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Over on the readergirlz facebook page, we are sharing the thoughts of YA writers post U.S. election, 2016. Feel free to add your views as well. #wethepeople #inked #andnowwewrite #love.
Onward, rgz. Read, reflect, and reach out! ~Lorie Ann Grover
It's time to #RocktheDrop! Right now!!! Let's wrap up #TRW16 by leaving a YA book in a public place to be found and treasured. Here are your bookmarks. Full info here
It's coming! Sunday is the first day of #YALSA #TeenReadWeek, readergirlz! Did you remember we are celebrating with #RocktheDrop on Friday, October 14? Instead of dropping YA books in public places in April for Support Teen Lit Day, we are collectively leaving our books in the wild a week from Friday. So here are your bookmarks. Print and place them in your favs, and be ready to leave the books someplace special for a happy reader to find. Full info here.
As always, snap a pic and post: #RocktheDrop. We want to see your contributions! Let's get ready. One, two, three...GO!
I've only popped open this exquisite work and already have quotes to share:
"Art-making at its best is a confrontation with the mysterious and the irrational. If we listen to the people concerned mainly with classification or marketing, we end up not making honest and true works of art, but only product, rubber-stamped and made to fit into a prefab box that might as well be a casket." David Small
"Without quite realizing it, these indie artists and writers had invented a new art form--a new kind of book for which people at first did not have a name. By the early 2000s, the books were everywhere." Leonard S. Marcus
Whether you call them graphic novels or comics, the current creators are a force in the publishing industry. Comics Confidential, Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box, compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus, is a documentary treasure of the creative contribution from thirteen viewpoints. Each interview includes a comic and sketches or manuscript pages about "the city." Those nest among personal stories of out of the box artists, including Harry Bliss, Hope Larson, and Sara Varon.
Thank you, Leonard, for stopping and sharing so beautifully the backstories, practices, and thoughts of this group. And thanks, Candlewick Press!
Thirteen graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box
compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus
Candlewick Press, 2016
~Lorie Ann Grover
Every week, poets, book bloggers, librarians, and other bookworms share their original or favorite poems as part of Poetry Friday. (Learn more at Poetry Foundation.) I participate at my blog, Bildungsroman. I tend to select poems based on my mood or recent events. This month, I shared four Mary Oliver poems, including her aptly-titled piece August:When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods, in the brambles
nobody owns, I spend
all day among the high
my ripped arms, thinking
of nothing, cramming
the black honey of summer
into my mouth; all day my body
accepts what it is. In the dark
creeks that run by there is
this thick paw of my life darting among
the black bells, the leaves; there is
this happy tongue.
What poems or poets make you think of summer? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Special thanks to my friend and fellow writer Courtney Sheinmel
for introducing me to Mary Oliver's poetry a few years ago!
Master storyteller Marcus Sedgwick winds four separate tales along a connecting spiral shape. Twirling from prehistory into the future, characters face the symbol of life that "copies itself and builds on itself, forever."
A girl in a cave with a charred stick, an accused woman plunged below water, a poet in a sanitarium, and an astronaut turning in a spiral in space all find the stair to climb higher and higher, while they remember the past and reach forward into the future.
Marcus' woven stories turn the reader round and round, yet he leaves them before the light of wet grass, an apple tree, and love. If you didn't cross paths with The Ghosts of Heaven last year, readergirlz, find it and turn, turn, turn.
The Ghosts of Heaven
by Marcus Sedgwick
Roaring Brook Press, 2015
Margaret at the blog Throwing Chanclas recently shared the plight of a school in her neighborhood:
The local junior/senior high school has not been able to purchase new books since the 90s. Some of the "check outs" for old books are in the 1980s. There are no books by people of color in the library. Hardly any books by women are in the few book cases except your standard Austen and Lee. It's an uninviting place. There hasn't been a librarian for nearly a decade. And volunteers weren't allowed. The last eight years students couldn't even check out books.
But all that is changing now.
Margaret is now collecting books for the library. Let's help out! You can donate books via their Amazon wishlist or by sending books directly to the address below. For more informaion, please email Margaret and visit her blog.
Greenville High School/Indian Valley Academy
Library Project Attn: Margaret Garcia
117 Grand Street
Greenville, CA 95947
If sending during the month of July, when school is closed, please send to:
Library Project/Margaret Garcia
PO Box 585
Greenville, CA 95947
Just finished The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork. The exploration of depression is honest and may give words as well as hope to those within the condition. Learning to exist in the midst of the trial is displayed with a tender compassion.
