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Gene Luen Yang: Interview & Giveaway, Part Two

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

boxers & saintsThis is the second part of our interview with Gene Luen Yang - be sure to read Part One.

We're giving away two sets of Boxers & Saints! Just leave your name & contact info in the comments by October 14th to be entered in the draw (we won't publish personal information), or email teenservices@calgarypubliclibrary.com.

Gene Luen Yang is a Chinese-American graphic novelist whose books deal with themes of identity, belonging, and cultural expectations, and often use humour to deal with dark subjects and themes. He has won the Printz award and multiple Eisner awards, and if that's not reason enough to read his work, you also have my personal recommendation - it's great! Pick up American Born Chinese, The Eternal Smile, Prime Baby, Level Up, or Animal Crackers, then read this interview and his newest work, a two-part story called Boxers & Saints.

Q: You have drawn your own work and also worked with other great artists like Derek Kirk Kim and Thien Pham – what kind of process do you go through when writing a graphic novel on your own, and how does that change with a collaborative effort?

A: When you write and draw your own book, you’re in full control. Every line of dialog and every line of drawing comes from you. There’s something very satisfying about that.

When you work with someone else, you lose some of that control, but hopefully you’re trading that control for something more. My drawing style is pretty limited. I’m not that great of an illustrator. There are certain stories in my head that I simply wouldn’t be able to draw adequately. By working with another cartoonist, those stories get expressed more successfully.

Both Derek and Thien have brilliant, unique storytelling voices. They both do write and draw comics on their own. I learned a ton by working with them.

All that said, even the books that I do “on my own” are collaborations. Lark Pien colored both American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints. Her colors are an important part of the storytelling. I also got editorial input on both projects. I worked with designers at First Second, Danica Novgorodoff and Colleen AF Venable, to put the books together.

Q: As a librarian I sometimes have to defend graphic novels, usually to parents who think they aren’t “real” books; do you ever encounter that attitude, and how do you answer that criticism?

A: Yes, I’ve encountered that. My own parents thought like that when I was a kid. That attitude seems less and less prevalent these days. Parents seem to worry more about YouTube and the X-Box now.

I can understand where they’re coming from. I love prose too. I don’t want the prose novel to go away.

Words and pictures are often seen as competing forces, but it doesn’t have to be like that. One doesn’t have to lose for the other to win. Paul Levitz, former head guy at DC Comics, once told me about a study that found American comic book readers read six more prose novels per year than the average American. Comic book readers are readers, period. When you love one kind of book, you tend to love all kinds of books. Comics can support prose, and vice versa.

Q: Your books often deal with themes of identity, belonging, and cultural expectations, whether it’s fitting in as a minority (American Born Chinese), dealing with loneliness (Prime Baby), or balancing the lives we want with the lives our parents want for us (Level Up). Of course these issues are all very relevant to a YA audience – did you set out to write for teens, or did the stories you write just naturally fall there?

A: I started in the world of independent comics, which is very different from the book market. It’s changing now, but when I first started, people in comics didn’t think about age demographics all that much. I just tried to make comics that I would want to read.

After signing on with First Second Books, my comics were placed in the Young Adult category. I think I belong here. It feels right. I taught high school for a number of years. This seems to be the audience I most easily connect with.

Q: Apart from your own work, what books or authors would you recommend to a YA reader?

A: I mentioned Derek Kirk Kim already. He and Les McClaine are doing this great series called Tune. It’s sci-fi meets rom-com meets prison drama. It’s hysterically funny, but it’s also an insightful examination of the loneliness of the creative life.

For slightly younger readers, I’d recommend Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl series. Gorgeous cartooning.

