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Happy Book Birthday

24 Aug

On Tuesday, along with other members of the Beaverton Education Association executive board members, I attended a district event for new teachers. We greeted them, provided coffee, snacks and swag, and our president told them about how the union works. While handing out swag, we veteran teachers reminisced about teachers we’d mentored and how we feel like part of their family.

It is not unlike being a member of YALSA’s William C. Morris Committee. I feel as though I have a connection to the five authors we chose as finalists, and that is why I am excited to tell you that it is the book birthday of one of those authors.

Stephanie Oakes’ second novel, The Arsonist,  was released this week!

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Publisher’s Summary: Code Name Verity meets I Am the Messenger in this riveting YA novel from Morris Award finalist Stephanie Oakes, in which three points of view are woven together in a story that’s part Cold War mystery, part contemporary coming-of-age, and completely unputdownable.

This is a complex story. As each character narrates, your mind is trying to figure out how it all works. Oakes is crafty, telling us just enough from one character’s point of view in a chapter, then switching to another – a move that kept me reading.
Like her previous book, The Secret Lies of Minnow Bly,  the ending isn’t necessarily a happy one. But it is maybe the most realistic outcome we can hope for in a work of fiction.
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The Upsides of Summer Vacation

29 Jun

Of course, having unlimited free time is one of the best upsides of summer vacation. There are other perks – few responsibilities, unlimited walks with Lucy, puttering about in the morning. The greatest upside is unlimited reading time. Ah, sweet summer reading! My local public library, like many nowadays, has a summer reading program for adults, too.

I’ve mentioned before that 4 of the 5 Morris finalists my committee selected have books coming out this year. So far, I have only read one of the 4, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, but I now possess the other 3.

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Publisher’s Summary: From the award-winning author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda comes a funny, authentic novel about sisterhood, love, and identity.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

Molly is a real “every teen” – just an ordinary girl with no super powers, unless you count cookie dough. The book maintains the same lively tone we encountered in Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda without seeming repetitive or trite.

Anticipation…..

2 Dec

A year ago, I blogged about the books the 2016 William C. Morris YA Debut finalists. I was excited to be part of that committee and the thrill of meeting these finalists was inexplicable.

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Our serious photo: committee in back, authors in front

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Our celebratory photo

I have been anxiously scanning my news feeds for news about this year’s finalists. I know their announcement will come any day now, as will the announcement of the finalists for the YA nonfiction award.

I have been following the authors of the five books we chose as finalists and am excitedly awaiting the publication of their next novels. Let me tell you a bit about what each of them has been up to, in alphabetical order by title.

Leah Thomas, author of Because You’ll Never Meet Me has written a sequel which is due for publication in February 2017.

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Publisher Summary:Following up her acclaimed debut, Because You’ll Never Meet Me, Leah Thomas continues the stories of Ollie and Moritz in another heart-warming story of unique friendship.

Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their friendship knows no bounds. Their letters carry on as Ollie embarks on his first road trip away from the woods–no easy feat for a boy allergic to electricity–and Moritz decides which new school would best suit an eyeless boy who prefers to be alone.

Along the way they meet other teens like them, other products of strange science who lead seemingly normal lives in ways Ollie and Moritz never imagined possible: A boy who jokes about his atypical skeleton; an aspiring actress who hides a strange deformity; a track star whose abnormal heart propels her to victory. Suddenly the future feels wide open for two former hermits. But even as Ollie and Moritz dare to enjoy life, they can’t escape their past, which threatens to destroy Following up her acclaimed debut, Because You’ll Never Meet Me, Leah Thomas continues the stories of Ollie and Moritz in another heart-warming story of unique friendship.

Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their friendship knows no bounds. Their letters carry on as Ollie embarks on his first road trip away from the woods–no easy feat for a boy allergic to electricity–and Moritz decides which new school would best suit an eyeless boy who prefers to be alone.

She has also recently submitted another novel which she calls an “alien parasite family drama”.

Kelly Loy Gilbert, author of Conviction, has a forthcoming novel entitles Nothing Gold Can Stay. It is about a Chinese-American boy who uses research from his physicist father’s past to find his estranged sister on the other side of the country, a search which puts his undocumented parents at risk for deportation. I couldn’t find a cover or an anticipated release date, but keep your eyes open for it.

Becky Albertallli,the 2016 winner, has been hard at work on some sequels to Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda. The first  will be out in April 2017.

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Publisher Summary: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

Stephanie Oakes, author of The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, has also been busy writing. Her next book is due out in August 2017.

