Young Adult Blog

Looking at Race in Teen Books

There is probably no more polarizing issue today than that of race. Teens are right in the middle of this issue as they engage with different forms of media and they interact with their family and their peers. This topic is also getting more attention in the world of Young Adult Literature. The teenage years are when young adults struggle to make sense of the events taking place around them and also to construct their own world view based on the various viewpoints they hear. Books can help with that process by offering different perspectives!

How It Went Down and All American Boys both point to the difficulty of understanding an event due to the varying viewpoints of the observers. All American Boys is also on this year’s Eliot Rosewater book list for high school students.

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon   All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

The following two books address conflicts that arise when an African American teen attends a mostly white prep school. The Hate U Give is one of the most highly praised Young Adult novels to be published in 2017.

The Hate U Give by Angie ThomasBlack Boy, White School by Brian Walker

The last four books are classified as historical fiction, but range in time period from the 1960s back to the 1920s.

X by Ilyasah Shabazz   Call Me By My Name by John Ed Bradley

Out of Darknes by Ashley Hope Perez   Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Race is a complicated issue and reading from different perspectives can be enormously helpful for us all! Why not check out a copy to read with your teens? I’m sure that each of these books will provide lots of thought-provoking discussion.

As always, if you’d like more suggestions, just ask!

 

 

 

A Fresh Look at Arabian Nights

Although using traditional fairy tales as the basis for teen books has been popular for a while, most of these books have used European tales as a starting point. For example, Alex Flinn has written lots of fairy tale versions, including Beastly (Beauty and the Beast), A Kiss in Time (Sleeping Beauty), and Towering (Rapunzel). That’s why I was delighted to find these two books based on the stories of One Thousand and One Nights.

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh   The Rose & the Dagger b y Renn Ahdieh

One Thousand and One Nights (often known in English as The Arabian Nights) is a collection of stories by many authors and can be traced back to ancient and medieval Arabic, Persian, Indian and Jewish folklore.  Although collections of these stories can vary in content, the tales are told within the framework of Scheherazade who soothes her evil husband with her storytelling skills.

Marie Lu, author of Legend, described The Wrath & the Dawn as “an intoxicating gem of a story,” and added, “Don’t be surprised if the pages melt away and you find yourself racing through warm, golden sands or drinking spiced wine in cool marble courtyards,”  so buckle up for an exciting journey through Middle Eastern culture.

If your only connection to Arabian Nights comes from Disney’s Aladdin and the Prince of Persia movie or video game, you may want to brush up on some of the original stories. The Thousand Nights and One Night by Jan Pienkowski is a beautiful introduction to the most well-known stories. You might be surprised to learn that the stories of Aladdin, Ali Baba, and Sinbad the Sailor were not initially included in collections of One Thousand and One Nights. Although they are from the same geographical area, these were added later by European translators.

The Thousand Nights and One Night by Jan Pienkowski

Why not begin a reading Grand Tour, traveling the globe in search of stories from other cultures? The Wrath & the Dawn can be your first stop along the way.

How The Bomb Got Me Thinking About Books

I recently listened to Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin. It was fascinating and made me realize all over again how much I love reading (or listening to) non-fiction books. Bomb is part scientific discovery and part espionage thriller. It’s written to entertain as well as educate; it can be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys a good story, with the added benefit of being 100% true.

Because I work with library patrons of all ages, I made a point of reading books from all areas of our library. That, unfortunately, does not leave me as much time for non-fiction as I would like. That’s one reason I love to reach for books like Bomb that are marketed for a Young Adult audience. School Library Journal recommended this book for grades 5 and up, and at 272 pages, it’s perfect for readers of any age who don’t want to get too bogged down by every tiny detail.

Steve Sheinkin is really making a name for himself in the world of Young Adult non-fiction. This was my second Sheinkin book; I also really enjoyed The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights. We also have books by Sheinkin about Benedict Arnold, Jim Thorpe and Daniel Ellsberg.

The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin   The Notorius Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin

Other authors that are writing truly excellent non-fiction for middle school kids and up include:

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose   Almost Astronauts by Tanya Lee Stone

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming   March: Book One by John Lewis

Because we do not have a separate collection for Young Adult non-fiction, please ask for help if you need suggestions or have trouble locating a particular book. There are some books in the Adult Biography area that are of definite interest to teens.

