Interestingly, this was barely a year after the bus accident that horribly fractured her back, pelvis, and leg, and left her in pain for the rest of her life.
Monday, December 31, 2007
Interestingly, this was barely a year after the bus accident that horribly fractured her back, pelvis, and leg, and left her in pain for the rest of her life.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I'm a Book Design Review fan, too, so I'm really happy to see a blog with similar goals focusing on YA.
"I am a librarian and former graphic designer who enjoys “The Book Design Review,” a blog by Jack Sullivan. I’ve subscribed to for a several months and always look forward to new posts. I wished there was a similar blog for those of us who focus on children’s and young adult books. It occurred to me that I could write one myself - so here it is."
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
"She knew that [phone confiscation] had been happening to a lot of her friends, so she smashed [her phone] rather than give it up," he says. "It's not like they have any justification for it at all. … I'd probably break my phone, too."
Monday, December 17, 2007
"Today in class [name redacted] had a program launched called Foxfire.exe. I had told [name redacted] to close the program and to resume work but he told me that is was just a different browser and that he was doing his work. I had given him two warnings but he insisted that it was just a "better" browser and he wasn't doing anything wrong. I had then issued his detention."I remember getting in some slight trouble in high school for playing around on BBSs with the newly-modem-equipped library computers (it made poor Mrs. Lincoln nervous). Seems like very little has changed.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
UPDATE: Another song that feels very YA-ish to me is Neighborhoods #1 (Tunnels) by The Arcade Fire. I don't have a pairing though.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Is there a word more condescendingly applied to teenagers than "precocious"? Toddlers are precocious; teens are not. And what's this "maturity level" nonsense? The main character--Juno--gets pregnant.
How about a new consumer slogan for the imprint? "Flux: Dealing with things way beyond your maturity level."
Slightly related update: Apparently David Levithan's and Rachel Cohn's excellent Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (a novel that saved me during horrifically dull jury duty last spring) is going to be a movie (as in, production-is-scheduled going to be a movie, not the-option's-been-sold going to be a movie). Why is this an update? Because the co-star in "Juno," Michael Cera, is apparently going to be Nick. I'm sure precociousness will fucking abound and maturity will be leveled. (Thanks Sara's Hold Shelf!)
Monday, December 10, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
The Second Virginity of Suzy Green has everything - laugh-out-loud humour, exciting cliffhangers, cringey embarrassing incidents, and also some total lump-in-your-throat moments. Plus a lovely cover, featuring two cherries - nice touch!She's also running a contest to give away a copy.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
"Or Not is the first novel I've read in a while that actually made me think. The writing style perfectly matched both the way a person's mind works in the after-effect of situations, and how they would write it down, in Cassie's case, for release."Awesome.
Here's the whole thing.
"PULLING OUT [original title for How It's Done. Catchy, eh?] is a contemporary coming of age story about Grace, a high school senior from a fundamentalist Christian home who gets swept off her feet by a visiting professor who is teaching a term at the local college. Before long, she's in love, engaged, and in way over her head. It's a story about power and love, and the power of many different kinds of love. Ultimately, it's a story about how a young woman stops letting others define her and learns to define herself--just in time. NOTE: This book does not fall into the category of 'Christian fiction.'"Easy enough. I didn't really need her "note," but it was good to know and I agreed after reading the manuscript that it was not "Christian fiction." So, fast forward nine months and the manuscript for PULLING OUT is a book called How It's Done and reviews are coming in. SLJ weighs in with a nice review, closing with:
"MacLean delivers a gently redemptive, compelling story of a young woman who wants to grow up too fast."Good start, but it places the book under the heading "Fresh Christian Fiction." Hmm. I'm not sure what's up with that. But there's more. Soon after, the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books also writes a positive review but says:
"Numerous Biblical references are presented familiarly, as if readers will know chapter and verse . . ."Wait, huh? And then there's a very positive review in Publishers Weekly, but with this qualifier:
"A couple of scenes that feel like 'battle of the scripture quotes' as well as an occasional curse word and sexual situations help make this a fully rounded tale. "Bah! Finally, the coup de grâce, from a teacher on her unsuccessful attempt to get the book approved for curricular use:
"The district thought it was a bit racy and could put some parents on edge. They also worried about the Bible verses."Mercy! "Worried about the Bible verses"!?! WTF!
