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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: young adult literature, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 242
26. Duty of Care

More than any other writers1 we YA writers get grief over our subject matter. We are frequently told that we should not be writing about subjects such as sex, drugs, cutting, suicide, anorexia nervosa, etc. because our audience is vulnerable and easily swayed and it is our duty of care not to lead them down such scary paths.

Now, there are a tonne of smart, cogent ripostes to this argument. But I just want to say that we YA authors do not have a duty of care. It is not the job of YA writers to teach or guide teenagers. That is their parents’ and guardians’ job. Their teachers’ and coaches’ job.

Our only duty is to write the best and most truthful stories we can.

Which is, frankly, hard enough without taking on responsibility for the world’s teenagers. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world. I salute all you parents! It’s way harder than writing YA books. So imagine how hard it would be if we YA writers really were responsible for all the teenagers who read our books? We would all die.

Too often those adults with the duty of care look to us to not write things they consider inappropriate for the teenagers they are looking out for. How on Earth can we YA writers be the judge of that? I don’t know your teenager. I don’t know what will freak them out. Frankly, the teenagers I do know are not freaked out by what I write. I’m freaked out by more stuff than they are.

Sometimes I don’t think parents know what will freak out their teenagers either. And I say this because parents I know have told me they have no idea what goes on in their teenagers’ minds. Somehow they think that because I write for teenagers I might have some helpful hints for gauging the mysteries of the teenage mind.

Sorry. Teenagers are as varied as adults. Half the time I barely know what’s in my mind, let alone anyone else’s.

To be totally honest I mostly write for the teenager I was and the adult I am. I write stories that interest and engage me. That those stories fall into the publishing niche that is YA is a happy accident. And that some teenagers find them entertaining/useful/inspiring/whatever is an even happier accident.

I am sorry that we YA writers are not portraying the kind of world you think is suitable for your teenagers. But I have a solution. Why not write your own books?

Why not write the world the way you want it without all the bits you find objectionable, without any scary conflict, or teenagers doing things you wish they wouldn’t? And then every time the teenagers in your life pick up what you consider to be the wrong kind of book you can give them yours instead. Who knows? Maybe it will be a bestseller and start a whole new genre.

  1. Except for those who write for children, obviously.

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27. YA Novelists Are In It For The Money

I’m not going to link to where I saw this particular bizarre notion. Mostly because it’s not something that’s found in one place. I’ve come across the same sentiment in various locations offline and on- over the last ten or so years. So it’s kind of irrelevant who said it most recently.

But here’s gist of the argument:

YA writers only do it for the money. They don’t care about the effect their [insert negative adjective] work has on children only about making money.

I’m fascinated that this argument gets made at all ever. I don’t know a single writer who became a writer to make money. Everyone I know is a writer because they can’t not be a writer. It’s a compulsion. A vocation. Something they do whether they’re paid for it or not. This is true across genres.

The idea of becoming a YA writer to make bank? Crazy.

Most of the YA writers I know don’t make enough money from writing books to do it full-time. They have other jobs. Those writers I do know who earn enough to write full-time, like myself, are not exactly rolling in the big bucks. Gina Rinehart would not bend over to pick up what I make in a year. And, frankly, most of us full-time YA writers can’t believe our good fortune. We know way too many brilliant writers who aren’t making enough to do it full-time. We are very aware of how lucky we are.

I know only a handful of writers who are earning what I consider to be big money from writing YA novels. They are the tiny minority. And the odds of them continuing to make that kind of money in a decade’s or twenty year’s time is pretty low. Look at the bestselling books of 10, 15, 20 years ago. Very few of those books are still selling now. Making good money from writing books and continuing to do so for a lifetime? Very rare.

If someone really decided to become a YA novelist solely to make big money then they’re an idiot with incredibly poor research skills. Choosing to write novels—in any genre—as a path to riches is about as smart as buying lottery tickets to achieve the same.

But for the sake of argument, let’s imagine that YA writers are all making vast bucketloads of cash.1 How does making lots of money for writing books automatically mean you will do it contemptously of your audience? Where does that idea come from?

I’m particularly bewildered because the vast majority of people who make this argument are from the USA. Isn’t making loads of money supposed to be a good thing in the USA? Something you should be proud of? Something that qualifies you to run for president?

It swiftly becomes apparent that it’s artists, not just writers, but any kind of artist, who shouldn’t earn money from their work. Apparently money taints art or something. I’ve never quite understood the logic of this argument. Personally, I’ve always thought that starvation puts the biggest crimp on creating art. You know, on account of how it leads to death. It is incredibly hard to create art while dead or while living in poverty. Art’s something that’s much easier to do when survival is not the biggest issue facing you every day.

