Monday, January 31, 2011

Bitch Media's Got Something to Say About Teen Lit

UPDATE: Ok, so there's a bit of a kerfuffel about this list. Seems someone got offended by the inclusions of numbers 49, 69, and 83. The comment thread at the original link below has gotten CrAzY. Bitch Media (whom, it seems are lacking the backbone you usually find in those claiming such a descriptor), wishes to replace those three with a different three. I think the whole thing it quite ridiculous, although I recognize that their intentions are good, if wildly short-sighted and ill-informed. Their actions, while calling the worth of the list itself into question and screaming a passive sort of censorship, have also managed to piss off just about everyone in the YA Lit community. But it's just a list, and it's worth about as much as any such thing is. I, being contrary, am just as happy to have three titles to add to the list, as no, removing, isn't really the way to go here. Besides, it ups my numbers to 47 read out of 103. *grin*

Original post:

45. I'm a little appalled that I've only read 45 of Bitch Media's 100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader. Appalled, because this is clearly the most awesome list of titles ever compiled. They even pull out six super awesome titles for extra commentary. One of which is Tanita Davis' Mare's War. As if the list needed to be MOAR AWESOME.

Bold are the ones I've read.

1. Estrella’s QuinceaƱera by Malin Alegria
2. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
3. Choir Boy by Charlie Anders
4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
5. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
6. Alt Ed by Catherine Atkins
7. The Rhyming Season by Edward Averett
8. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
9. Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black
10. Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block
11. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
12. Forever by Judy Blume
13. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
14. Debbie Harry Sings in French by Meagan Brothers
15. All-American Girl by Meg Cabot
16. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
17. The Plain Janes by Cecil Castelluci and Jim Rugg
18. This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn by Aidan Chambers
19. Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You by Dorian Cirrone
20. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
21. Magic Knight Rayearth by CLAMP
22. Celine by Brock Cole
23. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
24. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
25. The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman
26. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
27. Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis
28. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
29. For the Win by Cory Doctorow
30. Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole
31. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
32. El Lector by William Durbin
33. The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake
34. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
35. Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn
36. Crossing Stones by Helen Frost
37. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
38. The Year They Burned the Books by Nancy Garden
39. Sticks and Stones by Beth Goobie
40. Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen Headley
41. Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
42. It’s Not What You Expect by Norma Klein
43. Uncommon Faith by Trudy Krisher
44. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
45. Toning the Sweep by Angela Johnson
46. The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
47. Another Kind of Cowboy by Susan Juby
48. White Sands, Red Menace by Ellen Klages
49. Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
50. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle
51. Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier
52. Voices by Ursula K. Le Guin
53. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
54. Gravity by Leanne Lieberman
55. Ash by Malinda Lo
56. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
57. Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
58. Sold by Patricia McCormick
59. The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
60. Thunder Over Kandahar by Sharon E. McKay
61. The Secret Under My Skin by Janet McNaughton
62. Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
63. Night Flying by Rita Murphy
64. Revenge by Taslima Nasrin
65. A Step from Heaven by An Na
66. Skip Beat! By Yosiki Nakamura
67. Simply Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (although I have read others in this series)
68. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
69. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
70. Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
71. Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters
72. Luna by Julie Anne Peters
73. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
74. Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce
75. What Happened to Lani Garver by Carol Plum-Ucci
76. Imani All Mine by Connie Rose Porter
77. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
78. The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
79. Beneath My Mother’s Feet by Amjed Qamar
80. The Sweet In-Between by Sheri Reynolds
81. Flygirl by Sherri Smith
82. Lucy the Giant by Sherri Smith
83. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
84. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
85. Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught
86. Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman
87. Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
88. Izzy, Willy-Nilly by Cynthia Voigt
89. Cress Delahanty by Jessamyn West
90. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
91. When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune by Lori Aurelia Williams
92. Blue Tights by Rita Williams-Garcia
93. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
94. Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger
95. Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff
96. The House You Pass on the Way by Jaqueline Woodson
97. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
98. When the Black Girl Sings by Bil Wright
99. Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
100. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

101. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
102. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
103. Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden

So, consider this a meme. Repost it at your site, and leave me a link in the comments. Or, just comment. No need to have a blog. Obviously.

