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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: young adult literature, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 231
26. 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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27. 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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28. 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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29. 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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30. 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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31. 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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32. 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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33. 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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34. 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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35. And now part two of the cover reveal: Cat Girl&#8217;s Day Off

Check it out here!

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

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36. 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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37. 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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38. 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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39. 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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40. Ideas for the National Year of Reading

librarian

Last Wednesday, the 16th of November, was the Public Librarians of Victoria Network Conference.

The main topic up for discussion: what to do for the National Year of Reading? Here are some great ideas that the participants on the day workshopped together!

SHP BASED TOTALLY AROUND BOOKS AND READING, WRITING AND ILLUSTRATION, WORKSHOPS, AND BOOK GIG!

Intensive festival/ Holiday program:

  • Book gigs/ theatre – use local theatre groups of Vic Youth Theatre
  • Writing Workshop (examples Paul Collins)
  • Illustration workshop (examples comics, manga)
  • Book Production (examples cover designs)
  • Book Selection evening
  • Competitions

Mini festival

READING TREE

Families:

  • Members of the family’s favourite books
  • Favourite books on display for each person in a family tree

Make a tree/ Use a tree in a pot:

  • Find an author you like
  • Than other books you like that are similar (series, authors, books)
  • Use a leaf as a star review system

Children’s Area:

  • Wall pictures/ image of a tree
  • Branch for different books
  • Children put up authors on the tree, pictures of favourite characters, etc
  • Write on a leaf why they like/recommend a book
  • Different size leaves for grades/ genres or themes
  • Make a special reading corner

Favourite/ comfortable reading areas:

  • Use tree to start conversations about ‘where do you like to read?’

Use the image/ symbolism of growth, strength to start creative writing from a seed to a story:

  • How does it develop?
  • Grow?

What a tree does:

  • A forest, filled with: crime tree/ mystery tree/ romance tree, etc

Environmental issues:

  • How we need trees, different species of trees, uses of trees, etc

THEATRE IN THE LIBRARY

Theatre:

  • Students from local secondary schools
  • Workshops over the school holidays
  • Culminating in a performance for the public

LOCAL SOURCING

Contacts:

  • Database of local contacts
  • Using local contacts
  • Database contacts for state-wide access
  • Finding contacts

AUTHORS/PRESENTERS

Issues:

  • How to entice writers/presenters to travel
  • Issues for regional and outer suburbia
  • A database of author’s who a willing to travel regional

BRANDING

National Year of Reading:

  • Using National Year of Reading branding to make activities more visible and use this as an enticement
  • Would add funding
  • Also a draw card for the presenters

COMMUNITY POST SECRET

Art and Writing community project:

  • Originated with an idea from an American artist, Frank Warren, who asked for ‘secrets on a postcard’.
  • A secret (funny, sad, moving, happy secrets, etc)
  • Have the community do their own post secret
  • Have them displayed in the library
  • Alternatively there is ‘six word memoirs’

YA READERS VOTING FOR FAVOURITE BOOK/ SERIES (WITH WINNERS IN A FEATURE DISPLAY)

Suggest books:

  • Have an already established shortlist
  • Creative ways to vote- posters, old fridge, car doors, etc
  • Cork Board – with suggestions/ questions and post-it notes for people to make direct response/ dialogue
  • Utilise skills/ skilled people in the community
  • On-line pdl/ questions of the day (multiple choice, yes or no)
  • To suggest books/ series or not

Favourite Aussie authors

Encourage diversity in reading by asking reading question ‘where do we find Dogmatix’?

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41. On sequels

I’ve been reading a number of highly anticipated sequels lately, as well as editing a sequel or two myself. It has me thinking about the best ways to reintroduce your reader to your characters and plot that they may have just read last week—or maybe it’s been more than a year. How do you avoid over-dumping on the re-reader without leaving the non-re-reader in the dusts of confusion?

One strategy I’ve seen in sequels for young readers, especially, is to just stop the action entirely at some point in the first chapter and explain what happened in the last book. It’s a trick I saw used a lot in series books for kids when I was a young reader obsessed with Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew books.

