2015 Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults: An Interview with finalist Steve Sheinkin

yalsa nonfiction finalistThe YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults (ages 12-18) during a Nov. 1 – Oct. 31 publishing year. The award winner will be announced at the ALA Midwinter Meeting Youth Media (YMA) Awards on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Join us for a live webcast of the YMA Awards press conference or follow I Love Libraries on Twitter or Facebook to be among the first to know the 2015 winners. The official hashtag for the 2015 Youth Media Awards is  #ALAyma.

Steve Sheinkin has written screenplays, made films, edited and written textbooks, and now he writes full time, creating some of the most fascinating  and fun to read nonfiction books for people of any age. These books include The Notorious Benedict Arnold : A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery (winner of the 2012 YALSA Award for Excellent in Nonfiction award) and BOMB: The Race to Build -and Steal- The World’s Most Dangeous Weapon (winner of the 2013 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction award, as well as a National Book Award finalist, a Newbery honor book, and a Robert A. Siebert medalist) His book The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights is a finalist this year for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction.


Congratulations on being a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction finalist! What was your reaction on hearing the news? Will you be attending ALA Midwinter in Chicago? Going to the YALSA Award program and presentation?

Thanks so much! Of course, it was very exciting to get the news that The Port Chicago 50 was a finalist. I always become pretty obsessed with the stories I’m researching, but this one feels especially personal, because of the friends I’ve made along the way, and because I’m so glad to be helping to keep this story alive. I won’t be at ALA in Chicago, but will be following developments closely.

How did you first hear about men who were the Port Chicago 50? Was it through Robert Allen’s book or some other way? (I read on your blog about Mr. Allen; thank you for introducing me to his work.) 

I first heard of the story while researching a previous book, Bomb. My brother–in-law, Eric, told me about this wacky conspiracy theory – in short, that the first atomic test was not in New Mexico in 1945, as recorded in official history, but actually in a place called Port Chicago, California, a year earlier. It sounded crazy, so of course I was interested. I started researching, and quickly found out that the true story behind the disastrous explosion and subsequent civil rights showdown at Port Chicago was far better than any Internet theory. My research quickly led to Robert Allen’s work, and his willingness to share the interviews he did with participants back in the 1970s gave me priceless material to work with. Continue reading 2015 Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults: An Interview with finalist Steve Sheinkin

YALSA’s 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-In #5

yalsa morris nonfiction sealsNot signed up for YALSA’s 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. If you’re finished, fill out the form at the bottom of this post to let us know! 

Doesn’t it still feel like the beginning of the month? I find myself thinking ,”This year just started, this month just started, I have got plenty of time to finish up The Hub’s Morris/Nonfiction challenge before the Youth Media Awards on February 2.” And then I look closer at the calendar and a tiny bit of concern creeps in – January 11th? That’s almost mid-way through January! I’ve only got three weeks to finish up!

I didn’t make you concerned did I? You are not like me. Tell me you are farther along the challenge than I am. Tell me (in the comments below) that you have finished The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming and The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos. That you enjoyed the audiobook of Leslye Walton’s The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender and were one of the lucky ones who got your hands on Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw (my library has a mile long waiting list for that book.). Or, make me completely astounded and fill out the form at the bottom of this post because you have completed the challenge!

If you talk about books on social media, and you are taking part in the challenge, won’t you please use #hubchallenge to let the world know? And remember that any Morris Award finalists or YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction finalists you read as part of this challenge will count towards The Hub Reading Challenge, starting in February.

OK, time to calm myself down. There are still three weeks and eight hours until the challenge ends. I totally got this.

~Geri Diorio, currently reading The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley

2014 Best Books by the Numbers

Welcome to the end of 2014. Year-end best-of lists are all over the place, so it is time for us here at The Hub to take part in the quantifying madness! There were so many amazing YA books released this year, but for this post, we’ll be taking a look at the ones deemed “best” by Kirkus, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Horn Book. (Last year, we included the ‘Best YA for Adults’ list from Library Journal, but it appears they did not create such a list this year.) I am grateful that The Hub let me do this post again and while I am delighted to look at all the best-of lists and try to makes sense of them, I confess to being a bad statistician. I did not keep everything the same from last year to this one. Here’s what I changed, and why:

This year, in addition to including fiction marketed to people aged 12 and older, I added in nonfiction as well. My reasoning is that due to the Common Core standards, more and more nonfiction is being read in and out of schools. Also, we’re heading towards the fifth anniversary of YALSA’s Excellence in Nonfiction Awards (have you taken part in The Hub’s reading challenge yet?) so it seems like nonfiction is a viable genre to include here, with ten titles represented in the lists. Also, while there are seven genres considered this year, same number as last year, they are slightly different ones. This year, I added poetry and nonfiction and eliminated horror and historical fiction. This does not mean that there were no horrific, historical books in the lists, but ‘genre’ is such a troublesome category. I used Edelweiss, publisher’s websites, Amazon, and my own knowledge of the books in question to try and accurately label them, perhaps not always successfully. I’ll get into more specifics about ‘genre’ below. If you would like to see the spreadsheet I was working from, it is here.

There are 74 titles on the ‘best-of’ lists this year. This is up ten from last year (counting those ten nonfiction titles), but still down from the 89 fiction-only titles from 2012. Who is writing these terrific YA books? Still mostly ladies.

2014 Best of by gender

Male writers are gaining on females, last year only 27.7% of the authors on the lists were male and this year, 31.1% are. Will it ever reach a 50/50 balance? Continue reading 2014 Best Books by the Numbers

YALSA’s 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-In #1

yalsa morris nonfiction sealsNot signed up for YALSA’s 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. If you’re finished, fill out the form at the bottom of this post to let us know!


Are you busy with holidays or end-of-the-year activities? It can be an intense time of year, and you may be debating about jumping into the Hub’s Morris/Nonfiction reading challenge but I am here to encourage you to DO IT!

There are two very good reasons to take part by reading as many of the 2015 finalists for the William C. Morris Award for debut YA authors, and/or the 2015 finalists for YALSA’s Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, or both between now and the Youth Media Awards on February 2:

  1. You will have a head start on the Hub Reading Challenge that starts in February and that includes PRIZES!
  2. By reading some great, informative nonfiction, and some books by hot, new authors, you will become the smartest person in the room at any holiday party you attend.

Now get started! Or, if you have miraculously already completed the challenge, won’t you please fill out the form at the bottom of this post so we can all be amazed by you?

The rest of us will leave comments talking about which titles we are most looking forward to reading. I’ll start – for the Morris, I’m excited to read Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, and Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw is the Nonfiction title I am most curious about. You?

~ Geri Diorio, currently reading The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

2014 Teens’ Top Ten: Appreciating Rick Yancey

teens top ten logoThousands of teens across the country spent the summer reading the Teens’ Top Ten nominees. Voting for the top ten happened this autumn, and Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave is a winner!

This u5thwavecovernique alien invasion novel was a critical and popular success when it came out last May. It is also a hit in Hollywood since it is being made into a 2016 movie starring Chloe Grace Moretz. And it certainly is a hit with teens since they voted it number 5 on the YALSA Teens’ Top Ten list for 2014.

The 5th Wave tells the story of life on earth after four waves of an alien invasion. The novel follows two young humans who are trying to survive at all costs: Cassie, a 16 year old whose best friend is her rifle, and Zombie, a 17 year old who used to be known as Ben and who used to be a jock, but who is now a militaristic killing machine. Readers never find out why aliens are invading the planet or why they are trying to eliminate humans, but these questions are almost superfluous as the survival tales of the two teens are so gripping and heart rending.

Yancey is a popular author with two other terrific YA series.alfredkroppcover

The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp series follows a young man who gets roped into outrageous adventures by his uncle. Car chases, parachuting, snowmobiling – there is plenty of action in these novels as Alfred goes looking for ancient artifacts like King Arthur’s sword or King Solomon’s seals.

The Monstrumologist series garnered Yancey a Printz honor for the first book. It tells the story of young orphan Will Henry who taken under the wing of a doctor, a doctor Monstrumologistcoverof monstrumology. Monsters are real, and Dr. Warthrop hunts them…with Will’s help. The series is scary and gory and a delight to fans of horror.

The Hub encourages you to read The 5th Wave (and all the Teens’ Top Ten titles) and once you have gotten hooked, why not read The Infinite Sea, the second book of The 5th Wave which just came out in September?

