Archive for the ‘Books’ Category
What is cover blindness? Don’t you mean, “color blindness”?
No, I mean COVER blindness! This summer, YA books have banded together to ask you to ignore all the clues you usually rely on to pick books. The YA books decided they wanted you to try being “cover blind”: choose them based NOT on their cover art. You can’t see what book lies within the confines of the envelope until you check it out and take it home. Okay, you can open it in the library – but ONLY after you’ve checked it out and made the commitment!
Challenge yourself to go beneath the surface of book covers and possibly discover a great book you might not otherwise have picked up! All the cover blind books either feature a question that is at the heart of the book, or a one-sentence summary or hint of what the book is about. You choose which one speaks to you!
Today I’ve got three very different, and yet not so different, books. Two are realistic, but feature main characters you couldn’t imagine interacting, and the other is a fantasy. What makes all three of them somewhat similar is that all three main characters are on a mission to find answers and set the world right however they can. Along the way, all three characters find that the definition of right and wrong is not all that clear, and their ideas of who is to blame for what went bad in their lives might be a little off, too.
This one is in the running for my favorite book on 2013. If you love John Green, you need this book in your life. James Whitman loves 19th century American poet Walt Whitman, writes poems himself, is suffering from anxiety and depression, and talks to an imaginary pigeon therapist he calls Dr. Bird. His sister, Jorie, recently got kicked out by their abusive parents, whom James calls the Banshee (mom) and the Brute (dad). James is on a mission – in his own depressed, anxious way – to find out what injustice caused Jorie to get expelled from school and kicked out. It’s not that simple, of course, and James has a lot of wrongs in himself that he needs to work out along the way while helping Jorie.
Sneak Peek! “I yawp most mornings to irritate my father, the Brute.”(Text copyright © 2013 by Evan Roskos)
(FYI: “yawp” is a word that Whitman used in his most famous poem, “Song of Myself,” and means, basically, uttering a sound, a release of energy from within himself – http://www.sparknotes.com/poetry/whitman/section2.rhtml)
Think of Celia Door as Emily the Strange, but a character in a novel. Something happened to Celia to make her Celia the Dark, and she stomps into her freshman year wearing knee high black combat boots on a mission to right the wrong that was done. She seeks justice like it’s her job. But when she meets Drake, who has secrets and injustices of his own, Celia’s mission is compromised. Drake helps her understand the motives behind what she’s doing, and Celia is forced to choose between following through on what she thought was right and fighting for something bigger, friendship.
Sneak Peek! “At fourteen I turned Dark. Now I’m Celia the Dark. The first day of ninth grade, I walked twenty blocks from my house to Hershey High School in boots so thick, it looked like I grew three inches over the summer.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Karen Finneyfrock)
This is fantasy meets the kind of butt-kicking, justice-serving, right-doing strength you see in characters like Tris Prior (Divergent, Insurgent). Renee de Winter is a cadet training at the elite Academy of Tildor. She must fight hard to retain her spot in the Academy so she can become a soldier and serve her country. Tildor is rife with crime: two warring crime families seek to steal power from the young and inexperienced King, and when one crime boss goes too far, Renee and her friend Alec are thrust into a mission to fight for what’s right. Right and the law, however, are not necessarily one and the same in their corrupt country so their struggle is deep.
Sneak Peek! “Lady Renee de Winter turned her back to the parlor, where her father’s clerk counted gold crowns in to the visitor’s waiting palm. The coins’ melodic ring turned her stomach.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Alex Liddell)
Yes, you read that correctly: bookface. Not Facebook. That’s something else entirely.
Bookface is Milwaukee Public Library’s super successful Summer Reading Program ad campaign that has gone on for the last few years. This year, they’re doing a county-wide search for beautiful bookish faces to be featured in their posters! You could be a bookface just like this:
How cool is this?!?!?!?!?!
To participate in the model search, start by checking out the models (MPL TAB members) featured on the MPL teen page or Teens of Milwaukee Public Library Facebook page. Simply take a photo of yourself with your face in a book – a library book! - like the photos featured on the teen page and Facebook page, and submit it via email to TAB@milwaukee.gov or post it on the Facebook page. MPL TAB gives us some tips for creating a great bookface photo, based on their past experience:
- Use a book you got at the library!
- Ask your librarian for book suggestions.
- Take the photo against a solid background, like a plain wall.
- Patterns and colors are fine, but no clothing with logos or brand names.
- Photos with 300 dpi resolution or higher are preferred.
(From the MPL TAB Bookface Model Search page, http://www.mpl.org/file/ya_modelsearch_index.html, accessed February 27, 2013)
Photos are being accepted now through March 28, 2013!