I recently read The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson. I really enjoyed it. I especially connected with it because I’m a cartoonist. I mean, chalk drawings that come to life, that can actually fight like Pokemon! What’s not to love?

tunesame differencezita the spacegirlrithmatistavatar

Gene Luen Yang: Interview & Giveaway, Part One

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

We're giving away two sets of Boxers & Saints! Just leave your name & contact info in the comments by October 14th to be entered in the draw (we won't publish personal information), or email teenservices@calgarypubliclibrary.com.

boxers

Gene Luen Yang is a Chinese-American graphic novelist whose books deal with themes of identity, belonging, and cultural expectations, and often use humour to deal with dark subjects and themes. He has won the Printz award and multiple Eisner awards, and if that's not reason enough to read his work, you also have my personal recommendation - it's great! Pick up American Born Chinese, The Eternal Smile, Prime Baby, Level Up, or Animal Crackers, then read this interview and his newest work, a two-part story called Boxers & Saints.

Q: We’re so excited about your latest project, Boxers & Saints – could you tell us a little about what inspired it?

A: I first became interested in the Boxer Rebellion in 2000, when Pope John Paul II canonized 120 Chinese saints. I grew up in a Chinese American Catholic community in the San Francisco Bay Area. Naturally, my home church was incredibly excited by the announcement. When I looked into the lives of these new saints, I discovered that many of them had been martyred during the Boxer Rebellion.

The more I looked into the Boxer Rebellion, the more fascinated I became. The war externalizes a conflict that I think many Asian Christians and Christians of Asian descent feel – a conflict between Eastern culture and Western religion.

Q: Boxers & Saints tells the story of the Boxer Rebellion from two opposing viewpoints; why did you choose to publish it as a two-volume set, instead of in one combined volume?saints

A: One of the reasons I was attracted to the Boxer Rebellion in the first place was that I felt so ambivalent about it. Who were the good guys and who were the bad guys? I couldn’t decide, so I wrote and drew two books from two opposing viewpoints.

Separating the two stories into two physically distinct books forced me to think through each as a complete narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. I hope that each volume can stand on its own. I also hope readers who choose to read both will get something out of the dialog between the two.

Q: As a Catholic yourself, was it difficult to write from the point of view of someone trying to drive out the “foreign devils”, and the "secondary devils" who were Chinese Christians?

A: The “foreign devils” were the European missionaries, merchants, and soldiers. Chinese Christians were considered the “secondary devils”, folks who had succumbed to the foreign devils’ lies.

As I’ve said, my primary reaction to the Boxer Rebellion is ambivalence. I can see myself on either side of the conflict. I sympathize with both the Boxers and their Chinese Christian opponents. I think they had similar motivations. Both sides wanted to keep their identities intact. The Boxers were angry at the way the foreign powers tore down traditional Chinese culture. The Christians died because they wanted to remain true to the identities they’d built for themselves, identities that drew from both Eastern and Western influences.

Q: You have talked on your blog about the similarities between Chinese opera for the boxers and our own modern day pop culture (I adored your Chinese Opera Avengers – in fact, your Thor is my desktop background right now!), and how those inspirations – whether gods or superheroes – can be a source of strength. Can you tell us a bit more about this idea?

A: The Boxers were poor, starving Chinese teenagers, mostly boys, who were deeply embarrassed by the European incursions onto Chinese soil. To deal with this sense of powerlessness in their lives, they did what today’s teenagers do: They looked to the pop culture that surrounded them for empowerment.

Back then, there were these traveling acting troupes that went from village to village performing snippets of classical Chinese opera. Opera was the Boxers’ pop culture. It was their television, their movies, their comic books. Like American superheroes, the gods of the opera wore colorful costumes, had magic powers, and fought otherworldly battles.

Like modern day cosplayers, these teenagers wanted to become their heroes. They came up with this mystical ritual that they believed would call the gods down from the heavens. The gods would grant them superpowers. Then armed with these superpowers, the Boxers ran through the countryside fighting European soldiers, missionaries, and Chinese Christians.

Stories help us make sense of our lives. They let one generation to communicate with the next. They give us examples to either follow or shun.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this interview early next week!

american born chineseeternal smileprime babylevel upanimal crackers

Last chance to Win Brandon Sanderson's new book!

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

still afloatThe RithmatistStill Afloat

Youth Read is still going strong, and we have a winner for our t-shirt design challenge! All proceeds from Nyssa's excellent design (see left) will go to the library's flood relief efforts. You can buy the shirt here, but it is only available until August 5th so don't dawdle!

