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TRW: Bram Stoker’s Dracula vs YA Vampires

First published in 1897, Dracula by Bram Stoker is the godfather of everything vampire in today’s culture.  As history tells it, Stoker was a business manager for the Lyceum Theater in London during a time when Sherlock Holmes, The Time Machine, and The Jungle Book were all the rage.  Stoker’s Dracula would not gain cult and then critical acclaim until well into the 20th century, when his novel made it’s way onto the silver screen.

There was the 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, which is what a lot of people think when they think of Count Dracula.  In 1992, Gary Oldman took on the titular role.  1987’s The Lost Boys starring Jason Patric and Corey Haim.  This year we saw Johnny Depp reclaim Barnabas Collins and Dark Shadows, while in the past few years, Dracula has been fuzzy-wuzzied for the youth set:  Draculara of Monster High is the daughter of Dracula, while the recently released Hotel Transylvania has Dracula running a hotel for the paranormal, while trying to get his daughter to not date the human who has blundered into their mist.

You are about to enter the no-sparkling vampires zone . . .
Sink your teeth into these reads!

As well as movies and television, we’ve been hit with wonderful and infamous reincarnations of the vampire legend.  Bunnicula,  by James Howe, is a vampire rabbit that drains the juices from vegetables on the farm, and loved by juvenile readers since 1979.  R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike have numerous stories featuring vampires among their horror stories that, while not quite reaching critical acclaim, are devoured by readers all over.  Then Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire series and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot.  And Stephanie Meyer revived the vampire series for teen books with her Twilight series.  What are your favorite vampire books for teens?  Share in the comments!

The Blue Bloods series by Melissa De La Cruz.  Enter the world of the Blue Bloods, not only the high society of New York, but a secret world of Vampires as well.

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld.  After a chance encounter, Cal creates vampires and must hunt them down before they can cause more damage than he can control.

The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer.  Vlad, half vampire and half human, is dealing with not only the challenges of junior high and high school, but the legacy his vampire father has gifted him.

Tantalize series by Cynthia Leitich Smith.  Left to run her parent’s bankrupt restaurant after their death, 17 year old Quincie finds her self in deep into the supernatural.

The House of Night series by PC and Kirsten Cast.  Vampires are chosen by the goddess to serve in this series, but not all vampires are serving the goddess’s true intentions.  

Rosario + Vampire series written and illustrated by Akihisa Ikeda.  When Tsukune gets enrolled into a high school for otherworlders, he quickly gets befriended by Moka, a vampire who gets addicted to his blood.

The Vampire Knight series by Matsuri Hino.  At Cross Academy  there are two different sets of classes:  Day Class, for the norms, and Night Class, for the vampires.

Sucks To Be Me by Kimberly Pauley.  Mina’s parents want her to turn:  not to religion, but to be a vampire like them.  Problem is, Mina’s not sure she wants to be.

The Vampire Kisses series by Ellen Schreiber.  When Alexander and his family move into the mansion at the top of the hill, Raven is determined to get to know him.  But will that lead to her undoing?

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause.  Zoe, coming to terms with her mother’s illness, finds comfort in Simon, who seeks to avenge his own mother’s death 300 years earlier.
Be sure to check out
by Joni Richards Bodart for more paranormal awesomeness and a comprehensive look at the various vampire series out there.  This is a very informative professional development book.

TRW: Frankenstein in 2012: Bio-Engineering

So, if Mary Shelly were writing Frankenstein today, what path would she wander down?  I think that, instead of zombies or vampires, she’s wander down the road of BIOENGINEERING.  According to the history, Mary Shelly was having a storytelling contest with her future husband Percy, Lord Byron of She Walks in Beauty fame, and John William Polidori, who wrote one of the first vampire stories in English. She evidently won, because she came up with a mad scientist who scavenged body parts and created a monster from death, then became horrified at what he had created.

In today’s horror realm, zombies and vampires are creatures of the undead, and would well fit within the realm of Shelly’s Frankenstein, but Shelly was a pioneer- during her time, everyone was afraid of the new science of embalming the dead, and she played on those fears in her story, and the fear of the unknown and the possibilities of science.  This is why I think that bio-engineering would be more Mary Shelly’s thing if she were alive today.  Manipulating the essence of DNA and genes, creating new and different beings and life where there were none, discovering new abilities and their horrendous possibilities…  Definitely a 2012 version of Frankenstein…

So what bio-engineering YA books would be in your top ten list?  Here are my favorites in random order; share yours in the comments below…

Double Helix by Nancy Werlin.  When Eli is offered a job as a lab assistant at Wyatt Transgenics, it sounds too good to be true.  But as he gets deeper into the lab, he learns things that puts not only his life, but the secrets of his family and others, into danger.

