It’s summertime! And if you’re anything like me, that means finding a spot to curl up with a cool breeze, a tall glass of something iced, and a stack of good books. Now, I don’t always match my reading to the season, but sometimes I like my books to feel like an extension of the atmosphere I’m experiencing, rather than an escape from it. Especially if I’m lucky enough to be on vacation (or happily anticipating one); sometimes I want to read all about other people having the same disruption to routine that vacations bring, living outside of their regular schedules. And sometimes, y’know, I just want to savor the season as much as possible: sun, sand, water, just-picked fruits and veggies – celebrate the many incarnations of a summer vacation with the following vacation-themed reading.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Destination: Private island estate
This is the book that prompted the whole list of summer destination-themed titles; I devoured it in a single sitting (with a pitcher of iced tea, natch) and upon finishing was, a) blown away by the plotting – avoid spoilers!- and b) immediately ready for absolutely everything in my life to be summer-themed, because the setting was so deliciously drawn. Cady, our protagonist, is returning to her family’s summer retreat on a private island after spending the last two years away. She is suffering from excruciating migraines and trying to reclaim the easy, uncomplicated rhythms of the vacations she shared with her cousins in summers past, but she’s hindered by memory loss. As the incomplete flashbacks of previous years on the island draw the mystery closer to the dormant truth, the pages go by faster and faster until the truly shocking finale.
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Destination: Lakeside cottage
This is the first collaboration between cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki since 2008’s much-lauded Skim (a personal favorite and a 2009 Best Books for Young Adults top ten selection), and like that nuanced, thoughtful graphic novel, this nuanced, thoughtful graphic novel is equally beautiful, with pitch-perfect dialogue and a subdued palette awash in blues and purples. The fully-realized characters are visibly bubbling over with complex, rich emotions, their relationships displayed with all the hesitations and missteps of real life. The gorgeously rendered scenes are alive with all the details of small beach town life; the magnificence of plunging into the water on a warm day, the lazy delights of an afternoon indoors after too much sun, the importance of marshmallows at a bonfire. I swear I could hear the gulls while I read. read more…
One of best programs I attended at the recent ALA Annual Conference in Vegas was the very popular session on Monday afternoon presented by Jennie Rothschild and Angela Frederick called Stranger Than Fiction: Reader’s Advisory for Nonfiction.
It seems like everyone’s talking about nonfiction these days because of the emphasis on the Common Core. Rothschild and Frederick suggested a large number of interesting and appealing nonfiction titles for teens, many from YALSA’s award and selection lists like the Alex Award, Excellence in Nonfiction Award, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, and Outstanding Books for the College Bound. They also had a lot of suggestions for great nonfiction read-alikes for popular fiction titles.
The books they recommended are notable for their interesting subject areas that can be read for pleasure, not just for assignments; have appealing layout/style or design, and, despite that so many are published for adults, still have great teen appeal. Rothschild noted that since there isn’t a lot of teen nonfiction published compared to children’s and adult, teens are used to reading up or down. Many of the nonfiction titles are notable for their narrative style that reads like fiction and the fact that they complement so many popular fiction books.
Here are some of the highlights:
Subject read-alikes for Bomb: The Race to Build –And Steal –The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (YALSA 2013 Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, 2013 Sibert Award Winner, 2013 Newbery Honor Winner; National-book-award-finalist for Young People’s Literature):
- The Ultimate Weapon: The Race to Develop the Atomic Bomb by Edward T. Sullivan (YA)
- Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm, graphic novel (adults and older teens)
- The Radioactive Boy Scout by Ken Silverstein (adult)
- The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Keiran (adult)
- The President Has Been Shot by James L. Swanson (YA)
- Lincoln’s Last Days by Bill O’Reilly & Jon Zimmerman (YA adaption from adult book)
- Ghosts in the Fog by Samantha Sieple (Middle Grade)
- The Notorious Benedict Arnold: a True Story of Adventure, Heroism and Treachery by Steve Sheinkin (YALSA 2012 Award for Excellence in Nonfiction and YALSA’s 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound (OBCB)
Today is Bastille Day – a French holiday commemorating the beginning of the French Revolution in the late eighteenth century. On this date in 1789, crowds stormed a prison known as the Bastille, broke it open, and released the prisoners inside. Since the prison was symbolic of the powers of the king, its fall marked the beginning of the revolution, and the downfall of the monarchy.
If you are interested in viewing this part of French history through fiction, or if you are simply a Francophile and enjoy any stories set in “Marianne,” there are many wonderful books to choose from. Grab a café au lait and a croissant, get comfortable, and consider any of these half dozen titles to get you started.
