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Tag: M. T. Anderson

Booklist for Choose Privacy Week

Privacy, a cornerstone of library service, is something that teens can often take for granted, especially online. Choose Privacy Week is May 1-7, and is a time when we can highlight privacy’s importance in our lives, and what is at stake with the possible corrosion to one’s personal privacy for and with our teen patrons. Teens should understand that privacy is their civil right, and user agreements and data collection are edging on those rights.

Following is a list of books and resources that can engage teens in discussion and/or contemplation of what protecting their privacy can mean for them.

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Women in Comics: Quests

Characters setting out on quests are an important part of many literary genres and formats. From the Epic of Gilgamesh to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, quests have been part of some of our most enduring pieces of literature. These stories often work perfectly as the basis of graphic novels, meaning that there are many quests in comics and graphic novels. This list brings together just a few great examples of quests in comics and graphic novels. Whether you prefer fantasy or nonfiction, there is a quest here for you!

M.F.K. CoverYvain CoverAlgeria is Beautiful Like America Cover

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One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with M.T. Anderson

There are cultures, for example, where teens are not considered to be, first and foremost, consumers.

Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.

I’ll admit right up front to being horribly intimidated at the prospect of this interview.  I put off drafting questions by collecting other interviews, reviews, and articles; by sifting through YouTube for conference appearances and even more interviews, by reading and re-reading the essays and speeches on his website…you get the idea.  But all that research and preparation just made it worse, actually.  So much worse.  M.T. Anderson’s reputation as one of the nicest and funniest (Whales on Stilts, right?) authors around seems, from my limited experience (which mostly involves award speeches and receptions and secondhand stories from totally reputable sources), to be well founded and supported by evidence.  And I’ve seen with my own eyes (as an audience member etc.) how downright goofy he can be so I know that’s true too.  And yet.

And yet.

You simply can’t read Octavian Nothing, or Feed, or (wow!) Symphony for the City of the Dead without becoming a little overwhelmed at the incredible intellect and spirit behind the words.  And I think it’s impossible to not want to rise to the occasion, so to speak, but when I finally had to sit down and write this introduction (which of course I put off as long as I could) all I could do was sputter and gesture and shake my head because really, what can I say? (Thankfully I was alone.)

So I guess I’ll just say thank you for the opportunity, for–as always–making me think, and for championing teens, intellectualism, and intellectual teens in a climate that routinely dismisses all three.

Always Something There to Remind Me

MT_Anderson2011Please describe your teenage self.

Thin to the point of mantis-like. Eager to explore the world in front of me. Already unhappy that someday I’d have to die.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

A writer! I always had stories I wanted to tell. I spent a lot of time reading, and I was eager to become part of the ancient conversation of literature.

What were your high school years like?

There was some fun. I was in plays and musicals. I made movies with my friends. I spent an extra high school year in in England, and that was incredible – full of those eccentricities we now would see as Hogwartsian (students wearing black robes, medieval courtyards, all the entertaining rigors of a British boarding school). That place really stepped up my intellectual and artistic game. We studied Anglo-Saxon history, read Lear, sang Renaissance church music, and created a Cubist play about Picasso’s youth on a stage made entirely of cabbages.

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SYNC Audiobooks for Teens

SYNC imageThe SYNC Audiobooks for Teens program, sponsored by AudioFile Magazine, and powered by OverDrive, will start next week on May 5th to give teens, librarians and educators the opportunity  to download a selection of free audiobooks during a 15-week program that ends on August 17, 2016.

Each week, SYNC offers a thematic pairing of  two YA books or a YA book with an classic adult book. You must download the Overdrive app to the device of your choice to access the audiobooks each Thursday after 7 pm (EST). Each week’s selections are only available for download for one week, so if you don’t download them during that time period, you won’t be able to get them later, since they aren’t archived. Teens, librarians, club leaders, and educators can sign up for email or text alerts to receive reminders of when they’re available.

Many of the selections are award-winners or titles frequently assigned for summer reading. They are notable for their excellent narration that enables readers to master the listening skills so necessary for literacy. During the summer of 2015, the SYNC program gave away more than 129,000 downloads to 41,000 participants.

With the continued discussions of the loss of reading skills over the summer, SYNC hopes to help keep teens engaged and stimulated throughout the summer. Public librarians have also used SYNC as part of their summer reading programs.

SYNC has a toolkit you can use to publicize it to teens and other librarians by going to their website. There are downloadable posters and a brochure with the list of each week’s audiobooks, and even audio snippets of the books you can listen to.

I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to listen to books I may not have read, or adult books I wouldn’t normally listen to. I really love that they’re free and that I can keep them forever once I’ve downloaded them. I’ve only participated over the past three or so years. Since this is the seventh year of the program, I’ve missed out on a lot of great audios! So you don’t miss out like I did, the list of what’s available is here, with annotations from WorldCat. You can also go to SYNC’s website to see the list too.