The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld.  On their 16th birthday, teens get surgery to become pretty…  but do you want to be pretty and fogged forever?  And what will become of friendships?

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.  Matteo wasn’t born, he was harvested, a clone for a patron who wants to use him for spare parts when needed.  When he decides to take his future into his own hands, will it be more than he bargained for?

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson.  Jenna wakes from a year long coma, only to not remember the life before the accident.  But will trying to remember answer her questions or create new issues?

Feed by M.T. Anderson.  Enter a world where everything is dominated by the Feed- directly implanted into your mind so that everything is accessible in an instant.  When an attack in a club goes wrong, what happens when the Feed goes bad?

The Skinned Trilogy/ The Cold Awakening Trilogy by Robing Wasserman.  (Why they changed the names and covers I don’t know, but if you’re looking for these in the bookstores try the first titles and images; if you’re looking for them at the library, try the second set of images first).  Downloading was supposed to change the world, but when Lia’s goes wrong, she must do everything in her power to save what, and who, she can.

TRW: Romancing the Paranormal

As a teen librarian who knows their trends, you know that books like Twilight and The House of Night series are as popular with teens as chocolate and pizza.  What you may not realize is that they have a long and distinguished history within literature dating back to 1764.  Paranormal romance, a subset of romance that has beings of the supernatural (ghosts, demons, angels, werebeings, vampires, etc.) falling in love/lust with us mere humans, actually comes from Gothic fiction.  The first Gothic stories were written by Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, and Clara Barton.  The Romantics took over, with Lord Byron giving us the archtype of the hero in our current paranormal romances:  a man of loneliness and mystery, a villain that detests himself for what he is, yet seems unable to change until the heroine makes her appearance.
The Victorians added their twist on it, with The Penny Dreadful serial fictions leading the way.  Enter then Edgar Allan Poe, who brought back more of the macabre, madness, and mystery into the mix.  The Bronte sisters as well can fall into paranormal ancestors, with ghosts in various stories as well as The Madwoman in the Attic.  Most current teen paranormal fiction falls into the genre of urban fantasy, where things blend the magical and mysterious in with the supernatural.  And when you think about it, most superhero comics and graphic novels, all time travel books, and those featuring psychic abilities would also fit in paranormal romances- not just things that go bump in the night or howl at the moon.  I’ve listed below some of my favorite books and series; share yours in the comments!

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.  Werebeings, demons, vampires, and Shadowhunters descended from angels, plus secret siblings, crossed lovers, and secret crushes, including an all ages GLBT romance.  Oh, yes!

Caster Chronicles series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  When Ethan starts waking up from dreams that connect him to the new girl Lena, things start to take a turn, but are they for better or for worse?

The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa.  In the first part, Meagan is half faery, half human, and needs to claim her magical bloodright.  In the second, we follow Ethan, her brother, who must battle the vengeful Forgotten.

The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr.  Aislynn, who is mortal,  has always seen the fairies, even when she wasn’t supposed to.  Her gift leads her on more and more adventures through the different courts as the series grows.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.  Karou has a chance encounter with the angel Akiva, and her world starts unraveling around her- black handprints on portals, and memories coming back to life.  Will it be for good or for bad?

Tithe series by Holly Black.  16 year old Kaye learns her lineage- she’s a changeling pixie- and a move to New Jersey brings her into a plot to free her people but puts her life on the line.

Fallen series by Lauren Kate.  Luce, sent to boarding school, finds that Sword and Cross holds more for her than schooling; rather, fallen angels and her long lost love.

The Immortals series by Alyson Noel.  Ever and Damen, separated through different lifetimes, struggle to be together as they are intended.  

Madison Avery series by Kim Harrison.  Meet Madison, dead from a car accident after going to her prom. Oh, and she’s also a reaper.  Makes things a bit complicated to explain to her dad, especially with a light reaper, a dark reaper, and a guardian angel following her every move.  Oh, and school.

Prom Nights from Hell.  Think your prom was bad?  Try these stories on for size- but be warned, it’s not always a happy ending.

Top 10: For Annie and Liza

I love Annie on My Mind.  I personally think it should be a book choice for those in schools, not a forced book, but a reading choice for those reading classes where you have to choose one of five books on relationships and write about themes, and what did you learn from these books.  Yes, there would be some that would be all upset because it is a GLBTQ book, but there would be others (and I bet many others) that would cheer for it’s inclusion.

I wrote in my earlier post about how it was hard for me to find books like Annie when I went looking.  For the record, I’m not GLBT or Q; for personal reasons in my life I am an *extremely* vocal straight ally.  For those who liked Annie on My Mind, here are my personal Top 10 books that would go on a booklist with Annie and Liza, in no particular order.

Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters.  Cece and Holland have to hide their growing relationship just as Annie and Liza did, and when their relationship is found out, it has serious repercussions.

Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle.  When a friendship is blown apart by a kiss, Lissa must learn who she is and start accepting who she is.

The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson.  It’s always been Nina, Avery and Mel, BFFs…  until one summer when it starts to be Avery and Mel, together.

Empress of the World by Sara Ryan.  When Nic falls in love with Battle, she must struggle to figure out if she’s bisexual, lesbian, or if she really needs any label at all…

The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson.  Not as obvious as some of the others, but Staggerlee definitely fits into this list.

Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn.  When Very gets sent to “unplug” during her electronic addition rehab, she learns that her love has been right in front of her all along.

Sister Mischief by Laura Goode.  After Esme confirms that she is definitely “a homo.  Like, Same-Sex City, Esme”, her feelings for another band member may become too much to handle.

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins.  When Cara, ever so perfect Cara, decides that she needs to come out about her preferences to everyone, what will she have to give up?

Pink by Lili Wilkinson.   Trying to be “normal” for once by transferring to a new school, Ava hides her relationship with Chloe while trying to figure out just who she wants to be.

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner.  After Julia dies, Cass is left questioning her own identity, including her sexuality- can she find herself and learn to live without Julia?

Once Upon a Time Top 10: Twisted Fairy Tales

upon a time girls were locked in towers and saved by princes.  Today, sometimes we lock boys in towers and the princess gets to save the day.

Fairy tales are tricky business.  Here we just spent the last week talking about YA lit and how it influences body image, and now we’re talking about fairy tales.  Without a doubt fairy tales can leave readers – girls especially – reeling in gender stereotypes and feeling disempowered.  The original fairy tales usually didn’t even have happy endings.  And now our happy endings are saccharine sweet and gag inducing.  I, personally, get sick of waiting for the girl to wise up, use her brain or just save herself already!!  But today’s fairy tales have a lot of cool twists and turn convention on its side.  I won’t say that twisted fairy tales are always groundbreaking in the way they present women, but at least they put enough of a spin on the classic fairy tales (and just some good ole classics) as to be new, inventive, and a fun read.  So here are 10 of my favorites.

Skinny by Donna Cooner
Okay so technically this is a Cinderella retelling, but Christie hasn’t read it and didn’t put it on her list – so I am putting it on mine.  As I discussed in my review, Skinny takes a contemporary problem (weight issues) and gives it a fairy tale subtext.  There are no fairy godmothers or pumpkin carriages, but there is deception (in this case self-deception about body image), a make-over, and a gradual awakening.  And in this case, Ever herself is the one who chooses the path that will help bring about her awakening by choosing weight loss surgery.  Some people may be offended that she chooses the surgery, but she makes the decision for herself – instigates it even – and that is a message of empowerment.

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
Cross creates a creative world where real, every people bear the curses of our favorite fairy tales in unique ways.  It is fun to read about the characters and put them together with their fairy tale.  I was frustrated at first with the way our main character immediately falls in love, but then later it all makes sense in very disturbing and haunting ways.  Creative, fun and great contemporary twist on a fairy tale world.  Here are main characters are all trying to find ways to see if they can subvert fate and destiny and make their own life choices.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
This literary retelling of Peter Pan is simply AMAZING.  Read my review, read this book.  Our main character, Tiger Lily, is strong willed and torn between love and duty to her community.  Seriously, this book is good.

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce
Mermaids seem to be big this year.  I have seen no less than 5 mermaid tales in 2012.  But what about The Little Mermaid?  Jackson Pearce takes this popular tale and gives it her own personal twist.  Pearce has had success with twisted fairy tales (see below) and they are worth a read.  I recently saw Jackson Pearce at the Irving Public Library and she is very fun and would be a great author visit.

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Only slightly relevant story: When I was a child, I had a rag doll that was Little Red Riding Hood and then, when you flipped her dress over, she became the wolf dressed as grandma.  This may help explain my lifelong fascination with the Little Red Riding Hood story.  Or maybe I am drawn to this book because of the amazing cover design.  Whatever drew me to the story, it was the story itself that kept me reading.  Here we have two sisters, one who is falling in love with the woodsman and one who is obsessed with hunting wolves.  One feels they owe a debt to the other, but we all know that love can trump all – even sisters and debts.  I am going to be completely honest with you; this book has received some mixed reviews and there are some definite things you can question about the message it sends regarding victimhood, but it isn’t often that you see Little Red Riding Hood being presented to teens and I am a fan.

Beastly by Alex Flinn
Alex Flinn is one of the original queens of twisted fairy tales (along with Donna Jo Napoli) and you’ll definitely want to make sure and check out this re-telling of Beauty and the Beast.  This is a good title that you can use for a book and movie discussion/comparison.  If I recall correctly, the author isn’t a big fan of the movie adaptation but I don’t really mind it.

