2014 Hub Reading Challenge Check-in #2

Hub Reading Challenge logoNot signed up for YALSA’s 2014 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since February 3 counts, so sign up now!

The 2014 Hub Reading Challenge is now in its third week. How are you getting along? Were you as pleased as I was after realizing that by working on the Morris/Nonfiction Challenge, you had gotten a head start on this bigger challenge?  Woo, four books down, 21 to go! And with all this lovely snow outside my door (thanks, winter storm Easton!) this weekend’s been a perfect time to read a couple more titles.

If you have finished some books, please leave a comment below. We’d love to read how you’re doing and what you thought of the books you’ve finished. And if you are feeling social (media) about things, please share your thoughts, photos, videos etc, using the #hubchallenge hashtag.  Are you a Goodreads person? Why not join the 2014 Hub Challenge Group there?

You have plenty of time to get through this challenge; it ends at 11:59PM EST on June 22nd.  Please keep reading and tracking your progress and check back here each Sunday to let us know how you are doing and to see how other folks are doing.

If you are a particularly fast reader and have already completed the challenge by reading or listening to 25 titles from the list of eligible books, be sure to fill out the form below so we can send you your Challenge Finisher badge, get in touch to coordinate your reader’s response and, perhaps best of all, to notify you if you win our exciting grand prize drawing! Be sure to use an email you check frequently and do not fill out this form until you have completed the challenge by reading 25 titles. Continue reading 2014 Hub Reading Challenge Check-in #2

Bookish Brew: In Honor of Author Elizabeth Ross, a Pot of Tea and French Pastry

Belle EpoqueI loved 2014 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross so much that I thought it should be highlighted with both drink instructions AND a pastry recipe.  The drink this time is simply black tea – but made properly, soothingly, with a kettle, teapot, loose leaf tea and all the rest.  While protagonist Maude Pichon does mention drinking and fantasizing about a “bowl” of hot chocolate more than once, and two of the wealthier characters drink coffee a couple times, tea is by far the most commonly enjoyed hot drink in this novel, mentioned more than twenty times.  The eats?  A recipe for the beloved pastry of Maude’s close friend Marie-Josée: pain au chocolat, of course!

As Hub bloggers Alegria Barclay and Anna Tschetter have respectfully already thoughtfully reviewed Belle Epoque and interviewed author Elizabeth Ross, I will only provide a brief outline of the novel here.  Set in 1888, it is narrated by protagonist Maude Pichon, a sixteen-year-old who has run away from her home in Brittany to start a new, self-determined life in Paris.  Desperate to make ends meet, she takes a position as a repoussoir at an agency, serving as a hired “beauty foil” for the wealthy.  Supposedly plain-looking women such as Maude are paid by this agency to accompany wealthy women on social outings, with the idea that the women’s plainness will make the wealthy clients appear attractive in contrast.  Maude often finds her work degrading, and yet, eventually becomes a bit enchanted by the world of her main client.  In doing so she risks ruining meaningful new friendships and a possible love relationship.  In our appearance-obsessed 21st century culture, it is impossible not to identity with Maude’s experiemce on some level.

photo by flickr user Helen Chang

A bit of casual research on my part appears to indicate that black tea is the most popular variety in France, with Breakfast, Earl Grey and fruity black tea blends often being found on salon de thé menus.  This coincides with Marie-Josée’s humorous dismissal of herbal tea when she describes a client outing which she did not particularly enjoy: “ ‘But no, this client had me stuck in the back corner drinking a tisane… not a foot set on the dance floor, herbal tea, and my talents wasted.’ ”


Making a Pot of Black Loose Leaf Tea

  1. Pour the number of cups of water that you desire into the tea kettle (one cup of water makes one cup of tea).
  2. Put the kettle on a stovetop burner.  Turn the burner up to its highest setting.
  3. Meanwhile, warm your teapot by filling it with hot tap water and letting it sit covered for a while.
  4. Once the tea kettle is boiling, empty the teapot of warm water.  Measure into the teapot one teaspoon of loose leaf tea for each cup of water that you have boiled.
  5. Turn off the kettle and pour the boiling water into the teapot and place the lid on it.
  6. For black tea, let the teapot sit (let the tea “steep”) three to five minutes.  Longer steeping time leads to stronger tea.
  7. After this time is up, for each cup of tea, place a strainer on top of the tea cup and pour your tea through this so that you catch the leaves.
  8.  Remove the strainer from the tea cup, add anything to your tea that you like (honey, sugar, milk, etc.) and enjoy!

