Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November Issue of Spellbinders is here! It's all about TEEN/YA stuff! Printz Buzz!

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November, 2009

TZFeature Article
"The Twilight Zone" by Carolee Dean

Up the hill from the high school where I work sits a local hot spot that has been an attraction for teenagers for the past several years. Every day anywhere from fifty to seventy-five students make the trek after school to hang out with friends, meet to work on after school projects, or just crash until their parents pick them up. When you enter the building there is a beautiful gallery/lobby with a shining wooden floor and a glass door opening onto a patio with tables, umbrellas, and a beautiful view of the mesa. To the right of the gallery is a room with a stage for performances and directly ahead is the real attraction - a room called The Twilight Zone.
TZ3The inside of the Twilight Zone looks like a cyber café with several computers set up on tables with bar stools where kids can check email, surf the internet, or research school projects. On Wii Wednesday video gamers take turns trying to beat each other at Mario Party 8 while budding poets construct lines of free verse on a huge magnetic poetry board displaying such phrases as -- Dream of happy, fuzzy little jellyfish.
In the midst of everything you'll find teens playing board games or curled up in lounge chairs and couches enjoying the latest vampire series or sci-fi adventure, surrounded by magazines, DVD's, and stacks upon stacks of books. In fact, there are books everywhere!
This is a library, after all.
Not your typical library, though. This is the Loma Colorado Main Library in Rio Rancho, New Mexico with a highly active Teen Advisory Board comprised of thirty energetic adolescents actively planning such events as last spring's Twilight Ball complete with a live teen band, a costume contest, and food provided by the Friends of the Library. The library provides a budget, and Teen Services Librarian, Kimberly Femling, assists in the implementation, but she gives teens ownership of the group and the planning. Next month the Teen Advisory Board is planning a Medieval Masquerade Party where some of the festivities will include decorating masks. And, of course, there will be lots of food.
Femling says food is very important to teens. She provides pizza for the monthly advisory meetings and you'll always find food at special events. Kids are encouraged to bring after school snacks and may eat in the gallery or on the outdoor patio. The only rule is-no food on the carpets.
The primary objective of the Twilight Zone Teen Scene is just to get kids into the library. Once they are in Femling can advertise the library's services, let kids know what resources are available, and educate them about how to use those resources. She encourages teen-run clubs with the rule that anyone and everyone must be allowed to participate. She says it's important to coordinate with the local high school and not duplicate the types of clubs and activities they are doing or else everyone gets spread too thin. So far there has been an improv performance troupe, an anime club, and talk of a computer repair group.
TZ1Femling, who also serves as the Innovative Systems Coordinator, says that just because you see a student listening to an MP3 player it doesn't mean they're zoning out on rap or hip hop. Students can check out devices known as Play Always. They look like MP3 players but each one is loaded with a different book that can be checked out from the circulation desk. The library also offers downloadable books that can go from a computer to an iPod or MP3 player.
When asked what makes a successful teen program, Femling says that an effective librarian should specialize in teen lit and keep current with teen trends-what they are reading and what they need. She says the best way to do this is by listening to the suggestions of the Teen Advisory Board.
For more information on the Twilight Zone Teen Scene contact the Teen Librarian at 505-891-5013 or visit the library's website at:
For information on teen literature visit Young Adult Library Services at YALSA is a rapidly growing division of the American Library Association.
Be sure to mark your calendars for November 5-7, 2010 when the national YALSA conference will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Your friendly Spellbinders are all planning to be there.

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L. RubyWho's Right/Whose Right?
Lois Ruby

It's dangerous to slink around in the library because you're likely to stumble upon a tome that rocks some of your deeply cherished biases. Today I found such a book called The Language Police, by Diane Ravitch (New York: Knopf, 2003). The subtitle says it all: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn. After smugly sifting through the chapter on censorship from the right, my eyes strayed to the next chapter about censorship from the left. What's this???

Ravitch says, "The pressure groups of left and right have important points of convergence. Both right-wingers and left-wingers demand that publishers shield children from words and ideas that contain what they deem the 'wrong' models for living. Both assume that by limiting what children read, they can change society to reflect their worldview." So, what we refer to as political correctness, i.e., removing words construed as sexist or racist, for example, could be just as harmful as denying access to ideas some find offensive. Words ... ideas. Which have more power to persuade or corrupt or enlighten young readers? That's food for thought around the table in the breakroom.