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
Briar Rose is a an older but beautiful title in which our main character learns that he grandmother’s story of sleeping beauty is really a way of telling her deepest secret: she was a part of the Nazi concentration camps.  This is such an intelligent concept and a masterful storytelling.  To this day I can still picture scenes with the woods in my mind.

Enchanted by Orson Scott Card
Okay so this one is not technically ya – you got me there.  But I love the way that Card presents woman’s intuition as being this magical force that is just accepted among the land.  This is another take on the Sleeping Beauty tale and, although it doesn’t take the place in my heart of Briar Rose, I find the idea of woman having magic to be such an interesting way to look at what we have always called “woman’s intuition”.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
When a star falls and a promise is made, Tristan goes through the gap in a wall around his town and begins the most unforgettable journey of his life.  Gaiman is a master at fantasy and this is a great introduction to his works.  Of course you’ll definitely want to make sure and share The Graveyard Book with your teens as well.

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
This Newbery Honro Book is a great female empowerment story.  Harry is an orphaned girl who discovers magic in herself when she is kidnapped by a mysterious king.  Is it a twisted fairy tale?  I don’t know and I don’t really care – I just really like this book.  And I love it’s sequel, The Hero and the Crown.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
When a boy stays home from school sick, his grandfather comes and reads him the story of The Princess Bride.  The young boy is sure he doesn’t want to read about princesses, but it turns out to be a pretty awesome story with adventure, pirates and yes – true love.  This fun story mocks everything we love about fairy tales and entertains along the way.  This is an excellent and fun movie to do a book and movie discussion with.  This is my bonus fairy tale (you’ll notice there are actually 11 titles on this list).

Goodreads has a list of 100 Twisted Fairy Tales.  So tell us, what’s your favorite and why.  And which ones do you think send the most empowering messages to readers?

TPIB: Once Upon a Time
Contest: Children’s Stories

Where’s My Glass Slipper? Top 10: Cinderella Retellings

I am a HUGE fantasy addict.  HUGE. I will admit it.  Give me a well written fairy tale, and I can curl up and be completely content for the afternoon.  Even better, give me something that has a twist in it.  Since we’re talking about Cinderella, here are my top ten retellings that fall within YA…


Amazing book where Aisling (Ash), is torn between the Fairie Prince and the Huntress.  For more on Ash, click here.

Ella Enchanted
Given the gift, or curse, of always having to obey every order given, Ella must find the strength to take charge and find her own destiny, as well as break the spell.  A Newbery Honor book.
Just Ella

Thrown in the dungeon for daring to defy her royal engagement, Ella escapes to a refuge camp, and finds her true destiny. 

First in the four part Lunar Chronicles, cyborg Cinder’ s world is dying of a mysterious plague, and the Prince is being forced to marry the Lunar Queen.  Will Cinder’s secrets help or hinder the Prince and the country?  For more on Cinder, click here.

Forced to be the family servant after her step-sister becomes ill, Xing Xing tries to escape the only way she knows how, with her skills in calligraphy and the help of the spirit of her mother.  Bound combines both the Western and Eastern Cinderella stories.
The Ordinary Princess
All of the princesses of the realm were given special gifts on their birthday, and Amethyst, the seventh born and considered lucky, is no exception.  She is given Wit, Charm, Health, Courage….  and Ordinariness.  
The Fairy Godmother

Elena was supposed to be her kingdom’s Cinderella, but when the story changes, Elena finds that Tradition may have to change in order to make her story fit it’s new path.  Not technically YA (published for adults) but I wouldn’t hesitate to give it to older readers.  Also the first in a continuing series following the kingdoms and twisting of fairy tales, so if they like this one, there are more to hook them with!
If I Have A Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince?

Lucy is stuck with her new step-mom, slaving away at chores, but manages to attract the attention of the most popular guy at school.  Question is, does she want it?
Bella at Midnight
Shipped off for the first 13 years of her life, Bella has to return to her father and his jealous new wife, and deal with magic and intrigue in order to save the prince and the kingdom.
Shadows on the Moon

After witnessing the murder of her father and cousins, Suzume must use her magic as a Shadow Weaver to protect herself from those who were responsible and find her revenge, before she looses herself in the process. 

Agree?  Disagree?  Share in the comments!

Top 10: Books dealing with mental illness (guest post by Kim Baccellia)

My early years growing up in Sacramento were filled with lots of confusion and fear.  At the time, I knew something wasn’t quite right with my father but the one time I did confine in a friend?  I was labeled ‘bad’ and a bad example.  Only later did I found out that most of the young women in my church were told to avoid me.  As if you could catch what was happening in my home.

