Cassandra Clare on Diversity in YA

 

Cassandra Clare is the product of an adventurous literary family. Born in Tehran, Iran, she is the daughter of respected American author Professor Richard Rumelt. Her grandfather Max Rosenberg produced the first horror film in color, The Curse of Frankenstein, in 1957 and is perhaps most noted as the producer of the Doctor Who films in the 1960’s. While she was still a toddler, her father spent a month in the Himalayas with Cassandra accompanying him on his treks in his backpack. With this adventure- peppered upbringing and time spent on the sets of horror films and supernatural thrillers, it is no surprise that Cassandra Clare would grow up to write her own urban supernatural series The Mortal Instruments.

 

Advertisements

NPR’s list of 100 Best YA novels

Your Favorites: 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels

Top 100 Young Adult Novels

It’s almost a cliche at this point to say that teen fiction isn’t just for teens anymore. Just last year, the Association of American Publishers ranked Children’s/Young Adult books as the single fastest-growing publishing category.

Which is why we were only a little surprised to see the tremendous response that came in for this summer’s Best-Ever Teen Fiction poll. A whopping 75,220 of you voted for your favorite young adult novels, blasting past the total for last year’s science fiction and fantasy poll at, dare we say it, warp speed.

And now, the final results are in. While it’s no surprise to see Harry Potter and the Hunger Gamestrilogy on top, this year’s list also highlights some writers we weren’t as familiar with. For example, John Green, author of the 2012 hit The Fault in Our Stars, appears five times in the top 100.

Selecting a manageable voting roster from among the more than 1,200 nominations that came in from readers wasn’t easy, and we were happy to be able to rely on such an experienced panel of judges. But deciding what does and doesn’t count as a young-adult novel isn’t an exact science. If you’re surprised not to see some of your favorite books among the winners, you might want to look at this blog post, which describes the thinking behind the tough calls.

Summer, like youth, is fleeting. But the books we read when we’re young can stay with us for a lifetime. Here’s hoping that when the school bell rings in a few short weeks, it will find you engrossed in just such a memorable read, selected by the NPR audience. Enjoy. (For your convenience, here’s a printable version of the top-100 list, and here’s a list of the 235 finalists.)

 

Read the whole list here.

YA, John Green, and the National Book Awards

National Book Awards: Genre fiction dissed again

The five finalists for the 2012 National Book Award for fiction make for an exemplary shortlist — and I say that even though none of them is likely to end up on my own best-of list at the end of the year. There’s a good variety: a popular short-story collection by the recent MacArthur recipient Junot Diaz (“This is How You Lose Her”), a debut novel about the Iraq War (“Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers), a small-press title (Dave Eggers’ “A Hologram for the King”), an overlooked midlist book (Ben Fountain’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”), even the 14th novel by an established writer, Louise Erdrich’s “The Round House” — precisely the sort of title people don’t bother to read because they assume they already know what’s in it.

Full article here.

Race in YA Literature

The Ongoing Problem of Race in Y.A.

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
JEN DOLL13,658 ViewsAPR 26, 2012

Y.A. for Grownups is a weekly series in which we talk about Y.A. literature—from the now nostalgia-infused stories we devoured as kids to more contemporary tomes being read by young people today.

 

In 1965, 11 years after the Supreme Court outlawed segregated schools, Nancy Larrick wrote an article titled “The All-White World of Children’s Books” for the Saturday Review. Marc Aronson, author of Race: A History Beyond Black and White, described that piece to The Atlantic Wire as “a call to arms.” Larrick had been inspired to write the piece, which criticized the omission of black characters in children’s literature, after a 5-year-old black girl asked why all the kids in the books she read were white. According to Larrick’s survey of trade books over a three-year period, “only four-fifths of one percent” of those works included contemporary black Americans as characters. Further, the characterizations of pre-World War II blacks consisted of slaves, menial workers, or sharecroppers. Via Reading Is Fundamental, “‘Across the country,’ she stated in that piece, ‘6,340,000 nonwhite children are learning to read and to understand the American way of life in books which either omit them entirely or scarcely mention them.'”

Read the full article here.

2012 National Book Award Nominees

Some suggestions for a book to read independently…

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE

2012 NBA YPL  Finalists

FINALISTS:

William Alexander, Goblin Secrets (Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing)

Carrie ArcosOut of Reach (Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing)

Patricia McCormickNever Fall Down (Balzer+Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)

Eliot SchreferEndangered (Scholastic)

Steve SheinkinBomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon
(Flash Point, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press)

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE JUDGES:

Susan CooperDaniel EhrenhaftJudith Ortiz Cofer, Gary D. SchmidtMarly Youmans

See the full list of nominees here.

On Hunger Games as Movie

THE WAR OUTSIDE OUR DOOR: A Review of The Hunger Games

….What does come across without a hitch, every bit as surprisingly, is the nasty artifice of Capitol. It’s one thing to read about — the stylists’ hair and body modifications, the sickening day-glo opulence, the muted slaves, the debased consumption, the androgyne and hermaphrodite of it all — but, to be honest, I was more worried about this part than the Muttations or the flame effects, going in. And yet not a single person in the theatre once laughed at them, at their ridiculous fashion and willful ignorance, the orange lipstick and half-shaven electric blue hair. I think this comes down to a few things: We have been desensitized by wannabes and tryhards (Lady Gaga) and mental patients (Klaus Nomi, Nicki Minaj) to accept bizarre costumery in our entertainment, and even bring it out into the real world.

But more than that, I think it’s Effie. The movie practically begins and turns on her lovely, haggard, terrified, schizoid face. Tight closeups, HD pore-defining closeups, put you so far her makeup and into her ruined heart that, by the time you see her full-body shot she’s neither a clown nor a villain, but something dreadfully strong and eminently pitiable. The cracks in her, seen from that close up, go all the way down — and once you’ve seen that, and dealt with it, and learned to love it and to laugh at it, the gross disposable neon plasticity of Capitol becomes a fact of your life, not a distraction at all.

 

 

Read the rest of the review here.

On Race in Media: “Girls Through the Veil”

Ta-Nehisi Coates’

 

There are worlds and there are worlds

There’s a lot of talk around the web about Lena Dunham’s new HBO joint Girls and its lack of diversity. Part of the problem is that those of us who fit into that amorphous space of “black alternative” or “Afrobohemia” or whatever we are called today, so rarely see ourselves represented creatively.   It’s worth noting the title to Kendra James’ piece for Racalious–“Dear Lena Dunham: I Exist.” Or consider this from Jezebel:

I am a black woman, but I find more in common with characters in Seinfeld than I do with the ones in House of Payne. My world is neither all black nor all white, but a mix — whether it be race, gender, socio-economics, weight or age.
This is the voice of that tribe that doesn’t really get down with Tyler Perry, whose music choices tend to put us in places where there aren’t many black faces. As Wyatt Cenac’s character Micah put it in Medicine For Melancholy, our Friday nights generally boil down to one question–“Black folks or white folks.”

With that said, I think storytellers–first and foremost–must pledge their loyalty to the narrative as it comes to them. I don’t believe in creating characters out a of desire to please your audience or even to promote an ostensible social good. I think good writing is essentially a selfish act–story-tellers are charged with crafting the narrative the want to see. I’m not very interested in Lena Dunham reflecting the aspirations of people she may or may not know. I’m interested in her specific and individual vision; in that story she is aching to tell. If that vision is all-white, then so be it. I don’t think a story-teller can be guilted into making great characters.
Find the rest of the article here.