Blog Archives

Realized that All the Bright Places won’t be…

Realized that All the Bright Places won’t be published until January ’15! Have to stop reading it and moved on to something different: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater which just came out a couple of days ago. And also finishing Glass Casket.

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July 3, 2014 · 12:56 pm

I had the most fun in Las Vegas…

I had the most fun in Las Vegas with the Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) committee — discussing books in an intellectually invigorating and extremely civilized fashion. Here’s the list of titles we delved quite deeply into:

Alexander, Kwame
Almond, David
Anderson, Laurie Halse
Armentrout, Jennifer
Bedford, Martyn
Blankman, Anne
Brown, Jennifer
Brown, Skila
Burgess, Melvin
Carleson, J.C.
Colbert, Brandy
Combs, Sarah
Dellaira, Ava
Fredericks, Mariah
Giles, Lamar
Green, Sally
Han, Jenny
Hattemer, Kate
Herbach, Geoff
Hubbard, Jenny
Johnston, E.K.
Kephart, Beth
Kiely, Brendan
LaCour, Nina
Lockhart, E.
Maciel, Amanda
Oliver, Lauren
Paige, Danielle
Philbrick, Rodman
Reinhardt, Dana
Reynolds, Jason
Rutkoski, Marie
Shepherd, Megan
Shinoda, Anna
Smith, Andrew
Smith, Jennifer E.
Smith, Lindsay
Strasser, Todd
Taylor, Laini
Templeman, McCormick
Venkatraman, Padma
Vlahos, Len
Waller, Sharon Biggs
Walton, Leslye
Whaley, John Corey
Crossover
The True Tale of Monster Billy Dean
The Impossible Knife of Memory
Don’t Look Back: You Won’t Like What You Find
Never Ending
Prisoner of Night and Fog
Torn Away
Caminar
The Hit
The Tyrant’s Daughter
Pointe
Breakfast Served Anytime
Love Letters to the Dead
Season of the Witch
Fake ID
Half Bad
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy
Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders
And We Stay
The Story of Owen: Dragonslayer of Troneheim
Going Over
The Gospel of Winter
Everything Leads to You
We Were Liars
Tease
Panic
Dorothy Must Die
Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina
We Are the Goldens
When I Was the Greatest
The Winner’s Curse
Her Dark Curiosity
Learning Not to Drown
Grasshopper Jungle
The Geography of You and Me
Sekret
No Place
Dreams of Gods and Monsters
The Glass Casket
A Time to Dance
The Scar Boys
A Mad, Wicked Folly
The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Noggin

On Saturday afternoon, local teens came and gave their feedback. The ones that got the most support are:

Grasshopper Jungle, Tyrant’s Daughter, When I Was the Greatest, A Mad Wicked Folly, and Noggin.

About half of the titles on the list received more than 9 YES votes at the informal straw poll. As a collective, even when we have drastically different opinions, all well substantiated, we should be able to offer the world a solid slate of high quality BEST FICTION of 2014 (BFYA 2015) in early February!

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July 2, 2014 · 1:53 pm

Currently reading All the Bright Places by Jennnifer…

Currently reading: All the Bright Places by Jennnifer Niven (galley)

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July 2, 2014 · 10:06 am

Since last update finished Tease The Vigilante Poets…

Since last update: finished — Tease, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, Never Ending, Crosscover, Prisoner of Night and Fog, Lover Letters to the Dead, Winner’s Curse, Going Over, The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim, Breakfast Served Anytime, Fake ID, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Gospel of Winer, We Are the Goldens, No Place, A Time to Dance, The Scar Boys, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

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July 2, 2014 · 10:05 am

Since last update finished Half Bad Her Dark…

Since last update: finished – Half Bad, Her Dark Curiosity, A Mad Wicked Folly, Caminar, Noggin, When I Was the Greatest, Torn Away, Don’t Look Back. Reading now: Tease and The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy

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June 17, 2014 · 3:30 pm

Don’t have time to post detailed summaries about…

Don’t have time to post detailed summaries about the books I’m reading — too many to catch up before Annual at Vegas. Finished: Dorothy Must Die, Fat Boy vs. the Cheearleaders, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, The Hit, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, Panic, The Tyrant’s Daughter.

