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ALAN Online News - June 2014

This week I visited our Big-Box Book Retailer and happened to overhear a conversation between two booksellers about John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. One shared with Bookseller Two such a stunningly inaccurate backstory for the writing of the novel that I had to restrain myself from rushing their booth and doing some serious librariansplaining, as in, "I know you think what you've just said is true, but I can assure that it's just NOT. And I know this because I have heard the author speak, and I watch his videos and read his books and interviews and don't just pass along what some online commenter probably speculated about somewhere." 
I've been a Big-Box Bookseller myself, and I choose to charitably assume that the gentleman was otherwise knowledgeable about books and the trade. But the incident brought home to me what a wonderful resource ALAN can be, allowing young adult literature fans to hear directly from their favorite authors at the annual workshop each November. ALAN puts us in touch with people who know YA inside and out. The ALAN Review contains literary analysis, thoughtful articles about using young adult books in the classroom, and interviews with authors. We get the straight scoop and know where to look to find out more about the books and authors we love. 
It's easy to take ALAN for granted, to assume that everybody has this kind of information available to them. They could, but someone, maybe you, will need to tell them what this Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE is all about. With memberships now available online, joining ALAN has never been easier. Let's get the word out now. 
Anne McLeod, Editor
In This Issue
ALAN Memberships Available Online
New President-Elect
Thanks to TAR Editors
Confirmed Speakers
LSU YA Conference
Karen Avivi Receives SCBWI Award
Author Nancy Garden Dies
YA Links in the News
Real Quick Picks
Missing your issue of TAR?
Please email membership secretary Karin Perry.

Online Memberships Now Available
Join ALAN or Renew Your Membership through
The long-awaited online membership option is available at last through Click here to join ALAN or to renew your membership. No more printing out the hard copy of the form, wondering if you can find a stamp and an envelope. 

Membership in ALAN is one of the best deals available at $30 for individuals, $42 outside the US, $50 for institutions, and just $10 for students. With your membership, you receive three issues of our journal, The ALAN Review.  
Please note: if you attend the ALAN Workshop November 24 and 25 at National Harbor in Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC, a year's membership is included with your registration. We hope we'll see you at the workshop, but if you are unable to make it this year, keep your membership current through the  ALAN website. 
New President-Elect for ALAN
Daria Plumb Appointed to Position after Pam Cole Steps Down

Due to increased job responsibilities at her university, Dr. Pam B. Cole has resigned from her position as ALAN President-Elect. Our ALAN Constitution directs the current ALAN President to appoint someone to fulfill the duties of the President-Elect with the approval of the ALAN Board of Directors.  We are pleased to announce that Daria Plumb has been unanimously approved and will assume the duties of ALAN President Elect immediately.


Daria is a familiar face to ALANers.  She has served on the ALAN Board of Directors, chaired the Walden Committee, and currently serves as chair of the ALAN Merchandising Committee.  She is a teacher in Michigan whose first book, Commando Classics, is available from VOYA Press.


We congratulate Daria on her appointment.

- Teri Lesesne for the ALAN Executive Committee
Thanks to 2009-2014 Editorial Team at TAR
Final Issue by Steven Bickmore, Jacqueline Bach, and Melanie Hundley

The summer issue of The ALAN Review should be on its way to your mailbox now, if it has not already arrived. This was the last issue for the team that's headed up
TAR since 2009. Steve, Jackie, and Melanie have done an excellent job with the journal, maintaining its traditional quality while exploring new directions. Thanks to all three for their hard work!