~ Geri Diorio, currently reading The Infinite Sea

Comfort Food ~ Comfort Books

hot-soupThe weather is getting colder, the seasons are changing, and I don’t know about you, but I am turning to comfort foods like soups, oatmeal, hot cider, and roasts. I’m also turning to comfort reads – I’m not a re-reader but at this time of year, I do tend to grab familiar, comforting genres – 1950s science fiction, historical romances – stories where I know there’s a happy ending. These things bring me comfort when I’m cold, tired, and maybe even at my wits’ end with holiday preparations. I asked Hub bloggers what their comfort food and comfort reads are. Their responses invoke the warmth of the familiar and cozy.

What’s your comfort read? What about your comfort food? Let us know in the comments. Recipes are welcome!

~Geri Diorio, currently reading The Infinite Sea

secret garden2My comfort food has been and always will be mashed potatoes. I could eat them every single day and never grow tired of them. My husband makes the best ever, with lots of butter and cream
mashed-potatoes(fortunately he only makes them once or twice a year, or I’d be in trouble!). If I’m sick, if I’ve had a bad day, if I’m stressed out- mashed potatoes fix me up every time. I have been known to order food in a restaurant based solely on whether or not the side dish is mashed potatoes. My comfort read…well, that’s a little harder to figure out. I have comfort “sections” of books- probably something I got from Mary Anne Spier in The Babysitters Club, since she always turned to certain parts of Little Women to comfort herself. If I’m picking a single book that I turn to more often than any other, though, it’s going to be The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The hope that fills that book is inspiring- hope that even a sour little girl used to being unloved can learn and grow and become loving herself, that a boy who has spent his whole life believing he’s going to die young can heal from the inside out, that even in a place that seems designed to suck the joy out of a child happiness and love can bloom. When I need a pick me up, the end of The Secret Garden is a good place to start!
~ Carla Land Continue reading Comfort Food ~ Comfort Books

5 YA Books to Read During Learning Disabilities Awareness Month

learning_disabilities_awarenessLearning Disabilities Awareness Month is a time to give recognition to folks with LD and to perhaps learn a bit more about these disabilities. â€œLearning disabilities” is a phrase that can encompass many different things: dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, and dysgraphia. These disabilities give people trouble with reading, writing, maths, and motor skills. Learning disabilities are lifelong issues, they cannot be cured or fixed. But teachers and parents and therapists can work with folks who have LDs to help them develop skills and strategies for dealing with their difficulties. ADHD, auditory processing disorder, visual processing disorder, and autism spectrum disorders can present folks with similar types of challenges, but are not learning disabilities themselves. According to the National Institutes of Health 15% of the US population have some type of learning disorder. So it is little wonder that there are many YA literature characters who have some sort of LD. Here are five titles to explore.

dying to know youDying to Know You – Aidan Chambers (Chambers is a Printz winner)
Karl is head over heels in love with Fiorella. She has asked him to write her a series of letters, answering deep questions about love. Karl is dyslexic and is terrified that he will fail to impress her and thus will lose her. He seeks out Fiorella’s favorite author and convinces him to act as a sort of Cyrano de Bergerac, writing down Karl’s spoken thoughts. The two men, though far apart in age, develop a friendship that unexpectedly brings them both much joy.

Carter Finally Gets It – Brent CrawfordCarter Finally Gets It
Will Carter is just starting high school. He’s a popular guy, has friends, plays sports, but he is insecure and very concerned. He worries about how hard classes will be, he worries about making the team, he worries that his stutter and his LD will keep him from succeeding in many ways, but especially with girls. Crawford has written a realistical teen guy, but leavened the story heavily with humor and good cheer. Carter’s a good guy (if slightly raunchy-minded) and as the title says, he finally figures out how to survive high school. Continue reading 5 YA Books to Read During Learning Disabilities Awareness Month

From Print to Screen, Upcoming Movies from YA Books

The popularity of YA literature is undeniable. One piece of proof: the amount of YA novels being optioned for movies. One other, possibly stronger piece of proof: how many of those options actually make it to the silver screen. This year alone we’ve had Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars, and If I Stay. The next few months will bring even more adaptations. Be sure you read the books first!


MazeRunnerCover MazeRunnerPoster

The Maze Runner by James Dashner / The Maze Runner movie opens on September 19 (this Friday!)
Thomas wakes up with no memories other than his name. In that regard, he’s like all the other boys in the glade, the garden area in the middle of the maze. No one has ever made it out of the glade, no one has ever gotten through the maze. But soon a girl arrives, the first girl ever to be there, and she remembers more than her name. She remembers things that are terrifying.


