Common Core and More
President and Executive Director
The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance
Book: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Age Range: 12 and up
We Were Liars, e. lockhart's upcoming young adult novel, is fabulous. I couldn't put it down, particularly the last third. On finishing it, I had to go back and immediately re-read large chunks of the book. This is something I never do. Yes, it is that good.
Really, if you are an e. lockhart fan, or a fan of suspenseful young adult fiction of any stripe, that should be enough. You should stop reading here. Because this is NOT a book that you want spoiled. You want to go into it knowing as little about it as possible.
The protagonist isn't wholly likable. She's wealthy, beautiful and spoiled (with heavy parallels to the Kennedy family). She doesn't even know the names of the people who work for her extended family every summer. But it doesn't matter. She is compelling anyway - I promise.
The primary setting, a private island near Martha's Vineyard, isn't one that will resonate with most readers' personal experience. But that doesn't matter, either. Lockhart draws the island so clearly, and the characters so sharply (for good and ill) that you feel like you're there with them.
In terms of mature content, there is some kissing, and some drinking, and some talk of (but no action regarding) sex. But this is a powerful book, and I would not give it to kids under 12.
And honestly, that's all I have to say. Pre-order it, read it when it's available, and try not to read any detailed reviews in the meantime. Highly recommended for teen and adult readers, male or female. I won't stop thinking about We Were Liars for a while.
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
FTC Required Disclosure:
This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).
I’ve had a semi-solid idea for the next “Scary Tales” book (number 6, untitled), for a while.
But nothing real specific.
I’ve been fleshing out characters, still debating the introduction of a third character, wondering if she’s necessary or not. Definitely going with twin boys.
As for place, I always thought — without giving it much thought — some kind of swamp. Down south, I assumed. Had to be, right?
Lately that notion of place has gotten more specific. I’m zeroing in on Southeast Texas somewhere. Still have more research to do, more looking at maps, more figuring and fact-checking. And, of course, all that in turn effects my characters. How they talk, how they live.
I recently spent time on Google, looking at images, checking maps, gaining inspiration. It seems to be something I’ve been doing of late, part of my writing process.
Here’s a few you might enjoy . . .
And last but not least . . .Add a Comment
a couple more for my “ani-mask” series and a baby cafe.Add a Comment
It’s hard to convince me to not contribute to the growing number of small press comic subscriptions–every season there seems to be even more great material I want to get my hands onto, and it’s a rather addicting cycle of excitement whenever there’s a new package at my door. Oily has proven to be an exceptionally versatile publisher with their subscriptions—the form of their pocket-size, digestible mini-comics has parlayed a habit-forming nature in their readership that stays true to the internal logic of comics. Series like Melissa Mendes’s Lou and Charles Forsman’s TEOTFW have hooked many a fan in, including myself, allowing a sense of gratification and appreciation that hasn’t always been as accessible in indie comics. There is something quite rewarding about receiving an Oily bundle; the mini-comics are neighborly crafted and packaged to make you feel welcome from the outset.
This season’s Spring Oily Bundle, a limited 200 count batch, featured 9 different mini-comics along with additional prints and art from the stylish roster of Oily cartoonists. Mixing a touch of the familiar and the new, this was an impressionably refreshing stack of work, demonstrating the inarguable benefits of reading comics in their printed format.
The first of the loot is Noah Van Sciver’s new minicomic, The Lizard Laughed. Beginning with a quote from Martin Sheen’s 2012 shared memoir with son Emilio Estevez, Along the Way, Sciver sets up this father-and-son narrative, contorted through his trademark doom-and-gloom thematic craftship. While the recognizable tropes of bleakness and brooding malaise are definitely present, Sciver is able to input some very quiet and reflective moments within this short piece that make it surprisingly satisfying.
Harvey is the deadbeat, stoner dad who gets an unexpected visit from the son he abandoned so many years ago. Although supposedly complacent with his role as an absent father, Harvey endeavors to enact what he believes is fatherly action to Nathan, offering affection through engaging in conversation and artistic similarity, and even planning a joint rendezvous, the time-honored tradition of a father-and-son hike. Harvey’s tragic, cumbersome attempt to fill in a paternal guise is apparent at every moment of the two’s interaction, and the emotional machismo on display is unwieldy.