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (2011 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)
Andi is a modern day New York teen, forced to spend her winter break in Paris with her father. She’s angry at the world after the death of her little brother, and nothing seems to be able to get her to care about anything. While in Paris, Andi finds a journal belonging to a young actress named Alexandrine and finds comfort in its words. Alexandrine won’t mind her privacy being invaded – she lived more than 200 years ago, during the French Revolution. As Andi reads about Alexandrine’s struggles, she feels herself growing closer to the actress until one night, their two personalities seem to merge. Has Andi traveled through time?
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Allyson is at the end of her three week, post-graduation trip in Europe. She’s a meticulous, careful, thoughtful person and her trip has been the same – well planned, not a detail left to chance. When she meets Willem, a lively, itinerant actor, and he invites her to spend a day with him in Paris, she should say no. This is not on her itinerary! But Allyson says yes, and has an amazing 24 hour adventure with Willem in the City of Lights; romantic, risky, fun, exciting, and challenging. Maybe breaking out of her careful plans is the best thing that could happen to her.
The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner
An unusual group of people band together during the French Revolution. Yann, a young, gypsy orphan works for a magician, along with Tetu, a dwarf who is Yann’s guardian. When the magician is murdered, and Yann’s life is threatened, Tetu and Yann should flee France. But the Revolution is beginning, and a lovely young noble woman to whom Yann is attached, Sido, is in danger, precluding his escape from the Terror.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
A fun love-story that includes wonderful descriptions of the City Of Lights and life within it. Anna is very upset at her father for sending her to a Parisian boarding school for her senior year. But after she meets the charming Etienne, she thinks life in Paris might not be so bad after all. It’s a pity Etienne has a girlfriend… read more…
Good morning, Hub readers!
Last week, we asked about your favorite summer romance in YA lit. 32% of you chose The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, 23% are partial to Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, and 20% are swooning over This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. 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’re sticking with the summer theme, but taking our questions to the great outdoors. There are lots of amazing summer camps depicted in YA lit. Which one would you pack your bags for? Vote in the poll below or add your choice in the comments!
What fictional summer camp are you hitting this year?
- Camp Half-Blood (Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan) (66%, 39 Votes)
- Wildewood Academy for the Performing Arts Summer Institute (Dramarama by E. Lockhart) (12%, 7 Votes)
- Space Camp (Dangerous by Shannon Hale) (10%, 6 Votes)
- White Pines (Summer State of Mind by Jen Calonita) (7%, 4 Votes)
- Siegel Institute (Empress of the World by Sara Ryan) (3%, 2 Votes)
- Camp Fusion (Windchaser by Krissi Dallas) (2%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 59
The seventh annual Odyssey award presentation was held at the ALA Annual Conference on Monday, June 30, 2014.
The Odyssey Awards are the awards for the best audiobook of the year produced for children and/or teens in English and available in the United States. It is a joint award presented by ALSC and YALSA.
The room was packed full of librarians and audiobook fans. It was definitely exciting to see all the honorees that were able to make the presentation of awards. Here is a slightly blurry photo of the awards winners that were present:
From left to right:
- Booklist consultant, Rebecca Vnuk
- 2014 Odyssey Chair, Ellen Rix Spring
- Daniel Kraus (author of Scowler, 2014 Odyssey Winner)
- Timothy Federle (author/narrator of Better Nate Than Never, 2014 Odyssey Honor Audiobook)
- Kirby Heyborne (narrator of Scowler, 2014 Odyssey Winner)
- Kelly Gildea (producer of Scowler, 2014 Odyssey Winner)
- Sunil Malhotra (narrator of Eleanor & Park, 2014 Odyssey Honor Audiobook)
- Rebecca Lowman (narrator of Eleanor & Park, 2014 Odyssey Honor Audiobook) read more…
Greetings, Hub readers! I have slowly been coming down from the high that was attending my very first ALA Annual Conference! Luckily, there have been some super fun tweets that I’ve been enjoying this past week! Get ready for some Sarah Dessen bookshelf love, some awesome comics news and don’t worry – I’ll work some Batman in there for you, too! And, new Harry Potter, too?! Yowza!
- @eonline: J.K. Rowling publishes a new #HarryPotter story! Brb, canceling all our plans: http://eonli.ne/1rMQLCC
- @jayasherguy: Off & on since 2008, going from children’s hardcover to paperback to new YA list, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY is today a NYT bestseller for 3.5yrs!
- @tashrow: Mary E. Pearson on The Kiss of Deception & Writing YA Books| Lisa Parkin | http://buff.ly/1zpZAoa #yalit
- @TiffanyE: I’ve actually read 7 of these, but: 15 YA Books You’ve *Probably* Never Read – But Should! from @buzzfeed http://www.buzzfeed.com/sydpres/15-ya-books-that-youve-probably-never-read-but-t-r1ey?s=mobile …
- @sarahdessen: RT @penguindanielle All my @sarahdessen books in release order. One of my favorite authors #sarahdessen
Young adult and adult novels make it to the big (and little) screen fairly often these days. So, just how smug should you feel when you have already read the book? There is no easy answer – so to tackle this issue I have broken down the movie/show tie-ins into categories.