The fact that there are people out there living in poverty who still manage to create art fills me with awe. People are amazing. But that does not make poverty a necessary condition

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28. July 17 is Philippine National Children's Book Day


How will you celebrate? =D

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29. Miscellany 6-14-2012

* This is my second guest blog post for PaperTigers. Please read it to find out about some new Philippine young adult literature. =D

* Click here to read about a possible international book bloggers meetup. If it happens, I'll definitely be there!

* Fantastic news! Tu Books has announced the first annual New Visions Award. The New Visions Award will be given for a middle grade or young adult fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel by a writer of color. The winner receives a cash grant of $1000 and a standard publication contract with Tu Books. An honor winner will receive a cash grant of $500. Click here for more details. I look forward to reading the winning novels!

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30. Book Shopping in Singapore



Every year, the Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC) in Singapore sets up a wonderful bookstore for the festival attendees. This year, the bookstore was the best it's ever been because it was run by Bookaburra, a specialist children's bookseller in Singapore that believes in "good books and even finer children." There was a greater variety of the latest children's and young adult books from all over the world and the people from Bookaburra were doing a great job hand-selling. This, of course, was dangerous for the wallets of all the festival attendees!


While in Singapore for the AFCC, I made sure to visit Woods in the Books, an independent picture book shop for all ages. The shop had a well-curated collection of new and classic board books, picture books, comics, and graphic novels from around the world. The Sunday afternoon I was there, there were so many customers: artists, families with very small children, and young professionals (I could even hear them talking about the books they were reading). Very heartening!

When in Singapore, please make sure to visit Bookaburra and Woods in the Books. Or you can wait for the 4th Asian Festival of Children's Content (May 25-28, 2013). That's okay, too. ;o)

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31. Fall books cover reveal: Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Check it out at The Open Book!

Originally published at Stacy Whitman's Grimoire. You can comment here or there.

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32. Updated multicultural SFF booklist

ETA 5/22/12: I’m keeping this book list up to date on Pinterest nowadays, linking each book to its Goodreads entry. It’s much easier to just pin a book than to keep this list up to date. For the running lists (broken down by age group and genre) and more, go here:

 

ETA: I’ve finally gotten the ability to edit the post back, so I’ve put as many of the suggested books into the list now as I can. Suggestions always still welcome. This is a continuous project.

I’ve gotten a lot of great suggestions to add to the list, but my website seems to still be broken, and my own computer has a dead motherboard (well, it did when I started writing this last week—thankfully, it’s now fixed). I’m still figuring out why WordPress won’t let me edit any of my old content.

So, in the interest of having one place that people can use as a resource, I’m going to copy everything into this entry. Rather than divide the list by what I’ve read and what I haven’t, which was just more a personal exercise last year in wondering whether my own reading habits had reached past my own culture, I’ll divide the list by age group and genre (fantasy/SF). What that means is that I am not making a comment on how good I think a book is or recommending it/not recommending it—there are several books on this list I haven’t had a chance to read yet. It’s simply a list compiling what’s out there. I’ve also added books that I’ve discovered over the last year or that have been suggested to me in the comments. Go to the previous booklist post for comments on some of the books in this list.

Middle Grade Fantasy

  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, 2009, Grace Lin
  • Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, 2008, Nahoko Uehashi, and its sequel, Moribito II
  • City of Fire, Laurence Yep
  • The Tiger’s Apprentice, Laurence Yep
  • Dragon of the Lost Sea, Laurence Yep (and pretty much anything else written by Laurence Yep)
  • Zahrah the Windseeker, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
  • Chronus Chronicles, Anne Ursu (someone mentioned this and I haven’t read them—are the main characters people of color or is it set in a non-Western culture? from its Amazon listing, it seems to star a white girl and use Greek mythology, which are great, but don’t fit the definition we’re using here)
  • The Red Pyramid, Rick Riordan
  • Sword and Wandering Warrior, Da Chen
  • The Conch Bearer, Chitra B. Divakaruni
  • Circle of Magic quartet, Tamora Pierce
  • Circle Opens series, Tamora Pierce
  • Pendragon series (?)
  • Un Lun Dun, China Mieville
  • Lavender-Green Magic, by Andre Norton
  • Dragon Keeper and Garden of the Purple Dragon, Carole Wilkinson
  • Moonshadow: Rise of the Ninja, Simon Higgins
  • The Magical Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle, Deva Fagan
  • Magic Carpet, Scott Christian Sava
  • Marvelous World #01: The Marvelous Effect, Troy Cle
  • Ninth Ward, Jewel Parker Rhodes

Middle Grade Science Fiction

33. Cassandra Clare on the Myth that Authors Automatically Condone What We Depict

Cassandra Clare has written an important piece called Rape Myths, Rape Culture and the Damage Done. If you haven’t read it already you really should. Be warned: she discusses much which is deeply upsetting.