Here are some reflections from the outgoing team as they come to the end of their term as editors: 
"Peer reviewed." I really never understood the entire "peer review" process until I became a co-editor of TAR. I understood the significance of the process but not the essential role it plays in determining the quality and contents of a journal. TAR manuscript reviewers continually impressed me with their professionalism, collegiality, and mentorship. They are savvy readers who are up-to-date with the field of young adult literature and what the readership expects from TAR. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all our reviewers-I have learned so much from you. 
- Jacqueline Bach
The humility of contributors was one of my favorite things about working oThe ALAN Review. Time and time again, I would meet the author of a published article and they would thank me for accepting a manuscript. Even more astonishing was the thanks from an author whose work we didn't accept. They appreciated our time, our comments, or suggestion of a new direction. In turn, I would thank them. It was my pleasure to read their work, to engage with their ideas, to offer a slight push or nudge that, hopefully, helped. I found an increased appreciation for people who looked at a blank piece of paper and took the challenge of crafting a set of ideas that would inspire, guide, and inform, knowing full well that it was going to be critiqued, altered, and, sometimes, just nitpicked by editors, reviewers, and readers. Nevertheless, they wrote. The journal exists because scholars, classroom teachers,librarians, graduate students, and YA authors faced the blankness and wrote. To all of you who risked, for those we published and those we didn't, --Thank you.  All of your efforts enriched my understanding of the field. 
- Steven Bickmore

I appreciated the willingness of authors to contribute columns to The ALAN Review (TAR).  Columns were shorter than many of the manuscripts but no less challenging to write.  The authors with whom I worked were thoughtful, engaging, and dedicated to the field of young adult literature.  They wrote, rewrote, and wrote again in the process of writing for TAR. I learned so much from working with these authors, about their content, but also about professional behavior. 


One of my greatest joys in working on The ALAN Review was working with the young adult authors who wrote columns.  These authors seemed to relish the opportunity to talk directly to their young adult readers, teachers and librarians who recommended their work, and other readers of the journal.  Over and over again, the authors referred to The ALAN Review as "our" journal-they felt very much a part of the ALAN community.  ALAN, as an organization, is a welcoming place for readers, writers, teachers, librarians, and scholars united by love and respect for young adult literature.

- Melanie Hundley

2014 ALAN Workshop Update
Among confirmed speakers are: 
  • Andrew Smith, author of Winger and Losing It
  • G Neri, author of Hello, I'm Johnny Cash and Ghetto Cowboy
  • Jenny Han, author of To All the Boys I've Loved Before and The Summer I Turned Pretty
  • Chris Lynch, author of Killing Time in Crystal City and Free Will
  • Scott Westerfeld, author of Afterworlds and Uglies
  • Paulo Bacigalupi, author of Ship Breaker and Zombie Baseball Beatdown
  • M.T. Anderson, author of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation and Feed
  • Sy Montgomery, author of Birdology and Temple Grandin: How The Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism And Changed The World
  • Christopher Paul Curtis, author of The Mighty Miss Malone and Bud, Not Buddy
  • Pam Muoz Ryan, author of The Dreamer and Esperanza Rising
  • Raina Telgemeier, author of Smile and Sisters
  • Tanuja Desai Hidier, author of Born Confused
  • Coe Booth, author of Bronxwood and Tyrell
LSU Conference Speakers
Photo by Lyndsi Lewis

LSU YA Conference Make Its Debut
Authors, Teachers, Librarians, and Professors Gather at Baton Rouge

Young Adult Literature, or YAL, has never been more popular or prevalent in this country. It seems like every month a new film, based on a novel or short story aimed at adolescents and young adults hits theaters to huge ticket sales, whether it be series like "Divergent," "Twilight," or "The Hunger Games" movies or the most recent giant, "The Fault in Our Stars." The first week of June, a collection of Young Adult authors gathered with scholars, students, teachers and librarians at LSU for the inaugural Young Adult Literature Conference & Seminar, hosted by the LSU College of Human Sciences & Education.


The conference was the brainchild of School of Education professor Steve Bickmore and grew out of his own passion for young adult literature. The conference attracted 8 speakers and 60 attendees from all over, and featured a number of authors from Louisiana and all around the country.


"In the current climate of pop culture, Young Adult Literature is extremely popular," said Bickmore on his inspiration for the conference. "These books represent the fasting growing segment of print publication. This conference brought academics, teachers, and young adult writers together in order to discuss the teaching and the critique of this engaging body of literature."