Win a signed copy of The Rithmatist!

If you missed last week's interview with bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 for a chance to win a signed copy of his terrific new YA book, The Rithmatist. We'll be drawing the names of our two lucky winners on Friday, August 9th.

Win a signed copy of Brandon Sanderson's new book!

by Carrie - 4 Comment(s)

The RithmatistPart One of this interview was posted last week.

Brandon Sanderson is an award-winning author renowned for the intricate and immersive worlds he creates, and for his highly detailed systems of magic. Recently, he has brought those talents to YA with the publication of his first teen novel, The Rithmatist.

Brandon kindly answered our questions AND sent us two signed copies of his book to give away! Leave your name and contact info in the comments to enter the draw (we won’t publish your details). The answers below were transcribed from audio recorded for this interview.

Q: There were some very intriguing loose ends in this book, especially surrounding Joel; I feel as though there is much more to learn about his father and about Rithmatics in general. When can we expect to see the next Rithmatist novel?

A: I’m glad you enjoyed the book so much. I am working on a sequel. I’ve actually started the outline for it, but it’s hard to promise when it will come out. Ideally I like to release books one year apart, which is what I’m shooting for, but I have to write the book first.

I’m going to take us to a new location for the second book and there’s going to be lots of fun involved. Joel and Melody are going to train as a team where they’ll have to learn to work together, and it won’t be easy on either one of them.

Q: OK, as a (non-evil) librarian I have to ask this – what’s with all the nasty librarians in your books? In Rithmatist we have Ms. Torrent, who is your stereotypical disapproving shushing type, and in the Alcatraz books, they’re downright evil! Did these characters come from encounters with real-life awful librarians? I hope not!

A: I actually have quite an affection for librarians. I created the one in The Rithmatist simply because I needed to make that particular scene more interesting. I look for ways to create and enhance conflict as I write, and that scene needed to be harder for the characters.

The librarians in Alcatraz, of course, were all tongue-in-cheek. I wrote those books because I realized that if there really were a secret society that controlled the world, it would be because they controlled all the information. The idea of librarians secretly controlling the world just made me laugh. But there are plenty of good librarians in the Alcatraz books—okay, we’ve only seen one!—but there are more coming.

Q:. Apart from your own work, what books or authors would you recommend to a YA reader?

A: I’ve already mentioned a bunch of my favourites, but I could go on! I’m quite fond of Westerfeld’s work. I think it’s quite marvellous. I’ve read Terry Pratchett’s teen books. If you’ve only read his adult work, you’re really missing out. He is quite good. I’ve also enjoyed James Dashner’s and Eva Ibbotson’s books. I also recommend anything by Diana Wynne Jones.

I got into a lot of the YA classics in the late 90s, well after everyone else had been into them. Things like The Giver by Lois Lowry and Dragon’s Blood by Jane Yolen. Jane Yolen has long been one of my favourite writers. There’s just a lot of exciting things happening in YA, and I feel inspired by a lot of the works by those authors I’ve mentioned.

Remember to leave your name and contact info in the comments for a chance to win a signed copy of The Rithmatist!

Win a Signed Copy of The Rithmatist!

by Carrie - 2 Comment(s)

Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson is an award-winning author renowned for the intricate and immersive worlds he creates, and for his highly detailed systems of magic. Recently, he has brought those talents to YA with the publication of his first teen novel, The Rithmatist.

Brandon kindly answered our questions AND sent us two signed copies of his book to give away! Leave your name and contact info in the comments to enter the draw (we won’t publish your details). The answers below were transcribed from audio recorded for this interview.

Q: This is your first teen novel, although you are well known for your adult science fiction and the Alcatraz series for middle grade readers. What motivated you to write for a YA audience?

