asked that it be part of the eulogy. Once I realized I could connect with people’s emotions through my writing, there was no turning back. I hold my grandfather up as my inspiration, because the end of his journey was to be the beginning of mine.
read more…

2014 Teens’ Top Ten: An Interview with Joelle Charbonneau

2014 December 2
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TeensTopTen_logo_webThe Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in sixteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Celebrate Teen Literature Day, the Thursday of National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year.

The votes are in for 2014, and the winners have been announced — and we’re featuring them here on The Hub. Today we bring you an interview with Joelle Charbonneau, who is on this year’s Teens’ Top Ten list for The Testing (first book of The Testing trilogy). The Testing is also a 2014 Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.

 

Joelle CharbonneauI really loved The Testing and the way that you so vividly described your novel’s dystopian society, main character Cia’s life in it and her experience during the testing process for university student candidates.  I wanted to ask you first about why you chose a dystopian environment to relate your story/themes, and whether there are any aspects of this environment which you see reflected in present-day society?

Thanks for reading The Testing! You have no idea how much I appreciate that. As for choosing the dystopian setting – to be honest, I didn’t set out to write a dystopian book. I teach voice lessons and have helped a lot of my students go through the college admittance process. Because of that, I’ve seen first hand how stressful the process has become and wanted to explore the stress of modern day tests and our society’s expectations for the next generation. However, as much as I wanted to set it in today’s world, I couldn’t find a way to up the stakes of the tests in the way that I wanted. So, I had to look to the future and a time where there is only one university and the expectation that those who attend it will be able to fix what is wrong with the world. That’s when the world of The Testing was born.

While The United Commonwealth and its issues are fictional, there are a great number of things about the world that do reflect our current society, especially in regards to our current education system. In the last fifteen years, our educational system has become very dependent on high stakes testing. So much depends on tests – school funding, teachers’ careers, and our students’ beliefs in their own abilities and futures. These tests were designed to strengthen our education system, but most teachers, parents and students would argue that it has done the opposite. While most would agree that the system needs to be altered, no one seems to know exactly how to make those changes or has the courage to say that the things we’ve been implementing over the past fifteen years are wrong. Cia’s journey in The Testing trilogy deals with those issues and explores what happens when people allow a less than ideal system to stay in place because it on some level appears to be working. read more…

Librarians Love: Coming of Age Stories for Male Readers

2014 December 1
by Gretchen Kolderup
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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
I have a (male) teacher working with a group of Grade 7 and 8 (male students) who for various reasons need reading support but don’t read far below level. In their regular English curriculum they have been doing a lot of dystopian themed works — 1984, Animal Farm etc. — and he was seeking something that is more about overcoming the odds, coming of age, becoming a man, growing into yourself (for want of better words). It can be a short story (he was thinking Hemingway but I’m reluctant to hold him up as the sole emblem of masculine writers), short-ish novels, graphic novels…

Suggested titles
read more…

The Monday Poll: Letter-writing in YA Lit

2014 December 1
by Allison Tran
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monday_pollGood morning, Hub readers!

Last week’s poll invited you to choose your favorite unusual character names in YA lit. The number one pick was My Secret Agent Lover Man from the Weetzie Bat series by Francesca Lia Block, with 35% of the vote, followed by Hallelujah Calhoun from The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes, with 20%. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!

December 7 is Letter Writing Day, so this week, we want to know about your favorite teen read in which letters feature prominently. Also, tell us in the comments: when’s the last time you actually wrote a letter? When’s the last time you received one?

What's your favorite YA book featuring letters?

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (41%, 31 Votes)
  • 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (33%, 25 Votes)
  • Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira (11%, 8 Votes)
  • Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (9%, 7 Votes)
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan (6%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 75

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Lady Lazarus: Sylvia Plath & YA Literature

2014 November 28
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photo by flickr user Todd Mecklem

photo by flickr user Todd Mecklem

So, every year around this time, I reread The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It’s just a habit I’ve had since I was a teenager; it gets to be about time for my birthday, and I suddenly know what book I’ll be reading next. It’s comforting in a way that signals a new year for me and winter’s fast approach. This year, after my yearly reading, I decided to branch out a bit to see how Sylvia Plath has influenced and been incorporated into teen literature.