AHHHHHH OMG! Beautiful Creatures THE MOVIE is hitting theaters everywhere this February. Just in time for your Valentine’s (or Gal-entine’s) movie date. Many of us go crazy over whether a movie does a great book justice. I feel like this one might do the book justice, but the book is pretty cinematic – from the moment you first step into the Deep South with its ominous weather and the even more ominous dreams of main character Ethan Wate – so it may be easy to make it into a great movie.
Here’s the scoop: Beautiful Creatures, out February 13, 2013. Who’s in it? This, I know, is key. Whose faces are going to take on the faces of the book characters you love? Ethan, our heart-throbby Southern misanthrope, will be played by relative unknown Alden Ehrenreich. He’s a little older than 16-year-old Ethan, so we’ll see if that truly works. Pale, mysterious, and beautiful Lena will be played by Alice Englert, another pretty unknown actress, hailing from New Zealand. The most well-known star to be seen in the cast is Emmy Rossum, of Phantom of the Opera fame, as Lena’s bad-girl cousin, Ridley. Also, Jeremy Irons will be Gatlin’s spooky-creepy Macon Ravenwood.
In advance of the movie, why not prowl the internet for all things Beautiful Creatures, re-read the books, and read other books that are similar, until you are well and truly excited!
- Start with author Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s website. Here, you can learn all about the writing duo, plus link to more info on the books.
- There are killer trailers and sneak peeks at the official website for the movie.
- Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird? There’s not a lot of thematic or plot overlap (besides the element of overcoming prejudice) in that American classic and the Beautiful Creatures series, but it is the book that Ethan Wate refers to in the beginning of Beautiful Creatures. Read it and get closer to Mr. Wate…
- And speaking of novels set in the south, check out some other Southern Gothics, like Texas Gothic and The Splendor Falls, both by Rosemary Clement-Moore, both of which feature characters with startling supernatural ability. Dying for more on the supernatural (and you know there’s no shortage of that!)? Go to The Calling by Kelley Armstrong and Misfit by Jon Skovron.
Every year, when they are determining who wins the big prizes like the Newbery Award and the Caldecott Medal and the Printz Award, the committees of readers (made up of librarians, teachers, reviewers, etc) also determine some other important lists. One of these is the Alex Awards, which is an award given to ten great books originally published for adults that have special appeal to teen audiences. Why is this important? Because you don’t just read what’s in the YA section, of course! Often, the books that win the Alex Award feature teenage protagonists or are about topics that are particularly important to teens. And they always represent a great variety of great books!
So here are this year’s (2013) 10 best adult books for teen audiences, the Alex Award Winners:
Caring is Creepy by David Zimmerman – a dark story about twisted love.
Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman – an intricately told story of a girl growing up in poverty and hard times.
Juvenile in Justice by Richard Ross – a moving photo-documentary of juvenile incarceration centers.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – a geek-tastic fantasy of sorts involving a curious bookshop and the technology wiz who finds himself unraveling its secrets while working there.
My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf – comics artist Backderf relates his life story, as a classmate of the infamous serial killer Jeffery Dahmer, in this graphic novel.
One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard – a classic and true baseball story about a small town Illinois team that made it big.
Pure by Julianna Baggott - a post-apocalyptic/dystopian title to extend your obsession with those.
The Round House by Louise Erdrich – also a National Book Award winner, and technically part of a trilogy set on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota, this is simply an incredible story.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt – a story about family ties, love, and loss.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple – a funny mystery about Bee’s crazy mom, Bernadette, who goes missing.
Today is the day that the Youth Media Awards – overall term for all the awards given to books/audiobooks/films for kids and teens – are announced for the year! Every award has different criteria, and they’re all pretty interesting in their own right, but what really matters when it comes down to it is which titles and authors of great things from the last 12 months were honored this year. Here’s a look at several of the biggest YA awards, honoring literature, audiobooks, debut books, and non-fiction created with teen readers in mind.
This year’s Printz goes to a relative underdog: In Darkness by Nick Lake. Set in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, this book is told from the point of view of Shorty, a teenager trapped under the rubble of a hospital, through flashbacks to his life growing up in the poor slums of Site Soleil. Partly historical fiction – Shorty’s visions while he is struggling to stay alive tell the story of the rebellion that freed Haiti from French rule in 1804 – and partly a socio-politically driven story of the current situation in Haiti, this is a dark and moving story worth reading.
(HONORS were given to: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Dodger by Terry Pratchett, and another not-widely-read book, The White Bicycle by Beverly Brenna.)
for best audiobook produced for children or young adults
The Odyssey is a cool award, honoring audiobooks for kids/teens that are well-produced (i.e. great sound quality) and well-narrated. How much does it suck to listen to a badly narrated book?!
