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Tag: j. r. r. tolkien

The Hub Celebrates Thesaurus Day

Portrait from Medical Portrait Gallery by Thomas Pettigrew
Portrait from Medical Portrait Gallery by Thomas Pettigrew

Happy Thesaurus Day!

While not necessarily a well-known holiday, Thesaurus Day is celebrated on January 18, the birthday of Peter Mark Roget, creator of Roget’s Thesaurus.

The original version of Roget’s thesaurus, created in 1805 and released in 1852, contained 15,000 words. Over the years, the thesaurus has grown, adding thousands of additional words and synonyms. These days, in addition to print versions of the thesaurus, wordsmiths are able to access the Roget’s thesaurus online through If you are interested in a historical perspective, a 1911 version has been cataloged as part of the ARTFL Project through the University of Chicago.

We’re celebrating a day early here on The Hub by using the thesaurus to swap words in some popular YA titles. See if you can figure out the original titles and then scroll down to check!

  1. The Tome Bandit
  2. The Bonus of Being a Loner
  3. Papyrus Municipalities
  4. An Excellent and Dreadful Virtue
  5. The Insanity Below
  6. Swivel Spot
  7. The Examining
  8. Faithful
  9. Break Me
  10. The Choice
  11. Vocalize
  12. A Chain of Ill-fated Happenings.
  13. Gorgeous Critters
  14. Audrey, Halt!
  15. The Commander of the Loops
  16. Thirteen Rationales of Cause
  17. The Categorically Bona Fide Journal of a Part-Time Native American
  18. The Sorority of the Roving Trousers
  19. Always…
  20. 13 Slight Azure Pockets
  21. The Starvation Sports
  22. The Accuracy Referring to Always
  23. The Labyrinth Sprinter
  24. Granted That I Stick Around
  25. Paired

YA Worlds and Rides

hogsmeade wizarding world harry potterAfter recently returning from a trip to Florida where I stepped through the gates of Universal Orlando, dragged my children as quickly as possible to the back of the park, and … experienced an EPIC GEEK MOMENT! When we rounded onto the first view of Hogsmeade in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (even with its inconsistencies), our entire family gaped and our inner geeks screamed, “I am home.” It was excellent! My only complaint is that there needs to be more: the common rooms, the prefects’ bathroom, Diagon Alley, Gringotts — more! Yes, some of this is in the works, but it could never be enough for the die-hards. As a side note, the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride may just be the best ride ever created.

This experience got me thinking, and asking, what other books that teens love would make good amusement parks or rides? What if there were a Lord of the Rings world? Visitors could fight off orcs in a simulation of Helm’s Deep, or walk through the Shire complete with a stop in Bag End, or ride in a boat down the River Anduin and over the Falls of Rauros or in a roller coaster through the Mines of Moria. I asked some teens for ideas, and many responded with great concepts. Most of them came from very well-known and popular books. Of course, everyone wanted a Hunger Games ride or park. Ideas included “a Capitol aircraft that flies you through the thirteen districts” or “a paint ball arena” or a “simulated arena where you fight it out with the other tributes.” Frankly, that last one scares me a bit. The Maze Runner, The Mortal Instruments, and The Forest of Hands and Teeth also merited ideas, including letting “the zombies out of the fence to chase the visitors out at closing.”

And the Winner Is … The Academy Awards®

2013-02-19 13.54.29Anyone who has ever watched the Academy Awards® knows that the awards are not given to the most popular films that young people like (with a few exceptions like The Lord of the Rings trilogy). For the most part, the members of the Academy nominate and vote for serious, more high-brow films like the silent black and white film The Artist or The King’s Speech that have more appeal to older filmgoers (I loved them, but I’m older too). If the Academy voters were to consider films as Best Picture nominees that teens really enjoyed that were based on books, then The Twilight Saga, the Harry Potter series, or this year’s The Hunger Games or The Perks of Being a Wallflower would have been selected.

2013-02-19 14.01.57While it’s true that many films nominated for this Sunday’s Academy Awards® are based on books, most are published for adults, not young adults. That doesn’t mean that some of the many nominees based on adult books aren’t entirely without teen appeal. Argo is based on the book The Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez. It was one of four films I saw last Saturday as part of AMC Theaters’s Best Picture Showcase 2013 Oscar® Nominees along with Amour, Les Miserables, and Django Unchained. In addition to being based on a preposterously unbelievable true story, Argo is suspenseful with a lot of humor that balances the tenseness of the plot.