"This conference helped teachers and librarians feel liberated in the face of high stakes testing; liberated to use books that meet kids where they are in their reading ability and interests," he added. "When kids are free to choose what they want to read and are guided into lives with rich reading opportunities, they read more widely. They enjoy reading, they comprehend more, and they engage in more complex levels of critical thinking. The conference provided an array of opportunities for teachers and librarians to increase their understanding of young adult literature as well as developing ways to include it in the curriculum."


Academic guest speakers included YAL historical fiction and non-fiction author and the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents, or ALAN, president Chris Crowe of Brigham Young University; Alan Brown, assistant professor of English Education at Wake Forest University; and past president and current executive director of ALAN Terri Lesesne of Sam Houston State. Other speakers included best-selling authors Matt de la Pe�a, Chris Crutcher, Kimberly Willis Holt and Sarah Guillory, a local high-school English teacher who released her debut novel in October of 2013.


During the event, visiting academics facilitated a cohort of teachers for a week in workshops and breakout sessions as they explored topics relating to teaching and interpreting YA literature. As college professors and teachers worked together, they produced products for teachers to use in the classroom including lesson plans, resource lists, academic blogs sponsored by the participating workshop presenters and other materials that will enhance the literacy skills of adolescents.

For more information on the conference, visit  
- Lyndsi Lewis and  Billy Gomila


 SCBWI Award Goes to ALAN Member Karen Avivi

Shredded Recognized for Excellence in Non-Traditional Publishing
I'm delighted to let you know that the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Inaugural Spark Award winner is an ALAN member - me.


Yesterday, the SCBWI announced the winners of the inaugural Spark Award, an annual award that recognizes excellence in a children's book published through a non-traditional publishing route: "Congratulations to Karen Avivi from Quebec, Canada, for her heart-pounding BMX bike girl YA novel, Shredded."


SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver added: "Kudos for Karen Avivi for going about self publishing in the proper way, using the editorial and design services of professionals in the field.  Shredded is the perfect kind of book to publish independently... The action is tense, her characters are full, and the writing is full of pace and appeal."


The Spark Award announcement was also included in yesterday's PW Children's Bookshelf issue.


I attended the ALAN Workshop for the first time in Boston last fall. At the breakout session "Examining the Culture of Sports: 40 years of Ball in YA," chaired by Alan Brown, I listened as luminaries Robert Lipsyte and Chris Crutcher bemoaned the status of the sports novel as the "red-headed stepchild of literature." If they felt that way about their traditionally published male-protagonist stories, I wondered what would happen to my independently published girls' BMX novel. The SCBWI Spark Award is an honor, and I hope that it helps novels like Shredded gain acceptance.  


- Karen Avivi 

ALAN Marketplace 2013  

L-R: Michael Cart, Lauren Myracle, Nancy Garden, Joan Kaywell, and Paula Taylor-Greathouse at 20013 ALAN Workshop

YA Literature Loses an Early Advocate for LGBT Titles
Nancy Garden Dies June 23, 2014, of Heart Attack

I first met Nancy by reading and reviewing two of her books for the Clip and File Section of THE ALAN REVIEW: Dove and Sword:  A Novel of Joan of Arc in 1996 and Good Moon Rising in 1997.  When I became ALAN President, the theme of the 1999 workshop was "Saving Our Students Lives through Literature and Laughter" and it was there that Nancy made her first appearance at an NCTE function.  The next year I wrote her biography "Nancy Garden, 1938-" that was published in Ted Hipple's Writers for Young Adults, Supplement 1 in 2000.  From 1999 on, Nancy was a regular presenter at NCTE, ALAN or both.  She presented at both NCTE and ALAN last November in Boston. 

The picture above is Michael Cart, Lauren Myracle, Nancy Garden, me and Paula Taylor-Greathouse after our session,  "LGBTQ Literature in the ELA Classrooms:  Why and How." Nancy also presented"Authors, Censorship, and Good Advice" with Chris Crutcher, Lauren Myracle, Laurie Halse Anderson with ReLeah Lent and me for our session through the Standing Committee against Censorship.


