September 19th marks International Talk Like a Pirate Day. In addition to talking and dressing like pirates, if you would like to read like a pirate, here are some great swashbuckling young adult titles!
This is an origin story for Blackbeard the pirate. Edward “Teach” Drummond loves the ocean and can’t wait to return to it. Anne has been recently orphaned and, without any money to her name, is forced to find work in the Drummond home. Teach and Anne both must decide whether they will play the roles society has given them or set off to follow their dreams.
Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy by L.A. Meyer
This first book in a series of twelve follows the story of Jacky Faber who, as the title suggests, disguises herself as a boy and serves aboard a pirate ship.
Jane Peck has been trained to be a lady, but when she sails to the western United States to wed her betrothed, she finds that her training did not prepare her for a life at sea or the adventures of the wild west.
When people ask me to describe myself, I inevitably reply that I am a reader and a gamer, among other things. Rarely do those two hobbies converge, however. I mean, occasionally I talk about books with my gamer friends. And I realize that some libraries have board game nights. But for the most part, those two parts of my life are compartmentalized, set within specific contexts and situations.
One could argue that this separation exists because the two are so different. And in some ways, I get that. Tabletop games bring people together to cooperate for victory over the game or to war among themselves for individual glory. Either way, there’s going to be a lot of emotion…and noise! Reading is more of a solitary activity by nature. Even if you join a book club or find a community of readers, the actual reading of the book is between you and the book.
But I beg to disagree with this assessment. I think that reading and gaming are more similar than people realize. Let me start to explain by saying that board games have changed a lot over the years. The games of yesteryear (Clue, Monopoly, The Game of Life) have evolved into more complex, dynamic games. Games where strategy is key, risks are rewarded or punished in due measure, and reliance on other players is a routine occurrence. In particular, storytelling has become a huge component of tabletop games. Think about Dungeons and Dragons for instance, where the crux of the game involves players completing a story woven in real time by a game master. Continue reading Read This, Play That!: Perfect Tabletop Game Pairings for Your Favorite YA Series
June is Audiobook Month! Many of us have fond memories of being read to as a child, but did you know that you can still be read to? That is the value of audiobooks! The story comes alive and, with the right narrator, you can hear a story much more differently than you would reading it. Accents are perfected, exclamations are understood, and even words or names you may not know or have never heard before make sense to you. This is my second year evaluating audiobooks for YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee. As chair of this year’s committee, I am so excited for all the great audiobook-related things happening this month. Articles are being written about the importance and resurgence of audiobooks, you can get in “Sync” this summer and download free audios, and the audiobook circulation at my Library sees a nice increase starting in June with many people going on road trips and vacations.
To give you an idea of what makes an audiobook a good listen, here are some of the criteria that gets an audiobook on the Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults selection list:
The narration has to expand or compliment the original text. In other words, when you listen to a narrator tell the story, it comes alive and allows the you to experience the text in a different way.
Character voice variation is key! We must have a sense of who the character is by the different qualities in the voices that the narrator uses. For example, it is a lot more enjoyable when you are listening to a narrated conversation and can tell which character is talking without the text cues letting you know. Accents, exclamations, and sound effects also are considered. If done well, they really make an audiobook amazing!
There is also the importance of a match between the text and the narrator. You know when it is right; your ear picks it up. The narrator embodies the main character and sometimes even all the characters in the books.
The technical production on an audiobook is also a criteria for the Amazing Audiobooks list. We want to make sure the editing is done well, the sound quality is even, and that there are no issues with extra sounds or mike pickups. Additionally, we do consider the music that you hear at the beginning, end, or in between the tracks–does it match the story? Is it effective in heightening the story? If it is, then it just adds more quality to the production.
So, where should you start if you have never listened to an audiobook before? Well, some great awards and lists are put out every year: the Odyssey Award, the Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults annual list, and the Audies are a few places to start. Below I have compiled some of my favorites, that I think will be a great first listen for all of you who are new to audiobooks and want to give them a try.