  

You might also look for recommendations on the Robert Siebert Book Award website. The annual Eliot Rosewater Book List always includes some non-fiction suggestions as well. This year’s Rosie list has The Boys Who Challenged Hitler (Hoose) and Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown.

Have you read a great non-fiction book recently? Post the title in the comments so we can help share the word!

Series Starters: The Selection

If you’re looking for an easy series read with elements of a dystopian, futuristic society with a competition to win the prince’s heart, then The Selection series by Kiera Cass is perfect for you! This series is what I like to call a fluff read, with an easy romance and just enough bad guys in the story to keep the plot moving right along. There are five books total in the series that you will be able to devour one after the other, whether you check them out from the Indiana Digital Download Center or from the Aurora or Dillsboro branches.

Teenager America Singer has gone through her entire life as a Five, which means she is on the lower end of the caste system with little to no prospects of ever moving up into the world. Her  family– and other Fives — work as musicians, entertainers, and artists to make ends meet. The only prospects America, and other girls like her, have of a better life is to enter into The Selection, which is the competition that only comes around when the heir to the crown and dystopian country comes of age. America is coerced into entering the competition by her mother and is shocked to find out that she is chosen to be one of only thirty-five girls, who come from all different backgrounds and castes all over the country, to compete for Prince Maxon’s affections. America now has to leave her boyfriend Aspen, a Six, behind at home while she goes off to the palace to try to make it long enough for her family to survive on the payout without falling in love with the prince or letting him fall for her. As the lowest number in the caste to compete, America quickly makes many enemies, even the king himself.

I enjoyed this series immensely, with all the twists and turns it took and the portrait it drew of a futuristic United States ruled entirely by a king and queen, and mostly separated from the rest of the world. It’s easy to see America’s growth throughout the series as well as empathize with her various internal conflicts. I definitely recommend!

The first three books follow America’s competition and the final two books are the aftermath. You can check out all five of the books as digital copies from the Indiana Digital Download Center, or as physical copies from the Aurora Public Library District branches. You can also check out the novella collection that takes place during the series in these formats.

Happy Reading!

Short Story Collections for Teens

Do you ever feel like you don’t have the time or desire to plunge into a hefty novel? Try reaching for a short story collection instead. We have a growing number of short story collections available in the Teen area of our libraries. You can also check on the Indiana Digital Download Center (IDDC) to find many of these titles available as an e-book. Just go to the Digital Downloads link on our web page.

Some of these story collections are used by the authors to fill in gaps between books in a series or to tell a story from a different character’s perspective.

The Bane Chronicles  Delirium Stories by Lauren Oliver  Blue Bloods: Keys to the Repository by Melissa de la Cruz

Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs was written after the completion of the Miss Peregrine’s Home series and is written as the fantastical book which plays such an important role in the series.

Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs

Others of these anthologies are created around a common theme such as steampunk, dystopian literature, or paranormal tales.

Steampunk: an Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories  Shards & Ashes  The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories

Titles like Black Juice by Margo Lanagan feature stories all written by one author. Other titles may include stories by multiple authors and are a great way to find a new favorite writer. Zombies vs. Unicorns includes stories by Garth Nix, Maureen Johnson, Cassandra Clare and others.

Black Juice by Margo Lanagan  Zombies vs. Unicorns

We even have 2 collections of holiday stories for teens!

Let It Snow: 3 Holiday Romances  My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

Give a short story collection a try, and let us know which books you enjoy!

Series Starters: A Court of Thorns and Roses

I’ll admit it; I was leery to start Sarah J. Maas’s other series, A Court of Thorns and Roses. But I’m glad I stuck with it! As always, Maas did not disappoint!

A Court of Thorns and Roses is recommended for young adults and older; in fact, it is often categorized under New Adult, which is a fairly recent subgenre in which characters are between the ages of eighteen and thirty or so. There are strong themes of growing up and coming to terms with oneself, as well as some content that might not be suitable for younger or immature readers.

