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ALAN Online News - November 2014

From Anne: In the three years I've edited the online newsletter for ALAN, it's been a joy. I've gotten to know the people who make this assembly the dynamic organization it is. When family and job responsibilities suddenly increased this fall, I wondered how I could continue on as editor. The very next week I received an email from my good friend and fellow Clarke County media specialist, Kacy Tedder, who told me wanted to become more involved with  ALAN and mentioned that she wanted to write.

This providential - for me- email resulted in Kacy coming on board as co-editor of ALAN Online News. I'm delighted to be working with her in this capacity, and I know you'll enjoy getting to know her. In fact, here I'll let Kacy introduce herself.

From Kacy: It is with great pleasure that I join the ALAN team of educators in exploring, celebrating and promoting young adult literature. As a media specialist at Clarke Central High School in Athens, GA and a doctoral student in Reading, Writing, Children's Literature and Digital Literacies at the University of Georgia, I am excited about the opportunity to learn from others in the field to better help make connections between young adult novels and the teens with whom we are vested in each day. 

I am a working mother of two boys, Josiah (6) and Asher (3) and am passionate about reading, writing, literature, autism advocacy, animal welfare and the Georgia Bulldogs!  I look forward to the experiences that the future holds and the connections that will be made within the ALAN community.

We both look forward to seeing you later this month at the 2014 ALAN Workshop!

- Anne McLeod and Kacy Tedder, Editors
In This Issue
Register Today
Election Results
Online Access to TAR Columns
Condolences to Jerry Weiss
Speak Loudly
Anti-Censorship Preparation
Research Request
Lane Anderson Award
Real Quick Picks
Calls for Papers
Missing your issue of TAR?
Please email membership secretary Karin Perry.

Register Today for ALAN Workshop
This Year's Theme: Is the Sky the Limit? Using Teen Literature to Forge Connections in a World With Disappearing Boundaries

On November 24 and 25, teachers, librarians, authors, editors, professors, parents and other YA fans will come together for the 2014 ALAN Workshop.

Every year I've attended, I've come away with fresh insight into the field of young adult literature, amazing personal stories from the author panels, new strategies for using YA literature in the classroom, more book recommendations than will ever fit within one librarian's budget, and of course a box of books to read and share. Every year I talk another teacher or librarian in my town into moving heaven and earth if they have to in order to register for this workshop. And the next year they're usually bringing a friend along themselves. 

Really. It's that good. Click here to register. 
- Anne McLeod


Election Results 

President Elect: Jennifer Buehler 
Board of Directors: Dani King, Lee Ann Spillane, and Rick Williams

Newly elected officers will assume their roles after the 2014 ALAN Workshop. Congratulations to our new president elect and board members, and thanks to all candidates and the elections committee for their work. 

Digital Access to TAR Columns

With the newest issue of The ALAN Review, we are pleased to offer digital versions of the three regular columns appearing in each issue. To increase ease of access to additional resource materials, these digital versions include active hyperlinks for all Internet and web references in each article.


To check out these inaugural columns, you can access the listing on this page. In the future, all digital articles will be posted to the Columns page for The ALAN Review


We wish to express our sincere appreciation for our webmaster, Jon Ostenson, whose guidance and support were instrumental in making this new feature possible.


- Wendy Glenn, Ricki Ginsberg, and Dani King

The ALAN Review

Helen Weiss, Longtime Friend of ALAN,  Died in July
Condolences to Jerry Weiss on His Loss 

Helen Weiss will be missed by all ALAN members. She and Jerry were a dynamic duo, who unselfishly helped many teachers at all levels. When I became editor of the journal for IRA's special interest group on YA literature, I was tasked with trying to make the journal something that ALAN members would recognize. At that beginning point in my career, I lacked the contacts to get a good writer for a struggling new journal. But Jerry was quick to help by contacting an author who sent me an article for my first issue.

Helen and Jerry shared a love of theatre, especially the New York stage - on Broadway or off. Their amazing connections in the YA field led to some excellent collections for classroom use -- Big City Cool: Short Stories about Urban Youth, Dreams and Visions: Fourteen Flights of Fantasy, and Lost and Found: Award-Winning Authors Share Real-Life Experiences. 