The ending is no surprise, and there’s a sense of crushing disappointment for both father and son. While Harvey is sure to continue in his cyclical inability to truly connect with another person, Nathan walks away from revenge, and in a way comes to grips with understanding, even in disconnect, why Harvey is the way he is. It would be flawed to associate this comic as another father-and-son narrative, the cringe-worthy air between Harvey and Nathan actually sheds light on Sciver’s creative ability to ride that line between empathy and ridicule. There’s not a lot of people, let alone cartoonists, who can exhibit the gnarled grace that Sciver does with a character like Harvey, someone who is incredulously unlikeable and irrationally mulish to boot.
Sciver pacifies the overarching tension with Harvey’s meandering tales of playful, fantastical adventures with dangerous historic sites and imaginative recounts of mystical creatures. It’s in these stories that Harvey seems the most in touch with life, his childish sensibility drawn with a touch of humor. He is swallowed by the fantasy of his surroundings, and it’s never more clear how misguided and detached from reality he genuinely is, a palpable actuality that Nathan plainly sees.
I’m unsure if Sciver meant to comment on or parody the Sheen memoir Along the Way (something tells me neither Sheen nor Estevez wouldn’t be able to connect that sad, self-deprecating psyche in quite the same way), and The Lizard Laugh is anything but a Hollywood memoir. Sciver succeeds yet again in creating a narrative that turns the focus inward; to our own shortcomings that we reject by fluffing up our own perception of wisdom, and the choice Nathan makes that allows Harvey to retain some dignity, to not be small and nothing.
Crash Trash, an uber little comic from French cartoonist Olive Booger, is a streamlined reworking of his style’s drippy, color-saturated, hysteric scratchiness as seen in Kuš! And his graphic novel, I Like Short Songs. While superficially shrunken down to a 4” by 2.25” mini-mini-comic, Crash Trash packs a whole lot of trippy detail in the comic’s anthropologic recounting of the rise and fall of a fictional 1980s gang called the Trash Boys, along with the antics and lawlessness of their home base, the district of Crashtown.
It’s at first a little jarring to see such a small comic flushed with a heavy hand of text—almost every panel is scrawled with as much space filled with script as it is image. There is no dialogue, only narration and a smattering of effects, thereby pacing the comic quite cinematically, as panel transitions move from pull back shots of the Trash Boys to close-ups of a fallen comb or cross-cutting to a colossal punt by enemy gang, the Mega Dogs. At first glance, it may seem Olive was restricted by size in the type of details he could use to fill in details, yet his histrionic prose amplifies the limited visual space, resisting an urge to rapidly read the comic. There’s a rhythmic cleverness in the way the comic moves, an ebbing and tiding in the momentum as well as in the elevation of dramatic moments. The story is neither bounded with innovation, so when particular key words are bolded, it aids in setting the scene because you’re most likely able to attribute certain visual cues.
What I’ve said so far shouldn’t discount Oliver’s artistic aspiration; his style is still largely tangible even when stripped down to its red and black risographed print. His previous work harkens a definite Charles Burns influence with the thick, oil paint execution and thematics resonating with the sordid darkness of a city’s underbelly. Crash Trash is situated with the aesthetics of raw, punk desperation of his preceding I Like Short Songs but the simplicity in his line work has taken a new mode, less garish and more nuanced. It’s very impressive to see his art pulsate even with the oppressively tight margins of space.
A lot has been said about Melissa Mendes’s Lou, the seventeen issue long pillar amongst the Oily lineup. This newest addition, titled A Very Special Lou, marks a revisiting to the series which ended in August 2013, and a warm return it proves to be. Like a childhood friend or long unseen family member, A Very Special Lou is an entirely new narrative that retains its delightful, underlying spirit of kindred nostalgia.
One of the reasons I really took to this particular issue was how it gently touched on the omnipresence of fandom for professional wrestling. I’ve always been comfortable broadcasting myself as a fan of comics, and more recently I’ve come clean as a fan of professional wrestling. Fans of comics and professional wrestling share a long, complex history of facing ridicule for following such a denigrated form of entertainment—wrestlers and superheroes are arguably a form of con-job, deemed “fake” by those who choose to stand by higher media forms, be it athletics or literary elitists. However, criticisms aside, fans of wrestling and comics share a distinctly unique concept of play, where we consume media in a way that extends the narrative fluidly, defying rigid roles between the identities of producers and consumers.
