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Teenreads Monthly Update

Early September

Teenreads.com
Newsletter
September 12, 2014


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Collaboration Station

Hi Teenreaders!

I hope you’re having a great transition back to school --- or at least one that’s not too difficult (let’s be real, here).

While we don’t get to experience that “back-to-school” excitement here at The Book Report Network offices (minus Carol, who had a great time helping her younger son find all of his belongings the day before he returned to college --- though apparently he forgot his fitted sheets), we do have lots of exciting things on the site this month!

One that I find particularly interesting is our interview with Suzanne Brockmann, co-author of NIGHT SKY. In it, she talks about what it’s like to write with somebody else, and not just anybody --- her own 15-year-old daughter, Melanie! Apparently they brainstormed together, Suzanne did the majority of the outlining and Melanie composed the first draft. I particularly enjoyed hearing how they each brought their own unique talents and perspectives to the book, making it stronger than it would have been if they’d written it individually.

Suzanne has written 55 (!) books for adults, many of them books in a series, and so she’s a pro at brainstorming, planning ahead and coming up with amazing worlds and plot points that can carry through multiple books. Melanie was able to bring the teen perspective and her sense of humor, and really master protagonist Sky’s teen voice. Plus she dreamt up Sky’s best friend --- a witty, upbeat teen named Cal --- based on her own experiences working with physically challenged kids and adults.

Maybe it’s because of NIGHT SKY, but I’ve been noticing the importance of collaboration everywhere in the book world lately, including three awesome events I went to in the last couple of weeks! Here’s the breakdown:

1) IRON TRIAL by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black: Just like NIGHT SKY, IRON TRIAL was written by two authors, Cassandra Clare and Holly Black (maybe you’ve heard of them?). Cassandra and Holly literally wrote together --- not by each writing every other chapter (not that there’s anything wrong with that; WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by David Levithan and John Green is one of my favorites) --- but by putting both of their voices into every last scene.

As Holly explained at their recent launch at the Books of Wonder bookstore in New York City, the two authors (and good friends!) would sit near one another while one wrote 200 to 300 words. Then, she’d pass the computer to the other, who would refine that section and then add more. I’ve played games like this in writing classes when I was younger, and it still awes me that people can write an entire book this way --- and a good one too! (Our reviewer Norah Piehl said “the two authors' styles and fantasy-writing experience seem to complement each other well” and that the ending “will leave readers anxiously awaiting the next book in the Magisterium series.”).

This isn’t to say that Cassandra and Holly never disagreed --- especially about the magic system used in the series --- but as they told the audience, it didn’t matter whose idea “won” in the end; it was all about what was best for the story. And that, to me, seems to be the key to collaborating --- if you want to come up with the best possible product, bring your unique talents and ideas to the table but put your ego aside.

2) BOMBAY BLUES by Tanuja Desai Hidier --- This book is a pretty big deal because it’s the long-anticipated (12 years in the waiting!) sequel to BORN CONFUSED, which was the much acclaimed, first ever South-Asian American young adult novel. Although Tanuja was the sole author, her literary and musical talents "collaborated" while working on this project --- she made an album, “Bombay Spleen,” inspired by the tone, content and scenes from the book.

At the book’s launch party, which I attended earlier this month, Tanuja read a scene from BOMBAY BLUES and sang a few songs from the album, and it made her book such a multi-sensory experience. While readers will certainly get plenty out of BOMBAY BLUES if they don’t listen to the corresponding CD (our reviewer, Teen Board member Cheyenne C., called it “one of the most thought-provoking novels [she's] ever read”), it’s even more magical when you can feel the story on multiple layers. Lesson here? If you’re multitalented (lucky you!) try blending your skills in a single project --- not only will you get more out of it personally, but your readers (or listeners, or viewers) will become even more immersed in the overall message.