I felt so alone.  My church wouldn’t help my family.  Other people would avoid us as if we had the plague.

Only recently, after my father’s death, did I have a name for what my father had.

Bipolar Disorder.

I wanted to know all I could about this mental illness as I believe knowledge is power.  What I found is there is still a stigma attached to it.  I’m happy that just recently there has been some YAs that have addressed this and other mental health issues.  I thought I’d share some of my favorites.  I believe these books NEED to be out there and I’m a huge advocate for them.


Young girl dealing with bipolar disorder flees being put in mental institution to find biological mother in small Texan town.  She later finds out that maybe she’s not as crazy as she thought.  I loved the way the author shows us a strong protagonist who refuses to be ignored while battling her own demons and the ones in her town.




I love Ellen’s books so much.  She’s not afraid to write unflinching tales  with their honest portrayals of teens.  IMPULSE is one of my favorites as it shows teens in a mental hospital dealing with some very intense issues.  The companion novel PERFECT is another must read.


This powerful, haunting tale follows a teen that cuts herself as one way to deal with the pain of her sexual abuse. 


I read this book in high school back in the later 1970s.  This is a very gritty portrayal of a schizophrenic teen who ends up in a mental hospital battling reality.  Little did I know why this book felt so hauntingly real to me.  My own father was dealing with the same issues.

 BAD GIRLS CLUB by Judy Gregerson
This book also deals with schizophrenia but only this time around it’s the parent.  What I loved about this book is how realistic it is on how a teen deals with her mentally ill mother without help.  I know how lonely that can be.  A must read.


This is a great novel that shows a teen dealing with panic attacks.


This story of a teen, who has to use prime numbers in everything, is haunting and very powerful.  One huge plus for this book is it shows a boy’s POV on how he deals with OCD.

This is another one of my favorites that deals with OCD and how how the teen tries to find inner strength.


I still remember hearing Jay read the beginning of this at a SCBWI Agent Day event and getting chills.  This is one of those haunting tales that stays with you.
(Please visit our previous TLT post 13 Reasons Why I Love Thirteen Reasons Why)


A huge plus for me in this novel is how Garsee shows what happens when someone doesn’t take their meds. I’ve seen this in my own family and it’s just as scary as it’s shown in this novel. 
Rinn’s haunting descent into madness is chilling. I love how it’s not over the top but rather subtle. You can’t tell if it’s the disorder talking or the ghost.

The ending is shocking and caught me off guard. Love that! 

A must read for paranormal fans that shows bipolar disorder in a realistic
(TLT review of The Unquiet)

Kim Baccellia is an author as well as a PR and Online Marketing associate for Mont9Books.  You can find her at @ixtumea on Twitter or at www.kim-baccellia.com.  You can also find her reviewing books at YA Books Central.  Find out about Kim’s books – Earrings of Ixtumea, Crossed Out and No Goddess Allowed – at her website.

Karen adds a couple of title to the list:
The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison (OCD)
Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown (OCD)
Cut by Patricia McCormick (Self injury)
Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spenser Hesser (OCD)
Inside Out by Terry Trueman (Schizophrenia)

What titles are on your list of good reads that depict teens dealing with mental health issues in some way? Please share with us in the comments.

Top 10: Teen titles that deal with obesity and body image

The past couple of days, we have been talking body image and the depiction of obese teens in teen fiction.  So here’s our list of the Top 10 Titles that deal with body image with an emphasis on titles that deal with teens struggling with obesity.

Obesity and Teens in Teen Fiction: a discussion
Every Day by David Levithan, a book review
Butter by Erin Jade Lange, a book review
A Second Opinion: Every Day by David Levithan
Coming Soon: a review of Skinny by Donna Cooner

Fat Kid Rules The World by K. L. Going
“Whats ironic,” he adds, shaking his head, “is that everyone’s so busy trying not to look like they’re looking at you that they’re really not looking at you.”

Shattering Glass by Gail Giles
“Simon Glass was easy to hate. I never knew exactly why, there was just too much to pick from. I guess, really, we each hated him for a different reason, but we didn’t realize it until the day we killed him.”
Hunger by Jackie Morsel Kessler
“Living means constantly growing closer to death. Satisfaction only temporarily relieves hunger. Find the balance, and plant your feet.”
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
“From a distance,’ he says, ‘my car looks just like every other car on the freeway, and Sarah Byrnes looks just like the rest of us. And if she’s going to get help, she’ll get it from herself or she’ll get it from us. Let me tell you why I brought this up. Because the other day when I saw how hard it was for Mobe to go to the hospital to see her, I was embarrassed that I didn’t know her better, that I ever laughed at one joke about her. I was embarrassed that I let some kid go to school with me for twelve years and turned my back on pain that must be unbearable. I was embarrassed that I haven’t found a way to include her somehow the way Mobe has.”
Butter by Erin Jade Lange

“If you can stomach it, you’re invited to watch… as I eat myself to death.”