What's the most shocking book on this list that I haven't read? What should I drop everything and Read. Now.? Forever? Make Lemonade? Izzy Willy-Nilly? Dangerous Angels?

Many thanks to the great Kelly Fineman for tweeting about this list!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Beautiful Between, or Rapunzel's on the Upper East Side

I like quiet books. Books that slip under the internet buzz, books that take their time, aren't splashy, and don't make a big fuss with outrageous plots, but that take you by surprise at how well they can speak to one small part of your soul or being, or the magical wonder juice that makes us all tick individually from each other. It's why I like Jenny Valentine so much.

We haven't seen Valentine's new books here in the states, yet, so I was looking for a fix. Alyssa B. Sheinmel's The Beautiful Between was just that. Quiet. Dreamy. Believably introspective. So, obviously it's got to be the one reviewed after Zombie Haiku. I gotta keep things balanced around here.

Connelly's content in the middle. She does exactly what she has to do not to get noticed, she speaks up, but only enough so that her silence doesn't mark her as a freak. She blends in with the mediocrity. She spends her idle moments fantasizing about the similarities between high school and fairy tales, quietly casting her peers in the classic stories. So, when the school prince, Jeremy Cole, proposes a tutoring trade with her (he'll help her with physics, she helps him with vocab), it's a little surprising. What's even more surprising is the interest he takes in her life - but there is a reason for his interest and when it turns out that Jeremy knows more about Connelly's father than she does, it throws her life and her past into a spiral that risks fractured relationships and has to end with major revelations.

The Beautiful Between was elegantly written, dripping with genuine emotion, and believable as a character-driven piece. The pace is steady, and it's short enough that you never get bored with it's thoughtfulness, or Connelly's introspection. The little bit of mystery helps propel both the reader and the protagonist forward.

The writing is lyrical, the story of loss is moving, and I will definitely keep an eye out for Sheinmel's next book, The Lucky Kind, due out in May.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mare's War Giveaway

Tanita Davis, a dear and beloved friend, has just received copies of the paperback version of her Coretta Scott King Honor-winning book Mare's War (is that cover not STUNNING?!).

She's giving away copies to the first 25 homeschoolers or homeschool-serving librarians to comment (read here). She's written also just written a teaching unit for teachers to use along with the book, so you should take a look at that.

If you count yourself of the legion of homeschoolers, definitely hie thee to her post!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Predictions, Now with Winners!

So I really did try to go to bed without posting my ALA youth media award predictions, but I couldn't do it... so... here ya go. And yes, I know none of you save possibly Tanita will read this before the announcement. I had to get it off my chest before I could sleep.

Newbery: I've only read Once Crazy Summer & Mockingbird, so I'm just going off of internet chatter, reviews, and colleague love for most of these. Oh, and the fact that I actually want to read the ones I haven't gotten to yet.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. Innocent but seeping with the flavor of a contentious time, Williams-Garcia does an excellent turn on 1969 and the Black Panther movement making it accessible for the audience. It's a little short on the reasons why Panthers were getting arrested, but since it's all from an 11-year-old's point of view, that might be forgivable. For slightly older students who are intruigued, don't forget about last year's excellent The Rock & the River by Kekla Magoon.

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine. The fact that this one won the National Book Award probably hurts it, but even given the fact that I'm completely over Autism/Asperger books, this one had me completely within it's charming grasp. This said, it's probably a shoo in for the Schneider.

Books getting the buzz, that I can't speak personally for:
The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan.
Countdown by Deborah Wiles.
Keeper by Kathi Appelt.
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Printz: Theoretically, the Printz should be easier for me to predict since I'm so much more familiar with it, but gosh, I'm just stabbing in the dark here. I wouldn't be surprised to see more science fiction and fantasy on the list here. The fact that I spend the last quarter of the year willfully and painfully ignoring SFF for the Cybils hurts me a little when SFF is strong. This said, if any of my Cybils YA Fiction titles made it, I'd be through the roof.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. The world-building and the voice are what stand out miles from the crowd here. The pacing is excellent, and it would certainly be a crowd pleaser if it made it in.

