My picks from YALSA’s 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults

I know it’s a little late in the year to be posting about last year’s books but I’m gonna do it anyway!

I read several books on YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list for 2012. Here are the ones I absolutely loved:

  • The Diviners by Libba Bray
  • Every Day by David Levithan
  • Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

These books I also liked but didn’t quite blow me away like the first 3 did:

  • Croak by Gina Damico (recommended to me by a teen)
  • The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison
  • The Fault in our Stars by John Green
  • Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (listened to the audio read by James van der Beek)
  • Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

I started these books but never finished (usually because some other book was screaming “Read me NOW!):

  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
  • The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (would like to try again with this one!)
  • Boy21 by Matthew Quick
  • The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman (currently reading)

Books on my MUST READ list:

  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
  • The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
  • The Brides of Rollock Island by Margo Lanagan
  • I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Wish me luck in getting around to the rest of these books!


Protect yourself from Identity Theft

ponyangry

This Little Pony is angry because her identity was stolen

This morning, a patron called wanting to know how to protect his identity from being stolen by hackers on the Internet. He mentioned a service that could protect you through the use of one password. I wasn’t aware of a service like that but a quick online search will show you that they do exist. Lifelock is one such website.

But should you have to pay that much to be protected from hackers stealing your identity? I don’t think so. There are free alternatives that anyone can use and everyone should know about. Including me… As a librarian in the digital age, I must know this stuff like the back of my hand. It’s called financial literacy–just another form of literacy that libraries need to actively promote. The Public Library Association agrees.

Here are the best online resources I’ve found on identity theft:

Federal Trade Commision – Consumer Information – Identity Theft

“How to protect yourself from identity theft for free,” USA Today, Nov 9, 2012

Identity Theft Resource Center – NPO

Suspicious Emails & Identity Theft – irs.gov

And don’t forget the 3 credit reporting agencies (your new BFFs):

Experian

TransUnion

Equifax


Animals are confusing!

You’d think getting people books or information about animals would be easy. But it’s deceptively difficult. Here’s a few examples:

Black Panthers

blackjaguarA woman and her teenaged son came in asking for a book on black panthers. I had to ask, “As in Black Panther Party or animal?” So animal it was. I thought black panthers were their own species of big cat. Looking through books turned up nothing. Then I checked the indexes of animal encyclopedias and still was confused. Where are the Black Panthers, YO? I finally found an entry that confused me even more. It said that black panthers were really black leopards or black jaguars. It wasn’t until I read the Wikipedia article on black panthers that I got the gist of it. They aren’t their own species. It’s just what we call a big cat that has a gene which causes its fur to be black from excess melanin. They sometimes still have spots like their jaguar or leopard mommies and daddies. So “black panther” is more of a nickname than a real scientific classification.

Groundhogs

groundhogAWWW! So cute! But when one is living under your porch and eating all your plants and vegetables and you are pulling your hair out trying to make it scram, then you come to the library for answers. “What do groundhogs eat,” she wants to know, “because we’re gonna try to trap him.” Again, I can’t find any books on groundhogs on the shelf, and the encyclopedia index says “SEE woodchuck”. So they are called woodchucks, whistle-pigs, land-beavers. They are part of the marmot family and they love to eat fruits and veggies and other green things. (How is this guy so fat?) The best answer I got, including techniques on how to trap one, was from the Internet. I avoided the Internet at first because she said she wanted a book. But she was happy with the information anyway. Good luck to her! I hope the groundhog didn’t ruin the foundation of her home! (Something else I learned they are capable of…)

Pill Bug

pill bugI feel sad to even put this guy on the same page with that cute groundhog… But a boy was doing a report on the pill bug and needed to use at least 2 books for writing his report. It’s nice to know that some teachers are still requiring books to be used for research, not just the Internet. But again, is Pill Bug its “true” name? I was stumped by the books, and the Internet was also confusing. Did he want the pill bug aka woodlice aka Armadillidiidae (Arma-Dilla-Dee-Day-Ding-Dong)? Or was it really the pill millipede which looks very similar but has no other relation? I gave him the info on the woodlice variety, but geez, did it really have to be that hard?

