I love to knit–I’m very slow at it, and not very advanced, but ever since my husband’s grandmother taught me almost ten years ago, I’ve enjoyed it. The cold temperatures this time of year (especially over the last week!) put me even more in a knitting mood, and the only problem then is deciding whether to spend free time reading or knitting. Audiobooks occasionally help with that dilemma, but so do books that feature knitters!
There seems to have been a resurgent interest in knitting over the past few years, but while there are a ton of great nonfiction knitting books out there, I wanted to stick with a list of fictional knitters. It was hard to find very many, so I’ve cheated a bit by branching beyond YA books. Hopefully, one of these knitters will strike your reading mood this winter:
Mme Defarge from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. To start off with perhaps the most famous literary knitter, I may be veering away from YA lit, but not from a memorable story and character. A Tale of Two Cities presents Dickens’ take on the French Revolution and a British family that gets caught up in the chaos. It’s one of his shorter works and includes enough romance and heroics to make it easy to stay connected with the story–not always so with a Dickens work. Mme Defarge is something of a side character, but her knitting takes center stage when the reader learns that she uses it to keep her register…a register of those she, her husband, and their co-revolutionaries have marked for a date with Mme la Guillotine. Continue reading Literary Knitters
The 2014 Nonfiction Award FinalistThe President Has Been Shot! reconstructs in vivid detail the tragic events of November 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, as well as the days leading up to the assassination and its aftermath. This narrative makes the reader feel like they were there, and will lead teens to want to know more about what life was like during that era.
Try the following novels for excellent fiction companions for Swanson’s account of that terrible day in US history. (The book summaries come from the publishers’ jacket copy.)
The Wednesday Wars & Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
The Wednesday Wars is a wonderfully witty and compelling story about a teenage boy’s mishaps and adventures over the course of the 1967â€“68 school year in Long Island, New York. Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of the class has religious instruction. Mrs. Baker doesn’t like Hollingâ€”he’s sure of it. Why else would she make him read the plays of William Shakespeare outside class? But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? A bully demanding cream puffs; angry rats; and a baseball hero signing autographs the very same night Holling has to appear in a play in yellow tights! As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivationâ€”the Big Mâ€”in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself.
In Okay For Now (companion book to The Wednesday Wars), Doug struggles to be more than the “skinny thug” that some people think him to be. He finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer, who gives him the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.
Countdown by Deborah Wiles
Franny Chapman just wants some peace. But that’s hard to get when her best friend is feuding with her, her sister has disappeared, and her uncle is fighting an old war in his head. Her saintly younger brother is no help, and the cute boy across the street only complicates things. Worst of all, everyone is walking around just waiting for a bomb to fall. It’s 1962, and it seems that the whole country is living in fear. When President Kennedy goes on television to say that Russia is sending nuclear missiles to Cuba, it only gets worse. Franny doesn’t know how to deal with what’s going on in the world–no more than she knows with how to deal with what’s going on with her family and friends. But somehow she’s got to make it.
The dramatic events of the 1960s were felt by Americans everywhere, including students attending the Sacred Heart Boarding School in Alaska. When one of them, Luke, hears news of the assassination of Kennedy, the first Catholic president, it triggers fierce emotions that have nothing to do with religion or politics, and everything to do with irrevocable loss.
Luke knows his I’nupiaq name is full of sounds white people can’t say. He knows he’ll have to leave it behind when he and his brothers are sent to boarding school hundreds of miles from their Arctic village. At Sacred Heart School things are different. Instead of family, there are students – Eskimo, Indian, White – who line up on different sides of the cafeteria like there’s some kind of war going on. And instead of comforting words like tutu and maktak, there’s English. Speaking I’nupiaq – or any native language – is forbidden. And Father Mullen, whose fury is like a force of nature, is ready to slap down those who disobey. Luke struggles to survive at Sacred Heart. But he’s not the only one. There’s smart-aleck Amiq, a daring leader – if he doesn’t self destruct; Chickie, blond and freckled, a different kind of outsider; and small quiet Junior, noticing everything and writing it all down. Each has their own story to tell. But once their separate stories come together, things at Sacred Heart School – and in the wider world – will never be the same
-2014 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults committee in collaboration with Hub blogger Diane Colson
Last week, we asked your opinion on the coolest tattoo in YA lit. Four’s back tattoo’s from Divergent by Veronica Roth and Ronan’s tattoos from The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater tied for first place with 33% of the vote. Not far behind were the Shadowhunter runes from Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments books, with 28% of the vote.