They Called Themselves the KKK by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. This is exquisitely done. Bartoletti manages to keep a completely objective tone, letting primary source documents speak for themselves. A few more facts on the KKK today would have been appreciated, but as for a historical account of this subject, I don't think there's anything better out there. It's immensely readable, and should be found in every library. I won't consider the Printz complete this year if this one isn't included.

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. I can't tell if this is eligible or not, and it's too late for me to be willing to research it, but in case it is... Since, I, personally, disliked it greatly, it's chances are good. I thought it dull and racked with pacing issues, but I appear to be the only one, so since those are my usual complaints about winners I don't like...

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. The seven stages of grief are worked through by this mean girl as she goes a bit Groundhog's Day with death. While I, personally, think it could have been a little shorter, especially in the beginning, what Oliver was able to do with character development deserves recognition. It's not a perfect book, but it's damn close.

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. I don't think that this one really breaks any special ground when it comes to epic fantasy, in fact, it might even be a little derivative. But people love it, and it's got healthy buzz. None of which actually means anything. I hated Jellicoe, but it won, so perhaps this author and I will just never get along.

Coretta Scott King:

Sweet, Hereafter by Angela Johnson. I can't tell you how much I loved this one. It's lyrical language and complicated structure begs a second or third read. It's not a bad bet for Printz, either. However, some do have issue with it's place as the last in a trilogy. I don't think it matters.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. As mentioned above.

Caldecott: I would say that the birth of my niece almost exactly a year ago means that I have more knowledge than usual in this category, and I've certainly read more this year than in a long time, but in reality, who ever knows? I also have to give props to my desk-mate Sarah Z., my children's librarian, who makes sure I see all the good stuff. I also might take a more populist view on the Caldecott. For that, I blame my short attention span. I think.

Art & Max by David Wiesner. It's never bad to bet on Wiesner, but with this one, I actually believe that the text detracts from the illustrations - to the extent that I believe they are unnecessary. That's the only thing I can think of that would keep this favorite from receiving yet another nod, 'cause the illustrations are mind-bending, beautiful, and full of personality.

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown. I have a real soft spot for this one. I can't but help get a kick out of it, and I totally dig the retro illustrations. They are spot on in tone and whimsy.

Chalk by Bill Thomson. This is a bit of a weird one, taking pages from both Wiesner and Van Allsburg, but the illustrations are truly remarkable as they slide from one style to the next.

Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World by Mac Barnett. This one is super fun. There's more of a plot than any of the other books I'm talking about here, and it's equally clever, thoughtful, and funny. The illustrations match it perfectly on those three counts with small details that will appeal both to the kids, and the reading adult.

Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton. I don't know that I actually expect this to make it on the list, but it is by and far my favorite picture book of the year, and since this is the absolute only time I talk about picture books on this blog, I'm mentioning it. Because if you DON'T already know this book, you simply must. Seriously.

Schneider Award: I always think it's odd that the Schneider only picks one book per age group. I don't think it would hurt them to toss off a few Honors now and again, but whatevs.

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly. It's probably too dark and racy for the committee, but it is an excellent portrayal of a teen with Asperger's where the disorder isn't really the issue. It's more just a quirk as she gets through a very normal life. Well, normal in the world of dark teen books.

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk. This will probably win the teen grouping. It's lovely fun with a noir twist. Very Veronica Mars, had she been a deaf, overweight boy. It approaches many of the issues and controversy within the deaf community (or so I've read), while not making that the issue itself. No, the issue is murder.

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine. As mentioned above. Shoo-in for the middle grade demographic. I hope.

Since most likely you've already heard the results (probably before me, as I'll be teaching homeschoolers at the time of the announcements), what do you think? What's missing? What makes you glad?


