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Tag: Laurie Halse Anderson

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

Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson; narrated by the author
Viking Books for Young Readers / Listening Library
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
ISBN: 978-1984882394

Laurie Halse Anderson is one of the strongest voices in young adult literature, and her free verse poetry memoir weaves the story of a difficult childhood, the publication of Speak and its reception by teens everywhere, and her continued push for change and empathy in today’s toxic world.  Her poems are nuanced and no-holds-barred, poignant and personal, witty and wry.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2020) Nominees Round Up, May 21 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard
Simon Pulse
January 29, 2019
ISBN: 978-1534402447

Eden McKinley wakes up one morning to find out that her best friend Bonnie has run away with their music teacher, Mr. Cohn. Eden hides her newfound knowledge from her parents and the police, who come pounding on her door to provide answers. Eden secretly continues texting Bonnie while the police search for her, trying to learn as much as she can about the illicit relationship her best friend hid from her for a year. She confronts the reality of what she thought was the “perfect” life of her friend. Ultimately she is faced with betraying her friend’s trust or doing what she knows to be the morally right thing to do and revealing her knowledge of Bonnie’s whereabouts to the police.

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#GGN2019 Nominees Round Up, April 12 Edition

Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll
Farrar Straus Giroux
Publication Date: 01/09/18
ISBN: 978-0374300289

After attending a disastrous party before the beginning of her freshman year in high school, 13 year-old Melinda starts school as a pariah. She finds herself ostracized, alienated, and bullied because she was the one who called the police to break up the party. She faces the year mostly friendless at school and unable to talk to her parents at home, unable to confide in anyone to tell them what really happened that night. Art becomes the one outlet for her to express growing her loneliness, depression, and fear. As the year progresses, she must learn how to find her voice, to tell others what happened to her on that summer night, and to stand up to the one person who continues to haunt and threaten her.

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#QP2019 Nominees Round Up, March 27 Edition

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
HarperTeen/HarperCollins
Publication Date: March 6th, 2018
ISBN: 9780062662804 

Xiomara can’t be the perfect Dominican daughter that her parents expect her to be, so she pours out her frustrations in a secret poetry journal. Her mother expects her to be confirmed and marry a good Dominican boy. Instead, she questions the teachings of her church and falls in love with her chemistry lab partner, Aman, who is definitely not parent-approved. But she can’t hide her secrets from her parents forever.

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Women in Comics – Graphic Adaptations

Given the popularity of comics, it isn’t surprising that many works originally created and released as books and films have been adapted into comics and graphic novels. Not only does this bring these stories to a new audience, but in the process of adapting and illustrating these stories, the creators of the comics are able to add their own take on the original version. In the past, I’ve written about Hope Larson’s adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time and Leigh Dragoon’s adaptation of Legend by Marie Lu in my post on science fiction comics, but this list offers even more options for thought provoking adaptations of some popular works.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children CoverKristy's Great Idea graphic novel coverPride and prejudice comic

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2016 Middle Grade Titles with Teen Appeal

It can be easy to for me to forget that teens are some of the most dexterous readers out there. They can jump from reading adult novels one day, back to a young adult novel the next, and then have no qualms about picking up a book that we consider middle grade after that. I often feel that I need to be pushing older teens to move onward from young adult titles to adult titles, assuming that is what they are “growing into,” but will be surprised when one says how they have just read Sara Pennypacker’s Pax and loved it. Some teens stay loyal to the authors that meant so much to them in the grade school years, authors like Christopher Paul Curtis and Kate DiCamillo, and others will continue to read anything by Rick Riordan, no matter how old they get. Teens can still have an interest in titles that we assume they would feel are “babyish,” but for them can be a break from angst or romance, and to them are just a great story.

