Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of Isla to Island by Alexis Castellanos

Isla to Island by Alexis Castellanos
Publication Date: March 15, 2022
ISBN-13: 9781534469242

During the Cuban revolution, Marisol’s parents decide to send her to the United States to get her away from the political unrest. Missing her culture, parents, and Cuba, Marisol’s life and the pages of this book lose all color when she first arrives in New York City. Unable to understand English, all the speech bubbles are either empty or filled with squiggling lines. With a language barrier between them, her caretakers attempt to find ways to make her feel welcomed and included. As time passes, Marisol’s world begins to bloom with color as she learns about her new community and the people who live in it.

Continue reading Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of Isla to Island by Alexis Castellanos

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of Lore by Alexandra Bracken

LORE by Alexandra Bracken, read by Fryda Wolff - Audiobook Extract by  Hachette Children's

Lore by Alexandra Bracken; narrated by Fryda Wolff
Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: January 6,  2021
ISBN: 978-1368075107

Lore, or Melora Perseous, is a fighter who knows she is destined for greatness despite her family’s ignominious reputation. She has steadfastly avoided the bloodbath of the Agon, a punishment of nine Greek gods that dooms them to be hunted by the Greek families and killed for their power. That stubborn resistance to becoming a hunter is tested when Castor, her childhood friend and beloved companion, returns–seemingly from the dead as a new deity. Her resolve is further tested when Athena shows up on Lore’s doorstep with a mortal wound, a vendetta, and a way to bind Lore through oath to keep Athena safe.

Continue reading Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of Lore by Alexandra Bracken

Women in Comics: Fairytales & Fables

Fables and fairytales are some of the oldest types of stories around and they continue to be an important part of the literary world. With their combination of art and story, comics and graphic novels are a particularly great medium for this sort of story-telling. These are just a few of the multitude of great options that are out there for fans of fables and fairytales.

Troll Bridge CoverThe Little Red Wolf CoverThe Tea Dragon Society Cover

Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman with art by Colleen Doran – In this modern day take on the classic tale of the troll under the bridge, a young boy goes wandering in the countryside only to encounter a troll living under a remote bridge. To describe the plot much more would be to give away the ending, but the story comments on many modern issues that go beyond classic troll stories, including technological process, urban development, and the choices each person makes and must ultimately live with. Doran’s artwork brings realism to a story that could have been completely fantastical and complements Gaiman’s story perfectly.

The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott and Robin Robinson – Opening in San Francisco shortly after the 1906 fire and earthquake, this book introduces readers to Isabel, a young girl who lives with her wealthy but remote mother. When Isabel is sent away to her father’s for the summer as her mother travels, she suddenly finds herself unexpectedly crossing the veil to the world of fairies where the Seelie and the Unseelie are at war with one another. Tasked with protecting and delivering a necklace that is important for ending the war, she finds herself on an adventure with new friends, including a Filipino boy who can also cross between the two worlds. This fun romp of a fairytale mixes fantasy and adventure well. It is being released later this month.

The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais – Told in a style somewhere between a graphic novel and a picture book, this story flips the typical story of Little Red Riding Hood on its head. In this case, the protagonist is a little wolf who always dresses in a red cape. When he is tasked with taking food into the forest to his grandmother’s house, he will encounter unspeakable danger. In this version of the tale, it is ultimately about revenge, guilt, and the unending harm that can come from both. The gorgeous artwork complements the story and makes for a great
reading experience.

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill – From the author of Princess Princess Ever After, this delightful story follows Greta as she learns the dying tradition of caring for tea dragons from Hesekiel and his partner Erik. Tea dragons, which are small dragons who grow tea leaves on their horns and antlers, store the memories of themselves and their caregivers in the leaves that they grow and brewing tea from these leaves allows the drinker to experience these memories. However, because the process of cultivating their tea is long and difficult, few have continued the tradition. But Greta and her newfound friends, including Minette, a shy former prophetess, manage to rebuild the Tea Dragon Society for themselves. This is an adorable story with cute artwork and a great cast of characters. It is perfect for fans of Princess Princess Ever After and is sure to earn O’Neill even more fans.

Henni by Miss Lasko-Gross – In this modern fable, Henni is a young girl who lives in a dogmatically religious community where her freedom to be herself is strictly limited. Seeing her father attacked for daring to cross the religious leaders has a huge impact on her at a very young age, but still she stays a part of the community until she sees evidence of the true corruption of the tenets she was taught to believe in. At that point she flees into the unknown, desperate to find a just place where she will have the freedom to be herself. By setting this tale in a fantastical world populated entirely with humanoid creatures with the ears and tale of cats, Lasko-Gross makes this a relatable story that can feel applicable to so many situations. The emotional and moody illustrations and the terrifying obstacles that Henni faces throughout make it a powerful reading experience. And, by ending simultaneously with a moral and an open-ended final scene, Lasko-Gross makes the fable genre seem fresh and modern.