The series starts with nineteen-year-old Feyre hunting in the woods, trying to keep the promise she made to her mother on her deathbed to always take care of her father and two sisters. She spots a deer but as she’s going in for the kill, a wolf comes along and threatens to steal it away. She takes a chance and kills both the deer and the wolf, thinking her family can keep the meat and she’ll be able to sell the pelts in the village for money. A few days later, it turns out that the wolf was actually a faerie in animal form, and another faerie has come to collect the debt on his sentinel’s life. What Feyre finds is a magical land cursed by a mysterious blight, a beast and his court who cannot take off their masks, and freedom.

After a slow start that seemed nothing more than yet another take on Beauty and the Beast, the action picks up about halfway through and doesn’t stop until the very last page. I’ve found this to be typical of Maas’s books, but it’s definitely worth sticking out. After several twists and turns that you won’t see coming, you won’t be able to wait for the next book in the series. Fortunately, the Aurora Public Library District has the first three novels in the series available for you to check out as physical or digital copies!

Happy Reading!

 

Series Starters: Divergent

For young adults, sometimes it feels like the dystopian genre is overused; sometimes it feels like the apocalyptic/end-of-the-word/new society story has been told over and over again so that it’s hard to see how new stories are still released. However, Veronica Roth’s dystopian trilogy, Divergent, manages to be extremely innovative and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

Beatrice Prior lives in “the City,” a dystopian version of Chicago, where the citizens are divided into five virtue-based factions: Candor (honesty), Erudite (intellect), Dauntless (bravery), Abnegation (selflessness), and Amity (peacefulness). Beatrice and her family are Abnegation, so they put others before themselves every minute of every day, which is something Beatrice struggles with. On a special day every year, those who have turned sixteen in the past year are required to choose the faction in which they will spend the rest of their lives after taking several placement tests to help them decide. During the tests, it is determined that Beatrice is Divergent, which means that her personality does not favor one faction over another; instead she tests equally into three factions, which is the most dangerous thing she could be. After making the choice that surprises both her and her parents, she renames herself Tris and struggles to survive the intense initiation of her new faction. As the novel intensifies, it becomes more clear that Tris is in great danger… and so is the rest of her city.

Veronica Roth published Divergent, the first in the trilogy, in 2011 when she was only twenty-three years old, which makes me extremely jealous. A prequel of short stories to the series, Four: A Divergent Collection, was released in 2014, a year after the third installment. Her newest standalone novel, Carve the Mark, was released earlier this year. The Divergent series has been made into three movies so far, with a fourth movie on the horizon.

I loved this series. I listened to the audiobooks when I was driving back and forth to work, but I am planning on rereading them once I get through the mountain of other books I want to read. And while many fans were critical about how the series ended, I thought that it couldn’t have ended any other way. I can’t give anything else away because of, you know, spoilers, but there is some respect for an author like Roth. I would definitely recommend this series.

The Aurora Public Library District owns physical copies of each movie and book, as well as digital copies of the books on the Indiana Digital Download Center.

Happy Reading!

Series Selection

Cassandra Clare is known for her series: The Mortal Instruments, but many don’t know about the series she wrote after that is supposed to be a prequel series to the Mortal Instruments: The Infernal Devices.

Clockwork AngelThe year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

Clockwork PrinceIn the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends. With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them. Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

Clockwork PrincessTHE INFERNAL DEVICES WILL NEVER STOP COMING! A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray. Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever. As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

 

“You can’t be serious —” Tessa began, but broke off as the door to the library opened, and Charlotte entered the room. She wasn’t alone. There were at least a dozen men following her, and — Tessa saw, as they filed into the room — two women.

Tessa gazed at them in fascination. So these were Shadowhunters — more Shadowhunters in one place than she’d ever seen before. She stared at the two women, remembering what Will had said about Boadicea, that women could be warriors as well. The taller of the women had powder-white hair wound in into a crown at the back of her head; she looked as if she were well into her sixties, and her presence was regal. The other of the women was younger, with dark hair and catlike eyes. The men were a mixed group, all in carefully tailored dark clothes: the eldest of them was an elegant-looking gentleman with an iron-gray beard and a steely gaze to match; the youngest was a boy probably no more than a year older than Jem or Will. He was handsome in a pretty sort of way, with delicate features, tousled brown hair and a watchful expression.