A: I do read quite a bit of YA fiction. In fact, during the era when I was trying to break into publishing—the late 90s and early 2000s—a lot of the really exciting things in sci-fi and fantasy were happening in YA and middle grade. Garth Nix, J.K. Rowling, Diana Wynne Jones and others created some wonderfully imaginative writing during this time.

alcatraz versus the evil librariansI dipped my toes into middle grade with my Alcatraz series soon after I got published. I hadn’t written a YA before, but I wanted to—for the same reason I write epic fantasy: there are awesome things I can do in in epic fantasy that I can’t do in other genres. And there are awesome things I can do in teen fiction that I don’t feel I can get away with in the same way in adult fiction.

Science fiction and fantasy have a very fascinating connection with YA fiction. If you look at some of the series I loved as a youth—the Wheel of Time, Shannara, and the Eddings books, for example—these have enormous teen crossover. In fact, when you get to something like the Eddings books, you’ve got to wonder if they would’ve been shelved in the teen section in a later era.

Back up even further to the juveniles that were written by Heinlein and others, and we see that teen fiction has been an integral part of science fiction and fantasy. Some of the early fantasy writings—things like Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and C.S. Lewis’s works—were foundational in how the fantasy genre came to be.

So YA feels like a very natural thing for me to be writing because I enjoy it and I respect what it has done for the genres.

way of kingsQ: I imagine this is a bit like asking a parent to pick a favourite child, but your projects have varied from standalone fantasy (Elantris, Warbreaker), to epic series set in intricate worlds (Mistborn), to novellas (Legion), to writing for children and teens (Alcatraz, The Rithmatist), to finishing Robert Jordan’s iconic Wheel of Time series – which of these projects did you find most difficult, and which was most rewarding?

A: When I’m done with one project, I want to do something very different to refresh myself. This is the reason I write such varied things. It keeps me excited as a writer because each project has its own measure of things that interest me and obstacles that challenge me.

The most difficult project was finishing the Wheel of Time. Stepping into someone else’s shoes—particularly someone I respected so much—and taking over a long-running series was a real challenge. Writing those books was the hardest thing I’ve done so far in my career.

The most rewarding project was the release of The Way of Kings. It was my pet project. I’d worked on it in one form or another basically since I was a teen. Finally being able to release that in its finished form was a very fulfilling experience as an artist.

Q: In The Rithmatist, the female protagonist, Melody, has been chosen as a Rithmatist, which is a great honour but also something that she really struggles with. I think that many youth feel this kind of pressure - to be special, or to excel at something that they didn’t necessarily choose - and then feel as though they aren’t measuring up. Was it a conscious decision to have Melody deal with that issue, or a natural extension of her character?

A: This part of Melody’s character was intentional. Being a square peg in a round hole and parental and societal expectations are things I think about a lot. Your teen years are when these things come crashing down around you. Often books have a character who is the chosen one, who is naturally gifted and talented, but what happens if you get chosen and whoever chose you was wrong, and you just aren’t any good at it? That was an interesting conflict that felt very real to life. When I figured out this aspect of Melody, she really came to life as a character.

Remember to leave your name and contact info in the comments for a chance to win a signed copy of The Rithmatist, and check back next week for the second part of this interview!

Ready...Set...READ!

by Carrie - 2 Comment(s)

youth read 2013Ready...Set...READ!


It's finally time to read - or draw - or write - or paint - or whatever, and win!

Youth Read is our online summer reading program for teens, ages 13 to 17. Take part this summer and you could win a piece of over $2,000 in prizes.

Here's how it works:

Every week we’ll post a series of challenges — all you have to do is complete one each week to be eligible for the grand prize draw. One will always be a reading challenge; the others will let you show off your creative side. Every challenge you complete gets you another entry in the weekly draws, and entries that are especially creative or amazing will be chosen by our judges for each week's Top Ten.

Prizes:

  • Grand prize: $250, $150, and $75 gift cards to Cadillac Fairview malls (Chinook & Market Mall)
  • Weekly prizes: Ten free books every week, plus $25 gift cards for the Top Ten and for the reading challenge!
  • Bonus prizes: one challenge every week comes with a sweet extra prize attached.
  • Special prize: Tell a friend and you could each win a $100 gift card! Registration continues all summer so keep telling your friends - and remind them to put your name when we ask where they found out about the program.

