I know, I KNOW. It’s only the middle of August. It doesn’t feel like it’s time to go back to school.
And for lots of districts, it’s not.
But for huge swatches of the South and the Midwest, it’s happening this week or next week. It’s so early, it’s so hot. The kids are so cranky (I would be, too, if I had to go back to school so soon!)
What’s the solution?
Here are some great, recent comics/graphic novels to give to your kids. Throw these up on a display, handsell them, or stealthily slide them across your circ counter. Your tweens will thank you.
Gotham Academy Volume 1 by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl. Do your kids love Batman? This comic is set in a prestigious prep school right in the heart of Gotham. With great supporting characters, secrets, and possibly a ghost, this hits all the superhero buttons. The mysterious Wayne family might even make an appearance…
Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll just came out last week. It’s a bit spooky but not outright scary. Masha needs some adventure so when Baba Yaga advertises for an assistant, she decides to try it out. But she has to be clever and wily enough to earn her place.
Oddly Normal by Otis Frampton – Image Comics just reprinted this with a new cover. It’s INCREDIBLY fun. Oddly is a half-witch and having a mother from Fignation isn’t always a walk in the park. It’s even less fun when her parents disappear and she has to go live in Fignation. She’s the only being in the whole world that’s even remotely human. Hijinks ensue.
I am Princess X by Cherie Priest is actually a novel, but there’s a story-within-a-story here that’s told in comics, and it’s a very cool example of mixed-format storytelling. May’s best friend Libby passed away a few years ago in a really tragic accident, and she’s been lonely ever since. But all of a sudden, she sees Princess X popping up all over Seattle: Princess X was a childhood creation that only Libby and May knew about. As May dives into the world of Princess X and webcomics, she begins to wonder–could Libby be alive?
Enjoy the last part of your summer!
-Ally Watkins, ALSC guest blogger. Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.
Welcome back to our 4-part series highlighting the 24 titles nominated (by teenagers; no grown-up opinions polluting the list!) for this year’s Teens’ Top Ten list. You can find Part 1 here, and Part 2 here, if you missed them earlier. Voting starts this week, on August 15, so encourage the teenagers you know to exercise their right to influence sales, movie deals, and publishing trends by voting here.
Here are the penultimate 6 books nominated for the Teens’ Top Ten list this year:
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson – In this, Matson’s third stand-alone contemporary fiction title, relationships and personal growth share center stage with the unique pleasures of summer’s disrupted routines and subsequent possibilities for change. Matson’s first novel, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, was a 2011 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults pick and a 2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults pick, and her second novel, Second Chance Summer, was a 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, so her work is already well-established. Matson has an author page, and is active on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen – The third and final volume in the bestselling, historical-fantasy Ascendence trilogy. The first title in the series, The False Prince, was a 2013 Teens’ Top Ten book and a 2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults pick. Nielsen has an author page here (currently highlighting the first book in her newest series, The Mark of the Thief), and she’s also on Twitter and Facebook. A movie adaptation of The False Prince is currently underway (it’s still in the scripting phase, so it’ll be awhile still), and rumor (aka The Hollywood Reporter has it that a Game of Thrones story editor is in charge of the adaptation, so this has certainly has the potential to stick around and continue to attract more readers.
Even as busy as library staff can be over the summer months, most still try to squeeze in some time for pleasure reading, and The Hub bloggers are no exception. A few of us have shared what (and where!) we’ve been reading over the last several weeks.
Sharon Rawlins took a reading break with Rachel Hartman’s Shadow Scale, the sequel to 2013 Morris Award winner Seraphina, in front of the famous Maxfield Parrish Dream Garden mural in the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Laura Perenic read The Devil You Know by Trish Doller’s to some goats at Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Todd Deck read I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, the 2015 Printz Award winner, while on a break from paddle boarding on Whiskeytown Lake in California.
Allison Tran spent some time with an advanced reading copy of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo in “the happiest reading place on Earth,” also known as Disneyland. read more…
We constantly hear the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” We try to apply this to ourselves metaphorically when it comes to observing other humans; however this advice is not as applicable in the world of books.
Covers of books are very important because a lot of times they can determine whether or not a reader will pick up the book! And it all depends on which details catch the reader’s eye.
There are many different kinds of book cover designs, and I will elaborate on the kinds that attract me.
