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ALAN Online News - April 2014

If this month's newsletter feels a little like last month's Oscars, there's a reason for it: We have three announcements of award winners! Congratulations, David, Connie, and Angel, and thanks for all your work to connect young people with the books they need to help them figure out their place in a crazy, beautiful, terrifying world. 
One of my cherished ALAN memories is of David Levithan's speech at the workshop in Chicago,  in which he spoke eloquently about empathy  and how it's the solution to all problems. By the time I stood to join the ovation, I had tears in my eyes. 
When Connie Zitlow and her co-author Lois Stover won the first Nilsen-Donelson Award in 2011, they both graciously responded to my emailed questions about their TAR article and provided this brand new newsletter with its first in-depth piece, one that explored both literature and art. 
Angel Matos very serendipitously turned up in my Inbox with a call for papers the day  I sat down to put out a call for his contact information so I could follow up on his own Nilsen-Donelson Award winning article. He turned out to be a doctoral student in English at Notre Dame with an interest in YA and contemporary adult literature. Read his article in the file linked below, and I think you'll agree that we'll be hearing more in the coming years from this emerging scholar. 
I hope readers will plan on joining us for the actual award presentations this November at the 2014 ALAN Breakfast and Workshop.
Anne McLeod, Editor
In This Issue
ALAN Award - David Levithan
Hipple Award - Connie Ziltow
Donelson-Nilsen Award - Angel Matos
Submitting to TAR
Help Wanted: Merch Committtee
Spotlight on an ALAN Member
Speak Loudly
Real Quick Picks
Missing your issue of TAR?
Please email membership secretary Karin Perry.

David Levithan at 2013 ALAN Workshop 
Photo by Don Gallo
David Levithan ALAN Award Winner
Author, Editor, Advocate

David Levithan, award-winning author of 18 young adult novels, editorial director at Scholastic, and founding editor of the PUSH imprint is the recipient of the 2014 ALAN Award
His contribution to the field of young adult literature-in his work to  publish a host of amazing young adult authors, to stand against censorship, and to significantly contribute to the canon of literature for LGBTQ teens everywhere-makes him most worthy of recognition.

There's a reason his face has been seen at the ALAN workshop for many years: Like us, he loves young adult literature, he believes in its power, and he tirelessly champions its many voices. He is a most worthy addition to a long, distinguished list of ALAN Award winners.

- Jeffrey Harr for the ALAN Award Committee
Connie Zitlow Wins 2014 Hipple Award
Award for Outstanding Service to ALAN
Connie Swartz Zitlow is winner of the ALAN 2014 Ted Hipple Award. The award is named in honor of its first Executive Secretary and is given for meritorious service to the organization. 
Connie, a former ALAN president and longstanding ALAN member, has served on and chaired numerous committees for the organization, including the committee that formed the Presidents' Advisory Council (PAC). She has authored dozens of articles and multiple books on young adult literature and is co-recipient of the first Nilsen-Donelson Award for the best article in a volume year for The ALAN Review. She is also a recipient of an ALAN Foundations Grant. Connie is Professor Emeritus at Ohio Wesleyan University, where she taught young adult literature and served as Director of Adolescence to its Young Adult and Multi-Age Licensure Programs.
- Pam B. Cole, ALAN President-Elect
Angel Daniel Matos, Winner of 2013 Donelson-Nilsen Award

Donelson-Nilsen Award Winner

Angel Daniel Matos


Each year one article from The ALAN Review is selected for the Donelson-Nilsen Award in recognition of excellence in scholarship. The award was established in 2011 and funded  by Dr. Alleen Pace Nilsen and Dr. Ken Donelson, longtime researchers and proponents of young adult literature. This year's winner is Angel Daniel Matos, whose article "Writing through Growth, Growth through Writing: The Perks of Being a Wallflower and the Narrative of Development" appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of TAR


First, congratulations on the Donelson-Nilsen Award. 


Thank you! I am absolutely thrilled to be honored with this award! It surely is nice to be recognized for doing what you love.


