Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pick on an Award Your Own Size!

Our own Pajamazon reacts to the recent Washington Post article about the Newbery turning kids off reading over at Slate.com. Have a look-see.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Dare you to look at that picture and not be freaked out. Eurghhhhh! Thanks a lot, Liz B.!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

More of the S-Word

Interesting. Marianna over at Crowe's Nest writes about writing sex scenes in YA novels. She dissects a number of scenes in novels such as Melvin Burgess's Doing It and Daria Snadowsky's Anatomy of a Boyfriend, among others, and shows how the best ones aren't there for titillation, but reveal what's going on for the characters at the time. (Which is basically Rule of Good Writing Number One.)

I have to say, the best sex scenes I've ever read were in Pop! by Aury Wallington. They weren't Teh Sex-ay by a long shot, but they were incredibly honest, even a little clinical (which worked for the book and the character). I kinda loved it.

What's the most memorable sex scene you've ever read in a YA novel?

Thanks to Lisa Chellman for the link!

Morris Awards

Hey now . . . this is pretty snazzy. Liz B. over at A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy tells me that the ALA Youth Media awards have a newbie among their ranks. The Morris Award will be given to
a book written for young adults by a first-time, previously unpublished author.
Coooooool. Not only a new YA award, but one that focuses on first-time authors? Veddy nice. Not only that, they're one of the few (in fact, I think the only) award on the ALA list to release a shortlist, which will spread the buzz about new authors even farther. Check out the shortlist at the link above--it's chockablock with Kidlitosphere faves, including Graceling and A Curse as Dark as Gold. Good show, ALA.

There's plenty of chatter around the Kidlitosphere about it, about the concept of the award itself, the idea of releasing the shortlist, and the nominees. Liz B has links at her humble abode.

It being almost the New Year, Award Speculation in general is fast and furious. Check in here on the 26th for my Incredibly Early in the Fricka-Frackin' Morning List of Winners.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Maybe It's Me

But does anybody else look at this pic from the Astronomy Picture of the Day blog and think of Madeleine L'Engle's Echthroi? No? How 'bout this one?

I am assured that the dark splodges are caused by the presence of something (dust and molecular gas) rather than the absence of things. Still. Yikes.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Millions of Cat(egorie)s

Here's a blog post for writers about the many, many different categories out there for children's books. I can understand how it's a little crazy-making for authors, who write what they write, but as a librarian, having these categories helps. Kids slide all over the spectrum, of course, and often so do the books themselves, but you know how librarians are for order.

I have to say, though, they seem to be a little behind on their concept of YA novels. While it's accurate, that's not the whole story of the current state of YA, for me. For one, I would call this another "golden age" for writers of kids' books.

What think'st thou?

Thanks to Gail Gauthier at Original Content for the link.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve!

Have you been naughty or nice?

In the old days, before I had the money to buy my own books (or the knowledge of such websites as PaperBackSwap.com . . . ooooohhhh, PBS.com, how I love thee), my Christmas list was all books. I knew, looking at the packages under the tree for me that were all rectangular and went "thump" when I smacked my little brother in the head with them, that I'd gotten doorways to a new world (or a familiar one). I just didn't know which ones.

I kind of miss that these days. Barnes and Noble cards just go "thwip!" against my brother's head.

For those of you who celebrate it, Merry Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Like You Needed It . . .

. . . proof that I'm a gigantic dork: Pride and Prejudice told via Facebook updates.


Hey, Look Who!

Why, it's the Kidlitosphere's own Barbara Shoup, all profiled in the newspaper! Coolness, Barbara. Yeah, it's a bit late, but congrats!

I'm Ba-ack . . .

Boy, did I miss a lot of good stuff in the kidlitosphere over the past couple of weeks. The flap over Newberys in the Washington Post (or reflap, really, since the original Anita Silvey article is old news), various best-of lists, and all the stuff I'm still catching up on in my blog reader.

So what do I choose to post?

from Maggie Stiefvater. Abso-freakin-lutely. Just what I needed to reestablish my reputation as a serious blogger who makes serious comments about the serious issues of the day. Seriously.

Thanks, Bookshelves of Doom!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Coming Attractions

A few weeks back, I asked folks on the Kidlitosphere listserv to post what they were looking forward to for 2009, but I've been so caught up in moving that I never got the chance to post my own list. Here it is . . . some of it at any rate.

The School For Dangerous Girls - Eliot Schrefer (January 1)
I saw this mentioned on the adbooks listserv and went, "OOooooooooo," for the title alone. Oh, like you didn't.

From Russia With Lunch - Bruce Hale (January 1)
I actually read this in ARC form, so I can't really say I'm looking forward to it. Maybe what I'm looking forward to is being able to hand this to the little boys at my library. "Here ya go, kid. More Chet Gecko delight. Have at it."

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed - Mo Willems (January 6)
BeCAUSE. It's Mo WILLems.

Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson (March 19)
See Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed and replace with appropriate author name.

Radiant Darkness - Emily Whitman (April 28)
I met Emily at the Kidlitosphere conference in Portland and was really interested to hear the plot of this book, which is a retelling of the Hades/Persephone/Demeter story. I love retellings. Love.

The Treasure Map of Boys - E. Lockhart (July 29)
The fourth Ruby Oliver book! Huzzah!

Al Capone Shines My Shoes - Gennifer Choldenko (Fall)
Moose is back! Actually, I've only seen this in an author sig on a listserv. Amazon and the author website have both failed me. Can anyone confirm? Pleeeeease?

All right, that's what I've got right now. What are you looking forward to for 2009? Please share!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Book Review: Undercover by Beth Kephart

Book: Undercover
Author: Beth Kephart
Published: 2007

Elissa is the quiet one of her family. While her mother and sister attend to being beautiful and popular, she is content to watch the world go by and think her thoughts. Sometimes, these thoughts get turned into scraps of poetry which can be sold to hopelessly unpoetic boys at her school, with which to woo the girls of their choice.

But she encounters trouble with her latest client, the fascinating Theo, who wants words to gain and keep the (possibly mythical) heart of Liza. Elissa can write beautiful verses for him, but she’s starting to wonder if Liza is really the one Theo wants. At the same time, she realizes that her family is starting to crack apart from the top down, and discovers an unsuspected joy in ice-skating.

Her life is changing. She could go back to her safe, quiet existence on the sidelines, but what would she sacrifice if she did?

This is the kind of book that makes you want to walk in the woods and write poetry. (You’re lucky I didn’t--my poetry is terrible.) Beth Kephart has a dreaminess and a gift for describing the little glories of nature that allow you to step right into Elissa’s mind. On the surface, Undercover is about a girl who loves a boy who loves somebody else (or possibly not). But that’s only the very surface. It’s also about taking your own place in the world, about stepping out into the limelight for the first time and taking both the glory and the risk that comes along with it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Ultimate Exception

So I was at Target today, and I had given myself strict instructions. Self, I said, you are not to buy anything that is not a container for packing things in. You are here for things in the Rubbermaid family. No cute shoes, no Christmas shirts, no makeup, no plants, no candles, none of that.

Yes, ma'am, I replied meekly.