Watch for Vicky's story of crisis and recovery. It may help you find your own memory of light or assist another along the path beside you.
The Memory of Light
by Francisco X. Stork
Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic, 2016
Edited by Cheryl Klein
Each Beth Kephart book which sails onto the shelf is like polished sea glass refracting the light of truth. This is the Story of You is a poetic rendering of loss and isolation after an epic storm. Mira is asked if she is strong enough to stand on her small, destroyed island and help the community that has shaped her every heartbeat. With her mother and brother off-island, she finds her family is broader than she ever expected.
Find the work, readergirlz, and listen to Beth's love of the sea. Draw your mind in directions unexpected, and finish the last page with the sound of the ocean and one girl's resilience shoring you up in your own story of you.
This is the Story of You
by Beth Kephart
Chronicle Books, 2016
With this on the cover: "An outrageously funny and wickedly raunchy romp in the woods," how could I NOT crack the book open? Dan vs. Nature delivers. Author Don Calame caught me from the first line and kept me beside Dan the entire way. I was laughing out loud through the 375 pages. Seriously.
Dan sets out on a wilderness adventure with his future stepfather and his best friend. The mission, apart from survival, is for the teens to stop Dan's mother's upcoming marriage. Matters are complicated by Dan's assignment to care for the Life Skills class baby doll along the journey and the addition of a geektastic hot girl being added to the group. From bears to bugs to lightning storms, the group is tested and tried. The male author carefully unwraps the emotional journey of one boy recovering from abandonment by his father, hit by hilarious physical trials, amidst a group of hard-earned friendships.
I zipped through this work, rgz, laughing and thinking of who to loan it to next. Find it. Laugh. And look for more by Calame. Well done!
Dan vs. Nature
by Don Calame
Candlewick Press, 2016
We have a giant update for you. YALSA has decided to discontinue Support Teen Literature Day in April. We've enjoyed celebrating the day for 8 years by rocking the drop through Operation Teen Book Drop. We've donated thousands of books to teens in hospitals and those on Tribal Lands. We've left young adult books around the world to be found by happy readers. Well done, all!
SO WE ARE GOING TO CONTINUE ANYWAY! We are going to #RocktheDrop in October, on Friday, the 14th, of Teen Read Week. Deal? For now, stash those books to the side, and we'll collectively drop them together next fall. We'll give you a heads up as the time approaches. Let's get those donation piles taller in the meantime.
Be ready to #RocktheDrop on October 14th. It's going to be a great addition to Teen Read Week. Ready, set, go!
Hermione Winters is about to start her senior year of high school. As summer draws to a close, she heads off to cheer camp with her coach and her teammates, including Polly, her best friend and co-captain, and Leo, her boyfriend. Knowing this will be the last time she attends the camp, Hermione intends to make it the best one ever, to work hard, to enjoy the challenges and the routines and the music and the friendships, and to set a good example for her teammates and friends.
Then, on the night of the camp dance, Hermione is raped - her cup of punch drugged by a boy, she blacks out and wakes up in the hospital. The night holds no memories for her past the blackout. She cannot remember the face of her attacker, nor does she have any recollection of what he actually did to her. All she knows is what the doctors, nurses, and detectives have put together from examining her.
Her town is small; everyone knows what happened. The hallways of her school are filled with whispers and judgmental looks, and her relationship with her boyfriend dissolves. But Hermione doesn't withdraw from social interaction or change schools - the latter doesn't even occur to her. She doesn't like being the subject of gossip or scorn or pity. She remembers who she was, she knows who she is
, and she is determined to stay true to herself while dealing what has happened.Exit, Pursued by a Bear
by E.K. Johnston was above and beyond what I hoped it would be. Compelling writing, complex characters, realistic dialogue - there is much to praise here. This book could have been riddled with cliches; it was not. It could have been predictable or saccharine; it was neither. The events and reactions were feasible, believable, never farfetched or contrived. The story was layered and nuanced, allowing for warmth and humor sometimes when you least expected it (and most needed it).
Hermione tells her story in first-person narrative. She is an intelligent, resilient, mature young woman who is stronger than she knows. The characters that surround her are so vividly drawn - especially Polly, the fierce and loyal best friend who is equal parts fire and compassion - that any one of them could have a book of their own. And that is one of the loveliest things here: that the supporting characters are truly supportive of Hermione, that she is not dealing with this alone - and also that the supporting characters have their own arcs, their own problems and heartbreaks and priorities.
