Contagious Passion: Characters Doing What They Love

“The things that you do should be things that you love, and things that you love should be things that you do.” -Ray Bradbury

Passion is contagious. I love hearing people talk about what they love. I’m sucked into their story, even if they are describing something I didn’t find remotely interesting prior to that moment. This is just as true for me in fiction as it is in real life. I am almost immediately won over by characters in a ruthless pursuit of a passion, whether it manifests in a career aspiration, hobby, vocation or, dare we say, calling. Below are just a few characters and their passions I have enjoyed sharing.

Labors of Love:

CathFangiFANGIRL_CoverDec2012-300x444rl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath is a passionate reader and a fan of the fantasy series featuring boy wizard Simon Snow. But Cath isn’t just a fan, she is an active participant in the fandom.  As “Magicath,” she writes Simon Snow fanfiction, first with her sister and then on her own. Writing fanfiction serves as an escape when her own life is difficult or lonely, and it’s Cath’s own fan base that, in part, helps her gain the confidence she will need to write original characters that tell her own unique story. Fangirl readers not only get to read Cath’s story throughout the novel, but her own Simon Snow fanfiction as well.

Will and her friendsWill and Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge; Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens

If I had to give an award for the most unique hobbies I have ever encountered in fiction, I would give it to Wilhelmina and her friends. As Will introduces her friends to the reader, one of the first things we find out about each of them is what they are passionate about.  Will makes her own lamps mostly out of objects found in her aunt’s antique shop, her friend Autumn practices puppetry, Noel is constantly baking, and his little sister Reece makes up-cycled jewelry.  Readers looking for a graphic novel offering some D.I.Y. inspiration need look no furNothing Can Possibly Go Wrong Coverther than Will and Whit. One thing I love about Will and her friends’ hobbies is the way they find ways to share them with their community.  When Hurricane Whitney sweeps through, causing a town-wide blackout, and leaving locals bored, Will and her friends each contribute their talents to a makeshift arts carnival. With a phobia of the dark and a tragic past, making lamps becomes a way for Will to cope with her fears and, eventually, process and express her emotions.

Nate, the robotics club, and the cheerleaders Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen, Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks; Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens

Nate is president of the high school’s robotics club, a small but dedicated group, struggling for their school’s meager extracurricular funds.  Unfortunately, the school’s cheerleaders are just as dedicated and want the same funding for their cheer uniforms. Though the two groups initially have it out for each other, they become united by their lack of money, and use a cutthroat robotics competition as a last ditch effort to win prize money.  My favorite part of this graphic novel is that two groups bond over the fact that they both love what they do, even though what they love couldn’t possibly be more different. Nate and his friends have to deal with stereotypes surrounding what they love, but they fight them with an inspirational vengeance. (Cheerleaders are NOT dumb, and don’t EVER tell a girl that she shouldn’t be into robotics!) Continue reading Contagious Passion: Characters Doing What They Love

The Seventh 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 seventh day of YA, my true love gave to me seven swans-a-swimming.

Remember when I mentioned that there were a lot of birds in the original song? Yep, we’ve got seven more here with the swans. So, we converted this one into an ugly-duckling-to-swan theme. Rather than focusing only on make overs for this theme, we looked mostly at books that included characters that were non-traditional beauties, but others saw that they were beautiful all along. We hope you enjoy the stories of lovely swans that we picked and encourage you to share your favorites in the comments!

EleanorPark_cover2-300x450 FANGIRL_CoverDec2012-300x444 The DUFF

Girl-of-Fire-and-Thorns-US Princess Ben The Sweetest Spell

– Jessica Lind, currently reading My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

Jukebooks: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

My True Love

Some of your favorite authors in the young adult literature world have put their own spin on the holiday season in a brand-new collection of holiday-themed short stories. For this incredible collection, we have a full playlist.

To get the connections, you’ll have to read the stories!