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
“The Fat Girl Code of Conduct:
1. Any sexual activity is a secret. No public displays of affection.
2. Don’t discuss your weight with him.
3. Go further than skinny girls. If you can’t sell him on your body, you’d better overcompensate with sexual perks.
4. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever push the relationship thing. ”

Skinny by Donna Cooner
“It just wasn’t fair. God made some people naturally skinny and some people naturally fat. I’d never know how my life would have been different if I’d been one of the ones He made skinny. I didn’t know how He chose. This one will be blonde, with long thin legs and great skin. This one will be short and fat with legs that rub together when she walks. I just knew I wasn’t one of the lucky ones.”

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins
Is that what you are
if you choose to improve
the basic not perfect you?” 

The List by Siobhan Vivian
“Sometimes, when you get something new, you trick yourself into believing it has the power to change absolutely everything about you.” 

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger
“Calling Vikki a slut or a whore was just like calling somebody the Duff. It was insulting and hurtful, and it was one of those titles that just fed off the inner fear every girl must have from time to time. Slut, bitch, prude, tease, ditz. They were all the same. Every girl felt like one of these sexist labels described her at some point.” 

What’s on your list?

Please see our previous Top 10 List on Body Image and Eating Disorders

Some articles about obesity in teen fiction:
ALAN “Meant to Be Huge”
Plus Size Teen Fiction
Weighing in on Weight by Rae Carson


Top 10s: Books I would have like to have seen on the NPR list

Yesterday we talked about the 100 Best Young Adult Books list put together by NPR.  Today, I am going to share with you 10 books that I would have liked to have seen on the list and why.

Click here to see the Top 100 Young Adult Books on the NPR list
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
I mentioned it in my post yesterday, but I think this title should have been on the list.  First, it was a Printz Award winning book (2000).  Second, it helped usher in the trend that introduces teens to alternate style formats.  In this case, Monster is written as a movie manuscript.  Then, of course, you have the fact that this is an important multicultural title by a major, long standing, award winning author.  So major that Walter Dean Myers is this year’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
For me, it is hard to imagine any best of YA list without the presence of Chris Crutcher.  He writes authentic teen fiction.  The problem is, which title to choose?  For me it is a toss up between Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes and Whale Talk.  At the end of the day, I guess I am going to choose Whale Talk because it talks about major themes, such as bullying and prejudice, and does it with a touch of humor.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Game has been a hands down teen favorite in the science fiction genre for years.  Teens still come in and ask for it by name.  Fantasy is definitely over represented in the list, so let’s give Science Fiction its due.  Plus, it is supposedly coming to a movie theater near you next year and it should rejuvenate some interest in this title.
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
I could also live with Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly.  Either way, there needs to be a few more historical fiction titles and A Northern Light is a Printz Honor Book (2004).
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King
Honestly, I really just want to see A. S. King on the list.  I could live with Please Ignore Vera Dietz or Everybody Sees the Ants.  But in truth, I see Ask the Passengers as being on a future list.  Just pick an A. S. King title and go with it.
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Boy Meets Boy was being bold and courageous and speaking out about the life of GLBT teens before most authors were.  It opened the door for so many to share their stories.  It has touched lives and changed minds.
The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
This title is covering so much that is missing on the list: It is a great multicultural title, it is a problem novel, it discusses the topic of teen parenting, and it is the 2004 Printz Award Winner.
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Here we see the popular graphic novel format represented.  In addition, this 2007 Printz Award Winner helps bring more cultural diversity to the list, which is greatly needed.  Other GNs that could certainly find themselves on the list include Maus, Bone and Blankets.
The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klaus
Before vampires sparkled or went to the academy, they haunted a young girl named Zoe whose mother was dying of cancer.  This is an award winning vampire novel that encompasses everything that is wonderful about ya lit and still connects with readers today.
Holes by Lois Sachar
Okay, one could argue that this novel is really more of a MG novel.  But it is brilliant and funny, and funny is definitely a category that is under-represented on the list. 
I’m going to cheat here and add an #11 and #12
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Why am I willing to cheat for this series?  1) One can not deny the popularity of zombies, and dystopian fiction, these last few years in teen fiction. 2) This is a really well written addition to the genre. And 3) It gives us another multicultural title – the main characters are Japanese – to add to our list.

BZRK by Michael Grant
Why this title?  Like Walter Dean Myers ushering in the alternate writing style with Monster, Michael Grant introduces readers to another new reading trend with transmedia.  With BZRK, Grant combines traditional books with teens interest in the online world.  Plus, it’s another great science fiction title that taps into current trends and themes.  And you can’t deny Grant’s long standing contribution to MG and YA literature.  If I was going to add one more Science Fiction title to the list, I would probably add the Hourglass series by Myra McEntire – but I should probably stop cheating now.