What are your favorite fables and fairytales in graphic novels? Let us know in the comments!

– Carli Spina, currently reading Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

What’s In a (Book) Name?

It was Wild Bill Shakespeare himself who once penned the words “What’s in a name. That which we call a rose/By any other name should smell as sweet.” The words are spoken by one of the Bard’s more famous female characters, Juliet of House Capulet. She’s telling the hours-old love of her life that she doesn’t care that his last name of Montague brands him an enemy of her house. Whatever his name was, she would love him anyways.

image via Flickr User Leeds Museums and Galleries
CC v. 2.0 image via Flickr User Leeds Museums and Galleries

Once you’re able to part the curtain of deep sighs and introspective smiles at this grand romantic gesture, however, you find that you can’t count on Juliet’s statement as book recommendation advice. And really, shouldn’t that be what’s most important here? I mean, that play would be even better if it was about Juliet recommending books to Romeo rather than “falling in love” in the course of three days and faking her own death and being dumb and…and…and… Continue reading What’s In a (Book) Name?

Is This Just Fantasy? : How To Get Away With Fantasy

Next week is Teen Read Week and around the nation, libraries will be creating programs, book displays, and lists of reading recommendations surrounding the 2015 theme: “Getting Away @ Your Library.”  When I realized that I was scheduled to post this month’s edition of ‘Is This Just Fantasy?’ just before Teen Read Week’s kick off, I found myself wishing to reflect on the many connections between this year’s theme and fantasy fiction.

fantasy TRW post draft 1

Let’s start with the basic terminology.  The word ‘fantasy’ can be defined as the ability, activity, or product of imagining things, especially ideas or concepts that are impossible, improbable, or otherwise removed from our reality.  When applied to fiction, the term usually references a genre of literature that takes places within alternative worlds or includes events and characters which operate outside of the rules that govern our universe–usually through the existence of some kind of magic.  At its most basic level, the fantasy genre is all about getting away by leaving behind certain rules or limitations of our present reality.   Continue reading Is This Just Fantasy? : How To Get Away With Fantasy

Fandom 101: The Doctor is In

Don’t Blink.

Wibbly wobbly- timey wimey.

Bow ties are cool.

It’s bigger on the inside.

Fantastic! Allons-y! Geronimo!

Fandom 101 at The Hub

For the uninitiated, those phrases and words mean little to nothing. To the Whovian Fandom, fans of the British television series Doctor Who, they mean a whole lot. Doctor Who (never Dr. Who!) has been a phenomenon for over fifty years, and with each new Doctor a whole new generation of fans is born. To date there have been 13 different Doctors (if you include the War Doctor, who only appeared in the 50th anniversary special in 2013 and was played by Sir John Hurt). They are all the same person, though- a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who regenerates every few seasons instead of dying. Though he keeps the memories of his past incarnations, every Doctor is a slightly different man, with a different way of dressing, connecting to his companions, and even reacting to the universe around him, and every Whovian has their favorite.

whovians are

Chances are, if you’re a Whovian, you did just that!

Continue reading Fandom 101: The Doctor is In

Charlie, Charlie, do you know any scary books?

Those of you who spend a lot of time on Vine or Twitter may already be familiar with this game: divide a piece of paper into four quadrants, writing “yes” and “no” in opposite corners. Place a pencil along one center line, and another pencil balanced on it crossways. Ask “Charlie, Charlie, are you here?” If the top pencil moves to point to “yes,” you can ask the spirit further questions. Or just scream and run away.

image via Wikimedia Commons user Yunshui
image via Wikimedia Commons user Yunshui

The #CharlieCharlieChallenge spiked last month, and teens who’ve discovered the delight of scaring themselves silly may be looking for the next fright. Hopefully they’re well-schooled in the existence of Charlie Charlie’s cousins in spooking and fortunetelling, the Ouija board, Bloody Mary, the Magic 8 ball, and cootie catchers.

Book-wise, here are some titles to keep readers’ eyes wide and hearts pounding.

scary stories collage

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwarz — The original scare-yourself-to-death-at-a-sleepover book, this one bears repeating simply because the folklore-sourced stories are still powerful today. For maximum effect, get the original version with the terrifying watercolors by Stephen Gammell.