- Simple Background vs. Crowded and Crazy
I prefer a simple background that draws more attention to the title of the book, as the title is often the main focal point of a cover that is bland. I like these kinds of covers because they allow me to think for myself what the book is about rather than already hinting at it for me. If a cover is too chaotic, I might just jump to a conclusion of what it is about rather than picking it up and reading the summary on the back. Some of the books below are examples of what I think are simply covered:
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- Central Symbol
Many popular YA dystopian books have a circular symbol or design on the cover. Readers later discover what this symbol means or refers to if they feel drawn enough to pick up the book and find out. I like these kinds of book covers because they are usually pretty simple as well and they are vague enough to let me imagine for myself what the story might be. Here are some of the popular books that have been adapted from page to screen and/or follow the usual recipe for dystopia:
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
The Testing Trilogy by Joelle Charbonneau
- Central Figure
Covers that display a central figure, most of the time the main character of the story, always catch my eye because they are usually depicted in cool profile shots or with interesting outfits or in interesting situations. It is still vague enough to avoid spoiling the story. Below are examples of a few favorites of mine in the types of covers that I just mentioned:
The Selection Trilogy by Kiera Cass
Matched by Ally Condie
The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
“Who Can Turn the World On With Her Smile? Who Can Turn A Nothing Day and Make It All Seem Worthwhile?“ (*I know many of you know this old TV theme song and are singing along, right?)
Did you know that this week is National Smile Week? I think it is promoting being friendly and welcoming towards one another. It’s summer so it makes sense that many of us are happier and smiling – especially if you’re on vacation as you read this.
Since it’s such an optimistic sounding week, I thought I would try to come up with some books that go along with the topic of smiling.
One book that immediately comes to mind is Smile by Raina Telgemeier (2011 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens and 2011 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens). I’ve also seen this on a lot of summer reading lists.
Although this autobiographical graphic novel chronicles Raina’s often painful dental experiences after she accidentally knocked out her front tooth and damaged the one next to it in 6th grade, it does end on a cheerful note and a big smile. The years before that, though, sound very painful as Raina describes in graphic detail (no pun intended) how she underwent numerous dental surgeries, had braces put on several times, had to wear the oh-so stylish headgear at night, as well as a retainer with fake teeth! She is forced to endure all this from sixth grade until she gets her braces off for good in her sophomore year of high school.
Another character you might remember who has braces (and glasses and frizzy hair) is 14-year-old Meg Murray from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, in both the novel and in the graphic novel adaptation illustrated by Hope Larson. Both Raina and Meg learn to stop being so self-critical and to not let their outward appearance affect how they feel on the inside. I can totally relate to both Raina and Meg, because, I too, had to wear braces for years, from 3rd grade until 8th grade (and have had glasses from a young age too). The pain of wearing braces is worth it in the end to have a great smile.
Sooner after Raina’s accident, her dentist tried to put her two damaged front teeth back into place, but they went up even further into her gums instead. She’s horrified and says, “I look like a vampire!!” After more treatment, when her teeth still don’t seem to be responding, Raina fearfully asks, “So am I gonna look like a vampire forever??”
She doesn’t end up looking like a vampire, but teenaged Chris isn’t so lucky in M. T. Anderson’s often graphic novel Thirsty. Chris is having a lot of trouble adjusting to the fact that he appears to be turning into a vampire. He keeps telling himself that he has to, “Keep smiling for another few weeks, until the curse is lifted. Keep smiling, I think, while my teeth are still square.” He’s trying his hardest not to give in to his burgeoning bloodlust. But, it’s almost impossible – and having aching braces just makes it even harder. As his hunger gets the best of him, he gives in and says, “I lower my mouth. My open lips just nuzzle my forearm…..” and then before he knows it, “My braces are just one big loopy tangle.”
I think getting smiled at by Chris might not be such a welcome sight after all.
Good morning, Hub readers!
Last week, we asked which summer vacation from YA lit you’d like to take. Your top pick was a summer in Nantucket as evoked by Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland, with 35% of the vote. This was followed by a trip to the lake as depicted in This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, with 21% of the vote. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted and commented last week!