So, what titles do you want to add to the list?  What do you think of my additions?

Happy Blogiversary! Karen’s Top 10 TLT Posts

TLT is 1!

Although I began the TLT Facebook page in May of 2011, this blog went up and I did my first post on July 15th of 2011. {Insert confetti and streamers fanfare here} The first post was really just a post to say hi, and it was only uphill from there. Since that day there have been 330+ blog posts and they are no longer all done by me.  Some of them are done by my fabulous Co-Blogger Stephanie Wilkes. {Insert enthusiastic clapping here}.  Other are done by various TLT contributors, and we have had some fabulous guest blog posts by authors and librarians alike.  Today I am going to share with you my favorite 10 posts from this past year.  It was hard choosing a Top 10, but here we go . . .

One of my favorite graphics – Twilight Zone inspired. Bonus points if you can name the episode.

The ABCs of Hyperemesis Gravidarum, an unconventional picture book
Some life experiences just leave you aching with a need to talk about it and, in the case of HG, to make sure others know about it and understand that it is real and you can’t get better medical care.  At the end of 2011 it was announced by the Hyperemesis and Education Research Foundation (www.helpher.org) that they would be having the first ever National HG Awareness Day.  I knew that I need to do something.  I needed to share my story for me, I needed to share it for my baby that I had lost, I needed to share it for the two daughters that are likely to have it, and I needed to share it for the teen HG sufferer I had seen one time at the mall.  So I poured my heart and soul into creating a post that would really tell my story in the only way I knew how, with words and pictures.  I spend months drafting, re-drafting, and taking pictures.  In the end, this would be TLT’s most clicked on post to date.  It is raw, it is real, it is honest . . . it is my story.

TLT quoted on book promo materials

A Letter to Lauren Oliver
Sometimes when reading, you just have one of those experiences that makes you want to shout from roof tops.  I had only just recently been introduced to Delirium, having listened to it on audio book in my commute to and from my new library job.  I loved it so much I pre-ordered Pandemonium for my Kindle and waited anxiously for it to arrive.  I read it that first day in one day and laid in bed that night for hours laying in bed and writing this letter to Lauren Oliver over and over again in my head because I was so afraid I would forget it.  Finally, at about 3 a.m., I finally just got out of bed and wrote the letter as a post so I could get some sleep.  Later that month I actually got to have the chance to meet and have a glass of wine with Lauren Oliver and I’m not going to lie, it was an amazing life experience.  Since writing my letter to Lauren Oliver I have only been compelled in that same way to write a letter one other time, which is how I came to write a letter to A. S. King after reading Ask the Passengers on Mother’s Day.

Don’t Underestimate the Value of “Hanging Out”
From the very early stages of my library career I was first forced and later desired to create some programming that was less staff intensive, less structured, and provided me a greater opportunity to meet with and talk with my teens.  Over time, as I became familiar with the 40 Developmental Assets, I began to understand why, exactly, there was indeed value in this type of programming.  This post let me put my experiences together and really outline why it wasn’t always necessary for libraries to have such structured programming for their teen patrons.  It made me really think it through and articulate, and research, what my gut had been telling me all those years.

February 21, 2012: TLT does a guest blog post on Book Brats

Live Angry Birds (Heather Booth)
Not that there isn’t value in structured programming, because there is.  In fact, I have put together over the past year a little over 30 Teen Programs in a Box (TPIB) for everyone to use here at TLT.  But hands down my favorite TPIB came not from me, but by teen librarian Heather Booth.  She posted pictures as part of #the2012project a program that she called Live Angry Birds and it looked, well, AWESOME! So I asked her to do a TPIB for us and she graciously did.  I have since done the program twice and it is, well, AWESOME!

Favorite @TLT16 Twitter Quotes:
“The right book in the right hands can make all the difference”
“Sometimes we worry so much about what teens are reading,
we forget to worry if they are reading at all”
“I burnt the bacon.”

Racial Steretyping in YA Literature, a reflection by Stephanie Wilkes
I have worked in 4 library systems now and each one has such a distinct and different clientele.  It was very timely, then, that my awesome co-blogger Stephanie put together this blog post right at the time that I began working at a library system where probably 80% of my patrons are African American.  But these are not urban, inner city kids.  No, they are suburban kids who come in after school with their parents who are helping them choose library materials and I began to cringe as I realized the only books I had to hand to them were things like Monster by Walter Dean Myers and books about pregnant girls.  There were just not enough books in my collection that represented these kids that didn’t have a blond hair, blue eyed girl in a flowing dress on the cover.  So Stephanie blogged about it and it seemed like people kept talking about it on Twitter and, well, it was a moment of serendipity for me in my collection development.

