ages 11-18

2013 Teen National Book Award Finalists Announced

NBA FinalistNBA Finalist

This year’s finalists for the National Book Award have been announced. Five books have been named as finalists for the Young People’s Literature Award. They are:

True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp - Chap Brayburn, ancient Sugar Man, and his raccoon-brother Swamp Scouts Bingo and J'miah try to save Bayou Tourterelle from feral pigs Clydine and Buzzie, greedy Sunny Boy Beaucoup, and world-class alligator wrestler and would-be land developer Jaeger Stitch.

The Thing About Luck - Just when Summer thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong in a year of bad luck, an emergency takes her parents to Japan, leaving Summer to care for her little brother while helping her grandmother cook and do laundry for harvest workers.

Far, Far Away - When Jeremy Johnson Johnson's strange ability to speak to the ghost of Jacob Grimm draws the interest of his classmate Ginger Boltinghouse, the two find themselves at the center of a series of disappearances in their hometown.

Picture Me Gone - Mila travels with her father to upstate New York to visit friends and family, who may lead them to clues to the whereabouts of her father's best friend, who has gone missing.

Boxers and Saints - These two books tell parallel stories. Boxers is the story of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. In Saints, a girl whose village has no place for her is taken in by Christian missionaries and finds, for the first time, a home with them. As the Boxer Rebellion gains momentum, Vibiana must decide whether to abandon her Christian friends or to commit herself fully to Christianity.

The winner will be announced the evening of Wednesday, November 20.

Chesstastic Sunday, October 20 at Traverwood

Chesstastic | Sunday, October 20 | 1:00-4:00 p.m. | Traverwood Branch | Kindergarten-Adult

“Chess is life” – Bobby Fischer

Come and play one of the world's most popular games with players of all ages! Chess sets are provided.

Film & Discussion: Where Soldiers Come From

Tuesday October 22, 2013: 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

This event is intended for adults and teens (grade 9 and up).

Winner of a 2011 Emmy and the Independent Spirit Award, "Where Soldiers Come From" follows the lives of northern Michigan best friends, Dominic and Cole, and other recent high school graduates as they join the National Guard and are eventually sent to Afghanistan.

The young men quickly realize their carefree days are over as they spend their time sweeping for roadside bombs. Repeated bombs blowing up around their convoys lead to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) symptoms. They have all become increasingly disillusioned about their mission.

The challenges really begin to surface when they return to their families and communities in Michigan. "Where Soldiers Come From" looks beyond the guns and policies of an ongoing war to tell a human story about family, friendship, and community and how they all change when people go off to fight.

Film director Heather Courtney will lead the discussion following the film.

This event is cosponsored by the University of Michigan Community Scholars' Program.

Audiobook: A Spooky Ghost Story for Teens

In the mood for a scary story this fall? Then give The Diviners by Libba Bray a listen.

Set in 1920s New York City, this paranormal tale pits a ghostly serial killer – who has returned from the grave to fulfill his gruesome mission – against seventeen-year-old diviner Evie O’Neill. As the story begins, Evie’s ability to divine memories from objects lands her in enough trouble to send her off to New York City to stay with her uncle, the curator of the “Museum of Creepy-Crawlies.” When her uncle is called in to help with a murder investigation, Evie soon finds herself caught up in the hunt for the Occult Killer.

The diverse cast, which also includes a lively Ziegfield girl, a charming pick-pocket and a Langston-Hughes-loving poet, are all expertly voiced by narrator January LaVoy.

The audiobook was also named one of YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2013.

Teen Stuff: 45 Pounds (More Or Less)

Michigan native K.A. Barson’s first novel, 45 Pounds (More Or Less), tells the story of young Ann. Ann is 16 and wears a size 17 while her weight-obsessed mother wears a size 6. Her aunt is getting married in 2 months and Ann is determined to lose 45 pounds (more or less) to squeeze into that bridesmaid dress. Those are the numbers that rule her brain this summer. Among her daily adventures with friends, boys, a job, family issues, and her own insecurities, Ann is a 16 year old girl full of humor, heart and courage in this worthy debut young adult novel.

Meet the author! Kelly Barson will be in Ann Arbor at Nicola’s Books on Tuesday, October 8th at 6:30pm for a discussion and signing of 45 Pounds (More Or Less)

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads 2014: the final two!


The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads screening committee has narrowed this coming year's read to two finalists, with the theme A Very Good Read. A panel of well-known locals – musician Mark Braun (Mr. B); radio and TV personality Lucy Ann Lance, Ann Arbor Chronicle publisher Mary Morgan, Ann Arbor City Council Member Sally Petersen, and Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber – will be reading the two books "The Garden of Evening Mists" and "Between Shades of Gray" to determine just will be selected.

You, too, have a say – just head on over to aaypsireads.org and leave a comment about which book you'd prefer! The selection committee will be keeping an eye out for your feedback.

Take a quick look at the descriptions of our two finalists:

The Garden of Evening Mists, by Tan Twan Eng: Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister, who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice "until the monsoon comes." Then she can design a garden for herself. As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to the gardener and his art, while all around them a communist guerilla war rages. But the Garden of Evening Mists remains a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?

Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys: Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life--until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father's prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?

The official read will take place in January through February 2014. For more information, check out aaypsireads.org.

Teen Stuff: Eleanor & Park

A realistic young adult love story, Eleanor & Park is set during one school year in 1986. Riding the bus in high school can be perilous. With the anxiety of “assigned” seats and bullies yelling comments, it’s a terrible way to start the day and the school year. Eleanor & Park meet on the school bus, and eventually their hearts burst open for each other as they pour over comics and mixed tapes. They are a pair of misfits who end up matching perfectly. The book is touching and funny, and reminds us what it is like to be young and in love, and to stop at nothing to try to be together, even with family situations that make loving and living all too hard.

The book is written in the voice of both Eleanor & Park, with alternating chapters, so it’s nice to get a sense of what’s behind both teen’s thoughts. Author Rainbow Rowell’s new book Fangirl is also getting a lot of buzz.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #426 - For the lists-makers among us...

If it wasn't for my good friend, I might have missed The Life List, a debut novel by Michigan author Lori Nelson Speilman. It has been sitting there in my to-read pile. Too many books, you know how that is.

Set between Chicago's swanky Gold Coast and the immigrant neighborhood of Pilsen, we are swept along with a young woman in a perplexing journey in search of her adolescent dreams.

Anticipating being made CEO of her mother's multimillion-dollar cosmetics company at the reading of the will, Brett Bohlinger is instead fired and rendered almost homeless. To receive her portion of the inheritance, she is to fulfill a list of life goals her teenage self compiled, which makes the grief-stricken 34 year-old questions her mother's intention. Some of the goals are downright impossible - like establishing a relationship with a father who died 7 years ago. Others are outrageously impractical, like buying a horse and having a baby or two.

With the help and support of the handsome attorney her mother selected as executor, Brett grudgingly accepts the challenges which eventually bring her back to love, the best inheritance of all. "Spielman's debut charms as Brett briskly careens from catastrophe to disaster to enlightenment." Rights to 20 countries. Film optioned to Fox 2000.

Lists-lovers would also enjoy The Sunday List of Dreams by Kris Radish, and The Next Thing on My List by Jill Smolinski.

If you despair of storybook endings wrapped up in a shiny package, then I would suggest The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum, a realistic and well-written portrait of a young woman on the cusp of having it all.

How about some unusual lists? Here are the New Yorker's "The Hundred Best Lists of All Time."

Comic Artists Forum with Artist Justin Castaneda

Sunday October 6, 2013: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm -- Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

This event is intended for adults and teens (grade 6 and up).

Learn about visual storytelling and writing from life with artist Justin Castaneda. He has developed the When I Was Little children's book series and evolved it into more than just books.

Join the Forum to get fresh ideas for your graphic novel or next comics creation. Drawing supplies are provided, so drop in to draw, learn, and network with other cartoonists.

My Dog: The Paradox

Having come out of a “doggy” summer, I picked up My Dog: The Paradox and enjoyed a good laugh. Creator Matthew Inman’s many years of observing his dogs, in particular Rambo to whom the book is dedicated, helped to serve as the inspiration for this ode to man’s best friend. He explores such questions as how is it that dogs are absolutely fearless in the face of trucks, animals four times their size, and thoroughly love to roll in horse droppings yet are unable to cope with a hair blow dryer and can’t make eye contact with cats?

Based on one of Inman’s online comics posted at The Oatmeal man’s best friend is simply yet colorfully portrayed in this little book not to be missed.

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