By now, if you haven't read the book, you might think it's wall-to-wall scriptural references, appropriate mainly for divinity school students. Nothing could be less true. I haven't counted but I bet there aren't more than a dozen quotes, none of them particularly challenging and prior knowledge of any of them isn't at all necessary to comprehension. So why do they get mentioned in the majority of reviews by adults, even more often than the on-page sex (which is what Christine and I worried about about prior to release)?
Don't misunderstand, I have no problem with reviews that raise issues. I welcome any aesthetic judgment, like "the Bible quotes felt forced coming from Grace and were badly integrated into the story." I'd disagree, but that's how reviews work. But there seems to be more than that at work here. These reviewers seem to feel readers need to be aware of the very existence of a few Bible quotes, just as they feel readers need to be aware of the existence of explicit sex or particularly strong language (in PW's case, they point out Bible quotes, profanity, sex in that order and in the same sentence--an odd trio, don't you think?).
So, here's are question--or questions? First, am I overreacting (entirely possible)? Or is the children's book establishment have a rather . . . unusual relationship with the portrayal of religion in children's books? And isn't this a bit odd, considering where we are as a culture?
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Recently, Christine got a request from Jillian Miller, a high school home economics teacher in Montana, for some classroom copies of the book. The teacher wanted to use them as part of her curriculum. We happily sent her a box of books. Unfortunately, the powers that be at the school apparently wouldn't approve the book for required classroom reading. According to Jillian, they found it "a bit racy and [thought it could] could put some parents on edge." The Bible verses were apparently a problem, too. So Jillian made it optional reading. I asked Jillian to forward me any reviews or reactions she got from her students. Here's the first one:
My name is Courtney and I go to Billings West High School. My sewing teacher, Mrs. Miller, generously let me borrow the novel How It's Done. I absolutely loved the book. I loved how it relates so much to my life as well as other teenage girls' lives. I loved the character, Grace. I loved how she finally stood up to her father. I thought the relationship between her and Michael was great at first until he made a mistake with Liv and just the fact that Grace and Michael did not connect as well as they did at the beginning of their relationship. Throughout the novel, Grace changed and grew and understood life more. She became more mature and just wanted to be free and she thought she was accomplishing that by being with Michael until she felt brought down by him. She realized who she was and she could not get married being so young and experiencing so little. She wanted to live life more and not be tied down and commit to just one person for the rest of her life. I love how she grew and became strong and started standing up for herself. And that is why I loved the novel.
Teen Book Review says The Second Virginity of Suzy Green is "a funny, engaging, and touching story that readers will surely love. Sara Hantz is great at creating realistic, memorable characters, Suzy of course being the best of them." YA Books Central reviewer Bria seems to agree. She writes "Reading this book is like hearing your best friend tell you the story of her like. It is fun, sweet, and hilarious. Sara Hantz really knows how to get into the teenage mind and tells us that we are okay just the way we are. Another great addition in teen chick lit and I hope to see more with this author."
Booklist offered a positive review of Varian Johnson's My Life as a Rhombus, saying, among other things, “…there’s wry humor here, and the sometimes raw dialogue is well done.”