Did anyone notice the one huge, towering weakness I subconsciously left out of my self-lecture? I went home with two not-really-but-close-enough Rubbermaid tubs and one copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Books are always an exception.

Also, this was waiting for me in Google Reader when I got home:

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals


Monday, December 01, 2008

Reading Roundup November 2008

By the Numbers
Teen: 13
Tween: 12
Children: 11

Teen: Trigger by Susan Vaught
Tween: Breathe: A Ghost Story by Cliff McNish
Children: The Adventures of Sir Lancelot the Great by Gerald Morris

Because I Want To Awards
Weirdest Confluence of Book Life to Real Life: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson, finished the evening of November 4, 2008*
Most Frickin' Awesome Nonfic: Albino Animals
by Kelly Milner Halls
Great Book but So Needs an Updated Edition: The Planet Hunters: The Search for Other Worlds by Dennis Brisell Fradin
Sweetest Main Character: Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look

*I read my books in a strange and arcane order that has a great deal to do with when I put it on my list, how fast the library gets it, the publication date, and possibly the phases of the moon. Nevertheless, that's when this book came up. Cue Twilight Zone music.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Book Review: Trigger by Susan Vaught

Book: Trigger
Author: Susan Vaught
Published: 2006

Jersey Hatch is coming home. After a traumatic brain injury and more than a year in four different hospitals, he’s being cut loose to survive in the real world. It won’t be easy. He is no longer the brilliant, athletic boy he was before. His whole left side is well-nigh useless, and his patched-up brain now has as at least as many misfires as good connections. But he’s alive.

Now Jersey has to make his way through the wreckage of his life. With no memory of the year before the injury, he must figure out for himself why his former best friend hates him, how to make it through a normal schoolday, and what to do about his rapidly imploding family.

But most of all, Jersey Hatch has to figure out why he shot himself in the head.

Vaught brings her real-life experience as a neuropsychologist to this story of a boy attempting to reconstruct himself in the ruins of who he was before. But it’s not at all clinical or jargony. Vaught gives the neurology a miss and concentrates on an intimate recounting of Jersey’s struggles, physical, cognitive, and emotional. When he blurts out weird, fragmented words, the stream of conciousness that preceded it shows you how he got there and what he really means.

Personally I could have wished we’d gotten to know J.B. (Jersey Before) a little better. But the effect of the perfunctory explanation we do get is to underline the thundering pointlessness of his reasonings for what he did. At the same time, there is no moral, no preaching, just an honest exploration of redemption, forgiveness, and whether either is even possible.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Books I'm Thankful For

It's Thanksgiving Eve, and tomorrow I will board a plane to see my parents. Together, my mom and I will attempt to break the land-speed record for related women driving each other up the wall. Should be fun.

In the spirit of the season, here are some books I'm grateful that I got to read this year:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Boy Toy by Barry Lyga
Swimming With the Sharks by Debbie Reid Fischer
Impossible by Nancy Werlin
Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher
Nothing by Robin Friedman
Good Enough by Paula Yoo
Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Peña
. . . and many others.

They're not comfortable, light reads, but each one took me on a trip into someone's skin and changed me a little bit.

I'm also thankful for this community of bloggers that keeps me informed of all the latest stuff (and their opinions thereof), as well as the warm sense of community.

Which books are you grateful for? Oh, hell, let's just call this a meme and pass it around the kidlitosphere.

PS I would link them, but it's late, I'm exhausted, and I still have to pack. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Real Life Stuff

So remember how I said in my Comments Challenge wrap-up post that real life was happening to me? It's happening with a vengeance.

I'm moving to another state in three weeks, so this blog may be rather sporadic. I don't have any reviews (yeah, you noticed that too, did you?) but I'll try to post interesting news bits I find. I just won't be able to do it daily.

Give it about a month and I'll be back. In the meantime, leave me some book suggestions in the comments--something light and entertaining that will give me respite from packing and canceling gas bills and trying to find apartments online and and and . . .

Comment Challenge

So how did you do on the Comment Challenge, Bibliovore?


What? I can't heeeearr you!

Pretty darn awful and you know it, inner self!

My first few days were good. I was rackin' up the comments, having interesting and insightful conversations, and seeing the same happen on my blog. Then things started to taper off. I would mark posts to comment later and never get back to them. The comment I made went from fiveish to oneish to noneish. Pretty fast actually.

In my own defense, some real-life stuff was happening, but I still wish that I'd been able to keep up my commenting better. So this is going to be my New Year's resolution (and yes, I know New Year's is a month and a half away, but that dang real life is still getting in the way! More on that in another post.) I want to make comments every day. Notice I'm not giving a number. Some days, even one "Yeah, you go!" comment might be an effort. But I do want to put myself in the conversation, because I liked it there.

Thanks for putting this together, MotherReader and Lee! I think we should do it every year, just like the 48-hour book challenge. It's a great way of discovering new blogs, making new friends, and getting the happies when we get comments.

And next year maybe I'll actually make it the whole three weeks.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Here's an article from PW on the new supernatural/horror trend in YA lit, traceable, of course, to the popularity of Twilight. Take-home message?
Alessandra Balzer, co-publisher of Balzer & Bray at HarperCollins, who edited Generation Dead while at Hyperion, reflected on the category's current popularity. “What recent authors have done is reinvent the genre,” she said. “Twilight took vampires—which are scary—and made them sexy. In Generation Dead, you have an allegory about discrimination, which makes zombies fascinating. These creatures provide great allegories for the issues teens face in their lives, romances and school.”
So . . . business as usual, right?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Illustrating with Water with First Second

Fuse #8 put this up on her Sunday videos last Sunday. I watched my head cocked to one side at an ever-increasing angle, like one of those "Baroo?" dogs on Cute Overload. Then I got to 0:49 and shrieked, "Wow!!" Click play to see why.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Possibilities of Donna Freitas

Donna Freitas plus Sara Zarr equals interview! There's lots of good stuff, and here's a free sample:
SZ: Why do you think there are so few mainstream YA books that feature characters who have a positive relationship with their religious faith and/or traditions?

DF: That’s a great question and one I feel I have to be careful about answering—though I am going to be honest. As a professor of religion, I am well aware how uncomfortable talk of religion is to many people, never mind an encounter with a person who is practicing in a tradition. . . . I think this situation is unfortunate because so many teens do practice a faith tradition and not everyone is disaffected. I’m not sure we (YA authors) do such a good job representing these teens and this aspect of their lives. Then also, to me, religion really can be lighthearted and filled with life and comedy.
Hurray Donna! This is exactly why I enjoyed The Possibilities of Sainthood so much.

I got my grubby little paws on the book at the ALA conference this summer, and this is how: I walked by some MP3 audio company, and they had a big, beautiful poster of the cover. I screeched to a halt and took a mental note of that book, knowing that I was gonna hafta read it. All axioms aside, I love a great cover. Then I actually found an ARC at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux's booth, and leaped on it like a hungry wolf. I think I scared the publisher's rep. Sorry 'bout that.