There is so much I want to say about this book. How it treats subjects such as sexual assault, doctor's visits, therapy, and victim shaming head-on, honestly and openly; how it encourages cheerleaders to be seen as athletes, not airheads; how it includes a variety of characters of various ages and personalities; and, most of all, how it allows its protagonist to be human, to wrestle with emotions and choices and ultimately emerge triumphant not because of or in spite of what happened/happens to her, but because of how she chooses to see herself, not a victim, not a statistic, not diminished, and how she chooses to live, unashamed, undeterred, always moving forward. I knew before I was raped that this year would be the end of something. I just thought I'd be able to control the ending.
And, again, the magnificent writing: the choice of words, the steady pacing, the characterizations; the importance of a chair, a song, a friend; the details of a waiting room, a quiet house, an exuberant squad; the feeling of flying -- There is so much to applaud here.
Both thought-provoking and profoundly memorable, Exit, Pursued by a Bear
by E.K. Johnston is a triumph. I encourage people to read and re-read this book and to share it with others. Don't be surprised if you find yourself both crying and smiling as you turn the final page - and then start reading it all over again.
If you like this book, you will also like Swollen by Melissa Lion
and All the Rage by Courtney Summers
Exit, Pursued by a Bear is included on my Tough Issues for Teens booklist
This review was originally published at my blog
The Battle of Darcy Lane
by Tara Altebrando is a great pick for our middle school readers!
All Julia really wanted to do this summer was hang out with her best friend, Taylor - and maybe her neighbor/friend/secret crush Peter, too. Then Alyssa moves into the neighborhood. Julia immediately doesn't like her; Taylor does. And just like that, Julia's best friend has a new friend, and Julia has a rival.
Alyssa is really into a ball-bouncing game called Russia. At first, Julia doesn't care for it, but then she realizes that she might be able to beat Alyssa at her own game. Over the course of the summer, while Julia tries to hang on to her friendship with Taylor, she also attends band camp, bonds with Peter over a TV show she's not supposed to watch, and challenges Alyssa to an epic game of Russia. She also avoids cicadas and tries to talk her parents into letting her move into a different room in their house.
Julia's an only child, born to parents who love her and - get this - love each other. It's refreshing to read a book in which the parents are happy together, and it's wonderful to see how the child reacts to that relationship. In this case, Julia feels left out, not only because she is the youngest member of the household AND the only kid AND she has to go to bed earlier than her parents, but also because her parents are so close, she feels like there's no room for her sometimes - like she's interrupting something. There's a beautiful moment in which Julia overhears her parents talking outside, their voices drifting up to her window:They were laughing a lot, and they sounded like something other than a husband and wife, something other than a mom and dad: they sounded like best friends.
Not only does this perfectly capture their relationship, it also ties back to Julia's concerns about her own best friend. Taylor is spending more and more time with Alyssa and less time with Julia. Teasing, confusion, and jealousy ensue. (Goodness, I don't miss middle school!) But thankfully, instead of being your typical mean girl story, this book offers something more plausible, something more satisfying and more age-appropriate, with the Russia showdown and the additional revelations in the denouement.The Battle of Darcy Lane
is a solid story for young readers. It's kind of like a modern-day Now and Then. Julia tries to test the boundaries a little a couple of times, and she sometimes struggles over the right thing to do, but overall, she has a pretty good head on her shoulders. Though the word "tweens" or the term "tween fiction" may not appeal to everyone, it's appropriate when you consider what it means: between
. When you're eleven and twelve, you might feel trapped between your little kid years and your teens, torn between wanting to feel more grown up and wanting to stay a kid. This is best exemplified by the scenes in which Julia feels compelled to put away her dolls and knickknacks, even though she still kind of likes them.
Tara Altebrando has a knack for depicting honest relationships between protagonists and their families and friends, and I regularly recommend her YA books to teens looking for realistic modern-day stories. Now I can give The Battle of Darcy Lane to slightly younger readers. I also plan to read her other middle grade novel, My Life in Dioramas.
And who knows - maybe I'll have the opportunity to play Russia somewhere along the way, too.This review was originally published at Bildungsroman. The end of the book includes instructions on how to play the ball-bouncing game referred to as Russia or Onesies, Twosies. I also found instructions at the website howstuffworks.com. Have fun!
Last year, author Courtney Summers posted:
"I write about girls.
"I write about girls because every girl deserves the opportunity to pick up a book and see herself in its pages.
"I write about girls because girls, and their stories, matter.
"It's my way of letting them know."