Ready to read and win?

register here

Word! It's Never too late for a Poetry Contest!

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

You may be asking what exactly is a Wordle? Well.. it's a collection of words arranged in a visual way to make a concrete poem. Okay, okay what is a concrete poem? It's a visual poem = words arranged in a visual way to have an effect = a unique hybrid of both art and poetry. As you can see on the left I was inspired by our recent deluge of rain. Local poet derek beaulieu is a master at it! (& in case you hadn't noticed I've also included some Wordle examples) So... we are inviting you to get busy with a graphix program and design your own Wordle and submit it to our Teens Create page to win! The prize you may ask? A fabulous journal - what every poet and artist is always wanting more of... deadline is June 5th (aka get this in before Youth Read starts! - we know you'll be busy with all the other amazing challenges then - P.S. did you know you can Pre-Register for Youth Read?) Chop! Chop! Don't forget to also submit your name and contact ph#/email in the comments as well as submitting your Wordle on the Teens Create page (and don't worry we will NOT publish your contact info). And if you are at a loss as to how to use Photoshop or Illustrator to do this you may want to take advantage of our Free Ed2Go online instructor-led courses! May the best WORD-le win!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

by Alexandra - 2 Comment(s)

It’s rare that a book comes along that we consider so good we are willing to dedicate an entire blog post to it. Usually we talk about books within a genre, like dystopian or horror, and list our favourites from the collection for you to check out! It’s even rarer that we would feature a book from the high-fantasy realm, as those kind of books tend to be niche-reads… not everyone can get behind goblins and orcs and princesses and evil kings…

But what about dragons?

There is just something about dragons that really sparks our imaginations and gets people fired up (har har). Maybe it’s the fact that there are dragon mythologies in just about every part of the world, seriously pre-dating any form of world travel – most legends of magical creatures are fairly geographically isolated… Ever heard of a Canadian Kappa or an African Leprechaun? But there are stories of dragons from Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America… even way down in Australia and New Zealand!

Or what about the fact that we know dinosaurs once walked the earth… is it so hard to believe in some straggling survivors? We see lizards and komodos, birds and beasts all over the planet that really get us thinking…

Dragons are a staple of fantasy stories, and their popularity in kids and teen fiction is nothing new… (see Harry Potter, Eragon, How to Train Your Dragon, anything by Mercedes Lackey, loads of stuff from Chris d’Lacey, Emily Rodda, Jane Yolen… this list is too massive to even begin here), but as we said previously, not everyone can get through all the other high-fantasy stuff just to get to the dragons. If YOU can’t, check this out:


Seraphina is a young musician working in the palace courts (okay, so there are Royals too, but that’s the ONLY other fantasy-y thing, I promise), trying to keep her head down and just play her instruments. She is very, very talented, but promised her father she would not draw unnecessary attention to herself – you can’t be too careful when you’re an adolescent lady alone in the palace. You ESPECIALLY can’t be too careful when this particular castle is rocked by the suspected assassination of a beloved prince, the heir to their throne. Cause of death? Beheading by dragon-bite. Motive behind death? To destroy the already weak peace established between humans and dragons. You see, in this world, Dragons and Humans live side-by-side, though far from in harmony (it’s hard to do when one half of society is constantly eating the other half…). A tenuous peace was established by the previously-mentioned (and currently dead) prince’s mother and the Ardmagar, the leader of dragons. For the last 40 years, dragons have been perfecting the ability to take human form, to walk about in human company and to live and learn in human society. The only problem is, they are not human. And everyone knows it. They are cold, calculating, scientifically-inclined, unemotional (think Vulcans, but with the ability to shed their skin and pop scales and fangs in an instant) – they are hard to befriend and no one really wants to anyways. Except for Seraphina, who has a secret that could very well save the kingdom from a brutal, interspecies-war and imminent destruction…

Readers and critics alike do not have enough good things to say about this book, and its sequel Drachomachia is due out in the new year. You’ll want to get into this series as soon as possible, even if you’re NOT usually into fantasy. It is WELL WORTH the read! And (drumroll please) we here at CPL have a copy of this fantastic book to give away - just leave your name & contact info in the comments to be entered in the draw.

