Where Are The Non-Celebrity Authors?

Something’s been bothering me and I feel the need to write about it. Since Jack was born (and I’ve been waking up MUCH earlier) I’ve started watching TV morning shows like Good Morning America and Live! With Kelly and Michael. They interview authors often, but lately they’ve interviewed some YA authors. I’m happy to see YA novels receive more coverage, but what bothers me is that celebrity authors are being interviewed.

If you’re like me then you view YA authors as celebrities, so you might wonder why I’m bothered by these authors being interviewed. Over the summer Kelly and Michael featured After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga, Peter Facinelli, and Rob DeFranco. When I saw this book in the line-up I was geeked because I thought maybe Barry Lyga would be on the show. Nope, they interviewed Peter Facinelli. Just this month Shay Mitchell was on Live! With Kelly and Michael talking about her YA/NA novel Bliss: A Novel. It seems like Good Morning America is more apt to interview authors who write novels for adults, like today they interviewed Michael Strahan about his new book.

I have nothing against Peter Facinelli or Shay Mitchell. I’m happy to see authors and their novels receiving national coverage. I’m especially happy to see YA novels earning such wide attention; hopefully those books will land in more teen’s hands now. But why can’t non-celebrity authors be interviewed on morning shows or national TV in general? Aren’t their books worthy of more attention? Don’t viewers read books other than those written by actors? How do we make this happen?

If any television producers happen to be reading my little blog (ha!), here are some YA authors my students love who write books that you should consider featuring on your shows:

Jason Reynolds–His newest book, All American Boyswhich he co-wrote with Brendan Kiely–is timely, important and powerful.

David Levithan–Besides the fact that I could listen to him talk for hours, he’s so smart and deeply insightful. His books make my teens think in ways they may not otherwise.

Gae Polisner–What I love about Gae is that she truly loves teens. She bends over backwards to connect with them, especially teens who are aspiring authors. Her most recent release, The Summer of Letting Go, has been so popular I haven’t seen my copies since the school year began.

Courtney Summers–Courtney understands how complex teen girls are. Her novels are loved by my students because they’re raw and real and deep. Her newest novel, All the Rage, zooms in on rape culture in ways that many books do not but should.

Julie Murphy–I haven’t told anyone this, but I had a dream a few weeks ago that Julie Murphy was being interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel. How cool would that be?! Dumplin’ is a book that should be featured on TV because of its focus on being body positive and being so appealing to teens in general.

Kwame Alexander–Um, he wrote a Newbery award-winning novel, so why HASN’T he been on national television?!

Cinda Williams Chima–Fantasy is always a popular genre and Cinda Williams Chima writes FANTASTIC fantasy series! Why not feature an author who writes fantasy that Lord of the Rings fans will love?

Sherman Alexie–He’s a well-known author in the publishing world. His YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has been banned or censored multiple times despite its need to be in the hands of teens. Sherman Alexie would be great to interview because of his insight on censorship and the need for diversity in the publishing world.

Rae Carson–Rae is another fabulous fantasy author. Her newest release, Walk on Earth a Stranger, is a stunning piece of fantasy historical fiction that’s on the Young People’s Literature National Book Award longlist.

Libba Bray–She’s too smart and her writing too brilliant NOT to be featured on television.

I could go on and on with this list, but I’m going to stop here. Let me know in the comments which authors you’d love to see on national TV!

Student Book Reviews: The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner

Since bringing my ARC of The Summer of Letting Go into my classroom, my senior girls have been passing it around quite a bit. It’s been such a favorite this year that three of my students wrote mini book reviews for Gae Polisner’s sophomore release.

Title: The Summer of Letting Go

Author: Gae Polisner

Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

The Summer of Letting GoSummary (From Goodreads):

Just when everything seems to be going wrong, hope and love can appear in the most unexpected places.

Summer has begun, the beach beckons and Francesca Schnell is going nowhere. Four years ago, Francesca’s little brother, Simon, drowned, and Francesca is the one who should have been watching. Now Francesca is about to turn sixteen, but guilt keeps her stuck in the past. Meanwhile, her best friend, Lisette, is moving on most recently with the boy Francesca wants but can’t have. At loose ends, Francesca trails her father, who may be having an affair, to the local country club. There she meets four-year-old Frankie Sky, a little boy who bears an almost eerie resemblance to Simon, and Francesca begins to wonder if it’s possible Frankie could be his reincarnation. Knowing Frankie leads Francesca to places she thought she’d never dare to go and it begins to seem possible to forgive herself, grow up, and even fall in love, whether or not she solves the riddle of Frankie Sky.

Student Reviewer: Alyssa

Student Review:

This book may turn some people away by the love story and what not, but what makes this story so interesting is the aspect nobody tends to think or talk about. The idea of reincarnation.

Francesca Schnell’s story of her brothers passing is absolutely heart breaking. Definitely not something you’d ever wish upon someone, especially a child. Her struggle through getting over it is never ending. Once Frankie Sky, a boy she babysits, comes into her life, everything changes. The fact that her brother could have reincarnated into Frankie Sky is something so unbelievable and makes you wish it could happen in your life. This books pursues a different way of making people knowledgable on the topic of reincarnation. The ups and downs and the adventure of finding this all out is a journey worth reading about. The love aspect of this book is just the cherry on top of it all for me. I give this five stars!

Student Reviewer: Morgan

Student Review:

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner ws not only a story of moving forward from the past, but also a story of love and friendship. I loved every part of this book, from the cute and daring personality of Frankie Sky, to the conflict Francesca faces in leaving behind the guilt of her brother’s death. I enjoyed the way the story would tie into other parts of the book with Francesca’s past and her younger brother Simon. Every page was entertaining and kept me hoping for more. When it came to tense parts, my heart would start racing as if the story were my own life. I consider this book the best that I have read so far and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in stories of friendship or stories about moving on from the past.

Student Reviewer: Kayla

Student Review:

I absolutely loved this book. It’s 316 pages long and I read it in two days, which never happens. The book takes you to multiple places, from a love story to a story about religion and different beliefs. As cliche as it sounds, I honestly believe this book changed the way I think. I grew up believing that heaven was the only way after death. This book opened my eyes to a whole new world. While I know The Summer of Letting Go is fiction, I connected with it it because I’ve been questioning things. It is a very insightful book that I would recommend to those who enjoy impossible love stories.

Running a Book Club

I’ve been asked on Twitter by a few different people how I run/fund my high school book club, so I decided I should write a post about it.  I’m still working on improving it, so if you run a book club I’d love to know what you do to make it fun.

The Premiere jewelry party fundraiser

The Premier jewelry party fundraiser

I’ll start with a little bit of background.  After our librarian left and we found out that she wasn’t going to be replaced, I asked my principal if I could take over book club.  We had a secretary working in the library, but she wasn’t familiar with the books and was really hired to work on technology stuff.  Later in the year we hired a technology person who would work in the library, but again, he was mostly brought in to help with technology issues in the building.  Thankfully my YA class and my well known passion for reading helped gain me some members, albeit a small amount of members.  I think the first year I ran it we had fifteen members, but only six or so came on a regular basis.  Since then our numbers have grown, but I still have a tough time getting more kids to come regularly.  We meet after school for about an hour since it’s difficult to arrange a time during any other part of the day.  At first we met almost once a week because we wanted to discuss books and we were working on improving/decorating the library since we don’t have a librarian.  When I started this book club, we chose together which books we’d read and I usually bought a few copies of the chosen book with my own money.  I honestly can’t remember if we did much fundraising that first year.

The second year was much better.  We spent more time making displays in the library.  We started holding fundraisers to purchase the books we’d read and we also held fundraisers to purchase books for the library.  My kids loved doing this and were really motivated to raise money.  When new books would arrive, we’d find ways of displaying them so more students would travel into the library to check them out.  That year I really felt like I was running the library in my classroom and our actual library.  I wasn’t down there organizing books and checking them in and out to students, but I was trying to find ways to purchase more books and put eye-catching displays together.

The cupcakes we ate while Skyping with Sarah Ockler about Bittersweet.

Some cupcakes we ate while Skyping with Sarah Ockler about Bittersweet.

This year, my students and I have given up trying to decorate the library because the technology teacher was pulled to teach full time.  The same secretary is down there, but she’s working more on technology issues.  We also have an online schooling program going on in the library, so it isn’t being used at all anymore by our students.  They go down there to check out text books and some might still check out library books, but I don’t know how often that happens.  Hopefully more than I think.  The fundraising we do goes towards purchasing our book club books which I still donate to the library.  If we get our library back, I’ll be happy to have my students work on displays and fundraising, but this year that just doesn’t seem worth it.

I do have a larger group of students this year which makes it fun getting to know them and their reading preferences.  Last year and this year we’ve put all of our names into a bucket and we draw a name every time we choose a new book to read.  This way each student gets to help choose our next book.  They still ask for my advice, but I try to make sure each students gets to read a book they’re interested in.  We’re constantly on Goodreads looking for our next book.

Most of the fundraising we’ve done consists of bake sales.  We’ve apparently priced our bake sales well because we usually make around $150-$200 in a week.  Last year one of the moms got involved and made us lots of cookies to sell.  The kids in our school found out she was baking for us and were really excited to buy some of her cookies 🙂  I’m also really fortunate to have a great group of kids who also love to bake.  I love to coupon shop, especially in the summer, so whenever boxes of brownie mix, cookies, or the like go on sale I buy a bunch of them so we can make them for bake sales.  A friend of mine sells Premier jewelry and told me that I could hold a book party at school as a fundraiser.  We received a portion of the profits we earned.  To help promote the fundraiser, we offered a jewelry giveaway for each order made or something like that (I think we added a person’s name every $25 or so they spent).  With those parties, the hostess holding the party always earns free jewelry, so we used that free jewelry for the giveaway.  It definitely helped!  We also paired up with Tropical Smoothie and earned a percentage of the sales during a designated time period, so we advertised that at school as well.  We’ve been meaning to have a car wash in the spring, but every time we want to, another club has beat us to it.

091

Advertising our book club at the orientation for upcoming freshmen

I do need help coming up with fun meeting ideas.  Last year we read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, so we decided to make crepes during our discussion meeting.  The French teacher let us borrow her crepe maker and each of us brought a different ingredient to make the crepes.  Since we were making so many, we let the teachers in the building know so they could get a crepe after school.  We’ve Skyped with a couple authors as well.  We read The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner and Skyped with her, which was fun as usual.  Our first year we read Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler and talked with her on the phone; my kids loved that.  Last year we read Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler, so we made cupcakes for our meeting and Skyped with her.  I think it’s a given that this year we’ll read The Book of Broken Hearts.  I made monster cookies for when we discussed The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd.  Other than those things, I’m really not sure what else we should do.  I’d love some suggestions!

Here’s a list of books we’ve read in book club. Titles in bold were enjoyed by most of the group.  I hope I didn’t forget any titles!:

  • Enclave by Ann Aguirre
  • Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender
  • The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
  • Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristin Chandler (this one had a lot of mixed reactions)
  • The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
  • Hush, Hush & Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
  • Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
  • Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
  • Things Change by Patrick Jones
  • Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
  • Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
  • Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
  • Fixing Delilah & Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
  • The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner
  • Freefall by Mindi Scott
  • The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd (lots of mixed reaction, but overall I think they liked it)
  • Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers

Our current read is Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  I hope they all like it!  We’ve also had times when we read different books connected by theme or topic.

 

Book Trailer Thursday (100)–The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (paperback edition)

I can’t believe this is my 100th Book Trailer Thursday post!  And what better way to celebrate that than by sharing the new book trailer for the paperback edition of the first book I reviewed per request?!  I really enjoyed Gae Polisner’s debut.  I love the original cover and the first book trailer.  And the paperback cover and paperback book trailer release?  I love them too!  If you haven’t already added The Pull of Gravity to your library or classroom library, I highly recommend that you do 🙂

The Pull of Gravity paperbackSummary (From Goodreads): While Nick Gardner’s family is falling apart, his best friend, Scooter, is dying from a freak disease. The Scoot’s final wish is that Nick and their quirky classmate, Jaycee Amato, deliver a prized first-edition copy of Of Mice and Men to the Scoot’s father. There’s just one problem: the Scoot’s father walked out years ago and hasn’t been heard from since. So, guided by Steinbeck’s life lessons, and with only the vaguest of plans, Nick and Jaycee set off to find him.

Characters you’ll want to become friends with and a narrative voice that sparkles with wit make this a truly original coming-of-age story.

3rd Hour Book Love

I’ve posted the results from both of my Honors Sophomore Seminar classes and today I’m posting the results from my English 10 class.  Almost all of the students I have in this class I had last year when they were freshman, so it’s fun having them again and seeing their list of favorite books read in 2012.  Quite a bit of discussion, surprise, and debate was created when I shared the list.  Some of them were very passionate about their favorites and the recognition they feel those books deserve.

