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A Blog about youth literature.
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The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Frankie’s new boyfriend is part of a secret society. A secret society that not only takes her boyfriend away from her, but is also behind the feminist times. It’s all male. Happily male. There’s prestige, social politics, pranks and intrigue. What is so compelling about Frankie is that she’s not perfect. She’s just as flawed as the characters around her, occasionally more so.
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Alex was date raped. Her school, Themis Academy, trust their students to, in essence, police themselves. When the student body turns a blind eye, Alex takes matters into her own hands. A secret society called The Mockingbirds are dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow classmates. What unfolds questions the ideas of justice, and right and wrong.
Secret History by Donna Tartt
Our protagonist, Richard, begins this tale by looking back to his college days and the murder in the woods that changed everything. He and his friends are snobs. Ancient Greece reading, cravat wearing, scotch drinking snobs. The circle of friends are integral to each other, and when the harmony is threatened by one of their own there isn’t anything they wouldn’t do to save it. Including murder.
An Ivy League Novel by Diana Peterfreund
Before Peterfreund was writing about murderous unicorns and virgin hunters, she was writing about deception and secret societies. Invited into Rose & Grave, Amy never expected the dazzling life she entered was based on deceit and crime. What was interesting about Secret Society Girl is that female members, like Amy, had only recently been allowed into the society. Before this it was a haven for men. The atagonism and dynamics with the now co-ed society is what makes this book stand out.
More in the list:
The Reluctant Hallelujah by Gabrielle Williams
The Billionaire Series by Richard Newsome
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
The Giver by Lois Lowry
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New Whitby, Maine is a vampire town. The vampires came to America much like other persecuted minorities fleeing Europe, and they’ve been here ever since. Mostly they keep to themselves in the Shades, which is why it’s such a surprise to Mel and her best friend Cathy to meet one, decked in a ridiculously bulky protective sun suit, on the steps of their high school. As Mel opines, “A vampire who wants to go to high school? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”
When the vampire removes his helmet, Cathy is smitten. Francis is pale, handsome, graceful, gracious and mannerly, and of course, over 150 years old, and strictly speaking, dead. Mel is immediately on guard. Why is Francis here? What does he really want? Why can’t Cathy see how incredibly irritating he is? Does she actually want to date him? Adding to Mel’s growing frustration with vampires is their other friend Anna, whose father has left the family and run away from home with a vampire. Mel decides she needs to do something about these vampires that seem to be ruining her life.
Team Human is the new novel cowritten by established YA authors Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan. It takes a skewed look at the paranormal romance trend, questioning the idea of true love between an immortal blood drinker and a high school girl. The book features strong world-building, showing vampires as a part of society, with their own police force, vampire tourism and “vamposeurs” – vampire groupies. Mel narrates the book, and she is a great character, with her own strengths, flaws and a strong sense of humour. Humour is a major feature of the book, with several laugh-out-loud-on-the-train moments for this reviewer. The varied and engaging cast of characters provide more than laughs, however, producing some moments of true poignancy.
Team Human is a fast, funny novel about love, friendship, mortality, and the perils of dating the undead. A recommended read both for lovers of vampires and for those that are over them.
Allen & Unwin
Review by Heath, Learning Services, State Library of Victoria.
As many of you know, over the last few months, the National Year of Reading has overseen a competition for readers aged 12 – 18 to respond to their favourite book in a creative way that promotes the book as a ‘must read’ for all their friends.
Managed by the Centre for Youth Literature on a website hosted by Good Reading Magazine, the competition received over 320 entries.
The judging panels in each state and territory have come back to us with their recommendations. All the panels pointed out how impressed they were at the high calibre and sheer ingenuity of many of the entries, and choosing eventual winners required considerable consultation.
However, a list was eventually arrived at, and you can see it here:
Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to everyone who sent in an entry. We hope you continue to read books, love them, and promote them to your friends!
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1. What on earth is going on with ebooks?
The Book Depository is closing their ebookstore - users only have until the end of this month to download any ebooks they’ve bought.
Meanwhile in France, where ebook (and book) prices are fixed, the brick-and-mortar bookstore industry is doing just fine, thanks.
“Books are living things… They need to be respected, to be loved. We are giving them many lives.”
Slightly off-topic, but continuing the reverence for the lives of books is this beautiful post on the history of a particular book.