DraculaCover DraculaUntoldPoster


Dracula by Bram Stoker / Dracula Untold opens October 10
Everyone thinks they know vampires now. But Bram Stoker’s original version of the monster is very different from the glamorous, glittery vampires of the twenty first century. In 1897, a vampire was a terrifying creature of enormous power who not only killed humans for their blood, but could damn their souls to hell. And it is all told in quite a modern-seeming epistolary style.


the-best-of-me-cover bestOfMePoster


The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks / The Best of Me movie opens October 17
High schools loves from opposite sides of the tracks grow apart after graduation. More than two decades later, they both go home to their small Southern town for the funeral of a man who was a mentor to both of them. This meeting brings out memories and feelings neither one has dealt with in years.


whereRainbowsEndCover loveRosiePoster

Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern / Love, Rosie movie opens October 24
Alex and Rosie have been there for each other from childhood through turbulent adolescence. There has always been a connection, although maybe not always a romantic one. When Alex’s family moves to America, and the inseparable duo look to become separate, how will they cope after spending their entire lives together? Continue reading From Print to Screen, Upcoming Movies from YA Books

YALSA YA Lit Symposium – Why Should You Attend?


Are you going to YALSA’s YA Literature Symposium this November? Early Bird registration is open until September 15, so register now and join us in Austin! If you’ve never been to a YA Lit Symposium, you might be wondering what it’s all about. Leading up this year’s Symposium, we’ll be featuring interviews with Symposium attendees past and present to give you a picture of why you should attend and what to expect.

Our first interview is with Gretchen Kolderup, Manager for Young Adult Education & Engagement at the New York Public Library, member of YALSA’s Board of Directors, and previous Hub Manager. She attended YALSA’s YA Lit Symposium in 2010 and 2012.

Share your #1 tip for getting the most out of the Symposium for a first-time attendee.

Make friends! This is true of every conference, but it’s extra-easy and extra-rewarding here since everyone at the Symposium cares about the same thing (teens and their literature) and all of the scheduled events are at the hotel where everyone is staying — it’s like sleepaway camp for YA librarians! Meeting new people at the conference gives you someone to sit with, chat with, and go out to dinner with that weekend — but it also builds a professional connection that you’ll use to keep learning and growing long after you leave Austin! Most of my “best friends” in the YA library world are people I met at the Symposium.

Why do you think someone should attend the Symposium?

Because it’s both useful and fun. Where else do you get to really dig in to teen literature in meaningful ways with hundreds of other fans and the authors themselves over a weekend? You’ll learn a lot; have a great time; and go home with new ideas, more developed expertise, and lots of connections to authors, resources, and other librarians to help you keep learning, growing, and reveling in the best that YA lit has to offer! Continue reading YALSA YA Lit Symposium – Why Should You Attend?

National Senior Citizens Day

photo by Flickr user ritavida

In the summer of 1988, President Reagan proclaimed August 21 “National Senior Citizens Day.” With health care constantly improving, and people living longer, more active lives, it is a good thing to honor seniors, who can give younger folks the benefit of their experience.

Seniors and teens go together like peanut butter and jelly. Events like Senior Citizen Proms, and Teens Teach Tech, show how seniors and teens can benefit from spending time together. This is not to say that it is all smooth sailing from the start. People are people no matter their age, and there are ups and downs to any relationship. But everyone has something to share, and when you cross generations, the results can be so very positive.

This type of inter-generational relationship has been beautifully portrayed in YA literature. Here are six titles to explore…

Pop_coverPop by Gordon Korman
New to town, Marcus is desperate to join his new high school’s football team, so he spends his summer practicing in the local park. There he meets former NFL great Charlie Popovich, who takes Marcus under his wing. While this is great for Marcus’ football prospects, it puts him in direct conflict with Charlie’s grandson Troy, Marcus’ new school mate and rival for a spot on the team. Charlie and Marcus are antagonistic not just because of sports rivalries, but also because of Charlie’s illness, an illness Troy and the rest of the Popovich family want to keep secret.

Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan SonnenblickNotes_from_Midnight_driver_cover
(2008 Best Book for Young Adults) Alex makes a really huge mistake involving vodka, a car, and a garden gnome statue. For this, he is sentenced to 100 hours of community service. Alex spends the time in a retirement home with Sol Lewis, the meanest old man on the planet. Alex would rather shirk all responsibility and Sol seems to hate the world. But Sol was a jazz guitarist and Alex is studying guitar, so perhaps they can find some way to connect…  Continue reading National Senior Citizens Day