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Tag: Allan Wolf

Booklist: Fiction and Nonfiction for Teen Poets and Writers

In 1996, the Academy of American Poets established April as National Poetry Month to encourage the reading of poetry and increase awareness of American poetry.  It is a great time to support and inspire the teen writers and poets who frequent your library!  Below is a sampling of fiction and nonfiction books to help you do just that.

YA Fiction Featuring Teen Writers

Words and Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

Ever since her beloved Uncle Joe died, aspiring writer Anna has lost her muse.  This poignant debut novel follows Anna through her grief journey as she struggles to rediscover her passion for writing and cope with the knowledge that she may not have known her uncle as well as she thought.

Gabi: A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (2015 Morris Award Winner, Best Fiction for Young Adults, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers Top Ten)

In this novel in journal format, Gabi explores her feelings about her friend’s pregnancy, finds her voice in poetry, and works on her school’s zine.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

During November of her senior year, Darcy wrote a novel for National Novel Writing Month that was picked up by a major publisher.  In this unique book, chapters from Darcy’s novel alternate with her adventures in New York as she foregoes her first year of college to dedicate herself to the publication process.

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2015 Amazing Audiobooks Top Ten Listen-a-Likes

Photo by Flickr User jeff_golden
Photo by Flickr User jeff_golden

This past year I had the immense pleasure to serve as chair for the 2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee. It was a really great year for audiobooks and my committee was fortunate to consider a total of 395 audiobooks for our selection list!  After hours and hours of listening, we had to whittle down a list of no more than 30 selections that were the year’s best.  If you have not yet had a chance to checkout our list you can see it here.  It was released last week, after the Midwinter Conference.

We also had the even more difficult task of selecting our Top Ten Audiobooks of the year. Below are our Top Ten titles for 2015, along with a suggested listen-a-like, in case you are ahead of the game and have already listened to these Top Ten selections.

2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults Top Ten

  • ACID by Emma Pass, read by Fiona Hardingham with Nicholas Guy Smith and Suzan Crowley. Listening Library, 2014. 10 hours, 48 minutes; 9 discs. 978-0-8041-6832-8.

The brutal police state ACID rules all, so when Jenna is broken out of prison by a rebel group she has to fight to survive as ACID’s most-wanted fugitive.  Unique ACID reports and recordings read by Smith and Hardingham’s excellent pace combine with her authentic teen voice to highlight this exciting story.


The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Steve West and Fiona Hardingham: For those listeners who are looking for another title narrated by Fiona Hardingham that is packed with action and adventure and that has a strong female main character. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2012,  2012 Odyssey Honor  Audiobook)


  • Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quick.  Hachette Audio, 2013.  9 hours, 30 minutes, 8 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4789-2648-1.

In the second installment of the Finishing School series, Sophronia and her classmates use their training to search for a dangerous device that may have fallen into the wrong hands.  Quick’s lively narration highlights the wit and humor in Carriger’s story.


The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, read by Miranda Raison: The Finishing School series, narrated by Quirk, is filled with sly humor but also packs a punch with Sophronia’s adventures.  Likewise, The Screaming Staircase is not only is an action-packed steampunk mystery, but Raison brings variety to her narration by highlighting the nuances of the quirky cast of characters characters, including the darkly comedic Anthony Lockwood. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2014)

curtsies and conspiracies audio  screaming staircase audio

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Fact + Fiction = Fantastic: Fiction Readalikes for Titanic by Deborah Hopkinson

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson is one of the finalists for the 2013 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. If you’ve already read Titanic and are finding yourself wanting more, you may also enjoy these fictional stories with similar themes, subjects, and elements. Read and liked a bunch of these novels already? Give Titanic a try!

(Summaries from jacket copy.)

The Watch the Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf
Arrogance and innocence, hubris and hope — twenty-four haunting voices of the Titanic tragedy, as well as the iceberg itself, are evoked in a stunning tour de force.

Millionaire John Jacob Astor hopes to bring home his pregnant teen bride with a minimum of media scandal. A beautiful Lebanese refugee, on her way to family in Florida, discovers the first stirrings of love. And an ancient iceberg glides south, anticipating its fateful encounter. The voices in this remarkable re-creation of the Titanic disaster span classes and stations, from Margaret (“the unsinkable Molly”) Brown to the captain who went down with his ship; from the lookout and wireless men to a young boy in search of dragons and a gambler in search of marks. Slipping in telegraphs, undertaker’s reports, and other records, poet Allan Wolf offers a breathtaking, intimate glimpse at the lives behind the tragedy, told with clear-eyed compassion and astounding emotional power.