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Publisher’s Summary: Molly Mavity is not a normal teenage girl. For one thing, her father is a convicted murderer, and his execution date is fast approaching. For another, Molly refuses to believe that her mother is dead, and she waits for the day when they’ll be reunited . . . despite all evidence that this will never happen.

Pepper Yusef is not your average teenage boy. A Kuwaiti immigrant with epilepsy, serious girl problems, and the most useless seizure dog in existence, he has to write a series of essays over the summer . . . or fail out of school.

And Ava Dreyman—the brave and beautiful East German resistance fighter whose murder at seventeen led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall—is unlike anyone you’ve met before.

When Molly gets a package leading her to Pepper, they’re tasked with solving a decades-old mystery: find out who killed Ava, back in 1989. Using Ava’s diary for clues, Molly and Pepper realize there’s more to her life—and death—than meets the eye. Someone is lying to them. And someone out there is guiding them along, desperate for answers.

And, Last but not least, Anna-Marie McLemore, author of The Weight of Feathers, has also been writing up a storm. Her second novel was published in October.

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Publisher’s Summary:To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

She also has another book coming out in September 2017. No cover reveal yet, but here is a summary of Wild Beauty.

For generations, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant visitors from around the world. But for as long as their family has had a gift for flowers, the women have also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, the men they love vanish. Felipe Montego knows that legacy better than anyone. Ten years ago, his brother disappeared, and La Pradera left a curse on Fel that’s slowly been killing him ever since. Fel’s last chance to save himself is through Estrella, the rebellious Nomeolvides girl who defies both her family and the estate’s owners. But the closer they grow, the more they learn that La Pradera is as treacherous as it is magical, and that it’s bound them together in ways that grow more dangerous every day.

These five authors will always have a special place in my heart and I am excited to follow their careers.

 

YALSA’s The Hub 2016 Reading Challenge Begins!

25 Jan

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Let the Challenge Begin!

It’s time to kickoff the 2016 Hub reading challenge! This challenge is intended to encourage librarians, library workers, and YA lit enthusiasts to dive into the award winner and honor books and YALSA selected lists with the hope of providing excellent readers’ advisory and even discovering a new favorite title or exploring a genre outside of your comfort zone.

Eligible books are the YA titles that were named winners or honor titles the following award and selected lists:

This year, based on feedback, they’ve expanded the eligible list of titles to include all YA literature recognized by any ALA division, including:

I am very excited to see the addition on the Amelia Bloomer list.

How to Participate

  • Declare your intentions in a comments on this post.
  • Read 25 of the selected titles to complete the challenge, or the entire list to conquer it.
  • Every Sunday,THE HUB will publish a check-in post. Leave a comment to talk about what you’re reading for the challenge. If you’ve reviewed those titles somewhere online, include links to those reviews!
  • There will be an finisher form embedded in each check-in post, so once you’re done with the challenge, fill out the form with your name and contact information. This is how you’ll receive your Finisher’s Badge, how you’ll be contacted about your reader’s response, and how you’ll be entered into the drawing for the grand prize. Please fill out the form only once.

Guidelines

  • Format matters: a title that has been recognized for both the print version and the audiobook version can be both read and listened to and count as two books, but a book that has won multiple awards or appears on multiple lists in the same format only counts as one title.
  • Books must be read/listened to (both begun and finished) since the award winners and selected lists have been released and 11:59pm EST on June 23. If you’ve already read/listened to a title, you must re-read/listen to it for it to count. The only exception is for titles you read for the Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge; whether or not you finished that challenge, you may count that reading toward your 25 titles.
  • Just about everyone who doesn’t work for ALA is eligible to participate. Non-ALA/YALSA members are eligible. Teens are eligible. Non-US residents/citizens are eligible. (More eligibility questions? Leave a comment or email us.)

#alama16: O the joy!

12 Jan

I was awake for 23 hours yesterday, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

It was my last day in Boston at the 106 ALA Midwinter Meeting, and it was THE day: the day of the  Youth Media Awards. A year’s worth of work distilled to a moment in time.

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I got up at 5 to get ready, check out of my hotel and be at the Convention Center for our 6:20 Morris Committee photo. I can tell you now that we had called our winner Saturday afternoon, but other committees called that morning and were very excited. We were a little more subdued.

After a visit to Starbucks we went to the ballroom, where the giant line had started forming. I can’t deny that I felt a little smug that I didn’t have to line up. Committee members get reserved seating at the front.

Oh, but there was a buzz in the air. Such excitement and anticipation. Just as things got started, the emotion of it all got to me and  got a  little teary-eyed. Then, I puled myself together  as the first announcements began.

When our award came up, you cold feel the nine of us tense up. Would people like our decision? As the names of our five finalists were read, I gauged the audience reaction on the applause-o-meter in my head. And the roar of the audience when it was announced was a huge relief.It was amazing to see my name up there alongside the names of people I have come to consider friends.