This year’s winner is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, narrated by Kate Rudd (produced by Brilliance Audio). If you have not listened to this audiobook, do so immediately, even if you’ve read the book several times, because Rudd completely embodies Green’s way of storytelling. She just IS Hazel!
William C. Morris Award
for debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens
The only thing to say about this one is that it is an AWESOME book if you’re at all into science, spies, American history, WWII history, or just really good stories.
More on other 2013 award winners in the next few days!
This week I picked out three new books – new books that are just DYING to be taken home and read – that are all about chance encounters and are all very different from each other. Don’t you just love that as a plot element? Think about it: The Fault in Our Stars, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Shine by Lauren Myracle…the list of books that hinge on wonderful chance encounters between two characters is practically endless! But then I started thinking, in some ways, aren’t all books about chance encounters in some ways? That’s deep.
Sid has grown up happy in a quiet, contented sort of way, on a remote island with loving foster parents who have never made him long for his real parents. When Fariza, a new young girl arrives and becomes part of his foster family, things begin to change for Sid. Then, in the midst of an otherwise normal summer, a stranger lands on the island with something to say. Sid’s mother and a half-brother he is just now learning about, have gone missing and he is compelled to help find them and reconnect with the family he might wish he never had.
Sneak Peek! ” Sid, this is Fariza.” Sid looks up at the sound of Megan’s voice. She is standing in the kitchen doorway, her hand resting lightly on a little girl’s head.” (Text copyright © 2012 Sarah N. Harvey)
Amateur photographer Sara thinks she is just accompanying her father on a totally regular trip to New York City until Sam wanders in front of her camera lens. Intrigued by his strangeness, she agrees to accompany him as he wanders around the city on a series of missions, trading information and items for others. Along the way during their day-long journey around the city, they meet artists and other interesting people. Sara’s world is undeniably altered…
Sneak Peek! “I shouldn’t have noticed him. I wasn’t even looking in his direction at first.” (Text copyright © 2012 Colored Paper Clips)
At first glance, this title might sound like a pretty boring name for a memoir. Author Wes Moore discovers himself? Actually, it’s more interesting than that. By chance, author Wes Moore discovered another person with the same name as him, but a very different story. The author’s life wasn’t perfect: his father died, a move to a new city shook him up and he started skipping school and getting into trouble, but thanks to his own determination and his mother’s hard work and love, he excelled in life. When he was a successful senior in college, he read about a man named Wes Moore who was serving a life sentence for murder. Moore realized the story could have been his own. He contacted him and so began a strange friendship.
Sneak Peek! “Nikki and I were chasing each other around the living room. Every time she caught me I’d scream, but I loved every second. I was three.” (Text copyright © 2012 Wes Moore)
How about looking at some books that really have guys’ interests at heart? I mean, not every book out there has to involve a love triangle.
In a bleak war-ridden future world: Nik is a high school student destined for greatness as a member of ISIS, the Internal Security and Intelligence Services. But when Nik is passed over, his life changes tracks. Soon, his best friend Sol has gone missing, and Nik is on the hunt, even if it means crossing over from the relative safety of Cityside into the dangerous outside world of the Southside. But ISIS is also on the hunt, for Nik.
You might remember Will Carter from Carter Finally Gets It and Carter’s Big Break. Here he is in his sophomore year at Merrian High, without having learned much from the previous year’s hilarious and socially disastrous events. Carter’s on the bench for football, in a state of confusion over his on-again off-again girlfriend, and primed and ready for a fight with just-out-of-juvie Scary Terry Moss. Brilliantly funny.
Set in a future less bleak but just as divided as that of The Bridge, this story is a gripping thrill ride. The privileged Citizens and struggling Outsiders of future London live completely separately. The government, run by the Citizens, is not a friendly one, but Hunter has to live with it since his father works for them. When Hunter meets, and soon teams up with, Outsider Uma, he is awoken to the secret world of the Outsiders.
The new year is off to a roaring start, but there is still time to pause and think about the best of YA lit in 2012! In fact, there’s never a better time to think about the best books of the year than early January. The Youth Media Awards – a series of book awards including the Newbery and Caldecott medals – are named every January and Milwaukee County Teen Book Award voting is also underway.
If you’re like me, you might find yourself wondering what awesomeness you missed during the previous year. No matter how hard you try, you’re bound to miss some of the best books just because they’re always checked out, you’re busy finishing a series you’re in love with, or you’re on a genre kick and just can’t get out of it. It’s not too late! The wordle above is a really fun look at the most talked-about YA books published in the previous year. Take a look, see which ones you haven’t heard of, and get reading. BONUS: many of these are also nominees for the MCTBA, so the more you read, the better you can vote!