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Tag: Annabel Pitcher

What Would They Read?: Monster Edition!

Little_Monsters_by_Merlin2525I know some of you are patiently waiting for the conclusion of my Firefly post in September.  Unfortunately you will have to wait a little bit more as I am interrupting my own series of posts to bring you this Halloween Monster Edition of “What Would They Read.”  I promise I will finish Firefly next month.  As I see it, we Firefly fans are used to things we love and look forward to being abruptly ended.  It’s sad, but true.

OK, back to monsters…

There were two ways I considered approaching this blog post.  I could go the easy way and match various monsters with books that include characters from the same species.  For example, Dracula would just love to read The Twilight Saga because of all the vampires.  Sure, I’ll throw in a few of those.  The real challenge lies in finding books for these monster archetypes that more reflect their personality types.  It’s a bit more difficult, but I’m up for the challenge.  Go big or go home, right?

Dracula – Before vampires became a standard villainous character is several movies, shows, and books, Bram Stoker brought us the original vampire story.  Some may say that there’s a historical connection to the evil ruler, Vlad Vampirethe Impaler.  I’m not going to debate for or against that idea, but I will say that guy was fairly creepy.

Those who have read the original novel,  Dracula, know that while the vampire was super spooky, he was also very lonely.  He used his vampire ways to try to get friends and girlfriend.  True, he didn’t go about this search in the conventional way by simply introducing himself to new people.  Instead, he charmed the mentally unstable Renfield and made him his somewhat friend, although I think the term is closer to minion than friend.  Once he decided he wanted a woman in his life, he did not go about courting her in a traditional manner.  After a few midnight visits full of blood drinking, Dracula had Lucy right where he wanted her; in a coffin.

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Dealing with Tragedy and Terrorism in YA Lit

Last Patriot’s Day – a state holiday observed predominantly in Massachusetts but Maine and Wisconsin get in there  Massachusetts honoring the first American patriots of the Revolution – was a strange and hard day for many of us in the Bay State. It was a day off for many, and a start to school vacations for most students. There was the perennially inspiring promise of the Boston Marathon with such big stories as the amazing elite runners, the Hoyt father/son team running their last race, and the triumphs of every day people running their first or special race.

Shoes at the Boston marathon bombing memorial 2013 photo by Flickr user Megan Marrs
Shoes at the Boston marathon bombing memorial 2013 photo by Flickr user Megan Marrs

Then the bombs went off and the difficulty began. Over the next few days and since then, I’ve thought how about the marathon bombings might affect teens and especially those teens who may  have been on lockdown in their homes in Boston and many surrounding cities as the hunt for the subjects spewed gunfire along their streets.

One year later, I’ve looked to YA literature to see if anything can help us and help those teens near the disaster to deal with it. A far as I know no YA novels have been written about the tragedy yet, but it may happen as it does with many major news stories. Instead here are some books deal with running injuries or terrorism and the healing that can come after those.

Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowtiz – Set in 2002 with the two main characters still reeling from the September 11 attacks in their two respective hometowns of Washington D.C. and New York, Craig and Lio try to figure out how to be normal teens in love when the Beltway sniper attacks start. I admit to having mostly forgotten about these murders when I picked up the book, but Moskowtiz captures what I would the imagine the paranoia and terror of that situation would feel like. Through her two characters, she allows us to ponder the meaning of safety and how that affects who we love and how we recover from trauma. 

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B4B13: Celebrates Darkness and Outsiders in YA Literature

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Books for the Beast is a biennial YA Literature conference sponsored by the Enoch Pratt Free Library and hosted by the Roland Park Country School in Baltimore, Maryland.  Teens, teachers and librarians converged this past Saturday October 19th for the conference to talk about chosen reading lists in small discussion groups and to listen to featured authors speak from their perspective about trends in YA literature. For more information about the Books for the Beast conference and this year’s full reading list, please click here.

Robin Wasserman was the keynote speaker this year, and she discussed “Darkness in YA Literature.” It was an engaging presentation that included great insight, some humor and middle school pictures! There was also a hilarious aside about her feelings for the new movie Gravity. If you ever get the chance, you should ask her about it some time. She spoke about the need for acknowledgement that the world is full of terrible things and that through these dark stories in YA literature readers have a safe space to tackle the darkness and their fears. The book It by Stephen King was the dark novel during her YA years that helped her embrace the idea that anything could happen and you could get through it.

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The Big Five (+1) in YA: Islam

Welcome back to The Big Five (+1) in YA: a series of posts on religion in young adult novels.  Previously, I’ve posted about Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism.  Today, we are moving on to Islam. I’d like to start by saying that I feel the following books provide insight into a religion that is all too often stereotyped and villainized in American society. However, as I was putting together this list of books to feature, I also noticed that every novel but one includes an Islamic terrorist act or organization as part of the story line.  Within the context of each individual novel, I don’t feel that any of them perpetuate the negative stereotype of “Muslims are terrorists,” but taken as a trend, it is somewhat disturbing to think that four out of five of my featured books deal with violent acts by Muslims.

Borderline by Allan Stratton

Sami Sabiri, the only Muslim student at his school, faces daily bullying from his classmates and increasing distance from his Iranian father at home. Then the FBI implicates Sami’s dad in the plotting of a terrorist organization, and Sami has to find out the truth behind their accusations.

The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson

Paterson’s novel focuses on a Muslim group that some students may not realize exists: Muslim Albanians, who faced incredible persecution in the Kosovo war. Brought as refugees to the United States, the Albanian family in this novel also face intolerance from their small Vermont community after the events of 9/11.

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