What led you to the topic of considering The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky as a Bildungsroman, or coming of age novel?


During the Spring Semester of 2012, I participated in a seminar entitled "Fictions of Development," which focused on the discussion of the different forms of personal, literary, and historical development that can take place within a given culture. In this seminar, we not only scrutinized the Bildungsroman genre, but we also compared and contrasted novels written by authors across the globe. During the seminar, I began to notice how many of the literary elements found within classic Bildungsromane such as Stendhal's The Red and the Black and Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship are also found within many contemporary young adult novels. With this in mind, I decided to genealogically trace how the concepts of growth and development prevalent in the Bildungsroman genre influence the creation of young adult novels, and how the young adult novel has also transformed out conceptions of the Bildungsroman. I thought that The Perks of Being a Wallflower would be a great case study, not only because I consider it to be an archetypal coming-of-age text, but also because it is hands down one of my favorite novels. I've always wanted to pay tribute to Perks, given how much it has inspired my academic work-and this seminar gave me the perfect opportunity to do so!    


Would you talk a little bit about the "categorical limbo" young adult literature often finds itself in, as described in the article?


The more I immerse myself into the realm of young adult literature, the more I find myself challenged to develop a stable definition of this genre! I characterized the genre as one that inhabits a categorical limbo precisely because it is difficult to develop accurate criteria for what does (or does not) constitute a young adult novel. Many journals, for instance, lump young adult fiction together with children's literature-and while I do see the value in this move, I also recognize that it is problematic. After all, young adult fiction depicts themes and issues that we would not often encounter in a children's book, particularly when it comes to issues of gender, sexuality, and violence. To further complicate matters, we should also consider issues of audience and of marketing. It is perhaps redundant to say, at this day and time, that young adult fiction is not only read by young adults. Also, we encounter cases in which some novels are deliberately marketed as both young adult and "adult" literature-such as in the case of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The genre of young adult literature seems to be not only elusive, but boundless. However, this is part of what fascinates me so much about young adult literature in the first place-it is multifaceted, it breaks boundaries of generation, and it speaks to people of all creeds and backgrounds.


One of the sidebars published with your article notes, "If we want to demonstrate to the world that young adult literature can and should be approached as 'Literature,' we have to look beyond the scope of the classroom and demonstrate that it is interesting and productive to approach the genre using prominent critical, literary, and cultural theories." You also include some suggested ways to use writing as a therapeutic tool for students. What are the benefits of this approach to scholarship that bridges theory and practice, or the humanities and social sciences?


When it comes to academia and the classroom, I think it is safe to assume that many people recognize the value of using young adult literature as a way of engaging students into the acts of reading, writing, and thinking. However, the value of young adult literature can, and should, extend far beyond its use as a pedagogical/heuristic aid. Young adult novels not only reflect culture, but some young adult novels (think along the lines of Harry Potter) have the power to produce culture as well. I included a sidebar on the application of critical and literary theories towards the study of young adult fiction as a challenge to both new and established scholars in the field. In addition to thinking about the pedagogical value of young adult literature, it is also important to think about the ways that young adult novels can generate knowledge in ways that challenge and augment the study of other literatures. If we restrict ourselves from approaching young adult literature in conjunction with other literary texts, we would be deliberately imposing a gap in our knowledge and understanding of literature. For instance, how can young adult novels shed light and/or complicate the study of areas such as gender, psychology, literary analysis, and sociology, among others? How can literary theory lead to the production of new, groundbreaking, and exciting readings of classic young adult texts? How does our understanding of a novel such as The Hunger Games change when interpreting it through the lens of queer theory, materiality studies, ecology, or structural violence? If literary merit is based on showing a text's capacity to be layered and complex, we must find ways to view young adult literature as more than a just a tool for teaching and learning.


Which theorists have been particularly useful to you in literary analysis? Who do you find yourself reading over and over?