This doesn’t really work for me. Any stopping of the action for an infodump breaks the spell for me as a reader, taking me time to rebuild my suspension of disbelief. It worked to a point in those old series books because my library didn’t always have every single copy in order when I wanted them (not to mention they were missing several volumes), but especially if you’re not writing series books (as in, shared-world), it’s not the best strategy, in my opinion.

Then there’s the school of thought that just dumps you into the action of the new book. This can work, but it’s tricky. One book I read recently is a good example (no, I’m not going to tell you the name of it): I’m right there with the story until the character thinks of another character who she’s lost touch with. He’s not in any scene for the first quarter of the book, and I was racking my brain that whole time trying to remember which of two or three possibilities he could be, and that confusion wasn’t cleared up when he showed up in-scene.  And it’s a confusion that I’m not sure the author could have anticipated. Maybe I should have glanced back at the previous book to remind myself. Was he a love interest? Was he a brother? Was he a potential love interest who turned out to be a brother? (Perhaps too much Star Wars in my diet?) I couldn’t remember until at least halfway through the book, and mostly because I picked up the last book and skimmed. This has happened to me a few times lately.

I think there are ways to help jog the reader’s memory without losing momentum or forcing the reader to go back to the previous book (some readers might not even have the previous book on hand—they might have borrowed it from the library or a friend). In my opinion, the best way to remind readers, whether they’ve just read a book and are launching into the sequel immediately or it’s been a year since they read the last book, is the same principle as getting your reader into a completely new world: through well-placed details planted with a deft touch.

Let’s look at the opening pages of Catching Fire, the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy, for an example. The first two paragraphs are right in the moment, Katniss thinking about what’s going on right now and what’s about to happen. We don’t get a direct reference to the Hunger Games until paragraph 3, but all along she’s talking about their outcome because that’s what life is for her now: reporters and camera crews, preparation for the Victory Tour, the dread she feels so much that it’s physically affecting her.

Then in paragraph 3 we get a quick review of book 1 with an in-scene rumination on how much she wants to forget the Hunger Games but isn’t allowed to because it suits the political purposes of the Capital. One paragraph, and it all matters to the current plot. She doesn’t stop the plot to explain what the Hunger Games were, just reminds the reader with a deft touch of the repercussions of all the events of book 1.

Then we’re on to the scene again, and the purpose of Katniss being in the woods: hunting for her best friend, Gale, who can’

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42. Net News

1. Amazon: the world is your oyster.

Seems there’s a new frontier: e-book lending, Amazon style.

Of course it’s a very exclusive kindle-only and subscribers-to-Amazon-Prime-program club.

At the moment it is a limited and not all that interesting virtual library. But knowing Amazon this will be short lived. Expect it to grow by leaps and bounds. Also expect everyone else under the sun to have their own version in a heartbeat.

2. YA book bloggers; a resource.

The Centre of Youth Literature are proud as punch that the international online community is all a gush with Aussie YA. Take a look at Carla’s blog, The Crooked Shelf,  for ‘Aussie YA Month.’

Carla is a force of nature. She is a whirlwind when it comes to YA; lots of capitals, lots of exclamation points and lots of enthusiasm.

Please beware the occasional course language.

3. Book banning Google map.

A rather industrious person at the library found this little Google map gem: an American book bans and challengers list (only 2007 to 2011). What scares me is the length (in a few short years) and the breadth (nearly every state in America) of this list.

 Surely the idea is to fill the libraries, not empty them out. 

4. John Wood, honorary librarian.

It is a classic story: former Microsoft big wig turns charity founder. His belief? That ‘World Change Starts with Educated Children.’ His charity, Room to Read, has the rather staggering statistic of opening (on average) six libraries a day.

So many American efforts to influence foreign countries have misfired — not least here in Vietnam a generation ago. We launch missiles, dispatch troops, rent foreign puppets and spend billions without accomplishing much. In contrast, schooling is cheap and revolutionary. The more money we spend on schools today, the less we’ll have to spend on missiles tomorrow.’

A hero after my own heart.

9780385616508 5. Christopher Paolini release

Fourth and final book in the Inheritance Cycle (now that it’s no longer a trilogy, mind) will be in stores on the 9th of November. There’s a competition for signed hardback additionsfor all those die hard fans.

An amen for all those left with Harry Potter withdrawals.

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43. Book List: exam fever

Exams.

