Thanks to Natalie Portman and Black Swan and whatnot, ballet is resurgent and popular! There is plenty of storyline potential in ballet, with dancers driven to succeed, and the mysterious inner workings of dance companies and schools. This list is a sort of companion to the theatre list, and also as a salute to mum, a ballet fiend, and other ballet fiends like her:
So what are people reading in other languages? Wellington City Libraries has a small but growing collection of translated young adult fiction (as well as the super popular manga series). If you’re interested in reading something that started life in another language here’s a fairly comprehensive list of what we’ve got. Also, here are a few highlights:
There’s a fair amount of fiction about drama, acting and theatres, which kind of makes sense, since drama is what fiction is about, in some form of another.
There has been a suggestion there have been many suggestions in the Young Adult world that there’s too much paranormal (here at the Teen Blog we call it supernatural) going on, too many characters with superhuman motivations, strengths and failings, or too many thunderbolt-type interventions and whatnot. It’s all not very likely. If you’re sick of all that, or didn’t really like it in the first place, here are some writers who keep it real, and, amazingly, manage to produce some fine work with not a sparkle in sight.
Read some realism this summer!
Laurie Halse Anderson: widely well regarded, and a multi-award winner. She’s also written a couple of historical stories (Chains and Forge) for younger readers.
Courtney Summers: how horrid can girls be? Quite.
Walter Dean Myers: won the Printz Award for Monster, and author of over 70 books, which is quite staggering really.
Sara Zarr: author of three thought-provoking novels about living with the consequences of the past, childhood friendship, and faith.
John Green: slightly less grit, but still real, and a champion of the geek (google “nerdfighters”).
Melina Marchetta: although she’s written one fantasy novel (Finnikin of the Rock (we’re not saying you should avoid it of course)), she’s best known for books like On the Jellicoe Road, which won the Printz Award last year.
Chris Crutcher: his books cover issues as wide ranging as prejudice, abuse, disability and poverty, with a realistic voice that has won him lots of fans.
E R Frank: is a clinical social worker who specialises in trauma, so it is unsurprising that she puts her characters through a really tough time in her books.
Todd Strasser: author of such varied works as The Wave (made into a movie in 2008), Wish You Were Dead (the first of a new thriller series) and Give a Boy a Gun.
Close to Home: New Zealand authors like to mix it up a bit, and there have been some excellent novels in the last while, for example (just the four for now) End of the Alphabet by Fleur Beale (Ruby Yarrow’s always called at the end of the school roll, but this doesn’t have to translate to a life of always coming last), The 10 pm Question by Kate De Goldi (life is a real worry), Violence 101 by Denis Wright (try this one for an unlikeable but compelling protagonist!), or About Griffen’s Heart by Tina Shaw (Griffen’s heart features both literally (he needs heart surgery) and metaphorically). There are heaps more of course – look for the Koru sticker on the book spine, the New Zealand books display, or your nearest friendly library staff member.
There is a Comedy DVD display in the YA area of the Central Library at the moment, this list is an online companion piece.
Lots of YA fiction does its best to avoid the topic of parents. There are lots of convenient boarding schools (or exclusive academies, as we like to call them here), or parents with jobs that mean they have to travel a lot, or parents who are just rather absent (which would make for a good story, except that’s often not the point). But then there’s the brave book that jumps in and explores parents, who can be problematic creatures sometimes. Lots of potential for conflict (a key ingredient in story telling). Here are ten books in which relationships between teenagers and parents are explored in, we hope, thoughtful and challenging ways.
Persnickety Snark, an Australian YA review blogger, recently conducted a thorough poll of her readers and fellow bloggers and such, asking them what their favourite YA books were. She’s carefully collated the results, and counted down the results in a Top 100 for 2010. Number 1 is, interestingly, The Hunger Games, with the first in the Harry Potter series coming in second. I’ll summaries the top 10 for you here, so you could have a browse through the results and read stuff you like the look of (if you haven’t already).
It looks a pretty good list (especially if you love Sarah Dessen).
As expected, there’s a bit of surfing happening in YA fiction, thanks largely to Australian writers. If you’re into surfing you might like one or two of these. There’s also a lot of self-discovery, and a hint of danger, if you’d prefer.
Want to talk surfing like a pro? There are heaps of surf slang sites on the internet, for example, Riptionary.com.
A while ago we had an enquiry about fiction that explores sexual discrimination. We scratched our heads for a long time. Perhaps people aren’t writing about it any more? we thought. After a bit of digging around, here’s a list of some pretty respectable (mostly historical) stories in which female characters find themselves faced with glass ceilings, have to make difficult choices that go against the social norm, or shake things up a bit. (See also the list of strong female characters here.)