Lately, I've been rather obsessed with the application of theories on queerness and time/temporality in my readings of young adult and other literature. I've particularly been drawn to the works of queer theorists such as Lee Edelman (author of No Future), Jos� Esteban Mu�oz (author of Cruising Utopia), and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (author of Epistemology of the Closet)-especially in terms of their views on concepts such as non-normativity, the body, and "futurity." These theorists have been essential in helping me determine the ways that novels challenge or reinforce the status quo. I would highly recommend Judith Halberstam's The Queer Art of Failure, in which she closely analyzes Pixar animation films in order to understand how they approach failure in unique ways. In this book, she ultimately reconfigures failure as a positive process, because it allows people to envision alternative (non-normative) ways of living and existing in the world. It would be interesting, I think, for scholars to closely examine the role of failure in young adult literature, and to scrutinize the possibilities that failure offers to characters within texts targeted towards a young adult audience.


What is your current research project?


As of now, I am trying to develop an analytical model in which I study young adult literature alongside other cultural productions such as other literary forms, film, and theater. Using this model, I am going to determine the ways in which affect (the experience of feeling and emotion) is channeled through literature and media in order to challenge preconceptions regarding gender, sexuality, and kinship. I am also presenting my research on the covers of queer young adult novels at the upcoming Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference, on April 18th in Chicago.


What To Expect When You're Submitting to TAR
Submission Process for The ALAN Review


Dear ALAN Members,


We hope you are excited about our first two calls for manuscripts; we are so looking forward to reading your submissions!  In the name of transparency and to provide guidance for novice writers, we offer the following description of our submission and review process.


Manuscript Assignment.  When a manuscript is submitted, Wendy, as Senior Editor, screens the piece.  If an article does not meet all submission requirements and/or is inconsistent with the purpose of TAR, the team notifies the author(s) that the manuscript is not acceptable for the journal or that necessary changes must be made prior to consideration. The editors work together to assign screened manuscripts to four reviewers on the Review Board. No simple formula for assignment is used; we judiciously consider the match between a reviewer's expertise and the topic and methodology of the manuscript.  In cases where the match is not a clear or strong one, we invite Guest Reviewers with specialized expertise to evaluate the manuscript. Once a manuscript has been assigned to four reviewers, Ricki electronically sends the file to reviewers and assigns the manuscript to a member of the editorial team who serves as the guiding editor for the piece.  If Dani is the guiding editor, for example, she is responsible for following the manuscript through the full review process and, ideally, working with authors to bring the piece to publication.


Manuscript Review.  For all manuscripts sent for review, a blind, peer review process follows.  Reviewers are given three weeks to evaluate manuscripts based upon the significance of the piece to the field of young adult literature, soundness of the methods/approach employed/described, and clarity of the writing. Reviewers are encouraged to provide evidence for claims and assertions made about the manuscript and provide suggestions for revision.  Additionally, all reviewers select one of the following recommendations for the manuscript:

  • Accept (Accept with minor revisions)
  • Conditionally Accept (Accept with necessary revisions)
  • Revise and Resubmit for Review (Substantial revisions necessary; resubmit with no guarantee of publication)
  • Reject (Not suitable for publication in TAR)

Editorial Decisions.  To provide timely feedback to author(s), we aim to communicate editorial decisions within eight weeks of submission.  Decisions are made based on the full set of reviews available and with the full team of editors in attendance at weekly editorial meetings. At the weekly meetings, each manuscript is discussed based on the four reviews, as well as the guiding editor's own close reading of the document.  No simple formula for acceptance or rejection is applied.  Collegial attention to the merits and shortcomings of a manuscript characterizes the process of achieving consensus about a decision.  Manuscripts with mixed reviews receive a full measure of discussion.


Based on our editorial team's decision, each guiding editor, in collaboration with Wendy, drafts a decision letter to the author(s).  The letter states the editorial decision and provides an explanation for it.  Blind copies of the reviews accompany the decision letter. The decision letter is sent to the author(s) within one week of the editorial meeting in which a decision is rendered.