 

 

1. “Midnights” by Rainbow Rowell
A Thousand Years by Kristina Perry

 

2. “The Lady and the Fox” by Kelly Link
Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me by The Smiths

 

3. “Angels in the Snow” by Matt de la Pena
Yo Amo La Navidad by Tercer Cielo

 

4. “Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me” by Jenny Han
Last Christmas by Wham

 

5. “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown” by Stephanie Perkins
O, Christmas Tree by Winter Solstice

 

6. “Your Temporary Santa” by David Levithan
Don’t Stop Believin’ by Glee Cast

 

7. “Krampuslauf” by Holly Black
Auld Lang Syne  by Rod Stewart

 

8. “What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?” by Gayle Foreman
You Can’t Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones

 

9. “Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus” by Myra McEntire
Away in a Manger by Brad Paisley

 

10. “Welcome to Christmas, CA” by Kiersten White
Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney

 

11. “Star of Bethlehem” by Ally Carter
O Holy Night by Jackie Evancho

 

12. “The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor
Beautiful Dreamer by Roy Orbison

 

2014 Teens’ Top Ten: Everything You Need to Know About Rainbow Rowell

The Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in sixteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Celebrate Teen Literature Day, the Thursday of National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year.

The votes are in for 2014, and the winners have been announced– and we’re featuring them here on The Hub. Today I’ll highlight Rainbow Rowell, honored for her novel Eleanor and Park, and link you to some great interviews, profiles, fan art, and more.

Rainbow in her own words

Rainbow in other people’s art

Eleanor and Park has inspired a wealth of amazing fanart by talented artists. Here are a few examples:

rowell_fanart01
by Simini Blocker

Continue reading 2014 Teens’ Top Ten: Everything You Need to Know About Rainbow Rowell

The Best Books for Non-Readers

teen_blogging_contest_winner

October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Lana Gorlinski.

As hard as it is for a bookworm like myself to fathom, many teenagers simply don’t like to read. I know many of the type, and they have a variety of reasons for not enjoying books–they’d rather watch the movie, they find it tedious and can’t sit still for that long, they’d simply rather do other things with their time. Yet I’ve found that most people who “don’t like reading” actually just don’t like the books they’ve read. Indeed, if all I had read growing up were the asinine required reading pieces I was presented with, I too may have learned to loathe the activity. But I’m of the opinion that one can’t hate the act of reading itself, because it’s not a hobby so much as it is a medium for absorbing information of all kinds; saying one hates reading as a whole is just as ludicrous as saying one hates all of music, television, or the internet. Because just as there’s a music or movie genre for every taste, so too exists a near-infinite number of book genres to suit even the most finicky of readers. Below, I’ve listed a variety of books that even the most adamant non-readers should enjoy:

ender's game orson scott card coverIf you can’t put down the video games: Try an action-packed science fiction novel, like Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card! Set in a distant-future Earth, young Ender Wiggins finds himself selected for training in zero gravity to learn how to fight against the alien Buggers that are attacking the earth. Besides the usual awesomeness that comes with aliens and outer space, this quick-paced read is also chock full of action and interesting military strategy at every turn of the page.
What next: The Maze Runner by James Dashner Continue reading The Best Books for Non-Readers

YA Trends Throughout The Years

teen_blogging_contest_winner

October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Saraya Flaig from Idaho.


Continue reading YA Trends Throughout The Years

Diversify Your YA Contemporary Reads: A Flowchart

teen_blogging_contest_winner

October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Summer Khaleq from California.

Most of us can attest to the fact that the ever-growing Young Adult genre is one of the most boundless and honest genres in modern-day literature. In terms of innovation, YA wins the gold.

Yet despite the ever-expanding horizons of YA, diversity in general seems to be a taboo topic. There aren’t nearly as many books featuring POC, LGBTQ, and/or disabled characters as there should be, with authors taking the safe route and opting for white heterosexual leads.

I’m certainly not the first to notice this, though. Campaigns supporting and advocating for diversity have been popping up all over the internet (such as the popular #WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign), and if you aren’t familiar with any then you’ve either been a) living under a rock or b) hiding under a rock while reading a book. (Really, isn’t it sad the amount of campaigning that must be done in order to implement something that should be expected in this day in age?)

For those who are new to the movement, I’ve created a nifty little flowchart, since it can be cumbersome to look for potential diverse reads (insert expression of disappointment and irritation here). Even for those who have been following the campaigns for years, there are quite a few lesser-known books here that you should definitely give a try. Continue reading Diversify Your YA Contemporary Reads: A Flowchart

Get to Know Some YA Authors From Across the Pond

Photo Sep 28, 6 06 08 PMI spent a few weeks in London, then Edinburgh in August on vacation, and, being the librarian and book lover that I am, found myself frequently stopping in bookstores. I wondered whether the same books that teens are reading in the U.S. would be available to British & Scottish teens.

As I wandered the teen sections in Waterstones and WHSmith in London and Blackwell’s in Edinburgh, I found that many of the same YA books that are published here are also popular across the pond in London and Scotland. In Waterstones there was a special display with a sign saying “Everything’s turning green!” promoting John Green’s books. Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars were also included in another book display.