This week, we want your opinion on assigned summer reading. This time of year, librarians get approached by lots of teens looking for the same-old, same-old classics the librarian was assigned to read when they were in high school. We all know the classics are important- and often even enjoyable!- but it’s refreshing to see a YA lit title on these assigned reading lists now and then, isn’t it? So, readers, let’s say you could assign a YA lit title for high school summer reading, and didn’t have to worry about answering to the PTA or school administration (dreaming big here!). You want to make your students think deeply, and you want them to engage with the material, too, and really enjoy what they’re reading. What would you assign? Choose from the list below, or leave your suggestions in the comments.
The 2015 Hub Reading Challenge ended earlier this summer and all finishers have been contacted, so I’m here to announce the winner and officially wrap things up!
I’m pleased to announce our randomly selected grand prize winner, Paige R., who will receive a package chock-full of YA books courtesy of YALSA. Congratulations, Paige! Thanks for participating, and we hope you enjoy the books!
This year, we were just shy of 200 participants in the Reading Challenge, with 68 finishers– that’s a higher percentage of finishers compared to last year. Kudos to all of you who took the challenge, and extra kudos to our finishers!
A few facts about our 68 fantastic finishers:
- 30 of them were first-time participants.
- There were 59 librarians, 4 teachers, and 5 YA lit fans who didn’t identify as either a teacher or librarian.
- Every title on the Reading Challenge list was read by at least one finisher, and there was a three-way tie for the most widely-read book! 49 of our finishers read This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, and Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona.
- Going by list rather than by invidual title, the Printz books were the most widely read, followed by the Morris books and then Quick Picks.
Thanks again to everyone who participated and made this year’s challenge so much fun! We hope you’ll join us for future reading challenges right here on The Hub!
-Allison Tran, currently listening to The Young Elites, written by Marie Lu and narrated by Carla Corvo and Lannon Killea
I am a slow reader. I’ve never had any trouble with reading, I just take longer than many to finish books. Most of the time, this doesn’t matter, but it does mean I have more trouble than other librarians at keeping up with the latest book trends. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in The Hub Reading Challenge earlier this year, but I didn’t complete it. I’m usually the one to hear about a cool new book rather than recommend it.
But I’ve decided I don’t mind being a slow reader. I still want to stay on top of recommending books to my patrons, though, so here are some tricks for those other slow readers out there:
- Read reviews instead. It’s hard to make myself read reviews regularly (after all, that’s more time that I’m not reading books), but a book review is a lot shorter than a book, and a good book review will give you enough of the book’s flavor to know who it might be a good match for. Reviews can come from journals (School Library Journal, Booklist), blogs (The Hub, of course, but there are tons out there), or fellow readers.
- Use selection lists and awards. YALSA’s extensive book awards and lists are a mine of good YA book suggestions. While I might not be able to make a recommendation for a specific reader just from inclusion on an award list, I do know that if I’m going to take the time to read a full book, the ones listed here are worth my time.
- Get the patrons (if you are a librarian) to recommend books to you. I might not like every book a patron recommends to me, but I do enjoy many of them. And those that don’t turn out to be a perfect fit for me give me a better picture of what to recommend for that patron.
- Put a book down if you aren’t enjoying it. This is hard for me. I like to finish books I start, so I’ve started being more selective in which books I’ll pick up to read. But I have also slowly started to abandon books that I’m really not enjoying. Life is too short, right?
Most importantly, remember that life is not a book-reading competition. If you read regularly and enjoy the books you read, then you are just as much a reader as someone who’s “completed” stack is twice as high.
-Libby Gorman, currently reading Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall
Steampunk continues to be a popular genre with its combination of fantastical steam-based technology, elements of science fiction, and alternate history. With all of these elements, it is a style that can appeal to fans of a wide array of genres. It is also well suited to the graphic novel format since imaginative design is such a core component of these stories. Whether you are already a fan of steampunk or haven’t yet given it a try, these books are fun reads that will pull you into fascinating worlds.
The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare and HyeKyung Baek – Fans of Cassandra Clare’s works will be excited to know that the prequels to her Mortal Instruments stories have been adapted for the graphic novel format. The series is set in Victorian England as many steampunk stories are, but in a somewhat less common twist, follows a sixteen year old girl from America who finds herself alone in the city. As she discovers the world of shadowhunters, the book has a chance to come into its own with artwork that brings to life every piece of the secretive world that Clare imagined. This is a must read for fans of the Mortal Instruments series, but will also appeal to a wider audience.
Happy August (Can you believe it’s August already – where did the summer go?). Here are a few things you might have missed this week. And if you need a laugh, check out the tweets under