We also got some great suggestions for other cool tattoos in YA lit through the comments on last week’s poll! Leslie mentioned Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr, Cassidy chimed in with Wes’ tattoo from Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever, Shari reminded us about Perry and Roar’s tattoos from Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, and Molly brought up Karou’s tattoos in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks very much to all of you who voted and commented!
This week, we want to know what you think is the most intriguing, most suspenseful YA story about being the Witness Protection Program. There’s certainly a captivating mystique about this topic, so vote in the poll below, and be sure to comment if we’ve missed a good one!
It is snowing at my library. It might be snowing at your library too. Even when I am not reading I like to imagine things. I wonder what people are doing other places. Sometimes I like to role play and suppose I am another person. If I were a teen and not a librarian, would I read the same books? Would I suggest the same books I suggest now? Below are suggestions of awesome teen fiction as recommended by young adult patrons.
Not signed up for YALSA’s 2014 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!
I haven’t made any progress on the Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge. As I mentioned Friday I was reading other stuff. I am in the middle of two challenge books right now though, which is progress right? I’ve started both Go and Sex and Violence so I am feeling a little bit more accomplished than normal since I tend to suck at reading challenges.
So how are you doing? Do we have any new signups? Any one finish yet? What are your favorites so far? Let me know in the comments and same me into reading more.
Instead of reading for the Morris/Non-Fiction Challenge, I was reading other books. Ooops. But one of the books I read spawned this month’s contemporary theme: parental abandonment. These books don’t necessarily address homelessness (Molly Wetta already tackled that subject), but teens that were left on their own by their parents for whatever reasons. I know there has to be more, so let me know in the comments! First up, the book that inspired this list:
Carey and her younger sister Janessa live in a broken down trailer in the woods. They don’t go to school, they don’t go into town much (if at all), and they are anxiously awaiting the return of their mother. Instead they are met with a stranger and someone who Carey recalls being her father. They have come to take the girls away since their mother has informed the state she is unable to take of them anymore. What seems like a nightmare to Carey is actually a blessing in disguise as she is forced to come to terms of what really happened in the woods and adjusts to living in civilization.
Taylor was abandoned by her mother at 11 at a 7/11 and was found by Hannah. Now, at 17, she is the leader of the boarders at Jellicoe School. Amidst the struggle of trying to keep the upper hand in a territory war at her school, Taylor has to deal with the disappearance of Hannah who was the adult she came to rely on. All that is left of Hannah is a manuscript that she had written. Taylor needs to find out more but this means she will have to confront her own story and find her own mother. Continue reading Is This the Real Life? Parental Abandonment
YALSA-bk is a listserv with lively discussions among librarians, educators, and beyond about all things YA lit. Sometimes one listserv member will ask for help finding books around a certain theme or readalikes for a particular title. This post is a compilation of responses for one such request.
The original request I am putting together a 1980s party for winter break and I want to have a book list or display to go along with it. Can you help me think of any books that really have to do with the 1980s? So far I have Eleanor and Park and Ready Player One. Thanks everyone!
Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.
Here’s a personal story. Almost five years ago now I was just finishing up back-to-back stints on selection committees as a member of the 2008 Michael L. Printz Award committee and then the 2009 Robert F. Sibert Information Book Medal committee. It was a heady time, made slightly more mad by the arrival of a new baby (our first–this is important) right in the middle of the process. That summer I found myself sitting in Chicago at a dinner hosted by Scholastic, trying desperately to engage in articulate adult conversation while totally consumed by the thought of my tiny daughter being so far away (ok, back at the hotel) in addition to being really, really tired and mostly incoherent. I was seated next to a very interesting author whose name sounded so familiar–I was sure I had a book or two waiting for me at home in the stacks of titles I’d had to hold off on reading while I finished committee work. She was young and cool and her editor was so excited about her forthcoming book (which sounded awesome) that even my unfounded parental worry couldn’t dampen his enthusiasm.