Teen Book Review also got a chance to read Brian Mandabach's Or Not, and they dug it. "It’s a thought-provoking, extremely well-written first novel. Brian Mandabach’s debut is brilliant, and I am really looking forward to reading whatever this talented author writes next." Librarian Lisa Chellman in her blog Under the Covers has an extremely thoughtful and complimentary review of Brian's book. I particularly like this observation: "In Jay Asher’s big debut Thirteen Reasons Why, the main female character finds reasons not to go on living. Or Not, in contrast, is about Cassie’s discovery of reasons to live, even when she’s feeling weighed down by the tedium and sorrow of life. It’s about finding the resolve to hang on, even when she feels helpless and hopeless." She raises some excellent points, and I'll definitely be reading her blog again.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I didn't know anything about KLIATT before I started this job (and until reading the obit today, the name of the magazine was a mystery to me, as I suspect it is to a lot of readers and authors who see it on back covers), but I've come to appreciate the comprehensive coverage of teen books that they provide. KLIATT is not the biggest or the flashiest of book publications by a long shot and I have certainly cursed a few KLIATT reviews, but in its thoroughness and its commitment to making all sorts of teen books accessible to librarians, KLIATT makes a significant contribution to the world of teen literature and we're better off for the creation of Doris Hiatt and Celeste Klein.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
"We always felt that this show would appeal to everyone. Because everyone wants to be a teenager, is a teenager, or was a teenager, and those years are so powerful and evocative--nobody forgets what they were like in high school."
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
And, upon further examination, it appears that Micol Ostow is on this tour as well. All the more reason!
UPDATE: Don't miss a Q & A with Carrie on the web site of award-winning author K.L. Going.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Not to toot our own horn, but Terie Garrison's DragonSpawn Cycle was always a four-book cycle. We're happy to welcome Christopher to the club, though. Plenty of room.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
I've seen the Godfather many times, but until this day it never occured to me what an excellent illustration its memorable opening scene is of the query and acquisitions process in book publishing.
Bonasera's "query" to Don Vito is actually really great (query letter writers take note of its deceptive simplicity and brevity--how could anyone say no?), but alas his timing is off (as it so often is) because Don Vito's on his way to a meeting. In the end, however, the arrangement works out, though not for the project as proposed, and Bonasera has no idea what Don Vito has in store for him later.
Next time I do a talk on submissions, I'm using this. (And yes, I always have a cat on my lap when I'm talking to authors.)
"Without a bit of preaching..." - Why is it whenever anyone dares to take an unpopular position on a controversial moral topic in our society, their ideas are described as didactic, dogmatic, preachy, or any other apparently negative label? With all the destructive sexual activities and misinformation plaguing young adults in America, it would be immensely helpful if those with the power of the pen would use their gift to steer some attitudes in the right direction rather than be content with "keeping it real".I think this is an important (and well worn) question for YA authors to be thinking about--though I suspect I want them to answer it much differently than Anonymous does. I'd love to see more people's comments on this comment.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
1. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
2. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
3. How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles
4. Maximum Ride: School’s Out – Forever by James Patterson
5. Firegirl by Tony Abbott
6. All Hallows Eve (13 Stories)by Vivian Vande Velde
7. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
8. River Secrets by Shannon Hale
9. Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe
10. Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks
Congratulations to Simone Elkeles and thank you to the ALA for creating on such a fabulous program!
Note: Interesting bit of symmetry in how I heard about this. I checked my email while I was eating breakfast this morning at 6:00 and I got a blog comment alert email:
By: Laurie StolarzLaurie's Blue is for Nightmares was the first teen book I ever worked on (and only a little bit) and I believe she was also the first from Llewellyn to get nominated for Teen Top Ten. So, it's rather appropriate that she was the bearer of good news.
Congratulations to Simone and to Flux - I just saw the top ten list!!!
Monday, October 22, 2007
"My Life as a Rhombus is a sensitive and powerful friendship story about two very different girls who connect over the toughest decision either of them will ever make. In his YA debut, author Varian Johnson offers a realistic, heartfelt, and thoughtful take on unplanned teen pregnancy from the perspective of a young math whiz trying to reconcile her future and past."Couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks, Cynthia!
Friday, October 19, 2007
* Andrew's note: Scared of Barry Lyga!? I've met Barry twice (once at a somewhat scary SCBWI conference), and he's gotta be one of the least scary, most friendly people I've ever encountered. Barry, if you read this, please write Mandabach and tell him you're not scary.
Ten days ago, I'd just returned from the first annual Kidlitosphere conference, and the flat lands and thick skies of Chicagoland were lingering in my mind. But now, as happens in the week after a trip, memories have faded to fragments, and photo albums can only vaguely call the memories to mind.
