July 30, 2013 • Fiction: MG & YA
When JK Rowling approached the end of the tales of Harry Potter, and announced it was truly the end and to not be continued, I wasn't fazed. By all means, end it! But this isn't the say that we should depart from this world entirely. After all, Rowling crafted such a rich one, and it's frankly criminal that our playtime ends with the conclusion of Harry's adventures. I am, of course, arguing the point that Rowling and fans could come to a win-win agreement over the subject easily: give us some spin-offs and side stories based on characters who aren't Harry Potter.
Here are some of my ideas—seven(ish) characters for seven books dedicated to Harry Potter's story—free of charge.
July 23, 2013 • Cookbook: Desserts, Fiction: MG & YA
It's National Ice Cream Month! It's also July, and it's also very, very hot. And while we love all the regular kinds of ice cream just fine (you can pry Chubby Hubby from our still-warm, heatstroke-dead hands), we wondered what would happen if worlds collided and books became ice cream (not literally, though, because that would be gross). Get your hybrid freezer/bookshelves ready, because here are six tasty samples!
July 22, 2013 • Fiction: MG & YA
Some of the best books are the ones chock-full of characters we wish we could know in real life. Here's a few of our favorites we'd be happy to call classmates. HAGS and KIT, guys!
July 17, 2013 • Fiction: MG & YA
(Image via flickr)
With the end of the school year comes the summer reading list: the list of books that students will be tested on in the fall. The specific books obviously vary from school to school, but during my stint as a high school teacher, the summer reading list always faced the same challenges. Our department would argue about the purpose of summer reading, and we would end up standing divided, each with certain books in our corner.
While some of my colleagues struggled to find selections that were both 1) not adapted into movies and 2) not on Sparknotes, that generally limited the choices, and seemed wrong to me. It usually resulted in summer reading becoming a pointless assignment, with no real connection to the coursework in the coming year. It also did little to foster a love of reading for the students. It was a punishment assignment: a reminder that they weren’t free from the grasp of school.
Because for many students, the cycle of summer reading was the same: cramming it all in before a test, downloading study guides, or writing a vague essay that could be about any book.
July 1, 2013 • Fiction, Fiction: Horror & Paranormal, Fiction: MG & YA, Handbooks: Literary Figures, Humor, On Writing
RC: Hi everybody, Rick Chillot here. You know what I like? Free time, sanity, a pain-free spine, a good night's sleep, what's left of my hairline...the list goes on and on. So when I came across the one-month-novel-writing event Camp NaNoWriMo, from the people behind National Novel Writing Month, my horror could not have been greater. And yet, I kept thinking about it. Is it truly possible to write a 50,000 word novel in one month? What would that experience be like? Would I absolutely hate it, or just moderately hate it? In the end, it seemed the only way to punish myself for even considering this was to sign up and try it, with the hope that the emotional scars would prevent me from making similar decisions in the future.
June 28, 2013 • Fiction: MG & YA
Pity the poor bestselling novelist. Sure, those literary juggernauts who manage to crank out a top ten title (or more) every year are blessed with avid book-buying fanbases, but there are certain demographics they just can’t reach. I’m talking, of course, about children—reading level notwithstanding, you can’t just pawn off your paperback of The Firm to your eight-year-old.
But some savvy authors have sought to widen their reach with new series that are Just For Kids—thematically similar to their adult works, but with age-appropriate subject material and easy-to-read language. John Grisham’s got Theodore Boon: Kid Lawyer, James Patterson’s got his Middle School series, and Carl Hiaasen’s penned a few Floridian tales for younger readers.
But why stop there? These writers have talent and bankable identities, and I’ve got book proposal ideas for days. Here are five brand-name middle-grade series that need to happen.
Bobby Langdon and the Case of the Crooked Cryptex by Dan Brown
Brown’s symbologist hero has to get his start somewhere—and hey, it worked for Young Indiana Jones. Curious and inquisitive Bobby Langdon would be a latter-day Jonny Quest, having grand adventures and meddling in G-rated mysteries with the help of globetrotting pals (definitely room for some animal companions, too). Leave the creepy Catholic cults for his post-Harvard life: these cases will be so fun to solve you’ll swear the author’s first name is Encyclopedia.