What I want to briefly comment on here is the notion that to write about rape or war or any other terrible thing is to automatically condone it. Cassie writes:

[T]he most important point to be made here is that to depict something is not to condone it. This is a mistake that is made all the time by people who you would think would know better. Megan Cox Gurdon in the Wall Street Journal, for instance, excoriated YA books for being too dark, zoning in specifically on “Suzanne Collins’s hyper-violent, best-selling Hunger Games trilogy” and Lauren Myracle’s Shine, which depicts a hate crime against a gay teenager. Anyone paying any attention, of course, can tell that while violence is depicted in the Hunger Games, it is hardly endorsed. It is, in fact, a treatise against violence and war, just as Shine is a treatise against violence and hate crimes. Gurdon notes only the content of the books and ignores the context, which is a unfortunate mistake for a book reviewer. If the only people in the book who approve of something are the villains (nobody but the bad guys thinks the Hunger Games are anything but a moral evil) then it is a fair bet the book is about how that thing is bad.

What Cassie said. If you follow that argument through to its logical conclusion than we who write books marketed at teenagers must not write about conflict. We must only write upbeat, happy books in which no one is hurt or upset and nothing bad ever happens. But even that would not be enough because I have seen books like Maureen Johnson’s The Bermudez Triangle described as “dark.” A gentle, funny, wry book about two girls who fall in love is dark? I’ve seen other upbeat, happy books described as “dark” because the protags have (barely described at all) sex.

The complaint that YA books are too “dark” usually does not come from teenagers. Teenagers write and complain to me that there’s no sequel to my standalone books, that there should be four or five books in my trilogy, that I take too long to write books, that I’m mean about unicorns, that zombies DO NOT rule, that they hated that I don’t make it clear what really happened in Liar, that Liar made them throw the book across the room,1 that their name is Esmeralda/Jason/Andrew so why did I have to make the character with that name in my books so mean, that one of the Fibonacci numbers in Magic Lessons isn’t, in fact, a Fibonacci.2 I also get the occasional complaint that their teacher made them read my book when it SUCKED OUT LOUD. People, that is SO NOT MY FAULT! BLAME YOUR TEACHER! 0 Comments on Cassandra Clare on the Myth that Authors Automatically Condone What We Depict as of 1/1/1900

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34. A Little Taste of What's Discussed at the Asian Festival of Children's Content

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35. Waiting On Wednesday: Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick


Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, 8 May 2012)

Book description:

When soldiers arrive at his hometown in Cambodia, Arn is just a kid, dancing to rock 'n' roll, hustling for spare change, and selling ice cream with his brother. But after the soldiers march the entire population into the countryside, his life is changed forever. Arn is separated from his family and assigned to a labor camp: working in the rice paddies under a blazing sun, he sees the other children, weak from hunger, malaria, or sheer exhaustion, dying before his eyes. He sees prisoners marched to a nearby mango grove, never to return. And he learns to be invisible to the sadistic Khmer Rouge, who can give or take away life on a whim.

One day, the soldiers ask if any of the kids can play an instrument. Arn's never played a note in his life, but he volunteers. In order to survive, he must quickly master the strange revolutionary songs the soldiers demand—and steal food to keep the other kids alive. This decision will save his life, but it will pull him into the very center of what we know today as the Killing Fields. And just as the country is about to be liberated from the Khmer Rouge, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier. He lives by the simple credo: Over and over I tell myself one thing: never fall down.

Based on the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, this is an achingly raw and powerful novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace, from National Book Award finalist Patricia McCormick.

You know what I love about the book cover? It shows the boy's eyes. Usually when an Asian model is used for a book cover (or when it's *supposed* to be an Asian on the cover) his/her eyes are not shown. Sigh.

Click here to read Publishers Weekly's interview with Patricia McCormick about Never Fall Down, and watch the video below for Patricia McCormick's interview with Arn Chorn-Pond, the man who inspired the novel!




[Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases book bloggers are eagerly anticipating.]

