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jkrbooks July 24 2014, 16:21

Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature: Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, Peter Sieruta

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Book: Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature
Authors: Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta
Pages: 288
Age Range: Adult Nonfiction

Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature is an insider's guide to the world of children's books and their creators, written by three well-known children's book bloggers. In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I have known Betsy Bird and Julie Danielson since my earliest days of blogging. While we've only met face to face a few times, I've read their blogs for years, and been on shared mailing lists and the like. I also read the late Peter Sieruta's blog, though I don't believe I ever had any direct contact with him. So you should consider my discussion of Wild Things! more along the lines of a recommendation than a critical review. I very much enjoyed the book. 

Wild Things! reveals the authors' deep affection for and knowledge of the field of children's literature. They discuss everything from the history of subversive children's literature to book banning to the ways that the Harry Potter books have affected the industry. This is the first book I've seen that openly discusses gay and lesbian authors of children's books, and how the outsider status of some of these authors may have affected their work. Like this:

"Unique perspectives yield unique books. It is difficult to be gay and not see the world in a way that is slightly different from that of your straight peers." (Page 54, ARC)

I especially enjoyed chapters on "scandalous mysteries and mysterious scandals" and "some hidden delights of children's literature." There's also an interesting discussion of the books critics love vs. the books that kids love. 

Despite covering a lot of ground, Wild Things! is a quick, engaging read. Though there are extensive end-notes citing sources, and it's clear that much research has been done, the book itself reads like a series of chatty essays written by friends. Wild Things! is full of interesting tidbits, like the extra pupil shown on one page of Madeline, and a rather disturbing claim by Laura that Pa Ingalls may have once encountered a serial killer. There are some resources that may help those new to thinking about children's books, such as a list of publications that review children's books. But for the most part, Wild Things! is a book that's going to appeal most to people who already have a reasonably solid grasp of the industry, and at least a passing familiarity with the key players. 

Wild Things! is not, however, insider-y in terms of the book blogging world. Because I've read so many posts by Betsy and Jules, there were certainly places where I could hear their distinct voices coming through. There are some fun sidebars in which all three authors briefly take on some question or author. But there is scant mention in the book of the authors' blogs themselves. The authors do muse a bit in the final chapter about the impact of cozy relationships between bloggers and authors, but for the most part they keep their emphasis on books and authors, and other people who have been instrumental in the evolution of the larger children's book world (like Ursula Nordstrom). They do include snippets of interviews with many authors and publishers, frequently backing up their own opinions with remarks from leaders in the field. 

Wild Things! is strong on the defense of the importance of children's literature (and fairly strong against message-driven celebrity books). Like this:

"And with every doctor, librarian, and early childhood educator telling us that childhood's importance is without parallel, it is baffling to see their literature condescended to, romanticized, and generally misunderstood." (Page 5 of the ARC)

"Childhood is not a phase to be disregarded; the same should be said of the books children read. They deserve well-crafted tales from the people who have the talent to write and illustrate them and who take their craft seriously. Do they need heavy-handed sermons from the latest celebrity "It" girl's newest children's book? Not so much." (Page 6)

I also loved this quote from A. A. Milne:

"Whatever fears one has, one need not fear that one is writing too well for a child, any more than one need fear that one is becoming almost too lovable." (Page 192)

Wild Things! is a book about the joy and quirkiness that is the field of children's literature. It is a celebration of books and their authors, and a defense of the importance of putting the very best possible books into children's hands. Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta accomplish all of this by sharing stories and opinions, theirs and those of others, with the reader. Fans of children's books, be they authors, bloggers, teachers, librarians, parents, or just people who appreciate a good book, are sure to enjoy Wild Things! Recommended for adults and older teens (there is definitely content that is not for kids), and a must-purchase for libraries. Wild Things! is a keeper!