On April 14th, 2015, she posted this with the hashtag #tothegirls to tell girls all over the world that they are seen, heard, and loved. People all over the world chimed in on social media, posting messages of support and encouragement, sharing thoughts and quotes both funny and profound.
Today, January 21st, it's time to spread the word again. Use the hashtag #tothegirls2016 along with your personal message of support and encouragement on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, your blog, your vlog, wherever you see fit. Write a note on your wipe-off board on the door of your dorm room or stick a Post-It note on your family's fridge or bathroom mirror. Share the message, and share the love.
For more information, visit http://tothegirls2016.tumblr.com and follow Courtney Summers @courtney_s on Twitter.
A few thoughts from me to the girls in 2016 and beyond:
You are awesome.
You can do this.
By: Little Willow
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, love song
, sara bareilles
, sounds like me
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In her book Sounds Like Me: My Life (so far) in Song
, Sara Bareilles proves to be just as candid and charming on the page as she is on stage. Whether it's talking about her grade school years, her anxieties, or the true story behind her hit Love Song
, Sara is frank, funny, and open about her life, her career, her struggles, and her triumphs. Her very naturalistic, conversational writing style makes her comes across like a friend talking to you at the dinner table or over the phone, equal parts self-deprecating, hopeful, grateful, and humble.
Sara relates her stories in nine chapters - or essays, if you prefer - each bearing the title of a song she's written. (The section also begins with that song's lyrics, handwritten, which is a very nice touch.) As one might assume with a biography, the book begins with her childhood and ends with her current work on the musical Waitress
and is lightly peppered with photographs. In-between, we get a glimpse into her early songs and shows, the year she spent in Italy in college, and her first love and heartbreak. Fellow performers will enjoy the details of life on the road, the gigs when she was just starting out as well as the times she performed in large arenas or on television shows, and so forth, but moreover, they will find connection and comfort in knowing the difficulties Sara faced breaking into the business (and the continued difficulties staying there) as well as the doubt, worry, and vulnerability she feels when writing new songs, collaborating with others, or trying to express her truest feelings in music and words.
Mid-way through the book, in the chapter Beautiful Girl
, Sara writes letters to her younger self. This is possibly my favorite section of the book, and it serves as a reminder to be our own best friends, to stop putting ourselves down and to keep our chins up, because time and experience can truly make things better and clearer.
This book will be treasured by Sara Bareilles's fans. I also hope it reaches people who perhaps haven't heard her music, who find her through this book first, because what an amazing experience that would be, to be moved enough by this book and these words to go pick up her CDs. I only wish this book contained all of her albums - but, wait, I already have those. :)
From the collection of Gendercide Posters on Polyvore
by Lorie Ann Grover
At the close of October, China announced an end to their One Child Policy. According to the New York Times, Chris Buckley, October 29, 2015:
BEIJING — Driven by fears that an aging population could jeopardize China’s economic ascent, the Communist Party leadership ended its decades-old “one child” policy on Thursday, announcing that all married couples would be allowed to have two children.
The decision was a dramatic step away from a core Communist Party position that Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese leader who imposed the policy in the late 1970s, once said was needed to ensure that “the fruits of economic growth are not devoured by population growth.”
For China’s leaders, the controls were a triumphant demonstration of the party’s capacity to reshape even the most intimate dimensions of citizens’ lives. But they bred intense resentment over the brutal intrusions involved, including forced abortions and crippling fines, especially in the countryside.
The efforts to limit family size also led to a skewed sex ratio of males to females, because traditional rural families favor boys over girls, sometimes even resorting to infanticide to ensure they have a son.
The One Child Policy is what motivated my writing of Firstborn. I was appalled that the practice of gendercide was still occurring in many countries around the world. The book was welcomed with a starred review from Kirkus and is now available in paperback.
Another book recently came across my desk: The Only Child, by Guojing. An illustrator from the Shanxi Province of China, she brings to the page her own memories of isolation in a wordless, graphic picture book. With starred reviews from Kirkus and PW, the book is resonating the loneliness that grew from China's earlier legislation. The black and white artwork is beautiful and captivating.
According to the Author's Note:
"The story in this book is fantasy, but it reflects the very real feelings of isolation and loneliness I experienced growing up in the 1980s under the one-child policy in China."
In celebration, we applaud the reform in China. If you'd like to make an impact, readergirlz, there are organizations dedicated to helping women carry their daughters to full term. One Christian organization is All Girls Allowed. Of course, there are many ways to #ReadReflectandReachout if you hold a different persuasion. The It's a Girl movie will do much to help you understand the worldwide situation.