Theoretically you should have your nose to the grind stone. No TV. No Music. No books for pleasure.

It’s study study study for the students and marking marking marking for the teachers.

I can’t say I’ve ever managed the theory. I prefer the practical. And practically, you need a break.

So here’s an ‘escaping exams’ book list.

It’s pure escapist fun! Something light to pick up and put immediately back down. Books that have nothing to do with schools, exams or high school drama! And no crying! Definitely no crying.

May I suggest the ‘study and reward’ system I developed for myself? Two hours of study deserves a reward of two chapters. The more addictive the book, the more likely the study!

 

02titheHolly Black – A Modern Faerie Tale (Tithe, Valiant, Ironside)

An edgy, enthralling tale about malicious faeries and grungy teenagers. They’re small, easy to read and completely addictive. Something to entice whilst in the exam throes.

Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces the sixteen-year-old back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms — a struggle that could very well mean her death.

  

William Goldman -The Princess Bride04

I had a rather interesting conversation about the title of this book recently. ‘Princess’ and ‘Bride’ do not, alas, lend themselves to being receptive to male readers, which is truly unfortunate because this is the perfect book for any young adult.

What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it’s about everything.

 

03FrankieE. Lockhart – The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Now I know I said no schools and no drama but sometimes you have to bend the rules, especially when secret societies and girl sleuthing are in abundance.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.
Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.

 

Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars05

His time in films is apparent in this return to wonderland story. The book has a distinctive film script feel, lots of action, political intrigue, wars and a hint of forbidden love.

Alyss Heart can’t stand that “master of fantasy” bunk; she knows that Lewis Carroll was nothing more than an incompetent reporter. After she generously shared her Wonderland experiences with this fledgling author, he totally botched the retelling, even mangling her name. Alyss, however, refuses to merely grouse; she and royal bodyguard Hatter Madigan decide to make another emergency

1 Comments on Book List: exam fever, last added: 11/6/2011
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44. Tankborn&#8217;s first review!

TankbornTankborn received its first press review from Kirkus!

Advanced genetic engineering and upsettingly plausible caste oppression keep pages turning in this futuristic science fiction tale… A good option for science-fiction fans interested in genetic engineering, rebellion and class issues.

 

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

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45. The Ramayana from a Woman's Point of View!




The Ramayana was required reading in my all-girls high school and I quite like the idea of a new generation of students studying the great Indian epic using this graphic novel.

Sita's Ramayana, a graphic novel retelling by Samhita Arni and Moyna Chitrakar (Tara Books, 2011)

2 Comments on The Ramayana from a Woman's Point of View!, last added: 7/28/2011
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46. This Week in Books 9/23/11

These past few weeks! In books!

As you may have been able to tell from my somewhat sporadic blogging I've had a rather bananas couple of weeks, so these links are somewhat spotty. But! I still aim to please with the link love.

First up, wow, some massive news out of Facebook yesterday, as they unveiled a whole slew of new changes that are going to seriously impact the way we live online. It's a lot to keep track of, and my friend Sharon Vaknin has a really helpful article on the five things you need to know about the changes (links are to CNET, I work at CNET).

Perhaps the biggest change is a complete overhaul of profiles. Facebook unveiled Timeline, which will basically be your entire life (photos, status updates, changes) on Facebook, scrollable. And the new Ticker (aka the Facebook within yo Facebook) is now rethought to basically share with your friends what you are reading/watching/doing. You'll even be able to share what you are listening to, and your friends can click on it, the song will sync, and you can listen to it together.

For someone who mused openly about the permanence about Facebook yesterday, I have to say I'm deeply impressed with the changes. Timeline is a whole new way of chronicling and visualizing your life. Not everyone is going to be comfortable with that and I'm sure it gives some people the willies, but I think a lot of people are really going to like seeing their whole life and their friends/family's life all in one place. I wish it had been around when my grandparents were alive.

As for the other changes, we'll see how much people really want everything they watch/read/listen/do sent to a Facebook Ticker and whether they really want to see everything their friends watch/read/listen/do on Facebook. I have my doubts.

What do you think of the new Facebook?

Book news!

