This year on the Hub we are celebrating the Twelve Days of YA with a series of posts loosely based on the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. We have converted each gift into a related theme common to YA and paired it with a list of relevant titles. You may use the Twelve Days of YA tag to read all of the posts in the series.
Special thanks goes to Carli Spina, Faythe Arredondo, Sharon Rawlins, Geri Diorio, Becky O’Neil, Carla Land, Katie Yu, Laura Perenic, Jennifer Rummel, Libby Gorman, Carly Pansulla, Anna Dalin, and Allison Tran for their help creating the booklists and organizing this series.
On the eleventh day of YA, my true love gave to me eleven pipers piping.
Rather than try to round up a list of YA lit about actual pipers, we decided to expand our theme to cover all stories set in two main homes of bagpipes: Ireland and Scotland. We hope you enjoy the piping good books that we picked and encourage you to share your favorites in the comments!
I love the twang of country music, the songs about trucks, independence, and falling in love. I think I fell in love with country music because most of the songs seem to tell a story, and being a bookish nerd, I loved that.
Here’s a video from Trace Atkins explaining why he sings Country in Songs About Me.
July 4th was National County Music Day and in celebration, I’ve created a list of YA books featuring country music.
Wildflower by Alicia Whitaker
Bird’s family play together with her Dad as the front man, but when he’s sick, he asks Bird to step in a lead the band. At first, Bird’s nervous, but then she finds her groove and starts to shine in the spotlight. There’s a talent scout in the crowd and he requests a meeting with her father. Everyone’s excited about the possibility of being signed â€“ but it turns out he just wants Bird. It’s too good of an opportunity for her to pass up, but is she ready for the hard work and fame?
Somebody Everybody Listens To by Suzanne Supplee (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
Retta Lee Jones takes the advice from her best friend and, after high school graduation, leaves her small town behind in hopes of making it in Nashville. After a string of bad luck, she meets a friend who helps her out. Can she survive and strike it big?
Retta can sing. As she belts out the National Anthem at her high school graduation, she sees tears rolling down her classmate’s face. A voice like hers is special; Retta can sing anything the country music queens have recorded and sound just as good. She has the talent to make it big. But Retta has no car and no money. Will she spend her life working at Taco Bell, or will she take the enormous risk of heading to Nashville?
Each chapter begins with a short blurb about a famous country singer that tells how they got their big break. The following chapter is then named after one of the singer’s recordings. It’s a genuine treat to see how much dedication comes before success, and how often it comes about by a chance encounter. In Retta’s case, she hits Nashville in the middle of the Country Music Festival, an event that draws thousands every year. This could be disastrous. Or it could be the first step in Retta’s own big break.
One of the best stories of perseverance is that of Gretchen Wilson. Born in Pocahontas, Illinois, Wilson’s mother was a teenage waitress; home was in a trailer park. At fifteen, Wilson moved over to St. Louis, getting singing jobs in bars. Through a combination of hard work and grit, Wilson made her way to Nashville, where her first single, Redneck Woman, was released in 2004. For a firsthand account of Gretchen Wilson’s life, read Redneck Woman: Stories from My Life, by Gretchen Wilson and Allen Rucker.
Diane Colson, currently reading “Charm & Strange” by Stephanie Kuehn.
I hear people talking about reality TV all the time. More and more, when I hear someone describe why they like a certain reality TV show, I want to tell them, “Well, if you like that show, then I have the perfect novel to recommend!” There is a strong connection between reality TV and teen literature; we have seen how authors use the premise of reality TV taking over the world in their works. However, I think there is also a connection between reality TV and teen lit because the subjects expressed in both are very similar — subjects like love, family, survival, and undiscovered talent.
Below you’ll find some of my pairings of teen novels and reality TV shows. Check them out and then recommend some of your own!
“The Bachelor” / The Selection by Kiera Cass
Perhaps one of the most obvious pairings, The Selection is Kiera Cass’s dystopian novel that takes the competitive reality dating we see on one of ABC’s most popular reality TV shows, “The Bachelor,” and sets it in a futuristic world where a strict caste system exists. America is one of thirty-five girls chosen to compete to marry Prince Maxon. She has already found love with her neighbor, but he is a caste below her and they both know there is no way they could have a future together. Though she does not want to be the next queen, America cannot deny the opportunity for a better life for her and her family.
In a world of YA lit that is inundated with covers showing thin, model-like girls dressed for the runway, it’s refreshing to read books that feature protagonists with curvy bodies. The CDC states that 17% of children ages 2-19 are obese, and I believe it is important for these teenagers to see themselves in YA literature. Today I’m focusing on female characters; maybe in another post I can take a look at the guys.
As I was revisiting books to write this post, I realized that it’s hard to read a book with an overweight or obese character without bringing a great deal of personal judgment to the table. We have all been made aware of the health risks that are associated with obesity, so many of us deal with it differently than other types of diversity (sexual orientation, race, religion, etc.). Wanting people to lose weight, sometimes judging them if they don’t, seems justified. But is it? The following books, Artichoke’s Heart and Big Fat Manifesto, made me think about issues like these in deeper ways and also stirred up some feelings (past and present) associated with my own weight and appearance.
In Artichoke’s Heart by Suzanne Supplee, Rosemary Weldon was called a sweaty, fat artichoke by your quintessential mean girl in the 6th grade. Sadly, the name stuck. Rosemary is now an overweight teenager and is still suffering the attacks of the same mean girl. The bullying she receives is a constant part of school but is just a small part of this story, which focuses more on Rosemary’s struggle to lose weight, her first boyfriend, and her relationships with her mother and aunt. There are things I love about this book and things that I think are problematic.
My loves include the characters Kyle and Kay-Kay. Kyle is the boy Rosemary has a crush on, and he thinks she is wonderful just the way she is. As Rosie says, “There wasn’t a hint of disgust or disappointment behind his eyes; Kyle Cox looked at me the way I longed to look at myself.” Kyle is a total jock, popular at school, and he helps Rosemary see herself as something more than her weight. Kay-Kay is a gorgeous, blond cheerleader who also happens to be a wonderful, caring person. Rosie’s assumption that she will be another mean girl gets turned on its head, which is refreshing.