Monday, September 28, 2009

Booktrust shortlist

As promised, the Booktrust Teenage Prize shortlist is out:

Auslander, Paul Dowswell 
The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
Ostrich Boys, Keith Gray 
The Ant Colony, Jenny Valentine
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, Helen Grant
The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness

P.S.  There are tadpoles in a bucket in my yard!  It rained yesterday, and I was outside this morning and saw all these little sperm-like things thrashing about in the standing water.   It's hard to describe how excited I am about this.  I'll have to build a pond now!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman!

You know what's odd?  All the major online booksellers use the same cheap scan of this book's cover.  What's up with that??  [Erm...on closer inspection that's just what the cover of the book looks like.] So I'll have to use this picture of John Waters reading it instead (as featured on Jersey Beat).

No matter.  Andromeda Klein is the second book by Frank Portman (Dr. Frank of the punk band Mr. T Experience), and it's tons of fun.  I loved his first book, King Dork, so I was excited about this one without knowing a thing about it.  And when I read the first few pages I had that feeling I sometimes get when I start a book where I could tell it was going to be a good time, so I settled in happily and just let it wash over me.

I'm a sucker for books about passionate, hard-working experts of all sorts, from giant-pumpkin-growing teenagers (Joan Bauer's Squashed) to English professors (Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety), and Andromeda is a startlingly well-versed and hard-working teen occultist.  There's an enormous amount of information about tarot and magic[k] and A. E. Waite.  There's amusing wordplay.  And also libraries!   (I am so checking out the 133s next time I'm at the BPL.) Plus her father is a bit of a paranoid anti-government conspiracy guy and I am a fan of that sort of thing as well.  But aside from that, it's really just a smart and funny book about high school culture and about how one "misfit" navigates it.  The plot goes a little wild by the end, but whatev.  It's good.  Read it.

Also, I've discovered that Frank Portman actually recorded a couple of the terrible songs Tom Henderson wrote in King Dork.  They're on the book's amazon page. Take a listen to my favorite,  I Wanna Ramone You"If we won't be chaperoned, and if you wanna get ramoned, come on come on come on...." 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Guardian Award 2009 shortlist

The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize shortlist is out: 
Solace of the Road, Siobhan Dowd
Then, Morris Gleitzman
Exposure, Mal Peet
Nation, Terry Pratchett
The winner will be announced on October 8th.  And here's the longlist, if you want to see what was cut.

(And you know, I love Nation as much as anyone, but I am very pleased that the year is almost over and very very soon it will be too old to be eligible for any more awards.  My fingers are tired of typing it's name over and over and over...)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Brooklyn Book Festival

Here's another important YA-related-event-in-NYC reminder:  The annual Brooklyn Book Festival is this Sunday, September 13th.  It's all day long at Borough Hall (which means it's very close to the only Housing Works thrift store in Brooklyn, so save some time to make a trip there).

Check out just a few of the awesome authors participating in the various youth panels:  Kate DiCamillo, Matt de la Peña, Coe Booth, M.T. Anderson, Laurie Halse Anderson, Margaret Peterson Haddix.  And lots more.  It'll be a loooong day, and I mean that in a good way.  Full details at the link above, of course.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Recent Reading

Skin Deep, E. M. Crane
It's a "languid read for introspective girls" —sez the SLJ review. 
I read this one because Jacket Whys, a cool blog about YA book covers (really, that's way more interesting than it might sound), mentioned it as a best cover of 2008. I'm not sure I agree with that, but I hadn't even heard of the book before, yet when I saw it at the Strand for a buck fifty I recognized it from the post and snapped it right up.
It's one of those books where a girl with some problems befriends a cool adult (and her dog) who shows her another way to live (see also: Suite Scarlett, by Maureen Johnson).  It's lovely, full of gardening and raku firing and medicinal teas and a small-town art scene. 
I just couldn't get over how little Andrea was paid to be this woman's assistant.  Everyone kept acting like 70 dollars a week was extravagant for a dog walking job, but that's only 10 bucks a day, and she wasn't walking the dog, she was spending hours a day caring for a cancer patient, and then entire days on the weekends doing all kinds of things.  I mean, I'd do it for free, just to get to make the pottery and learn how to make teas that would heal my reproductive woes, but sheesh. 