3) AFTERWORLDS by Scott Westerfeld --- Lastly, I recently attended a lunch in honor of Scott Westerfeld’s newest book, which follows Darcy, an 18-year-old who, after a particularly inspired NaNoWriMo, gets a two-book publishing deal. Chapters alternate between following Darcy’s adventures as she navigates the publishing scene in New York City (and the realities of NYC rent and an abundance of delicious ramen shops) and Darcy’s novel, in which a girl survives a terrorist attack by playing dead and becomes a psychopomp (someone who escorts the dead to the afterlife).

I loved that this book had “the best of both worlds” --- it’s simultaneously a realistic contemporary novel and a paranormal romance, “genre collaboration” at its finest. And even better, Scott explained at the lunch that he didn’t simply write all of Darcy’s experiences first and Darcy’s novel second --- he switched back and forth, just as AFTERWORLDS does. This allowed the chapters to keep informing each other throughout the writing process, and you can see Darcy’s experiences become infused in her novel (her descriptions of New York City apartments, a scene idea that she “stole” from her girlfriend, Imogen, and more). While collaboration is fruitful when it’s between people and interests, it can also be incredibly powerful when it’s present within a book, itself.

Have you ever collaborated with someone on a writing project before? Or brought two of your seemingly separate interests together in an unexpected way, or merged two different genres into one story? Let me know at shara@bookreporter.com! If you do, you'll have a chance to win a signed copy of AFTERWORLDS (awesome, I know)!

And now time for the rest of our newsletter, where you’ll learn more about NIGHT SKY, as well as our special feature and contest on POSITIVE by Paige Rawl (which I raved about in the early May newsletter after I met her at a luncheon), contests on Back to School and CONTAMINATED, an interview (conducted by a Teen Board member!) with FRIDA & DIEGO author Catherine Reef, and more.

So enjoy…and maybe you can even collaborate with a friend or family member and read and discuss it together (you know, just to keep the theme going). :)

--- Shara Zaval (shara@bookreporter.com)

P.S. See pictures from the events, above! That's Cassandra and Holly on the left, and Tanuja signing a copy of BOMBAY BLUES on the right.

Contest and Special Feature: POSITIVE: A Memoir by Paige Rawl

Paige Rawl has been HIV positive since birth, but growing up, she never felt like her illness defined her. One day in middle school, she disclosed to a friend her HIV-positive status --- and within hours the bullying began. At 15 she found herself facing a bottle of pills, but pulled herself back up and has become a motivation for teens. You can learn more about Paige's inspiring story in our special feature, which includes a review (Teen Board member Cassandra H. said POSITIVE "ignites a compassion-fueled, indignant spark to reach out to those who are hurting "), an excerpt and an interview with Paige. You can also win a copy of POSITIVE --- just enter our contest by Tuesday, September 30 at noon EST!

Click here to read the excerpt of POSITIVE.
Click here to read the review of POSITIVE.
Click here to read Paige Rawl's guest blog.
Click here to read the interview with Paige Rawl.

 

 

Click here to read the special feature and enter the contest!

 
Back to School Book Bag Contest
It's officially back-to-school season! To celebrate, we're giving five winners a copy of each of the featured titles below and a Teenreads.com bag as part of our second Back to School Book Bag Giveaway. Enter before Monday, September 22nd at noon ET for your chance to win.

This year's featured Back to School Book Bag Giveaway titles include:

A DIFFERENT ME by Deborah Blumenthal
THE FASHION BOOK by various editors
GHOST HOUSE by Alexandra Adornetto
LET'S GET LOST by Adi Alsaid
THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE by Sarah Lynn Scheerger
THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater
STRONGER THAN YOU KNOW by Jolene Perry
YOLO (The Internet Girls) by Lauren Myracle

Click here to enter!

 
Giveaway and Special Feature: CONTAMINATED by Em Garner
In anticipation of the release of CONTAMINATED 2: Mercy Mode --- the second in Em Garner's series that follows 17-year-old Velvet after a contaminated diet drink makes consumers act like zombies --- we have a special contest. One hundred readers will win paperback copies of CONTAMINATED --- signed by the author! The deadline for entries is Tuesday, September 30th at noon EST.