I'm late to this controversy, but there has been a whole lot of discussion around the topic of LGBT subjects in YA literature, and some wildly intelligent responses. What kicked off the discussion was a post by two authors who said an agent urged them to de-gay their novel. This kicked off what started out as a pretty anguished discussion in the YA book world, but there were two great responses I wanted to point out.

First, Malinda Lo brought some actual stats to the discussion, tracking LGBT books over time, broken out by publisher, and by gender. Some very helpful context. And agent Michael Bourret has a post with an inescapable conclusion: If you want to see more LGBT novels, the best way to ensure that there are more is to seek out and buy more LGBT novels.

Amazon has kicked off its library e-book lending program,

22 Comments on This Week in Books 9/23/11, last added: 9/25/2011
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47. FAQ: Muslim protagonists

A writer asks:

I recently submitted the first three chapters of my manuscript to Tu Books as per your guidelines, and I am a ball of anxiety. My MC is a Muslim girl, and while the story itself is pure historical fantasy, I am worried that you will feel a Muslim protagonist is not relatable enough. Can you share your thoughts? I’ve been told that publishers might not want to take a chance on a Muslim protagonist.

 

No need to worry! Muslim protagonists (as well as non-Muslim Arab and Arab American protagonists) are welcome here, both historical and contemporary. I’ve been on the lookout for a story set in the Middle East and hadn’t found the right one yet. So please, yes! Send them along.

The biggest concern I’d have about any character being relatable would be on an individual basis, not because they were Muslim. If the main character were unsympathetic, that kind of thing—that’s what makes it hard for me to relate to a character. For me, relatability is based more on emotional connection rather than situational relatability. I can’t directly relate with the situation of being a genetically engineered untouchable/slave, but I completely related to Kayla in Tankborn on an emotional level. Who hasn’t felt as lost and disoriented at some point as she did, needing to discover what was most important to us and where we fit in the world, whether we shared her situation (being Assigned to her first job as a GEN caretaker) or not?

What I look for in something I might like to publish: strong, relatable characters; settings that interest me (whether familiar or unfamiliar); plot lines in which interesting and important things happen, action abounds, and connect closely with character development; worldbuilding that brings a reader into the world (in fantasy, no one knows this world, even if it is closely related to one in the real world; skillful worldbuilding is very important on a number of levels); well crafted voice. This can be done with characters of any background (well, I might not sympathize with a story told completely from Sauron’s point of view; completely evil characters are generally not sympathetic!).

I hope that helps allay some fears. When we say “about everyone, for everyone,” we mean everyone. Except maybe Sauron.

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

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48. Another ebook update

Nook readers, you can now find almost all of our books there. Tankborn and Wolf Mark are up now, and Galaxy Games: The Challengers will be up soon. Also, for those of you on iPads or other Apple devices, all three books are up (I linked Galaxy Games: The Challengers before).

Here are your links!

Nook

Tankborn Wolf Mark

iTunes/iBooks

Tankborn Wolf Mark

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

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49. On beginnings in speculative fiction

Reader reactions are so subjective. One person might think there’s not nearly enough worldbuilding in a book (“give me more! MORE!”) and another might say of the exact same book that what worldbuilding there is was way too confusing (“I couldn’t keep all those made-up words straight!”).

So how do you, as the author, balance the needs of such a wide range of readers when you’re working in a complex world that needs development? And how do you balance the need to establish your characters, setting, and plot with the need to spool out information to your reader to intrigue them rather than confuse them?

This is a question that pretty much every author and editor of speculative fiction struggles with, particularly because we, as veterans of the genre, are already more comfortable with a lot of worldbuilding jargon than your average teen reader, particularly teen readers whose preference for fantasy runs more toward the contemporary paranormal variety. There are a number of reasons why I think Twilight was so popular on such a broad scale, but one of the biggest ones was the relatability of the situation. So what if you’ve never had a vampire show up at your high school? It could happen!

Think about all the really big fantasy hits of the last few years in children’s and YA fiction: Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Twilight, Hunger Games. Of these books’ beginnings, only The Hunger Games is all far that outside the everyday experiences of your average young reader, and even The Hunger Games starts with a relatable situation—a coal mining family lives in a desperate situation and must hunt for food; while most kids who would have access to The Hunger Games don’t live under a despotic regime, it’s plausible that it could happen in the real world. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson are ordinary kids going to school, living somewhat normal lives (even if abusive ones, in the case of Harry) before their worlds change with the discovery of magic. Their starting point is relatable.