When I read it, I was delighted to see that the Catholic content wasn't played for mockery or shown to be hollow and meaningless, but that Antonia Lucia Labella is very strong and joyful in her faith. It was the second book I'd read in about a week's time with Catholic content (the other being Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's Leap of Faith.) At the same time, it was a completely different story--much more like chick lit, but still showing a girl who drew strength and guidance from her beliefs without being betrayed by them or being a mindless sheep.

Identity is comprised of many, many things for teens: sexuality, politics, fashion, music, sports . . . the list goes on and on. Faith and religion (similar but not identical concepts) are just as much a part of that list, and I hope to see more novels that address that in a variety of tones.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hero Takes the Small Screen!

Okay, so 'member how I was all excited around Comic Con time about Stan Lee partnering up with Perry Moore for something to do with the latter's excelente YA novel, Hero? But I made with the snark cuz the announcement was so vague?

A few more details from MTV.com:
According to Variety, Showtime and Stan Lee are developing Perry Moore’s novel “Hero” into an hour long series.
Yippee! I have a couple of Showtime shows on my regular TV rotation right now, so I'm very excited to see what they'll do with this. I just hope they remember the YA roots.

Congratulations Judy Blundell!

She just won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for What I Saw and How I Lied. Hurray!

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Cover

I've heard a lot of love lately for The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, including shiny sticker-type love. Ness picked up the UK's Teenage Booktrust Prize 2008 just a couple of days ago. From the chair of judges:
The Knife Of Never Letting Go made the judges laugh, cry and debate its contents with passion; a striking mixture of thriller, science fiction and literary tour de force, it's influenced by writers as diverse as Laurence Sterne and Ursula le Guin, and should appeal to a wide readership.
My question for those of you who've already read it--do you agree?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Much Ado About Nothing

Octavian Nothing, that is, when Publisher's Weekly interviews M.T. Anderson.

I swear to y'all I am not getting a kickback for linking to PW (like they even notice any traffic I send their way; pfsh!), there's just been good stuff lately, or at least comment-worthy stuff.

I read The Pox Party (Octavian Nothing 1) and got an ARC of The Kingdom on the Waves (Octavian Nothing 2) at BEA in May. My reading habits being what they are, I didn't get to it until November. I finished it November 4th, in fact. In the evening, after the news spread throughout the land. Wow.

I don't plan stuff like this. Sometimes this just happens, like the day that Meg Cabot's Valentine Princess turned up at the top of my queue being, actually, Valentine's Day.

Anyway, enough about me. Interview. Quotage of note:
I’ve heard from one or two adults saying, “Are you sure this is appropriate for kids?,” but I think people don’t always give teens credit for how well they read. And not just looking up words they don’t know—they skip over words they don’t know, just like adults do. . . . And consider that kids read fantasy books, which in many cases have invented vocabulary. . . . Kids who are reading that are building a language in their heads. There’s no real cognitive difference. I think kids are excited by language, and they’re not always given credit for that.
Interesting. I have to admit that's one of the things that stopped me from booktalking as widely as I might have, wondering whether the 18th century prose would block them. He says elsewhere, though, that he has kids of 11 or 12 reading this book.

Do they get every subtle shading, every issue that's touched upon? Probably not. But maybe this is where they can start to grapple with them.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ellen Emerson White Chat

Remember how much I loved Long May She Reign? It's the book of the month all month over at Readergirlz. Plus, Ellen Emerson White will be chattin' it up at the Readergirlz chat room tomorrow night at 9 pm Eastern (that's 6 pm Pacific). Don't miss it!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Winter Blog Tour is Blasting Through!

As it does every year around this time, the annual Winter Blog Blast Tour is upon us. Yowza. Check out this lineup, put together by Chasing Ray's Colleen Mondor:


Lewis Buzbee at Chasing Ray
Louis Sachar at Fuse Number 8
Laurel Snyder at Miss Erin
Courtney Summers at Bildungsroman
Elizabeth Wein at Finding Wonderland
Susan Kulkin at The YA YA YAs


Ellen Dalow at Chasing Ray
Tony DiTerlizzi at Miss Erin
Melissa Walker at Hip Writer Mama
Luisa Plaja at Bildungsroman
DM Cornish at Finding Wonderland
LJ Smith at The YA YA YAs
Kathleen Duey at Bookshelves of Doom


Ellen Klages at Fuse Number 8
Emily Jenkins at Wrting and Ruminating
Ally Carter at Miss Erin
Mark Peter Hughes at Hip Writer Mama
Sarah Darer Littman at Bildungsroman
MT Anderson at Finding Wonderland
Mitali Perkins at Mother Reader


Martin Millar at Chasing Ray
John Green at Writing and Ruminating
Beth Kephart at Hip Writer Mama
Emily Ecton at Bildungsroman
John David Anderson at Finding Wonderland
Brandon Mull at The YA YA YAs
Lisa Papademetriou at Mother Reader


Mayra Lazara Dole at Chasing Ray
Francis Rourke Dowell at Fuse Number 8
J Patrick Lewis at Writing and Ruminating
Wendy Mass at Hip Writer Mama
Lisa Ann Sandell at Bildungsroman
Caroline Hickey/Sara Lewis Holmes at Mother Reader
A.S. King at Bookshelves of Doom
Emily Wing Smith at Interactive Reader

Good thing I didn't need a life this week.

More Twilight Bashing

Go see Hijinks Ensue from a few days ago and see why I laughed helplessly for about thirty seconds straight.

I am a bad, bad person.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Holy Graphic Novels, Batman!

Lisa Chellman posted about a comics workshop she attended at her library (lucky!). It featured someone talking about the process of writing comics, and as I read her notes, I thought, "My, my, how intriguing! This is certainly something to keep in mind as I read graphic novels!" (Apparently my inner thoughts are those of a grandma. Next, I will bake mental cookies.)

Now, current graphic novels have diverged from the kind of 22-page comic books that this guy writes, but many of the things he says regarding the storytelling (dialogue-wise and artistically) still have weight in GNs. Go take a look.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Buy Books for the Holidays!

I got this one from Jen Robinson's blog. Apparently, there's a new initiative in town, and it's called Buy Books for the Holidays. I'm behind this, and here's why:

1. Books are easy to wrap. Square or rectangle. Done and done-r.

2. When wrapped, the little stinkers can tell it's a book, but which one? Which one?!? No amount of rattling will give the title away. The suspense will make them crazy, which we all know is the best part of the holiday.

3. One-stop shopping, baby, be it Amazon, B&N, Powell's, favorite indie store that smells like cats and incense. With the price of gas, who wants to go driving all over Hell's half-acre for that elusive red shirt that your teenager wants?

4. The start of a lifelong addiction. Get 'em hooked early, and the next thing you know they're knocking on the library windows at 9:59 am, desperate for their lit fix. Muahahahaha.

Are you giving books for the holidays?

Kirkus Reviews Chimes In

More best-ofs, this time from Kirkus. I like the format of this list, which isn't just a title list but also includes Kirkus's review, plus suggested ages. A lot of it does seem to be ads, though. Oh well . . . take a look.