Finding Lubchenko, Michael Simmons
It's another kid with a lousy home life.  Only more so.  Evan's dad is being held without bail for a murder he probably didn't commit, but Evan unwittingly stole the laptop containing the evidence the police need to clear him.  Handing it over now would mean his own little thieving operation would be revealed, so he goes on an international caper to solve things himself.  Which mostly means he and his friends eat a lot of chinese food in Paris and go to clubs while waiting for clues to fall into their laps.  Features gross overuse of the word "anyway" as a breezy sentence-starter (almost as grating as my own use of "so").

Total this week: 2
Total YTD: 62

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gordon Korman!

So this week here in NYC, on Wednesday the 9th from 6-7:30 pm, it's Teen Author Reading Night at the Jefferson Market branch of NYPL.

There are plenty of teen author related events around town, and normally I wouldn't bother to mention it, but this time Mr. Gordon Korman is one of the featured authors, reading from his new book Pop.  Now Gordon Korman is the guy who is single-handedly responsible for me feeling hopelessly inadequate for most of my life.  Because when he was twelve years old, unlike myself, Gordon Korman was busy writing his first novel,  This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall, which was the start of the "Bruno and Boots" series featuring hilarious boarding school hijinks.   I totally loved them when I was about eight or nine, but I just couldn't compete.  My writing was trite and childish; it was very depressing.

He's written approximately a billion books since then, and lately he just keeps churning out the award-winners.  Jerk!  He didn't even have the decency to peak young and live out his adulthood bitter and washed-up.  But he'll be in town, and he's a funny, talented guy, so go be dazzled!

P.S.  Loads of other terrific authors will be there too:
Justine Larbalestier, Liar
David Levithan, Love is the Higher Law
E. Lockhart, The Treasure Map of Boys (Yay!)
Lauren McLaughlin, Recycler
Bennett Madison, The Blonde of the Joke
Dan Poblocki, The Stone Child
Scott Westerfeld, Leviathan

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Reading Lists and Such

When I started reading YA it was only just because I was tired of wondering what I would read next on the subway.  I wanted a ready-made reading list that would never run out, and at the time I had just re-read a bunch of the Cormier books I had loved as a kid and was amazed at how well they held up.  I wanted to see what was going on in the world of modern YA, so I figured I'd just read all the award winners, and at first it was simple:  the Printz winners and honorees, the National Book Award winners and finalists, the LA Times Book Prize and the BBYA Top Ten. 

Which is approximately 25 books a year, except that there's always a bunch of overlap, so it's more like 15 or 20 depending.  When I started all this maybe four or five years ago, there were a hundred or so books on my list (at first I was only going back to 2000, which is when the Printz began). But then every year more were added of course, and I started paying attention to all kinds of other fun awardsgenre awards and non-US awards and so on.  It's more or less endless.  And so I never did finish  everything on that original list.

And now, to get back on track and because I keep accidentally picking up such disappointing books lately, I'm resurrecting my list.  I just put what's left of it over in the sidebar there.  There are 34 books on it right now, and hopefully there will be 0 by the end of the year.  Some are from the last couple years and some go back a little farther.  I've been avoiding The Ropemaker for years, for instance, and I'm not even sure why. 

So.  As I do every Saturday morning, I trudged through the park to the library, planning for an extra-long bath later so I can start making a dent.  But the library is closed today.  Eff!!   I forgot about the stupid holiday closing.  It's closed until Tuesday.  Now what'll I read all weekend?? 

Unrelatedly, I think this weekend I'll finally pull up my tomato plants.  They're so diseased, and get sadder looking by the day, but they still have fruit on them and I've been hoping they'd hold on until it all ripened.  But I just picked the last brandywines and gorged myself on tomato slices and fresh mozzarella.  Really, I can't believe how delicious it was.  They were the ones I was most looking forward to, so maybe it's time to put the  plants out of their misery now.  Poor guys.  Next year will be better.  I saved plenty of seeds and am not quite so incompetent anymore.

Booktrust longlist

The new award season is almost here!  I've just started adding a couple of new dates to the calendar in the sidebar, and of course there are many more to come.  While you're waiting for the good stuff, here's Booktrust Teenage Prize's 2009 longlist:

Auslander, Paul Dowswell
The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
Tales of Terror from the Black Ship Chris Priestley
Numbers Rachel Ward
Ostrich Boys, Keith Gray
Furnace: Lockdown, Alexander Gordon Smith
Three Ways to Snog an Alien, Graham Joyce
The Ant Colony, Jenny Valentine
Bloodchild, Tim Bowler
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, Helen Grant
Solitaire, Bernard Ashley
The Ask and the Answer,  Patrick Ness
Exposure, Mal Peet