VIDEO: Scott Westerfeld on an Airship

I feel like a lot of people missed out on Scott Westerfeld's excellent novel, LEVIATHAN. It's an alternate history version of World War I in which the Germans have developed giant armored war machines and the British have found a way to reconstruct animal DNA in order to create battle-ready animal-vehicle hybrids.

In this video, Westerfeld takes you with him on his trip to learn more about the real-life airships that inspired the ones in his novel.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z44bV-P2eCU&w=560&h=315]

Veronica Roth's Next Novel Series

According to the New York Times, Veronica Roth's next book series will see its first release in 2017! She reveals that the story will be in

 "'the vein of 'Star Wars' and will tell of a boy's 'unlikely alliance' with an enemy."

I know that many of you are pumped for the upcoming movie release of Insurgent and now you have even more to be excited about!

Here's the full article.

VIDEO: Adults Purchasing YA Lit

This news story investigates a fascinating trend: a lot of YA books are actually being purchased and read by adults. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQE-wMiO2Gw&w=560&h=315]

VIDEO: Interview with Cassandra Clare & Holly Black

Maybe you've Cassandra Clare's series, The Mortal Instruments. Or maybe you've read The Infernal Devices books. She's a fantastic writer and her fantasy worlds are full of depth and lore. Holly Black is another name you should know. She writes dark stuff, like The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

Together, they've been writing a new, five book series called Magisterium.

After watching this interview, I knew I had to read book one.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UV9quDIZ-qo&w=560&h=315]

Report: YA in the UK, France

Written by Grant Goodman, 3/2/2015 Today I was wondering what the YA sales charts for Amazon look like in other countries.

I found the best seller page for teen Science Fiction and Fantasy on the Amazon US site, the Amazon UK site and the French site, too.

Let’s check out how they differ.

First, the US site:

028 image 1 US

It appears that people are really interested in finding out more about this mermaid’s sister. It’s a title I’m not familiar with…and, actually, I don’t recognize two, three, or four. Looks like I have some catching up to do.

My guess is that with the Insurgent movie only three weeks away, those books will all find their way into the top five.

Let’s look at what’s happening in the UK:

028 image 2 UK

It seems that in his native land, Harry Potter is still the king of YA literature. And it seems that they also have taken a shine to the mermaid and her sister. The Hunger Games is selling well and James Dashner has his Maze Runner finale in the top six. The UK site, however, also mixes in children’s books, which is why book number five seems very much out of place.

Finally, to France:

028 image 3 france

Suzanne Collins is dominating the charts, no question about it. In fifth place is Alain Grousset, a French sci-fi author with a novel about a boy who lives on a tower that is one hundred floors high. In sixth is Christian Grenier, whose book is about two warring clans: one that believes in screens while the other believes in reading and writing. (I hope both of these will make their way to American shelves!)

VIDEO: A Brief History of Young Adult Literature

EpicReads has posted this excellent video examining the roots of Young Adult (YA) literature and the influential titles that have popped up over the years. The Outsiders by SE Hinton gets a special mention that it rightfully deserves: that book is just as meaningful to teens today as it was when it first came out.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkdnKQmHsWA&w=560&h=315]

VIDEO: Neil Gaiman Reads "The Day the Saucers Came"

This is my favorite Neil Gaiman poem. At least, right now it is. This is a poem, as Neil puts it, "about the end of the world...or maybe it's just about paying attention to things."

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBJVGwmswZI&w=560&h=315]

WHAT'S NEXT: El Deafo by Cece Bell

deafo I have learned to trust book recommendations from authors I love.

Patrick Rothfuss led me to Catherynne Valente and to Peter S. Beagle.

Now it's time to trust Rick Riordan.

The pen behind Percy Jackson recommends the graphic novel El Deafo, by Cece Bell:

Cece Bell tells the story of a young girl (rabbit?) growing up with a severe hearing impairment. She does a great job tackling the subject with humor and pathos, letting us see the world through the narrator's eyes (and hear through her super Phonic Ear). Along the way, we meet pushy friends, clueless peers, helpful teachers, not-so-helpful siblings, and a whole cast of other characters that any kid can relate to.

VIDEO: Raina Telgemeier's Graphic Novel, SISTERS

Raina Telgemeier is the author and illustrator of several excellent graphic novels that you absolutely have to read. SMILE was her first and it's her story of a terrible fall that caused her to lose her front teeth, but also about what it's like to go through school when you're also dealing with heavy dental surgery.

DRAMA was her second, all about a high school drama class and the somewhat awkward search for relationships there.

SISTERS is her most recent and it's about...well, just watch the video below and she'll tell you all about it.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqy49S48tEQ&w=560&h=315]

Science-Fiction, Fantasy, and You

Written by Grant Goodman, 2/16/2015 Time travel. Rocket ships. Wizards. Dystopias.

You will meet many people in your life who look down on “those kinds of stories.” They are the serious types. They believe in their serious literature.

We can let them believe in that.