I had noticed two things over the past year that influenced this decision which surprised me. First one – every year I give away books for our Teen Summer Reading program, and I always have The Bell Jar as a choice. This year, I ran out of copies of that book. That got me thinking, and then what cemented it was an increase in teen patrons asking to check out the book. And, it never being on the shelf – I always had to place a request for interested patrons. I mean, it would have been her 82nd birthday on October 27th – but, not like a major milestone like a 100th birthday like in the case of poet Dylan Thomas. But, I noticed a lot of new books being published on Sylvia that included nonfiction and fiction. Maybe readers are just noticing these new books and wanting to go back to read her seminal work – who knows? All I know is it got me interested enough to want to recommend not only some old favorites that incorporate Sylvia into their story, but some newer titles I think readers might be interested in knowing about.

I’ll lead with the book that started this whole long convoluted journey for me…

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: So, yes – my very favorite book of all time. Originally published under a pseudonym in 1963, The Bell Jar tells the semi-autobiographical tale of Sylvia’s time in New York and beyond, starting with her time as an intern at a very prestigious magazine. Esther Greenwood is having a breakdown – she is questioning her place in the world as a woman, a girlfriend, an intellect, and how all those things feel like weights on her shoulders. Esther brings to life the feelings of confusion, sadness and anger in such a realistic way that I think readers come to see Esther as a friend and someone who might possibly be vocalizing their own real feelings in a way they were unable to do. I’ve had teen readers tell me that in the book they recognized themselves and suddenly the world felt a little less lonely. A story of finding yourself and questioning everything that will certainly appeal to readers who are navigating the tricky waters of personhood.

Belzhar by Meg WolitzerBelzhar by Meg Wolitzer: This is one of the new books I was telling you about! Published just a few months ago, Belzhar tells the story of Jam. Her boyfriend, Reeve, has died and she just can’t cope – the sadness is overwhelming. Her parents decide to send her to The Wooden Barn, a boarding school that helps teens deal with difficult life situations in a way that they can return to their normal lives. What’s interesting about The Wooden Barn is that there is a very special class being offered – Special Topics in English. Doesn’t sound so special, but it is in that the teacher, Mrs. Quenell, specially chooses which students will be in her special topics class. She has chosen 5 students for this year’s class – Mrs. Quenell’s last one – and the special topic they’ll be studying – Sylvia Plath and her writing. All the students are required to write in journals that Mrs. Quenell has given them…and that’s when it turns strange. Jam realizes that when she writes in her journal she travels to a place where Reeve is still alive and she can be with him. But, she has to make a choice – to be with Reeve forever is to leave everything else behind. And, good grief, the big reveal at the end (and there are a couple) made me gasp out loud. An interesting study of Sylvia Plath and the depths of human emotion. read more…

2014 Teens’ Top Ten: An Interview with Emmy Laybourne

2014 November 28
by Jennifer Rummel
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The Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in sixteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Celebrate Teen Literature Day, the Thursday of National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year.

The votes are in for 2014, and the winners have been announced– and we’re featuring them here on The Hub. Today we bring you an interview with Emmy Laybourne, who is on this year’s Teens’ Top Ten list for Monument 14: Sky on Fire.

 

 

How does it feel to be chosen in the Teens Top 10?
It feels absolutely fantastic that Sky On Fire was chosen as a Teens Top 10. It’s one thing to make it onto lists that booksellers put together, and entirely another to be put forward by teens themselves. Plus, check out the other names on the list! Holy smokes! Brandon Sanderson? Rick Yancey? Rainbow “my hero” Rowell?! I’m floored and honored beyond belief!

Do you think acting helped in your writing career?
Absolutely. It helped me to know how to create a character (and when you’re writing a book with fourteen kids trapped in a superstore together – you are juggling a lot of them). Working as an actor also taught me a lot about taking care of myself so that I can do good work. For example, when I’m drafting a book I go to bed early, I eat three square meals a day (with plenty of protein), I get to my office at the same time each day. I treat myself well so that I can produce! read more…