Fair warning, though: if you have a slow Internet solution, I suggest making a sandwich and maybe a chocolate layer cake while you wait for this 24 page pdf to download. Egad.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Publisher's Weekly Thinks You Should Read These Books

. . . and as it so happens, I mostly agree with them. C'mon, guys, the list includes Kristin Cashore's Graceling, Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games, and Elise Broach's Masterpiece, among other gems. Red hot diggity. Go see the rest of the list and tell me what you liked. Scroll all the way to the bottom for the under-18 stuff.

As I moaned in my post over at Kid Tested, Librarian Approved, PW doesn't seem to differentiate much in children's fiction, even when they get down to the nitty-gritty in grown-up stuff. I mean, seriously, they have a subsection for "Religious Fiction" and then a total YA book like The Hunger Games is next to Jeannie Birdsall's delightful but definitely kid's The Penderwicks on Gardam Street. Geez, guys.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Letter From the Audience

Publisher's Weekly had a great article in their November 10th issue from an 8th grade boy, telling us all in no uncertain terms what he wants in a book. No sparkly vampires, no high-falutin' language, and no condescension. But read the article anyway, because it's concise, witty, and right to the point. Good going, Max.

It's good for publishers to hear, and it's also good for us librarian types. Of all people, we're going to know the books they're looking for.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Knucklehead Makes a Book Trailer

I enjoyed the heck out of Knucklehead, the mostly true, mostly autobiographical collection of growing-up tales from Jon Scieszka. I also enjoyed the heck out of this trailer for it:

Knucklehead featuring Jon Scieszka from Jon Scieszka on Vimeo.

Thanks to Fuse #8 for finding it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lookit The Pretty!

I may have to move to England just to buy one of these signed poster sets from Penguin. Awesome. I can just see it in the YA section.

Thanks to Bookshelves of Doom for the link. Fight ya for 'em, Leila.

The Lisa Yee Title Contest Has a Winnah!

Lisa Yee's Annual Title Contest has come to a close, and she's willing to share the best and silliest entries with YOU. Go see them here!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Urban Lit and YA

So a lot of library journals have been talking about this crazy new thing, urban lit, lately. Here's a snip from this article, defining the urban lit genre:
Urban fiction - also known as street lit or street fiction - is a style of literature that depicts drugs, violence, and sexual promiscuity in black and Latino neighborhoods. Some of the books detail the extravagant lifestyles of drug dealers. Others describe the bloody violence associated with the drug trade. The sex scenes in some of the novels are extremely explicit, and sex is often used as a form of power rather than an expression of love.
I have to admit, I haven't read much myself, but I noticed with interest the quotes from teens reading adult-oriented urban lit novels rather than school-assigned books, rather to the dismay of some adults. In response, a number of publishing houses have started offering YA urban novels alongside the adult fare, but they're still too mature for some quoted in the article.

The debate sounds awfully familiar. Like so many others in the YA world (including the sex in SF/F debate I posted about a couple of days ago) it seems to come down to protection vs permission, or from another angle, innocence vs knowledge.

Has anybody out there read extensively in the genre, either the YA or the adult stuff? What did you think?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Jeez, Edward, Buy a Brush

And after yesterday's thorny issues, today I just wanted a snicker. So here it is.

Lest ye forget, Pattinson and Stewart are Edward and Bella, respectively, in the upcoming Twilight movie. I think I would have liked the books better if scenes like this had been included.

Friday, November 07, 2008

SF/F Takes on the S-Word

No, not that one. Sex.

Hop on over to read a number of opinions on the place and function of sex within sci-fi and fantasy, and then how the same question applies to YA iterations of the same. Not surprisingly, many of the bloggers who say without hesitation, "Sure, if it moves the story forward" to sex in adult SF/F have a harder time with, "Well, what about the teens?"

This is a question I've been chewing on for a little while myself. Having just finished Kristin Cashore's terrific YA fantasy Graceling, which does happen to feature sex, I wondered about whether to pass it on to a teen I know with a very conservative mom. As I put it to a co-worker, "It's not graphic, but it's hard to mistake for making out."

As you no doubt can tell, a large part of my chickenositude was due to the same feelings as one of the bloggers expresses:
I think that parents are the ultimate filter--they should be reading (or at least reviewing) their child's chosen reading material and giving it the ok. Granted, my parents never did that for me, and I grew up unscathed (for the most part), but it's also about being involved…
The thing about the sex in Graceling is that it was part of an equal and loving relationship, and the main character thinks hard about whether to get that involved from an emotional standpoint before she does it. There are worse examples for our teens out there. Just as another blogger points out,
I think something adults have trouble grasping is that young adults are a lot more intelligent and grown up that we would like to think. True, they don't know everything, even though they think they do, and they're still growing and maturing, but at the same time they're not stupid.
Gah. This is why children's and YA librarianship is not for the faint of heart. Still, maybe this quote sums it up best:
I'm sure that if a teenager wants to read something sexy, I doubt they'll be heading for the fantasy and sci-fi section.

Comment Challenge Ahoy!

So those crazy kids, MotherReader and Lee Wind, have cooked up something else for us all to join in on. It's the 21-day Comment Challenge!

I admit it, I'm not the best commenter ever. I'll save posts, think about them, even link to them if I decide to write about the topic on my blog, but I don't comment on the other person's actual blog. Knowing what a thrill it is for me to get comments, I feel bad about not putting in a little time to give that thrill to someone else.

No more! MotherReader and Lee, I'm in and I'll do my darnedest to speak up, even if it's to say "Go You!"

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Neil Gaiman and the Graveyard Book

The London Free Press recently did an interview with Neil Gaiman on the genesis of his most recent, The Graveyard Book. Apparently it was a long time comin'.
Gaiman went up to his office and started trying to write it. “I read the first page,” he laughs gently, “and I thought, ‘This is a better idea than I am a writer. So I will put the idea away until I’m a better writer.’”
The weird thing (at least to me) is that they keep referring to it as YA in the article. To be honest, I didn't see The Graveyard Book as YA. Would teens enjoy it? Yeah, sure, especially if they're already Gaiman fans.

But I saw it as a middle-grade novel--admittedly one with a rather more traumatic beginning than you usually see, but this is the same group we make read Where the Red Fern Grows, so I don't exactly see the objection. Gaiman himself admits that he has 10-year-olds reading it. So wherefore the YA? Possibly it gets slightly more respect than "children's book." Who knows.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

National Book Award Finalists Talk

Or at least, the five that I personally care about talk, briefly, about their nominated books and how they wrote them. Have a gander over at Publisher's Weekly.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Richard Dawkins and Fairy Tales

I've been meaning to write about this one for some time now. The media's been shrieking about Richard Dawkins' supposed vendetta against fairy tales, but after watching this interview, I think that the media's doing what it always does and picking the juiciest headline out of context.

To my own surprise, I'm behind the idea of the children's book he intends to write, although I know it's going to be seen as promoting atheism. (And to be honest, the whole "Judeo-Christian mythology" didn't exactly rub me the right way.) We do need to start teaching 'em critical thinking, instead of answers to the test.

But I wonder if Dawkins fully appreciates the role that fiction plays in teaching critical thinking. Every time a child opens a book, they must answer within themselves some fairly fundamental questions. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who do I support and why? What do their choices mean to me? What would I do in that situation?