Other dragons in the news? Well... we just left the Zodiac's year of the dragon, but Benedict Cumberbatch is up for an Oscar for Voicing SMAUG in the Hobbit Series... he studied Komodo Dragons at the London Zoo to prepare for the role... There are also these great titles:

    

Young Readers Choice Awards continued... continued!

by Patricia - 0 Comment(s)

For those of you who have been waiting for this final category of YRCA nominees, the Senior books (Gr. 10-12) here it is!!

And, for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, welcome to the Young Readers Choice Awards! We want YOU to read at least two books from one of these lists, and then vote for your fave. I've already written about the YRCA in general and the whole voting thing on a previous blog, so I won't repeat myself, just go there. You'll also see the write-up about the Junior & Intermediate YRCA nominees in previous blogs.

So without further ado, here are the Senior nominees:

Book coverBefore I Fall, by Lauren Oliver: Samantha is a popular 17 year old, who thinks she's perfect. Then.. she is killed in a car accident, and relives the same day over, and over, and over, trying to fix all of the not-so-perfect things she did so she can, well, move on. Think Groundhog Day, in a gut-wrenching sort of way.

Book coverBruiser, by Neil Shusterman: Bronte can’t understand why her family, and especially her twin brother Tennyson, dislikes her new boyfriend Brewster so much. Even though he looks a little rough, he’s kind and gentle with her. Then one day she hurts herself, and when he touches her the wound disappears and she feels wonderful, but he looks worse than ever… There’s a lot of intense family violence in this book, so it’s not for the faint of heart.

Book coverCrazy, by Han Nolan: 15-year-old Jason has a pile of friends... but they're all imaginary. And his father is mentally ill. And his mother has just died. And he's responsible for keeping everything together! Good thing he has the help of Aunt Bee from the Andy Griffith show, Sexy Lady, and a "laugh track" - although they're all in his head... Read this book and you get to be one of his internal characters as well!

Book coverMatched, by Ally Condie: In a highly controlled society, a 16-year-old girl is ecstatic to find out she has been ‘matched’ with not only someone she actually knows, but her best friend! However, she discovers cracks in the perfect system when the picture of a different boy, also someone she knows, shows up on her true love’s profile page. Interested in what caused this glitch, and wanting to know more about the much more mysterious, dangerous Kai, she strays further and further from her chosen path and ideal romance. The first in what is likely to be the next great dystopian series.

Book coverThe Replacement, by Brenna Yovanoff: Mackie lives in a small town with big secrets. Every seven years, a baby is 'replaced' by a fairy child from the underworld. When his strange allergies – to iron, blood, and consecrated ground – get worse and threaten his life, he teams up with Tate, whose baby sister has just gone missing, to uncover the truth. This is a dark gothic tale of the paranormal, with gruesomely thrilling imagery.

Book coverShip Breaker, by Paula Bacigalupi: Another dystopian, post-apocalyptic tale, BUT this time from a male point of view (about time!) The main character ekes out a living by stripping wrecked ships with a band of thieves. But one ship isn’t deserted; they discover a girl, barely alive, who promises to show them a dream-world, a utopia, if they let her live. Interesting use of language makes up for – or adds to, depending on your point of view – the more violent scenes in this fast-paced read.

Book coverWill Grayson, Will Grayson, by David Levithan and John Green: Will Grayson has the biggest gayest friend ever! will grayson (the other one = yes there's two... with the same name, hence the lack of capitals) is sad and depressed. When the two W/will G/graysons happen to meet, all their lives are changed. And a great high school musical is produced! Hilarious and interesting, with lots of unexpected twists, and over-the-line language and scenarios. Not to be missed!

Book coverWinter Shadows, by Margaret Buffie: Cass is living in modern-day Selkirk, Manitoba when she finds an old brooch which becomes a gateway into the world of Beatrice, who lived in the house in the 1850's. They communicate through Beatrice's diary, and bond over difficulties with their respective step-mothers. A great 'time slip' story, with some real insight into the Metis history and way of life.

