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Tag: julie berry

What to read on November 11th

Veterans Day

Remembrance Day

Armistice Day

On November 11th, one hundred and one years ago, the Armistice was signed to bring the First World War to an end. So far removed from that time and place, it can hard for readers to connect to the holiday unless they have a friend of family member in the military. Of course, there are some great books to help teen readers understand what happened so long ago.

 

  

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2020) Nominees Round Up, May 3 Edition

Someday We Will Fly by Rachel DeWoskin
Viking / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: January 22, 2019
ISBN: 978-0670014965 

Fifteen-year-old Lillia is forced to leave her mother behind and escape Warsaw, Poland with her father and baby sister during World War II. As Jewish refugees, they come to live in Shanghai, China, which is occupied by Japan, and struggle to survive with little money and tensions and dangers rising as war rages on.

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2020) Nominees Round Up, April 10 Edition

Lovely War by Julie Berry
Listening Library
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
ISBN 9781984838254

From the heights of the Royal Albert Hall to the gore of the trenches at the front, Berry’s novel uses the sweeping backdrop of World War One to explore themes of love, connection, forgiveness, and beauty. Jayne Entwhistle as omniscient and occasionally omnipotent Aphrodite, delivers a bravado performance as four young people find, and then lose, their soulmates as the war rages.

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Heretic Heroes in YA Literature

What are the chances that two different books, one for middle grades, and one for older teens, would be published within six months of each other, both about heretics, set in medieval France in the years 1241 and 1242?

I don’t know about you, but aside from the story of Joan of Arc, I’ve rarely read many YA books about characters who can perform miracles (fantasy books don’t count) and who are considered heretics. A heretic, as defined by the dictionary is, “a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church.” Although there are many YA books where characters are accused of being witches who could also be labeled heretics by the church, I’m limiting this discussion to just two new books.

WARNING: SPOILERS

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Mutism in YA books

I’ve noticed an increase recently in the number of YA books being published featuring characters who are selectively mute (at least four published this year). They can speak, but choose not to – as opposed to characters that are involuntarily mute who cannot speak because of injury, illness or magic. I can’t exactly explain this trend except to say that maybe current events have made authors focus more on mental health issues. Many of the characters in these books who are selectively mute have experienced traumatic events and have reacted by engaging in self-harm or risky behaviors, or been bullied or bullied others. This has contributed to their loss of their voices – they’ve withdrawn into themselves and don’t want to anyone to pay any attention to them. It’s at this most vulnerable time in their lives that teens are finally becoming independent and learning to think for themselves. It’s vital that they be allowed to find their voices and express themselves in healthy ways because it will shape who they become.

Characters that are unable to speak but are able to communicate in other ways, such as through telepathy, are pretty common in science fiction and fantasy books. Most of the recent books I’m mentioning here are realistic fiction. There’s also a trend away from the secondary characters being the mute ones; it’s becoming more common for the main characters to be mute. Even if they have been victimized and become selectively mute, they have found other ways to express themselves – especially through art.

The withdrawn character who rarely speaks isn’t a new phenomenon in YA literature. Speak (1999), by speakLaurie Halse Anderson, (2000 Michael L. Printz Honor Winner; 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Winner) is a classic example, and a book that’s on many high school required reading lists and has inspired other books. In Speak, Melinda enters her freshman year of high school friendless and treated as an outcast because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. She becomes increasingly isolated and selectively mute. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at the party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends the same school as she does and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication.

Another book that made a big impact on me when I read it was Hush: an Irish Princess’ Tale by Donna IMG_3089Jo Napoli (2008) (2009 Best Fiction for Young Adults). In Napoli’s story, Melkorka is a princess, the first daughter of a magnificent kingdom in medieval Ireland — but all of this is lost the day she is kidnapped and taken aboard a marauding slave ship. Thrown into a world that she has never known, alongside people that her former country’s laws regarded as less than human, Melkorka is forced to learn quickly how to survive. Taking a vow of silence, however, she finds herself an object of fascination to her captors and masters, and soon realizes that any power, no matter how little, can make a difference.

Some of the recently published books featuring selectively mute characters include:IMG_3081

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout (2016). Mallory is a foster kid who, during her traumatic childhood,  protected herself by remaining mute. She was rescued from abusive foster parents when she was 13 and, since then, has been living with a loving foster family being homeschooled. Now, 17, she’s attending public high school for the first time, and she must gain the strength and courage to learn to speak up for herself.

