Judging Books By Their Covers: US versus UK

union_jack“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” It is one of the most common cliches in existence. And yet, during my trip to the UK this summer, I found myself doing just that. Books that I had already seen in the U.S. (or in some cases, already owned) looked so much more appealing with the covers that were designed for the UK. This made me ask several questions:

  • Why were different covers designed for the UK and the U.S., particularly given that the text itself was almost always identical?
  • What was it about the UK design sensibility that I liked?
  • Was I alone in my preference?
  • And, of course most importantly, how many books could I reasonably bring back in my suitcase? Continue reading Judging Books By Their Covers: US versus UK

A Bad Romance– Love Gone Wrong in Teen Lit

By CMEarnest (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By CMEarnest via Wikimedia Commons
Springtime is when love is in the air.  New relationships are blooming, the warmer weather drives people outdoors and puts everyone in a better mood, and it just seems like the perfect time to fall in love…

But what happens when you don’t want to fall in love?  When you just want to snarkily smirk at those silly people holding hands and picking flowers?  How do you avoid, nay how do you embrace the idea that falling in love is just not for you..?

Well, one good way is to read books about love gone wrong.  Luckily, teen lit is filled with excellent examples of books about all the ways love can be so harmful to your well-being.  From bad breakups to unrequited crushes, check out the list below if you want to fall in love with a bad romance!

Star-Crossed Love

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The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones

Cassandra comes from a long line of vampire-like creatures who need human tears to survive rather than blood.  Cassandra is very good at collecting tears by being the shoulder for her friends to cry on, and even volunteering as a grief counselor.  However, Cassandra is growing tired of her life and wants to be human, especially when she begins to fall in love with Scott.

Continue reading A Bad Romance– Love Gone Wrong in Teen Lit

Reading for the Fun of It

May 11-17 is “Reading is Fun Week,” run by Reading Is Fundamental , an organization that works to get books into the hands of children so that they can discover the joys of reading. As a youth services librarian, I often tell parents that their child will be a better reader if they read more, and a key to this is to make sure they are reading for fun.  This doesn’t just apply to elementary school kids, though. Young adults and adults should be reading for fun, too. Now  this got me wondering…do teens read for fun? Come to think of it…do I read for fun?

beach partyOne thing I do not remember doing much of when I was in high school was reading for the fun of it. In fact, it took a while for me to remember reading anything other than what was assigned to me in school. I really had to think about it for a while before remembering that I actually read a lot of books for fun when I was a teen.  I read R.L. Stine and fantasy books, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and I started to get more into adult fiction because there just weren’t as many Young Adult books and authors back in those days. Today, publishers and authors have tapped into the Young Adult market in a way I wish they had when I was in high school.

Continue reading Reading for the Fun of It

The Time I Cried All Over David Levithan (Or: Representation Matters)

We talk a lot about the importance of representation here at The Hub. Your friendly neighborhood bloggers are incredibly passionate about the ways in which YA literature is not only capable of expanding horizons, but of affirming the existence of teens who might otherwise not see themselves reflected in media-whether it’s because they’re a person of color, or gay, or trans, or all of the above, or whether they are simply just going through a difficult time.

Now I want to tell you a story.

Picture, if you will, the year 2003. It was a different time. Cropped tops were worn to display pierced belly buttons, not over structured high-waisted pants. Teens on the Internet mostly frequented blogging sites like Xanga or Livejournal. Most of us still didn’t have cell phones. We had not yet begun to make “fetch” happen (by the way, Happy 10th anniversary, Mean Girls!). And the LGBT young adult literature scene was a delicate, fledgling baby bird.

boy meets boy2003 was also the year David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy came out. I was almost a freshman in high school. I wore studded belts, wanted to dye my hair purple, wrote really sad poetry, and had just recently [spoiler alert] watched Tara Maclay die on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, although I believe this episode had aired about two years prior. Tara was the first lesbian character I had ever seen who wasn’t straight off the pages of a Virginia Wolf novel (I was a precocious kid), who talked and looked like most other girls on television but just so happened to be gay.