We have some great resources when we are looking for adult books for teen appeal. We have YALSA’s Alex Award and their annual vetted list of books and School Library Journal’s column Adult Books for Teens, but we rarely see resources out there for younger books that might have a place in a teen’s reading pile. Here is a list of recent titles, titles that can be both successful with both a 5th-grader and an 11-grader.

middle-grade-re

Realistic Fiction

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

This story starts and ends with a gunshot. Ever since the night his father shot a gun at him and his mother, Castle Cranshaw left running and hasn’t stopped since. Now in seventh-grade, he’s nicknamed himself Ghost after coming upon a track tryout, and without officially entering, taking on one of the most elite runners and winning. Now he is being courted by the coach to join the track team, and learns that you don’t always have to run away from things, but can run towards things too. Track is one of those sports that many kids and teens participate in, but it is rarely the subject of novels. Fans of Friday Night Lights with love this coach in this as much as they do Coach Taylor. This is a character-driven and plot-driven novel with many appeals, but teens that especially love a Gatsby-esque novel laden with imagery and themes will find so much to pore over in this short, but rich, novel.

The Best Man by Richard Peck

This story starts and ends with a wedding. One that is a complete train-wreck, and one that couldn’t be more perfect. This coming-of-age novel is full of snarky humor and hilarious episodes that allow you to see the world of adults through a younger generation’s eyes. Unlike Tom Sawyer and Holden Caulfield, Archer Magill is clueless to the world around him, and his best friend Lynette is always having to explain life’s nuances. Teen’s who have appreciated David Sedaris’ childhood memoir essays will feel at home in how family can be hilarious and still be the best parts of our world.

Booked by Kwame Alexander

Soccer is the backdrop to this coming-of-age novel. Nick Hall, whose father makes him study the dictionary and turn in homework to him, would love to escape the world of words and books. Nick thinks he has the world all-figured out. He lives for soccer, and both he and his best-friend are getting to play in the Dallas Dr. Pepper Open, but on different teams. Just as things seem to be going his way, especially with his crush paying a little of attention to him, bombs start to drop–his mother announces she is leaving to follow her dream of training race horses, but in a different state, and he get appendicitis right before the big tournament. Teens will appreciate how messy life can be, and appreciate those little moments when you realize that you’ve gotten it all wrong.

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

At the start of their eighth grade year both Lily and Dunkin are trying to establish new identities for themselves. Everyone sees Lily as Timothy, but she is ready for the real her to be known, only her father isn’t ready for the the transition. Dunkin, has just moved to Lily’s Florida town to live with his Grandmother, and would love to leave his old name “Norbert”and some painful secrets in the past. This middle grade novel has strong characterization of two young teens navigating their identities. Older teens will identify with the work it takes to let others see the real you, and the hope they will accept you for who you truly are.

middle-grade-fantasy

Fantasy

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

When Peter’s father is heading off to war, he is forced to abandon his pet fox in the woods. Unable to handle the separation, Peter runs away to find his beloved pet, Pax. Told through alternating perspective between Peter and Pax, this book is a sensitive look at grief, man’s relationship with animals, and the marks of war.

When the Sea Turned Silver by Grace Lin

The magic of story will transport readers into a new time and place filled with adventure. Pinmei has to find the Luminous Stone to rescue her grandmother who has been kidnapped by the emperor. Teens that love books of fairytales retold, with love that feeling as Lin weaves new stories that have that classic feeling.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Young Alice lives in a world that values both magic and color, and she unfortunately seems to be lacking both. She hasn’t seem to exhibit any magical powers similar to those in her community, and she was born with no color in her skin or hair. After her father has been missing for several years, she hears that he might be in the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, and she sets out to find him. Teens will be drawn to this Whimsical, gothic fairy tale with a narrator voice similar to Series of Unfortunate Events.

Goblin’s Puzzle; Being the Adventures of A Boy With No Name and Two Girls Called Alice by Andrew S. Chilton

Teen fans of Douglas Adams or Monty Python will love the humorous writing and twists and turns in this adventure. This follows a slave boy with no name as he tries to rescue a princess and a peasant (both named Alice), and discover what his destiny is. He seeks the help of Mennofar, a tiny green goblin, even though he can’t be trusted as everyone knows goblins are sneaky.

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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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Crossovers: When Is It Rape?