Ship Breaker! Yay!
Nothing by Janne Teller. I'm kicking myself for not mentioning this one. That's what I get for posting predictions at midnight. This is a WILDLY disturbing read, but very well done.

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick. I always wanted to like Sedgwick, but I was burned by My Swordhand is Singing, and haven't been able to read anything else by him because of it. I'll try my luck here, and see what happens.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King. This was nominated for Cybils YA Fiction panel, and having enjoyed Dust of 100 Dogs, I was eager to read it. I had to stop when I got to the talking pagoda and kick it over to SFF. I was totally digging it, though, and was sorry to have to move it on. I haven't had a chance yet to return, so I'm excited for the impetus.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher. This book forced me to coin the phrase "creep-ass love." Which then got applied all over the face of teen literature. Well, at least by those of us on the Cybils YA Fiction panel this year. This was one of our finalists.

Winner: Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. I got nothing. Looks like something I would have been first in line to read when I was a kid, though.

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm. All I know is that it's supposed to be good, but that there's hate for both covers. I figure now that it's an honor, there will be plenty of opportunity for new covers.

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus. Looks interesting.

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman. I was scratching my head trying to figure out why this was familiar, when I remembered it was a Cybils Poetry Finalist. cool.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. Yay!

A Sick Day for Amos McGee illustrated by Erin E. Stead, written by Philip C. Stead. *Shrug* The cover looks pretty strange (yes, I did just judge it by it's cover. Whatever. You know I'll read it.)

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hill.

Interrupting Chicken illustrated and written by David Ezra Stein. Called in the comments by Trisha.

Coretta Scott King:
One Crazy Summer! and Dave the Potter from the above Caldecott.
Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers. I didn't think this was one of his best. At all.
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes.
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri. I've heard really good things about this one. I love it when graphic novels get honored, so I'm already waiting a hold on this one.
Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, written by Gary Golio. I hearby predict that this will forever be in Seattle bookstores.


The Pirate of Kindergarten written by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Lynne Avril. I'm fairly certain I've read this, but it wasn't terribly memorable. Although fun.

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick. This makes me happy. Too bad I didn't think of it last night.

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John. Again, to Trisha in the comments. I haven't read it, but I know it's set in Seattle, and I noticed a review of it last week sometime, so it was on my distant radar... That's about it, though. My system doesn't have it, so I've placed a hold at my home library.

Saturday, January 08, 2011


Some of you already know that I'm co-hosting the 2011 KidLitCon with Colleen Mondor of Chasing Ray and Bookslut fame. We are still very much in the planning stages and we could use your help. If you have ever attended on of the conventions, or have ever even thought you might someday want to, please take this survey, so we can best plan the 5th annual convention here in luscious, green Seattle.

Start thinking about sessions you'd like to present or see, too!

More on this as we have it!


Friday, January 07, 2011

Poetry Friday: Zombie Haiku

Poetry Friday has been around forever. And I've never participated. I've looked at posts over the years and though, gee, I really should join in. I like poetry! I definitely think we should promote this oft under-appreciated form. And yet, I never have.

Until now.

Because, really, if I am ever to participate, it really should be with this book. This marvelous collection of haiku. And yes, I do mean marvelous. I don't even think it has anything to do with my obsessions about the zombie apocalypse. Much.

Now, admittedly, you might need to be one who appreciates the macabre, as ZOMBIE HAIKU by Ryan Mecum alternates equally between the grotesque, the disturbing, and some of the most hilarious poetry I have ever read.

The pages are a blood spattered and offal smeared account (including pictures & illustrations) of the last days of the zombie apocalypse, not from the view point of a survivor, but that of one zombie. The voice is clear and entertaining, and pacing is such that the reader has no time to think about the feasibility of a zombie being able to manage fine motor functions well enough to write. In fact, this poor guy is better as a zombie poet than he ever was as a human one.

I've been sharing passages with coworkers to general hilarity.