Publisher: Candlewick 
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

jkrbooks July 21 2014, 22:43

In the After: Demitria Lunetta

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Book: In the After
Author: Demitria Lunetta
Pages: 464
Age Range: 13 and up

In the After is the first of a two-book series by Demitria Lunetta (the second book was just released, though I haven't read it yet). In the After is set in the wake of a world-wide apocalypse caused by an invasion of predatory, man-eating creatures. 17-year-old Amy has lived for three years in hiding, alone except for the company of Baby, a young girl she rescued from a grocery store. Amy and Baby live in silence, for fear of drawing Them. They use sign language to speak, and have never even heard one another's voices.

They actually have things pretty good, all things considered. Amy's mother held an important government position, and their house is surrounded by an electric fence that keeps the monsters out. Her dad was an environmentalist who kept their home as off the grid as possible. Amy and Baby have electricity and water. But they do have to venture out among the creatures to scavenge for food. An encounter with other survivors on one of their trips starts a process that changes Amy and Baby's lives forever. 

In the After is a compelling read, one that will keep the reader guessing. The first part of the book takes place in and around Amy and Baby's home in Chicago. Without giving too much away, I'll say that the second part of the book takes place elsewhere, among other people. This is where Lunetta's storytelling really starts making the reader think. In brief, italicized scenes, Amy is in a mental ward. The rest of the story is told in intermittent flashbacks, as a mentally foggy Amy tries to pieces together how she got there. Because of Amy's fragile state, the reader isn't always sure how to interpret the flashbacks, which makes the story even more thought-provoking. 

The characters apart from Amy are distinct, though not always highly nuanced. Basically, we get to know Amy very well, and the other characters not so well. But Amy is great. Here are a few snippets, to give you a feel for her voice:

"I only go out at night.

I walk along the empty street and pause, my muscles tense and ready. The breeze rustles the overgrown grass and I tilt my head slightly. I'm listening for them." (Page 1)

"So much of who I used to be was about being good in school and having friends who were also good in school. We were, to put it simply, arrogant little know-it-alls. But I miss that." (Page 78)

"The arts were probably pointless now that everyone was focused on survival. I thought back to all my time alone, reading, as the world crumbled around me. It was the only thing that gave me solace and hope." (Page 191)

In addition to keeping the reader wondering about plot points, Lunetta is good at creating atmosphere. She makes the reader feel the creepiness of walking down a dark street where silent monsters might be a only few feet, and the helplessness of being trapped in a mental ward. 

In the After grabs the reader from the first page, and doesn't let go. Recommend for fans of YA dystopias, particularly of the alien invasion variety. Particularly recommended for those who enjoyed Rick Yancey's The Fifth Wave. Readers who have read many dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories will notice certain universal themes, but I don't think this takes away enjoyment of the story. I think that In the After is a book that will especially appeal to adult readers, actually, though I would expect teens to enjoy it, too. Highly recommended. 

Publisher: HarperTeen (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Source of Book: Bought it on Kindle

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

author2author July 20 2014, 00:30

Kids Are Reading (or Go On, Blame the Kids*)

http://author2author.blogspot.com/2014/07/kids-are-reading-or-go-on-blame-kids.html

*With apologies to Pink Floyd

Tip of the Day: BLACKOUT is still on sale for .99 through the end of July at Amazon and B&N!

I feel like every other week I hear about a news story or opinion piece saying that kids don't read anymore. Well, I can say from working at my library this summer, I don't see it so I won't believe it! :)

So far for our Summer Reading Program we have approximately 1,000 kids and teens (ages birth through 17) registered, and our circulation desk has had a check out line every day.

What books are the kids asking for? The ones that stand out as having multiple requests in the past few weeks are:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
Bigger Than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder
The Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne
Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin
Who Was/Who Is biographies

What books are the kids and teens in your life clamoring for?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing


jkrbooks July 18 2014, 16:42

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: July 18

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TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include authors, book lists, the Cybils, common core, aging, ebooks, apps, growing bookworms, kidlitcon, reading, writing, play, schools, libraries, and summer reading.