More about CONTAMINATED:
Velvet Ellis has struggles to care for her 10-year-old sister and maintain a sense of normalcy, despite brutal government rations and curfews. She goes to the "Kennels" every day searching for her parents, and when she finds her mother, she's eager to bring her home. Sacrificing everything --- her boyfriend, her home, and her job --- Velvet will do anything to protect her mother.

More about CONTAMINATED 2: Mercy Mode:
Velvet, her little sister, their mom, and Velvet's sweet boyfriend, Dillon, are attempting to build a new life amid the rationing and regulations of the post-outbreak nation. But the outbreak isn't over: more people turning into "Connies," more madness erupting, more killings occurring. And what they are being told is not the truth; the truth is far darker and more threatening.

Click here to read the excerpt of CONTAMINATED
Click here to read the review of CONTAMINATED
Click here to read the review of CONTAMINATED 2: Mercy Mode
Click here to read the interview with Em Garner

Click here to enter the CONTAMINATED contest!

 
Interview with Catherine Reef, author of FRIDA & DIEGO
Author Catherine Reef has written about authors, poets, psychologists and composers, but her latest nonfiction work takes a turn for the visual, focusing on Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, who are famous for both their provocative paintings and their deep love for one another. Click here to read Teen Board member Maya B's interview with Catherine, where they talk about the legendary artists as well as Catherine's research and inspiration for FRIDA & DIEGO: Art, Love, Life.
Click here to read the interview!

 
Now in Stores: A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT by Sandy Hall

A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT by Sandy Hall (Fiction)

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common --- they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together.

Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.

But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. You'll be rooting for Gabe and Lea too, in Sandy Hall's quirky, completely original novel A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT, chosen by readers, writes and publishers, to be the debut titles for the new Swoon Reads imprint!


 

Click here to read the review!

 
Now In Stores: ZAC & MIA by A.J. Betts

ZAC & MIA by A.J. Betts (Fiction)

“When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics and antibiotics.” So says 17-year-old Zac Meier during a long, grueling leukemia treatment in Perth, Australia. A loud blast of Lady Gaga alerts him to the presence of Mia, the angry, not-at-all-stoic cancer patient in the room next door. Once released, the two near-strangers can’t forget each other, even as they desperately try to resume normal lives. The story of their mysterious connection drives this unflinchingly tough, tender novel told in two voices.

 

Click here to read the review!

 
Teen Board

--- Our September Teen Board Question: School is starting up again, and you know what that means --- assigned reading! People might complain about not getting to choose what they read, but often teachers pick books that are truly terrific. We asked our Teen Board members: What is one book you read in class and thoroughly enjoyed? Alison S. chose THE GIVER by Lois Lowry for its versatility, and Rachel D. chose THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Mark Haddon because "the book was full of life and thoroughly entertaining."


--- Reviews: We had lots of teen reviews this month! Cheritta J. said that RUMBLE by Ellen Hopkins "was hands-down the best, most gut-wrenching novel that I have read all year." Aspen R. reviewed THE JEWEL by Amy Ewing and said, "This novel was a masterpiece! I could not, would not, put it down. "

Click here to meet the New Teen Board!

 
On the Teenreads Blog!

Today's Generation and HIV by Paige Rawl --- POSITIVE author Paige Rawl explains why HIV education is so important for today's teens.

On Writing ZAC & MIA by A.J. Betts --- The author of ZAC & MIA discusses how she drew upon real life experiences to write her novel.

What's Big in Kolkata, India --- Teen Board Member Pragya B. tells us what's popular in her home town.

Sudden Teenage Empowerment Syndrome --- Teen Board Member Rachel B. digs deeper into a phenomenon found in YA Lit and beyond.

Seven Books to Read Before School Starts --- Teen Board Member Pranshu A. helps you prepare for school with an awesome reading list.