Obviously that author was Maggie Stiefvater, and obviously being completely freaked out about being away from my (new) baby for so long meant that I didn’t take advantage of the moment to hit her up for some awkward dinner conversation or polite small talk, which is just sad. Mostly I remember (through new mother haze) being sort of jealously appalled that someone who could draw so well (I think she was doing it at the table) was there to be honored for her writing. (I should also note that Maggie’s editor is David Levithan, who was sitting across from me. Hello missed opportunity!)
Anyway, after the conference I went home and dug Lament out of a pile of books and felt very sad indeed, because it was Excellent and I was sitting right next to her and could have said so, had I been capable of thought and/or speech. And that was before The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys and all the rest. It was also before I fully realized the extent of Maggie Stiefvater’s ridiculous talent, so maybe it was for the best–I probably would have babbled. I mean, have you seen her book trailers?
Thank you, Maggie, for taking the time to answer my questions (especially the forty-point ones) and sorry for the terrible dinner conversation back in Chicago. I love your work.
Always Something There to Remind Me
Please describe your teenage self.
Sulky. Effervescent. Pugnacious. Push-over. Gloomy. Elated. Musical. Musical. Musical. I was a creature of opposites: black-hearted and belligerent or funny and warm — no one got both sides of me.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
The first thing I remembering wanting to be was a writer — books, especially, because books pleased me, and in my family, there was no difference between consuming a thing and making a thing. But I also wanted to be a screenwriter, because movies pleased me, and a cartoonist, because cartoons pleased me, and an animator, because animated movies pleased me, and a soundtrack composer and a pilot and a radio personality and a pastry chef and a rose breeder and — I wanted to be lots of things.
What were your high school years like?
Technically speaking, I had no high school years. I sort of had high school months, but those barely even counted. I was home-schooled from sixth grade on, and by the time I got to high school I was bored with it — school felt like practice for real life, and I’d wanted to start real life for a very long time. My high school books arrived and I just thought: no. I tested out of school (can you do that now? It sounds fishy) and went to college at age 16. That . . . was a thing.
I had a rather rough time with a lot of the men I encountered in positions of college power at the time, but I did have one history professor who was incredibly influential. I recall that in one of my classes, he gave me a B on a paper, and I marched into his office and hurled it on the desk and said “B!” He concurred. I spat, “Tell me anyone else in that class wrote a better paper than I did!” He said that he couldn’t. I said, “Then why!? Why did I get a B?” And he replied, “Because you could write a better paper.”
I’ve never forgotten that I’m only in competition with myself.
In December I first blogged about heightening your reading experience by concocting a â€œbookish brew,â€ a beverage inspired by the book that you’re into at the moment. Today, in honor of yesterday’s release of Lissa Price’sEnders, I thought I’d share a drink recipe that I created in the spirit of her Starters (2013 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers), the first book in this duology and one of my favorite reads.
In Starters, sixteen-year-old Callie lives in a futuristic Los Angeles in which everyone is either under age 20 or over age 60. A fatal spore illness has killed all those in the age range in between. Callie, her ill young brother Tyler, and her friend Michael are attempting to survive together by living in abandoned buildings, trying to avoid being sent to a prison-like institution for parentless children. Desperate to help Tyler, Callie decides to sign up to rent her body out to seniors who will take control of her mind, living as youth again for a short period. In return Callie is promised a very large sum of money. During Callie’s third â€œrental,â€ however, she experiences periods where she is back in her own mind, learning that her current renter may plan to use her body to kill someone. This initiates an action-packed series of events in which Callie learns more about her renter’s motivations and the plans of Prime Destinations, the company which she’s allowed to loan out her body. Fans of the Hunger Games trilogy will love Starters, another great dystopian read about a strong and compassionate female lead taking a stand in a society divided between haves and have-nots.