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36. A Proppian SCBWI-CCP Workshop for Children's & YA Book Writers

When: 26 May 2012, Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: the Cultural Center of the Philippines

Hosts: Philippine chapter - Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP)

YA author, journalist, cultural promoter, translator, and language and intercultural communication teacher Tanya Tynjälä (SCBWI Peru/Finland) will conduct a workshop on writing stories for children and young adults.

The lectures and exercises will be based on the work of Soviet formalist scholar Vladimir Propp who analyzed the basic plot components of Russian folk tales to identify their simplest irreducible narrative elements.

This workshop is open to anyone age 18 and above who is a published or aspiring writer, or who teaches or wants to teach creative writing for children and young adults.

Fee: Includes lunch, transferrable, nonrefundable

P800 if you register on or before April 20

P1000 if you register April 20 to May 15

P1200 if you register after May 15

P100 discount for SCBWI members

If interested, please contact SCBWI Philippines: Beaulah Taguiwalo, Regional Advisor (taguiwalo8888@yahoo.com) / Dominique (Nikki) Torres, Asst. Regional Advisor (nikkigtorres@yahoo.com)

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37. Portraying people of color in children’s/YA fantasy–are we anywhere near “there” yet?

3/21/2012, ETA: Because this post has been linked a lot over the course of the last several months, I just wanted to point out that this was posted when I was in the process of starting the small press that became Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books, where we publish middle grade and young adult science fiction, fantasy, and mystery starring main characters of color. We’ve published five books so far, and I think you’ll love them. If you believe, as I do, that more stories like these are important—awesome fantastic adventures in which people of color are the stars—please check them out and share them with your friends.

***

When I was in the fourth grade, I always wondered why I wasn’t born Japanese. You see, back then (mid-80s), the news was always saying that the Japanese had the best education system in the world, and that Americans were falling behind. Given that my life goal at the time was to be the smartest kid in the world, I really, really wished that I had been born Japanese.

Nothing I could do about that, but I could do my geography project on Japan. (I was in the accelerated group, and we did countries of the world instead of state history in the fourth grade. I also did Australia and India.) But the only resources I could find in our relatively small school library were a decade-old encyclopedia and several books from the 50s. I ended up making a small English-Japanese dictionary with about five words (which I still have around here somewhere) for my project to go along with the report.

I can’t recall having read one single book from the time I was able to read until the time I graduated high school about any character who was from an Asian country or about an American whose family background was Asian, however. There just wasn’t anything like that available to me in small-town farm country in Illinois. I’m sure this is as much to do with librarian/teacher selection as it had to do with publishing availability, but that’s just the way things were.

Looking at the CCBC’s report from last year of books published in 2008, however, I’m not sure we’ve come very far from that. We’ve come a long way, yet how far is there to go?

Ever since Race Fail 09 (which I didn’t follow much of, but even reading a part of which was very thought-provoking), I’ve become even more aware of this issue as it relates to fantasy than I have before (even though before that, as an editor, I always tried to acquire books that were as diverse as possible, whether that meant magic-wielding kender or girls from all over the world battling vampiric fairies). I’ve pondered on it for several months, and it’s been great to see so many authors pondering on it in their blogs, too. Just in the last few days, I’ve found a couple great posts on it by authors R.J. Anderson and Mitali Perkins (Mitali has a lot of great insights into this, as you can see from her blog).

The biggest thing I’ve been pondering is that it seems to me that in children’s and YA fantasy, we’re probably at a smaller percentage of multicultural themes and characters than realistic books (note that I’m conflating race and culture here on purpose—I’m using race and culture in an and/or way). Note how in the CCBC report, they

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38. Happy Book Birthday to Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction - An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories


Today is the launch of Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction (Stone Bridge Press), an anthology of thirty-six Japan teen stories. Proceeds from the sales of Tomo will go directly to long-term relief efforts for the teens displaced by the March 11, 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami disasters. Buying this book will help pay the educational expenses of these affected teens!

Tomo is edited by Holly Thompson and the stories are by authors and illustrators from all around the world who share a connection to Japan, including Andrew Fukuda, Tak Toyoshima, Alan Gratz, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, and Shogo Oketani.

Visit the Tomo blog for more information and please do everything you can to support the book. I'll be posting my reviews and interviews as soon as I can!

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39. Book List: Verse

Verse can so often be a scary undertaking for readers but today we’ve listed some titles that make verse novels relevent and appealing to even the most reluctant.