Currently reading: Her Dark Curiosity and Half Bad

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June 7, 2014 · 1:44 pm

It dawned on me just now that this…

It dawned on me just now that this is the first ALA media evaluation committee that I have served that asks me to compare mostly apples to apples. The books are all written with a teen audience in mind, they are all fiction, with (for the most part) common elements such as characterization, thematic development, plotting and pacing, etc., and in some cases they are even telling the same stories. Both Newbery and Notable Children’s Books committees demanded the members to examine a wide range of different kinds of books and with developmentally diverse audiences. BFYA asks for something different.

On the one hand, it can be tedious — especially because there are always trending or tried-and-true high concepts that turn many books into clones of each other — reading nothing but fiction titles for teens. On the other hand, it is a different kind of examination: very much like English Lit. classes or the Young Adult Lit. classes which I enjoyed tremendously in college and grad school. I can really sink my teeth deeply into figuring out why one author’s handling of a particular character is just more appealing or convincing or moving than the next author; how does one author pace the actions more effectively and keep the readers’ interest high while another author manages to lose the grip on her readers; and how consistent and appropriate a particular narrative device (present tense/police report/multiple perspectives/unreliable narrator/verses, etc.) is employed, etc.

Too many books to read, too little time. But at least now I feel that I have a slight understanding of how I should approach all the reading henceforth.

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June 6, 2014 · 9:52 pm

I should not have been surprised but nonetheless…

I should not have been surprised but nonetheless am stunned at how many characters (in the recent YA books I have read) who are portrayed as beautiful/good looking/gorgeous/handsome/pretty whose first and often most prominently described feature is “blue eyes” or “green eyes” or any variations of these two colors (emerald, icy blue, baby blue, deep blue, deep lake, etc.) Enough that when I read about the beauty of a pair of dark brown eyes I let out an audible hoot!

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May 26, 2014 · 10:15 am

Reading The Impossible Knife of Memory I have…

Reading The Impossible Knife of Memory. I have not posted for more than a month — traveling back to Taiwan, re-reading stuff for a Quiz Show at school (Golden Compass, Wizard of Oz, Hobbit,) and recovering from jetlag and dealing with many special events at work — ALL great stuff, but preventing me from reading new YA’s which I really should have been doing. Definitely getting back on track now — And probably will not post too much 2015 BFYA here since there is an internal discussion board that’s wonderful and with intelligent and heated debate from my committee members and I’ll most likely be working THERE instead.

For those of you who are interested in seeing the current BFYA Nominated List, go here: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/bfya-nominations. Some really great reads.

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April 12, 2014 · 1:56 pm

Reading David Almond’s newest offering The True Tale…

Reading David Almond’s newest offering: The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean: telt by hisself.

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March 1, 2014 · 11:44 pm

Reading Don’t Even Think About It by…

Reading “Don’t Even Think About It” by Sarah Mlynowski and finally spelled her last name right.

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February 24, 2014 · 8:41 pm

The CYBILS Awards results are out http www…

The CYBILS Awards results are out! http://www.cybils.com/2014/02/the-2013-cybils-awards.html I served on the panel for the Graphic Novels (both MG and YA) short lists and am SO pleased to see that Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite Barry Deutsch and Templar by Jordan Mechner won in their respective categories. The other titles in the graphic novels shortlists are also really strong. 2013 was a great year for GNs and it felt like the Children’s and Young Adults’ GN field has finally matured!

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February 21, 2014 · 12:34 pm

Continue interesting discussion over on ccbc net re…

Continue interesting discussion over on ccbc-net re character ethnicities in children’s / YA books. And here’s a little rant I just posted there:

Also re Hunger Games — There’s always the discussion over Katniss’s ethnicity — she’s described as having “olive skin” and dark hair, eyes, etc. while her mother and Prim are fair haired and blue eyed. Does that indicate that she’s mix-raced? Does anyone know how Suzanne Collins envisioned her? What is Olive skin, anyway? Light or dark brown cured in a barrell? Green on the tree? Black in a can? Can we all just agree that this is a useless descriptor and toss it out of the window as of Feb. 2014?