The last thing I saw as I exited the O'Hare Radisson was podcaster and photographer Mark Blevis wearing a very beautiful OR NOT t-shirt, which he'd won (along with a copy of my book) after dinner the night before. Author PJ Haarsma and Faith Hochhalter had orchestrated a fabulous raffle, the proceeds to benefit Haarsma's efforts to give books to school libraries, the prizes being bundles of signed books. Faith introduced each book with an extended rave, comparing them to other fantasy books while insisting that each was an original work of genius. Until she got to my book and t-shirt, which I had (with permission) slipped in at the last minute because I'd been waiting for the right opportunity to give them away. "And these," she said, holding OR NOT and its t-shirt dubiously aloft, " . . . these go together, I guess."
If you can imagine how I felt then, you can picture me during a few of Kidlitosphere's other awkward moments: before dinner drinks, mingling during breaks—those unstructured times when it became clear that I was an afterthought, an outsider, a new kid trying to figure out what the deal was and how he fit into it.
But hostess Robin Brande, with her gift for the gracious, invited me up to be the first to draw a name to give away my prize, and Mark seemed very happy to get my book t-shirt. So I was happy.
And the dinner itself was wonderful, not because of the usual chicken and pasta buffet, but because I was surrounded by fabulous librarians. I sat with Camille Powell, whose bookmoot blog I identified as a Tolkien reference, and Susan Kusel, whose wizardwireless is all about the boy wizard. Susan got passionate about the epilogue of THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, and I was fascinated to find my question as to why she liked it answered in an oral essay punctuated by her referring to her iPod (containing all seven Rowling novels) and more than one admission that she (Susan) was a nerd. I told her to stop calling herself names and to keep talking. She's amazing.
So were all these librarians. I've never been surrounded by so many people who know so much about books and love them so much and in such an unassuming way. When I asked Gregory Pincus what he was reading, he said "A lot of picture books." So we talked picture books, with Maureen Kearney "preaching the gospel of IT'S NOT A BOX." As she did with fellow FLUX author Barbara Shoup, Maureen made me feel right at home. I only wish she was my librarian—if she was, my kid would never miss another story time at the local branch.
Now back to the educational stuff, or the formal sessions, anyway: The afternoon of the conference consisted of three blogging presentations:
1. How to be a B-list Blogger, by Pam Coughlin, (motherreader) which had me wistful about getting more traffic, but finally convinced that the B-list is way beyond somebody trying to teach and write fiction AND be a half decent daddy. I love the blogosphere—but I'm part time here at best.
2. Ann Levy on how to write better reviews, including short, medium, and long form. The long review she had us read— by Ursula K. Leguin from The Guardian—got some fantastic discussion going. So great that, before we really got the lesson on the long form, time was up. In addition to her instruction on the art of the book review, Ann urged us all to raise the level of discourse on our blogs, bringing the kidlitosphere out of the insular dimension of cyberspace and into the realm of public intellectualism so jealously guarded by the bona fide critics in print. A tall order. Most kidlit bloggers seem more interested in talking about books they love with other book lovers than they are in joining some sort of Academy. They may have more impact in the public discourse than the Roger Hornbook does anyway, but raising the standard to which they hold themselves can't hurt. Or so it seems to me.
3. Liz Burns on the ethics of blogging: Does it make reviewers less objective when publishers give them lots of books along with really good chocolate chip cookies? Should one write "bad reviews" or abandon books one doesn't like after a couple of chapters so that one can tie into a book one does like? How does one blog about books with integrity? Liz is fun and earnest both—but I'm afraid to criticize her and equally afraid to suck up to her. ;-) The former might cause her to avoid reviewing my book for one reason, the latter for another reason. I shouldn't have even mentioned her name. But if I didn't, it would have seemed like a snub. It's a Catch 22, but the consensus seemed to be that the only sure way for an author to piss these people off is to harass them: "As I asked in my last 3 emails and my previous 12 comments on your insightful and erudite blog, have you read my book yet? WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO REVIEW IT?!?!? At best, that sort of behavior will land your book on the never read stack. At worst, it might inspire someone who wouldn't have given you a review at all to give you thrashing.