Revision and Final Editing.  Based upon suggestions contained in the reviews, the editorial team will summarize comments and suggested revisions for the author(s). The guiding editor of the manuscript will work with the author(s) to implement the necessary changes and support the author(s) and manuscript through the remaining process of publication.


We share this information to help demystify the review process and emphasize the value we place on learning and professional growth throughout.  We hope that all authors whose manuscripts go through our review process gain valuable knowledge and insight that results in not only a stronger piece than the one submitted but skills that might translate into the drafting of other manuscripts that follow.




Wendy Glenn, Ricki Ginsberg, and Dani King

UConn Editorial Team

An Awesome ALAN (Merchandising) Opportunity

If you have graphic design and/or merchandising experience and are interested in helping to shape the public image of ALAN, please consider submitting an application to join the 2014 ALAN Merchandising Committee.


Committee members will design and create apparel and accessories that will promote and advertise ALAN (hats, t-shirts, tote bags, mugs, etc.) and will be sold online at the ALAN Marketplace.  


Interested parties should click here to complete the self-nomination form on Google Forms by Friday, April 11th, 2014.


For more information, contact committee co-chairs Daria Plumb ( and Barb Dean ( 


ALAN Marketplace 2013  

Emily Pendergrass working with middle school student
Spotlight on an ALAN Member
Emily Pendergrass, Vanderbilt University


What is your educational background and experience? What's your current position?


I have had many experiences that have led me to where I am today. I taught elementary and middle school students for eleven years mostly in a reading lab. While working alongside middle schoolers, I finished my Ph.D. in Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia. While at UGA, I worked extensively with the Red Clay Writing Project, part of the National Writing Project. Currently, I teach courses in Teaching Reading with secondary students, YA Lit, and a seminar for the Learning, Diversity and Urban Studies program at Vanderbilt University. Additionally, I work closely with the local public schools in literacy coaching and facilitating professional development workshops.


How do you use YA literature in your classroom?


Each fall I teach a course called Teaching Reading with Diverse and Speical Needs Learners to full time middle school teachers who are part time masters students. In this course, we use YA books such as Draper's Out of My Mind, Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, de la Pena's Mexican Whiteboy, and/or Budhos's Ask Me No Questions. This course is designed to address the lack of attention given to diverse and special needs learners in an urban middle school. To that end, the course aims to give students the opportunities to investigate the theories, practices, and pedagogies, issues, perspectives, and complexities of literacy acquisition from the point of view of mainstream teachers teaching in diverse, urban classrooms. We use YA literature so that we can share characters/students. The teachers in the course all have their own students and use them as examples to help us learn, but it is sometimes nice to adopt these characters as students whom we might teach so that we all know have the necessary info to plan accordingly.


How do you see technology changing the way we read and understand texts? 


Technology does change the way we read and understand texts in that technology makes text more accessible. Nooks, kindles, iPads, even netbooks in classrooms take up less space and allow for many books to be accessed by a reader. Additionally technology is changing the way we interact with texts. For example, the company Immersedition is changing digital books in such ways that makes reading a non-linear, information embedded, multi-sensory experience.


Best or most memorable YA book you've read lately? 


This is a tough question! I love so many books. If I have to pick one, I'd have to say Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys is the book that I am constantly recommending to colleagues, students, and friends. This novel rips your heart out for the Lithuanian people during WWII, but also offers such hope and renewal.


How did you first hear about ALAN?


I honestly don't remember how I heard about ALAN. I think that my first encounters with ALAN where when a teacher, who taught down the hall from me, Melinda Lundberg-Wallace, showed me her review cards from the "clip and file" section of the TAR journal. She and Angie Fondriest-Pendley taught me quite a bit about ARCs and how to stay up to date with all the latest books. Both of these teachers are longtime book advocates and helped feed my love of YA lit.


What's been your most memorable ALAN moment?


My second trip to ALAN was probably my most memorable moment. I was able to go with first time attendees and help show them the ropes. This was exciting for me as I was able to walk alongside novice teachers as they met YA authors, met leaders in the field, and met other teachers as excited about books as they are. As a teacher, that was a proud moment for me: helping build connections and relationships across the country for these young teachers. 