Interview with Allan Wolf, author of The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic

With the one hundredth anniversary of the doomed Titanic just days away, The Hub is very excited to bring you an interview with author Allan Wolf. His most recent book, The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic is a thoughtful portrayal of the human side of the Titanic. After all, it is not really a ship that continues to fascinate people the world over; rather, it is the human lives lost in the Titanic that capture our hearts. If you haven’t had the chance to read Mr. Wolf’s new book, hopefully this will entice you to do so!

The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic is a distinctly different way of looking at the Titanic experience. Why did you choose to use poetry to bring the characters to life?

I used poetry in The Watch That Ends the Night because I am a poet. That’s the quick answer. All my books are poetry. So when I have a longer narrative project I just do it the way that comes most naturally. I began experimenting with multiple narrators in my verse novel about Lewis and Clark, New Found Land. I also started including sound effects and stage directions within the text. My background as a performance poet may have motivated me to let the words play on the page as much as I was able to play with them on stage. Poetry lends itself to this type of visual and textual experimentation–more so than prose.

The research invested in this book is thorough and fascinating. What was your favorite part of the research process?

I love the process of research. I read far more adult non-fiction history books than young adult fiction. The research is where The Watch That Ends the Night was born. I spent an entire year just figuring out who, from among the over 2000 people on board, would be my characters. I knew nothing of the Titanic when I started, so my learning curve was … well … titanic! I’m not afraid to launch into a subject I know nothing about, because sometimes it can be an advantage NOT to be an expert with all the answers. The most brilliant ideas can result from answering the most stupid questions.

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The Titanic Disaster: Thinking About the Unsinkable

On April 14-15, 1912, the supposedly unsinkable RMS Titanic struck an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland and sunk on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City. Of the more than 2200 people on board, approximately 1500 died.

2012 marks the 100th anniversary of this disaster, and near, far, wherever you are, you’ll be bombarded with the marketing of all things Titanic. There’s a re-release of the 1997 movie Titanic (in 3D), luxury memorial cruises, lectures, museums exhibits, replica jewelry, and revivals of Titanic: The Musical.

And of course there are books–here’s a sampling of titles with YA appeal:

Titanic: Voices from the DisasterTitanic: Voices From the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (publication date: April 1, 2012). Reviews uniformly praise this new non-fiction examination of the disaster, highlighted by accounts from primary sources and archival photos. School Library Journal says that “what makes it stand out is the intimacy readers feel for the crew and passengers,” and Kirkus Reviews predicts it is “sure to be a definitive work.”

The Watch that Ends the Night: Voices from the TitanicThe Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults). A millionaire, a beautiful Lebanese refugee, the captain who will go down with his ship, and the iceberg itself provide some of the 24 accounts in this unique novel written in verse. The individual stories build to create a palpable sense of impending disaster. Booklist‘s starred review called it “a masterpiece.”

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If you like Downton Abbey, you’ll like these books….

Even if you haven’t succumbed to the irresistible lure of the British PBS series Downton Abbey–and I have to say there are probably more female fans out there than male–I think everyone should take a look. There are many topics explored in the series that are of great interest to readers of both genders. The many universal themes explored in the show will have a lot of appeal for teen readers, and they are not all just portrayed in a soap opera-ish way either.

Downton Abbey takes place in a stately manor in Great Britain beginning in 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic and explores the lives of those who live upstairs and below stairs in the manor. World events like WWI, the women’s suffrage movement, and social class struggles affect the lives of the Earl and Countess of Grantham and the rest of the Crawley family and their servants, from the acerbic Dowager Countess played with perfection by Maggie Smith (who has the best lines), her fair-minded and kindly son the Earl of Grantham and his American born wife Cora, their three headstrong daughters, to their many servants, including two servants I really love to hate, Cora’s scheming maid Sarah and nasty Thomas, the former footman.

The website for the show is really comprehensive and fun and it even has a quiz that you can take to see what character you are most like. Not too surprisingly, I am most like the hardworking and love-thwarted head housemaid Anna.

There are lists popping up everywhere with read-alike booklists, including one from SLJ Teen’s February 15th e-newsletter as well as the Youth Services Corner website and CLM’s blog called Staircase Wit. Many of the lists are comprised of mostly adult titles but there are books for teens too. I’ll try not to repeat all the same books listed on other lists that I’ve seen, although there are a few that are so good they deserve to be mentioned again. I also have to say that my list is a bit biased toward more male, action-oriented books because I tend to read more of them and less of the romances. You’ll find that other lists are skewed a bit more towards romance.