Granted, he's really behind scientific critical thinking, but I think literary critical thinking and scientific bleed into each other in a way that he may be too quick to dismiss.

What do you guys think?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Book Review: Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott

Book: Perfect You
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Published: 2008

Kate’s life, never the stuff of Hollywood musicals, has now gone completely down the tubes. She used to have a best friend, she used to have a dad with a stable job, she used to not have to work at a sketchy vitamin booth at the mall. Now she’s on her own, but she’s not going to let anyone see how they’re getting to her. Especially that annoying jerk, Will Miller, who constantly mocks her by pretending to flirt. Can it get any worse?

Oh, yes, it can. Now her domineering (and rich) grandma is coming to “help out” at home. Her former best friend starts talking to her occasionally, but only when the popular crowd isn’t around. And worst of all, Kate finds herself in a weird, mostly physical relationship with Will that takes place completely in the mall.

She’s got to fix her life, fast. Trouble is, she can’t tell what’s wrong about it, and what’s right.

This was one of those books that I put down firmly at about midnight and turned off the light, because I needed to go to sleep. After five minutes, I turned it back on and finished the book. It’s not like there’s a great deal of suspense involved, I admit. You can pretty well tell that Anna is going to remain a selfish cow, that Will and Kate are going to get together in a real relationship, and that the family is headed for the rocks. It’s just seeing how Kate gets there and how she’s going to handle it that dragged me through the story.

The neatest thing about this book is Will. So often in YA novels with a romantic plot, the boy is an idealized creature: sweet, sensitive, and all-around so dang perfect you expect the light to go ting off his teeth. Will, on the other hand, is not the sharpest crayon in the box. He makes dumb jokes when he should be serious, he shows off too much in front of his friends, and after a certain point in the novel, every time they’re together, his brain goes straight to the Make-Out Place. In other words, he’s a teenage boy. With the exception of having the patience of a freakin’ saint when it comes to Kate’s insecurities, he’s just about the most believable seventeen-year-old romantic lead I’ve ever seen in a YA novel. It helps that there are things going on in his life that have absolutely nothing to do with Kate. I got the feeling that if Scott had decided to write the whole novel from Will’s point of view instead, it would have been completely possible.

I love a good romance, and it makes it all the better when I can believe in all the important characters. I believed in everyone in Perfect You.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Why I'm Voting

Okay. I admit it. I’m a bad citizen.

My first Presidential election, I voted for a third-party candidate just to thumb my nose at the two parties. My second one, I voted, but my candidate didn’t win, so I retired in disgust from the whole voting round.

But in this most recent election, I realized something. In such a huge country it’s easy to think that your vote doesn’t matter, like a snowflake doesn’t matter to a mountainside. But snowflakes make up avalanches. If enough of them move, the whole side of the mountain comes down. But you’ve gotta move first.

Enough of the corny metaphor. Here’s the thing: I don’t get to complain until I’ve actually put my vote in. This country isn’t perfect, but it’s mine. In this country, I have rights, like the right to work in a library full of books that don't agree with each other, and to make them all available to everybody. The right to practice my own religion, no matter who thinks it's stupid and brainwashy.

And tomorrow, most importantly, the right to vote. But it's more than a right. In exchange for the gift of living here, I have to give back by proclaiming how I want it to be run, and what rights I want extended to my neighbors.

So that’s why I’m voting tomorrow. Because this is my country, and no matter who wins, casting my vote is not a right, it’s a responsibility.

I've been a bad citizen in the past. But I've got the right to change that.

Check out the master list of Blog the Vote at Chasing Ray.

Bruce Coville Fanboy Interview

Gizmodo has posted a rockin' two-part interview with Bruce Coville about his My Teacher is an Alien series, conducted by a rabid fan all grown up. Having read these (and other Coville classics) when I was a kid, of course I clicked through.

Coville talks about the writing process, his thought process during the writing of the series, and how much technology has caught up to his vision. Which as it turns out, it hasn't very much, but that's not really that important anyway. Then as now, the story's the real thing.

Part One here, and Part Two here.

Thanks to Chicken Spaghetti for the link.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Reading Roundup October 2008

By the Numbers
Teen: 25
Tween: 14
Children: 17

Teen: Impossible by Nancy Werlin
Tween: The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower by Lisa Graff
Children: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Because I Want To Awards
Yep, It's That Good: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Most Fun Sequel: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
Most Realistic Teenage Guy in a Girl-Centric Book: Will in Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott
Sequel, NOW!: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Most Discomfiting: Swimming With the Sharks by Debbie Reid Fischer

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mixing It Up

An article from the Chicago Tribune about schools shifting away from all-classics in the classroom and toward a mix of classics and contemporary. Which I can't help but approve of. However, go read the article and tell me what you notice.

Back already?

No contemporary YA titles were mentioned. Not a one. It was all adult literary-type novels.

Now this may be bad reporting, the paper focusing on novels that their readership will recognize. And I fully understand that many teens choose to read a mix of adult novels and teen. But all the same, I do hope that schools are taking note of the amazing things being offered in the YA section.

Teachers out there, can you comment?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Free Books!

Lenore of Presenting Lenore is giving away free books all through the month of November. Of course, my head snapped around like a retriever sighting a downed duck. Check out her list of giveaways and how to win.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's the Lisa Yee Title Contest Time Again!

Lisa Yee's blog is like a hit of caffeine at 4:30 am. I love it. One of my favorite features is her annualish title contest, in which readers compete to create silly titles. This year, the rule is, "Change two letters to get a whole new title."

Ready? Go!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Book Review: Swimming with the Sharks by Debbie Reid Fischer

Book: Swimming with the Sharks
Author: Debbie Reid Fischer
Published: 2008

Peyton Grady’s finally done it. She’s on varsity cheerleading. Even though she’s a scholarship student at swanky Beachwood Prep, even though she buys her clothes from Goodwill and has never been to Aspen in her life, she’s finally an Alpha, thanks to the pompoms, the cute little uniform, and most of all, cheer captain Lexie Court.

Then Ellika Garret moves to Beachwood and buys her way onto the cheerleading squad. Peyton is as disgusted as the rest of them, and intially gets into Lexie’s plan to haze Ellika right off the team. But as things escalate from pranks to actual harm, Peyton starts to have doubts. But anything is worth it to stay an Alpha, right?


There are a lot of books out there about the bullied, but not a lot about the bullies. In most ways, Lexie is your typical golden girl, glittering and beautiful, but two or three scenes in her home show that she has a soft underbelly just like everyone else. The only difference is that she will lash out first, just to make sure that her weak spot is protected because her opponents are so busy licking their own wounds.

As for Ellika, you want to be sympathetic towards her, but the more she tries to buy friends and popularity, the more pathetic she becomes. Just about every scene she’s in prompts a full-body cringe. While the cheer squad’s bullying is horrible (and in the end, monstrous), you almost understand how they can do it.

Fischer walks a delicate line in Peyton, managing to keep her sympathetic while making it clear that she is in it as much as the rest of the cheer squad. At the same time, she is victim of a far more subtle bullying pattern than Ellika. Her redemption toward the end feels like our own. Pick this book up for a thoughtful and all-too-probable story about how anybody can bully, or be bullied.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Art and Children's Books

A school in Colorado has a 3-D mural on their wall, especially for kids (including one boy legally blind since kindergarten) to touch and play with as well as look at.