Vivian Apple at the End of the WorldVIVIAN APPLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Katie Coyle (Dreamscape Media) 

Sixteen-year-old Vivian Apple returns home after the alleged ‘Rapture’ to find her devout parents gone and two mysterious holes in the roof. Vivian never believed in the Rapture, or the uber powerful Church of America. Now that she has been left behind, Vivan’s quest for the truth begins.

WITH

Great Tennessee Monkey Trial Peter GoodchildTHE GREAT TENNESSEE MONKEY TRIAL by Peter Goodchild (L.A. Theatre Works) 

Presents a dramatization of the Scope Trial in a small-town Tennessee courtroom in 1925 which set the stage for the ongoing national debate over freedom of inquiry and the separation of church and state in a democratic society.

 

Sin Eaters Daughter audioTHE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER by Melinda Salisbury (Scholastic Audio)

For four years sixteen-year-old Twylla has lived in the castle of Lormere, the goddess-embodied, whose touch can poison and kill, and hence the Queen’s executioner–but when Prince Merek, her betrothed, who is immune to her touch returns to the kingdom she finds herself caught up in palace intrigues, unsure if she can trust him or the bodyguard who claims to love her.

WITH

Divine CollisionDIVINE COLLISION: AN AFRICAN BOY, AN AMERICAN LAWYER, AND THEIR REMARKABLE BATTLE FOR FREEDOM by Jim Gash (Oasis Audio)

Los Angeles lawyer and law professor, Jim Gash, tells the amazing true story of how, after a series of God-orchestrated events, he finds himself in the heart of Africa defending a courageous Ugandan boy languishing in prison and wrongfully accused of two separate murders. Ultimately, their unlikely friendship and unrelenting persistence reforms Uganda’s criminal justice system, leaving a lasting impact on hundreds of thousands of lives and unearthing a friendship that supersedes circumstance, culture and the walls we often hide behind.

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2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #7

Not signed up yet for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm EST on June 23, so sign up now!

Here we are at week seven of the 2016 Hub Reading Challenge, which means we are somehow a third of the way through already.  There’s still plenty of time to dive in, however, even if you’re in my boat, with only a handful of titles read so far.

the hub 2016 reading challenge

 

Like many of you who are bouncing between eligible challenge books and keeping up with current titles for work, I’m zipping back and forth between books I need to read for interviews and Hub Reading Challenge titles.  Fortunately, I’ve just finished the amazing Award for Excellence in Nonfiction finalist Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson, a double duty pick and a fantastic reading experience.

Symphony for the City of the Dead is narrative nonfiction at its best.  The story of composer Dmitri Shostakovich and how he came to produce his Leningrad Symphony, written during the three year siege of Leningrad during WWII, is riveting, horrifying, and ultimately life-affirming.  Anderson provides historical context and a whole lot of excruciating detail, as well as musical insight and appreciation.  He also invites readers into the research process itself, identifying questions and unknowns along the way.

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What Would They Read?: Brody Nelson from CSI: Cyber

Crime dramas are very popular, so much so that many shows (NCIS, CSI, Law & Order, to name a few) have spawned spin-offs which then become popular as well. CSI: Cyber is no exception.

CSI Cyber

This criminal show follows a team that tracks criminals who are using technology to commit their crimes. One of the newest members of this team is Brody Nelson, a convicted hacker who uses his computer skills to catch cyber criminals. If Brody were to walk in today and ask for a good book to read, this is what I’d offer him:

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (2009 Best Books for Young Adults) is an obvious choice. After a major terrorist attack, Marcus and his friends are suspected of orchestrating the attack due to their skills as hackers. Although Marcus is cleared of wrongdoing, he has to use his hacking skills to rescue one of his friends who was not so lucky.

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Booklist: Extraordinary New Nonfiction

Can you believe it’s already almost the end of September? I think I must do a lot of my Hub posts at the end of the month because by the time I’m writing them I’m astounded at how it’s suddenly the end of the month.

Anyways. Hubbers! Exciting news! Nonfiction for teens is getting better and better. I had my whole month filled to the brim with great nonfiction that totally read like fiction. I was on the edge of my seat; I wanted to learn more about each topic as soon as I was finished with each book I read. I was excited (for lack of a better word) about typhoid fever, WWII Russia and WWI Russia.

Teens may think that nonfiction is dull and boring (I’m pretty sure that I did when I was a teen), but I think that nonfiction for teens and adults has come a long way. Instead of rote recitation of facts and figures, nonfiction is including stories of hope, triumph, will, starvation, cannibalism (we’ll get to that later), and more in a way that is lyrically beautiful and hooks readers from the very first page.

I actually wanted to read most of these books because I participated in School Library Journal’s annual FREE all-day virtual conference, SummerTeen. If you haven’t participated in the SummerTeen experience, you totally should. It’s a fun day of presentations (Jason Reynolds’ keynote speech was so unbelievable; I’m still thinking about it 2 months later) that you can attend from your desk or in your pajamas – what could be better than that? So, at SummerTeen, I “attended” a great session on new nonfiction for teens that featured some of the books I’ll be spotlighting today. I’ll also be featuring a couple of additional nonfiction books that I loved that I just know the teens in your life will grab up and absorb knowledge from. Join me, won’t you – on this journey through the world of extraordinary nonfiction.

the-family-romanov-candace-flemingThe Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming  (2015 YALSA Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist): This book is the oldest of all the ones I’ll be talking about today; it came out in 2014 and was a finalist for the 2015 YALSA Nonfiction for Young Adults award as well as a 2015 Siebert honor book. And, it’s well deserved – this book was so engaging and entertaining, I wanted it to never end.

Now, I’m sure most of us know the story of the Romanovs: Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, Empress Alexandra, and their 4 daughters and 1 son loomed over Russia from 1868-1918, and through their policies created mass inequity between classes while living in decadence. When you first open the book and see that huge family chart with names and dates and all the lines connecting them and theirs, you might feel like “I’m not going to understand one thing in this book” (and “you” was actually me) – but, fear not – this book is so easy to read that first chart will be long forgotten after the first chapter. Fleming does a great job of incorporating not only accounts from those high in power in the government, but also accounts from everyday workers and those so poor they could not afford to eat; it provided a nice balance to the Romanovs who thought that everything was perfectly fine in Russia, and that everyone just wanted to complain. When it finally comes to the end that we all know about, I still ended up learning things that I’m still thinking about many months later (just remember the jewels under their dresses when you get to that part of the story. Good grief.).

Plus, Rasputin. People. That could have been a story all to itself. The book ends with the death of Lenin and the realization that Stalin is now coming into power. I was so mad when this book ended. I wanted to know what happened when Stalin came into power! But, guess what? Then I picked up this next book, and my wishes were granted…

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What Would They Read?: Parks and Recreation Part 2

parks-and-recreationThe time has come to recommend more books to our friends in Pawnee.  I feel like I might have left the more difficult characters for this entry.  Last month, I chose books for Leslie, Ben, April, and Andy.  So let’s get started and see what we have this time around.

Tom Haverford – It is not difficult to select books for Tom. Basically, all you have to do is tell him that a celebrity endorsed the book and he would be all over it.  However, I do think that is a bit like cheating.  There has to be a bookSo Yesterday that fits Tom’s personality and passion for the jet-setter life.  There is a book– and it’s called So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld (a 2005 Best Books for Young Adults selection).  Before the name Westerfeld became synonymous with the Uglies series, he wrote So Yesterday.  In this standalone novel, Hunter has the responsibility to find the Innovators, people who start trends, and present them to the retail market.  Tom, with his big ideas like Entertainment 720 and Rent-a-Swag, will love the adventure Hunter embarks on in a city full of unknown pockets of cool.  Unfortunately Pawnee is not a hub of trendsetting activity.  Tom can live vicariously through Hunter’s story.  Another title that Tom may enjoy is Feed by M.T. Anderson.  In Feed, it is commonplace for everyone to have a feed similar to the Internet directly inputted into your brain.  The program learns your likes and dislikes and sends you advertisements customized to you.  Tom would love having all of that knowledge at his fingertips. 

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M.T. Anderson Reflects on Where We Are, Years After His Iconic Book, Feed

Feed

I was lucky enough to meet M.T. Anderson, 2009 recipient of YALSA’s Best Books For Young Adults, this week at the library where I work.  He was gracious enough to grant an interview for The Hub.   With dystopian as the hot thing right now, I wanted to know where he thinks we are going, as readers, and how technology is changing us.

Science fiction often says more about the time period it was written than the imagined future society. What parallels do you see between our current social experience and your imagined world?

I wrote the book back in 2001, and, in my mind, it was actually already about the world I saw back then: a world where I didn’t even have to have a chip installed in my skull — I already heard the voice of advertising all the time, speaking in my thoughts and dreams.

Do you feel current technology is catching up with Feed?  For example, the way advertising is sent directly to us on our Facebook pages?                                                             

Technological experimentation is making “feeds” more possible every day, at a speed that I find somewhat surprising and disconcerting. For several years now, neuro-electrical scans have mapped what a buying frenzy looks like in the brain. And as of this year, we have managed to transfer movement impulses between humans over a cyberlink. We can force rats to “remember” impulses that they’ve never encountered before by digitally, and then neurologically, encoding those impulses. Intel says they want chips in consumers’ heads by 2020.  These products could soon be a reality.

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Books For Every Class In Your Schedule (Part 3)

Photo by JohnathanLobel. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Photo by JohnathanLobel. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Today we will finish up our class schedule with books on math, history and art!

Period 6: Math – Gretchen Kolderup
Nothing But the Truth (and a Few White Lies) by Justina Chen
Patty Ho is half-Taiwanese and half-white, a math genius, and in trouble with her mother after a fortune teller sees a white boy in her future. When her mom ships her off to math camp for the summer, she thinks she’s in for months of boredom surrounded by Asian math nerds.
But things might not be as desperate as they seem (she does meet a cute boy!), and Patty might just learn something about her family and herself. Well-developed characters and a relatable story of discovering who people are beneath the surface.

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