When you saw Jerry at a conference, you knew Helen was close by. We will miss her lovely, regal appearance at NCTE and ALAN. Our hearts go out to Jerry, who has lost his YA soul mate. 

-Patricia Kelly
Speak Loudly
A Column from the ALAN Anti-Censorship Committee

Elsewhere in this newsletter book guru Teri Lesesne reminds those who love and plan to share YA literature with students to do their homework before assigning titles. She suggests that they make sure to build a case for the book before anyone challenges it. By collecting reviews and the lists of awards or citations a book has received, teachers and librarians can often forestall any complaints from parents about the title. Sometimes an explanation of the book's merits and possibilities for class discussion can effectively deter those who would have a book removed from the library or classroom shelves. It also may be useful to reread the book and decide what speaks most powerfully to you, thus enabling you to justify the book's inclusion as part of your literature curriculum.

One of my favorite controversial - to some individuals - books intended for teens is Tanya Lee Stone's A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl (Random House, 2006). Despite its racy title, which for some implies days and nights of unbridled passion spent in the arms of a bad boy tamed by his love for a girl, it's an honest depiction of high school relationships. Alternatively, for some, the title encourages the inference that this bad boy has things to teach a girl. Well, as readers of the book quickly realize, the bad boy, TL, does, indeed, provide lessons for the girls who encounter him briefly. In fact, though, this book is more cautionary tale than salacious accounting of sexual experiences.

Told from several perspectives, this novel in verse follows the brief romantic entanglements of three girls who are attracted to the same bad boy, a senior athlete determined to have sex with as many girls as he can during his high school years.  For him, it is not about the relationships but the conquests, and once he has attained his goal, he moves on, leaving the girls with broken hearts, confused, and in some cases, even angry.

The bad boy himself is not the focus on the book, but rather the girls on whom he sets his sights. Older teen readers will be able to relate to at least one of the girls: Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva. A self-confident, self-assured freshman, Josie is initially surprised by the attentions of this much-older boy. Before she realizes it, she is physically turned on and responding to her suitor in ways she never anticipated. When the boy drops her, she is at first perplexed, then angry, then intent on warning other girls about this jerk. She records her feelings about him in the library's copy of Judy Blume's Forever, a warning that "forever" is very short in the eyes of some guys, particularly this one.  Although Nicolette is worldly and experienced, often using sex to give her power over men, she, too, falls for his charms and thinks that what they share is love. To her surprise, she realizes that she is wrong. With her keen wit and artistic inclinations, the third girl, Aviva, isn't the boy's usual type, but she, too, has sex with him. Too late, to her dismay, neither the sex nor the boy meets her expectations.

When the rumor mill informs the girls that there is something worth reading in the library, they see that they aren't the ones misled by this boy since the library's copy of Forever now contains many messages alerting other girls to stay away from him unless they want their hearts broken. Perhaps there is comfort in knowing that each girl isn't the only one to have been fooled or to have fooled herself about this bad boy's intentions. 

Told with honesty, humor, and insight, the book doesn't simply blame the boy for what happens, though. All three girls have moments in which they could have made different decisions, but caught up in the throes of passion or the fantasy that he is the one for them or that she can be the one to change him, each girl ignores the warning signs that things are not as romantic and long-lasting as they might hope they are. The book offers plenty of possibilities for discussing gender roles, self-esteem, and the different norms for sexual behavior for males and females.

Ultimately, this book is good for good girls and bad girls, in whatever way they may be defined as well as good and bad boys since it raises awareness so effectively. I'm sure I'm not the only person that wishes she had read this book back in high school. A book about bad boys just might provide enough ammunition for a good girl to resist their charms until she truly is ready for a sexual relationship.

- Barbara A. Ward, Chair, Anti-Censorship Committee

Anti-Censorship Preparation
Taking a Proactive Approach

As someone who has used YA literature in her classes for many decades, I take to heart the advice offered by Ken Goodman many years ago when he counseled educators to be prepared BEFORE the censors arrived.  

And so, for the decade or so that I taught middle school, I prepared a strong offense.  I met with my school librarian and got a copy of the district's reconsideration of materials form and the procedure that was to be followed should a challenge arrive.  I purchased
Rationales for Teaching Commonly Challenged Books.  I kept up to date on the lists of books being challenged through the American Library Association's website.   