A Very Special Lou functions both as a piece about being an admirer of comics as well as wrestling through the domestic lens of childhood imagination. Referencing wrestlers like King Kong Bundy and Hulk Hogan through 6-year-old John’s fannish fascination and how it’s lived through his family, Mendes yet again accesses the real emotions that we feel as charismatic kids and continue to feel today. Through the entire Lou serialization, Mendes almost effortlessly lets the reader dip into points of their own life, spurring even the most dormant, forgotten affections.
Stay up to date with all the Oily greatness by browsing the Oily Comics website.
(Image Credits: http://melissammmendes.tumblr.com, http://snakeoily.tumblr.com)Display Comments Add a Comment
"A young adult book featuring a protagonist who isn't of European descent will never become a bestseller."
"The majority of readers won't read a young adult novel featuring a protagonist who isn't of European descent."
We imagine these kinds of comments, spoken or unspoken, governing the publishing industry. In our guts, we know they're not true. We gripe about this issue. We try to disprove such claims through social media and conferences, panels and articles, speeches and radio shows. Unfortunately, nothing so far has resulted in such a young adult novel breaking through into widespread success.
The truth is that, for all of our good intentions, publishing is a for-profit industry.
Money changes minds.
"Adults don't read books for young readers." Harry Potter shattered that one, didn't it?
"Boys don't read girl books." Along came Suzanne Collins with Katniss, and middle-aged men were tearing through The Hunger Games trilogy.
Yesterday I tweeted this:
To shatter the "multicultural" myth of the market, a breakthrough novel must capture the collective imagination--and haul in a lot of cash.
— Mitali Perkins @MitaliPerkins April 16, 2014
If you know a quality YA novel with blockbuster potential featuring a black or Native protagonist, we'll try to help it go viral.I got several suggestions including books like Joseph Bruchac's Killer of Enemies, The Living by Matt De La Peña, Fake ID by Lamar Giles, and Prophecy by Ellen Oh.
— Mitali Perkins @MitaliPerkins April 16, 2014
@MitaliPerkins Problem is what is blockbuster potential? We can't even predict what is the next blockbuster in general.I do think that film can take a book to the next level, but it must achieve some widespread market success before moviemakers begin to pay attention. There are two necessities to achieve this kind of success.
— Ellen Oh (@elloecho) April 17, 2014
Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller Unbroken: An Olympian’s Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive will be adapted as young adult novel. Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, will publish the work on Veteran’s Day 2014.
Hillenbrand adapted the work for young readers. “The saga of a man’s bravery, ingenuity, and unwavering will in the face of almost unimaginable challenges, Louie Zamperini’s story is spellbinding to people of every age,” explained Hillenbrand in a statement. “At the urging of librarians, teachers, and parents, I’ve created this edition specifically for younger readers. I’m delighted to bring Louie’s inspiring, exhilarating story to a new generation.”
The first printing of the YA adaptation will be a 200,000 copy run. The original book has sold almost 4 million copies and has been on the bestseller list for more than 160 weeks, with 14 weeks at No. 1. The book has also been adapted as a film starring Angelina Jolie, which is slated for release on Christmas Day 2014.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.Add a Comment
At the ComicsPRO meeting DC announced they would be launching three weekly comics this year. Batman Eternal just debuted last week, and The New 52 Future’s End is coming on Free Comic Book Day. And now Nerdist has revealed that as expected, the third weekly will be set on Earth 2. Creators include writers Daniel H. Wilson, Tom Taylor, Paul Levitz, Marguerite Bennet, and Mike Johnson; among the artists: Eddy Barrows, Jorge Jimenez, Stephen Segovia, Paulo Siqeira, and Tyler Kirkham. DC released a promo (above) by Ben Oliver which indicated this will be another feel good, upbeat story.
Apparently Wilson, author of How to Survive a Robot Uprising and other robot bestsellers, will be the “Showrunnrer” for this particular weekly, stating “This has been a charmed opportunity to jump straight into the deep end of a gritty, complex DC Comics series. I feel incredibly lucky to work with Mike Cotton and the rest of the legendary DC team, figuring out the ultimate fates (and sometimes origins) of so many compelling Earth 2 characters in crisis. I’m having the time of my life.”