Books and Authors

Stories from authors about school visits "gone terribly wrong" at Wild Things blog http://ow.ly/zcwJO  @SevenImp @FuseEight

75 Years Old, Still Showing off her Scar, fun details about Madeline from @SevenImp + @FuseEight at Wild Things blog http://ow.ly/z94Jk 

Book Lists and Awards

Amazon-backed Booktrust Best Book Awards‘ Lifetime Achievement Award turned down by Allan Ahlberg | @TheBookseller http://ow.ly/z3OLT 

The Wildest (bold + unique) Children’s Books of 2014 as picked by @100scopenotes http://ow.ly/zcxat  #kidlit

Teen blogger Summer from @miss_fictional looks back on Favorite Books from her Childhood http://ow.ly/z5flg  #kidlit

Who knew that there could be a list of Top 5 Picture Books about Ninjas? @rosemondcates could! http://ow.ly/z3KJl  #kidlit

Thanks! RT @145lewis: #CYBILS are an amazing resource Looking for summer reading ideas? http://dadtalk.typepad.com/cybils/finalists/ … #kidlit #edchat #elemed

Common Core and STEM

#CommonCore Becomes Touchy Subject for Governors Group, reports @WSJ, as both parties are internally split on CC http://ow.ly/z5fA0 

Tap the STEM Resources in Your Community! | ALSC Blog post for librarians by @amyeileenk http://ow.ly/z3KzZ 

Diversity

RT @tashrow 5 Stereotypes Positive Aging Picture Books Avoid | Lindsey McDivitt http://buff.ly/1zmZLk9  #kidlit

eBooks and Apps

RT @TWhitford: Great Apps To Introduce Coding to Young Kids http://goo.gl/uUdGX0  via @mattBgomez

Malorie Blackman: ‘I love gadgets, but e-reading has to be carefully handled’ | @GuardianBooks http://ow.ly/z3P8z  via @PWKidsBookshelf

Growing Bookworms

What Do Phonics, Phonemic Awareness and Decoding Mean? @CoffeeandCrayon has the scoop http://ow.ly/zeLEb  #literacy

How #Comics Create Life-Long Readers -- @MaryAnnScheuer interview with @jenniholm http://ow.ly/zeLPW  #kidlit #literacy

Teaching My Daughters to Read -- Part III, Phonics from @ReadingShahahan http://ow.ly/zcvyn  #literacy

RT @LiteracySpeaks: 5 Simple Ways to Improve Reading Comprehension from This Reading Mama! http://fb.me/6BtWnEOln 

Fun times @everead | How I Stopped My Children's Whining with Story Club http://ow.ly/z5eUD  #literacy

KidLitCon

KidlitCon2014_cubeBOOM: And we are LIVE! Why you should attend this year's KidLitCon, from co-organizer Tanita Davis, FindingWonderland http://ow.ly/zcvbM 

The registration form for #KidLitCon14 Oct. 10-11 in Sacramento is now live: http://ow.ly/zc0lr  A great way to see friends + talk books

October will be here soon, soon, soon — @bkshelvesofdoom is coming to #KidLitCon14 Are you? http://ow.ly/z3GYs 

RT @CBethM: The 8th Annual @KidLitCon - Spending Time Face-to-Face with Kindred Spirits by @JensBookPage #nerdybookclub http://wp.me/p21t9O-1zS 

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

On having (and integrating) multiple Reading Lives by Kristin McIlhagga @TeachChildLit @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/z94kV 

Cultivating Curiosity, on love of stories vs. love of words at So Obsessed With blog http://ow.ly/z94SO  via @catagator

Food for thought at Stacked: Growing Up, Leaving Some Books (Narnia) Behind by @kimberlymarief http://ow.ly/zi3Ac  #kidlit

Why Book Reviewers Would Make Awesome Authors, by @Miss_Fictional http://ow.ly/zcvDd 

A proposal from @100scopenotes | All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions. Thoughts? http://ow.ly/zcvYJ 

Here's what @medinger thinks about @100scopenotes idea for Putting a Stop to Middle Grade Novel’s Increasing Girth http://ow.ly/zcwej 

Confessions Of A Binge Reader (Or, How I Read So Much) | Ryan Holiday at Thought Catalog http://ow.ly/z3LKY  via @tashrow

Why Readers, Scientifically, Are The Best People To Fall In Love With @EliteDaily http://ow.ly/z3NZQ  via @librareanne