I'm pleased that the following works are signed by her and available in the Ted Hipple Special Collection at USF: Annie on My Mind;  Annie on My Mind (paperback);  Annie on My Mind (paperback); Dove and Sword (ARC and first edition); EndgameLark in the Morning; Prisoner of Vampires (paperback); and The Year They Burned the Books



  - Joan Kaywell


YA Links in the News
Thanks to Sharon Levin and the Rutgers Child_Lit listserv (which is an amazing resource in itself) for these two responses to a recent Wall Street Journal piece on John Green. The first by Karen Jenson posted at the Teen Librarian Toolbox, marvels at the inaccuracies that creep into much of the popular media's discussion of YA literature due to writers' lack of research into the field. The second, a blog post by Anne Ursu at Terrible Trivium, notes the privileging of white male authors and of contemporary realism itself, even as the WSJ article muddled the definition of the genre and ignored its longtime popularity among teens. 
John Green meets Stephen Colbert here
Jordan Sonnenblick, author of Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie and other novels, celebrated the tenth anniversary of the publication of Drums in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he participated in a very special fundraiser, Jack's Chattanoggins. Jack Skowronnek, a Chattanooga teen, was inspired after he read the book about a boy with cancer to raise money for the Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital. Jordan, Jack, and a host of others raised pledge funds and had their heads shaved at the June 1st event
Judy Blume, whose books for children and teens are among the most frequently challenged, explains in an interview with The Telegraph that despite fears that certain books will be too "mature" for young readers, kids do a pretty good job of selecting reading material for themselves, rejecting or ignoring texts they're not ready for. Thanks to Joan Kaywell for the link. 
Almost fifty years after Nancy Larrick's landmark article, "The All White World of Children's Books," appeared in The Saturday Review, the number of racially diverse characters has increased only slightly. Walter Dean Myers, in an op-ed in the New York Times Sunday Review, describes the role books played in his life as a young reader and writer and calls for books that reflect the lives and experiences of people of color. Christopher Myers, author and illustrator and son of Walter Dean Myers, writes too about the need to expand the "map" books offer all young readers of the world in which they live by depicting the rich and varied lives of diverse characters. 
Debbie Reese, known for her blog American Indians in Children's Literature, was interviewed recently for Colorlines about the controversy over Indian mascots for sports teams and makes a case for accurate  representations of Native Americans in children's and YA books. (Note: Rush Limbaugh did win the Children's Choice Book Award alluded to in the interview, beating out Veronica Roth, Rick Riordan, Rachel Renee Russell, and Jeff Kinney for Author of the Year. Really.) 
The We Need Diverse Books campaign is seeking to do something about the issue of diversity. Find out more about it at this Tumblr
ALAN Real Quick Picks 
The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos (Egmont, 2014))
Meet the founding musicians in the wicked '80s punk band The Scar Boys: Johnny and Harry. Outwardly scarred as a young child, Harry later finds protection from the cruelty of middle schoolers in popular Johnny, the male version of a mean-girl. Vlahos uses his own experiences as part of the '80s punk pop  band Woofing Cookies  to shape the band's touring adventures in order to create a realistic and entertaining story of young adults negotiating the transition into adulthood.
- Helene  Halstead 

Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders by Geoff Herbach (Sourcebooks Fire, 2014)

Herbach, author of the Stupid Fast series, creates funny, imperfect characters who stumble a time or two on the way to love, friendship, and civic engagement. Gabe "Chunk" Johnson isn't having the happiest high school experience: His mom left years ago, his dad is depressed, and his  bodybuilder granddad tends to be a bit of an exhibitionist. But when funding for band is redirected to a new cheerleaders' dance team, Gabe swings into action to save the one high school program he loves, strengthening his "leadership bone," and unexpectedly finding romance with the slightly scary Chandra aka Gore.  