Books travel. They’re gifted and borrowed, they’re passed down the family as their owners die, they end in second-hand bookshops where somebody buys them to start the cycle all over again.
If you are curious about ebooks and digital publishing, I recommend Digital Publishing Australia as the place to find out just what is happening in the ebook world.
2. Modern teenagers
Don’t understand kids these days? Find out what it’s like to be 12 years old in the year 2012.
If you need some inspiration on how to educate today’s teenagers, this TEDx talk by Tony Wagner will get you going.
What the world cares about is not what you know, but what you can do with what you know. And that is a completely different education problem.
3. Discovering great reads
Riffle hopes to be the new social media tool for discovering books online. A new product from marketing developer Odyl, Riffle is slated to be invitation-only, facebook-friendly, and quality-controlled.
4. Miles Franklin winner announced
Just in case you missed it, (what, was your internet broken?), Anna Funder won the 2012 Miles Franklin award for All That I Am. Congratulations, Anna!
This book list is dedicated to our hard working, adorable and friendly Inky of insideadog.com.au. He’s not just a 9 to 5 dog, he’s on the book hunt all day every day.
So here’s to Inky, the best friend a book lover can have.
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.
Possibly the most vocal in our best animal companions, Manchee is ever adventurous and always excitable dog companion to Todd Hewitt (our protagonist). For those of who haven’t yet gotten around to the KoNLG, be warned: Manchee induced tears are probable. He’s such a joyous character you will instantly fall in love with him.
Wood Angel by Erin Bow.
Broken hearted and lonely after her father’s death Plain Kate agrees to give up her shadow to have her deepest wish realised. Her heart’s wish is to make the loneliness go away, so she is gifted with being able to understand her cat, Taggle. Taggle, in his own cat-like way, loves Plain Kate and knows that she’s in deep danger. He is the means by which she navigates as she journeys into the unknown.
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier.
Rather an unusual journey companion is Gogu, a telepathic frog, to our protagonist Jena. Wildwood dancing is the retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Frog Princess (with a little vampirism thrown in for fun!). As with anything Marillier touches it is steeped in history, lore and beautiful writing.
Eragon by Christopher Paolini.
It doesn’t get any better than a pet dragon. There’s the flying and the fire breathing, and the emotional connection between Eragon and Saphira, as you journey in this fantasy world of Dragon Riders.
Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver.
Is the story of a young boy named Torak who is fo
Kyla is sixteen. Her memory has been wiped. The process is called Slating, but what exactly has been done to her? More importantly, why?
Being slated has its drawbacks. Kyla has to wear a Levo on her arm, which monitors her emotions in a manner similar to an insulin monitor for diabetics. She must be constantly on guard to avoid extremes of emotion, which will literally cause her to black out. Those around her – teachers and her new ‘parents’ – are vigilantly watching out for any signs of odd behaviour that may be caused by her ‘criminal’ past. Too many signs, and she will be ‘returned’ to the hospital for a further slating. Maybe she will not come out again.
As she starts to adapt to her new ‘family’ and attend her new school, Kyla endures hostility from other students, who see her as a dangerous freak. She also begins to realise that she is unlike others who have been slated. Far from living the uneventful existence of the perpetually contented, she suffers horrendous nightmares – nightmares where she is tortured, and immured behind an ever-rising brick wall. She also comes up against the mysterious Mr Hatten – like her ‘parents’, there’s definitely something he’s not telling her.
She meets Ben, who is also Slated, and with the help of the reclusive Mac, who harbours an illegal array of computers, they start to dig behind the rhetoric of the government, and the sinister reasons for being slated. They also discover that it is possible to detach their Levos, although doing so causes excruciating pain to the wearer.
This is a gripping and absorbing page turner from an increasingly popular sub-genre of dystopian fiction for YA readers, where institutionalised mind-altering (and the effect it has on the reliability of the narrator) is a central theme. Readers of Mary E Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Michael Grant’s BZRK and James Dasher’s Maze Runner series will enjoy this fast-paced book that still takes time out to ponder some of the deeper questions about free will and personal responsibility for our actions. And above all, if it is ethical for a government to use any means of control to fight terrorism.
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1. Carnegie Ahoy!