As I sign copies of Firstborn, "Let them live!"
By Lorie Ann Grover
Blink YA Books, 2015
The Only Child
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015
We don't often feature books with central male protags, but this one from Jack Gantos also has a fierce senior female, Miss Volker, in the spotlight. And we don't regularly recommend middle grade novels. Yet, why not read outside YA? Isn't it the story that matters, not the age of the main character? Did you read, Dead End in Norvelt? You don't want to miss it. I was literally laughing out loud as I relished each page. I had to read passages to my family which in turn got us all giggling.
Blending truth and fiction, Jack Gantos writes of Jackie who spends the summer helping Miss Volker write the town's obituaries. The original citizens are passing quickly from the scene, even a bit suspiciously. The work brims with memorable characters living and dying in 1962.
The book won the Newbery in 2012 and the Scott O'Dell for Historical Fiction. Here are a few reviews:
A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos’s work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character . . . Jackie Gantos.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A fast-paced and witty read.” —School Library Journal
“A more quietly (but still absurdly) funny and insightful account of a kid’s growth, kin to Gantos’s Jack stories, that will stealthily hook even resistant readers into the lure of history.” —BCCB
“This winning novel, both humorous and heartwarming, takes place during the summer of 1962, when narrator Jack Gantos turns 12 and spends most of his days grounded. Jack’s main ‘get out of jail free card,’ and one of the novel’s most charming characters, is Miss Volker. The blossoming of their friendship coincides with the blooming of Jack’s character.” —Shelf Awareness Pro
* “There’s more than laugh-out-loud gothic comedy here. This is a richly layered semi-autobiographical tale, an ode to a time and place, to history and the power of reading.” —The Horn Book, starred review
“Gantos, as always, deliver
rs bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws.” —Booklist
* “An exhilarating summer marked by death, gore and fire sparks deep thoughts in a small-town lad not uncoincidentally named ‘Jack Gantos.’ The gore is all Jack’s, which to his continuing embarrassment ‘would spray out of my nose holes like dragon flames’ whenever anything exciting or upsetting happens. And that would be on every other page, seemingly. . . . Characteristically provocative gothic comedy, with sublime undertones.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Find this funny, poignant book, rgz, and get ready to laugh.
Dead End in Norvelt
By Jack Gantos
Square Fish, paperback
So many publishers are participating, rgz! Just hashtag #GiveBooks and publishers are matching the mention with donations to #FirstBook. Isn't that amazing? So well done!
Here's the link to make it super easy if you want to hit your multiple sites.
Every year, Colleen from Chasing Ray and Guys Lit Wire sets up a special book fair connected to Ballou Senior High School in Washington, D.C. In Colleen's own words:
Every year, Guys Lit Wire lends its platform to host a book fair for Ballou. Working with librarian Melissa Jackson and her students, we build a wish list of titles they need and then ask the internet to buy a book (or 2) (or more) and send some joy their way. It's quick and it's easy and for book lovers in particular, it's a no-brainer.
We all know that books matter to kids, and we all know why buying books for teens who do not have wide access to them is a smart investment in our world's future. For Ballou, the school fund for book purchases is not large and as a Washington Post article showed earlier this year, the dollars for books in DC often go to wealthier neighborhoods. Also, when they get money schools like Ballou are often not able to purchase the sort of fun or seemingly frivolous titles that teens would really to read.
That is where the Guys Lit Wire Book Fair for Ballou comes in. We buy the books the kids ask for, plain and simple.
The mailing address is already set-up for checkout and there are nearly 400 books to choose from with a price range that starts under $5. We do hope you will find a book that you want to send to Ballou and help us fill their shelves with the titles these kids want so very much to read.
Here's the wishlist: http://tinyurl.com/BookFairforBallou
Please share the link to the wishlist as well as the link to Colleen's post at GLW via your blogs and social media to help spread the word.
Don't let it stop there. If you know of a library, school, shelter, or hospital that's in great need of books and other items, give back. Rally up your co-workers, patrons, students, and friends, gather donated items (new or gently used), and donate them to your chosen organization or charity. Share your good fortune and good spirits with others.
Happy new year, rgz! Sending our love and wishes for many great books to fall into your hands.
I started 2016 off with:
How about you?
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By: Little Willow
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best books of 2015
, Christopher Golden
, courtney sheinmel
, courtney summers
, Little Willow
, martha brockenbrough
, sara bareilles
, sarah dessen
, Tom Sniegoski
, YA fiction
, young adult fiction
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