OK, it’s time for a little make believe. I’d ask you to close your eyes, but I know that will make reading the rest of this fairly difficult. Imagine it’s Christmas morning and you just noticed that your stocking is filled to the brim with goodies. Upon closer inspection, you notice that it’s not just any random gift. Santa has stuffed your stocking with books upon books. It truly is a merry Christmas.
Everyone makes their own personal Santa. One Santa would only ever bring candy and never socks. Another Santa would leave the sweets at home and fill up the stocking with silly little knick knacks. In my imagination, Santa stuffs as many books as possible in my stocking. The question is, how well does Santa know your personal reading tastes? Below are several of our favorite holiday characters. Let’s see what books Santa stuffed in their stockings.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Rudolph’s story is a familiar one. I mean, the basics of his life are squeezed into a song. Aside from the magical ability to fly and his glowing nose, Rudolph’s story is about trying to fit in when others make you feel like an outcast. This is a common theme in many teen books. Rudolph would definitely enjoy science fiction stories that include other characters with powers. For example, I guarantee there were several “X-Men” graphic novels. Who wouldn’t want to relate their issues with the issues of superheroes? In addition to the “X-Men” graphic novels, I bet Santa would throw in the “Maximum Ride” series by James Patterson, starting with The Angle Experiment. Similarly to the X-Men, Patterson’s books are about kids with powers that would normally exclude them. Instead, these powers bring the kids together. Who could forget about Harry Potter? Harry Potter spends his whole life up to the age of ten thinking that he wasn’t as good as the other kids. Then he discovers in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling that he is actually more special than his rude family. Also, just like Rudolph and his reindeer friends, Harry gets to do the same things as the other wizards, but still must deal with being treated different. Rudolph’s nose will always glow and Harry’s scar will always remind people that he was not killed by He Who Must Not Be Named. Of course, let’s not forget the parallels between Rudolph’s relationship to Santa and Harry’s relationship with Dumbledore. The similarities are definitely there. Obviously, Rudolph will have quite a few books to read in the time before next Christmas. Continue reading What Would They Read?: Holiday Edition
Spy fiction is a sub-genre of mysteries and thrillers. For a novel to be considered spy fiction, some form of espionage must be present in the plot. This can include one person as a spy, or a whole agency of spies. Spy fiction can be set in the present day, past, and future. When spy fictions are written for teens, the protagonist or protagonists are often inexperienced and considered amateur sleuths.
Spy fiction must have action and adventure. Though some have it outright, others may have more of a cerebral approach. The main character or characters have a mission that is given to them at the start of the story. This can be a mission that they adopt themselves or one that is handed to them by a higher-up. Oftentimes, spy fiction involves some kind of political entity, either employing the spy or working against them. In spy fiction, good and bad parties are clearly defined. Most often, we are receiving the story from the good guy’s point of view, and that good guy is the spy. However, readers must always beware of the double agent! Unless part of a series, most spy fiction novels end with justice. However, before justice is carried out the reader is usually led on a series of twists and turns and kept guessing as to if the main character will be victorious in the end. Spy fictions are usually set in the past, alternate past, or present, and rarely are they set in the future. Continue reading Genre Guide: Spy Fiction
I don’t read as much horror as I probably should, since it’s very popular with a lot of teen readers. So, I was very happy to attend this YA Literature Symposium session presented by the two Paulas (Paula Willey and Paula Gallagher) both from Baltimore (MD) County Public Library. Not only did I hear about some horror books I wasn’t familiar with, I also won a scary shark t-shirt! Thanks to their generosity, lots of us in the audience got prizes of galleys of YA books, and everyone got creepy body part shaped candy and packets of Old Bay Seasoning (Why? Because it’s made in Baltimore).
I can’t describe their presentation any better than they did:
“Teens of all types gravitate to horror fiction – perfectly nice kids with perfectly comfortable lives (as well as perfectly nice kids with difficult lives) seek out books by Darren Shan, Alexander Gordon Smith, Jeyn Roberts and the like. In our presentation, we will make the link between the psychological developments that characterize coming of age and the metaphors of horror, and argue that just because it’s all in your head, that doesn’t mean it’s not real.”
They mentioned that teens who like horror are nostalgic for series they read as kids like the Goosebumps series, Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories, or David Lubar’s Weenies series. Teens today are cutting their teeth on new horror TV shows, and films, even foreign ones like Let the Right One In and are big consumers of media, especially horror series like The Vampire Diaries.
Paula Willey explained why it’s important that we understand why teens like horror:
1. We may need to overcome our own revulsion; people who don’t like it don’t understand the appeal.
2. Horror is unusually good at shining a light on concerns of adolescents in ways other types of fiction do not. Horror is a window into their worries.
They also said that issues of morality can be explored in horror. Alexander Gordon Smith can talk abut good vs. evil in his Escape the Furnace series and get away with it. I had to laugh when they showed a slide from their PowerPoint stating that adolescent development is characterized by poor decision making; risk-taking; and a changing sense of identity and the image on screen was a photo of Bella and Edward from the Twilight movie.