Continue reading Bookish Brew: In Honor of Author Elizabeth Ross, a Pot of Tea and French Pastry

Who Doesn’t Love a Good List?: Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults

yalsa logoNow that the dust is beginning to settle after this year’s exciting 2014 Youth Media Awards, we can start to dive into some of the other meaty hard work that committees finalize during ALA Midwinter: the YALSA Selected Book & Media Lists. I am one of those people that absolutely love a list. I like to see what I have read (gloat), what I have on hand to read (a little more gloating), and what I have overlooked (panic). I know, you just raised your hand with a “me too!” We tend to run in packs. And like me, it is hard not to see each list as a challenge, moving all those unread titles to the top of our to-read lists.

Leading up to the awards we have all the review journals best-of lists of the recent year and a slew of predictions of which books will walk away from January with shiny new medals. This is always great talk that highlights the past year’s cream of the crop. Still, after each year wraps up, I have to wonder, “which of these titles are going to stand the test of time? What are going to become teen favorites with some staying power?”

That is why I always look forward to seeing what will be on the “Popular Paperbacks” list, because these are the lists that I know are going to be teen favorites, and mostly already are. I know that these will appeal to a wider reading audience than some of the actual award winners, and will be what I use most with in my work with teens at my library. Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (PPYA) booklists and Top Teen are so valuable because:

  • These are the books that appeal to readers of all levels– struggling, reluctant and voracious.
  • These are the books that help build a lifelong love of reading.
  • These are the lists I want to share with friends and co-workers who aren’t necessarily immersed in the YA publishing world. They’re a great way to get started.

With each year’s new lists of particular themes or genres, I take time to review past PPYA lists to be reminded of gems on former year’s themes. When themes get updated, like this years GLBTQ list, it is exciting to see how much new quality work has come out as it builds on previous lists’ fantastic and vetted titles.

In 2011 PPYA started doing a Top Ten from the amalgamation of the year’s lists, and as you do your Hub Reading Challenge, you are going to want to fill in your gaps with some of these titles as I know, like me, there are titles you are asking yourself, “Yeah, why haven’t I read that one already?”

Enjoy these lists. Use these lists. These are some of the best of what’s out there from the last few years, and they’re titles you’ll have fun with– because these are the titles that are really about reading for pleasure.

-Danielle Jones, currently reading Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

ALA Midwinter 2014: Best Fiction for Young Adults Teen Feedback Session

For librarians working with young people, the announcement of the Youth Media Awards is the paramount event of ALA’s Midwinter Conference. Hub blogger Chelsea Condren shared her personal account of attending the YMAs in her post on February 5. I think it’s fair to say that the second-most anticipated event for us YALSA folks is the teen feedback session for the Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees. This year, I was there.

The teens only had a few seconds to weigh in on the books they had read. The BFYA nomination list included 175 titles, while the teen feedback session was just two and a half hours long. For a recap, I’ve put together a visual presentation featuring some of the nominated titles coupled with their corresponding teen comments.

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Special thanks to the participating teens and their sponsors:  Joyce Ames, St. Stepehen’s & St. Agnes School, Alexandria, VA; Jennifer Hubert Swan, L R E I Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School, New York, NY; Megan England, Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City, NJ, and Katherine Liss, Metuchen Public Library, Metuchen, NJ.

For a lovely take on this same session, read Vicky Smith’s account. And now that you’ve gotten an idea of the teens’ feedback, be sure to check out the full list of titles that made this year’s BFYA list!

-Diane Colson, currently reading The Night Gardener (advanced reader’s copy) by Jonathan Auxier

Schneider Family Book Award: Rose Under Fire

Schneider Family Book Award SealLast week at ALA Midwinter, the 2014 ALA Youth Media Awards were announced (if you missed the ceremony, you can still watch it online). The Youth Media Awards encompass many different prizes recognizing media created for children and young adults, including the Schneider Family Book Award, which was established by Dr. Katherine Schneider and “honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.” This year, in addition to being named one of YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults top ten titles, Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein is the the Schneider Family Book Award’s teen award winner.