What caught my attention was the subject. The artist (the school's night janitor) picked iconic characters from kids' lit. Not just the classics, either. In the photo, I can make out the Magic Treehouse and Captain Underpants alongside the Cat in the Hat and what appear to be the Three Little Pigs.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Illustration and Choices Thereof

A little bird tells me that Neil Gaiman's newest, The Graveyard Book, is being offered with your choice of illustrators in the UK. Dave McKean, who illustrated Coraline to deliciously creepifying effect, has the "adult" version and Chris Riddell the kids'. A quick Amazon check tells me that the US seems to be sticking to McKean for both.

I got a cover image (over to your right) of Riddell's work, enough to see that although it's not the angular creepiness of Dave McKean, it's not fluffy bunnies.

I read an ARC without any illustrations (sigh), but it was a great yarn nonetheless. Has anybody seen either or both of the versions? Can you weigh in?

ETA: Betsy Bird over at Fuse #8 has a much more thorough gathering of the various covers. Take a look!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Is That You Under My Desk, Philip Pullman?

The Golden Compass author's description of his office sounds awfully familiar, is all I'm sayin'.

Have a look at this article from the Liverpool Daily Post (oh, Google Alerts, how I love thee) about Philip Pullman, writing, movies, and the keeping of offices (or, y'know, not).

My favorite quote:
“When you write books for children, you can write about whatever you like, and you’re not pigeonholed in the same way, which I find a great freedom. You’re not stuck doing one kind of thing.”

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Cybils Nominations Are In!

Check out the grand collection of nominations for the 2008 Cybils Awards, right here!

Now it's time for the first round of judges to go to work, reading, reading, and reading some more to winnow out those special few that will make it to the second round. Good luck, guys!

The shortlists will be announced January 1 and the winners on Valentine's Day.

I'm Not the Only One

A friend sent me this opinion piece from the LA Times about the different reading level systems at work in California.

I deal with this every day, and the ones that drive me craziest are the kids or parents who refuse to read anything that's not numbered, leveled, and assessed within an inch of its life. It's as if a book has no value beyond the value of the quizzes one can take after reading it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Lines Come Pre-Blurred

Leila over at Bookshelves of Doom hooked me up with this article about SF, fantasy, YA, and the meldings thereof. They conclude that a) YA books are selling better than their adult counterparts and b) YA and SF/fantasy are premade for each other, like a horse and carriage.

Quotage from our own Scott Westerfeld about the immense variety to be found on the YA shelves:
"YA is a bit like airplanes in the early 20th century: There are biplanes and triplanes, flapping wings, and engines front and back," Westerfeld says.
There's plenty more, but follow the link for all the goodness. I'm going to go imagine YA books as turn-of-the-century airplanes. Illustrators out there, anyone want to bring this one to life?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

National Book Awards are Nigh!

Everybody and their brother has scooped me on this one, but the National Book Award finalists were announced just this past week. Here are the nominees for Young People's Literature:
Laurie Halse Anderson, Chains (Simon & Schuster)
Kathi Appelt, The Underneath (Atheneum)
Judy Blundell, What I Saw and How I Lied (Scholastic)
E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (Hyperion)
Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now (Alfred A. Knopf)
I've only read E. Lockhart's tome (yay, E!) but I've heard about Chains and The Underneath around the blogosphere. I hear some of these aren't out yet, but anyone out there gotten their hot little hands on the Blundell and Tharp books?

I'm also heartened to see the list of judges for this category:

Daniel "Lemony Snicket" Handler (chair),
Holly "Writes about Way Freaky Faeries and Does It Damn Well" Black,
Angela "Even looking at the cover of The First Part Last makes me a little weepy" Johnson,
Carolyn "Ferocious Girls" Mackler,
and Cynthia "Do Not Even Tell Me You Don't Know Who This Is" Voigt.

It's a nice variety of people who know what they're doing when it comes to words for kids and teens.

Check out the website for the grown folks literature finalists. The Awards are announced November 19th in New York City.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Book: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Published: 2008

It’s the future. The USA is no more. Instead, North America is divided up into twelve poor, starving districts and a pampered, luxurious Capitol. Each year, as payment for a long-ago uprising, each district must send two teenagers to the Capitol, where they will compete in the Hunger Games. The winner gets fame, riches, comfort for the rest of their lives, and prizes for their district. The twenty-three losers get bloody death and a plain wooden box. The Games are merciless, brutal, dehumanizing, and aired on national televison.

Katniss Everdeen is horrified when her treasured little sister is chosen as one of the contestants, and offers herself in her place without a second thought. She and her fellow contestant, Peeta, aren’t considered to be real contenders. The winners usually come from the (comparatively) richer districts, not the coal-mining and always-on-the-edge-of-extinction District 12. It’s a death sentence, but it’s one she’ll gladly shoulder for her sister’s sake.

Her life is complicated (like it needs it!) by Peeta, whose love for her has been seized upon by the Gamemakers as an angle for the audience. But are his feelings true, or just another kind of bait waiting for the switch?

As the Games go on and she becomes, to her own surprise, a real contender, the stakes get higher and higher. Soon Kat must confront the real question--lose the Games? or lose herself?

I’ve been hearing about this book for awhile. Doubtless you have too. The buzz is fast and furious. I always get a little skeptical when so many people rave about a book. Can it be that good?

Yes. It can.

The Hunger Games is not a perfect book, but there’s a lot to love about it. Kat is gutsy, intelligent, and the perfect mix of soft-hearted and clear-headed. Her constant awareness of the audience and the sponsors affect her actions as strongly as the threat that’s right in front of her, inviting comparisons to the reality shows that reportedly inspired the novel. She also never loses sight of the fact that even though she may forge temporary alliances, every other person in the arena is (or should be) out to get her.

The Games themselves are written as long periods of strategizing and assessment of your opponent (plus paranoia, hunger, cold, and fear), interspersed with abrupt and terrifying bouts of violence. Underneath all the action, there’s always the awareness that the Games are indeed nothing more than a game to viewers in the Capitol, and Kat’s rising anger at that fact comes to a head toward the end.

Finally, the ending. It comes a little quickly, but since it leaves you slavering for the remainder of the proposed trilogy, I’m not sure I’d call that a misstep on Collins’ part. I won’t give away any spoilers, but I will say that Kat is forever changed by what occurred in the arena. You get the sense that the choices she had to make, for good or ill, are going to haunt her for a long time coming.

This thought-provoking, horrifying, and complex book stays with you long after you close it.

Friday, October 17, 2008


From Wired Magazine via Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Click on through for a story about the lucky bas--uh, duck--who owns this library all for himself.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Book: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Published: On shelves today

As a kid, Quentin Jacobsen was infatuated with his best friend, the fascinating Margo Roth Speigelman. Now seniors in high school, they’ve drifted into different social strata and he’s still infatuated. So much so that when she appears at his window late one school night on a mission for revenge and in need of a driver for same, he ditches responsibility and fires up the minivan. Through a night of clothing theft, eyebrow removal, and dead fish, Quentin believes that he’s reconnected with the Margo he once knew, and everything will be different now.

