Category Archives: Books

Lists, Lists, Lists, and More Lists……

Association for Library Service to Children’s Notable Books of 2011
Amazon’s Best Teen Books

Amazon’s Best Children’s Picture Books of 2011 
Brain Pickings’ Best Children’s Books of 2011
Common Sense Media’s Kids Book Picks 
Horn Book’s Best Books of 2011
Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Fiction of 2011
Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books of 2011
NY Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2011 
NY Times Notable Children’s Books of 2011
Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Fiction of 2011 
Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Nonfiction of 2011 
San Francisco Chronicle’s Best Children’s Books
Spellbinders’ Best Picture Books of 2011
Wall St Journal’s Best Children’s Books of 2011

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Young People’s Literature – 2011 National Book Award Finalists

Though I haven’t read any of these, it’s always good to know what’s getting praise, so here’s the National Book Award finalist. Sometimes I find these choices are hit and miss because they are chosen for import, politics or skill in writing – not story. Story and being compelling is more important to a good read than anything. 
Age Range: 10 – 14
The story of three Iñupiaq children (then known as Eskimos) living above the Arctic Circle who are sent to a Catholic boarding school with other children, white and Indian.
Age Range: 10 – 14
It’s 1968.
Age Range: 14 – 18
When her gay best friend is brutally beaten in contemporary Black Creek, N.C., a withdrawn teen tracks his assailant.
Age Range: 14 – 18
“I’ve confessed to everything and I’d like to be hanged. Now, if you please.”
Age Range: 9 – 12
An enlightening, poignant and unexpectedly funny novel in verse is rooted in the author’s childhood experiences.
FLESH AND BLOOD SO CHEAP The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy By Albert Marrin
Age Range: 12 – 18
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in 1911 resulted in the greatest loss of life in a New York City workplace until the 9/11 attacks nearly a century later.
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Best YA Books You Probably Haven’t Read

RUBY HOLLER by Sharon Creech

THE HOUSE OF MANY WAYS by Diana Wynn Jones

THE MAGIC PUDDING by Norman Lindsey


MORTAL ENGINES by Phillip Reeves



* Check back on this one as I will be updating the list as I remember them. 

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Rom Fan

Only the self-absorbed seem to move forward in Hollywood these days… so I started a blog.

I thought I’d also coin the term for a newish/oldish genre –  Rom Fan – just to fully embrace my new egomaniacal pursuit.

“Romantic Fantasy…?” you say. It slips right off the tongue! A guilty pleasure for a non-young adult, though one at heart. Rom Fan’s are more than just Twilight, which in my opinion is poorly written and not the best example of the genre, just the most successful.House of Night is wonderful! It is terribly written and stuffed full of pop culture that will be obsolete in the next few moments. Writer’s note: It’s best to just come up with your own slang that way it won’t ever be passe. Clockwork Orange or Clueless are good examples.However, the series starting with Marked grabs you by the balls and won’t let go. It’s a roller coaster story that had me hooked on page one, it’s jammed packed with action, great characters and unique mythology. My fingers are crossed that my friend Michael will get this one up. Check out the HON website, it’s a great example of effective and integrated transmedia storytelling.

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Ye Olde Transmedia Device – Adaptation

You may have guessed this…I am a complete YA geek. I love it. I read it for pleasure…it’s my cup of tea. I love it because the good stuff has so much going on, so many layers of subtext. The shit stuff is pure guilty pleasure.

Having worked in film and TV for more than a decade, it took reading “HIS DARK MATERIALS” to find my calling to specialize in kids and YA entertainment. I was returned to childhood and the escape of new worlds in Pullman’s novels. I couldn’t believe that something so controversial was selling like hotcakes and to kids all around the world.

Over the years I have compiled an amazing list that expands and contracts as projects are adapted into films and new authors are published. This brings me to the point of the article. I, along with many kids, have been sorely disappointed by many adaptations. “THE DARK IS RISING” was ruined and strangely renamed “THE SEEKER”. What were they thinking? Why didn’t they honor the book?

I have the most distinct remembrance of a childhood experience – I saw a movie adaptation of a favorite book and all I could think about was why did they change it? Where was that sequences? Or that character that I loved so?

HARRY POTTER is the best example of honoring the book. If they hadn’t, the filmmakers would have been stoned to death by four-foot somethings worldwide. The movies satisfy because of the art of what is left out and congealed for emotional significance. It is the art of the YA adaptation! Children are unforgiving when it comes to change, and this fact continues to trip up adult development executives with verbal diarrhea and a need to have something to say, anything.

The adaptations that have in-artfully changed elements have performed terribly! “CIRQUE DU FREAK”, “THE SEEKER” to name two… They did not honor their audience and paid the price.

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Rookie Mistake!

Putting narration in a YA adaptation that is an action film! Example: “TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN”.

Narration brings our attention to the fact that someone is narrating from the future. Action is about tension, what will happen next, who will survive! Yes, the book was first person diary but for god’s sake you are making an action film! Know your genre!

Refer to my rule number 3 – just leave it out!

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Three Simple Rules of YA Adaptations

Rule 1


Rule 2

Expand on an important moment to create emotional significance when it’s needed. Steven Kloves is the High King of this!

Rule 3

If in doubt, leave it out…and don’t fracking change shit.



* Just so we’re clear on Rule 1…you changed it, you fracked it.

Note: Please wait, hold your breath even, whomever you are, for my forthcoming blog, “The One Exception” for said exception…

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