ALAN's Anti-Censorship Committee Offers Assistance 

When today's students read Ray Bradbury's classic Fahrenheit 451 (1953), many of them shake their head in dismay at the absurdity of firemen whose chief responsibility was not to put out fires but to burn books. After all, that couldn't happen here, could it? Surely no one is going around pulling books from classroom, home or library shelves because they might be deemed controversial or might cause readers to think for themselves? Sadly, while there aren't necessarily recent examples of books being burned, even today books are being challenged, removed from shelves, or taken off class book lists. We need look no further than Tucson, Arizona, where books that were considered "too ethnic" were removed from classroom shelves and put into boxes two years ago.


Or in Reading, Pennsylvania, where the Muhlenberg School District recently instituted a new policy requiring teachers to take a second look at all of the books in their classrooms, identify those that might be problematic, and label titles with language, violence, sexual explicitness or religious issues. The suggested labels are highly subjective, leaving many students and teachers concerned that books bearing those particular distinctions might disappear from classroom libraries. Perhaps they would end up in similar boxes to those books in Arizona, nevermore to be seen or read by their intended audience. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and members of the Kids' Right to Read Project even sent a letter protesting the policy to the Muhlenberg School Board, and ALAN is concerned about the fate of those books. Interested ALAN members may want to check these links to trace some of the events in that controversy: the article from CBLDFa copy of the community letter, posted on the Muhlenburg Schools website and explaining the administration's side of the issueand a copy of a student petition submitted on  


Lest you think that books that are challenged or labeled for issues such as language or sexual explicitness represent the bulk of challenges against books, it might be helpful to take a look at the annual American Library Association's list of Most Challenged Books. A quick look at the ten most challenged books from 2012 reveals these titles that came under the gun for various reasons: Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants books, Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian; Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why; E L James's Fifty Shades of Grey; Justin Richardson's And Tango Makes Three; Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner; John Green's Looking for Alaska; Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark; Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle; and Toni Morrison's Beloved. Perennial teen favorites The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Looking for Alaska, and Thirteen Reasons Why often make this list that is released annually.


Not surprisingly, given the focus of our organization-Young Adult Literature--ALAN has a standing committee whose raison d'etre is the issue of censorship and all the issues stated above. The charge of the ALAN Censorship Committee whose newly appointed members James Bucky Carter and Mark Letcher join reappointed members David Gill, Reagan Mauk, ex officio member Teri Lesesne, and chair Barbara A. Ward is as follows:

  1. Contribute to the ALAN Newsletter through the creation and maintenance of a regular column
  2. Share the results of our work and promote regular attention to censorship issues;
  3. Provide anti-censorship resources for the YA literature community; and
  4. Provide outreach to constituents.


Our committee is presently gearing up and trying to learn more about some of the possible recent challenges to books in Pennsylvania. We're looking for ways to stay informed about book challenges faced by teachers. We exist to serve those who are facing book challenges and book banning issues. We welcome your thoughts and suggestions, and if you or a colleague needs assistance, our committee is glad to provide whatever support you may need. 


Feel free to contact us through the ALAN website and be sure to check out the enormous list of anti-censorship resources gathered by the committee's former chair Wendy Glenn at  


- Barbara A. Ward on behalf of ALAN's Anti-CensorshipCommittee

ALAN Real Quick Picks 

One to the Wolves by Lois Duncan (Planet Ann Rule 2013)

Picture an every-day family, a "flock" of gentle, naive people--then a wolf bursts in to take their lamb, their youngest child--and police seem to be working WITH the "wolf". What does the family do? This happened to Lois Duncan and her family when their 18-yr-old Kaitlyn Arquette was chased down in her car and shot to death on the night she broke up with a boyfriend involved in interstate/international drug importation. Police dropped the unsolved case, and this family's on-going personal investigation has uncovered shocking new information. But, since that information implicates police, where can they take it?

