ages 11-18

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #65

Successful teen author Shannon Hale is breaking into the adult market with Austenland. Unabashedly chicklit, it is an engaging read you won’t want to put down.

Jane Hayes – pretty, clever, a 30something with a thriving career (graphic artist) and even better hair, has one embarrassing secret obsession. Despite a stream of promising boyfriends (numbered but not named), her heart belongs to Mr. Darcy (as in Jane Austen’s), in the form of Colin Firth.

When Great Aunt Carolyn leaves her a legacy of a three-week, all-expense-paid holiday to a Jane Austen fantasy camp, her bags are packed. At Pembrook Park, Jane swaps her 21st century persona for a 19th century sensibility, complete with wardrobe, country dances, walks in the park and a supply of gentlemen as romantic interest. But when Jane falls for the gardener, breaks the rules and is expelled, an unexpected “Mr. Darcy” (Colin Firth in a wet shirt) comes through with the goods.

The plot is fresh though the ending is predictable. The language is snappy and humorous. The characters are well observed. Although the heroine is not without fault – she is dreamy and vulnerable, she is also smart, resourceful, and endearingly hopeful. I hope we'll meet again.

teenreads.com

teenreads.com is a great source for ideas of something to read. Teen and adult reviewers express their views on the latest books. Here’s a review for Twisted, a book you don’t want to miss.

In TWISTED, Laurie Halse Anderson presents readers with Tyler Miller, whose transformation from a meek, social Mr. Cellophane to a chiseled, admired "tough guy" sets his world on end. As someone who spends his days unnoticed, Tyler finds himself with more attention than he wanted after he vandalizes school property and, to pay for his crime, takes a summer job doing landscaping. The unforeseen side effect is that he returns the next school year with a brand new bod that's turning heads, most notably the head of Bethany Milbury.

The Truth About Stacey

Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey are back in book number 2 of Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel adaptation of Ann M. Martin’s series, The Baby-sitters Club. The club is faced with a competing “agency” and Stacey is trying to deal with how her parents are handling her diabetes. As always, Raina’s art is amazing. Fans of Lynn Johnston’s For Better or For Worse will see some similarities in style. Raina is great at showing the characters’ emotion with just a few lines and her interpretation is truly timeless.

V2 Launched!

Last night a new 826Michigan book was launched at Neutral Zone. Vacansopapurosophobia 2: Fear of a Blank Page (V2 for short) is a collection of stories and poems written by local youth and teen writers.

According to its teen editors V2 is “one of the niftiest, funniest, saddest, most incredible collections of student writing around. . . Topics range from life lessons learned through cashews, to a romp through modern life with some of Shakespeare's characters, to poetry that could be read beautifully up and down the page."

A copy will soon be available in the AADL collection or if you want to buy your own copy go to 826Michigan and click on the "826Michigan Store" tab in the upper right corner.

Judges for the 2007 "It's All Write!" Short Story Writing Contest

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Thanks for sharing your expertise and giving each story your careful considerations.

Steve Gillis – Author of the novels, Walter Falls and The Weight of Nothing, both finalists for the Independent Publishers Book of the Year. Steve’s stories, articles and book reviews have appeared in over three dozen journals. Giraffes, a collection of stories, was published in February 2007 by Atomic Quill Press. A member of the Ann Arbor Book Festival Board of Directors, and a finalist for the 2007 Ann Arbor News Citizen of the Year, Steve teaches writing at Eastern Michigan University and is the founder of 826 Michigan.

Travis Holland – Travis Holland’s stories have appeared in Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and Five Points. His first novel, The Archivist’s Story, is published by Dial Press. A graduate of the University of Michigan, where he received his M.F.A., he lives in Ann Arbor.

Jim Schaefer – Jim Schaefer is teaching part-time (English) at WCC and Wayne County Community College, has an M.A. (Teaching Writing) from Eastern Michigan University, is a teacher consultant with the Eastern Michigan Writing Project, and was co-founder and publisher of a small literary (poetry/fiction) magazine for 14 years.

Michael Shilling – Michael just received his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan. His stories have been published in The Sun, Fugue, and Other Voices. He is currently working on a novel.

Michael Spradlin – Born and raised in Michigan, Michael is the author of Spy Goddess: To Hawaii, With Love and Spy Goddess: Live and Let Shop, which the latter received a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Nomination for “Best Young Adult Mystery” 2006

Carolyn Stone – WCC English-Writing Instructor and Creative Writing Consultant

Shutta Crum - An award-winning poet and author of one novel, SPITTING IMAGE, and eight picture books including THE BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE which was an IRA/CBC Children’s Choices winner, and listed on the Chicago Public Library’s The Best of the Best. Many of her titles have appeared on the Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Books of the Year lists, and have been short-listed for various state awards. A FAMILY FOR OLD MILL FARM, her newest book, is available this month. For more info on Shutta visit her web site.

Ami Walsh – Ami earned her MFA in creative writing from Warren Wilson College. She has received fellowships from The Ragdale Foundation (2005, 2006, and 2007) and the University of Michigan Bear River Writer’s Conference (2006).

Kristen Bledsoe – WCC English-Writing Instructor

"It's All Write!" Congratulations

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During the Ann Arbor Book Festival, teen author, Ron Koertge spoke to finalists of the short story writing contest with humor and insightful advice. And the winners are. . .(click "read more" below)

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #64

If you had missed Still Life, Louise Penny’s debut of her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, don’t despair. Check out the books on CD while you are waiting for the second in the series A Fatal Grace, due out this month.

Still life was the winner of the New Blood Dagger in Britain and the Arthur Ellis Award in Canada for best first crime novel. It was also named one of the Kirkus Reviews Top Ten mysteries of 2006.

This lovely cozy is set in Three Pines, a ficticious and picturesque small village in Canadian Quebec, a short drive from Montreal. The beloved local retired teacher is found shot to death in the woods and Chief Inspector Gamache from the Sûreté du Québec must sort out the killer among the locals which include artists, a gay couple who runs a little bistro and only B & B in town, a cantankerous poetess, teenage troublemakers, a too-eager to inherit estranged relative.

Snappy dialogue, well drawn characters, lovely and atmospheric settings made for a pleasurable read. Don't miss this one.

2007 Andre Norton Award

The first book in an amazing trilogy, Magic or Madness, by Justine Larbalestier was chosen as the winner of the 2007 Andre Norton Award. The story? When her rational, magic-hating mother suffers a mental breakdown, Reason is taken to live with her grandmother, Esmerelda, where she discovers that something as simple as stepping through a door can bring forth a world of danger and yes, magic!

What a page-turner! The action is tense and suspenseful. And the portrayal of the dark side of magic. . . well, just try it and the two other titles in the triology, Magic Lessons and Magic’s Child.

Lloyd Alexander, 1924-2007

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One of our best-known writers for children, Lloyd Alexander, passed away on Thursday at the age of 83. Alexander was the author of over 40 books, mostly fantasy novels for children; his series included the Prydain Chronicles, the Westmark Trilogy, and the Vesper Holly Adventures. He won the National Book Award for The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian, the American Book Award for Westmark, and the Newbery Medal for The High King. Read the Washington Post obituary or visit his website for more information on this great author.

As a child, I wrote a fan letter to Lloyd Alexander, and he took the time to write a very kind reply. I know several other people who have similar stories. He’ll be missed.

"It's All Write!" Awards Ceremony with special guest Ron Koertge

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Winners of the "It's All Write" contest will be announced and all Finalists honored at the Awards Ceremony on Saturday, May 19th at the Modern Languages Building, Auditorium 3, corner of Washington and Thayer Streets, as part of the Ann Arbor Book Festival. Ron Koertge, a nationally known teen book author and poet, will be the featured speaker.
Students who participated in the 2nd Tuesday Writers Series and who read Stoner and Spaz and Margaux with an X can meet Ron and have him sign their books.

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