Coraline, by Neil Gaiman — The supposedly-kids’ story that’s really plenty scary enough for teens. A short, Alice-through-the-looking-glass tale with a decidedly dark twist and visuals you won’t soon forget.

The Nightmarys, by Dan Poblocki — Possibly the most-requested scary book in my teen section. Cursed to be tormented by your greatest fears brought to life? Yep.

The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allan Poe (Graphic Novel version by Benjamin Harper) — If you’ve read a lot of the scary YA that’s out there, be sure you don’t miss the master of terror, Mr. Poe himself. For an especially vivid gateway, try the graphic novel series of his short stories.

Through the Woods, by Emily Carroll (Graphic Novel) — There are woods, ghosts, and fairy tale themes here, but not like you’re used to. Get ready for some major spine tingles and gore.

Hub readers shared their own thoughts on this topic in Books that Spooked Us!, and some of my peers wanted it known that the adult titles House of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielewski) and It (Stephen King) still give them nightmares.

There are a lot of scary books to choose from — which are your favorites? And since we’ve progressed all the way from pencils to nightmares…Charlie, Charlie, can we stop?

–Rebecca O’Neil, currently reading The Lost Hero, by Rick Riordan


Getting Graphic: Popular YA Books Adapted as Graphic Novels

twilightgraphicnovelI’ve noticed a trend in young adult literature that has been growing over the past year or so- a lot of popular YA books are getting the graphic novel treatment. I first noticed this with Twilight a few years ago, but recently I’ve seen more and more popular YA fiction titles are being reimagined as graphic novels. The reasons for this escaped me for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I like comics. I have nothing but love for Batman and Batgirl. But when books that were successful and popular without pictures suddenly started showing up in my library in a completely new picture-filled format the first thing I asked myself was why?

The cynical side of me realizes it’s a whole new way to make money off of a story. We all know that books that get made into movies tend to sell better, so putting them out in graphic form is another way to extend their moneymaking. Or perhaps by changing the format of the books publishers can get people who already own the originals to buy them again. These are certainly valid reasons, and it’s likely there’s truth there. The non-cynical side of me sees other reasons for this trend.

Continue reading Getting Graphic: Popular YA Books Adapted as Graphic Novels

ALA Midwinter 2015: Where’s the Red Carpet? An Inside Look at the Youth Media Awards

20150202_074414_HDRIn the early hours of a Monday in late January or early February, a phone rings. Someone picks up, and then a complete stranger informs them they have just won a prestigious literary award and soon a gold medal sticker will adorn all future copies of their book. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be on the receiving end of that call, but while we don’t get to experience this aspect of the Youth Media Awards unless we are on one of the committees- or one of the winners- the sense of amazement can still be experienced if you attend the ceremony. The whole room is electric with excitement, and chatter, and anticipation. The only thing missing is the red carpet!

pic_shot_1422887484950If I am at ALA Midwinter, and these last few years I have been lucky enough to be, I always go to the Youth Media Awards. The atmosphere inside the YMAs is definitely enthusiastic. Some people wouldn’t think a room full of librarians would get that loud, or that a book/author could be cheered like a rockstar, but when winners are announced at the Youth Media Awards there are shrieks and cheers from all over the room, and it’s usually a big room. This year there were plenty of seats, but in years past it has been standing room only or even overflowing into other rooms with video feeds. This is a big deal, y’all. Continue reading ALA Midwinter 2015: Where’s the Red Carpet? An Inside Look at the Youth Media Awards

The Twelfth Day of YA

The Twelve Days of YAThis year on the Hub we are celebrating the Twelve Days of YA with a series of posts loosely based on the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. We have converted each gift into a related theme common to YA and paired it with a list of relevant titles. You may use the Twelve Days of YA tag to read all of the posts in the series.

Special thanks goes to Carli Spina, Faythe Arredondo, Sharon Rawlins, Geri Diorio, Becky O’Neil, Carla Land, Katie Yu, Laura Perenic, Jennifer Rummel, Libby Gorman, Carly Pansulla, Anna Dalin, and Allison Tran for their help creating the booklists and organizing this series.

On the twelfth day of YA, my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming.

For our final day of YA we are returning to a musical theme. Day four included a wider variety of music themes, but today we are focused entirely on YA lit that includes musicians. We’ve gone a little bit country and a little bit rock-n-roll, so there should be something in here for everyone. We hope you enjoy the rock stars that we picked and encourage you to share your favorites in the comments!



Drums Girls and Dangerous Pie   Open Road Summer   The Scar Boys

Being Friends with Boys    Where She Went    The Piper's Son

– Jessica Lind, currently reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman