Author Biographies: Suzanne Collins

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Suzanne Collins is most likely a household name at this point. Of course, everyone recognizes her to be the author of The Hunger Games trilogy, but did you know she used to write for children’s television programs? She never would have gone into writing books for children and young adults if it weren’t for children’s author James Proimos.

Suzanne Collins was born in Hartford, Connecticut as the youngest of four. Her father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, so the family moved around a lot while Collins was growing up. She graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham as a Theater Arts Major. She also received her Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University and her Master of Fine Arts in dramatic writing from New York University Tisch School of the Arts.

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In 1991, Collins began her career as a writer for children’s television shows, including Clarissa Explains It All, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Little Bear, and Oswald. She was also the head writer for Clifford’s Puppy Days.  It wasn’t until she met children’s author James Proimos that she decided to write children’s books herself. She started with a picture book about a boy who is addicted to video games.

Her first novel, Gregor the Overlander, was released in 2003. For the next four years, Collins released one novel per year in The Underland Chronicles. In 2008, the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy was released and remained on The New York Times Bestsellers List for 60 consecutive weeks. The following two books in the series were released in 2009 and 2010, respectively. In 2011, The Hunger Games began the process of being adapted into a movie, which was co-written by Collins and released in 2012. Also in 2012, Collins was named the best-selling Kindle author of all time.

Genres

As you might or might not have noticed, I have been going through the different genres we have at the Aurora Public Library District and offering popular authors and titles as a sort of introduction to the genre itself, especially for those who are unfamiliar with or new to the genre. But the concept of books being separated by genre can be a little confusing, especially because, most of the time, many books do not fit one particular mold for only one genre.

A genre is a specific category that fiction books belong to based on the content of the novel. Many times authors will specialize in one particular genre and only write books that fit that mold. But authors can (and do!) cross over into many genres with various novels or with only one novel. This makes it harder for us to determine whether a book should be considered one genre over another, which then makes everything more complicated and confusing than it needs to be. A list of common fiction genres include:

Classic, Crime/Detective, Drama, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Horror, Magical Realism, Metafiction, Mystery, Mythopoeia, Realistic Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story, Suspense/Thriller, and Western.

Many of these are self-explanatory, but I bet you can already see how some of these genres can blend into each other and create sub-genres, like Science Fiction and Fantasy. However, there might be a few terms that you have no idea what they mean (don’t worry, I didn’t know either!), so I’ll try to explain them as best as I can.

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Magical Realism is basically incorporating fantastical elements into realistic fiction. So, it is a clash between Realistic and Fantasy Fiction. This genre, I’ve noticed, is especially popular with Young Adult and Juvenile Fiction, but there are several titles available in Adult Fiction, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, and The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman.

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Metafiction is a newer genre of fiction that comes from the Post-Modernism literary movement. Metafiction draws attention to the novel as a work of art as one is reading; the author does not let the reader forget that he or she is reading a book. Metafiction can also deviate from the way in which the traditional novel is written or read. This genre also requires the reader to think, too, as the writing is sometimes not meant to be taken literally.  It is somewhat difficult to explain, but the reader will most likely know when they read it. Some examples include The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, and Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt.

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Mythopoeia is more of a literary device than it is a fiction genre, but it definitely can be a genre on its own in some cases. Mythopoeia is the imitation, expanding, or inclusion of traditional myths into newer fiction. Mythopoeia also creates its own myths and legends, typically in Fantasy novels. Once again, I see the Mythopoeia genre most frequently in Young Adult and Juvenile Fiction (such as with Rick Riordan’s numerous series), but there are several classics that fall into this genre as well, like the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, the Dark Tower series by Stephen King, and A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin.

Genres can still be confusing to navigate, but hopefully they make a little more sense than they did. If you think a book belongs in one genre and I think it belongs in a different genre, chances are we’ll both be right. Let the Aurora Public Library District help you expand your love of reading across all genres!

Happy Reading!

The Bill of Rights and You Display

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The Aurora Public Library District would like to invite you to view a new pop-up display from the National Archives and Records Administration commemorating the 225th anniversary of the establishment of the first tend amendments to the United States Constitution, The Bill of Rights. The display, entitled The Bill of Rights and You, allows modern Americans to connect with the people, places, and events surrounding one of the most cataclysmic events in American history. The exhibition features the history of the first ten amendments, shows how each amendment protects citizens of the United States, and demonstrates how we, as Americans, exercise the rights outlined in the amendments.

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“The Bill of Rights represents the Founder’s vision that it would be the people, through votes, that could change the Constitution with enough consensus. And when the people desired a Bill of Rights, our first ten amendments were added to our governing charter.” — Jennifer Johnson, The Bill of Rights and You co-curator.

This display is organized by the National Archives and Records Administration, and traveled by the National Archives Traveling Exhibits Service (NATES). The exhibit will be on display at the Aurora Public Library on the upper level until the end of January. If you would like more information about the Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution, check out our catalog or stop by the library today.

Author Biographies: Roald Dahl

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Roald Dahl has been said to be one of the most-beloved children’s authors of all time. It’s hard to find someone who has never read a book by Dahl in their childhood, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to Matilda, to The BFG. Many of Dahl’s stories were inspired by his own childhood, but he was initially published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1942 with his story about how his fighter plane crash-landed in Egypt. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that he began publishing children’s books. So what happened in between?

Roald Dahl was born in Wales on September 13, 1916 to Norwegian immigrant parents. He was sent to two different boarding schools, both of which inspired the stories featured in many of his children’s books, such as the invention of the “Everlasting Gobstopper.” In school, his teachers repeatedly told him that they didn’t think he was talented enough in his English and writing classes to amount to much. After he left school, he traveled to Canada and then to East Africa, where he worked for an oil company until World War II broke out. Dahl then enlisted in the Royal Air Force and became a pilot.

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In 1940, Dahl’s plane crashed between the Allied and Italian forces. Dahl suffered injuries to the head, nose, back, and was temporarily blind from the accident. It only took him six months to recover and then he was back in action as a fighter pilot. In 1942, Dahl came to the United States to work in the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., where he served as an intelligence officer for Great Britain, passing information along to Winston Churchill. The author C.S. Forester was commissioned by The Saturday Evening Post to write an article about Dahl’s plane crash. Forester asked Dahl for some notes for the article, but Dahl ended up writing the entire story that was printed in 1942.

Dahl’s first children’s book, James and the Giant Peach, was published in 1961, followed rapidly by the rest of Dahl’s collection. Dahl also wrote screenplays for television shows and movies, including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and short stories. He died on November 23, 1990.

Roald Dahl’s children’s stories often feature good children and evil adults, and are typically told from the point of view of a child. Dahl acknowledges that children are important, maybe even more important than adults sometimes.