Category Archives: YA stuff

More YA Dystopia: Divergent

Over the summer, given that I was still carrying an (almost) full course load (well, at least it felt that way), whenever I had the chance to do some recreational reading I was more likely to pick up something I had read previously (like The Great Gatsby) just because it was easier to put down when school reading called…

Cleo also had good things to say about Divergent…

But I did finally read something relatively contemporary on the plane out to BC: the YA novel Divergent. Given my general liking for dystopian fiction, I quite enjoyed it. Little disappointed in the end–felt it tried to wrap up a bit too quickly, but a good read none-the-less. Will definitely pick up the next one…

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Posted by on September 7, 2012 in YA stuff


What’s this about Twilight?

After last week’s class and petit-discussion on the merits (or lack thereof) of Twilight, I took Paulette’s advice and decided to read the book. So, off I went to the library on Saturday to find me a copy, which I spent the rest of the weekend reading.

And really, my strongest comment about it: I just thought the story would be better, ’cause my biggest hmmm…criticism of it: nothing really happened (until the baseball game bit at then end). I mean, I get the whole weak female thing. She really was a bit of a limp dishrag. But really, given the momentum generated by the books, I really expected a better story. I’m a sucker for a good narrative with lots of stuff going on. I know that. And I think the reason that I kept reading was because I kept thinking, something’s gonna happen and it’ll get exciting. But it never really did. That being said, I may read the next one just in case the action happens there…but really, I know my motivation but was this enough to keep all those swooning girls going. That being said, I was a little intrigues by the Cullens. They seemed kinda interesting. I bet action-type stuff happened to them…

As for Miss Bella. Hmm….well, at first I thought: Good Lord, girl: all that awkward, klutzy, hiding behind the hair bit, really? REALLY? Come on girlfriend, pull yourself together! But then I wondered, if that’s her appeal to ya girls: is she “every girl”? Is she the one that easy to relate to because of all the awkwardness that goes with the teen territory. Is she just saying what so many are feeling?

I also thought that the story presents better as a film than a book. Because, the visuals fill in the spaces of the story. Also, Forks almost is a character in itself so it’s presence would probably fill out some of the gaps. So, all those scenes of staring at Edward staring at Bella, staring at Edward et. al. will be made more, well, just ‘more’ by having the visuals added on. And thought I did see the film, quite some time ago, I don’t have a good sense of it any longer so may watch that again too.

As always…the ‘unrelated note’…

I was in Chapters today enjoying my eggnog latte and perusing the teen selection, when I noticed that “Go Ask Alice” is still in print. I guess that kinda surprised me; as did remembering that I read it so long ago. AND, the cover hasn’t changed either; it’s still the same one that I remember. Also of note, from long ago near “Go Ask Alice” (being by Anonymous and all) was a cache of V. C. Andrews books. So they’re kept in the teen section. Interesting.

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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in YA stuff


Dystopia n’stuff…

So…what is it about this dystopian stuff that I find so appealing? Well, maybe appealing isn’t the right word…hmmm, not sure what is come to think of it. Maybe it’s the watching-a-trainwreck-kinda-thing: you can believe you’re actually still looking, but you don’t want to look away because you really can’t believe what you’re seeing. Or maybe that’s part of it: that you’re afraid what you’re seeing (or reading) is not too far away from reality and it just scares the bejesus out of you.

For me, Unwind topped my “required” reads this semester. I really couldn’t put it down. And I read and re-read (that watching-a-trainwreck-thing) certain parts because I had such a visceral reaction to them: most significantly when Roland is unwound. Shivers. Really and truly. And you know I didn’t spend a lot of time considering why parents would do this, but I was completely prepared to suspend my disbelief and go along with Connor and Risa. Funny about that, my willing suspension of disbelief: so much easier for me here, then say “Weetzie Bat” where I struggled to buy into even the name of “My-Secret-Agent-Lover-Man”. Hmmm…(again).

I also read through Life As We Knew It, and while it was actually more “realistic”, certainly in characterization, I didn’t feel quite as invested. I was thinking that maybe the more plot-driven story (more action-based) had more appeal for me. (Though, I did consider starting to gather non-perishables and water for the basement. Water in particular as we have a well, and without power, we don’t have water. Actually, when the weather gets stormy and there’s a possibility of power outages, I run around filling up empty containers with water, including the bathtub–you also can’t flush the toilet without water and even after a day that can be nasty!)

But then, and here I have a confession to make, I didn’t read The Knife of Never Letting Go: as soon as I read the first page, and was introduced to Manchee, I knew he was going to die and I couldn’t read it. I know. Ridiculous. And actually, I did flip through the book, just to double check; you know, in case I was wrong. And then I found the spot where he was killed. And I cried. Yes-ridiculous. But for me, I was willing to buy in to the fact that Manchee could “talk”, and the way it was described, that single-focus, repetitiveness loyal dog-ness of it. I thought, yeah, a dog might “talk” like that. And I looked at Jersey (my dog), and thought, yeah: when I say “squirrel”, her ears go up, and her focus on my face, because she knows, and then she’s at the window or door, ready to go. I can see her thinking: “squirrel-where?, squirrel-let’s go, squirrel-let’s go”…Anyway, I didn’t finish it.