Okay, that's it for the YRCA selections. Now it's your turn - read, ponder, then VOTE! And may the best book win...

Young Readers Choice Awards continued...

by Patricia - 0 Comment(s)

YRCA logo

Young Readers Choice Awards: Junior Category

As promised, here's the next installment in the Young Readers Choice Awards.

We're asking you to read at least two books from one of the categories, then choose your favourite. For more info on the YRCA and how to cast your ballot, please look at my previous blog, which also talked about the Intermediate books.

This time we're looking at the Junior Category Nominees, those geared for about Gr. 4-6.

Book coverfatty legs, by Christy Jordan-Feton: Margaret is a young Inuit girl who desperately wants to go to school, like her older sister, so she can learn how to read. This means leaving her family to go to residential school. When she finally gets her wish, however, it’s not exactly what she had dreamed… This book is autobiographical, and there is a sequel, called A Stranger At Home. A shortened version of fatty legs has been made into a picture book, called When I Was Eight. A great introduction for a younger audience.

Book coverThe Strange Case of the Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger: This book is written in the form of a 'case file' by Tommy and his friends in middle school. Dwight, the biggest nerd of them all (which is saying a lot) creates an Origami Yoda finger puppet which appears to be amazingly wise and prescient - unlike Dwight! Very funny. If you like the 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' series, you'll like this too. There is also a sequel, called Darth Paper Strikes Back - worth reading if only for the title.

Book cover

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer, by John Grisham: Do you see that? JOHN GRISHAM! The king of adult crime novels has crossed over into the Kid Zone with this story about a 13-year-old boy who knows everything there is to know about the justice system, but can't keep himself out of trouble when a grisly murder needs to be solved. Read it to see if Grisham can handle the critical readers in the shallow end of the pool...

Big Nate: In a Class By Himself, by Lincoln Peirce: The only graphic novel candidate in this bunch. Big Nate has been seen before, in a comic strip, as the less-than-straight-A middle school kid who wisecracks his way into a lot of detentions. A great alternative if you've read all of the 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' books, or want to get into graphics with something new!

book cover

The Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood: This is the first in the series: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. 15-year-old Penelope becomes a governess at a children’s school, only to discover that the mysterious howling she has been hearing is being made by two children who were found in the forest and have obviously been raised by wolves. She must teach them not only Latin and Algebra but how to act like humans instead of wolves. 'Howlingly' funny (hee hee).

13 Treasures13 Treasures, by Michelle Harrison: The main character is Tanya, and Tanya is ‘trouble’. Tanya sees fairies, but if she talks about this, people think she’s crazy! Blamed for all of the things the fairies get into, she is shipped off to her grandmother's ancient old house - which happens to be infested with, you guessed it, fairies. Then children in the area go missing, and Tanya wants to find out what’s going on. If you like the Spiderwick Chronicles, you’ll love this book.

Book coverThe Lost Hero, by Rick Riordan: Really sad that the Percy Jackson series ended? Well, don't be! This new spin-off series has appearances by all your favourite characters, while introducing Jason, Piper, and Leo as the offspring of some new gods - this time in their Roman persona's. Another rollicking ride through Camp Half-Blood, with a satyr masquerading as a bus, Medusa working in a chic New York department store, and a race against the clock to keep the world from terrible danger.

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Lone Wolf, by Kathryn Lasky: This is the beginning of Lasky’s new series The Wolves of Beyond, which takes place in the same world as her ‘Guardians of Ga’hoole’ books. In this one, a young wolf pup is born, despite many problems for his mother, with a twisted leg and a strange mark on his paw, marking him as.. well, either deformed, or special. He survives against all odds, is raised by a mother bear, and eventually makes his way to ‘the Beyond’, a place on the edge of this world where the socially outcast wolves reside... and back again to some new surprises!

Okay, that's it for the Junior YRCA nominees. Look for the next and final posting, about the Senior choices, coming soon.. and don't forget to read & vote!

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