Though it is a companion to 2013 Michael L. Printz Honor book Code Name Verity and references characters and events from that title, Rose Under Fire focuses on the story of a new character named Rose Justice. Continue reading Schneider Family Book Award: Rose Under Fire

ALA Midwinter 2014: Youth Media Awards


The Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia had its hands full on Monday, January 28, as a room full of excited librarians, publishers, authors, and other industry professionals breathlessly awaited the start of the annual Youth Media Awards. In fact, by the time I arrived (bleary-eyed and bushy tailed) at the convention center, it was 7:55 AM and there was no official room left for audience members. Instead, I found a seat in a “spillover” room where the awards were being broadcasted live on a screen. By 8:30 AM, the spillover room was entirely full.

My friend who called the YMAs “the librarian Oscars” was pretty spot-on, after all.

It’s hard to describe how incredible it was to witness people applaud, groan, cheer, whisper, and even shed tears over children’s and young adult literature. It’s even harder to describe how it felt to sit next to perfect strangers at 8 AM on a Monday morning knowing that they were just as passionate as you about youth media. Suffice it to say that I have never seen a room full of introverts whoop and holler so loudly before. For those who aren’t “in the know,” I would describe the purpose of the YMAs, in part, as providing “those fancy silver and gold stickers you see on the covers of books.”

But it’s more than fancy stickers, of course.

Continue reading ALA Midwinter 2014: Youth Media Awards

YALSA’s 2014 Hub Reading Challenge Begins!

Hub Reading Challenge logoIt’s now February 3rd, so we are kicking off YALSA’s 2014 Hub Reading Challenge! We hope this challenge will encourage you to read/listen to more great books than you might have otherwise — and to discover something new in a genre or category you might not have tried.

Challenge objective Read/listen to 25 of the titles on our list of eligible titles [pdf] to finish the challenge. The list includes YA novels, audiobooks, graphic novels, and books for adults, so there’s plenty to choose from. Bonus objective: read/listen to all eligible titles to conquer the challenge!

Challenge rewards Beyond experiencing the best of the best that YA lit has to offer, everyone who finishes the challenge will be invited to submit a response to a book they read for the challenge. The response can be text, graphics, audio, video and will be published on The Hub. Furthermore, everyone who finishes the challenge will be entered into a random drawing for our grand prize: a YALSA tote bag full of 2013 and 2014 YA lit! (If the winner is a teacher or librarian or something similar, we’ll also include a few professional development titles.)

Challenge conquerors will receive an elite digital badge to show off how well-read they are. (And don’t forget major bragging rights and the undying awe and respect of everyone, everywhere.)

Continue reading YALSA’s 2014 Hub Reading Challenge Begins!

Coming Soon: The 2014 Hub Reading Challenge

Hub Reading Challenge logo Get excited, YA lit enthusiasts! Now that the Youth Media Awards have been announced and the selected list committees are wrapping up their work, we are pleased to officially announce our 2014 Hub Reading Challenge!

When? The 2014 Hub Reading Challenge will begin at 12:01AM EST on Monday, February 3. Once the challenge starts, you’ll have about four months (until 11:59pm on Sunday, June 22) to read as many of the following as you possibly can:

If you participated in our Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge– even if you didn’t finish- you can count that reading toward your progress in The Hub Reading Challenge. Otherwise, only books that you both begin and finish within the challenge period count, so if you’ve read any of these titles before, you’ll have to re-read them to count them.

Continue reading Coming Soon: The 2014 Hub Reading Challenge

2014 Youth Media Award Winners Announced!

shutterstock_102813506 [Converted]This morning, the winners and honor books for ALA’s Youth Media Awards were announced to an elated crowd in Philadelphia during ALA’s Midwinter Meeting.

