Does YA Mean Anything Anymore?: Genre in a Digitized World – The Zena Sutherland Lecture

The Fault in our Stars

When we look to the astonishing growth of children’s books — especially YA books — in the last twenty years, we like to credit individuals — J. K. Rowling, for instance. But while it’s a kind of national obligation in the United States to praise individuals over collectives, I want to argue tonight that making […]

The value of re-reading

The Secret of the Wooden Lady (Nancy Drew)

I was recently privy to a conversation that I have participated in countless times in my twenty-plus years in education. It was a version of “The 8th grade teachers are stealing the 9th grade teachers’ books” discussion. You know that one, right? Of course, it does not reside exclusively in the domain of middle or […]

Clearing the brush

lumberjack

The New York Times’ sensationalizing of the practice of abridging adult nonfiction titles for a younger audience rather misses the point, which is about commerce, not censorship. The main difference between the adult and juvenile editions of these titles is that the latter are shorter, provide less background material, and are less detailed. As an […]

Atmospheric audiobooks

stroud_screaming staircase audiobook

These audiobooks offer intrepid listeners stories of supernatural and psychological suspense, all with vividly evoked settings. In the world of Jonathan Stroud’s The Screaming Staircase (first book in the Lockwood & Co. series), ghost-busting firms employ psychically sensitive children to neutralize supernatural pests infesting London. Lucy Carlyle joins an indie agency — consisting of Lucy, […]

YA supernatural baddies

ritter_jackaby

Looking for a book to send a chill down your spine? These four new novels involving creepy paranormal characters are perfect for the occasion. Abandoning university for a (failed) archaeological dig in the Carpathian Mountains, Abigail Rook, star of William Ritter’s Jackaby, finds herself aboard a ship bound for America. Landing in the town of […]

Garth Nix on Clariel

nix_clariel

In the September/October 2014 Horn Book Magazine, reviewer Katie Bircher asked Garth Nix about Clariel, the long-awaited prequel to his high fantasy trilogy Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen. Read the review here. Katie Bircher: Do you think the walker chooses the path, or the path the walker? Which is it in Clariel’s case? Garth Nix: This […]

Review of Clariel

nix_clariel

Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen by Garth Nix Middle School, High School    Harper/HarperCollins    383 pp. 10/14    978-0-06-156155-9    $18.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-06-221680-9    $10.99 Six centuries before the events of Sabriel (rev. 1/97), Lirael (rev. 7/01), and Abhorsen (rev. 3/03), circumstances in the Old Kingdom are vastly different: the addled king refuses to rule; the Abhorsen neglects […]

The Maze Runner movie review

maze runner poster

I’m a sucker for a good secret. The Maze Runner is all about secrets. If you’ve read James Dashner’s novel, seeing the Twentieth Century Fox movie (released September 19, 2014) is a completely different experience than it would be if you were new to the story. Instead of wondering how a gaggle of teenaged boys […]

Lucky Day: An I Hunt Killers Prequel e-book review

lyga_lucky day

I’ve been reviewing Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers trilogy (I Hunt Killers, Game) for the Magazine and am about to start reading the just-released final volume, Blood of My Blood. So I was very excited to get my hands on Lucky Day: An I Hunt Killers Prequel by Barry Lyga (Little, Brown, April 2014), one […]

If I Stay movie review

if i stay movie poster

So, I saw that movie based on a YA novel about teens in love who are faced with questions of life and death. No, not that one, at least not most recently. I’m talking about the New Line Cinema/MGM adaptation of Gayle Forman’s 2009 novel If I Stay, directed by R. J. Cutler and released […]