Ryan Ochoa's Top Five Favorite Books --- Actor Ryan Ochoa shares his top favorite reads!
Click here to read our blog!

 
Books on Screen

It's finally September, which means it's the perfect time for falling leaves, pumpkin patches, hay rides and maybe an old fashioned corn maze! Or if you like your mazes a little more adventurous, make sure to go see The Maze Runner, the highly anticipated adaptation of James Dashner's mega hit. Out September 19th, this one looks like it's going to be an adrenaline-filled ride that's sure to appeal to fans of DIVERGENT and THE HUNGER GAMES. Just don't get lost on your way to the theater.

More family-friendly is The Boxtrolls --- based on Alan Snow’s HERE BE MONSTERS! --- a stop motion adventure-comedy film that looked stunning in its early trailer.

There you have it! Let’s leave the falling to the leaves and not the ratings --- get out there and see some great books on screen!

Click here to read Books on Screen!

 
Side by Side: Running
Sometimes, the only way to get over a tough time is to turn your focus onto something else --- set a new goal and go after it. That can be writing a book, learning to play guitar, or, in the cases of the protagonists of BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE by Miranda Kenneally and ON THE ROAD TO FIND OUT by Rachel Toor, run a marathon.

In BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE, Annie decides to work through her grief and honor her recently-deceased boyfriend by running the marathon he intended to race. In ON THE ROAD TO FIND OUT, Alice decides to start running after she gets rejected from Yale and needs something new to aspire to.

For this side-by-side, we asked Miranda and Rachel to tell us about their own running experiences, the ways they're most similar and different to their protagonists and what sport they wish they were good at.

Click here to read the Side by Side feature!

 
September's Cool and New Roundup

Our September roundup includes ON A CLEAR DAY, the final novel by Walter Dean Myers, which tells the story of a group of diverse teens who must wage war against the powerful elite; THE JEWEL by Amy Ewing, the dark tale of a servant girl learning the brutal truth about her employer; and EGG & SPOON by Gregory Maguire, the richly layered story of two Russian girls and an adventure that weaves in Russian folklore.

Among the paperback titles released this month, we have the second book in Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, CROWN OF MIDNIGHT; INSIDE CHARLIE’S CHOCOLATE FACTORY by Lucy Mangan, the true story behind Roald Dahl’s classic; and IF YOU COULD BE MINE by Sara Farizan, the story of two Iranian girls in love, and the lengths they go to stay together.

 

Click here to see September's Cool and New roundup!

 
Check Out Our Latest Reviews!
NEW! OF METAL AND WISHES by Sarah Fine (Fiction)

Sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic, housed in a slaughterhouse staffed by the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor. Wen often hears the whisper of a ghost in the slaughterhouse, a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. And after one of the Noor humiliates Wen, the ghost grants an impulsive wish of hers --- brutally. Reviewed by Christa O., Teen Board Member.

NEW! TAKEN by David Massey (Fiction)

Six crew members are toughing it out, trying to come together as a team to sail around the world on a grueling challenge for charity. Four are teen military veterans disabled in combat: they're used to being pushed to the limit. But nothing could have prepared them for being kidnapped by the Lord's Resistance Army. Suddenly, the trip of a lifetime turns into a dark journey into the African jungle. Reviewed by Rachel B., Teen Board Member.

NEW! IF YOU'RE READING THIS by Trent Reedy (Fiction)

Mike was seven when his father was killed in mysterious circumstances in Afghanistan. Eight years later, the family still hasn't recovered: Mike's mom is overworked and overprotective; his younger sister Mary feels no connection to the father she barely remembers; and in his quest to be "the man of the family," Mike knows he's missing out on everyday high school life. Reviewed by Trevor P., Teen Board Member.

