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YALSA Teens' Top Ten

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Every year the Young Adult Library Services Association runs a contest where teens vote to come up with a top ten list of the best teen books.

And...the voting for this year has opened! Voting will run from now until September 17th. So...vote! The winners will be announced during teen read week (October 17-23).

The cool think about the Teens' Top Ten is it is chosen entirely by and for teens. The twenty-six official nominations are chosen by fifteen teen book groups and of course, the final winners are chosen by teens who vote. Last year, more than 11,000 teens voted for the Teens' Top Ten, choosing Paper Towns by John Green as their favorite title.

Shapeshifters

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Have you ever wished you were an animal? Or that you had the skills of an animal? I've often wished that I could fly, have the night vision of a cat, move as gracefully as a squirrel and run as fast as a pronghorn.

Clearly, I’m not the only one who has ever thought about how cool it would be to be an animal. Myths and legends about shapeshifting are old, rooted in many different cultures and at the moment, very popular.

Shapeshifting traditions vary across cultures, literature and belief systems. In some stories, being transformed to an animal form is a punishment. For example, Athena turned Arachne into the first spider as a punishment for her pride. Others believe that shapeshifting between animal and human form is magical and a means to utilize animal skills. For example, Norse literature includes stories of "beserkers" (warriors) who had the ability to transform into wolves or bears to fight more ferociously. Some Native American tribes believe that humans descended from animals and the two are intrinsically linked, able to change forms and recieve special powers from animal forebearers.

There are tons of books and movies that feature shapeshifters today. Think of these stories: Beauty and the Beast, Brother Bear, Harry Potter (the Animangus: Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black, etc.), Ranma 1/2, Fruits Basket, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Hobbit (Beorn), Pokemon (Ditto & Mew), Fullmetal Alchemist, and the list goes on...

Here are some cool books with shapshifters for you to check out:

Hunger Games!

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

That's right--only 11 more days until Mockingjay is released!

August 24th is a very important day for fans of Suzanne Collins' bestselling Hunger Games series. On the 24th Mockingjay, the third and final installment in the series, will be released.

I don't know about you, but I plan to shut myself up in my room, turn off my phone, and stay up all night reading it.

If you haven't read the series yet, check the Teen Zone website for reviews of Hunger Games written by teens. If you are still unconvinced, here are some book trailers to get you hooked: Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay.

Place a hold on Mockingjay, and be perpared for a book that you can't put down.

Choose your own adventure...

by Alexandra May - 1 Comment(s)

Have you ever read a book and been totally disappointed by the ending?

Here are some books with famously disappointing endings:

And I'm sure you can name a few more...

I just barely finished I am the Messenger. I loved it but found that the character introduced in the last chapter to resolve the mystery was contrived and unbelievable. My disappointment caught me off guard because the other Markus Zusak books I've read were totally amazing. I tried to think of an improved conclusion for I am the Messenger, but decided that it is easier to criticize than it is to come up with a better idea.

I suppose it is not that uncommon to want a different outcome for a story. I guess this is partly why the idea of Choose Your Own Adventure is so appealing...

Choose Your Own Adventure came into being during the 1980s and was hugely popular throughout the 80s-90s. In 2005 the series was relaunched and remains quite popular today.

I enjoy Choose Your Own Adventure for many reasons. A world where you can select a variety of outcomes for your character is empowering and more complex than our generally linear approach to time and place. It embraces the idea of alternate realities existing concurrently and gives the reader the ability to see the outcomes of different decisions (the future) and explore these possibilities. The reader is more fully engaged in the creation of the story.

Some really cool movies have played with this idea too. The Butterfly Effect, Hot Tub Time Machine and of course, the classic Groundhog Day. In each of these movies, the results of decisions the character makes are played out in alternate lives. Much like a choose your own adventure, these films give us the satisfaction of seeing the many possible futures that can result from a character's choice.

More recently, the publishing company Simon and Schuster is taking choose your own adventure to a new level. They have launched an eBook for teens that invites the readers to vote on the outcome of the story. While an individual user will not have total power to choose their own adventure, their vote will count. Ultimately, the author (Jodi Lynn Anderson) is surrendering control of the storyline. The book, Loser/Queen is a serial and accepts votes from users on a weekly basis. It represents a new publishing format - the reader-composed novel. I'm interested to see how this catches on. It strikes me as a very successful venture from a marketing standpoint, what I'm curious about is how having reader guided text will affect the story in terms of quality and plotline. It'll be neat to see what readers choose--will it be a "happy" ending?