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Tag: carol lynch williams

ALA Annual 2015: YALSA YA Author Coffee Klatch Recap

The amazing group of authors participating in the Klatch.
The amazing group of authors participating in the Klatch.

I was lucky enough to attend the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco last week and attended the YALSA YA Author Coffee Klatch sponsored by BLINK on Sunday, June 28th from 9 – 10 am. Allison Tran was there too and included some great photos in her post from the event.

I had the opportunity to have coffee while I met many of YALSA’s award winning authors, many of whom have appeared on one of YALSA’s six annual selected lists or have received one of YALSA’s five literary awards. In this speed-dating-like event, we sat at the tables and every five minutes or so the authors would come to our table to talk with us.

Participating authors included: M. T. Anderson, Leigh Bardugo, Deborah Biancotti, Virginia Boecker, Erin Bow, Martha Brockenbrough, Rae Carson, Selene Castrovilla, Carey Corp, Zak Ebrahim, Jack Gantos, Gail Giles, Amalie Howard, Jenny Hubbard, Bill Konigsberg, Michael Koryta, Daniel Kraus, Stephanie Kuehn, Susan Kuklin, Margo Lanagan, Lorie Langdon, Eric Lindstrom, Sophie Maletsky, Marissa Meyer, Jandy Nelson, Patrick Ness, Mitali Perkins, Kate Racculia, Luke Reynolds, William Ritter, Ginny Rorby, John Scalzi, Neal Shusterman, Andrew Smith, Allan Stratton, Nova Ren Suma, Jillian Tamaki, Mariko Tamaki, Scott Westerfeld, Carol Lynch Williams,  and Suzanne Young.

These were the YA Authors who came to my table and a little of what they said (any inaccuracies are solely my fault):

Photo Jul 05, 10 53 23 AMMitali Perkins talked about her latest middle grade book called Tiger Boy. 

She said that publishers didn’t think young people wanted to read about teen characters from other countries but that hasn’t been the case. Perkins wants young people to read across borders. She said she’s gotten letters from kids from all over the US – like rural Kansas. They connect with her books and there’s a power that readers have over the story. She said that one of her previous books, Bamboo People (2011 YALSA Top Ten Photo Jul 05, 10 54 17 AMBest Fiction for Young Adults), is on twelve state reading lists. It has two boys as the main characters and lots of action and it’s still a popular read, even though it came out in 2010 and is set in Burma. The fact that it’s a coming of age story is universal. Perkins has drawn inspiration for her writing because she said she’s traveled a lot and lived in Thailand, Boston and in the Bay Area. Tiger Boy is a tribute to her dad. He became a talented civil engineer and traveled all over the world. She said she “writes to the boy who doesn’t think he is a reader.”

 

Photo Jul 05, 11 13 41 AMStephanie Kuehn described her third book Delicate Monsters (after Complicit, 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults) after Charm & Strange (2014 William C. Morris Award winner).Photo Jan 26, 1 32 40 PM

It’s a psychological mystery, set in Sonoma, CA and it has a lot of darkness to it. It features a female anti-hero. The girl was sent down from boarding school for almost killing another girl. She is cruel. She becomes reacquainted with a boy named Emerson she knew as a kid & they both have a connection with Emerson’s younger brother who sees visions of people dying. It’s told from a third person point-of-view because it’s easier to tell that way as it shifts from the different perspectives of the characters. Kuehn says her main character is a psychopath but there’s a humanity to her too. “We share common experiences – they’re human monsters.”

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: A Day On, Not A Day Off

Most of us spend our days off by sleeping in and lounging around the house in our PJs. But on this day, Monday, January 21st, it is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. In his honor, this holiday is a day of service. There are lots of ways to volunteer your time for MLK Day. Many volunteer opportunities can grow into a year-round commitment with broad sweeping influence. “In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort.” Dr. King believed that service strengthened our relationship with neighbors and broke down prejudices, all of which got us closer to his ideal “Beloved Community.”

 

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The Big Five (+1) in YA: Christianity

Last month, I discussed my quest for YA literature involving Buddhism and the two novels I found that met my criteria. Thanks to a commenter on that post (mclicious), I found a few more using the NoveList Plus service, including Zen and the Art of Faking It and Roots and Wings. However, even the NoveList database found only 31 results in Teen fiction for the search term “Buddhist,” many of which were not modern, or only peripherally involved the religion. In comparison, when using the same search parameters, there were 944 results for the search term “Christian.” (“Jewish” had 365 results, “Muslim” had 75, and “Hindu” had 31.) There is zero scientific method involved in this brief comparison, but it serves as an illustration of the obvious: Christianity in YA literature, at least in the US, is much more prevalent than any of the other Big Five world religions.

That being said, preparing for this post was quite different from last month, when I had a grand total of two books to enjoy. For the past five weeks, I have read as much modern, non-serialized YA fiction involving Christianity as possible, and in the process, have noticed some trends in the characterizations of Christians. On the one hand, some Christians are portrayed as being fundamentalist and intolerant (to varying degrees), particularly of homosexuality and/or science. However, all but one of the novels I read also had positive portrayals of Christians as being people who live out the positive aspects of the religion and rely on their faith in times of strife. Seems valid to me. Since the pool of novels is so much larger, I have chosen what I think are some of the best of the novels that I read, in no particular order.

Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande
This novel does a fine job of balancing the tension between science and religion, as well as showing the darker side of religion (intolerance and manipulation), side by side with the benefits of faith. I particularly adore the science teacher, Ms. Shepherd.

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