Ok, I have some book reviews all written up but they're on hold for now because I want to talk about the YREAD conference I went to at Carroll County Community College on Saturday.
Basically, a YA lit conference featuring none other than the very wonderful Jacqueline Woodson.
So, first off was her talk where she talked about her books and the writing process and her life and now I need to read everything she's ever written. The best part was when she was talking about censorship of From The Notebooks Of Melanin Sun. She said she would get class sets of letters where everyone in a 6th grade class had been assinged to write a complaint... full of typos! The first set or two she corrected the spelling and grammar and mailed them back. As Ms. Woodson says "At least teach them to spell before you teach them to censor."
Then came the book discussion bit. I had signed up to discuss historical fiction and needed to read the following:
Day of Tears by Julius Lester
Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper
Eyes of the Emperor Graham Salisbury
The Book Thief Markus Zusak
So, I have to say, initially I was a little irked that apparently historical fiction can only be about slavery or WWII, but all the books were good (well, I didn't get to Copper Sun but everyone else liked it). I just need to say that The Book Thief was astounding. WONDERFUL.
Discussion was good. It was especially nice because it wasn't just librarians and teachers there were real, live teenages there! (GASP! I KNOW!) But... when it comes to literature about icky parts of history, there is something that bugs me. So many people can't get beyond "slavery was so horrible!" to get to the actual book. Yes. Slavery was horrible, but can we please discuss how the author gets that point across? Or how he makes his story memorable in a dearth of books on the topic? For instance, Lester doesn't get into the physical violence of slavery in Day of Tears and focuses solely on the emotional torture. Brilliant. Physical violence would have made the book over the top and made the reader disengage in order to tolerate reading... but he twists the knife just enough that you can't help but feel deeply for these characters. But yes, slavery was horrible and let's just harp on that.
Not that everyone in the discussion did that. I just needed to vent about personal pet peeves.
I picked up a copy of If You Come Softly and Show Way.
I also got the free give-aways of What Happened to Cass McBride? and Haters. And y'all know how I loves me some free books.
All in all, very very good. It was fun time and I did learn a lot. Plus, the sandwiches were tasty at lunch.