And I took one more step.  I created a folder for each book I had in my classroom library and every book that I used for literature circles or class study selections.  Into the folder for each book I included positive reviews of the book in question.  I included data about the other schools in my district and nearby districts that had the book in their collections at the middle school level.  
If the book were to be used as part of circles or class studies, I listed the teaching objectives that would be addressed.  And finally, I included a list of other books to offer as alternatives to the specific title.   Over the course of a decade of teaching middle school I had not one challenge. But I never did feel that the prep work I did was not important and necessary.  The NCTE site provides directions for writing rationales here.  Since the best defense is a strong offense, it makes sense to prepare for challenges before they occur.  

- Teri S. Lesesne                                                                                
Research Request
Middle and High School English Teachers Needed for Brief survey

Ricki Ginsberg and Wendy Glenn are seeking middle/high school English teachers for a brief research survey. For more information, click: here. We would greatly appreciate it if you shared this post with other teachers!
Lane Anderson Award Winners Announced
Canadian Award for Excellence in Science Writing for Adults and Children  


Hollister Doll & Sharon Fitzhenry announced the winners of the 5th annual Lane Anderson Award for Excellence in Canadian Science Writing at a small ceremony and dinner held in the George Brown House on Monday, September 15th.


Clarie Eamer was presented with a check for $10,000 for her winning juvenile non-fiction tile:

Before the World was Ready, a study of inventions and how they happen, published by Annick Press. "I am immensely grateful  to the Fitzhenry Family Foundation... for the creation of (this) award...which recognizes the importance of science literacy for kids and adults,"  she said. The judges noted that Before the World was Ready's "concise, appealing biographies (revealed) how great discoveries sometimes involve great frustration, dry spells, and bouts of being misunderstood for before they catch important and fascinating collection..."


Keven P. Timoney was presented with a check for $10,000 for his winning adult submission, The Peace-Athabaska Delta: Portrait of a Dynamic Ecosystem, published by the University of Alberta Press. "We need timely and relevant environmental and ecological science more than ever before. Unless global society understands how and why the Earth is changing, and why its future is in peril, we have no chance to bring about the requisite changes in human behaviour," he wrote. The Peace-Athabaska Delta was cited as " (a) thoughtful, comprehensive and well presented argument of the need for research into the area and potential impacts of the oil sands (ing) much more easily than a textbook" by the judges.


Judges for the awards were: Marlene Turkington (former Library Coordinator, Thames Valley Board of Education, Selection consultant,,  Helene Becker (author and former Lane Anderson Award winner), and Steven Schwartz (President Canadian Science Writers Association)for the juvenile honours and Nick Eyles (Professor, University of Toronto), John Neal (former President Random House Canada), and Angela Punnett (Director, Undergraduate Medicine, University of Toronto) for the adult honours.

This year's Lane Anderson Award received over thirty entrants. In addition to the winners, there were four finalists: Manitoba Butterflies by Simone Hebert Allard (Turnstone Press); The Oil Man & the Sea by Arno Kopecky (Douglas & Mcintyre); Pterosaur Trouble by Daniel Laxton (Kids Can); and Chitchat by Jude Isabella (Kids Can).

Submissions deadline for the 2014 Lane Anderson Award is April 30, 2015.


- Sharon Fitzhenry for the Fitzhenry Family Foundation

ALAN Real Quick Picks 

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares (2014, Random House)

Brashares creates a suspenseful thriller involving a girl from almost a hundred years in the future who time travels back to the year 2010 with several others from her time.  Pollution has contributed to a mosquito-spreading blood disease that has practically eliminated humankind.  As a result, Prenna is told that she must follow the rules of her society and not mingle with the natives of 2010 for fear of contamination; she definitely must not fall in love.  But, there is a definite attraction between her and a boy in her high school class named Ethan.  Suspense spikes when a homeless man tells her that she and Ethan must prevent a murder that will occur in a couple of days that may save the world.  