Patrick Ness has won the Carnegie Medal in the UK for the second year in a row – a feat only achieved once before by Peter Dickinson – for A Monster Calls. It is the first year that the Carnegie Medal and the Kate Greenway medal (for illustration) have been awarded to the same title. A Monster Calls is a truly collaborative effort as the story originated with Siobhan Dowd prior to her death, written by Ness and visually brought to life by Jim Kay.
You can watch (or listen to Ness and Kay’s speeches here.
2. What’s Fit to Print: Issues in Youth Literature
Kelly Gardiner (An Act of Faith), George Ivanoff (Gamers series), Hazel Edwards (F2M: a story within, co-written with Ryan Kennedy) and our Program Coordinator, Adele Walsh will be tackling this subject matter on a panel at the Bayside Literature Festival on July 7th (2-4pm). It is bound to be an interesting discussion of a multitude of issues facing YA – more information can be found here.
3. Tropes vs Women, depictions of females in the media
Last week a feminist media critic, Anita Sarkeesian, launched a Kickstarter appeal to support a series of videos she hoped to produce on the shallow depictions of females in video games. What erupted can only be described as vile eg threats against her persons and life, a rash of insults attacking her looks, culture and gender – as many gamers felt threatened. Needless to say her project has received funding – +$157K when she was aiming for $6k.
But more interestingly, I went back and watched her video series from last year called Trope vs Women on the decpition of women in the media and it would be an invaluable tool in the classroom. While I am looking forward to seeing the results of her forthcoming project, her previous series was well worth the watch.
4. 2012 YABBA Awards
This year’s YABBA awards have been announced with the following garnering the shortlist in the Fiction for Years 7-9 category. Congrats to them all!
- Graffiti Moon (Cath Crowley)
- Thyla (Kate Gordon)
- Midnight Zoo (Sonya Hartnett)
- Boofheads (Mo Johnson)
- After (Sue Lawson)
- Finnikin of the Rock (Melina Marchetta)
- Phoenix Files: Arrival (Chris Morphew)
- Hello God (Moya Simons & Lisa Coutts)
- Six (Karen Tayleur)
- All I Ever Wanted (Vikki Wakefield).
5. Films coming at ya!
Another week another heap of press releases announcing youth literature titles making the transition from print to the big screen. This morning came the news that the rights to the YA take on The Hangover, From What I Remember (Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas) have been snapped up by Fake Empire productions.
Also on the radar, EW has released a set of photos of the key Breaking Dawn cast. Take in your Edward and Bella (and the Reneesme) photos at your own leisure.
Twice the adventure.
Bloodlines Series by Richelle Mead.
A spin off from her YA Urban Fantasy series; Vampire Academy, the Bloodlines series follows the characters Sydney (from book 4 onwards of the Vampire Academy) and Adrian (the spurned love interest of Rose from Vampire Academy). Mead has created a new dynamic with her Bloodlines series; Sydney is a human Alchemist who has been indoctrinated to find vampires abhorrent. This POV lends a new vision and a different tone to her Vampire Academy series. The Golden Lily (book 2) was released this week.
Darkness Rising Series by Kelley Armstrong
In her Darkest Powers series we were introduced to the Edison Group, a sinister group of paranormals who experimented on their own to find ways to enhance their powers. The Gathering (book 1) introduces us to our new protagonist: Maya. This go round we get an intimate look into the werewolf persona, the usual secrecy, adventure and mystery, and a side of romance. For all your urban fantasy/ paranormal romance readers.
The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
Set five years after Saving Francesca, The Piper’s Son follows Thomas Mackee. Thomas is lost. Stuck between his teenage and adult life, he exists in the status quo. He’s lost his momentum forward. As with everything Marchetta writes this has a strong sense of family, teal life problems and incredible writing. Piper’s Son is for your older and mature readers (the protagonist is in his early 20s).
The Infernal Devices Series by Cassandra Clare
Technically a prequel, Infernal Devices is set a 150 years in the past. It’s the same Mortal Instruments world, with all your favourite creepy crawly creatures, but it has the added benefit of English accents and London architecture.
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1. The 2012 Melbourne Writers Festival Schools Program is out. If you want to get yourstudents to an array of workshops and presentations by top flight Australian authors, you’ll need to book early at the MWF website:
2. Aussie students show their Net worth. It looks like Australian teenagers are world beaters when it comes to digital literacy. A survey of 15 year olds from nineteen OECD countries places us second, after South Korea. Read more, here.