The Book Series Made into a Show
You can feel superior, but do tread lightly as you enter this murky zone. When translating a series of novels into a series of shows major plot elements are likely to be changed to allow for the continuity of the show. Examples of the book series made into a show include Pretty Little Liars (based on the series by Sara Shepard), Gossip Girl (based on the series by Cecily Von Ziegesar; a 2003 Quick Pick & 2009 Popular Paperback for Young Adults), The Walking Dead (based on the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn and Tony Moore), and Game of Thrones (Based on the “Song of Fire and Ice” books by George R.R. Martin.)
- Pros of pre-reading the book series made into a show:
1) You read the books, you loved them…you watch the show and get more! You can translate your book reading experience into an on-going show and keep the story alive after the series is over and/or whilst you await (impatiently) for the next book.
2) Deviations from the book make for some fun and unexpected surprises. You thought you knew all there was to know about white walkers in George RR Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series… but after watching the HBO show– what?!
- Cons of pre-reading the book series made into a show:
1) Deviations from the book make for some shocking unexpected surprises. Yes, this is both a pro and a con. These changes may call into question your precognitive skills. For example AMC’s Walking Dead’s many plot changes as compared to the graphic novel series.
- Bragging rights earned from pre-reading the book series made into a show:
Monday morning talk when there was a Sunday night cliffhanger: does <insert character name> die? Then they look your way: do you know? Oh, yeah. read more…
The Margaret A. Edwards Award, sponsored by School Library Journal, is presented annually to an author whose works are deemed ”a significant and long lasting contribution to young adult literature.” Previous winners include Lois Lowry (2007), Chris Crutcher (2000) and Gary Paulsen (1997). On June 28th, at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, YALSA presented the 2014 Margaret A. Edwards Award to Markus Zusak specifically for his novels The Book Thief, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Getting the Girl, and I Am the Messenger.
I was really excited about this year’s presentation for two reasons: 1. I Am the Messenger is one of the best books I have ever read and 2. the ceremony was being held on my birthday. There was also an extra added bonus- I’m a native Las Vegan, so I didn’t have to travel to ALA this year. Instead, it came to me!
The Edwards Award ceremony was a brunch this year instead of the traditional lunch, which appealed to me because I’m a big fan of breakfast at any time. When I arrived at the Las Vegas Hotel there were already people in line waiting to get in and the ballroom was all set up and ready for us. In addition to coffee, quiche and other sundries attendees also received copies of two of Markus Zusak’s books. The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger, and reading group guides for both books. Attendees eagerly anticipated the presentation of the award and the acceptance speech and chatted throughout brunch until the presentation started.
For those of you who may not know, Markus Zusak hails from Sydney, Australia, so he came from the other side of the world to accept this award (and he has a lovely accent.) He listed Chris Crutcher, Gary Paulsen and Lois Lowry as heroes, and expressed some awe at being given an award that they had all previously won. After putting aside his speech and telling us he was going to keep it for reference, he told us that his writing career started in the backyard where he grew up, and shared some of the hijinks he and his siblings would get into, including setting up a tennis court in the house, boxing with one glove, and finding new ways of getting his mother to swear, like ruining her garden playing football (or soccer, for those of us who live here in the U.S.), because when she swore in her non-Australian accent it was hilarious. read more…
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers is one of the most powerful, gut-wrenching novels on war ever written for a young adult audience. Since its publication in 1988, readers have vicariously lived the harrowing experiences of Richie, a bookish high school graduate from Harlem, in the jungles of Vietnam. The story portrays not only the dangers of deadly warfare in a foreign environment but also the incompetence and racism of commanders. It has been challenged many times because of its realistic use of language and violence.
There are many great protest songs from the Vietnam Era, but the one I chose to accompany Fallen Angels is “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The lyrics speak for the thousands of young men who, like Richie, were thrust into this nightmarish war.
Yeah, some folks inherit star spangled eyes
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord
And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
Oh, they only answer, more, more, more, oh
Twenty years later, Myers returns to war with Sunrise Over Fallujah, which follows Richie’s nephew, “Birdy’, through his service during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Birdy’s unit is part of the Civilian Affairs team, charged with helping people living in a war zone. Working closely with Iraqis is both dangerous and enlightening, as Birdy struggles to understand how they are meant to help. Again, Myers does not shy away from the harsh realities of IEDs, tribal warfare, and rape. Like its predecessor a generation earlier, Sunrise Over Fallujah also faced many challenges over content.
In the book, Birdy’s closest friend is Jonesy, a blues guitarist with the ambition of opening a blues club after the war. Jonesy’s outlook on the world is filtered through his immersion in the blues, as when he says about Saddam Hussein: “…Saddam got a tune in his head and he wants to play it real bad. And when it don’t go right he just play it louder. A lot of dudes do that. They call it music, but it could just be war.” (p15) read more…