Jem made a noise of surprise and displeasure. “Gabriel Lightwood,” he muttered to Will, under his breath. “What’s he doing here?”

Will hadn’t moved. He was staring at the brown-haired boy with his eyebrows raised, a faint smile playing about his lips.

“Just don’t get into a fight with him, Will,” Jem added hastily. “Not here. That’s all I ask.”

“Rather a lot to ask, don’t you think?” Will said, without looking at Jem. He was watching Charlotte as she ushered everyone toward the large square table at the front of the room; she seemed to be urging everyone to settle themselves into seats around it. “Mr. Wayland,” she was saying, “and Mr. Harrowgate, here, by the head of the table, if you please. Aunt Callida — if you’d just sit over there by the map —”

“And where is George?” asked the gray-haired man, with an air of brusque politeness. “Your husband? As head of the Institute, he really ought to be here.”

Charlotte hesitated for only a fraction of a second before plastering a smile onto her face. “He’s on his way, Mr. Lightwood,” she said, and Tessa realized two things — one, that the gray-haired man was most likely the father of Gabriel Lightwood, and two, that Charlotte was lying.”

We Were Liars

E. Lockhart captured me from the very first sentence to the very last sentence. She enthralled me and refused to allow me to place the book down. I don’t know what grabbed me, whether it was the similes or the metaphors or Cadence and Gat, or perhaps it was Cadence herself. It was a beautiful story with beautiful characters and a beautiful ending.

Her writing made me love her as well as made me hate her. It made me cry and it made me laugh.

“A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth.” This summary of the book on Goodreads doesn’t do the book any justice.

The story focuses on “The Liars”, and is told from Cadence’s point of view. She speaks of Mirren and Johnny, Gat and herself. She tells her story and how she remembers and how she overcomes the accident. It speaks of young love and it tells us of regret and rebellion.

Reviews:


“Haunting, sophisticated . . . a novel so twisty and well-told that it will appeal to older readers as well as to adolescents
.” —Wall Street Journal

“A rich, stunning summer mystery with a sharp twist that will leave you dying to talk about the book with a pal or ten.” —Parade.com

“Thrilling, beautiful, and blisteringly smart, We Were Liars is utterly unforgettable.” —John Green, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars

“You’re going to want to remember the title. Liars details the summers of a girl who harbors a dark secret, and delivers a satisfying, but shocking twist ending.” —Breia Brissey, Entertainment Weekly

 

E. Lockhart tells such a brilliant and tragic story with less than 300 words.

 

Located:

We Were Liars is available at both Dillsboro and Aurora as well as our digital library.

 

Hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

 

Build a Better World Through Art Journals

What is an Art Journal?

An art journal is taking an old book and recycling it into a new one. Basically, you’re taking the old book you have and you’re giving it a new cover. An art journal doesn’t just have to be for art, it can be used as a scrap book, a recipe book, a journal, and even a story book. Posted in the picture below is just one example of the covers of Art Journals.

What does this have to do with the Aurora Public Library?

On June 15 and June 29 from 2-5, we are offering a FREE Art Journal program for teens and adults. We will be offering two different types of art journals to choose from.

Is the program just for teens and adults?

The program is strictly for teens and adults, aged 13 and up.

What about materials?

Everything for the program will be provided. All you need to do is bring yourself and any unique items that you wish to place within your art journal.

How do we participate?

In order to create an Art Journal, you’ll need to call or venture into either one of our libraries and register for the program. We only have eight available spaces along with a waiting list.

What do you mean waiting list?

A waiting list is a list of names of people who wish to join the program, but joined after we already had our eight people. If we have a person that doesn’t show then the first person within that list will be called and asked if they are still interested in the program.

How long do we have to register?

Registration will start June 1 and it will end on June 10.

Posted in the picture below is just one of many examples of the inside of an art journal.

For more information, don’t hesitate to call 812-926-0646 and register for a spot today! We can’t wait to see you there!

Below are more examples of art journal covers and pages.