What this means is that readers of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Twilight figure out the world alongside the main character. Information is spooled out as the character needs it, so the reader doesn’t have to absorb everything at once. This is a low bar for entry, not requiring much synthesis of information.

What about Hunger Games? Now it gets a little tougher. Suzanne Collins starts out with a perfectly relatable (if a tiny bit cliche) situation, the main character waking up and seeing her family. We get some exposition on Katniss’s family and the cat who hates her. But it becomes non-cliche by page 2, when we learn about the Reaping. Ah! What’s the Reaping, you ask? We don’t know yet. Now the bar for entry is raised. There is a question, the answer for which you’re going to have to read further to find out. The infodumpage level is low, but there is still some exposition in the next few pages, letting us know that Katniss lives in a place called District 12, nicknamed the Seam, and that her town in enclosed by a fence that is sometimes electrified—and which is supposed to be electrified all the time.

Collins’s approach to spooling out a little information at a time is to explain each new term as she goes, but some readers think that feels unnatural in a first person voice because the narrator would already know these things, so why is she explaining them to the reader? It depends on the story, in my opinion—Collins makes it work because of how she crafted Katniss’s voice. It is a very fine line to walk—I can’t tell you how many submissions I’ve gotten that start out with, “My name is X. I am Y years old. I live in a world that does Z,” an obvious example of how this approach becomes downright clumsy when

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50. Review roundup&#8211;TANKBORN

TankbornWe’ve been getting some really great reviews in for Tu’s fall books, so I figured I’d start by sharing a few that have come in recently for Tankborn by Karen Sandler. I’m just quoting a few parts of each review, so follow the links to the blogs below for the whole reviews! (And this isn’t even all of them—the post was getting too long. Thanks so much to everyone who has read it so far, and of course I look forward to reading more reviews as others get a chance to read it.)

Science fiction is definitely experiencing a renaissance. . . . Sandler deftly weaves strands of race, privilege, politics, greed, and romance into a fascinating culture. The young protagonists are very real and exhibit great strength of character.

Diana Tixier Herald of Genrefluent

Oh, my goodness, is that a person of color on the cover of a YA novel?  It is!  And she’s beautiful, and Sandler is awesome for writing about women of color in a genre that is inundated with stories about white teenagers, their special powers and their absent parents.  And that cover is beautiful by itself with all that green and blue.

<snip>

Kayla’s assignment is in a large trueborn house, where, as soon as she arrives, she’s called a jik twice.  But here’s where the real story starts.

Here, Kayla is brought face-to-face with Devak, the trueborn boy who saved her brother earlier in the book.  She’s there to care for his great-grandfather, but Zul Manel has other things in store for her.  The best part of this book is watching Devak go from idly racist to enlightened.  Sometimes it’s hard for us to understand intense racism and hate, but I can see how Devak’s insulated trueborn upbringing could make him blind to the GENs’ plight.  ”It’s for their own good”, “they like the way things are”, “resetting and realigning a GEN is in their best interest” are all common tropes that Devak has has drilled into his head since he was a child.  It’s like some sort of benevolent slavery, with “benevolent” having a very flexible definition.  Seeing Kayla changes him, and when he meets Mishalla, he doesn’t even blink.

Mishalla is vital to the story as well, though she’s not nearly as interesting as Kayla.  Mishalla is in a creche, taking care of ostensibly orphaned lowborn children.  She’s frightened and easily cowed for the most part, but that just comes with being a GEN.  I think the plot needed Mishalla to stay where she was for the story to be furthered, but Mishalla really is important.  She overhears vital information and puts her life on the line to save children who, in a few years, would look right through her or call her a jik.  That’s courage.

This book is bittersweet.  I enjoyed it thoroughly, but it made me a little sad at the end.  I wish this one was a series!  Look for it next month!

—Tina at Nose in a Book, Head in a Blog

It is rare that I come across a book that I would love to teach. I’m not headed out to be a teacher, or to make lesson plans of any sort, but there have been a few times that I’ve come across a book so perfectly written that it is made to be in a classroom. A book that has lessons that need to be taught with a plot that can capture the heart of a high school student set against reading. Tankborn is on

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