Tag Archives: Stephanie Oakes

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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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.

 

#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.

 

 

Re-reading

17 Dec

Like the students I teach, I’m rereading a lot right now. They are rereading Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” and  The Call of the Wild. We hit literary essay writing pretty hard the last few weeks, so, instead of having them write a paper, they are creating an info graphic to compare and contrast the two stories.  Core 1 cheered when I told them. They are drawing and cutting and leafing through both stories, looking for their text evidence.

I’m rereading the 2016 William C. Morris YA  Debut Award Finalists.

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It’s only three weeks until I leave for Boston, where the committee will choose the best of these five to win the award. If you haven’t read them yet, take some time over the break (if you get one) and read them because they are all fantastic.

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda written by Becky Albertalli, published by Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
  • Conviction written by Kelly Loy Gilbert, published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group
  • The Weight of Feathers written by Anna-Marie McLemore, published by Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press
  • The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly written by Stephanie Oakes, published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers
  • Because You’ll Never Meet Me written by Leah Thomas, published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

 

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