I got both Unwind, and Life As We Knew It, out of my local public libraries and they’re both labelled with “Science Fiction” stickers. I’m kinda curious about that: so, what is science fiction? I guess I’ve always thought of it as, well, like space-type stuff–apparently, I’m not the only one as the stickers actually have little spaceships on them–so, I don’t naturally put them into sci-fi, but I guess that’s what they are…are they?

I think I’ve always like this genre though. I read John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids in, maybe grade 9 (for class), and have read it several times since then. Most recently this past summer. I also remember seeking out Day of the Triffids just because it was another John Wyndham. I was thinking that I might like to try 1984 again, just to see what my adult-self thinks of it. Some reading for over the break maybe.

Finally, on a very light dog-centered note, and in keeping with the single-focussedness of a dog on a mission, check out Fenton: “Get the deer, Get the deer, Get the deer!”

(That being said, his poor owner is somewhat single-focussed in his vocabulary as well!)

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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in YA stuff


Consuming conspicuously–Gossip Girl’s now shilling “Soulfully Sexy” pole dancing videos…

To further add to our conversation today on the blatant consumerism in Gossip Girl (et al.), check out John Doyle’s (the “TV guy” from The Globe and Mail) column from earlier this week…

The Globe and Mail’s TV Fashion: To Tune [In] is to Buy In

(On something completely unrelated, but makes sense once you’ve flipped to the article,  I can’t believe the Grinch was already on! I mean it was still November for Pete’s sake…Although, on further thought, maybe not so unrelated after all. In fact, it actually ties in beautifully with this discussion of consumerism: the fact that basically, as soon as the last Halloween treat was handed out, the Christmas marketing elves were in full force. Does the long retail ride to Christmas really need to start on November 1st?!)

Oh…and just in case you’re interested in doing something “soulfully sexy”…







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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in YA stuff


From Zero to Hero…

Just a quick comment on John Greene’s “Paper Towns”…

I thought it offered solid writing and would appeal to a sophisticated teen reader. I loved the inclusion of Whitman (well, because I like Whitman); I like that it may open kids ups to not just poetry but to another writer, from another era (I guess that goes for Woody Gutherie as well).

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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in YA stuff


Poetry and stuff…

When I think back to when I was in school, I don’t remember reading or studying poetry very much. Which at first I think is sad, but then considering how many people say they were turned off poetry because of either having to “…analyze it to death in high school or memorize it in elementary school” (Bucher & Manning, 2006, p. 256), I guess I’ll take the sin of omission over the sin of commission. (Although I do love the quote: “tie the poem to a chair and torture a confession out of it”…)

It’s really a shame because poetry really has so many great things going for it when it comes to younger readers. Of course, and we’ve been saying this all along, it’s about finding the right poems or types of poems for the readers.

I realize I’m about to make teacher-type comments and not librarian-type comments but here goes…

I really enjoyed working with poetry with the kids. Now these kids were only in grade 5, so that makes them 10-11, so even on the young side of tweens. And I remember they eye-rolling and sighs of despair when I introduced the poetry unit (particularly from the boys). But I assured them they wouldn’t have to (unless they wanted to) read poems about rainbows, love and falling snow…that not all poetry was like that, and by god, it didn’t have to rhyme! And I like to think at the end of it, they enjoyed it: both the process of reading and writing and talking about poetry. From John Lennon and Joni Mitchell, to Lewis Carroll and Carl Sandburg, we read and listened and talked about a whole wack of stuff. And some of those kids ended up writing (what I think) are some amazing pieces of work. There are some bits that have stayed with me: William, writing about his cat, described him as “he is his own himself”…oh, my gosh. That makes my heart get bigger just thinking about that. Ryan, writing a persona poem about his old hockey stick, left standing in the hall, wishing it were out playing hockey again. And it previous years, Isabelle (grade 3) wrote a poem about waking up in the morning in her room, she said: “A pinch of sunlight touches my face”…a pinch of sunlight! How perfect is that?!

And the thing I found about poetry was that because it is not restricted by conventions, complete sentences, specific punctuation, it becomes really accessible for the kids who may struggle with, well, conventions. And this ties into reading poetry as well, which the article mentions: that because poetry can be short, it can be less intimidating for reluctant readers.

The other thing too, although my guess would be that with the older kids this wouldn’t be so true, but the younger ones write without the self-consciousness that we develop as we get older and because of that, their writing is so clear. It’s quite lovely.

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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in YA stuff


Kids, ‘n e-books, ‘n apps…oh my!

Meant to post this last weekend; an article in the Globe and Mail titled:

“For some kids, a book is just an iPad that doesn’t work”


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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in YA stuff