It’s a lot of fun to watch, although I’d heard that parts are made up so it’s more of a docu-drama, as is Zero Dark Thirty. SLJ’s Extra Helping e-newsletter just had an interesting Connect-the-Pop blog post a few days ago by Peter Gutierrez. He interviewed media literacy educator Frank W. Baker about showing students Lincoln, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty to encourage them to think critically about how these films aren’t necessarily all true but portray a version of the truth.

The Next Big Thing in E-Books

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

The Shadow CatsE-books are not the Next Big Thing. They spent several years as the Next Big Thing, but now that e-reading is possible on cellphones and tablets as well as computers and e-readers, they are officially a Very Big Thing and have been for awhile. What’s still just beginning to be explored, though, are the possibilities that e-publishing holds for enhancing the reading experience.

Some writers and publishers are exploring interactive creations, such as hidden clues and puzzles for readers to find on-line, game tie-ins, interactive maps and more; there’s even a term, “transmedia,” for this kind of experience which connects reading with other activities.

However, there’s another Next Big Thing spawned by e-reading — it’s less technologically intensive than transmedia, but still has the potential to change how we read.

The Next Big Thing in Fantasy

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

swordThere were a few years there where fantasy seemed like it was on the outs, relegated to the back table with the Dungeons and Dragons players and fairy-tale enthusiasts. There were a few breakthrough series such as the Eragon books, but for the most part, supernatural titles featuring vampires, wizards, zombies, fairies, and werewolves were taking up prime real estate on library shelves.

The lackluster popularity of fantasy has started to shift over the past few years with authors such as Kristen Cashore and John Flanagan rising in popularity. But even now, the top titles on Amazon in the Teens Fantasy category are all occupied by science fiction and supernatural blockbusters. That’s all about to change. Here’s why:

Books to Define an Era: The Leap Day Musings of a Bibliophile

Happy Leap Day, everyone! Today’s post is written by Lily D., age 16. Lily loves knitting, brain science, and the medieval flute, and shares her room with an extensive library, several musical instruments, and a hamster named Tesla. You can follow her online via her knitting and book review blog, Wildwool. Thank you, Lily, for sharing your era-defining reads (and superb writing skills) with us!  –Becky O’Neil, currently reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

I have no memory of being unable to read. Even in my earliest recollections, Thomas the Tank Engine rolls across the page, pursued by Winnie the Pooh and a number of outsized vegetables. My universe continues to be populated, in large part, by fictional characters of all ages, species, and historical eras. While the number of books that I have read (or perhaps “devoured” would be a better word) probably numbers in the thousands, only a few have stuck out as volumes with era-forging power. On average, I find a book like this once every four years, coinciding (oddly enough) with leap years. Since today is Leap Day, I thought it would be appropriate to make a list of the three books that have caused me to dress in strange costumes, compose bad fan fiction, and drop allusions every which way.

1. The Hobbit

At age four, my father kick-started twelve solid years of fantasy readership with J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It took a year for him to read it aloud to me, a year of magical thinking and giant spiders. After The Hobbit, we moved on to The Lord of the Rings [a series which was recently nominated for the 2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults list], but I always preferred Bilbo to Frodo, and it was to the Lonely Mountain, not Mordor, that I returned the most frequently over the next four years. To this day, I think of Mirkwood when I visit a state park and inspect hills in search of round green doors. But any role-play I invented after The Hobbit was nothing to what my fantasy life became after…

To the Professor

What’s special about January 3rd? Well, there may be many things, but in the book world, it’s the birthday of JRR Tolkien. With today marking the 120th anniversary of his birth and the recent release of the first movie trailer for The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey, this seems like a good time to consider the influence of the grandfather of fantasy.

“Every writer of modern fantasy was influenced by Tolkien to some degree. He was the premiere fantasy writer of the last century, and all of us writing today owe him a huge debt.”
~Terry Brooks

Whether you’re a fan of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (LotR) series or not, it’s nearly impossible to deny Tolkien’s impact on the fantasy genre. Though initially published in 1954 and 1955, LotR gained huge popularity when the second edition was published in America in 1965. The doors for the world of high fantasy were flung wide and many stepped through. Among these early fantasy writers were Terry Brooks (The Shannara series), Frank Herbert (Dune), David Eddings (The Belgariad), Stephen R. Donaldson (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant), Dennis McKiernan (The Iron Tower Trilogy), Anne McCaffrey (Dragonriders of Pern), and even George Lucas (Star Wars). This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I’m sorry if I left out your favorite author!