But the next day at school, she’s nowhere to be found. As the Margo-less days pass, Quentin becomes convinced that she’s about to do something drastic. Furthermore, he’s the only one who can assemble the clues and save her from herself. But as his search takes him further into the life Margo left behind, he starts to wonder--did he ever really know her?

Did anybody?

I’m always a little worried about reading books by people I know. Now I realize that watching somebody’s vlog is not the same as really getting to know them--it’s mostly a one-way street. Still, they feel like somebody you know, and you wonder if you can stop hearing their voice and hear the characters’ instead. Overall, Green succeeds with this book.

Green’s writing really shines in the character of Margo Roth Speigelman (try saying “Margo” without adding “Roth Speigelman” now. Just try it. They’re permanently linked.) She’s exactly as mysterious, intoxicating, and intriguing to us as to Quentin. Q himself is very much in the vein of Green’s other main character/narrators, young men standing warily on the line between childhood and adulthood and just getting an inkling of the confusing, painful, demanding, joyful mess they’re about to walk into.

Try Paper Towns for a book about the way we think about people, and how deceptive that image can be.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's the Last Day for the Cybils Nominations!

Just like I said up there. You've only got until midnight to express your love and devotion for your favorite books of the year! Is there a book in one of these categories that you can't imagine living without?

From the Cybils blog:
The genres: Easy Readers, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fiction Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Novels, Non-Fiction Middle Grade/Young Adult Books, Non-Fiction Picture Books, Poetry, Young Adult Novels.
Has it not been nominated yet? Then go nominate, you silly person!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blog the Vote!

Lee Wind over at I'm Here, I'm Queer, What the Hell Do I Read? and Colleen Mondor of Chasing Ray are putting together another initiative, this one called Blog the Vote! Quotage of the fundamentals:
Blog the Vote is a one day Kid and Adult Lit Blogger Event, where we all blog on Monday Nov. 3rd about the importance of voting on Tuesday Nov. 4th.

Blog the Vote is about sharing WHY it's important to vote. It's about the issues that will be decided by whoever wins this election . . .

Blog the Vote is not, however, about hate-speech or being rude - posts that overstep into nastiness won't be linked on the master list.
What's this got to do with kidlit?

This is about encouraging young voters to get out there and affect their own government. This is about determining the direction of the country that our kids (of all ages) are going to live in for the next four years, if not longer.

So join in!

(Double posted to Kid Tested, Librarian Approved. Apologies if you're seeing this twice!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Classics vs. Popular?

Okay, as a recovering English major, I'm really torn on this one.

Check out What's So Great About Shakespeare Anyway? It's an opinion piece where the author begs literature teachers to give the dusty classics a rest and get on board with great new YA stuff. (How new, and how YA, we can argue another time, since she cites only The Giver, The Lovely Bones, and The Secret Life of Bees. Lowry is good stuff, for sure, but I can think of numerous others.)

Now ordinarily I would be jumping for joy, since yes! I do think that teachers should incorporate contemporary literature in their classrooms, both for the appeal and because they do confront thorny issues.

What gets me is that the author seems to view classics as being opposed to contemporary lit, i.e. it's one or the other. As someone who read and loved the complete works of Jane Austen (minus Mansfield Park; bleaaaah!!) as well as knowing my library's YA and children's sections up, down, and sideways, I'm more in favor of using a mix. The reason the classics are great is because they still speak to many. The reason modern lit is great is the same reason.

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

From the Annals of Ludicrousity . . .

Harry Potter sock yarn.

Oh yes.

One presumes that actual socks knitted out of this actual yarn will never get lost, or at the very least, scream if they get too smelly. Or is that too much to hope for?

Thanks to Bookshelves of Doom for the link.

PS Does the word "annals" just sound dirty in itself to anybody else? No? Just me then.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Slate Slideshow!

I enjoy Slate's slideshows about kidlit. This latest one was put together by Erica of Pajamazon and is titled, Mom, What's a Credit Default Swap? Books to read your children during a financial crisis. She points out,
A review of popular American children's books of the past century reveals a recurring theme in the children's publishing industry: When times are tough, cue the stories about times that were even tougher.
Interesting. I have to admit I never thought of that myself, but it makes sense. Check it out, and maybe get some titles for your own worried kids.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Night Bites at Readergirlz!

It's October again, and you know what that means.


Well, yes, but something else.

Trying to come up with a good costume all month and finally giving up and draping a sheet over your head like last year?

Something else.

Telling everybody you have a million trick-or-treaters so that's why you just bought a metric ton of fun-size Snickers?

Shut up, inner me.


It's the month that contains Teen Read Week, and the Readergirlz have a lineup of cool events planned, including chats with Mitali Perkins, Holly Black, Ally Carter, Maureen Johnson, and others! Check it out.

Also have a gander at this awesome video:

Zowie. Head on over to the Readergirlz website for all the fun.

Thanks to Interactive Reader for the link.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Fug Girls Are At It Again . . .

They're ragging on Twilight again, this time the theatrical poster. I need a sixty-second laugh-myself-silly break now.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Book Review: The Devouring - Sorry Night by Simon Holt

Book: The Devouring - Sorry Night
Author: Simon Holt
Published: 2008

With an AWOL mother and a father who might as well be gone too, Regina’s carrying more burdens than she knows what to do with. Escape into Lovecraft or Poe or even a good slasher flick are a welcome escape, because she knows she can always close the book or stop the DVD.

Then she finds a journal detailing another girl’s terrifying experience with incorporeal beings she calls “Vours,” evil creatures that feed on fear and take up possession in a human body. At first, Regina thinks it’s the rough draft of a never-published novel. But then her little brother Henry starts acting strange. Inhuman, almost . . .

Now Regina’s got to battle her own fears to rescue her little brother, or they’ll both be lost forever.

I don’t usually read horror, but The Devouring: Sorry Night caught me firmly and held me on the couch until I hit the last page, with its promises of evil only temporarily vanquished. It gets pretty gory and sick at times (in particular, don’t read the hospital scene when eating) but teen horror fans will love it.

Read this with all the lights on.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Oh fer . . .

I ran across this article in my Google Alerts about children's lit, and I found it a fundamentally flawed study. Let me say this: it's one book. I'm the last person to say it's impossible that a book can change a kid's life, but this is pushing it.

In a nutshell: a study was conducted with overweight preteens. Some were given a book with an unhappily overweight protagonist. Others were given a book with a normal-weight protagonist. A third group wasn't given any book.

There are a number of things it doesn't take into account. Losing weight includes lifestyle changes that (especially for kids) never exist in a vacuum. Case in point:
For the study, the Duke University researchers recruited 31 obese girls between 9 to 13 years of age, who had already signed up in the Healthy Lifestyles Program at Duke Children's Hospital. Italics mine.
These were girls who already wanted to make a positive change in their health (or their parents wanted them to). It's not as if they plucked kids off the street and changed their entire outlook on life with one book.