- Joan Kaywell

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (Doubleday 2013)
A heart wrenching story of Rose Justice, pilot in WWII. Captured and sent to Ravensbruck, the concentration camp for women Rose meets an inspiring group of women and the horrific
brutality human beings impose on those deemed 'enemies'. This story is a witness to the
astounding resilience of the human spirit in the midst of what can only be described as "Hell." 
-Barb Dean

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer Nielsen (Scholastic 2014)
In the third book in The Ascendance Trilogy King Jaron is as rebellious and mischievous as in
earlier volumes but he has matured. In the midst of a war that Nielsen fills with non-stop action Jaron confronts the risks and sacrifices required to lead his country well. Be prepared to be surprised!
- Barb Dean

Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick (Roaring Brook 2013)
This 2014 Printz award winner is haunting, almost other worldly and impossible to put down.
Eric Seven arrives on the Island of Blessed and falls in love at first sight with Merle. Seven
vignettes with many layers of meaning beautifully capture the power and timelessness of love. A literary treasure!
- Barb Dean
LSA Young Adult Literature Workshop and Seminar

Louisiana State University School of Education will hold its first Young Adult Literature Workshop and Seminar June 2-6, 2014, in Baton Rouge. The theme is "YAL, What is it Good For? Absolutely Everything!"  Keynote speakers will include Chris Crutcher, Kimberly Willis Holt, Matt de la Pe�a, Chris Crowe, Joan Kaywell, and Teri Lesesne.

Young adult literature continues to dominate marketing space in bookstores across the country, yet we are still trying to help YAL find respect in the classroom and in some research circles. 

Breakout sessions will address the needs of practicing middle grades and high school teachers and librarians, emerging scholars and researchers, and teachers of YA at the college level. Deadline for early bird registration discount is April 15. 
 Click here for the flier and here for registration. 

Calls for Papers and Proposals 


The ALAN Review

Statistics suggest that, by 2019, approximately 49% of students enrolled in U.S. public schools will be Latina/o, Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, or American Indian (Hussar & Bailey, 2011).  However, the field has been increasingly criticized for not reflecting these demographics in the literature published for young adult readers. For readers of color, this can result in a sense of disconnect between lived reality and what is described on the page.  For readers from the dominant culture, this can result in a limited perception of reality and affirmation of a singular way of knowing and doing and being.  For all readers, exposure to a variety of ethnically unfamiliar literature can encourage critical reading of text and world, recognition of the limitations of depending upon mainstream depictions of people and their experiences, and the building of background knowledge and expansion of worldview. In this issue, we invite you to share your experiences, challenges, hesitations, and successes in using or promoting young adult literature that features characters and/or authors of color.  Invite us into your classrooms, libraries, and school communities to better understand the potential value and necessity of broadening the texts we use to capture the imaginations of all readers.


ALAN Online News

Items needed for this newsletter: ALAN organizational news items, YA Links in the News, The Book That Changed My Life, Real Quick Picks, candidates for Spotlight on an ALAN Member, feature articles about programs in your area that promote teen reading or young adult literature. Photographs are welcome as well. Send to Deadline for next newsletter is April 30, 2014.  

South Bend, Indiana; December 4-6, 2014

In recent years, there has been great interest in questions of gender and childhood, ranging from issues around boys wearing princess costumes to school; to Disney princess culture; to parents refusing to announce a baby's biological sex; to pre-teen children coming out as gay, lesbian, and queer; to toy companies marketing toys by gender; to gender-related bullying, and more. This conference seeks to explore issues of gender and childhood through multiple lenses and from a wide range of disciplines.  We welcome papers on gender and childhood in media, literature, history, anthropology, biology, architecture, philosophy, art history, sociology, education, and more.  We are especially open to interdisciplinary approaches. Deadline for proposals: May 1, 2014.  

Moved recently?
Remember to send a change of address to Membership Secretary   Karin Perry. The postal service does not forward bulk mail, and if ALAN does not have your current mailing address, you will miss issues of TAR.