- Joan Kaywell

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (2014, Nancy Paulsen Books)

Jaqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming is a stunning autobiography written in gorgeous verse. Each carefully selected word is woven together to provide the reader with a remarkable picture of this young girl's life in both the North and the South during the tumultuous times of the 1960s and 70s. Each poem is a step in Woodson's young shoes that takes readers  from birth ("I am born as the South explodes") to her teenage understanding that she will become a writer ("I keep writing, knowing now that I was a long time coming").
-Helene Halstead

We  Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt ( 2014, Wendy Lamb Books)

When Nell Golden follows her idolized older sister up to high school, she first discounts disturbing rumors of Layla's s involvement with a teacher because every adult who knows her agrees that Layla "has a good head on her shoulders." Meanwhile, her own relationship with her best friend Felix seems to be shifting in unexpected ways. This quick read is written in second person and is addressed to Layla, as Nell tries to tease out her sister's secrets and to determine just what her responsibility is in a situation she never expected to to find herself in. 

-Anne McLeod

Peanut by Ayun Halliday (2013, Schwatrz & Wade)

Faking a peanut allergy to attract attention and win friends at her new high school probably isn't the best idea Sadie has ever had. As she quickly realizes, an allergy to peanuts requires constant vigilance, particularly when you don't really have one. The inevitable humiliating reveal leaves her wondering why she ever thought her scheme could work and whether anyone, including her new boyfriend, will ever speak to her again.

-Anne McLeod


Calls for Papers and Proposals 


The ALAN Review

Fall 2015  Beyond Borders: Partnering Within and Across Schools and Communities

Submissions due March 1, 2015

In this issue, we encourage you to share collaborative efforts involving students, colleagues, and communities in creating spaces for YA literature to flourish.  How have you generated ideas and implemented projects in the same building, in the building next door, or in settings across the globe, in person or virtually?  How have you designed interdisciplinary curricula with those who study or teach subjects outside your areas of expertise?  How have you looked beyond your own walls to foster partnerships with community outreach programs, created shared reading opportunities across neighborhoods and towns, worked with parents and guardians to acquire their wisdom, or invited young people to identify, explore, and propose potential solutions to problems they see in their communities?  Regardless of the form these efforts take, and the complications and complexities they present, we are convinced that, "If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing" (Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian). As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme.  All submissions may be sent to prior to March 1, 2015.  Please see the ALAN website for submission guidelines.


The ALAN Review

Winter 2016  Adolescence and Adolescents: Defining the Culture of Youth 

Submissions due July 1, 2015

In this issue, we invite you to consider how young adult titles (and those who write, teach, and promote them) might offer, challenge, confirm, or critique conceptions of adolescents or adolescence.  How do authors present the young people they describe? How do readers respond to these representations? How do educators envision the young people in their care-and how does this vision influence how they care for them? How might stories help readers navigate adolescence (as defined through any lens) and work though the complexity expressed by David Levithan and John Green: "My face seems too square and my eyes too big, like I'm perpetually surprised, but there's nothing wrong with me that I can fix" (Will Grayson, Will Grayson)?

As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme.  Click here for more information. All submissions may be sent to prior to July 1, 2015.  Please see the ALAN website for submission guidelines.

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. If you attended the ALAN Workshop, please submit reflections or informational items. Photographs are welcome as well. Send to or Deadline for next newsletter is December 10, 2014.  

Peter Lang Publishing
Call for Book Length Manuscripts and Proposals
Focus: Young Adult and Adolescent Literature
Under the editorial guidance of series editor, Dr. Nancy St. Clair, Peter Lang Publishing, an international academic publisher, is pleased to invite submission of book length manuscripts and book proposals, inclusive of edited collections, for its book series: Between Two Worlds: Adolescent Texts and the Literary Abyss. The series represents a growing group of important books on the genre, culture and theories of young adult literatures. The series is inclusive and open to a wide variety of approaches. We welcome scholarly literary studies and interdisciplinary studies from the perspectives of genre, theme, gender, censorship and religion, representations of adolescence and adulthood, and approaches to interpretation. Particular interest includes new approaches to adult expectations, broadening perspectives, peer relationships, disillusionment and alienation, coping with family dynamics, emergent voices, and overcoming obstacles. Click here for more information and email if you have additional questions. 

ALAN Marketplace 2013  

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