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The awards ended and about an hour later, we had round 2: The Morris and YA nonfiction awards ceremony. We moseyed over to that room, so far away it felt like we should leave a trail of breadcrumbs, to get things set up.

Here is the unexpected thing. I knew the job of my committee was to pick the best YA debuts published in 2015. I knew this was important in the careers of these young writers. I didn’t realize the emotional impact t would have on all of the.

Four of the five finalists were present. Kelly Loy Gilbert is at the stage in her pregnancy when she is not allowed to fly, so she appeared by video. Ana-Marie McLemore was the first speaker up and the honesty and self-reflection she put into the few minutes of her speech had me teary-eyed. Stephanie Oakes went next and by then, there were full on tears. Leah Gilbert started off with humor, as she does in her book, then got me weepy again. By the time Becky Albertalli, got up, I felt as though I’d been through an emotional wringer.

The publishers had arranged a “champagne and canapés” party for the committee and the authors, because, although we’d spent months reading and taking their books apart, we hadn’t really met them. It was wonderful because, again, they all shared how much this genuinely meant to them.

From there, I was off to the airport. I got there early, but I was so emotionally drained by that time, I was happy to sit for a while and just watch people.  Our flight boarded on time.  When I was finally seated and ready to just reflect on the wonder and emotion of the day, the fight attendant announced that because of some soccer person (who I think might have been on our flight) every passenger over the age of 21 could get a free drink. The icing on the cake.

I arrived home around one this morning and will go pick Lucy up shortly. I go back to work tomorrow. My life is returning to its normal rhythm and hum, but the emotion and excitement of the last few days will stay with me forever.

 

 

#alamw16 Youth Awards Eve

11 Jan

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Day 3 opened with a 6:45 breakfast hosted by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group (MCPG). Thanks goodness it took place in my hotel so I got up later than people coming from other hotels. There was a lovely breakfast spread with lots of choices, followed by presentations by the editorial directors of MCPG’s imprints

Farrar, Strauss and Giroux

Feiwel and Friends

Swoon Reads

Henry Holt

Roaring Book Press

First Second

Upon exiting we were given a lovely bags of arcs making for a very worthwhile morning out. I went straight back to my room and packed up the books I wanted to send home and walked over to the post office in the exhibition hall.

The hall seemed really empty when I arrived. When I got to the post office, there was no one there, which was quite a change from the summer when I waited over an hour in line. Funnily enough, when I got up to the counter, I commented on the absence of others and the clerk replied that they weren’t really open yet, but would take care of me. I asked the time and was surprised to discover it was only 8:50. I hadn’t checked the time and assumed it was later that it was.

I had planned to spend the rest of the day as tourist, exploring Boston, but it was raining sideways so I decided that I’d sit in on a few sessions then go back to the hotel for a break.

After resting, I changed clothes for my evening event, but ventured back to the convention center for one sore session with 2017 debut authors. It was interesting but a little sad, because the 2017 Morris  committee  is tasked with reading and thinking about these authors.

From there, I went to another MCPG event at a restaurant called The Merchant.

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This was a small event with the MCPG editors and directors interspersed with the people from various committees. we had a choice of salads (mixed greens or arugula) and main courses (beef, chicken or swordfish). I had the swordfish. It was all followed by strawberry shortcake. The food was delicious but the conversation was fantastic.

I was home by 9:30 to pack and get ready for tomorrow. The Morris Committee has to be at the convention Center for a group photo at 6:20. That means I have to check out by 6:00. Monday is pretty much booked with Morris related activities until 3, then I go to the airport.

I hope you take the time to watch the live webcast of the Youth Media Awards. they start at 8:00 AM ET today. If you live on the west coast and can’t watch live you can watch the rebroadcast later.

#alamw16 Mum’s the Word

10 Jan

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Although I am generally a morning person, I got rolling slowly Saturday morning. I got up at 7:00, but my body is still on West Coast time, so it felt as though I was getting up at 4:00.

Once I left the hotel, I made my way over to the Exhibit Hall and, before I knew it, I had a bag full of books. Thank goodness it is s quick trip to the hotel and back. I dropped off the books before heading out for lunch before going to the Morris Committee meeting.

Although I’d run into a couple of the other committee members Friday evening, this was the first time we’d all been together since June. After some catching up we jumped right in. I can;t say anything about what happened inside the room except that I had a really enjoyable time discussing the merits and faults of each book and we made a decision. Now, I have to stay quiet until Monday. I feel as though I want to burst, but mum’s the word.

 

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