Opinions on all of this stuff were wide and well spoken. Many wouldn't dream of doing the last thing, for example. Some stay away from writing negative reviews of authors who aren't getting much press, for fear that their opinion could really hurt the person's career. Others think that a little criticism of a book that is widely and, according to their estimation, undeservedly celebrated is a duty.
Overall, it was great to hear what everybody had to say. And if I felt somehow on the sidelines, it was because I'm new to all of this. I was a little intimidated by some of the bigger bloggers and writers, but I think that's because of my own insecurity, not because they were standoffish. I'm sort of scared of Liz, and Betsy Bird, and Barry Lyga*. But that's my problem.
I was more comfortable walking into a room full of seniors in creative writing class—two days before—at Barrington High School, than I was mingling with kidlitosphere people at the Radisson Hotel. But that's another story.
I also hadn't participated in the pre-conference online discussions—because I've been too busy teaching and getting ready for the release of my novel. And finally, I was late and missed the morning session because I was lingering over a pot of room service coffee with my wife in our hotel in the Loop. When checkout time isn't until noon, and you're on your first kid-free vacation in a decade, it's tough to rush out the door. But that's another story too, and I've written far too much as it its.
I'm kind of slow to open up in a group of new people, many of whom are on intimate terms despite how seldom they meet in the flesh. But I certainly enjoyed being around so many book lovers, who were very welcoming in spite of my own reticence. As for the founder of the feast, Robin Brande, kudos are very much in order.
I hear next year it's Portland. Which means my wife and I will need an extra day just for Powell's.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
"Without a bit of preaching, Varian Johnson gives us a story of two teenage girls who are faced with the consequences of unplanned pregnancies. Teens will love the emotional peaks and valleys of the tale and be gratified by the conclusion."Needless to say, we're all very pleased for Varian. This is hopefully only the beginning of well deserved recognition from his peers.
On the other hand, in the kinda-odd column from the community, I came across some very advance criticism of a novel we'll likely publish in early 2009 by absurdly talented debut novelist Emily Wing Smith. It's called Sunday's Child at the moment and whatever it's called when it's a book, it will be stunning and completely original.
When all the negotiations were done, I posted a note about the deal on Publishers Marketplace, as I always do when there's no agent to do it. For those who are unfamiliar, Publishers Marketplace hosts a newsletter with, among other things, a sort of bulletin board for deals between publishers and authors and between publishing houses for rights (and if you want to get the free version--and you should--click here). It's a good place to get news and to see who is buying what from whom, and, if you're in the market for sub rights, to see what's available. All the postings contain a very short descriptions of the book's contents in a from that's probably unique to Publishers Marketplace. You get "one phrase" to describe the book. I generally try to work in interesting details, but I don't spend hours composing a phrase that captures the whole book--if that's even possible. My entry for Emily's book read:
"Emily Wing Smith’s [debut novel,] SUNDAY’S CHILD, in six voices about a Utah Mormon community reeling after the death of a popular teen boy who was probably gay, to Andrew Karre at Flux, in a nice deal, for publication in spring 2009 (World)."It's not poetry, but it's good enough for what it's for. What I didn't anticipate (but should have, since it's happened before) was that this would serve as a kind of advance read for the earliest critics. The popular Dear Author blog posted "Epic story sales that may or may not put me to sleep," wherein, among other thoughts on a number of deal posts, the author suggests that six voices might be "too many."