TLT talks censorship on Lisa Burstein’s blog when a national teen magazine refuses to print a review of the book due to drug use.

Top 10 Things I Learned About Surviving the Apocalypse from YA
Sometimes blogging is just plain fun.  I have a tendency to read a lot of Dystopian fiction and I kept noticing the same trends in my reads.  I would tell The Mr., today I learned that you should never visit a FEMA camp in the event of the apocalypse.  So I decided to put a post together about the survival tips that I had learned from reading YA.  I know I’ll keep reading more YA, so I’m sure I’ll keep learning new survival tips.  When the apocalypse comes, I’m golden – unless it involves fast zombies.  Don’t forget rule #1: Cardio!

TLT talks collection development with upcoming debut author Victoria Scott on her blog.

If You Give a Geek a Computer: Variant by Robison Wells
Outside of Dystopian, I am a big fan of contemporary teen fiction.  I feel that contemporary fiction is part of the heart and soul of why I am a teen services librarian; I want teens to be able to read the stories like theirs and be validated, to know that they are not alone, to know that there is reason to hope.  Anyhow, so one day I am on Twitter and Robison Wells tweeted about having OCD.  I was so moved by his openness and honesty that I went to his blog and yep, there it is – his heart, or in this case his mind, laid bare for all the world to see.  There are people out there, like The Bloggess who struggles with depression, who choose to share openly their experiences and struggles to create understanding and help build a world of compassion for their fellow sufferers.  I was so incredibly impressed that Robison Wells choose to be one of those that shared openly and I wrote about it.  Plus, I like the way the title and structure of this post mimics the popular children’s books.

I went to ALA and met authors John Corey Whaley (above), Michael Grant, Lex Thomas, Libba Bray and more

Harry Potter and The Fault in Our Stars as discussed by Leah Miller
So there was this guy, Joel Stein, and he said that adults shouldn’t read YA.  I wrote a piece defending YA and then I invited others to share their favorite YA titles and why adults SHOULD read them.  I have been very blessed because several ya librarians and authors have written them, but two of those posts got really very personal and really chose to share themselves in honest ways and they definitely have received the most clicks and feedback.  The first of those posts were written by Leah Miller as she talked about sharing both the Harry Potter books and The Fault in Our Stars with her father, who later passed away.  I dare you to read the post without crying.  I am so thankful everyday with how much Leah really chose to allow herself to just be vulnerable and honest.  The second post was written by upcoming debut ya author Craig McClachlan where he talks about being a child of divorce and the book Where the Red Fern Grows. Again it is touching, powerful and raw.

Another favorite graphic of mine, this time about Reader’s Rights
Check TLT out on Pinterest or Facebook for all of our free graphics

Thinking Out Loud: Marketing and the Library Lock-In
The last 10 years of my library career I have really spent focusing all my professional development energy focusing on marketing and advocacy.  For five of the years as my last library position I wrote marketing plans, did newspaper ad layouts, put together programming, and worked hard to build a relationship with the local newspaper.  I even spent every Friday morning for 5 years doing a local radio show to promote my library (which I loved).  So the teen librarian in me sometimes struggles with the psuedo-marketing person in my and wrestles with the idea of the messages we are sending – which is how I came to write this post on marketing and the library lock-in.  Hands down one of my most controversial posts to be honest.  In fact, there was a follow-up post to better clarify what I was trying to say and a rebuttal from a fellow librarian who does library lock-ins.  You can read them all, and my other posts about advocacy and marketing here.

Stephanie and Karen appear on Greadsbooks The Blogger Behind the Book

Atticus Was Right: the amazing story about a bully, a boy with autism, and a book (guest blog post by Amianne Bailey)
If you are a regular TLT reader you know that I have a passion for autism awareness and library services.  This is, in part, because I am an aunt to 3 boys who have severe autism.  They are in fact very low functioning socially and it impacts the lives of everyone around them, including their “typical” sibling.  My friend Amianne Bailey is a school librarian and our tweens are in Girl Scouts together.  One day, as we sat at a cafeteria table and waited for the GS meeting to end, she began to tell me this story about a young man that came into her library while one of her autistic students was in the midst of having a meltdown.  As she told me this story, tears began to fall – it is a beautiful story about the power of a book.  Don’t just take my word for it, read it.  And be sure and check out all of our posts about Autism and Libraries.

What’s your favorite TLT post?  Tell us in the comments.  And thank you so much for being with us this past year and giving us the opportunity and the forum to share our passion for teens, libraries and BOOKS!

In terms of clicks, these are the top 10 posts in the first year of TLT