November, 2011

2011 ALAN Workshop: Flash Back, Forge Ahead

I am a member of The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Teachers of English because they: promote the inclusion of young adult literature across the curriculum, celebrate and welcome artistic innovation, experimentation, and risk-taking by authors, and advocate and defend freedom of choice for independent reading. And to top it all off, they put on one heck of a conference!

I spent November 21-22 in Chicago-being awed by the quality, creativity, passion, and insights offered up by some of the best YA authors in the business.  People like M.T. Anderson, Angela Johnson, Walter Dean Myers, Jacqueline Woodson, Sarah Weeks, Sharon Draper, Kenneth Oppel, Neal Shusterman, James Dashner, Veronica Roth, Megan McCafferty, Dom Testa, Jay Asher, Carolyn Mackler…

Here are a few of the people I was most impressed with.

John Green. Apparently I was the only person on the planet who did not know who this guy was before the workshop. My colleagues and daughter were wild with envy that I would be in the “Great One’s” presence.  And he is great. Funny. Insightful. Caring. And did I mention funny? We received a sneak peek of his new book:The Fault In Our Stars-LOVED IT! Will rush out to buy it as soon as it is available.

Matt de la Pena.  I’d only read one of his books before the workshop-but will pick up the rest  based solely on the strength of his character- or at least the glimpses of it he provided in his short address.Wish his books had been around back when I was teaching in Rialto, Ca.  He reminded me why I teach: one good book placed in the right hand can change a life.

Chris Crutcher. I’d never heard of him either- but will make sure my students have. (Yep-he’s on my Black Friday shopping list) He had me as soon as he said,”There is no act of heroism that does not include standing up for yourself.”

The entire romance panel: B.A. Binns,Simone Elkeles, Stephanie Perkins, & Sara Zarr. Why? Because before November 22 I would never have even considered reading a book in this genre, but after listening to these engaging ladies-I will.

And last but not least David Levithan. His message,”We need to be the army of empathy by sharing books that are not “easy” & tell the truth!” earned him a standing ovation.

I encourage all of you to check out these amazing authors and join ALAN- see you in Vegas in 2012!

A good book is like a Kansas City Chiefs game

I recently spent the weekend in Kansas City watching a Chiefs game and when I got home and started downloading pictures, I decided the game was a lot like a good novel…

First, there’s the anticipation. You pick up the book and admire the cover, maybe read the jacket copy. At the game, you walk through the parking lot-where everyone is tailgating. The smell of BBQ waifs through the air-people are getting primed for football.

Next, you open the book and begin reading. You’re hit with an exciting problem and introduced to a host of characters. Back to the Chiefs game- where the players have taken the field, a stealth bomber does a fly-by and Wolfie attacks the Bronco mascot.

In the book, the plot thickens. Subplots begin to develop. We begin rooting for some characters, despising others.  At the game- a sea of red fills the stadium. Tim Tebow dives into the end zone-scoring for his team.

The book ends- and if it’s a good one, it leaves us wanting more. The game does not end as we’d hoped- but as season ticket holders, we’ll be back for more…

My hubby, his sister, & Wolfie

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