Song of Sparrow FNL JKT.inddSong of the Sparrow – Lisa Ann Sandell

The year is 490 AD. Fiery 16-year-old Elaine of Ascolat, the daughter of one of King Arthur’s supporters, lives with her father on Arthur’s base camp, the sole girl in a militaristic world of men. Elaine’s only girl companion is the mysterious Morgan, Arthur’s older sister, but Elaine cannot tell Morgan her deepest secret: She is in love with Lancelot, Arthur’s second-in-command. However, when yet another girl — the lovely Gwynivere— joins their world, Elaine is confronted with startling emotions of jealousy and rivalry.

Words cannot accurately encapsulate how much I adore this book.  It is my number gifted book and I am yet to meet a person who fails to realise its magnificence.  Even the verse adverse appreciate the gentle turn of phrase, the emotional plight of the heroine and the lovely spin on Arthurian legend.

Scholastic

badboyA Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl – Tanya Lee Stone

Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva all get mixed up with a senior boy, a cool, slick, sexy boy who can talk them into doing almost anything he wants. In a blur of high school hormones and personal doubt, each girl struggles with how much to give up and what ultimately to keep for herself. How do girls handle themselves? How much can a boy get away with? And in the end, who comes out on top? A bad boy may always be a bad boy. But this bad boy is about to meet three girls who won’t back down.

A verse book that uses Judy Blume’s Forever as an important plot point?  Check.

A book that depicts girls are proactive and strong without needing to excel in archery.  Check.

A flowing style that weaves the tale of three independent girls who find themselves confused by their hormones and their choices?  Check.

PanMacmillan

starjumpsStar Jumps – Lorraine Marwood

A poignant verse novel depicting the joys and heartbreaks of a farming family as they struggle to cope with the devastating effects of long term drought. Told through the eyes of Ruby, day to day farm life involves playing in grassy paddocks with siblings, doing jobs and helping out, and witnessing birth, death and sacrifice. The family are devastated when they have to sell off some of their herd, but in the spirit of hope it is Ruby who tries in her own small way to help the family by making miniature bales of hay.

Skewing a little younger, this award winning title depicts the difficulties of living in Australian rural areas and the stresses that places upon the families that work the land.  Marwood has a lovely way with words

Walker

There is also:

  • Steven Herrick (Sl

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40. Book Review: Graffiti Moon

graffLucy is in love with Shadow, a mysterious graffiti artist.

Ed thought he was in love with Lucy, until she broke his nose.

Dylan loves Daisy, but throwing eggs at her probably wasn’t the best way to show it.

Jazz and Leo are slowly encircling each other.

An intense and exhilarating 24 hours in the lives of four teenagers on the verge: of adulthood, of HSC, of finding out just who they are, and who they want to be.

 

Cath Crowley gets it. She understands perfectly the feelings of desire and recklessness that come with being young and in crush, and she puts these into words that resonate and characters that are real.

Every time he looked at me I felt like I’d touched my tongue to the tip of a battery. In Art class I’d watch him lean back and listen and I was nothing but zing and tingle. After a while the tingle turned to electricity, and when he asked me out my whole body amped to a level where technically I should have been dead. I had nothing in common with a sheddy like him, but a girl doesn’t think straight when she’s that close to electrocution.
- p 26-27
 

On the surface Graffiti Moon is about love. Guys and girls chasing each other, often literally, trying to find the perfect fit. At its heart though, Graffiti Moon is about wanting. Each of the characters is longing for something – something to prove their worth, fix their faults, make them complete. In their most reductive forms, Lucy wants perfection; Ed wants acceptance; Leo wants stability; Jazz wants adventure; Daisy wants appreciation; and Dylan wants to feel worthy. It is the angst of this wanting, the tension arising from each character’s shortcomings that builds drama and suspense throughout the book. 

This tension is further facilitated through Crowley’s use of rotating character perspectives. The reader is allowed the privileged position of seeing Lucy and Ed in all of their truth – the beauty and the flaws. We see the misunderstandings and the missed connections between them even when they cannot. Crowley is skilled at creating complex characters and I applaud that all of them, regardless of gender, are dirty, mischievous, and sweet. It has to be said that Ed, Leo, and Dylan are the best bad-boys-with-good-hearts to appear in contemporary YA since Markus Zusak’s Wolfe brothers.*

Special mention must also be made of the non-traditional family situations in Graffiti Moon – Leo lives with his grandmother, Lucy’s father lives in their family shed. Crowley subtly reinforces the message that life and love are a matter of individuality; that the best way is not necessarily the typical way.

Graffiti Moon is a very visual novel. There are many beautiful descriptions of Shadow’s and Lucy’s respective artworks, as well as many references to well known artists and their works, from Picasso to Bill Henson. This gives Graffiti Moon a depth of reality that you don’t often see, and from a teaching perspective lends itself to more interesting classroom discussions and art exercises.