Lessons learned? Do a quick online search before you hit the books, just to make sure if your animal of choice goes by another name or has any confusing varieties or is even really an animal! Then look it up in the books.

 


April’s Teen Book Club – Divergent

fanpop by bussykussi

fanpop by bussykussi

I’ve started a teen book club at my library. The Teen Advisory Board suggested it. At our first meeting in February, we read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. That was a pretty heavy book about suicide, blame, bullying, and depression. When I asked the group what they wanted to read next, they wanted something completely different than Thirteen Reasons Why. “Science fiction! Mystery! Anything not about suicide!” And I thought people would be dying to read a realistic tome about high school horribleness. 🙂

Non-realistic genres are very popular now in YA lit and popular with our teens as well. Fantasy, science fiction, and action/adventure books are always circulating. I read these genres as a way to take a break from the problems of the real world. I can see why teens like them too. Adolescence is not the most peaceful or stress-free time of one’s life. Reading fantasy or science fiction can give teens an entertaining mental break from exams, packed schedules, and social navigating.

For our next book club in April, I chose Divergent by Veronica Roth. A popular trilogy often compared to The Hunger Games, I think Divergent will prove to be a bigger, better choice for book club than Thirteen Reasons Why. While TRW had plenty of tough subjects to discuss, Divergent will appeal to teens’ desire for action, suspense, and pure entertainment. Let’s face it. Divergent will be more fun to read than a book about suicide. Now I don’t mean to discredit choosing a more serious book for a teen book club. We had an excellent discussion with multiple points-of-view and opinions about Hannah Baker’s decision to end her life. But I understand the need to mix it up and lighten the mood.

Divergent is not without its themes – issues of identity, belonging, difficult choices, questioning authority. We will talk about all those things and more at the book club. I also have an idea for a fun activity involving the book’s 5 factions of society. This fan website describes the factions really well. I want to find a way of testing the teens to see which faction they would belong to, and then see if they would change the recommendation and choose a completely different faction, just like Tris does in the book. We get to pretend we are in Tris’s world and also ask ourselves questions about our identities. Can we really be pinned down to one category or are we all “divergent?”


2012’s Most Read YA Authors at AFL

Wordle: 2012's Most Read YA Authors at Abington Free Library

Click on the pic above to see the word cloud I created showing the most read Young Adult authors in my library in 2012. The bigger the name, the more popular the author. I pulled this information from the top 50 circulating YA titles last year. I’d like to print this out and put it up somewhere in the YA area to promote the collection and also let teens see what authors are hot right now.

Top 10 YA Titles of 2012 at Abington Free Library

  1. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  2. Son of Neptune – Rick Riordan
  3. Divergent – Veronica Roth
  4. Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero – Rick Riordan
  5. What Happened to Goodbye – Sarah Dessen
  6. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  7. Clockwork Prince – Cassandra Clare
  8. Legend – Marie Lu (and my personal favorite!)
  9. Scorch Trials – James Dashner
  10. Matched – Ally Condie

Every $10 invested in PA public libraries, $55 returned to taxpayers

A 2006 statewide survey conducted by the University of North Carolina in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh concluded that for every $10 invested in public libraries, $55 is returned to Pennsylvania taxpayers.

If public libraries didn’t exist, the study said, the economic loss to our communities across the Commonwealth would total nearly $1.34 billion. That’s 5.5 times what we dedicate annually in local, state, and federal taxes for public libraries.

From the PA Forward website, a campaign started by the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA)


Harry Potter Quizzo

The Deathly Hallows

The Deathly Hallows

I held a Harry Potter Quizzo program last Wednesday for teens at my library. It was so much fun planning it, baking and buying goodies for it, writing the Quizzo questions, and watching the teens really enjoy themselves and have a great time.