And she died.  Continue reading The Time I Cried All Over David Levithan (Or: Representation Matters)

Is This the Real Life? YA Books with Multiple Perspectives

One of my favorite types of books in the contemporary genre is the dual or multi-narrative. I’m sure I will revisit this topic again in future posts about contemporary YA fiction, but these were the first five titles that popped into my head when I started to make my list. I know I am missing a lot, so maybe this will just be part one?

Will GraysonWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (2011 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults and 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Told from the point of view of two Will Graysons whose lives change drastically when they meet. Both Wills are trying to find their way, and share how their lives are affected by knowing one Tiny Cooper, who is not tiny in any sense of the word.

Clean by Amy Reed (2012 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers)

Five different points of view from teens while in rehab. They are forced together to face their demons, their sobriety, and who they are without the addiction. Continue reading Is This the Real Life? YA Books with Multiple Perspectives

What Would They Read: Glee Edition, Part 2

Since I got so much positive feedback from last month’s Glee edition of Glee-Themed-Karaoke-Revolution-Announced-2“What Would They Read?,” I thought I would continue with a few more characters.  I actually had some recommendations in the comments section which I plan to include in this post.

Last month I tackled reading options for Finn, Rachel, and Quinn.  In order to include as many characters as possible, I’m going to do a quick Reader’s Advisory for several more people.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your AssSantana Lopez – I’m going to start this off with one of the recommendations left in last month’s comments section.  While Santana does not appear to be a very big reader, she would definitely find some common ground in Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (2014 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers).  In Medina’s book, Piddy discovers that Yaqui, a girl she doesn’t eve know, has decided to target her in an aggressive bullying situation.  Santana would like the book not only because of the strong anti-bullying sentiments she developed while protecting Kurt, but also because of the strong Latina characters with whom she can relate culturally.

Tina Cohen-Chang – As we all know, Principal Figgins has revealed his dislike for Tina’s wardrobe, stating that it makes Vampire_Kissesher look like a vampire.  I assume Tina would appreciate a few vampire novels once in a while.  In particular, I would give her Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber.  While this is a bit of an oldie in the YA perspective (it came out in 2003), I believe that Tina would breathe new life into the title.  In Vampire Kisses, Raven is an outcast who dresses in all black and dreams of someday becoming a vampire.  When new neighbors move in next door, Raven can’t help but notice that they do not venture out during the daytime and Alexander, the teenaged son, hangs out in the cemetery quite frequently.  This could be Raven’s chance to embrace the afterlife of a vampire.

Continue reading What Would They Read: Glee Edition, Part 2

ALA Midwinter 2014: Youth Media Awards

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The Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia had its hands full on Monday, January 28, as a room full of excited librarians, publishers, authors, and other industry professionals breathlessly awaited the start of the annual Youth Media Awards. In fact, by the time I arrived (bleary-eyed and bushy tailed) at the convention center, it was 7:55 AM and there was no official room left for audience members. Instead, I found a seat in a “spillover” room where the awards were being broadcasted live on a screen. By 8:30 AM, the spillover room was entirely full.

My friend who called the YMAs “the librarian Oscars” was pretty spot-on, after all.

It’s hard to describe how incredible it was to witness people applaud, groan, cheer, whisper, and even shed tears over children’s and young adult literature. It’s even harder to describe how it felt to sit next to perfect strangers at 8 AM on a Monday morning knowing that they were just as passionate as you about youth media. Suffice it to say that I have never seen a room full of introverts whoop and holler so loudly before. For those who aren’t “in the know,” I would describe the purpose of the YMAs, in part, as providing “those fancy silver and gold stickers you see on the covers of books.”

But it’s more than fancy stickers, of course.

Continue reading ALA Midwinter 2014: Youth Media Awards