I don’t want to raise expectations too much as often the best reading experiences are those discovered quietly, but it’s hard not to when this book just. nails. it. I’m not the only one singing its praise either – among its honours Graffiti Moon has won the 0 Comments on Book Review: Graffiti Moon as of 1/1/1900

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41. Book List: xxx’s and ooo’s

flower_heartIt’s that time of the year again – that time when teddy bears show up with red pillowy hearts clasped to their chests and red roses triple in price.  Valentine’s Day.

In honour of this day –  a day in which Christian martyrs were honoured (many centuries past), courtly love was celebrated and now a day for lovers…and chocolate.

Here’s are some lovely reads to keep your heart fluttering.

Fault in Our Staers

The Fault in our Stars – John Green (2012)

Can any book compete with the bountiful feelings spilling out of readers for this book?  Two cancer stricken teens in love and full of philosophical and snarky conversation?  The answer is pretty simple, no.

Green has demonstrated real growth as a writer, as well as a firm handle on his trademark humour.

Liz’s review can be read here.

Penguin

annaandthefrenchlkissAnna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins (2011)

Voted most likely to make you want to pucker up to the nearest charmer with a gap in his teeth, Anna and the French Kiss is a delight.  You’ll fall in love with both Anna and the boy as they become friends and get to know each other – no instant love connection here.

Anna and the French Kiss takes the impossibility of an imagined connection and the pain of pining for someone who belongs for another, jumbles then all up and adds a foreign language.

Better yet, it all takes place in Paris.

And there’s macaroons.  Delish.

Penguin

mandragoraMandragora – David McRobbie (1994)

While this tale could largely be aligned with history (based on Victoria’s naval history in the Warrnambool area) and paranormal (mandrake before the Potterfication), there is a lovely touch of romance.

While the present day characters of Adam and Catriona are strong, independent and crushing on one another – it’s the couple of the past that makes me a little weepy.  The story of Margaret and Jamie is interlinked with the present characters, a shipwreck, mandrake dolls and some possession which makes for a rollicking read.

.

Going Too FarGoing Too Far – Jennifer Echols (2009)

While tFioS might be the go to in YA cancer stories, this one can loosely link in – any more and I spoil the unfurling of the story.

Meg is a complex, strong, contradictory protagonist with boatloads of humour, snark and moxie. She’s tortured, yet exuberant. All her characteristics, her dialogue, her motivations and her decisions are all clear to understand and as such y

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42. Book Review: Cinder

CinderCinderella goes steampunk. It’s a sexy concept, and from the cover you might expect some kind of femme fatale Cinderella who can punch out baddies in a single blow without missing a step in the waltz. Marissa Meyer’s imagining, however, is far more human.

Cinder is a cyborg in a futuristic Earth where the human race is served by machines and cyborgs are feared and revolted. Cinder is entirely the legal property of her stepmother, Linh Adri. She is also the best mechanic in New Beijing – so much so that Prince Kai, royal heart-throb, seeks her services. As she is drawn further into Prince Kai’s world Cinder is desperate to keep her “deformity” hidden.

Prince Kai’s problems are far greater – he is struggling to maintain peace with the race of Lunars that inhabit the Moon, and to find a cure for letumosis, the plague-like disease ravaging Earth.

Sound complicated? Cinder does feel overloaded with plot at times and sophisticated readers will see, like a cyborg’s parts, the mechanics at work.

What saves Cinder is the strength of its characters. Cinder’s struggle to accept herself and her efforts to carve a space in the world for the people (and androids) she loves is easily relatable. Iko, the WALL-E-esque sidekick, provides heart as well as comic relief. And it’s a pleasure to see Adri given more depth and nuance than most stepmother tropes.

Cinder is an easy and enjoyable read. It’s Meyer’s debut novel and the first in The Lunar Chronicles – with three subsequent titles already slated for release, the future looks promising.

Penguin: Read an extract.

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43. The unreliable narrator: writing in the first person

Doing a study guide is an interesting way to discover things about your own books - especially if you do it 16 years after the book was published. A bit of distance, you could say.

Or, since Peeling the Onion was written in the first person, 'I could say.' And I, of course, can say anything I want. That's what fiction writers do – and so do first person fictitious narrators.

The problem with first person narration is that it's only one person's point of view. The other characters' motives, thoughts and beliefs (and their actions) are seen purely through the protagonist's eyes. The more absorbed the reader is with that protagonist, the harder it is to step back and wonder if there could be another side to the story.


