Monday, April 11, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Authors Teens Love

These two books were nominated for MG/YA Nonfiction Cybils in 2009.

Vivian Vande Velde: Author of Fantasy Fiction (Authors Teens Love)Vivian Vande Velde: Author of Fantasy Fiction by Candie Moonshower

Amy Tan: Weaver of Asian-American Tales (Authors Teens Love)Amy Tan: Weaver of Asian-American Tales Ann Angel

While these are certainly well-written and informative biographies, they don't have a lot of pick-up-and-read appeal. They're more "report books"-- things libraries should have for curriculum support but not really something that teens are going to pick up for pleasure reading.

I thought the Vande Velde one was a bit repetitive and while it mostly focused on her works for teens, the reading level/tone was a little younger. But I liked that she's included. Vande Velde has written a ton of books with solid appeal and circuluation but is often overlooked.

I love the fact that Amy Tan is included in this series-- she doesn't write books for teens (with the exception of two picture books, all of her titles are for adults.) BUT, The Joy Luck Club is often assigned in schools and with so much of her work focusing on mother/daughter relationships, it has broad teen appeal. (I know I was a huge fan of hers when I was in high school. I still am, but that's when I fell in love with her writing.) My one complaint is inconsistent romanization of Chinese place names. Pick a transliteration system and stick with it! Why have authors and editors failed to do this? It's annoying for those of us who know what's what and very confusing to those who don't!

I think these two biographies are also nice because both authors came to writing later in life. Vande Velde took a class at the local community college to get out of the house one night a week when she was a stay at home Mom, Tan started writing after she realized that her therapist kept falling asleep during their meetings.

The series in general is very readable, contains TONS of photos and author quotations, as well as pull-out boxes with further information about the author, the time period, or the author's books. In the back matter, the books contain a time line, a list of published and upcoming works, a list of awards won, a glossary, extensive source notes (which are marked in the text)* and an index. The Vande Velde volume also has an interview transcript between Moonshower and Vande Velde. The Tan volume has a selection of Tan's quotations on writing and reading.

*Swoon. Endnotes!

Today's Nonfiction Monday round-up is over at Apples With Many Seeds.

Book Provided by... the publisher, for Cybils consideration

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Anonymous said...

I'm ordering some biographies for my system, and I just can't bring myself to order many author bios like these. I've NEVER had a kid here asked me for an author bio--autobiography sure, but I'm saving my money for popular figures and hopefully local historical figures. And hopefully some good non-series bios. Thanks for the review.

Jennie said...

That makes sense. We have author assignments and also many English teachers require some biographical data in book reports, so author bios are helpful for us.

But, if you don't have a need for them and a limited budget, don't get them!