On Kids

How Much Activity Do Our Students Need? asks @katsok How do you help kids who can't sit still, in era of less recess? http://ow.ly/z92pA 

Did What You Played as a Kid Influence Who You Became as an Adult? asks @FreeRangeKids http://ow.ly/z933H 

Powerful post @KirbyLarson by Michelle Houts on adults looking back and regretting childhood acts of bullying http://ow.ly/z3K36 

Schools and Libraries

Bridging the Gap: Making #Libraries More Accessible for a Diverse Autistic Population | @sljournal http://ow.ly/z3Omk 

Corporal Punishment in Schools: Can it be Justified? @TrevorHCairney thinks it's not the right approach http://ow.ly/zi3el 

Top 10 Ways to Turn Classroom into a Hotbed of Enthusiastic Readers by @megangreads + @muellerholly @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/z5eFi 

Summer Reading

This could keep us busy for the rest of the summer! 50 Fabulous Movies based on Children's Books from @rosemondcates http://ow.ly/zcvGP 

#SummerReading Tip20 @aliposner Set up your vacation accommodations in ways that make literacy more likely to occur http://ow.ly/z3LbF 

#SummerReading Tip21 @aliposner Encourage your kids to author “vacation books” when you are traveling this summer http://ow.ly/z5eOF 

#SummerReading Tip25 @aliposner | Read the SAME BOOK that your child is reading independently + discuss it together http://ow.ly/zeM9u 

#SummerReading Tip26 @aliposner | Try to connect reading to your kids’ summer activities http://ow.ly/zi3mT #literacy

Reading Is Fundamental Study Says Summer Reading Is Not Priority | reports Lauren Barack @sljournal http://ow.ly/z3OeW  @RIFWEB

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

jkrbooks July 17 2014, 16:04

I Didn't Do My Homework Because... Davide Cali

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Book: I Didn't Do My Homework Because ...
Authors: Davide Cali & Benjamin Chaud 
Pages: 44
Age Range: 6-9

I Didn't Do My Homework Because ... is a celebration of the ingenuity of childhood. On the first page, a teacher asks a child: "So why didn't you do your homework?" On subsequent pages, he shares a host of creative excuses, like:

"An airplane full of monkeys landed in our yard"; and

"Some escaped convicts from the local jail hid in my bedroom and wouldn't come out." 

Each excuse is accompanied by a humorous illustration. In the prior example, we see the boy surrounded by much larger prisoners in yellow-striped outfits. The boy is brining them pink lemonade, and they are looking at his books. Because why not? 

This is a small format book, about the size of an early reader. It's more like a picture book in format otherwise, though the target age range is probably solidly in elementary school. Preschoolers don't generally have much homework, after all. Nor are they likely to know what "carnivorous plants" are. There's a humorous ending in which the teacher doesn't believe the boy, because she has the same book. For me, this was just enough to make it feel a bit like a story, rather than solely a collection of excuses. The illustrations are full of detail, and include boy-friendly tidbits like giant lizards. 

Instructions on the back of the book read:

"WHEN TO USE THIS BOOK:
Whenever you haven't finished your homework.

CAUTION:
Each excuse may only be used once."

Like the excuses, I'm not sure how well this book will hold up to multiple reads. But it's definitely fun, and sure to make elementary school kids laugh. Recommended for classroom libraries, or any seven-year-old with an overactive imagination.  

Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleKids
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

jkrbooks July 16 2014, 22:58

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: July 16

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JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currenty send the newsletter out every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (picture book and young adult), two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently, and an announcement about a post that I did at The Nerdy Book Club about the 8th Annual Kidlitosphere Conference (which I am co-organizing). Not included in the newsletter, I shared announcements about the KidLitCon Call for Proposals and Registration Form

Reading Update: In the last three weeks I read four middle grade books, two young adult titles, and one adult book. I read:

  • Sharon M. Draper: Out of My Mind. Atheneum Books. Middle Grade/Middle School. Completed July 5, 2014, on Kindle. Review to come.
  • J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Scholastic. Middle Grade. Completed July 8, 2014, on MP3 (library copy). This is my first time listening to the Harry Potter books, and I am quite enjoyig the experience.
  • J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Scholastic. Middle Grade. Completed July 12, on MP3 (library copy).
  • Betsy Byars: The Pinballs. Apple. Middle Grade. Completed July 14, 2014, on MP3. This was a re-read of a childhood favorite, and I was delighted to find that The Pinballs completely held up. 
  • Michele Weber Hurwitz: The Summer I Saved the World ... in 65 Days. Wendy Lamb Books. Middle School. Completed July 2, 2014. Review to come. 
  • Naomi Paul: Code Name Komiko. Scarlet Voyage. Young Adult. Completed July 13, 2014, on Kindle. I'm not planning to review this one. I finished it, but it didn't quite work for me overall. 
  • Anthony Doerr: All the Light We Cannot See. Scribner. Adult Fiction. Completed July 3, 2014, on MP3. I enjoyed this novel, though it's a bit slower-paced than my usual reading diet of mysteries and children's books. It's about the lives of two teens (a radio-obsessed German boy and a blind French girl) leading up to events during World War II. 

Incidentally, I did not finish The Silkworm (A Cormoran Strike novel) by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) on Kindle. I had enjoyed the first book in this series, and continued to appreciate the relationship between Strike and his secretary, Robin. However, there were some aspects of the book that were just too dark for me. I put it aside about 1/3 of the way through, not wishing to subject myself to more. Other people report more appreciation for the book. 

I'm currently reading Rose by Holly Webb on Kindle, and Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater in print. I'm listening to Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright, while I await the third Harry Potter book (on request from my library). 

As always, you can see the list of books that we've been reading to Baby Bookworm here. We're closing in on 1000 books read so far this year, though this is a lower bound. I'm not good about listing books that we read on vacation, nor about listing books that anyone else reads to her besides my husband and me.

One thing that I've particularly noticed about reading with my daughter lately is that she notices things in the pictures that I wouldn't necessarily notice myself. For example, she always points out the "L" knitted into "Little Louis'" sweater in Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen. She is not good enough yet at observation to recognize the bear and other animals from Klassen's I Want My Hat Back making a cameo in Extra Yarn. But I'm working on her. 

I also love, love, love when a book makes her peal with laughter. The most recent standout in this arena was A Promise Is A Promise, by Florence Parry Heide & Tony Auth. This is the book that taught my daughter the word "Nincompoop", a new favorite. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

jkrbooks July 15 2014, 21:42

The Registration Form for KidLitCon14 is Now Live!

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KidlitCon2014_cubeIt's here! Time to register for the 2014 Kidlitosphere Conference, otherwise known as KidLitCon14. You can find the registration form at the Kidlitosphere Central website. Registration will be open until September 19th, but there is no need to delay. 

Many thanks to this year’s Registration Coordinator, Maureen Kearney from Confessions of a Bibliovore for creating the registration form, and managing the registration process. 

If you blog about children's and/or young adult books, or you write children's or young adult books, or you just care about getting the right books into the hands of kids, KidLitCon is the place for you. KidLitCon is a small conference, not at all intimidating, and a perfect place to meet (or catch up with) friends who share a common interest. This year's KidLitCon is in Sacramento, California on October 10th and 11th. You can find more information about KidLitCon here. There's also still plenty of time to submit a session proposal. Contact program coordinator Charlotte Taylor from Charlotte's Library if you have questions. 

KidLitCon 2014. Sacramento, CA. October 10-11. It's going to be an amazing time! I hope to see you all there. Register now!

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

jkrbooks July 15 2014, 17:04

The Young World: Chris Weitz

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Book: The Young World
Author: Chris Weitz
Pages: 384
Age Range: 14 and up

The Young World by Chris Weitz is a post-apocalyptic survival story, this one featuring a mysterious illness that kills everyone except teens (they continue to catch it as they reach age 18 or so). The Young World ought to have felt like "been there - done that" to me. But it didn't, for some reason. Well, because of a combination of strong characterization, well-delineated settings, and intense action, I think. With bonus points for the inclusion of diverse characters, and for tackling race relations head on. I quite enjoyed it, and look forward to the sequel (the book ends with a cliffhanger). 