As I was going through some of the notes that teachers and student teachers have sent me for this book over the years, it struck me that many of them, and most students, believe everything that Anna says – about her emotions and actions, which is good, because the point of her internal dialogue was to report as truly as she (or the author behind her) possibly could   – but also about the other characters. And that's a problem.I love my Anna. She's a teenage girl fighting for her life and independence; at different times she's depressed, determined, overwhelmed, angry, bitter, hopeful, and occasionally many of these at the same time, or at least on the same day. People who are angry, wounded and bewildered do not always make reliable reporters. Teenage girls have been known (just occasionally!) to focus their dislike of someone on superficial characteristics like hairy legs. As readers we have to stand back and remember that, and as writers we need to drop a few clues, without ever stepping outside the narrator - because the main point of using the first person is for the reader to be pulled in and identify with that 'I.'





And if that sounds very clinical, it's what I'm thinking as I do notes 16 years later. At the time it was just what felt right after several drafts in the third person. I'm probably a bit more conscious now of why I make decisions once I've made them, but feeling right, or sounding right when I read it aloud, is still the only way I know how to choose which way to tell the story.

The Study Notes will be posted on my website as soon as my publisher has prettied them up for me. Email me if you need them earlier.



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44. Book List: Adios High School

It is no surprise that books written for young people might focus on elements of moving on from adolescence and stepping into more adult worlds.  As exams finish up we thought it might be nice to take  a closer look at books that explore the last year of school and the tentative steps into tertiary education.

The first one will take no one by surprise…

9780140360462Melina Marchetta –  Looking for Alibrandi

Melina Marchetta’s stunning debut novel Looking for Alibrandi is one girl’s story of her final year at school, a year she sets herself free. Josephine Alibrandi is seventeen and in her final year at a wealthy girls’ school. This is the year she meets her father, the year she falls in love, the year she searches for Alibrandi and finds the real truth about her family – and the identity she has been searching for.  Penguin

It is hard to believe that it has been twenty years since this book launched itself into Australians consciousness (and eleven since the film debuted).  While Josie is tiptoeing that fine line of crushing and lusting after two diametrically opposed guys, getting to know her father and unravelling her family history, she is also running the year twelve gamut.  Uni pressure, exams and the great beyond all play an important element in Alibrandi as Josie finds her place in the world, her school and her family.

graffiti_moonCath Crowley – Graffiti Moon

Lucy is in love with Shadow, a mysterious graffiti artist.
Ed thought he was in love with Lucy, until she broke his nose.
Dylan loves Daisy, but throwing eggs at her probably wasn’t the best way to show it.
Jazz and Leo are slowly encircling each other.
An intense and exhilarating 24 hours in the lives of four teenagers on the verge: of adulthood, of HSC, of finding out just who they are, and who they want to be. PanMacmillan

Unlike Alibrandi which takes place through the entire final year of school, Graffiti Moon takes place over a single evening on the last night of school.  Multiple perspectives lace this exploration of self, art and life.  Ed is an interesting character as his school career ended years earlier and yet he’s surrounded by friends that have seen school through to the end.  It’s an interesting point of difference amongst many youth literature titles that focus on university as an end goal.

9780732289003John Green – Paper Towns

Quentin Jacobsen – Q to his friends- is eighteen and has always loved the edgy Margo Roth Spiegelman. As children, they′d discovered a dead body together. Now at high school, Q′s nerdy while Margo is uber-cool.

One night, Q is basking in the predictable boringness of his life when Margo, dressed as a ninja, persuades him to partake in several hours of mayhem. Then she vanishes. While her family shrugs off this latest disappearance, Q follows Margo′s string of elaborate clues – including a poem about death.

Q′s friends, Radar, Ben and Lacey, help with the search, 
and a post turns up on a website: Margo will be in a 
certain location for the next 24 hours only. Th

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45. Net News: 28th November 2011

Circular-Walking-Bookshelf-thumb-550xauto-377041.  Looking for something to read?  Go no further than this lovely little Literature Map highlighted by Flavorwire.  Just type in your favourite author and watch a series of names juggle to and fro in order to arrange a recommended reading list of authors.  Even better, young adult adults are in the mix including Sarah Lessen, Jennifer Echols, JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett and more.

Literature Map
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2.  Need proof that time allows you to be more creative?  Check out this two minute video out on youtube.
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3.  Do you know all the punctuation marks?  Buzzwire presents 13 that you might not know existed.  I am particular fond of the The Asterism  which they claim “…has an awesome name, a cool look, and a really lame usage.”  Agreed.