Each Quizzo round was based on one of the Harry Potter books, so there were 7 rounds total with 8 questions and a bonus question each. I was rushing to fit in all the questions before our time was up! Some of the teens were Harry Potter fanatics so I really should have made the questions a lot harder than they were. These guys were so smart that they were catching me on technicalities – like the fact that in the fourth book, the person who brought Harry back to the castle after his battle with Voldemort could either be Mad Eye Moody or Barty Crouch Jr, since Barty was disguised as Mad Eye. I was floored by the things they remembered from the 4,224 pages that they read of the series. Never underestimate your teens! They will outsmart you every time.

Some other highlights from the program:

  • A group of 6 friends who dressed up in Hogwarts robes and Gryffindor scarves and ties, Luna Lovegood glasses, and even brought wands. They also baked some items from the Harry Potter cookbook and shared with everyone.
  • New friends were made! Score!
  • Everyone gobbled up my cupcakes and hot chocolate. I think chocolate is a BIG plus at events.
  • Teams gave themselves awesome names: Hermoine and the Graingers, Babbity Rabbity and the Cackling Stumps, Potterlock, and Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.
  • Get a big group of teens together and they are gonna chat it up. I almost lost my voice that night talking over them but I never wanted to shush them. I let them do that to each other.
  • I had two wonderful volunteers who helped me to score each round. They made everything so much easier and I was so grateful!

Better Book Titles

I came across this website today, Better Book Titles. Dan Wilbur is pretty hilarious. Some of his better book titles are spot on in their ability to get to the heart of the matter. I love this Paula Deen example. Shouldn’t all Paula Deen’s cookbooks have the subtitle “Death by Butter”?

If you love reading, or laughing, visit Better Book Titles plz.


Books Wanted: Dead or Alive

This week’s New York Times Book Review features two articles — “Dead Again” & “It’s Alive” — about the possible demise or longevity of the printed book. Authors Price and Silverman pepper their separate arguments with predictions and descriptions made hundreds of years ago — my favorite of which includes a future where no one walks to the public library anymore; there’s an airplane drop-off service.

Silverman quotes Thoreau to make the distinction between books and other forms of art that can connect us with humanity: “[The book] is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips; — not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself.”

Words on a page may not be as striking to look at as a painting like Munch’s The Scream, but a book can produce just as much, if not more, emotional stimulation and connection with life as we experience it everyday. Some have argued that film would take the place of books as the primary storytelling medium. And yet, more and more films are based on stories told in books first (The Help, The Bourne Legacy, The Hunger Games). Films are indebted to books; they would never replace them entirely.

What about e-readers & e-books overtaking the printed book? Again, the electronic version of books are indebted to the printed version. The e-readers simulate the turning of a page. One mimics the other. Trains did not disappear when planes were invented; you still “board” both. Farms didn’t disappear when scientists learned how to make food entirely in a lab. Sure, MP3s have trumped CDs, which have trumped tape cassettes, but music has no replacement. The format is not the issue; it’s the medium that matters.


OMG that book is, like, so funny

Made with memecreator.com

The newest issue of VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates, Vol. 35, Iss. 3, Aug 2012) has a great article about the status of humor in YA fiction (“A Funny Thing Happened,” p. 16-18). Why doesn’t humor get more respect in the YA literary world? After all, a lot of teens might want to read something that will make them laugh rather than sob hysterically. And yet, if your main character doesn’t have cancer, or isn’t trying to survive a deadly reality competition, or doesn’t have a life-threatening addiction, then the book doesn’t get as much press or clout. Don’t get me wrong, I love these deep, intense books. But I also like when an author perfectly mixes humor with real-life problems. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie does this spectacularly.

I’ve noticed teens in my library who want to read something entertaining that will make them giggle, laugh, or ROFL. So I decided it would be a great time for a YA book display on the theme of humor. Here’s some of the books in our collection that I recommend to any teen that needs to laugh it up:

  • The Hunger Pains by Stefan Petrucha
  • I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle
  • Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
  • The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks
  • Flush by Carl Hiaasen
  • Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
  • There is no Dog by Meg Rosoff
  • Attack of the Theater People by Marc Acito

Share your favorite funny YA books with me!