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Tag: john marsden

Picture Books: Not Just for Kids

November is Picture Book Month. You might be surprised at how many aren’t just for children. In fact I think many are really for us older folks who may be reading them with children. For any of you who might not have read one in years, except maybe to younger kids, check out some of these books that have a lot of appeal for anyone 12 and older.

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When Friends Become Family

As we draw close to Thanskgiving, we often turn our thoughts and plans to family. While there are YA characters who have strong families, astomorrow Jessica’s 2012 post  and Kelly’s post from last week shows, there are also lots of YA books where the protagonists have either lost family members, been separated from them, or never had a proper family to begin with. This doesn’t mean these characters have no family relationships, though. Lots of YA characters, when faced with a lack of a regular family, create their own. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Ellie and her friends in the Tomorrow series by John Marsden (the movie version was chosen as a Fabulous Film for Young Adults 2013). This action packed series, which starts with Tomorrow, When the War Began follows a group of Australian teenagers who go away for a camping trip and come back to find their country has been invaded. As the plot unfolds, the friends rely on each other more and more to be both fellow soldiers determined to take back their homes and a family that both provides emotional support and takes on the everyday tasks of making a place to live. I especially like that the last book in the series, The Other Side of Dawn, deals with the difficulty of reintegrating with their parents after the enforced separation and self-sufficiency, and the companion series, The Ellie Chronicles, continues to explore the toll that war takes on families, both given and self-made. Although I haven’t yet read them, I think Emmy Laybourne’s Monument 14 series (2014 Teens’ Top Ten) covers some of the same ground in terms of a family forged out of necessity. 
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Reel Good Reads

Well, it’s getting to be that time again. Here in Texas, the air is getting slightly less hot, the birds have pretty much stayed where they are for the winter, and the leaves have stayed firmly on their trees. In more seasonally-inclined locales, though, you are probably enjoying crisp fall weather that’s perfect for cozying up with a good read. If the chilly air is keeping you from venturing out to the cinema this December, why not check out one of these books inspired by December’s new releases?

Movie poster for Red Dawn (2012)
The Movie: If the holly-jolly feeling of November has you feeling more Scrooge-y than merry, you may be in the mood for the action-filled remake of Red Dawn that opened this week. When Korean paratroopers invade Spokane, Washington, who else to defend the town than a rag-tag gang of young folks?

Book Soulmate: If you’re looking for an action-filled book about teenagers defending their homeland from a mysterious foreign invasion, you can’t go wrong with the modern classic Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden. Australian teens who decide to go camping for a week in the bush have no idea that when they return their hometown will be abandoned, and an invading country will have taken over. The first book in this critically-acclaimed series is filled with action and the tension of life-and-death decisions.

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All I Needed to Know About Surviving Post-Hurricane Sandy I Learned From Post-Apocalyptic Novels

Hurricane Sandy was a devastating natural disaster. While I write this somewhat light post, I am well aware that many people have lost their homes, and the destruction the hurricane caused was tremendous. Our local communities and groups have coordinated many efforts to donate clothing, food, and other supplies directly to affected families. These efforts are ongoing, so please consider helping out in any way you can. If you are not on the Eastern seaboard you can help out by donating to the Red Cross (text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief), Salvation Army (Text the word STORM to 80888 to make a $10 donation), and other organizations.

On October 29 Hurricane Sandy blew through my state — New Jersey — wreaking havoc as she went. We live about an hour away from the shore, so we were fairly confident that we would lose power, but still be okay. That turned out to be true, but it was also the scariest natural disaster I’ve ever personally encountered. Sitting in our dark house late at night feeling the house shake and hearing the winds howl was a nerve-wracking experience that reminded me that we are still always at the mercy of nature. The days that followed were so strange that I found myself saying many times to my husband, “Thank goodness I read all those post-apocalyptic novels — I know just what to do!” And so here you have my survival guide to our post hurricane days, as learned from post-apocalyptic YA fiction.

Lesson #1: Make Alliances

In all the books I’ve read, this is a number #1 lesson: you have to have people on your side, someone you can rely on when disaster happens or the world is ending. In a novel, that might be a partner with a gun who’s got your back (Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse — an adult novel, but a good one!), someone who prevents a zombie or mutant from eating you (like Fade and Deuce in Enclave and Outpost by Ann Aguirre or Mary’s villagemates in The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan), or someone who shares their skills with you (Katniss, Peeta, and Gale in The Hunger Games).

In our case it would be neighbors who have tractors and chainsaws.

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