Earth-2 is a long running alternate Earth featured prominently in DC comics and as you can see from the above, it has a black Superman who is on good terms with Power Girl and a Batman with a funny looking logo that has not impeded his ability to mourn. Although many attempts have been made over the years to simplify DC continuity by nuking variant earths, the truth is, you can’t keep a good alternate world down.
The book comes out in October.Display Comments Add a Comment
Meet Riccardo Guasco, aka ”Rik”, a cartoonist, illustrator and painter based in Alessandria, Italy. Influenced by movements such as Cubism and Futurism he crafts rich compositions brimming with warm muted tones.
Selected works are available for sale at his Society6 shop.
Not signed up for the Grain Edit RSS Feed yet? Give it a try. Its free and yummy.
How would you treat the people who may become a love interest for your children? Jesse Parent penned a cautionary spoken-word poem entitled “To the Boys Who May One Day Date My Daughter.”
The video embedded above features Parent performing his piece at the 2014 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. The Button Poetry YouTube channel posted it earlier this month and it has since attracted more than 840,000 views.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.Add a Comment
$1000 Poetry and Prose Publication Prizes for women
A Room of Her Own Foundation (AROHO), a transformational community for women writers and artists, is seeking submissions from women writers for the $1,000 To the Lighthouse Poetry Publication Prize (previously unpublished collection of poetry 48 to 96 pages in length) and $1000 Clarissa Dalloway “everything but poetry” Book Prize (previously unpublished, 50,000 to 150,000 words).
There is a $20 submission fee for each manuscript. Our 2014 deadline has been extended to July 31st. Winning manuscripts will be published by Red Hen Press.
Read more here on how to apply.
Please address all inquiries to:
infoATaroomofherownfoundationDOTorg (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )
Essay Contest: Is Secession Legitimate?
Wielding Power is a new online magazine that's reviving the political essay, that classic mix of rigorous argument and vigorous prose.
Each issue poses a single question and offers a $1000 reward for the best answer received. Entry is free and open to any resident of the U.S. or Canada (ex. Quebec), 18 and older. Each entry should be between 500 and 2000 words.
The last day to submit an answer to 'Is Secession Legitimate?' is June 1, 2014.
For more information on how to submit and to read the Official Rules, please visit our website.
MTV has unleashed a new trailer for the If I Stay film adaptation. The video embedded above offers glimpses of actress Chloe Grace Moretz playing the lead role Mia and actor Jamie Blackley as her love interest Adam.
The story, based on Gayle Foreman’s popular young adult novel, follows Mia when her “world is turned upside down during a horrific car accident that kills her parents, and leaves Mia in a coma.” This movie is scheduled to hit theaters on August 22nd.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.Add a Comment
The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts is looking for, as you might guess, "compressed creative arts." We accept fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, mixed media, visual arts, and even kitchen sinks, if they are compressed in some way. Work is published weekly, without labels, and the labels here only exist to help us determine its best readers. We also have a brand new category: triptychs!
Our response time is generally 1-3 days. Also, our acceptance rate is currently about 1% of submissions. We pay writers $50 per accepted piece and signed contract.
We are currently open for compressed poetry, compressed prose fiction (including prose poetry), and compressed creative nonfiction. We will close submissions on June 15, 2014.
The reader for your submission is, during this round of spring submissions, the managing editor.
Please be sure to submit in the correct category; we've been receiving several fiction submissions in the creative nonfiction category. Word count alone doesn't create compression, so we ask that you also consider why this piece works for a journal obsessed with what's compressed.
For all submitters, we aren't as concerned with labels—hint fiction, prose poetry, micro fiction, flash fiction, and so on—as we are with what compression means to you. In other words, what form "compression" takes in each artist's work will be up to each individual. However, we don't publish erotica or work with strong, graphic sexual content.
In short, we want to fall in love with your work. That might happen in the way we've fallen in love with work we've previously published, or it might happen in a way we have yet to experience. Maybe reading that other work will help in knowing whether you should send your work to us, but in truth, such a thing might not be discoverable.
Submit your work here.
My recent novel, Overtaken, is a keeper because--I wrote it! Better yet, I want you to have a copy too!