Tommy Wallach’s Thanks for the Trouble (2016) (current Best Fiction for Young Adults  nominee). IMG_3093Hispanic Parker Santé hasn’t spoken a word in five years, after witnessing his father’s tragic death in a car accident. While his classmates plan for bright futures, he skips school to hang out in hotels, killing time by watching the guests. But when he meets silver-haired Zelda Toth, who claims to be 246-years-old, but looks like a teenager, he discovers there just might be a few things left worth living for.

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Genre Blend: Historical Fiction and Mysteries

"Postcards and magnifying glass" by Anna - Flickr: records. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Postcards_and_magnifying_glass.jpg#/media/File:Postcards_and_magnifying_glass.jpg
“Postcards and magnifying glass” by Anna – Flickr: records. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

I am a huge fan of mysteries, especially during the summer! I love a good page-turner that keeps me guessing until the very last page. A great thing about mysteries are that they also work well when they are blended with other genres.  One of my newest favorite genre blends are historical fiction and mysteries! If you are also a fan, or have yet to explore this genre blend, check out some of the titles below to get you started!

 

 

 

Death CloudDeath Cloud by Andrew Lane (2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

Set in the summer of 1868, fourteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes is sent to live with his aunt and uncle where he uncovers two mysterious deaths that appear to be plague victims. However, Sherlock suspects that these deaths are not what they seem so he sets out to investigate and uncover the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

northern light donnelly printzA  Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (2004 Printz Honor Book, 2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2004 Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults, 2004 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults)

Based on the true story of the 1906 Gilette murder case, Maggie is working the summer at a nearby inn, when one of the guests drowns.  Mysterious circumstances surround the death, including Maggie’s own involvement and interactions with the victim.

 

 

 

 

A Spy in the House by Y.S. LeeA Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

In Victorian London, Mary is saved from the gallows at the last minute and sent to a school where she is secretly trained to be a spy.  She is eventually selected to work a case where she is undercover as a lady’s companion to investigate a wealthy merchant’s shady business dealings.

 

 

 

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Highlights from the 2013 ALAN Workshop

Just a few of the books I can't wait to read after the ALAN Workshop!
Just a few of the books I can’t wait to read after the ALAN Workshop!

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a portion of the 2013 Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the NCTE (ALAN) Workshop. This two-day event, which brings together a wide range of young adult authors, English teachers, librarians and others, was held in Boston this year, so I decided to take the opportunity to attend and I’m very glad I did! Though I was only able to attend a portion of the first day of the workshop, I heard both Jack Gantos and Chris Crutcher speak about their work and saw some great authors speak on panels about everything from humor to dystopias. While I could go on at length about everything I learned, this post will focus on some of the most interesting speakers and particularly on the panels I was able to attend about genre writing for young adults.

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SLJ: Day of Dialog

Last Wednesday, I was lucky enough to attend the SLJ Day of Dialogue. It was my first time and it was amazing! It was a day filled with laughter, information, and best of all books! For more insight into the day, check out the official hashtag on Twitter: #sljdod13

kevin henkes slj day of dialogueKevin Henkes was our morning keynote speaker. He talked about reading to his children at the breakfast table. The books they read together sparked conversation and allowed them to read together as a family. He read books his kids might not have chosen for themselves, but they loved just the same. He then read the first chapter of his new book, The Year of Billy Miller.

Next came a panel on informational picture books with authors Jim Arnosky, Jennifer Berne, Elisha Cooper, and Jonah Winter. They talked about researching, making the text come alive, and boiling down the research to make the book exciting.

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Cross-Unders: Great Teen Books for Tween Readers

by flickr user erin_everlasting
by flickr user erin_everlasting

Tween readers — those ages 9 to 12 — come to the teen section for a variety of reasons.

In some cases, tweens are drawn to teen books because of popularity and media exposure. For example, many tweens request titles such as The Hunger Games and Twilight. Some tweens are avid readers of a particular genre and have exhausted the titles available to them in the children’s fiction section.

The tweens at the library where I work are a good example. One girl (I’ll call her Alicia) is 11 going on 12. Alicia loves horror and ghost stories and is a huge fan of Mary Downing Hahn. However, she’s read all of the titles that we have, and now she goes downstairs to the teen section in search of new, more intense scares. She’s currently reading The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff.

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