Throwback Thursday, Book Cover Edition: Everything Old Is New Again

It’s a truism of reading that books are judged by their covers, no matter how much we feel in our hearts that we shouldn’t be swayed by looks. In my experience, teen readers feel especially passionate about this. Shabby book? No way. Juvenile or dated-looking cover? Pass! So I pay extra attention when older books are issued with fresh new covers. In the visual world of teen marketing, it can mean a new lease on life for many older books, and discovery by a whole new generation. Here are just a few examples:

face on the milk carton pair
1990 design vs. 2012 design


forever pair
1975 design vs. 2014 design

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ALA Annual 2014: The Margaret A. Edwards Award Brunch

alaac14_logoThe Margaret A. Edwards Award, sponsored by School Library Journal,  is presented annually to an author whose works are deemed “a significant and long lasting contribution to young adult literature.” Previous winners include Lois Lowry (2007), Chris Crutcher (2000) and Gary Paulsen (1997). On June 28th, at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, YALSA presented the 2014 Margaret A. Edwards Award to Markus Zusak specifically for his novels The Book Thief, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Getting the Girl, and I Am the Messenger.

I was really excited about this year’s presentation for two reasons: 1. I Am the Messenger is one of the best books I have ever read and 2. the ceremony was being held on my birthday. There was also an extra added bonus- I’m a native Las Vegan, so I didn’t have to travel to ALA this year. Instead, it came to me!

MAE Program MAE food MAE Books

The Edwards Award ceremony was a brunch this year instead of the traditional lunch, which appealed to me because I’m a big fan of breakfast at any time.  When I arrived at the Las Vegas Hotel there were already people in line waiting to get in and the ballroom was all set up and ready for us. In addition to coffee, quiche and other sundries attendees also received copies of two of  Markus Zusak’s books. The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger, and reading group guides for both books. Attendees eagerly anticipated the presentation of the award and the acceptance speech and chatted throughout brunch until the presentation started.

For those of you who may not know, Markus Zusak hails from Sydney, Australia, so he came from the other side of the world to accept this award (and he has a lovely accent.) He  listed Chris Crutcher, Gary Paulsen and Lois Lowry as heroes, and expressed some awe at being given an award that they had all previously won. After putting aside his speech and telling us he was going to keep it for reference, he told us that his writing career started in the backyard where he grew up, and shared some of the hijinks he and his siblings would get into, including setting up a tennis court in the house, boxing with one glove, and  finding new ways of getting his mother to swear, like ruining her garden playing football (or soccer, for those of us who live here in the U.S.), because when she swore in her  non-Australian accent it was hilarious. Continue reading ALA Annual 2014: The Margaret A. Edwards Award Brunch

What Teens Are Saying About What They Are Reading, vol. 4

All my voracious readers are working their way through my young adult fiction collection like they haven’t been allowed to read all year. I’m excited to share that not only are all my young adult patrons reading with gusto, they are also also finding a lot of titles that they liked. These teens were also  willing to share their favorite titles. Here are some more Teen Choice Best Books short reviews collected during the summer reading program.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (1997 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner)

choice 4-7














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Man of Steel: The Outsider Remix

The new Man of Steel movie was interesting. This isn’t to say that I didn’t like it. In fact, there were parts that I outright loved. However, there were also a number of problematic elements in the film, but let’s start off with the good. Henry Cavill made an excellent Superman. He wasn’t bad to look at either, and let’s face it: Superman deserves some superhuman good looks. I also really liked Amy Adams as Lois Lane as well as how she figured out that whole Clark Kent/Superman thing really quickly in this movie. It always bothered me that Lois Lane was supposed to be some super-smart journalist and yet she couldn’t even figure out that her partner, who sits across from her on a daily basis, was, in fact, Superman. Face palm.

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Getting the Jump on Summer Reading (and tackling my To-Read Pile)

I know in some parts of the country spring is just beginning to poke its little green sprouts out of the ground, and in some parts of the world winter is fast approaching, but here in the desert where I live, it’s pretty much already summer, so of course my thought processes have turned to compiling my summer reading list. This year I am challenging myself to read all (okay, some) of the young adult titles that everyone else seems to have read, but for whatever reason I have never read myself. This list includes classics, new titles, and even hot titles that people who don’t read young adult literature have read. To get started, here are the first few that I plan to tackle:

outsidersI am more than a little ashamed to admit that I am one of the only, if not the only, youth librarian in the world who has never read S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. Even my husband has read The Outsiders, and he’s not a young adult literature reader. I’ve never even seen the movie! It is required reading in many classrooms, but when I was in high school my teachers were focused on different books. By the time I realized that this was a classic I should have long ago read, I was already a librarian with a “to-read” pile twenty books high … and that pile only increases in size as each year passes. It’s high time I move Ponyboy to the top of the pile!

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The Edwards Award: The Once and Future Thing

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

The Margaret A. Edwards Award has always been one of my favorite literary awards. It is YALSA’s version of a lifetime achievement award: it “honors an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature,” and in order to be sure that the author’s work has been significant and lasting, the committee can only consider books published at least five years prior to the year they meet. The list of winners is a who’s who of the titans of YA literature, so it is decidedly retrospective (we might call it the Last Big Thing). But in the spirit of this month’s theme and the symposium, I wanted to find out how often the Edwards Award was predictive of an author’s continued contribution to YA literature — their ability to also be the Next Big Thing.