The girls says she didn’t want to have sex. The guys says she was all over him. The girl says she was drugged. The guy says she was drinking heavy all night. Maybe there is evidence that the girl had sex with the guy, or maybe there isn’t. She says rape, he says no way. Who is right?

missoulaPopular nonfiction author Jon Krakauer investigates the issue in Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town.  Missoula is home to the University of Montana, devoted to their Grizzly football team. Thus Krakauer weaves the magical protection afforded to football players who are accused of rape. The stories of two college girls who name football players as their rapists form the main narrative threads of the book. It would be a cautionary tale for the college-bound, but the lessons remain clouded by the biases of the media and the college’s investment in its football team. Obvious important issues, such as the ability to give consent when semi-conscious, are brushed aside with some variation of, “She asked for it.”

speakLaurie Halse Anderson dives into the painful emotional aftermath of rape in her 1999 debut novel, Speak. High school freshman Melinda is rolled inside herself after she is raped by a popular older boy at a summer party. Her immediate instinct – call the police – resulted in the party’s break-up. While everyone knows that Melinda called the police, they believe it was to purposefully end the party. Melinda herself is so traumatized that she can’t even speak. Anderson’s deeply moving and disturbing novel won her accolades, winning one of the very first Printz Honor Book awards in 2000. Through Melinda, readers learn that the validity of a rape claim is too often judged by the accuser’s physical attractiveness and social standing. A hot and popular guy would not need to have sex with a lowly freshman, thus her accusation must be based on Melinda’s own wishful thinking.

luckiest girl aliveA recent novel published for adults considers the potential for long-term consequences of rape. The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll introduces the somewhat despicable Ani when she is twenty-eight years old. An unapologetic snob, Ani is all about appearances; impressive job, expensive clothes, and a desirable, rich fiance. Readers quickly realize that Ani is compensating for her internal torment, a sense of worthlessness tied to events in youth. In alternating chapters, Ani returns to her fourteen-year-old self, attending a prestigious high school where she attempts to fit in with the popular crowd. It is not a happy time. The novel is dark, dealing with damaged sexuality in ways that many teen readers would find disturbing. But it clearly illustrates the trauma of rape as it may resonate throughout a victim’s life.

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YA Literary Tropes: I Have to Take Care of My Parent(s)

Welcome back readers! We are continuing our discussion of tropes (commonly used  themes) in YA literature.  So far, we have explored The Old Clunker I Drive and The I Already Know You Introduction.  This week let us jump right into one of my favorites!

The I Have to Take Care of my Parent(s) Trope

YA literary tropes i have to take care of my parents

We read it time and time again. These teens have a lot of responsibility and are oftentimes more capable than their parents.  Why is this plot line so often used?  Well, parents are not perfect so this is a realistic human experience for many readers.  I also think that some wise words J.K. Rowling once said about the unhelpful librarian Madam Pince are relevant here.  Sometimes, when you get the assistance you need the story is over.  So, let us keep the story going by taking a look at some of the most inept parents (and their very capable children) in YA lit.

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What Would They Read?: Emma from Red Band Society

red_band_societyThe television show Red Band Society premiered in the fall of 2014.  It was not renewed for a second season; however, I found the premise intriguing: a group of teens who live in the hospital, each trying to outlive their disease and attempt a semblance of normal teenage life.  They sneak out of the hospital, cover for each other, date and break up and have struggles with their families just like any other teens.

Emma is one of the teen patients in the hospital.  She struggles with anorexia, and near the end of the season she’s released from the hospital, only to relapse and end up back in her room a short while later. Emma is quiet and smart and has a lot of time on her hands, so if she asked me for something to read, these are the books I would recommend to her:

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (2010 Best Books for Young Adults, 2010 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers)

This story of Lia and Cassie’s descent into anorexia and Lia’s struggle to survive would resonate with Emma and her own battle against anorexia. It isn’t a happy story, but it’s an important one. Emma is ready to fight against her disease, and Wintergirls might encourage her to keep fighting.

my best friend maybeMy Best Friend Maybe by Caela Carter

Colette and Sadie used to be best friends until Sadie suddenly stopped speaking to Colette. Now Sadie wants Colette to join her and her family on an international vacation. Emma would identify with Colette’s need to appear perfect to everyone in her life, and also with her confusion when past  secrets become known.

45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson

Ann’s mother is obsessed with her weight, and Ann has followed in her footsteps. She is trying to lose weight before her aunt’s wedding, until she realizes the effect her obsession is having on her family.  Emma would     identify with Ann, especially as Ann notices her obsession effecting her younger siblings. Emma’s younger sister is definitely effected by Emma’s long-term hospital stay and struggle with anorexia, so this is a book I’d give Emma to read. 

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