The amazing thing about fiction is that it allows us to use our imaginations to come up with whatever our heart desires. From giant rock monsters to hedgehogs that ‘gotta go faster’, modern media has proven how simple it is to take a pre-existing creature and modify it to be more entertaining to the masses.
Yet, out of all the creatures out there that mankind has devised for modern media, the dragon seems to be the most popular among boys and girls of all ages. What is it about them that makes them so appealing? Well, I would say that it’s how each creative mind in the world is able to interpret them in their own personal way. Some people see them as mindless beasts that only want to destroy mankind, while others see them as wise and cunning creatures of the land, sea and sky!Continue reading Teen Perspective: A Trio of Tales about Dragons
Middle school (usually 5th through 8th grade) is an incredible time. Kids begin to see themselves as part of a larger world, their minds and bodies go into development overdrive, and their relationships with everyone can shift dramatically. Middle schoolers are heavily invested in figuring out their identities; they push for increased independence from adults while often desperately seeking a sense of belonging among their peers. These experiences can be especially confusing, painful, or frightening for kids who feel different–such as kids whose gender identities or sexual orientations stand out in our still very binary and heteronormative culture.
This spring, Buzzfeed published an article titled “Coming Out As Gay in Elementary School,” which interviewed a few children and their families on their experiences coming out as gay, genderless, and queer at ages ranging from 7 to 13 years old. The article also cites research and interviews with Dr. Caitlyn Ryan of San Francisco State University’s Family Acceptance Project. In a 2009 practice brief, Dr. Ryan notes that their research shows that “both gay and straight children have their first ‘crush’ or attraction to another person at age 10” and on average, adolescents in their studies identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual at age 13.4 (2). In the same report, she reiterates that children develop and express gender identity at ages 2-3 (2).
As a librarian, I want to be able to provide all of my students with stories that both reflect their lives, experiences, and identities and expand their understanding of our diverse world. Since these studies and testimonies clearly illustrate the relevance of LBGTQ+ stories to middle school students, I wondered: how many middle school age characters who identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum show up in middle grade and young adult fiction?
Happily, we are beginning to see more and more novels featuring 10-14 year old LGBTQ+ characters. However, I struggled to find representations of girls who like girls or transgender boys, which was disheartening. We’ve got some great titles currently available and several exciting titles set to be published this year. But I’d love to see even more, especially featuring lesbian/bisexual/queer girls and transgender boys!
While her painfully bad singing rules out a future as an actor, theatre fanatic Callie has found her place backstage as a set designer. When talented twins Justin and Jesse join the middle school musical, the drama on and off stage reaches new heights. Callie’s thrilled to have a fun new friend in openly gay Justin and she hopes that quiet Jesse might be the boy to help her get over her crush on her old friend Greg.
So Hard To Say – Alex Sanchez
Thirteen year old Xio is confident, bubbly, and ready for first kisses and romance. When shy Frederick starts at school, Xio is happy to lend him a pen and invite him to join her lunch table. The two quickly become close friends but as Xio’s attempts to transform their relationship into romance escalate, Frederick finds himself increasingly attracted to handsome soccer player Victor.
When thirteen year old Nate hears about open auditions for the lead in the upcoming Broadway production of E.T. : The Musical, he will stop at nothing to get to New York City and claim his rightful space in the spotlight. Along the way, Nate faces merciless competition, perilous public transportation, and growing questions about his sexuality and identity. Nate’s adventures continue in the sequel, Five, Six, Seven, Nate! Continue reading Middle School Pride : LGBTQ+ Tweens in Literature for Youth
One of the most frequent readers’ advisory questions I get is also one of the most complicated. Often, a reader asks for a “funny” book. But what does that mean?
Humor is subjective. Some readers might be looking for a book with slapstick-y humor, others might appreciate darker humor, like satire. Some readers don’t mind a book with bits of humor but more dramatic themes overall, others just want an easy, breezy comedy.
Bottom line: matching books with readers looking for a funny book can be tricky.
Since April is National Humor Month, it seemed like a good time to break down the subcategories of humor and offer suggestions for readers looking for funny books.
Satire is the use of humorous exaggeration to expose and criticize, particularly in the context of politics or culture.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012 Amelia Bloomer List, 2012 Rainbow List, 2014 Popular Paperbacks) is about a group of beauty pageant contestants who crash land on an island: hilarity ensues. But while a less adept writer might have just mocked the beauty-obsessed girls, but instead, she creates complicated characters who for various reasons—money, love, approval—have all bought into the rigid standards beauty pageant contestants are expected to embody, and in the process, critiques consumerism , reality TV, and of course, pageants.
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults) is the story of Jennifer Strange, a wizard for hire who becomes the last dragonslayer. Like Bray, Fforde critiques the corporate world and consumer culture in this fantasy series sure to put a smirk on reader’s faces.
This past year I had the immense pleasure to serve as chair for the 2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee. It was a really great year for audiobooks and my committee was fortunate to consider a total of 395 audiobooks for our selection list! After hours and hours of listening, we had to whittle down a list of no more than 30 selections that were the year’s best. If you have not yet had a chance to checkout our list you can see it here. It was released last week, after the Midwinter Conference.
We also had the even more difficult task of selecting our Top Ten Audiobooks of the year. Below are our Top Ten titles for 2015, along with a suggested listen-a-like, in case you are ahead of the game and have already listened to these Top Ten selections.
2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults Top Ten
ACID by Emma Pass, read by Fiona Hardingham with Nicholas Guy Smith and Suzan Crowley. Listening Library, 2014. 10 hours, 48 minutes; 9 discs. 978-0-8041-6832-8.
The brutal police state ACID rules all, so when Jenna is broken out of prison by a rebel group she has to fight to survive as ACID’s most-wanted fugitive. Unique ACID reports and recordings read by Smith and Hardingham’s excellent pace combine with her authentic teen voice to highlight this exciting story.
Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quick. Hachette Audio, 2013. 9 hours, 30 minutes, 8 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4789-2648-1.
In the second installment of the Finishing School series, Sophronia and her classmates use their training to search for a dangerous device that may have fallen into the wrong hands. Quick’s lively narration highlights the wit and humor in Carriger’s story.
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, read by Miranda Raison: The Finishing School series, narrated by Quirk, is filled with sly humor but also packs a punch with Sophronia’s adventures. Likewise, The Screaming Staircase is not only is an action-packed steampunk mystery, but Raison brings variety to her narration by highlighting the nuances of the quirky cast of characters characters, including the darkly comedic Anthony Lockwood. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2014)
Last Friday, Katie Shanahan Yu posted a tribute to Robin Williams that included wonderful video clips and a booklist of young adult novels that echo the joyful spirit of Williams’ work. This week, Jennifer Rummel and I extend the tribute with YA lit readalikes paired with some of Robin Williams’ most memorable movies (and one iconic television show.)