The Young World is set in New York City. Rival groups of teens have formed armed encampments. There's a considerable amount of rivalry, political maneuvering, and violence. In this, The Young World reminded me a bit of Charlie Higson's Enemy series, though without the zombie adults, and with considerably more three-dimensional characters. 

The story is told in alternating chapters by Jefferson and Donna, two kids who were friends before the Sickness came, and who seem destined to be more than friends in the aftermath. If they can survive that long, that is. Jefferson and Donna are very different from one another, and keeping track of their separate first-person voices is not a problem. (The publisher also helped in the digital version that I read by using different font sizes for the two narrators.) Jefferson is a half Japanese / half white younger son of an "oldie" father. He is introspective and hopeful, a self-declared "nerd philosopher king", genuinely trying to find a better way for the survivors. Donna is a "trigger-happy feminist sniper", and calls herself "the pixie-ish, wacky best friend". She's all tough talk, but she secretly cries while watching iPhone videos of her deceased baby brother. 

Jefferson and Donna live in a kind of commune in a protected Washington Square Park. However, they soon set out on a quest to help find a journal article that their resident evil genius (and apparently person with Asperger's), Brainbox, thinks may hold a key to understanding the Sickness. Jeff, Donna, and Brainbox are joined by Peter, a gay, Christian, African American boy who is a bit of a wise-ass, and SeeThrough, a tiny Chinese girl who excels at Martial Arts, but doesn't talk much. They make friends and enemies in the course of their journey, and even have to fight a bear. 

Here are a couple of quotes, to show you the difference between Jeff and Donna's voices:

"Taped to the pedestal, mementos of the dead. Snaps of moms, dads, little brothers and sisters, lost pets. What Mom used to call "real pictures," to distinguish them from digital files. Hard copies are where it's at now that millions and millions of memories are lost in the cloud. An ocean of ones and zeroes signifying nothing." (Jefferson, in his first chapter)

"Not enough hands or time to get rid of all the bodies, though. And they're still out there, millions of them, slowly turning to mulch, pulsing with maggots. It's been a banner year for carrion eaters. Hope I didn't spoil your appetite." (Donna, her first chapter)

In looking through my clippings, I find that I highlighted a ton of passages, mostly from Donna. She has a real flair for getting to the heart of things. Like this:

"But books--books are handy. You can keep ideas on paper for, like, centuries. And if you want to find stuff out, it's right there. You don't have to grab it out of the air, call it up from some data center in, like, New Jersey. So books had the last laugh. Nobody is going to know what the hell me and Jeff and the crew did five years from now. Unless Jefferson writes it down in one of his fancy notebooks or there's space aliens who can read things from people's bones or something. But Huck Finn is gonna be chillin' on the Mississippi forever." (Donna)

I love that last bit. The Young World is an adventure story that I could see reading again, even after I know how things turn out, just to enjoy hanging with the characters. On the first read, I did read pretty quickly, curious to know how things were going to turn out. There is plenty of suspense.

I also quite like the attention that Weitz pays to the details of New York. One of my favorite scenes is when Donna finds Pooh and friends in the New York Public Library. I don't know New York all that well, but there are plenty of other details that enhance the sense of place, without being too insider-y. Like details about the exhibits in the Met.  

One has to get past the contrived nature of the premise of The Young World, of course, but that's true of all post-apocalyptic stories, particularly ones that strive to leave the teens in charge. However, I found other aspects of Weitz's world-building are refreshingly realistic. The kids scrounge up generators and solar panels, so that they still have some access to gadgetry. They run around clutching their iPhones even if there's no cell service, and they can occasionally listen to music or watch movies, too. It's not all "technology is now dead" as in many stories.

The characters also maintain certain aspects of their pre-existing social structures. The rich, white kids band together, call themselves the Uptowners, and have a fully separate society from the kids from Harlem. The Harlem kids are strong fighters, and some of them believe that they are actually better off than they were before the apocalypse. The kids from the alternative school end up in Washington Square Park, and remain cool with alternative lifestyles. I found it all fascinating. 