As a reminder, the titles my students chose are titles they read in 2012 and feel are award-worthy.

1st Hour Book Love / 2nd Hour Book Love

Top Choice: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
**I’m slightly surprised to see this as a top choice again.**

The Hunger Games

What students said about The Hunger Games trilogy (Goodreads):

“It’s very gripping.” -Nathan
“I like that it’s different.” -Ciara
“I loved all the action.” -Todd

Honorary Titles:

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach (Goodreads)
**I have more guys than girls in class, many of which play football, so I’m not surprised to see this title on the list :)**

Stupid Fast

Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer (Goodreads)
**I’m surprised this is on the list because my copies of the series have been collecting dust and taking up space.**

Breaking Dawn

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (Goodreads)

“It’s an overall great story because you can actually feel the emotions.” –I wish I remembered which student said this…

The Pull of Gravity paperback

Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles (Goodreads)
**Not as many students in class knew about Jumping Off Swings, so a few students took time to book talk it which sparked some new interest.**

Jumping Off Swings

Nightshade trilogy by Andrea Cremer (Goodreads)
**So many of the girls in this class are sharing and loving this series.**

Nightshade

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker (Goodreads)
**The guys in my classes request this book the most, especially my sports players. They love Carl Deuker’s books.”

“I like it because of all the expectations the main character faces and how he reacts to them.” -Jake

Gym Candy

The Duff by Kody Keplinger (Goodreads)
**There was some shock that Shut Out didn’t make the list.**

The DUFF

Paranormalcy trilogy by Kiersten White (Goodreads)

paranormalcy1

Boy21 by Matthew Quick (Goodreads)
*At first this wasn’t on the list, but I found out that’s because they didn’t think they could include a read aloud book. I was told to add it to the list because it’s a great book.**

Boy21

2nd Hour Book Love

Yesterday I posted the results from my 1st hour Honors Sophomore Seminar class, and today I’m posting the results from my 2nd hour Honors Sophomore Seminar class.  This is the smaller of the two classes, and I have a nice mix of both avid readers and revitalized readers.  When I went over the results with them, some were surprised by the favorites and others were excited about them.  I’m kind of surprised that so many backlist titles made the list, to be honest, but I’m happy they’re still so popular.

Top Choice: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games

What students said about The Hunger Games trilogy (Goodreads):

“I really like the idea and concept of the trilogy.” -Jenna
“It has a great combination of action, comedy, drama, and romance.” -Hannah

Honorary Titles:

Crank by Ellen Hopkins (Goodreads)
**Side note–Ellen Hopkins’ school visit really made an impact on my students 🙂 Reading Crank was a different experience for them after hearing Ellen speak about her life and the story behind the book.**
“Meeting Ellen Hopkins in person really made a difference.” -Hallie

crank

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (Goodreads)

“It’s a really fast read that’s intense and depicts a harsh reality.” -Sophie

livingdeadgirl

Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn (Goodreads)
**Side note–I don’t like this new cover at all, but I’m using it in case you’re looking for a copy at the store.**

“I like the way it’s written in reverse order and that we get to read Nick’s journals.” -Hannah

Breathing Underwater Paperback

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (Goodreads)
**Side note–This just released in paperback!**

“I loved this book.” -Haylee

The Pull of Gravity paperback

Swim the Fly by Don Calame (Goodreads)

“It’s really funny.” -Emma

Swim the Fly audio

Split by Swati Avasthi (Goodreads)

Split paperback

Tilt by Ellen Hopkins (Goodreads)

Tilt

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf (Goodreads)

“It’s freaky to think that’s actually real and that as a kid he did all of that stuff.” -I can’t remember which one of my students said this :/

My Friend Dahmer

Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman (Goodreads)

“Intense, a harsh reality, and I like the multiple points of view.” -Jenna

want-to-go-private

The Pull of Gravity in Paperback!

I have a special attachment to Gae Polisner’s debut The Pull of Gravity because it’s the first book I read and reviewed on my blog per request.  I was so excited when Gae emailed me to see if I’d review her novel!  Since then we’ve formed a close relationship via email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.  I wrote the teacher’s guide for The Pull of Gravity, I teach it with Of Mice and Men, and love promoting it whenever I get the chance.  It’s such a wonderful book 🙂

The original cover is fantastic and received a positive response from my students.  As happy as I am about the hardcover, I’m thrilled about the paperback!  It’s gender neutral, fun, and really fits the atmosphere and tone of the book.  The hardcover feels a little more serious to me, while the paperback celebrates the lighter and more hopeful elements of the story.  The shade of blue is perfect, the rea-life models against the artwork pops, and I love the addition of the important symbols like the water tower and the open novel.  The cover lets readers know that Nick and Jaycee are going on a journey which the hardcover fails to do.  The think the animated-like artwork opens The Pull of Gravity to a younger audience as well.  It’s very reader-friendly.  What do you think?

The paperback releases February 5th, 2013.  I hope you get yourself a copy! 😀

Here’s the front cover:

Here’s the front and back cover:

Summary (From Goodreads): While Nick Gardner’s family is falling apart, his best friend, Scooter, is dying from a freak disease. The Scoot’s final wish is that Nick and their quirky classmate, Jaycee Amato, deliver a prized first-edition copy of Of Mice and Men to the Scoot’s father. There’s just one problem: the Scoot’s father walked out years ago and hasn’t been heard from since. So, guided by Steinbeck’s life lessons, and with only the vaguest of plans, Nick and Jaycee set off to find him. Characters you’ll want to become friends with and a narrative voice that sparkles with wit make this a truly original coming-of-age story.

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish People I Want to Meet

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

The YA book community is pretty darn fantastic, and over the past couple years I’ve come across some wonderful authors/teachers/librarians/bloggers who I would love to meet!  This post is all about them and my list is in no particular order.

Matthew Quick–I’ve only read his most recent book, Boy21, but it continues to make me happy every time I read it aloud to my students.  If an author has written a book that I want to read and share with my students over and over again, then he/she is worth meeting.

Gae Polisner–I’ve done everything short of meeting Gae in person since I “met” her a couple years ago.  We’ve emailed, we’ve Facebooked, we’ve Twitter(ed?), and we’ve even Skyped.  I even teach her debut novel, The Pull of Gravity.  Can I meet you in person already, Gae?! 😉

Amy Fellner Dominy–Her books make me smile.  OyMG and Audition & Subtraction are both adorable and so worth reading.  I love chatting with Amy on Twitter and Facebook, so it’s about time I get to meet her! 🙂

Geoff Herbach–Are you sensing a trend here?  I kind of love the Class of 2K11.  Stupid Fast has turned so many of my male students into readers.  I want to meet him in person so I can thank him for his book and what it does for my students.

Courtney Summers–She’s another author who hooks my students within the first few pages of her books.  Her writing is engrossing and her stories are heart-wrenching.  I really hope I get to meet her one day.

Lisa Schroeder–I’ve loved every single one of her verse novels.  They’re engrossing, beautifully written, and almost always hook my reluctant female readers.  Plus, she lives in one of my favorite areas, the Pacific Northwest, so it would be super cool to meet her out there.  If you haven’t read I Heart You, You Haunt Me or Chasing Brooklyn or any of her other books, then you’re really missing out.

Allison R (@reader4evr)–I can’t remember how Allison and I started chatting on Twitter, but I love talking books with her.  She’s one of my go-to people when I need a good book recommendation, so I know we’d have fun if we met in person.

Jennifer Fountain (@jennann516)–Jenn and I would be super good friends if we could get together in real life.  I just know it 🙂  She and I have so many similar teaching/reading tastes that it would be amazing if we could one day teach at the same school.  It probably won’t happen, but I often dream of the “super school” made up of the fabulous teachers and librarians I follow on Twitter.  You can also keep up with Jenn through her blog, Fountain Reflections.

Crys Hodgens (@thehodgenator)–Crys is another super teacher.  She is full of awesome teaching ideas, she reads great books, and she pins all kinds of cool things on Pinterest.  Plus she blogs about almost all of those things I just listed.  Crys is another teacher I’d want at my dream “super school.”

Kyle (@BookPensieve)–Kyle is a fellow Michigan teacher so there’s actually a pretty good chance we could meet in person.  I love chatting with her on Twitter about books and teaching since we have so much in common and share lots of ideas.  She’s also a blogger at A Reader’s Pensieve.

%d bloggers like this: