When you envision a pirate does Johnny Depp from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies immediately come to mind? How about Blackbeard or other famous pirates from the mid 17th to early 18th centuries? Probably, right? The Books for International Talk Like a Pirate Day post by Geri Diorio on September 19th was an excellent look at pirates in YA books. With Halloween nearly here you might see kids dressed as pirates on October 31st too.
But, if you’ve seen the TV ads for upcoming films in the past month or heard the news recently, you know that modern-day piracy exists and is very different from what we usually imagine when we think of pirates. Modern-day pirates are more likely to wear jeans and carry AK47s than cutlasses. The Captain Phillips film starring Tom Hanks that opened October 11 isn’t necessarily geared for teens but its suspenseful plot does have teen appeal. It tells the true story of merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean during the Maersk Alabama cargo ship hijacking in 2009. The film’s release has resulted in more attention being made in the press to the issue of modern piracy.
It made me wonder whether there were any YA books written on the topic. Coincidentally (or not?) 2013 Printz Award winner Nick Lake’s latest book Hostage Three is due out November 12 in the US and it’s about modern piracy.
In this taut and exciting psychological thriller, privileged teenager Amy, her wealthy British father and Amy’s stepmother are on a luxurious yacht trip around the world. Their route takes them from Britain’s Southampton, through the Suez Canal towards the east coast of Africa. Just as they reach Somalia’s coast, their yacht is attacked and seized by Somali pirates (who refer to themselves as the coast guard and not pirates). The pirates dehumanize their captives and refer to them by their order of importance. Hostage One is Amy’s father, Hostage Two her stepmother and Hostage Three is Amy. Despite this, Amy finds herself alternately attracted to and terrified of young, good looking Farouz, the pirates’ translator. As her feelings for him grow, she knows it’s an impossible situation yet she can’t help how she feels. Told from only Amy’s point-of-view, readers soon realize she’s a very unreliable narrator. What’s really true and not true? You’ll have to read it to find out. Continue reading Modern-Day Piracy in YA Books
Although ALA 2013 wasn’t my first ALA Annual Conference, I missed out on attending YALSA’s YA Author Coffee Klatch the first time around and I wasn’t making that mistake again.
The YA Author Coffee Klatch is a unique session at ALA, where, for an additional paid ticket, conference attendees can meet and connect with YA authors, from new writers to industry superstars whose books appear on YALSA’s selection lists or awards. Around four to seven attendees sit at a table, and every few minutes authors rotate to visit the tables and chat books and writing and sometimes pass out goodies. Here’s a sampling of some of the amazing authors that visited my table.
On Monday, July 1st at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference, the five authors recognized by this year’s Michael L. Printz Award were honored with a ceremony and reception. Unlike some award ceremonies, both the winning author and all of the honor list authors are given the opportunity to speak. Their words are always moving and enlightening, and this year was no different.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz opened the evening with a heartfelt speech about how he had to learn to accept himself as a gay man before he could write the story of a gay Latino boy finding love. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was nearly never published: he’d written a draft but found it too painful and filed it away until one day he rediscovered it and felt like he was reading someone else’s book. He described the book as a road map for “boys who were born to play by different rules.” He also spoke about his mother, who died the day the book was published. He was able to show it to her before he passed away, and “she patted her heart and smiled.” Because the circumstances around the book’s publication were so bittersweet, he said that the day he received the call from the Printz committee saying his book had been selected as an honor title, he was finally able to celebrate the book. He told the members of the Printz committee in attendance, “You gave me a second chance. You gave me back my book.”
May’s Haitian Heritage Month is a celebration in the United States of Haitian heritage and culture. It was first celebrated in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1998. The Haitian Heritage Month celebration is an expansion of the Haitian Flag Day, a major patriotic day celebration in Haiti and the Diaspora.
Until I started compiling this list, I hadn’t realized I’d read so many YA books with Haitian characters, some written by authors with Haitian ancestry and some not. The most well-known Haitian-American author is probably American Book Award-winning author Edwidge Dandicat. All the books she’s written are for adults, although the collection of stories in her book Krik? Krat! earned her a National Book Award nomination and does have appeal for older teens. The collection includes the Pushcart Prize-winner “Between the Pool and the Gardenias.” Danticat examines the brutality of her native Haiti in the stories in this book, particularly as it affects ordinary Haitian women, in tales that soar with raw emotion.
It’s time for the 7th Annual Tower Hamlets Book Award! A list of 40 nominated books selected by librarians and pupils has been released to participating schools in the Tower Hamlets Borough in London. The competition has a couple of stages. In July, a shortlist is announced, just in time for summer reading. (Summer term ends in late July.) Pupils and librarians vote, and in November the winner is announced.
Originally, I wanted to compare their list of nominees to our list of 2013 Teen Top Ten nominees. Turns out they have only one book in common: Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity. So this post mainly focuses on the THBA, because there are some new and interesting titles found there.
This morning, the winners and honor books for ALA’s Youth Media Awards were announced to an enthusiastic crowd in Seattle during ALA’s Midwinter Meeting. Here are the YA titles that were recognized (children’s books recognized by these awards have been omitted from the list; find the full list of winners on ALA’s website):
School’s back in session, and that means many of us are having to use numbers again — whether it’s in mathematics, science, or some other class where numbers are used.
In looking at YA fiction that’s come out this so far this year, I’ve noticed that in addition to the many one-word titles (Starters, Above, Struck, Momentum, Quarantine, etc.), there are also a lot of titles containing numbers. Being a curious librarian and a trivia geek, I looked up the numbers to see if their meanings might have any correlation to the plots of the books. Unfortunately, I can’t say I found any, but I did discover lots of fascinating (at least to me) random facts and tidbits about numbers from mathematics, science, philosophy, literature, and other disciplines (all gleaned from Wikipedia) that I thought I’d share with you.
Zero by Tom Leveen: An aspiring artist, who refers to herself jokingly as “Zero,” loses scholarship money, and her future art career looks as bleak as the paintings by her idol Dali.
Records show that the ancient Greeks seemed unsure about the status of zero as a number. They asked themselves, “How can nothing be something?” leading to philosophical and, by the Medieval period, religious arguments about the nature and existence of zero and the vacuum.