A Facebook friend posted a tantalizing photo on her wall the other day. It was a picture of herself happily sitting with an advance copy of Suzanne Collins‘ hotly-anticipated Mockingjay. (Yes, she was “mocking” all of us who would give our eye teeth to get our own advance read!) This sent librarians into a Facebook comments frenzy for a bit, and then the FB friend eliminated all traces of the photo and conversation. All is calm again, except 99.9999999% of us are still waiting for Mockingjay, which won’t be officially released until August 24.
Why the anticipation? Hunger Games and its sequel, Catching Fire, are the first two tomes in Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy—a science-fiction adventure aimed at young adults, but discovered and devoured by adults as well. The first book is an award-winner, has sold 800,000 copies, is available in 26 foreign editions, and has been optioned for a movie. No, we’re not talking anywhere near the success of Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight novels (and don’t even think Harry Potter territory). What we have here is a dark horse that received positive buzz online, and lots of reader-to-reader recommendations. I knew it was hot with young adult librarians, but when Chicago Tribune TV Critic Mo Ryan sent out tweets about how great and suspenseful the work was, I knew I had to give it a try myself. I’m glad I did, and now I recommend it to friends and family.
There are many reasons to love this tale: The trilogy is the story of young Katniss Everdeen, a resourceful and charismatic heroine for our time. She is steadfast and loyal, fiercely brave, and ultimately true to her convictions. Everdeen’s world is a nightmare: a despotic government keeps tight control over 12 districts that provide consumer goods to the lucky citizens of the Capitol, while residents of the districts barely survive their harsh conditions. An ultimate annual reality show pits young teams from each of the districts in a fight to the death, a ploy to keep the districts in fear and in line. But something happens when Katniss participates in the Hunger Games. She becomes a star to citizens of the districts, and a catalyst for rebellion.
Plots can intrigue, but it’s the writing that makes or breaks a book, and Collins comes through with flying colors. And so, we wait for Mockingjay—wait to have our questions answered about the rebellion and the mysterious District 13; wait to see if Katniss and her family and friends will survive; wait to get another, and final, fix of our favorite book series of the moment.
The SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) is having their Fall Conference in Chandler, Oklahoma September 11th from 9:00 til 5:00. Go to their website to find out how to join SCBWI, and stop by the member websites while you’re there.
The Celebration of Books, held by the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers is coming up September 24-25. I know Young Bill and I are anxiously looking forward to going. Mark your calendars for this one. Teresa Miller, host of Writing Out Loud, is the mastermind behind this event, and I’ve never been disappointed.
Save the Date. Mildred Laughlin Festival of Books for Young People will be October 28th. This year it will be at the Tom Steed Center, Rose State College and the fee with lunch is $80.00. Here’s a peek at the festival presenters, Stephen Krensky, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, and Tamora Pierce.
Need to get started on some great books for Teens, Take a look at Tamora Pierce’s 2010 best Science Fiction and Fantasy titles for Teens.
Look what I just got in my email from Teresa.
In addition to an all-star lineup of Oklahoma Writers, the Celebration of Books, September 24-25, will also be featuring three Pulitzer winners—Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours; Beth Henley, author of Crimes of the Heart; and Rita Dove, author of American Smooth. Dove also served as Poet Laureate of the United States. Other visiting writers and artists will include PBS anchor Jim Lehrer, best-selling author Sue Monk Kidd, New York Literary Agent Marly Rusoff, poet and performance artist Joy Harjo, Queen of Rock Wanda Jackson, and Carlotta Walls LaNier, the youngest of the Little Rock 9.
For a complete listing of all sixty authors, visit poetsandwriters.okstate.edu, where you’ll find a Celebration schedule and registration forms. Or call Teresa Miller at 918-594-8215. You can also receive weekly updates by becoming a fan of the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers on Facebook.
Note that all teachers and students may attend the event for free but still need to register.
We hope you can join us!
Thanks Teresa for the update and very timely for the blog.
I heard this song years ago, and the Oklahoma Department of Libraries even received permission to play it at the State Literacy Conference one year. While discussing new readers with a friend in our Literacy Resource Office, I remembered the tune and promptly found it on YouTube. It makes a nice Library YouTube Break, and a reminder of the power of reading. Support your local adult literacy council.
Our new feature on the blog, Site of the Week will focus on a library or literary related website that we want to pass on. So here’s one you’re going to Love. Awful Library Books
Libraries of course can’t keep every book they have ever purchased. At some point some have to be “weeded”. Weeding is an endearing library term for getting rid of the old so you have room for the new. Now there are many points of contention along the way. For example, should weeding be based on circulation. Should it be based on outdated information meeting a timely demise? Do some books lose their relevancy?
Librarians debate these conundrums ad nauseum. Some public libraries base weeding on circulation and publication date. There are books, wikis and websites that try to give a method to the madness. But basically something has to give, buildings are only so big after all. This week’s posting on the Awful Library Books website has a book on Disco dancing. Now at my library we would definitely keep this title, because you never know when the whole John Travolta thing will come back. The Awful Library Book website is so nostalgically funny; those old computer books, The First Book of Boys’ Cooking and Everything You Need to Know About Growing Up Female (love the pink razor on the cover). Health books can really date after a few years. Cookbooks can last forever, even the ones for boys.
At the State Library we conside our collection “last copy held”, so if there aren’t any other copies of a book held in the state of Oklahoma, well then we keep a copy for Interlibrary Loan purposes.
Here’s an example of one of our gems:
So the next time you visit your public library see what Awful books they have lingering in their stacks. But remember one man’s awful is another man’s treasure.
The Oklahoma Library Association just held its annual Information Matrix Summer Camp for ages 12 to 14. Twenty-one young teens from across the state (shown above at the Will Rogers Memorial) attended the camp in Tulsa, where they visited different libraries and collections, learned about the profession, participated in activities, and made a lifetime of memories. During one of the sessions, campers gave us a glimpse of what Oklahoma’s young people are reading.
When asked to name a favorite book or character, here’s what 19 campers said:
• I really like the Viking Quest series. My favorite character in it is Bree. I love the adventures she has.
• The Host by Stephenie Meyer
• Just Listen by Sarah Dessen because it is interesting, realistic, and well-written.
• Not So Simple Life. It’s a good read!
• My favorite book is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince because I like fantasy.
• Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. It’s about different cancer patients.
• Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) because she is not afraid to speak her mind and is very witty.
• Hush Hush—it makes me happy, sad, excited, and almost every emotion at once.
• Ender Wiggen (Ender’s Game); he can be a hero without having any special traits (to me at least).
• All the Lovely Bad Ones. I like books that are scary and about ghosts.
• The Skin I’m In. It is very inspirational.
• Hit and Run because it’s a mystery and kind of a romance.
• The House of Night (series) because it always has a nice twist.
• Percy Jackson; I like mythology.
I have to tell you, I’m pretty impressed with the diversity of books the teens listed. Their reading interests range from sci-fi/fantasy to realistic fiction, from swashbucklers to Christian Fiction, and from graphic novels to an Austen classic. Like I said, impressive!
Know some middle schoolers? What are they reading?