NEW! ONE DEATH, NINE STORIES by Marc Aronson and Charles R. Smith Jr. (Fiction)

Kev’s the first kid their age to die. And now, even though he’s dead, he’s not really gone --- his choices are touching the people he left behind. Here, in nine stories by such renowned authors as Ellen Hopkins, Rita Williams-Garcia and Will Weaver, we meet people who didn’t know Kevin, friends from his childhood, his ex-girlfriend, his best friend and more, all dealing with the fallout of his death. Reviewed by Sydney L., Teen Board Member.

NEW! SOME BOYS by Patty Blount (Fiction)

Some boys go too far. Some boys will break your heart. But one boy can make you whole. When Grace meets Ian she's afraid that he'll reject her like the rest of the school and her own family. After she accuses the town golden boy of rape, everyone turns against Grace. They call her a slut and a liar. But...Ian doesn't. He's funny and kind with secrets of his own. But how do you trust the best friend of the boy who raped you? How do you believe in love? Reviewed by Katie N., Teen Board Member.

NEW! MOONHEAD AND THE MUSIC MACHINE by Andrew Rae (Graphic Novel)

Life's a peach when you've got a moon for a head and your head's in space. You can wander out of the Earth's atmosphere on intergalactic daydreams, drift blissfully across star-speckled skies and fly close to the Sun, like a fireproof Icarus. Reviewed by Jeff Ayers.

NEW! A NEW DARKNESS by Joseph Delaney (Fiction)

Tom Ward is the Spook, the one person who can defend the county from bloodthirsty creatures of the dark. But he's only 17, and his apprenticeship was cut short when his master died in battle. No one trusts Tom's skill, not till he's proven himself. And a 15-year-old girl named Jenny wants to be Tom's first apprentice --- even though a female spook is unheard of. Together, Tom and Jenny will uncover the grave danger heading straight toward the county, and they'll team up with a witch assassin to confront it. Kate F., Teen Board Member.

NEW! HIDER, SEEKER, SECRET KEEPER by Elizabeth Kiem (Thriller)

When Lana’s friend and chief rival in the world famous Bolshoi ballet is brutally attacked, Lana is given her coveted solo --- an unlikely stroke of luck that makes Lana the chief suspect. When another young dancer is struck down on the day of her debut, Lana becomes the prime suspect in not one, but two attacks. On the run and still in the dark, Lana puts her trust in Levshik, a man who claims to know secrets about her mother's past and his alluring young bodyguard, Roma. Reviewed by Thien-kim H., Teen Board Member.

NEW! TOMBOY: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince (Graphic Novel)

Growing up, Liz Prince wasn't a girly girl, dressing in pink tutus or playing Pretty Pretty Princess like the other girls in her neighborhood. But she wasn't exactly one of the guys either, as she quickly learned when her Little League baseball coach exiled her to the outfield instead of letting her take the pitcher's mound. A memoir told anecdotally, TOMBOY follows author and zine artist Liz Prince through her early childhood into adulthood and explores her ever-evolving struggles and wishes regarding what it means to "be a girl." Reviewed by Cheyenne C., Teen Board Member.

NEW! CIRCLE OF STONES by Catherine Fisher (Fiction)

Today, Sulis, a teenage girl with a mysterious past, arrives in Bath with a new identity, trailed by the person she's trying to outrun. In 1740, Zac is apprenticed to an architect obsessed with Druidic mysteries, but has his own secret --- and destructive --- agenda. In ancient England, a druid king discovers the healing waters of a magical spring, where he founds a great city, and the heart of Fisher’s story. Through each voice, the mysteries are revealed, linking Sulis, Zac, and the king through the circles of time. Reviewed by Sheena Kowalski.

NEW! WINTERKILL by Kate A. Boorman (Fiction)

Emmeline knows she’s not supposed to explore the woods outside her settlement. The enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, attacking at night and keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. Living with the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent. Reviewed by Lynn W., Teen Board Member.

NEW! ILLUSIONS OF FATE by Kiersten White (Fiction)

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets the gorgeous, enigmatic Finn, who introduces her to the secret world of Albion's nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn't --- power, money, status . . . and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, and the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess them. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits, can stop him. Cassandra H., Teen Board Member.