Photo Sep 28, 4 06 04 PM Photo Sep 28, 4 11 48 PMAs I scanned the shelves in the bookstores, I also saw a few authors that I wasn’t as familiar with, or that I hadn’t heard of at all. One, author, Malorie Blackman, current Children’s Laureate for Great Britain for 2013 – 2015, is a British author I had read years ago. Her book Naughts & Crosses (Noughts & Crosses in the UK) was nominated, but didn’t make the 2006 Best Books for Young Adults list.

It’s a sort of Romeo and Juliet story of teens Sephy and Callum who’ve been in love their whole lives, but their romance is forbidden because they have different skin colors. Sephy is a Cross: black-skinned, wealthy and daughter of an important politician. White-skinned Callum is a Naught, devastatingly poor and powerless. The law now allows Naughts to enter Cross schools, and Sephy is thrilled that Callum will attend her school. But the seemingly positive desegregation degenerates into a nightmarish tangle of events ranging from expulsions, to bombings by the Naught Liberation Militia, to hangings. Callum’s older brother, denied schooling, has joined the Naught Liberation Militia. Caught up in escalating violence, Callum’s family disintegrates, and there seems little for him to do but join the terrorists as well. The teens’ romance against overwhelming odds is very powerful and moving.

Naughts & Crosses was published in the UK in 2001. In a Wikipedia article on Blackman, The Times interviewer Amanda Craig speculated about why the Noughts & Crosses series was not published in the United States the same year, “though there was considerable interest, 9/11 killed off the possibility of publishing any book describing what might drive someone to become a terrorist.” Naughts and Crosses was published in the U.S. in 2005, and the paperback published in 2007 under the title Black & White.

Continue reading Get to Know Some YA Authors From Across the Pond

Banned Books Week: Why Do People Try to Ban Books Again?

Part of a previous year's Banned Book Week display . . . made with an old copy of Fanrenhiet 451. For irony. Photo by Anna Tschetter
Part of a previous year’s Banned Book Week display . . . made with an old copy of Fahrenheit 451. For irony. Photo by Anna Tschetter

I love Banned Books Week. I find that every year it comes around, there is always a new population of people who have no idea what it is. They look at our displays in our libraries and bookstores and wonder what it is all about. I’ve even had some teens look at my display one year  and then ask if they could actually check them out.

I think that is the best part of Banned Book Week: it gives you a way to have a conversation with patrons and readers about censorship, the freedom to read, and the nature of ideas.

Every year the American Library Association releases their list of the most frequently banned or challenged books in the United States. For 2013 to 2014 there are a lot of great YA novels on the list. Looking for Alaska (2006 Printz winner), I Hunt Killers, The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2002 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults), The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian (2008 Best Books for Young Adults), and Eleanor & Park (2014 Printz honor book) all grace the list.

It’s always fascinating to see the reasons why a book has been challenged or removed from a school or library. Personally, some of the reasons the books are challenged are the same reasons I think those books are great. Take the challenge in 2013 for Alexie’s Part-Time Indian: it was challenged because it presented the “crude, obscene, and unfiltered viewpoint of a ninth-grader growing up on the reservation.” That’s what makes the book so funny, accessible, and important to other teenagers!  Continue reading Banned Books Week: Why Do People Try to Ban Books Again?

“Grown-Up” Books (For the Kid in You)

Girl_Reading

When did you start to love reading? Can you remember the first book that did it for you?

Why, yes I do remember–so glad you asked! I was in third grade at my local public library with my friend Margaret (a bookworm and savvy reader a few years older than me). She thrust Lois Lowry’s Anastasia, Again at me so I shrugged and checked it out. I spent the rest of that afternoon on my front porch for hours happily lost in the book. I was a reader. And I haven’t looked back since.

Over the years, I have found that the phase of life in which you read a book affects your outlook on it. Have you ever re-read a beloved book only to find you now despise it? Have you discovered that you still love that same book but notice a lot of different stuff now? If you’ve grown up reading chances are you have many fond memories of the greats you read as a kid. In this line of thinking my colleague Meaghan Darling and I put together some recommendations of titles to try now based on what you liked when you were younger.

Witches_HUB

* The Witches by Roald Dahl –Beautiful Creatures (2010 Morris Finalist) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Some witches are good, some are bad—but all are powerful!

Continue reading “Grown-Up” Books (For the Kid in You)