YA for Obama

Hey you teenage and otherwise young-type people,

there's an election coming up. 
And the fabulous and hilarious Maureen Johnson  -- author of Suite Scarlett, Devilish, 13 Little Blue Envelopes, etc. -- has created a NING (don't ask me what a ning is, I am too old to fully understand, but it's like a community where you can post blogs and videos and make friends and stuff) called YA FOR OBAMA

It launches TODAY. It's all about voting, being political, talking about change, talking about the future, and hanging out with people who write books for teenagers. I am on there. So are these guys: Scott Westerfeld, John Green, Megan McCafferty, Robin Wasserman, Melissa Walker, Melissa de la Cruz, Annette Curtis Clause, Sara Zarr, Sarah Dessen, Susan Juby, Adrienne Vrettos, Coe Booth, Ellen Wittlinger, Natalie Standiford, Gabrielle Zevin, Jeanne du Prau, LIsa Yee, Bennett Madison, Daniel Ehrenhaft, Edward Bloor .... (I got tired of typing here. But there are more)

And in case that list doesn't get you excited, those guys are the authors of these books (among others): The Uglies series, Looking for Alaska, The Jessica Darling books, Skinned, Violet on the Runway, The Blue Bloods books, Blood & Chocolate, Story of a Girl, Just Listen and The Truth about Forever, The Alice books,Skin,  Tyrell, Hard Love, The Dating Game books and the Elle Woods books, Elsewhere, the Embers series, Millicent MIn: Girl Genius, the Lulu Dark books, Ten Things to Do Before I Die,  Tangerine... (I got tired again. But more more more)

Why is it important? You guys are the future. Even if you can't vote this year, you will be shaping the world in no time -- in fact, you are already. Let's make it count. 

Why is it fun? All those authors (and more!  There are more!) are posting blogs and links and videos and cartoons and other fun things to get you thinking about the election and what it means to you. Yes, all of us have made our decisions and we're voting for Obama. But undecided or even opposition-minded people are welcome --  because it's always worth opening up channels of communication! 

So please come check it out. Join the ning. Make friends. Read some stuff. 

View my page on YA for Obama

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez speaks her mind

Thanks to Coe Booth for this link. 

YA and adult novelist Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, author of Haters and many other books (including the adult title Dirty Girls Social Club, which I loved), writes her analysis of Breaking Dawn as containing racist elements. The post contains plot spoilers.
I recommend you read forward in her blog after this post, as she provides additional evidence and responds to critics. 

Without having read Breaking Dawn (I read only the first Twilight book), I want to say that I support Valdes-Rodriguez in speaking out about what she sees, defending her viewpoint, and being unafraid of critics who either disagree with her or wish her to be "nice." I agree with her point that defending victims of prejudice and discrimination IS nice, and staying silent when we feel or witness injustice is no kind of path to take. 

Anyway, it's interesting stuff. Go see what you think for yourself.

Looking for Alaska

John Green, below, asks for our support in preventing Looking for Alaska from being taken out of the curriculum for 11th grade English in a public high school. He explains everything better than I can, but I'd like to add that people often view books for children and teenagers as billboards for behavior. They think, a book in which characters do X (let's say, drink, or have sexual activity) is like a poster saying "hey, this is a good idea!" Or, in some cases, "don't do that, it's a very bad idea and you could DIE."

But books are books. They are long. They are complicated. They are intended for discussion, contemplation, and disagreement. Most of them simultaneously embody different points of views because the characters in them are in conflict with one another, or with themselves.

No one writes books for teenagers because they don't care about teenagers. The people I know who write books for teens (and I know many) all care passionately about creating good literature that speaks to the hearts and minds of young adults. No one has a desire to force an agenda down anyone's throats, much less corrupt the minds of our youth. We just care about our audience and are trying to make good, honest books for them.

Sandpiper is on the shelves

Ellen Wittlinger's novel Sandpiper will stay on the shelves in Tuscaloosa.
The article points out:

"After three months of debate and conflict over the book, the board announced Monday that "Sandpiper" would remain on school library shelves because of U.S. Supreme Court rulings that found that students' first amendment rights can be directly affected by the removal of books from a school library."

So even though the school board disapproved of Wittlinger's language, they did not remove the book. Hooray! Insightful commentary on the article at As If! (Authors Supporting Intellectual Freedom) -- from YA novelist Jordan Sonnenblick.

Late, late, banned books week

"There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written."
-Oscar Wilde

Well, I am OUT OF IT and missed Banned Books Week. It was Sept 29-Oct 6. But we can still talk about them, right?
Especially since TEEN READ WEEK is this week, and all too often it's books for young readers than get banned. CHeck out the list of most-banned books, here.

I am going to celebrate by reading Sandpiper, by Ellen Wittlinger, a book which was recently challenged. What are you going to read?

What can you do to protect freedom of speech in our country? You can blog about book banning. You can talk to your friends about it. You can go to the library at your school.
Talk to the librarian.
Tell that librarian you're interested in the issue of book banning, and ask if he or she has any stories to tell about books being banned in your community. Then ask that librarian to recommend something good to read, banned or un-.
Librarians love this.
It's their job. They won't mind.

This is my fave banned books week poster, made by Literaticat of Not Your Mother's Book Club for when Chris Crutcher came to talk at Books Inc.


MoJo's book banning

Go here to read about how Maureen Johnson's book The Bermudez Triangle was banned without anyone actually reading it in Bartelsville, OK.

Then go here to find out about what's happening now, what very cool people have helped, and how you can help, too!
Besides buying the book, which is just plain fun.

Here's the letter I wrote to the school board people and cc' to the local paper.

Dear Mr. McCauley,
I am writing to urge you to reconsider your decision to take The Bermudez Triangle off the shelves.

Books are not billboards advocating certain kinds of behavior. They are works of art, designed to be liked, disliked, disagreed with, discussed, and considered. A school teaches students to read critically, and by pulling books off the shelves (especially without even reading them), we send a message to our young people that they are incapable of thinking for themselves. That we have no faith in what we have taught them, and no faith in them to make good decisions.

By taking a book like The Bermudez Triangle off the shelves, you are sending a message to the young people of your community that if they have questions about sexuality, they should not come to you -- or to their parents who support the ban. When you remove a book because you object to its content, you tell the children who look up to you that those topics are unspeakable, and deprive yourself of a chance to impart your values in a discussion. You set up a situation in which a teenager going through adolescence can not confide in his or her elders.

I am the author of four novels for young adults, and many books for young children. I hold a doctorate in English Literature from Columbia University and teach at New York University. I am cc-ing this note to the editor of the Examiner.

I do hope you will reconsider.

Yours Sincerely,

E. Lockhart

Some random things

It's late at night and I have a few things to just talk about quickly, all unrelated to one another and in no order of importance (and some are more important than others!)

1) I just saw Legally Blonde on Broadway! Bend and snap! It made me want to wear very high heels. If you want to read books about Elle Woods, go visit Natalie Standiford.

2) They are trying to ban my friend Maureen's book. By "they" I mean the Bartlesville Board of Education in Oklahoma, and by "my friend Maureen's book" I mean The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson. Here is Maureen's smart and also hilarious blog on the topic. And here is the As If! (Authors Support Intellectual Freedom) post.
(How can you help? Go buy the book).

3) Dramarama is nominated for BBYA, which is best books for young adults.

4) Coe Booth won the LA Times book award for best young adult novel, for Tyrell! Yay Coe! It is a really great book and it made me laugh and cry.

Okay, time for bed. G'night.