13 Punctuation Marks You Never Know Existed
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4.  The Amperstand Project is a brand new initiative at Hardie Grant Egmont to flush out those new, undiscovered Australian writing talents.  Targeted at writers of contemporary Australian young adult fiction they are hoping to discover the next Melina Marchetta.

HGE have a whole list of suggestions of what they are on the look for, which you can find here.  Submissions close on the 27th of February, 2012.
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5.  Readings has released their top young adult titles picks for 2011.  We were extremely excited to see Vikki Wakefield, Kelly Gardiner and Jane Higgins (among many other fabulous books) on the list as we’ve bee graced by their presence in our programming in 2011.

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46. Booklist: Going historical

Here are a few ideas for readers who want to move away from dystopian, paranormal or contemporary fiction and immerse themselves in stories of danger, romance, and political intrigue from ages past…

1. VIII – by H. M. Castor

VIIIHenry VIII up close and personal – told from his point of view.  His is a childhood of danger, betrayal, and now and then, love. His father  grabbed the English throne and has been watching over his shoulder ever since. For him, and his sons, the succession is vital: Henry must have sons. No wonder Henry is paranoid.

When his marriage to Catherine of Aragon fails to produce the sons he needs, Henry turns elsewhere … and the rest, they say, is history.

For fans of Philippa Gregory and Sharon Penman.

2.  The Other Countess – Eve Edwards

Other CountessFans of Philippa Gregory’s books set in Tudor England will love this story of Ellie, daughter of an alchemist and a Spanish noblewman, and Will, oldest son of an impoverished family who need him to marry well to restore their fortune.

A love story and much more, the book wears its research lightly but never puts a foot wrong in showing the reader the realities of Queen Elizabeth I’s court and country life. Ellie lives in a world which places more importance on her marriage prospects than on her well-educated mind. And Will has to make up his mind between love for himself and loyalty to his family.


3. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

This is History with a twist, superbly written. Australian Markus Zusak has won numerous awards since it was published in 2005.

Book Thief

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47. Call for Submissions: Tu Books

Tu Books publishes speculative fiction for children and young adults featuring diverse characters and settings. Our focus is on well-told, exciting, adventurous fantasy, science fiction, and mystery novels featuring people of color set in worlds inspired by non-Western folklore or culture. We welcome Western settings if the main character is a person of color.

We are looking specifically for stories for both middle grade (ages 8-12) and young adult (ages 12-18) readers. (We are not looking for picture books, chapter books, or short stories. Please do not send submissions in these formats.)

For more information on how to submit, please see our submission guidelines. We are not accepting unagented email submissions at this time.

What we’re particularly interested in seeing lately: Asian steampunk, any African culture, contemporary African-American stories, Latino/a stories, First Nations/Native American/Aboriginal fantasy or science fiction written by tribal members, original postapocalyptic worlds, historical fantasy or mystery set in a non-Western setting. Please note that while our focus remains on main characters that are people of color, we strongly welcome GLBTQ characters as well.

We look forward to reading your book!

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48. And now part two of the cover reveal: Cat Girl’s Day Off

Check it out here!

Originally published at Stacy Whitman's Grimoire. Please leave any comments there.

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49. The 2012 American Library Association Youth Media Awards

Today the American Library Association announced the winners of the 2012 Youth Media Awards - the top children's and young adult books, audio books, and videos of the past year. The winners included. . .

Stonewall Book Award

Honor book:


Money Boy by Paul Yee (Groundwood Books)

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal

Honor book:



Drawing from Memory by Allen Say (Scholastic Press)

John Newbery Medal

Honor book:


Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Congratulations!!! Click here to see the list of all winners.

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50. Book List: Modern Fairy Tales

Fairy tales are pervasive. Across cultures and throughout time fairy tales are retold, reworked, reimagined. So what do the classics look like when they’re placed in a more contemporary setting?

beastly

Beastly – Alex Flinn

Beauty and the Beast in modern-day New York City.

Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

Harper Collins




kiss

A Kiss In Time – Alex Flinn

When Jack went on holidays to Europe, he wasn’t expecting to find Sleeping Beauty

I couldn’t help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn’t know this would happen. Now I’m stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels. . . . The good news: My parents will freak!

Harper Collins




SistersRedSisters Red – Jackson Pearce

Scarlett and Rosie March are not your usual Little Red Riding Hoods, and Fenris are no ordinary wolves…

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris—the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She’s determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls’ bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett’s only friend—but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they’ve worked for?

Hachette


sweetlySweetly - Jackson Pearce<

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