- Anne McLeod

Relish by Lucy Knisley (First Second, 2013)
Raised by serious  foodies, Lucy Knisley comes by her appreciation of haute (and low) cuisine honestly. This graphic novel memoir presents a sample of outstanding recipes, served up with extra helpings of both funny and awful. Divorce, friendship, coming of age all go down better with sauteed mushrooms, limonadas, and occasionally some McDonald's French fries. 
- Anne McLeod
When I Was The Greatest by Jason Reynolds (Books for Young Readers, 2014) 
Sixteen-year-old Ali lives with his mother  in an area of Brooklyn that is going downhill as neighbors either die or move away. He befriends two brothers whom he nicknames Noodles and Needles after they move in next door in a section of Brooklyn that's going downhill. Neither brother has a father and their mother is anything but, so both boys spend a lot of time with Ali and his little sister Jazz whose mother works two jobs and offers sprinklings of wisdom and guidance to the boys.  Readers interested in the importance of parents, especially fathers in children's lives, will glean a lot of insight from this fast-paced story. 
- Joan Kaywell

Calls for Papers and Proposals 


The ALAN Review

Submissions due July 1, 2014. 


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.  


Summer 2015: (Re)membering and (Re)living: Probing the Collective and Individual Past 

Submissions due November 1, 2014


Stories are dynamic, told and heard, accepted and revered, rejected and rewritten by readers who draw from their experiences and understandings to garner meaning from the words on the page.  In young adult texts, fiction and nonfiction, historical and contemporary and futuristic, this dynamism can encourage the critique of our collective past, helping us question assumptions about what came before and reconsider our responsibilities to the present and future. These texts can also help us consider the adolescent experience across time and place and explore the similarities and differences that shape reality as young people navigate and draft their own coming of age stories. This universality can foster a connection to others and reinforce our shared existence as members of a human community.  And yet, these texts can give emotional reality to names, dates, and other factual information, letting us imagine the voices of those who lived in other places and times and have sometimes been silenced in official accounts of history, ideally inspiring us honor these voices and generate a better future. Through these stories, we might come to reject a single narrative and develop empathy for individuals we never knew-and those we did and do and will. In this issue, we welcome articles that explore the relationship between young adult literature, history, stories, and readers.  We acknowledge that "every living soul is a book of their own history, which sits on the ever-growing shelf in the library of human memories" (Jack Gantos, Dead End in Norvelt). And that, "If you stare at the center of the universe, there is coldness there. A blankness. Ultimately, the universe doesn't care about us. Time doesn't care about us. That's why we have to care about each other" (David Levithan, Every Day).  Stories matter in this caring: "I leapt eagerly into books. The characters' lives were so much more interesting than the lonely heartbeat of my own" (Ruta Sepetys, Out of the Easy). As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme.


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 July 30, 2014.  

Disability and Young Adult Literature
Although there is a growing interest in disability studies in art, literature, film, politics, and religion, there is still a dearth of scholarship that explores the intersection between young adult literature and disability. This gap in scholarship among young adult literature scholars and teachers is surprising because of two reasons: first, disability is a growing reality in all of our lives. According to a 2012 report by the United States Census Bureau, "About 56.7 million people - 19 percent of the population - had a disability in 2010, according to a broad definition , with more than half of them reporting the disability was severe" (2012, par. 1). Secondly, this reality is influencing our literature, especially fiction targeting young adults. I am interested in creating/editing a sourcebook that would include articles that explore how primary and secondary teachers (should) incorporate novels that include protagonists with disabilities in their curriculum. While the articles must be grounded in theory, the nature of a sourcebook is to provide teachers/ readers with best-practices for pedagogy: lesson plans, assignments, activities, etc. The primary goal of this book is to help classroom teachers incorporate Disability YAL in their curriculum of disability. Click here for additional information. Please send a 400-500 word abstract and brief cv to Jacob Stratman (, Associate Professor of English at John Brown University before October 15, 2014.
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