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Write Now! Young Adults Penning Books for Teens

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that adult authors can even begin to fathom what young adults’ lives are really like. After all, weren’t all those adults all young back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth? Having just watched the Summer Olympics in London, it seemed even the youngest competitors like 15-year-old British gymnast Rebecca Tunney brought their game faces. It’s no surprise that with children earning college degrees (like Micheal Kearney did at age 10), some inspired teens would turn their talents to the world of fiction. A lot of readers may be familiar with more famous teen authors like S.E. Hinton, who wrote The Outsiders at age 18, and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, who published her first book In the Forests of the Night (2001 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults) in 1999 when she was just 14. Here some more current authors who were all still in high school or college when they got their start in publishing.

Why YA in the Classroom

Recently a report on high school students and reading levels came out with an alarming headline: “High Schoolers Reading at 5th Grade-Level.” Covered previously here at The Hub, the report gathered data suggesting that a majority of high school students are reading below grade level. It also asked an important question: what should kids be reading? One answer to this question is using more young adult literature in high school classes to increase interest and reading levels. YA is more popular than ever thanks to a certain dystopian series being turned into an insanely popular movie. But this strategy is not without its drawbacks.

Last month a teacher in South Carolina was suspended for reading aloud a passage from Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, a YA science fiction book considered by many a classic and often taught in schools in units dealing with identity and morality. The Arizona State Legislature passed legislation last year effectively banning YA titles that had previously been used in successful multicultural studies curriculum. John Green recently defended his book Looking For Alaska (the 2006 Printz Award winner) on Twitter after it was removed from a school reading list on the basis it is “pornographic.”

YA books are far from being universally accepted in school classrooms. Their inclusion presents unique challenges (sometimes literally) but also amazing opportunities. A compelling reason to include YA literature in classrooms is content. Teens, like most readers, appreciate characters and situation that are familiar to them and their lives. Readers have a stronger connection to the text when they can see themselves and their struggles in the story. YA literature also offers readers diverse characters, compelling stories, and high quality writing. When incorporated into literature curricula, YA titles can offer a wide spectrum of views on popular themes like identity, conflict, society and survival. YA literature can be easily incorporated into classroom through literature circles, supplemental reading lists, multimedia projects, and of course being paired with canonical texts typically used in classrooms.

Here’s a list of YA titles that would fit into the classroom, organized by theme.

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Poetry Inspires YA Novelists

Matched by Ally CondieReaders of Ally Condie’s bestsellers Matched (a 2011 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, among the 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults titles, a 2011 Readers’ Choice Nomination, and among the 2011 Teens’ Top Ten) and Crossed will know that poetry plays a key role in these dystopian tales. The Society in which heroine Cassia Reyes lives controls choice with an iron hand, to the extent that there are only 100 acceptable poems. Knowing or possessing a copy of an off-list poem is a crime. Cassia’s dying grandfather shares with her Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night,” a forbidden poem that inspires her to start asking questions–the most dangerous act in a totalitarian state.

Crossed by Ally CondieIn the sequel, Crossed, another banned poem, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar,” is the rallying cry of the Rebellion. Tennyson writes of the Pilot, whom he hopes to “see face to face” as God, and the bar to be crossed as that between life and death. In Crossed, rebels speak of “the Pilot” as the leader who will direct their Rising, and the bar to be crossed is that between the repressive present and the idealized past.

The Outsiders by S.E. HintonCondie’s use of poetry made me think about other novels in which authors use poems as integral parts of the story. The first book that came to mind was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (the 1988 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner; the book made the 2006 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults list) and the poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost. Ponyboy shares it with his friend Johnny when they are hiding out after Johnny accidentally kills another boy. It perfectly expresses the boys’ tenuous circumstances and the fleeting nature of youth and innocence, the “dawn that goes down to day.”

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Playlist from the Pages of That Was Then, This Is Now

S.E. Hinton, was the first recipient in 1988 of the Margaret A. Edwards Award. Her most well-known work is likely her first, The Outsiders, but her sophomore novel That Was Then, This is Now is the one we’re making a playlist for today. All songs have been chosen by my teen partner in crime, John Bartolucci. John is going into 7th grade and his band recently performed at an open mic night at the lcoal theater a few doors down from the library– so listen to the man, he knows his music!  We were going mostly for a retro vibe that would fit with the late 60s feeling of the book (which was published in 1971).

Playlist for That Was Then This Is Now– click on the links to hear exerpts from the songs!

1) Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix—“Reminds me of how Bryon was feeling when he couldn’t think strait and everything was
like a haze”—John

Hey Joe  By Jimi Hendrix “I love having these songs on our list because it’s a musical equivalent of the concept of that-was-then-this-is-now and how much American culture was changing in the 1960s and 70s. Generations that have grown up listening to Jimi Hendrix take for granted that he was a musical genius, but can you imagine what it must have felt like to hear these driving, powerful guitar sounds on the radio for the
first time? The course of rock music had taken a major turn, and I bet a lot of people would argue that Jimi Hendrix was the great marker between what was “then” and what has become “now” –Mia Continue reading Playlist from the Pages of That Was Then, This Is Now