Tag Archives: Laini Taylor

Oregon Book Award Finalists – The YA Edition

31 Jan
The Oregon Book Awards honor the finest accomplishments by Oregon writers who work in genres of poetry, fiction, graphic literature, literary nonfiction, and literature for young readers.You can find out all the 2018 Oregon Book Awards finalists here. I have listed the LESLIE BRADSHAW AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE nominees below. Most of these are new titles to me – I have already placed them on hold.
The Oregon Book Award winners will be announced at the 31st annual Oregon Book Awards ceremony on Monday, April 30
LESLIE BRADSHAW AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE
 Judges: Rachel DeWoskin, Lamar Giles, Jennifer Longo
Kenn Amdahl of Eugene, Jumper and the Apple Crate (Clearwater Publishing Company)
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Kelly Garrett of Portland, The Last to Die (Poisoned Pen Press)
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Fonda Lee of Portland, Exo (Scholastic)
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Paula Stokes of Portland, This is How it Happened  (Harper Teen)
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Laini Taylor of Portland, Strange the Dreamer (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
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Strange the Dreamer

1 Jun

The title sounds Shakespearean, but it is simply the name of the main character. Strange is a dreamer. And so, in Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer,  that is what he is called.

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Publisher’s Summary: Twelve years ago, there was a war between gods and mortals…and the mortals won. The gods are gone–driven away–but they left something precious behind.

They left their children.

In the savagery of the war and its aftermath, the humans rounded up the half-caste bastard children of the gods, and put them to death.

But they missed a few.

Teenagers now, Sarai, Minya, Feral, Sparrow, and Ruby live in the gods’ citadel–full of power and with nothing to do, but survive.

Until one day…their life in hiding is threatened.

I loved Taylor’s  Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight,and Dreams of Gods and Monsters) so, when I heard she had something new in the works, I was very excited. I waited patiently and the wait was worth it.

She creates a new world, but one that feels familiar. Not like the worlds she created in her other books. Like them though, there is enough that is familiar to our world to make the story feel mythic. This is the first book in a duology, so I will have to wait to find out what ultimately happens.

The story unfolds slowly and it does drag in a few places, but the 544 pages were a pleasure to read. The book is shelved in YA and is one that I probably won’t put in my classroom library. Some themes are mature. My school library has the  Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, so, I suspect they will eventually have this one and I hope to talk about it with some of my mature readers next year. Or previous students I see carrying it in the hallway.

A really good book day

3 May

Not one but two author visits yesterday…along with some author spotting.

It all started with Victoria Jamieson’s visit to my school.

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I managed to sign up the day the email went out and was able to bring my whole class. She spoke a lot about how she wrote her graphic novel, Roller Girl,  which I can’t keep on the shelves of my classroom library. At the end of her presentation, she gave us some drawing tips and took questions.IMG_0663

The girl beside me looked like she wanted to ask something but didn’t know what to ask, so I whispered, “Ask what she is working on now.” She did and her face glowed when Victoria said, “Great question!” and proceeded to show us the galley of her newest graphic novel, full of sticky notes marking the corrections she has to make.

I went through the rest of my day, thinking about how I can now draw more expressive faces and happy in the knowledge that, that evening, I was going to see A. S. King.

Her visit was courtesy of Multnomah County Library and took place in the lovely Taborspace, not too far from my home.

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She started off by reading from Still Life With Tornado, then went on to make us laugh, cry and laugh some more. She is always a treat to see in person. I got a signed copy of Me and Marvin Gardens  for my personal library. My classroom already has a copy and it doesn’t stay on my shelves much either. She has another middle grade novel coming out in 2019, and I am excited about that, though sad I will have to wait.

The audience was small, but cozy, scattered as we were at cafe tables or in cozy arm chairs. The funny thing was, there were local authors in the audience. I recognized Laini Taylor (Strange the Dreamer and the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series) the moment she walked in by her highly recognizable pink hair. Cathy Camper (Lowriders series), one of the MCL librarians responsible for the event, was there. Rosanne Parry (Heart of a Shepherd, Turn of the Tide)  came too. Her middle grade novel, Turn of the Tide, is one of next year’s OBOB books for the 6-8 division.

All in all, it was a really great book day.

 

Celebrating Authors

24 May

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Nervous anticipation buzzed in the room as I entered. Children, with  proud parents nearby,  mingled around a table of cookies and juice, all clutching letters in their hands. They were the authors of the letters and tonight was the night of the 2016  Oregon Letters About Literature Awards. Three of my 6th graders were honorable mentions and this was an event I didn’t want to miss for the world.

They’d written the letters all the way back in December, writing to an author whose book had moved them to some new sort of understanding. I sent them to the Library of Congress, who sent the best back to Oregon for judging. And here we were, five months later, celebrating.

Fonda Lee, local author of Zeroboxer,  opened the event. I was interested as she told us about the books and authors who influenced her, and the writing partners and critique groups that made her a better writer. I got weepy as she shared the comments Holly Goldberg Sloan, Renee Watson and Laini Taylor with whom she shared the letters the three  First Place winners wrote to. Not ten minutes in and I was emotional!

Pride swelled as my first student stepped bravely to front to read her letter aloud. Her mother, sitting in the same aisle as me, was not the only parent recording her child last night.This girl was very poised and spoke in a clear, confident voice. I chuckled when  my second student , the one I think of as my poet, went up. Like the first student, she wore a black dress, but, in her own inimitable style, she had Converse on her feet. I watched her parents, beaming proudly as they held back tears.

I listened attentively as the other students read their letters, but for me, the best had been read. Driving home from the event, I reflected on how much all my students have grown as writers this year. It’s been a year of big changes for me, but, tonight, I know I have done a good job.

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Smokey detour

23 Aug

Yesterday the sky was eerie, due to wildfire smoke that was blown down the Columbia River Gorge and into Portland. It truly transformed the city. It also got me thinking about books with smoke on the cover, in pictures or words.

Although it is not smoke from a wildfire, the cover of Looking for Alaska by John Green is quite striking. This is my absolute favorite John Green novel. I loved TFIOS, but this one is even better!

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Publisher’s Summary: Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .

After. Nothing is ever the same.

Local author Laini Taylor captured my attention a few years ago with The Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

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Publisher’s summary: Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Ellen Hopkins followed up her novel in verse Burned, with a sequel entitled Smoke. 

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Burned: Seventeen-year-old Pattyn, the eldest daughter in a large Mormon family, is sent to her aunt’s Nevada ranch for the summer, where she temporarily escapes her alcoholic, abusive father and finds love and acceptance, only to lose everything when she returns home.

Smoke: After the death of her abusive father and loss of her beloved Ethan and their unborn child, Pattyn runs away, desperately seeking peace, as her younger sister, a sophomore in high school, also tries to put the pieces of her life back together.

Another great novel with a sequel comes from E. K  Johnston.

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The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim: In an alternate world where industrialization has caused many species of carbon-eating dragons to thrive, Owen, a slayer being trained by his famous father and aunt, and Siobahn, his bard, face a dragon infestation near their small town in Canada.

Prairie Fire: Every dragon slayer owes the Oil Watch a period of service, and young Owen was no exception. What made him different was that he did not enlist alone; his two closest friends stood with him shoulder to shoulder. Steeled by success and hope, the three were confident in their plan. But the arc of history is long and hardened by dragon fire… and try as they might, Owen and his friends could not twist it to their will. At least, not all the way…

The air in Portland smells a little less smokey this morning and the air should be clear sometime tomorrow. Fortunately, even after the smoke has cleared, we’ll still have these great books.

 

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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