NEW! RANDOM by Tom Leveen (Fiction)

Late at night Tori receives a random phone call. It’s a wrong number. But the caller seems to want to talk, so she stays on the line. He asks for a single thing --- one reason not to kill himself. The request plunges her into confusion. Because if this random caller actually does what he plans, he’ll be the second person connected to Tori to take his own life. And the first just might land her in jail. Reviewed by Aliza M., Teen Board Member.

NEW! RUMBLE by Ellen Hopkins (Fiction)

Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything. Not in family --- his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough. Not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question. Reviewed by Cheritta J., Teen Board Member

NEW! THE JEWEL by Amy Ewing (Fiction)

The Jewel means wealth, the Jewel means beauty --- but for Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Born and raised in the Marsh, Violet finds herself living in the Jewel as a servant at the estate of the Duchess of the Lake. Addressed only by her number --- #197 --- Violet is quickly thrown into the royal way of life. But behind its opulent and glittering facade, the Jewel hides its cruel and brutal truth, filled with violence, manipulation and death. Reviewed by Aspen R., Teen Board Member.

NEW! THESEUS AND THE MINOTAUR by Yvan Pommaux (Graphic Novel)

Master French cartoonist Yvan Pommaux introduces a wealth of historically accurate details that immerse readers in the context and culture of ancient Greece. The story is supplemented with character cards, maps, mazes, and an index of cited names. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

NEW! EVIL LIBRARIAN by Michelle Knudsen (Fiction)

When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian! Reviewed by Cheyenne C., Teen Board Member.

NEW! MONSTROUS AFFECTIONS: An Anthology of Beastly Tales by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant (Fiction/Horror)

Predatory kraken that sing with --- and for --- their kin; band members and betrayed friends who happen to be demonic; harpies as likely to attract as to repel. Welcome to a world where humans live side-by-side with monsters, from vampires both nostalgic and bumbling to an eight-legged alien who makes tea. Through these, and a few monsters that defy categorization, some of today's top young-adult authors explore ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders. Reviewed by Maya B., Teen Board Member.

NEW! OF MONSTERS AND MADNESS by Jessica Verday (Fiction/Horror)

Annabel becomes infatuated with her father's assistant Allan, who dabbles in writing when he's not helping with medical advancements. But in darker hours, when she's not to be roaming the house, she encounters the devilish assistant Edgar, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Allan, and who others insist doesn't exist. Reviewed by Maggie L., Teen Board Member.

NEW! PLAYING WITH MATCHES by Suri Rosen (Fiction)

When 16-year-old Raina Resnick is expelled from her Manhattan private school, she’s sent to live with her strict aunt --- but Raina feels like she’s persona non grata no matter where she goes. Her sister, Leah, blames her for her broken engagement, and she’s a social pariah at her new school. In the tight-knit Jewish community, Raina finds she is good at one thing: matchmaking! As the anonymous “MatchMaven,” Raina sets up hopeless singles desperate to find the One. Reviewed by Aspen R., Teen Board Member.

NEW! KISS OF BROKEN GLASS by Madeleine Kuderick (Fiction)

When 15-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for a mandatory psychiatric watch. There Kenna meets other kids like her --- her roommate, Donya, who's there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems...for a moment. Reviewed by Maggie L., Teen Board Member.

NEW! EGG & SPOON by Gregory Maguire (Fiction/Fantasy)

Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food. But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg --- a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl who's Elena’s age. When the two girls’ lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs. Reviewed by Emma Kantor.

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Last month, we asked you what part of going back to school made you most excited. The overwhelming majority couldn't wait to see your friends again on a daily basis (77%), and just above half of you (52%) seem to be extracurricularly-minded and were itching to get involved in your favorite clubs again. However, you don't seem to be the most athletically-focused bunch --- only 14% are looking forward to cheering on a high school football or basketball game. To see the full results, click here.

Click here to take our poll!

 
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