Bottom line: even though this post-apocalyptic scenario of killer virus leaving only teens might seem on the face of it a bit tired, Weitz's execution made The Young World totally work for me. I can't wait for the next book, and I highly recommend The Young World to fans of near-term post-apocalyptic teen fiction. It's a bit violent, though, and has some cursing and sexual references, so I would call it a high school, rather than middle school, read. 

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (@LBKids) 
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Source of Book: Advance digital review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

jkrbooks July 11 2014, 18:06

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: July 11

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TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include authors, awards, book lists, diversity, growing bookworms, kidlitcon, blogging, ebooks, teaching, and summer reading.

Authors and Books

The Rise Of Young Adult Authors On The Celebrity 100 List by @natrobe @forbes http://ow.ly/yVSB6 via @PWKidsBookshelf

Nice tidbits about author James Marshall, “Wicked Angel”, on the Wild Things blog http://ow.ly/yXQ4M @SevenImp @FuseEight

Thank You, @NerdyBookClub says @StudioJJK on dedication of new anthology w/ @jenni @mattholm + others http://ow.ly/yVA3v

Read J.K. Rowling's new short story about grown-up Harry Potter + friends @today http://ow.ly/yVyWK via @bkshelvesofdoom

Ludwig Bemelmans’s Madeline Celebrates a Milestone (happy 75th!) @NYTimes http://ow.ly/yVSGt  via @PWKidsBookshelf

Author Interview: Five questions for @varianjohnson from @HornBook http://ow.ly/yYlDd 

Book Lists and Awards

2014 South Asia Book Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature via @MitaliPerkins http://ow.ly/yIP71

Loved Ed DeCaria's answer to What are the best poems for kids? on Quora. He recommends the #Cybils lists http://ow.ly/yVSnQ @edecaria

Get On Board: SLJ Selects A Bevy of Board Books | @sljournal #kidlit http://ow.ly/yVxfQ

Top Ten Schneider Award Favorites of the 2014 Schneider Award Jury by Peg Glisson @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/yS3cf #kidlit

A Top Ten List: Book that Heal by @MsLReads @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/yOoR3 #kidlit #yalit

Read Me a Bedtime Story, recommended bedtime books from @growingbbb http://ow.ly/yRWgb #kidlit

A Tuesday Ten: Diverse Stories in Speculative Fiction | Views From the Tesseract http://ow.ly/yN8qy #Diversity

UK Booktrust Best Book Awards announced, @tashrow has the list http://ow.ly/yKP72

3 family-tested read-aloud chapter books @SunlitPages | Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Magic, Runaway Ralph, Ramona the Pest http://ow.ly/yKQvF

Great selections! 18 Picture Books Guaranteed To Make You Laugh Out Loud Or At Least Smile @Loveofxena @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/z0xjS 

Diversity

How to Build a Bestseller with Non-White Characters | @chavelaque @sljournal on @varianjohnson + #diveristy http://ow.ly/yKNXn

Sure #WeNeedDiverseBooks but don’t forget #WeNeedMoreWalterDeanMyerses too, suggests @fuseeight http://ow.ly/yKRID

"diversity in fiction is about presenting the world through different viewpoints" Tanita Davis quotes @diversityinya http://ow.ly/yXRq9

Diversity Movement Gains Visibility at ALA Annual, wirtes Wendy Stephens | @sljournal #WeNeedDiverseBooks http://ow.ly/yVx2Z

Growing Bookworms

What do I get if I read this? A call against the use of external prizes in reading programs for kids from @HornBook http://ow.ly/yVxTr

Shanahan on #Literacy: Teaching My Daughters to Read: Part 2, Print Awareness (point at the words at least sometimes) http://ow.ly/yS0uv

How to Read Stories to a Very Active Child, tips from @Booksforchildrn http://ow.ly/yN8KO

Born Reading: An Interview with Jason Boog — @fuseeight http://ow.ly/z0y0Z  #GrowingBookworms #literacy

I liked this post on The #Literacy Benefits of Family Dinners @growingbbb | Some excellent points http://ow.ly/z0wQm 

Kidlitosphere

KidlitCon2014_cube#KidLitCon14 in Sacramento, California, why @semicolonblog wants to hitch a ride i your suitcase to go http://ow.ly/yN8uT

#KidLitCon14 Update: Call for Session Proposals is Up! reports @aquafortis (co-organizer) http://ow.ly/yKPbP

#KidlitCon14 | Call for Session Proposals @book_nut http://ow.ly/yKJPN | Blogging #diversity in YA and children's lit

Wild Things!: Website and Book Launch from @SevenImp + @FuseEight | #kidlit fans will want to check this out! http://ow.ly/yRV91

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Why digital vs. print reading should not be an either/or conversation, by @frankisibberson http://ow.ly/yS3Zo #eBooks

Insights from @catagator at Stacked: The Three C's of the Changing Book Blogging World, credits, comments, + crit http://ow.ly/yRYJa

Stacked: Reader Advocacy, Speaking Up + Ducking Out: On @catagator Quitting 2015 Printz committee. Go Kelly, I say! http://ow.ly/yKSXG

Schools and Libraries

Why Should Educators Blog? | @ReadByExample shares several reasons: http://ow.ly/yXQom

Should We Be Quantifying Our Students’ Reading Abilities? asks @ReadByExample @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/yKRlX

Too Soon for Technology?: The latest on digital use by preschoolers | @sljournal http://ow.ly/yVwRi #libraries

Summer Reading

Better than the title suggests: How to Trick Your Kids Into Reading All Summer Long @TheAtlantic via @librareanne http://ow.ly/yXOCj

Some experiences w/ #SummerReading programs from @SunlitPages + request for feedback from blog readers http://ow.ly/yVARq

Raising Summer Readers Tip #12: Schedule a few social gatherings that celebrate books and #SummerReading | @aliposner http://ow.ly/yKS38

This one very important! #SummerReading Tip #13: Read aloud to your kids, even if they are great readers! @aliposner http://ow.ly/yN8fr

Raising Summer Readers Tip #14: Remember to make reading aloud interactive! | @aliposner #SummerReading http://ow.ly/yOoM1

This sounds like fun! Tip #15 from @aliposner | Pair books with movies to add some fun into #SummerReading | http://ow.ly/yRXGU

#SummerReading Tip #16 @aliposner : TALK about your plans for reading while on vacation BEFORE your travel begins http://ow.ly/yRY0a

#SummerReading Tip #17 from @aliposner | Raise kids who view packing books as a traveling necessity http://ow.ly/yVAxa

#SummerReading Tip#18 @aliposner | For reluctant vacation readers, wrap a book to read aloud for each day of vacation http://ow.ly/yXPKy 

#SummerReading Tip #19 @aliposner | When en route to your vacation destination, take advantage of captive audience! http://ow.ly/z0yzc 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

jkrbooks July 11 2014, 18:06

At Nerdy Book Club: The 8th Annual KidLitCon

http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/68884298/_/jensbookpage~At-Nerdy-Book-Club-The-th-Annual-KidLitCon.html

Member of the Nerdy Book ClubI'm proud to say that I have a post up today at one of my very favorite blogs, The Nerdy Book Club. I talk about the 8th annual KidLitCon, and how for me this conference on children's book blogging is really all about spending time with kindred spirits. For anyone curious, I also provide a bit of background about how KidLitCon came to be. Here's a snippet from the post:

"Attendees share a love of children’s books, as well as a determination to get the right books into young readers’ hands. I have attended six of the seven so far, and I have enjoyed them all. I find it rejuvenating to spend time, face-to-face, with kindred spirits. I try very hard not to miss this annual chance to see people who started out as online friends, but who have become, like the Velveteen Rabbit, real."

If you are not already following the Nerdy Book Club (which you should be!), I do hope that you'll take a minute to pop over and read the full post. I've read and shared countless Nerdy posts over the past couple of years, and it was an honor for me to have a chance to post there myself, particularly about something as near and dear to my heart as KidLitCon.

KidLitCon 2014. Sacramento, CA. October 10-11. I hope to see you all there! The call for session proposals is here, and the registration form will be available very soon. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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