Our principals are also visiting Finland – which has a population roughly the size of Victoria – to see how they do things there. This article from The Age tells what they’ve discovered.
3. A new trend in libraries from Belgium?
Not really news, but for those librarians and readers who want to expand their horizons, here’a one of a series of pictures of an ‘outside’ library, handily situated next to a vineyard …
4. A reminder that the entries for the National Year of Reading’s Read This! creative reading competition have now closed. There was an impressive array of entries, and the judging process has now begun.The winners will be announced on June 26 on the Centre for Youth Literature’s insideadog.com.au website, and also on the National Year of Reading’s website.
Imagine a foundling has been left on the steps of a fantastical theatre. A theatre so magical that every character invented for the stage exists in a world of their own making. A world in which the foundling, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith (Bertie), has been raised.
Lisa Mantchev revels in the drama and theatrics of the stage. A professor of English and an actress, she has infused Bertie’s story with a mischievousness and frivolity that exists in a theatre where make believe becomes a reality. Bertie was raised by naughty faeries, a drippy Ophelia, swashbuckling pirates and dastardly air spirits but has no knowledge of from where she came. While the theatre may be a dream come true for the reader, for the players it is a prison from which they are unable to escape.
Bertie could be the solution.
Except Bertie’s hijinks and tomfoolery have resulted in an ultimatum – become useful or leave the only home she has ever known. What results is the most problematic retelling of Hamlet that one can imagine – a surly Hamlet, an Egyptian setting and the “help” of four trouble making faeries. Mantchev knows Shakespeare well, it breathes through every page with humour and grace, spinning familiar characters into new ways. Her take on Hamlet and Ophelia is particularly amusing as she dwells on their individuals personality quirks to a chortle worthy degree.
Eyes Like Stars is an immensely clever novel that spring boards off our knowledge of the stage to propel Bertie’s journey. There are many aspects of this story that could overwhelm - Bertie’s origin and parentage are a mystery that needs to be unraveled, her feelings for Nate (a pirate) and Ariel (a sea spirit) are messy, but grounded and the various, complex relationships between different players. The dialogue itself draws heavily upon that of Shakespeare. Mantchev has a loose, loving hold of language and the faeries give her a mouthpiece that is enormously fun. The sense of playfulness and the respect for playwrights is supreme and results in a novel that is unlike any other.
Eyes Like Stars was published in 2009 and is the first title in the Theatre Illuminata trilogy.
On Wednesday I reviewed the tremendously fun Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev. A novel that riffs off our knowledge and understanding of many of William Shakespeare’s works. It seems only logical that the next undertaking would be to tackle a YA Shakespeare book list.
Eyes Like Stars (and the Theatre Illuminata series) by Lisa Mantchev
Worth it for Mantchev’s perceptive and giggle inducing portrayal of Ophelia and Hamlet. She’s a drip and he’s a pain. Ariel, one of the love interests, is the air spirit from The Tempest with Gertrude, Lady MacBeth, Marc Antony and others making very funny appearances. Mantchev even cribs from Hamlet for her title – “Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres”.
Exposure by Mal Peet
Peet successfully transplanted Shakespeare’s Othello into the South American soccer scene with players, pop stars and agents all propelling the plot forward. The author used the play’s five acts as a device and other stage formatting to structure Otello’s tale. For sophisticated readers.
Walker Books Aust.
William Shakespeare’s Hamlet by Nicki Greenberg
For those wishing for a visual representation of the Bard’s tale then looking no further than this ambitious project. Greenberg details over her 430 page graphic novel, Hamlet’s decent into obsession. It’s no wonder the title page declares ‘staged on the page’ as the use of the scenes and the space around the pages in the retelling of this classic tale demonstrate.
Allen and Unwin
When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
Everyone knows the story of Romeo and Juliet but have you ever stopped to think about Romeo’s first (discarded) love, Rosaline? In this contemporary high school retelling, Rose and Rob are childhood friends and somewhat sweethearts until Rose’s cousin Juliet arrives on the scene. Searle places the focus squarely upon Rose and her friends as she navigates love, life and betrayal with the bittersweet Shakespearean twist.
Simon & Schuster Aust.
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