I said this has happened before, and it has--to the very first deal I ever did, in fact (and it was much more troubling then). Two years ago, a blogger posted this about my notice for the sale of Christine Kole MacLean's How It's Done, which was posted under its working title, "Pulling Out." In his post, the blogger wrote:
"That 'swept off her feet' is pretty strange coming in between 'high school senior from a fundamentalist Christian home' and 'college professor.' Explain to me how this isn’t a novel about something close to statutory rape? The age difference and power imbalance are compounded by the perception that the young woman has a sheltered background."At the time, it took all my will power not to post a long comment explaining all the ways he had it wrong (though it occurs to me that it may seem like I'm doing something like that now--hope not). Now, though, I'm inclined to be intrigued and even a little encouraged by this. Yes, I think it's a little unfair for someone to write something negative about a book based on something the editor wrote about it in haste , but I just spent a weekend at an SCBWI conference saying over and over that publishing is not fair, so I'll take my own advice. More than that, though, I think it's at least interesting and maybe even encouraging that readers, writers, and critics are so interested in what's coming. It betrays a certain kind of enthusiasm and hope for the future of books, and I think, practically speaking, some conversation is preferable to no conversation. (I just wish they'd promise to follow through and blog about the book when it comes out. )
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
(Also, I was unfamiliar with Kim Kardashian, who's mentioned in the article, so I Googled her. If you do nothing else, you must go to her "official" web site and read her bio. Suffice it to say, the very rich don't proofread.)
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
The alarm rang at 5 a.m. last Saturday. Oh man, what I really wanted to do was turn it off, go back to sleep, get up when I felt like and hang out with my husband all day. But I was determined to learn about blogging, so I dragged myself out of bed, showered, dressed and hit the road for Robin Brande’s first annual Kidlitosphere in Chicago. I had a great book on tape and there was zero traffic between Indianapolis and the Windy City (what nut gets up at that time on a Saturday?) So except for an inadvertent segue through O’Hare airport, it was an okay trip.
Confession: I’m so out of it that when I got to Kidlitosphere that morning, I didn’t even really know what blogging was. The thought of blogging myself was pretty much incomprehensible. Where would I start? Kidlitosphere gave me a crash course in all that—and more. Plus, who wouldn’t want to be part of such a smart, friendly, funny community of people who are crazy about books?
Thank God, I was almost immediately adopted by Maureen Kearney—children’s librarian by day, blogger (Confessions of a Bibliovore) by every other spare minute. She answered all my (dumb) questions and those I’d never have thought to ask. Plus, she kindly included me in her Steak & Shake lunch group—along with Betsy Bird, the voice behind what seemed like everyone’s favorite blog, Fuse 8; Lisa Chellman, another blogging librarian—who made my day when she asked, “Didn’t you write Wish You Were Here*?; and the very hilarious author/blogger Ellen Klages. The conversation—partly involving how to create cool (small, safe) explosions with soda (diet, not regular, because doesn’t leave a sticky residue on the walls) was as good as (maybe better than) my cheeseburger, fries and gargantuan chocolate shake—which means something, coming from me. I love Steak & Shake!
Every single session was packed with information and practical advice—from how to set up a blog, how to find your voice, how to get arcs (advanced review copies, for those who were as clueless as I was before Saturday) and how to podcast. And it was fun to watch the bloggers meeting each other—most for the first time. “You’re just like your voice,” they kept saying.
My favorite session was “Blogging for Authors,” where about thirty people crammed cozily (standing room only) in a conference room and shared tips about...everything. Talking about the ethics or just plain decentness of blogging, Robin Brande cut to the chase, sharing this simple philosophy: Don’t be a dick. (Are we allowed to say that in a blog?) We’re all in this together. What’s good for one of us is good for everyone who loves books.
Amen to that! And to the whole idea of Kidlitosphere. Thanks, Robin! It was a really great day.
* Yes, she did, obviously. And we'll be re-releasing it this May (the Children's Book Council voted it the book they'd most like to see back in print; so we obliged). And Barbara's new novel (and recipient of the Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship) Everything You Want will release this April.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Bad Mutha Fluxa Varian Johnson has an article in the most recent Writer's Digest on incorporating doodles, charts, and other non-narrative and non-verbal elements to a novel without alienating the reader--something he does to great effect in his upcoming novel My Life as a Rhombus. Sounds like a useful article. Check it out.
Friday, October 5, 2007
From the review of a teen reader:
"I can't wait until the next book comes out and I want to read it ASAP! This is a must-read for all of the book lovers like me out there. I recommend this fabulous novel to everyone but mainly to those who are intrigued by fantasy."