In a telling omission, it touts the 71% statistic of kids who read the first book, but doesn't mention the change in weight for the other two groups.

It may be the writing of the article that makes it sound like one book was the deciding factor, but to me, this study is reducing children's lit to manipulation, and children themselves to paper dolls.


Monday, October 06, 2008

Book Review: Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Book: Impossible
Author: Nancy Werlin
Published: 2008

All Lucy Scarborough wanted to do was go to prom. Dance, eat rubber chicken, kiss her date, have fun. But the evening turns nightmarish when her date rapes her and runs away to crash his car into a tree and kill himself.

Horrible, but only one night, right? Wrong. Lucy’s pregnant. Worse than that, she’s just discovered that she’s the most recent in a long line of women, all cursed to bear a daughter at the age of eighteen and surrendered their sanity to a merciless Elfin Knight. The only way to escape is to complete three impossible tasks before her baby is born.

No woman in her family has ever managed it before, but Lucy is determined to break the cycle--for herself, for her daughter, and for the poor, insane mother that she only sees sporadically. She’s got assistance, in the form of her loving foster parents and her lifelong best friend, Zach. But will that be enough?

It has to be.

When I picked this book up at BEA, the person manning the booth told it me was a story about a pregnant teenager. To which I say, Impossible is about a pregnant teenager in the same way that Hamlet is about a guy who’s a little down these days. Technically true, but there’s so much more to the story.

Pitchforked from innocent high-schooler to young mother fighting for her child’s future and her own, Lucy makes the trip with equal measures of fear and strength. Werlin makes a strong point that Lucy is luckier than her ancestresses, because she does have the love and support of her family. Zach especially becomes the one person without whom she would never succeed. Yet it is Lucy’s inner strength that pulls her though.

This is a story about a pregnant teenager, but it’s also about family, about the true meaning of love, and about doing the impossible because the alternative is unthinkable. Lucy’s quest is a compelling and fascinating one, especially for kids who are just starting to realize what adulthood is going to mean.

P.S. Be prepared to get Simon and Garfunkel stuck in your head for days, since “Scarborough Fair” is the traditional folk song on which Lucy’s impossible tasks are based.

Sit Tight . . .

Apparently, Blogger has flagged Kid Tested Librarian Approved as a spam blog (?!) and locked it down until they can review it. I'm not sure why. If you're trying to get to it, I'll let you know as soon as everything gets sorted out. Sorry guys . . .

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Another Unshelved Recommendation

Check this week's Unshelved Book Club for a neat cartoon booktalk of David Lubar's classic Hidden Talents. Mostly they do adult books, but every so often a great YA or kid's book will slip in.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

This Looks Hopeful

Smart Bitches Trashy Books alerted me to a very good review at CNN of "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," otherwise known as "It Was a Fabulous Book, O Dear God Please Don't Let Hollywood Ruin It."

Key Quote:
so much goes down on Nick and Norah's one enchanted evening that the best advice is to enjoy the ride -- the actual ride -- around this vibrant new New York.
Anyone up for a trip to the movies?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Diablo Cody and Judy Blume

Not sure how I missed this when it came out, but here is a neat little interview with Juno writer Diablo Cody about her love of all things Judy Blume.

This quote encapsulates a lot of Blume's enduring appeal at the time she first started writing and even today:
Every other book written for kids my age was sunny, upbeat, and about as subtle as a bullhorn-wielding camp counselor. Blume's stuff had an edge; it was grimly hilarious and worthy of my attention.
Go have a look-see.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Michael & Kat's Infinite Interview

Leila over at Bookshelves of Doom posted a link to this interview at the Onion's AV Club with Michael Cera and Kat Dennings, otherwise known as Movie Nick and Movie Norah. While longish, I liked what it showed about the movie, the characters, and the actors' involvement with both.
AVC: The book apparently has more boozing and drugs and swearing—

KD: Just swearing.

MC: Not boozing and drugs.

KD: Nick and Norah are straight-edge.
Hee. For some reason, I liked that little exchange, in which they are so insistent on this important element of their characters (the straight-edge-ness) that they're practically talking over each other. It makes me hopeful for their versions of Nick and Norah.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Reading Roundup September 2008

Notice anything missing? With the opening of Kid Tested, Librarian Approved, I decided to move the preschool books portion of this roundup over there. This, of course, means more pointless and silly Because I Want To Awards for everyone!

By the Numbers
Teen: 25
Tween: 8
Children: 10

Teen: Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher
Tween: Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale
Children: Clementine's Letter by Sara Pennypacker

Because I Want To Awards
I So Should Not Have Read This During My Lunch Break: Dead High Yearbook by Ivan Velez
Prompted Fangirl Screams of Joy Upon Acquisition and Then Read in Three Hours: Chalice by Robin McKinley
Most Wrenching: TIE Nothing by Robin Friedman and The Smell of Old-Lady Perfume by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez
Made Me Want to Go Rent Movies: Keep Your Eye on the Kid: The Early Years of Buster Keaton by Catherine Brighton

Cybils Nominations are Open!

As of this morning, everyone should stampede on over to the Cybils website and nominate your favorites!

In a nutshell:
On Oct. 1, we publish all nine genres* as separate posts. You leave your nomination in the comments section of each post.

Having trouble? Feel free to email anne (at) bookbuds (dot) net with questions or complaints.

*The genres: Easy Readers, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fiction Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Novels, Non-Fiction Middle Grade/Young Adult Books, Non-Fiction Picture Books, Poetry, Young Adult Novels.
Here are the rest of the rules.

I was a YA judge last year and it was a great experience. This year, I'm on the Fiction Picture Book judging committee, so find some great books for me to read!

Why are you still reading this? Off you go!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Conference AfterParty! With Pictures!

As promised, pictures! It's always a jolt to meet other bloggers in person. Some will put their picture up, but often they won't, so you feel as if you know this person very well but you've never seen their face. I knew some people from last year, but I met new ones this year.

Farida Dowler (Alkelda the Gleeful) at Happy Hour with a hot toddy, which delighted me no end, even considering that the reason for the hot toddy was a horrible cold.

At dinner, I sat at a table full of writers, mostly of picture books. We all bought raffle tickets and fantastic prizes were raffled off. The money raised went to a good cause whose name I cannot quite recall. Here's a shot of the winningest table, as they celebrate over yet another one of their numbers being called.

After dinner, we took a group photo (see yesterday's post) and then toted all our winnings back to the hotel bar to celebrate with the Readergirlz as they welcomed their new diva, Holly Cupala. Pam Coughlan (MotherReader), Lorie Ann Grover (writer and Readergirl) and Lee Wind (I'm Here, I'm Queer, What the Hell Do I Read?) in a candid shot.

Betsy Bird (Fuse #8) and sock-puppet Edward Cullen. Uh, does she look a little pale to you?

Clare Bell and handmade friend. Isn't that the neatest?

I didn't take many more pictures, as I was much more involved in hanging out with Jackie, Pam, Lee, and various others. It was a great conference, and as always with conferences, the best fun was just meeting everyone, talking about the things we loved best, and throwing ideas around.

Next year's conference is slated for DC, and Pam Coughlan of MotherReader has volunteered to organize it. See you all there!