StitchesHere's something else to think about. This month the National Book Foundation will choose the winning book in the field of literature for young people. Among the short-list of five titles is one that's generating lots of smoke and flame. It's a graphic memoir called Stitches, by David Small. The poor guy had a horrifying childhood, and his recollections might be troubling to readers below the age of sixteen. In fact, the book wasn't meant to be for children or teens. Then an enterprising publisher realized that a graphic book might not hold up in the adult non-fiction category, so W.W. Norton submitted it for the National Book Award in the Literature for Young People division. Boom. It resounded with the five author/judges. Tune in November 18 when the winner is announced. Meanwhile, is Stitches a teen book? Should we shelter callow eyes and minds from such gut-wrenching revelations? Or, here's a thought: are our young people being used as pawns so a publisher can snag a major award, which comes with flashing dollar signs?

Tomorrow's topic in the breakroom.
And finally, that great, curly-haired, smiling grande dame of YA literature, Judy Blume, has been honored yet again for her outspoken heroism, this time by the National Coalition Against Censorship, at its sixtieth anniversary celebration. Enough said.


Carolee will be offering a one-hour session for speech-language pathologists on Saturday, November 21 at the National ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) Convention in New Orleans. The session title is "The Secret Language of Stories: Beyond Story Grammar" and attendees may be download handouts from the ASHA website. If you have SLPs from your school who will be attending ASHA, please encourage them to come to the session.

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Please feel free to reprint any of the articles you find in SPELLBINDERS, but do give credit to the author(s) and include a reference to our blog by giving the following information - written by (author) and reprinted with permission from SPELLBINDERS, Helping Librarians and Educators Create Lifelong Readers

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The Secret Language of Stories
Carolee Framed
Carolee Dean
In October I gave a brief overview of my twelve-step story method called, "The Secret Language of Stories" (SLOS) and discussed the New World vs. the Old World as well as the impact of setting on character development. We began by discussing how most stories depict a main character in his ordinary world and then show the hero travelling to an unfamiliar world where he or she experiences growth and change.

I have given workshops on this topic to teachers, librarians and SLPs and am excited to announce that I will be offering a one-hour session for speech-language pathologists on Saturday, November 21 at 8:00a.m. at the National ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) Convention in New Orleans. If you have SLPs from your school who will be attending ASHA, please encourage them to come to my session.

This month I will be discussing THE CALL. This is the point in the story, typically before the actual journey to a new world occurs, where something alerts the main character that things are about to change. In Story Grammar language this is often referred to as the Initiating Event, though some have called it the kick off, the invitation, or the challenge. The main character may receive a threat, a challenge, or an invitation. This may arrive in a variety of ways-a letter, a phone call, a verbal confrontation. In olden times a king sent a herald with a bugle to call everyone to the town square to make important announcements such as letting the young men know they were being called to war, or to tell the young ladies that there would be a ball at the palace.

Sometimes, but not always, the Call will be followed by a REFUSAL. Characters are often reluctant at first to leave their comfortable homes and the things that are familiar to them to journey into dangerous and unknown territory. They may be afraid, feel unprepared, or think they are unworthy. They may hide, run away, argue, or simply refuse to accept the challenge. Often a mentor or guide will appear at this point in the story to encourage the main character to accept the challenge and get going on the journey. In many myths and fairy tales the mentor gives the hero magical gifts such as glass slippers, protective shields, magic beans or invisibility cloaks, but the gift could be as simple as advice or encouragement.

Examples of the CALL and the REFUSAL abound in children's literature. Harry Potter received his call in the form of letters from Hogwarts. Even the great boy wizard was reluctant at first to embark on the journey to Hogwarts, thinking that perhaps there had been a mistake. He simply didn't believe it was possible that he could be a wizard. It wasn't until his mentor, Hagrid, said, "Not a wizard, eh? Never made things happen when you was scared or angry?" that Harry had any belief that he was magical. Hagrid then proceeded to take him to Diagon Alley where Harry was bestowed with numerous magical gifts including a wand and a cauldron.

Sometimes the CALL comes from inside a person in the form of an attraction, which is often the case in romances. In Twilight, Bella is interested in the porcelain white vampire guy in the cafeteria, but then decides he's a snob and tries to forget about him. Meanwhile, Edward tries to deny his growing attraction to Bella because he fears he won't be able to control his hunger for her blood.

Think about books you've read or movies you've seen and I'm sure that examples of the CALL and the REFUSAL will abound. For a more complete discussion of this topic you may want to read The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler.

For a fun game exploring the CALL see the November Random Writing Activity on the blog on my website at

K. LittleKimberley's Book Buzz
Kimberley Griffiths Little

As promised - this month it's Michael L. Printz Award Book Buzz - given to the most outstanding Young Adult title of the year.
Young Adult literature has exploded the past five years. More YA novels are being published than ever before, in every genre imaginable, and devoured by teens. For the first time in my own lifetime of obsessive reading and writing, I'm watching teens talking about books, buying books with dollars they earn from part-time jobs, discussing books with friends, and eagerly waiting for the next book by their favorite authors.

Teens check out authors' web sites, My Space Pages, and friend them on Facebook. Authors are more accessible through on-line mediums than ever before, and the opportunities to interact and meet authors at schools, libraries, or bookstores are part of what makes reading even more exciting and personal. YA authors are the new "rock stars". Provocative and superbly written books are being published, so jump on and enjoy the ride!

I'd love to tell you about 50 new titles I've read in the past year, but in the interest of space I'll give a brief synopsis of 5 titles that have received excellent reviews and are terrific books to point your teens toward.

Marcelo in the Real World
(Scholastic, Arthur Levine Books) by Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo, a seventeen-year-old boy on the high-functioning spectrum of autism, faces new challenges, including romance and injustice, when he goes to work in the mailroom for his father's law firm.

If I Stay
If I Stay (Dutton) by Gayle Forman
While in a coma following a car accident that killed her parents and younger brother, seventeen-year-old Mia, a gifted cellist, weighs whether to live with her grief or join her family in death.

(Viking) by Laurie Halse Anderson

Eighteen-year-old Lia comes to terms with her best friend's death from anorexia as she struggles with the same disorder.

Days of Little Texas
Days of Little Texas
(Knopf) by R. A. Nelson

Haunted by the ghost of a dead girl he failed to cure by faith healing, teen evangelist, Ronald Earl Pettway becomes engaged in an epic battle between good and evil on the eve of a huge revival meeting at an old plantation.

Funny How Things Change
Funny How Things Change (FSG) by Melissa Wyatt
After a visiting artist helps Remy realize what his family's home in a dying West Virginia mountain town means to him, the talented seventeen-year-old auto mechanic questions his decision to join his girlfriend when she starts college in Pennsylvania.

In addition to the Printz hopefuls, there are dozens of other wonderful titles. YA books come in so many different styles, shapes and sizes that I couldn't resist listing a few novels within other teen genres that have had readers buzzing this year.


A Sweet Disorder by Jacqueline Kolosov (a girl in Queen Elizabeth's court)
Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith (a young woman pilot during WWII)


Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog


Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard

Futuristic Thriller:

Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Enjoy a delicious new read!

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Home From Louisiana!

We just got home late last night and it was FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hubby and I had such a great time we didn't want to come back. (It's been years since we've had a trip for just the two of us and our home life has been pretty crazy chaos the past two years.)

We went dancing with Miss Olive and Mister Elward Stephens on Front Street in Morgan City - a couple in their 80s that I met last April who are absolutely awesome, practically live off the bayou and swamp right out their back door, and act about 30 years younger. Aren't they cute?

We ate barbecue at Gros Marina eight miles down Four Mile Bayou (a local joke), went to an outdoor Cajun boucharie (pig roast complete with cracklin's being cooked over an open fire in a black cauldron) and hubby was offered moonshine to drink!!! We also ate tons of shrimp, crabs, gumbo, and jambalaya.

We rowed a canoe for 3 hours in the bayous where A FISH LITERALLY JUMPED INTO OUR BOAT!!!! A mullet flopped and danced in the bottom of our boat until we could scoop him out. It was wild. And we saw tons of turtles and birds and gators. We were the only ones out there and it was so peaceful I didn't want it to end. Mullets jumped all over the place. We could see them everywhere as the afternoon deepened. They jump about three feet in the air. Amazing. The weather was perfect all week, too. Sunshine every day and 75 degrees.

We met SO MANY PEOPLE and talked about traiteurs and their personal experiences with traiteurs and my upcoming books, and I have a whole new *fan* base, ha ha!

Hope y'all are well - not sure I'm going to have a chance to read back through 10 days of journals. Not when I gotta finish my first draft by Thanksgiving . . . but I'm waving and sending love!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween pics and stories

I haven't dressed up in years, but I needed to pay homage to King Tut and Queen Ankhesenamun from my latest WIP.

I really need to grow out my hair and get permanent curls . . . isn't that wig HOT?!? And that guy - ooh, la la! Well, he needs to ditch the glasses . . .

Private Belly Dance Party later . . . in the Middle Eastern Room.

Two of my five guys! I have lots of men in my life . . . Gangsta coolness and piratey mahem. My other boys were AWOL around the country.

The littlest Little family with Sera as a mermaid and Adam's wife as a Gothic Geisha Girl.

She sewed this all week long and I have the evidence all over my house.

Coolness, especially the braids and boots.

Hope you all had a fun weekend and aren't too gorged from sugar.

Me, I am out of here for the next 9 days. Going to Louisiana with hubby to do research and swamp tours and stay in historic B&B on the Bayou Teche! See you next week! Be good while I'm gone and will someone please sweep up the candy wrappers . . .

Adam liked that cigar a little *too* much.



Winner of The Southwest Book Award!

Time travel, war, love, rattlesnakes, magic . . .

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