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Several landmark court cases have paved the way for artists to be able to explore the full range of verbal expression without fear of being prosecuted for indecency or obscenity. One of the most important was a ruling that Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" was not, in fact "obscene" or "indecent" under the law, a ruling which was handed down in California 50 years ago yesterday.
The presiding judge in the case wrote in his opinion: “Would there be any freedom of press or speech if one must reduce his vocabulary to vapid innocuous euphemism?” Indeed.
So, all of you who support David Levithan and Rachel Cohn's right to explore every conceivable usage of the word "fuck" or Ellen Wittlinger's right to write frankly about oral sex or Brian Mandabach's right to explore just how screwed up American schools can be, say thank you to Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Howl's original publisher. They fought the good fight.
You can listen to Howl, read by Allen Ginsberg, and a whole host of interviews and feature on the story here. You'll also discover how much the ruling has been eroded in practice, especially on broadcast media, in the past decades--a very disturbing development.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
I sullenly looked up at them. “I said, who cares. You guys have made college such a big deal. And I’m sick of talking about it.”
“Ellie, what’s gotten into you?” Mom asked. “You’ve been talking about college practically since you started high school.”
“We thought you were excited about it,” continued Dad. “Is something wrong?”
“Are you depressed?” asked Mom, fearfully.
“Are you doing okay in your classes?” Dad asked.
"Oh, God, you aren’t addicted to crystal meth, are you?” Mom practically shrieked. "Did you know they make that with poison?”
Ah yes, zero to crystal meth in four seconds flat. Nice.
*Unfortunately, I couldn't find a YouTube of Helen Hunt in "Angel Dusted"--you'll have to ask Hank Green--but I did find her smoking weed on "The Facts of Life."
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
This was a particularly interesting passage:
Kate Pellin, a standout basketball player in Suffield, Conn., has sustained at least four concussions, three times being knocked unconscious while diving for balls or being slammed to the hardwood by other players. “I get offended when people say girls don’t play sports as hard as boys,” she said.What an interesting state of affairs thirty-five years after Title IX.
Also interesting to note that it's the number-one forwarded article in NYTimes Sports at the moment (and this on a day when when they've got a piece about A-Rod and the playoffs).
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
A local high school's gay-straight alliance student organization has won the right in federal court to make use of their school's bulletin boards and PA system for organization-related announcements. The school argued that the organization's mission was not curricular and thus they were not entitled to such access--access that is, apparently, routinely granted to sports and spirit organizations, among others. The judge was not convinced.
In my mind, what is truly commendable about this group is that they stuck with the case. Any given kid is only in high school for four years and litigation of this sort doesn't happen quickly. Time is on the districts side. So thank you, Straights and Gays for Equality of Maple Grove High School in Maple Grove, Minnesota for staying in the fight.
And don't forget to check out GLBT month at YA Books Central.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
And, for some book-related news, mosey on over to Cynsations for an interview with Carrie Jones. Carrie is also one of the many bloggers chiming in on the mayor of San Diego's recent change of heart. It provides an interesting contrast to the horror/hilarity of the oft-quoted bit of Iranian president Ahmanedijad's Columbia U. address.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Your faithful editor,
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
A woman in Maine has checked out two copies of the popular sex-ed book It's Perfectly Normal and has refused to return them. Read this Boston Globe article for the complete story. Here's her plan, in her own words:
"Hopefully, this will harness enough people to be sufficiently horrified and and want to speak out, to say it's gone too far."The library even has a policy and procedure for citizens who want to challenge books. Apparently that wasn't dramatic enough.
Lots of people have blogged this already, and I don't have a ton to add (this is a silly, ineffective, tactic, etc. etc.), but I think it is worth pointing out that Flux's parent company is Llewellyn Worldwide, a company whose bread and butter is Wicca, paganism, magic, and other alternative spirituality books. It's received wisdom around here that Llewellyn titles are among the most frequently stolen books in libraries. Whether the thieves are people like this woman from Maine or people legitimately interested in the books but, for whatever reason, not interested in checking them out legitimately, I don't know. But Llewellyn has been around for over 100 years. The company just bought a new building. It's going strong. No one here is listening to anyone saying "you've gone to far." There's no evidence of a groundswell of people who are "sufficiently horrified."