They can have their stories about sad people in sad cities. Because, honestly, we read those books, too. Every now and again, we need a palate cleanser, a waystone that lets us step back into our own world.

The deep truth is this: we like other worlds. We like worlds that don’t already exist.

Besides, the biggest milestones of human storytelling tend to be about magic and dystopias.

The Odyssey is full of witches and sea monsters and Cyclops. Beowulf fought a dragon. Shakespeare filled his plays with ghosts and wizards and prophecy. Mary Shelley brought the dead back to life. Jules Verne sent humanity to explore the moon long before John F. Kennedy was born.

Reading fantasy and science-fiction connects us to the roots of the world. The desires to explore and to escape and to imagine are built into us.

That’s why we need Suzanne Collins to send us into the arena. That’s why we need Darren Shan to show us the hidden world of vampires. That’s why Ray Bradbury once wrote, “I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”

So go ahead and dive into sci-fi and fantasy.

But don’t be afraid to dip your toes into realistic fiction, either. There’s excellence to be found there, too.

LINK: Gayle Forman Investigates "Dark" YA

Gayle Forman, author of If I Stay, just put out an article in TIME magazine. She dives head-first into tackling a tough topic: why do teens prefer literature that explores darker topics like war, abuse, and mortality.

My favorite quote is this one:

New brain mapping research suggests that adolescence is a time when teens are capable of engaging deeply with material, on both an intellectual level as well as an emotional one. Some research suggests that during adolescence, the parts of the brain that processes emotion are even more online with teens than with adults

In other words, it's more than likely that teen brains are more receptive to stories that trigger intense emotions.

Read the full article here.

VIDEO: John Green on How to Write a Novel

John Green does an awesome video series in which he plays video games and talks about life at the same time. In this episode, he discusses the many methods of writing a novel.

I absolutely love this quote:

"A huge part of my writing process is telling myself that it's okay to suck...that it's okay to make mistakes..."

I know that more than a few of you have made a stab at writing a novel, and if you have, you know what it's like to spend an hour or two at the keyboard, followed by the realization that you're going to have to delete everything you wrote.

He drops a lot more wisdom (and discusses how The Fault in Our Stars changed over time).

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exosAJbr-sA&w=560&h=315]

Why Graphic Novels Are Good For You

Written by Grant Goodman, 2/1/2015 As an English teacher, one of the most frequent requests I hear from parents is, “Can you get my son/daughter to stop reading so many comics and start reading real literature instead?”

Wait.

Can we re-examine that question?

Did you just ask me to tell your child to STOP READING something he or she likes?

That’s a firm “No.”

No, I will not.

There is a generational gap that leads to the misunderstanding of comics and manga and graphic novels. For many of our current parents, comics are those 3 or 4 panel gags that run in the newspaper. Or they’re the classic, simple superhero tales that they grew out of.

The problem is that if you shut kids out of comics/graphic novels/manga, you’re turning them away from one of our best learning tools out there. Comics are the marriage of image and word. They are expressive, they are detailed, and they are pieces of art.

Readers of comics learn to understand perspective, form, shape, and contrast. They can pick up a sense of motion, a skill for reading between the lines (or, in this case, “reading between the panels”). Most importantly, however, I argue that comics are a pure form of imagination boosting, which everyone needs.

I believe that adolescents who struggle with literature can benefit tremendously with comics. Part of what makes a strong reader is the ability to turn words into images. Comics bridge that gap. When you start building a mental library of how characters look when they deliver emotional speech, you can start carrying that over into literature. When you see a sweeping desert landscape that pulls the breath from your lungs, you have a template for when you come across it in a book.

I’m not saying that comics should only be there for struggling readers, though. There are plenty of works out there that rival the complexities of any novel you’ll ever pick up.

I can easily nominate the 27 volumes of Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist as one of the greatest fantasy tales of our time: two brothers use alchemy in an attempt to bring their mother back to life. The experiment fails horrifically, forcing the older brother to sacrifice part of his body in order to keep his younger brother alive. The series follows their quest to find a way to restore their bodies, which forces them to examine their world’s military corruption, oppression of religious minorities, and the politics of a civil war.

If you want to learn how to take another look at comics, you should pick up Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. It will teach you all about the inner workings of comics and how they’re good for us.

The bottom line is this: if you’re reading comics, you’re doing the right thing.

LINK: Marissa Meyer's Top 10 Books/Series of 2014

My guess is that some of you know about Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series. You know, the one that starts with Cinder.

She went ahead and listed the 10 best books/series that she read in 2014. Since she's a YA author, you already know that she has great taste in books.

Check out her list and add all of those titles to your stack of books to be read.

VIDEO: Neil Gaiman's Advice Will Change Your Life!

The one and only Neil Gaiman offers some amazing advice about writing, comics, art, luck, success, and work. His speech is inspiring in the truest sense of the word. [vimeo 42372767 w=500 h=375] <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/42372767">Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/uartsphilly">The University of the Arts (Phl)</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>