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February 4, 2014 · 11:18 am

According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center CCBC…

According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), of the 3200 children’s books they received/categorized in the year 2013, the multicultural “picture” looks like this:

(I added the %’s)
BUT — this is presuming that all children’s books are somewhat “ethnicity” based — which, I imagine, is FAR from the truth — there must have been plenty of story books with spiders, frogs, pigs, chickens, etc. as “characters” or “topics” and nonfiction books on neurosciences, soccer techniques, buildings, chemistry 101, etc.

So, I’m going to wait for more detailed numbers from CCBC (if they keep count…to update my percentages and analysis.) — SECOND VERSION of this post.

• 93 books had significant African or African American content <– less than 3%
• 67 books were by Black authors and/or illustrators <– 2%
(While the population of African Americans were around 12.6 % in the 2010 Census — fcl.)
(More books ABOUT African American topics or people than BY African American authors)
(If to reflect the population closely, there should have been about 500 books either about or by…)

• 33 books had American Indian themes, topics, or characters <– 1%
• 18 books were by American Indian authors and/or illustrators <– 0.5%
(While the population of Native Americans were around 0.9% in the 2010 Census — fcl.)
(More books ABOUT American Indian topics or people than BY Native American authors)
(percentage-wise, there are more books about Native American topics than the percentage of the population.)
(If to reflect the population closely, there should have been about 32 books either about or by…)

• 58 books had significant Asian/Pacific or Asian/Pacific American content <– 2%
• 85 books were by authors and/or illustrators of Asian/Pacific heritage <– 2.5%
(While the population of Asian/Pacific Island Americans were around 4.8 %)
(More books BY Asian American authors than ABOUT Asian American topics or people.)
(If to reflect the population closely, there should have been about 150 books either about or by…)

• 57 books had significant Latino content <– 1.8 %
• 48 books were by Latino authors and/or illustrators <– 1.5%
(While the population of Latino Americans were around 16.4 % in the 2010 Census — fcl.)
(More books ABOUT Latino American topics or people than BY Latino American authors.)
(If to reflect the population closely, there should have been about 500 books either about or by…)

Thinking about making an infograph to show the percentages and not just the raw numbers. — FIRST VERSION OF THIS POST

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February 3, 2014 · 9:43 pm

So and 8th grade boy just came to…

So… and 8th grade boy just came to me with URGENT matters to discuss:

The ending of Amberspy Glass.

I could tell that he was highly affected by the trilogy and we parsed out the religious messages and the sorrow of the bench scene… and he is going on with my recent recommendation of the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix now… Ah…. this is WHY I LOVE MY JOB!!!

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February 3, 2014 · 6:19 pm

Listening to The Goldfinch and started reading Far…

Listening to The Goldfinch and started reading Far From You by Tess Sharpe. Also borrowed Saga II from NYPL. A good story Sunday.

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January 19, 2014 · 12:05 pm

Finished We Were Liars Moving on to A…

Finished We Were Liars. Moving on to A Matter of Souls.

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January 3, 2014 · 12:11 pm

Continue reading as many graphic novels as I…

Continue reading as many graphic novels as I physically can! Really enjoyed the little volume of Mameshiba short stories. And contemplating on the graphic novels publishing world — the major children’s books houses vs. the major comic books publishers. (Graphix – Scholastic, FirstSecond – Macmillan, for example, and Viz, Image, Dark Horse, DC, Marvel, etc.)

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December 10, 2013 · 10:03 pm

Congrats to Cynthia Kadohata for her book The…

Congrats to Cynthia Kadohata for her book The Thing About Luck winning the Young Readers fiction category at National Book Awards!

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November 21, 2013 · 10:35 pm

In the middle of Fangirl It’s a lot…

In the middle of Fangirl. It’s a lot less fun and a lot more serious (and angsty) than I was expecting.

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November 9, 2013 · 8:49 pm