If anything, people around here and, I think, people in the book business in general are energized by the notion that what we do has value precisely because there are people out there who feel so strongly that it doesn't. This is why this tactic does not work.
Andrew: How did you come across How It’s Done? What was your initial reaction after reading it?
Jillian: I came across How It’s Done at my public library, where I spend a great deal of time. My husband knows that when I die I want me memorial money to go to the library. If I ever get a second teaching endorsement it will be in reading. Anyway, about the book . . . . I loved it! I breezed through it in about 6 or 8 hours. It was just engrossing and I couldn’t do anything else. I read it for a class on contemporary fiction, so my family had to leave me alone, because I was doing “homework”. We could choose any young adult fiction that we wanted.
A: What made you want to share it with your students?
J: This book covers almost every topic we may discuss in my family life class, from parenting styles to friendship to dating and beyond…
A: What kind of discussion do you think it will lead to? Do you think they’ll like it and/or want to talk about it?
J: I think we’ll have great discussions. The author has a list of everything that we plan to discuss. I think they will really enjoy talking about their own lives in the shadow of Grace’s life.
A: Is there one part in particular that you really want to talk about?
J: I especially want the students to discuss charming boys! They are not always what they seem and can often lead to BAD relationships. I have mostly girls in my classes and many of them have low self-esteem and need the self-assurance of a character like Grace who made a bad choice. I think some of them can learn through example.
A: Are there any parts of the book you’re not looking forward to discussing?
J: I’m not sure if the book will get approved due to the abortion and reference to the religious father. So I may not be able to discuss any if that happens. However, I have many former students who would love to read and blog about this book. I hope it does get approved!
A: Have you done this before with other books?
J: No, this is my first attempt at using a complete novel in the classroom. I guess I did read A Child Called It to my students before the book approval process became so strict.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Friday, September 7, 2007
I read all of her Wrinkle in Time books when I was young, but she was truly important to my wife, who has read every word she published.
Besides the books, she seems to have been quite a source of witty quotes. I love this one: "You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it's going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children."
Booklist found precocious pretensions in Brian Mandabach's narrator in Or Not (which is good, because he definitely put them there), but said “…teens will gradually find themselves absorbed by Cassie’s life, and empathize with her struggles." Kliatt was similarly captivated by Cassie's beauty and strength: “[The] strength is in the character of Cassie, a brilliant young teenager who is the object of scorn and bullying in her middle school.” I can sympathize with these reviewers. Cassie Sullivan is one of the most maddening and endearing narrators I've ever had the pleasure to meet--and this is exactly why I knew we needed to publish the book. She jumps off the page.
Kliatt also weighed in on Running with the Wind, John Foley's sequel to Hoops of Steel, which Kliatt praised as "an ideal selection for sports fiction aimed at older teens.” They said of the follow up, "Readers will learn to sail with [Jackson], and understand the great appeal of the sea as it tests an individual. . . . [T]he author is a high school teacher who understands young men and athletics.”
Finally, party-girl Sara Hantz has her Second Virginity of Suzy Green under the microscope at Kliatt. Results are positive. "The topics addressed here--sexuality, friendship, family relationships--all add depth to the plot and should be fodder for discussion"
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Anyway, she's recently launched into a series of interviews, including one time Flux interviewee, Jennifer Laughran of NYMBC. Heidi asks Jennifer questions about Muppets that apparently I neglected to ask. And, today, she posted a Muppet-centric interview with Carrie Jones, that also strays onto the topic of Patrick Swayze and 80s Cold-War paranoia shoot-'em-up Red Dawn (true confessions: I've never seen Red Dawn. Somehow, I never managed to be over at the house of a friend who had a VCR at the right time, and by the time we got a VCR, it wasn't interesting anymore).