Here is the list of YA titles recognized this morning (children’s books have been omitted from this list because The Hub focuses on YA lit, but be sure to find the full list of winners on ALA’s website):

Alex Award for adult books with teen appeal

  • Brewster,  written by Mark Slouka  and published by W.W. Norton & Company
  • The Death of Bees,written by Lisa O’Donnell and published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
  • Golden Boy: A Novel, written by Abigail Tarttlein and published by ATRIA Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
  • Help for the Haunted, written by John Searles and published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
  • Lexicon: A Novel, written by Max Barry and published by The Penguin Group, Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Lives of Tao, written by Wesley Chu and published by Angry Robot, a member of the Osprey Group
  • Mother, Mother: A Novel, written by Koren Zailckas and published by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
  • Relish, written by Lucy Knisley and published by First Second, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holds Limited Partnership
  • The Sea of Tranquility: A Novel, written by Katja Millay and published by ATRIA Paperback, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
  • The Universe Versus Alex Woods, written by Gavin Extence and published by Redhook Books, an imprint of Orbit, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in young adult literature

  • Markus Zusak

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature

  • Winner: Midwinter Blood,  written by Marcus Sedgwick and published by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
  • Honor: Eleanor & Park, written by Rainbow Rowell and published by St. Martin’s Griffin (Macmillan)
  • Honor: Kingdom of Little Wounds, written by Susann Cokal and published by Candlewick Press
  • Honor: Maggot Moon, written by Sally Gardner, illustrated by Julian Crouch, and published by Candlewick Press
  • Honor: Navigating Early, written by Clare Vanderpool and published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, Penguin Random House Company

Odyssey Award for outstanding audiobooks for young adults

  • Winner: Scowler, produced by Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group; written by Daniel Kraus and narrated by Kirby Heyborne
  • Honor: Better Nate Than Ever, produced by Simon & Schuster Audio; written and narrated by Tim Federle
  • Honor: Eleanor & Park, produced by Listening Library; written by Rainbow Rowell and narrated by Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra

Schneider Family Book Award for an artistic expression of the disability experience

  • Teen winner: Rose Under Fire, written by Elizabeth Wein and published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group

Stonewall Book Award for outstanding LGBTQ titles

  • Winner: Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, written by Kirstin Cronn-Mills and published by Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.
  • Winner: Fat Angie, written by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo and published by Candlewick Press
  • Honor: Better Nate Than Ever, written by Tim Federle and published Simon & Schuster Book for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
  • Honor: Branded by the Pink Triangle, written by Ken Setterington and published by Second Story Press
  • Honor: Two Boys Kissing, written by David Levithan and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

William C. Morris Award for outstanding debut novels

  • Winner: Charm & Strange written by Stephanie Kuehn, published by St. Martin’s Griffin, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, a division of Macmillan.
  • Finalist: Sex & Violence written by Carrie Mesrobian, published by Carolrhoda LAB, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group.
  • Finalist: Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets written by Evan Roskos, published by Houghton Mifflin, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
  • Finalist: Belle Epoque written by Elizabeth Ross, published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.  
  • Finalist: In the Shadow of Blackbirds written by Cat Winters, published by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS.

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults

  • Winner: The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi written by Neal Bascomb, published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.
  • Finalist: Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design written by Chip Kidd, published by Workman Publishing Company.
  • Finalist: Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II written by Martin W. Sandler, published by Walker Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.
  • Finalist: Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers written by Tanya Lee Stone, published by Candlewick Press.
  • Finalist: The President Has Been Shot! The Assassination of John F. Kennedy written by James L. Swanson, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

2014 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge Final Check In

yalsa morris nonfiction seals

This is it! There are less than 24 hours until the Youth Media Awards at the American Library Association Midwinter conference. (Watch the livestream here.) Tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM Eastern, everyone will find out which book won the 2014 Morris Award and which won the 2014 Excellence in Nonfiction Award. (Among other awards.) Did you read all the nominated titles? Congratulations! Please fill out the form below and give yourself a big pat on the back. If you didn’t read as many as you hoped to, that’s OK! You can still read them after tomorrow.

And keep your eyes on The Hub where we will soon announce the 2014 Hub Reading Challenge, encompassing all of YALSA’s 2014 award winning books and finalists, as well as top ten lists, the Schneider Family Book Award and the Stonewall Book Award.
Happy Almost Youth Media Awards Day, everyone! It’s our own Librarian Oscars! Can’t wait to hear about (and read) the winners.

~Geri Diorio, currently reading Ninety Percent of Everything by Rose George