My favorite passages:

My instinct steers me
to my gourmet dinner feast,
a nursing home.

The side door is shut.
From the side window, they stare.
So many meals stare.

They are so lucky
that I cannot remember
how to use doorknobs.

I circle around,
and a great surprise greets me:
automatic doors.

It is hard to tell
who is food and who isn't
in the nursing home.

I really need blood.
Moaning "brains!" is hard to do
with a dried out tongue.

Little old ladies
speed away in their wheelchairs,
frightened meals on wheels.
p 44-47.

My shoes are slushy,
with my decomposing feet
leaking clear liquid.
p 57

Elbows bend one way,
except for this guy screaming.
His bends two ways now.
p 72

One eyeball has shrunk.
I'm glad it's tied to something
so it won't fall far.
p 110

I keep saying "brains."
I remember other words,
but I just need one.
p 118

I cannot wait to bring this on school visits.

This week's Poetry Friday is with Irene Latham at Live. Love. Explore.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


synchronicities: 1. the quality or fact of being synchronous. 2. the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality —used especially in the psychology of C. G. Jung.
--Merriam-Webster Online

This list of similarities and coincidences among the 2010 Cybils YA Fiction nominations is humbly submitted to you by the 2010 Cybils YA Fiction Panel. It is no way to be considered completely exhaustive, as we are certain nominated books and coincidentals will have been missed. This list was originated out of amusement as the seven panelists read their way through the 182 titles. If you know of a nominated title that should be included in one of the synchronicities below, please feel free to submit it in the comments! To get the entire list, you’ll have to visit all seven of the panelist’s blogs:

  • #1-10 Amanda Snow, A Patchwork of Books [TW]

  • #11-21 Ami Jones, Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian [TW]

  • #22-32 Cherylynne W. Bago, View from Above and Beyond [TW]

  • #33-42 Jackie Parker, Interactive Reader [TW]

  • #43-52 Justina Ireland, The YA 5 [TW]

  • #53-63 Kelly Jensen, Stacked [TW]

  • #64-72 Melissa Wiley, Here in the Bonny Glen [TW]

  • **Please, if considering buying any of the nominations, do so through the Cybils, so we can give our deserving winners a tangible token of their merit.

    33. Jewish Characters: The Beautiful Between; Hush; Life, After; Queen of Secrets

    34. Journals of Dead People: Hold Still; Revolution; The Secret Year

    35. Kidnappings: Girl, Stolen; Stolen; The Tension of Opposites; Woods Runner

    36. Lunchtime Oak Tree: A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend; Hold Still (ok, treehouse!); A Little Wanting Song; Lifted (under a Pecan tree - it IS Texas!)

    37. Meaningless Sex to Forget the Issue at Hand or Deaden the Pain: Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour; The Duff; Forget You; Hold Still; Saving Maddie; Nothing Like You; Not That Kind of Girl

    38. Mental Issues of Some Sort or Another: Abe in Arms; A Blue So Dark; The Brothers Story; Compromised; Forget You; Revolution; The River; Tangled; The Unwritten Rule

    39. Michigan: Exit Strategy; I Now Pronounce You Someone Else; Sing Me to Sleep

    40. Murder: All Unquiet Things; The Dangerous Days of Hamburger Helpin; The Deadly Sister; The Less-Dead; Revolution; The River; The Space Between Trees; The Twin’s Daughter, Wicked Girls; Woods Runner; When I Was Joe?

    41. Musicals or Theater: A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend; Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour; Hold Still (Play); Nothing Like You (drama class); Scrawl (Play); Sorta Like a Rock Star (talent something); Will; Will Grayson, Will Grayson;

    42. Musicians: A Little Wanting Song; Beat the Band; Dirty Little Secrets; Freefall; Friend is Not a Verb; Harmonic Feedback; The Less-Dead; Indigo Blues; Mindblind; Revolution; Sing Me to Sleep; The Sky is Everywhere; Somebody Everybody Listens To; Stringz; The Summer I Got a Life; Will; Rhythm and Blues