Make Something: Creative Spaces for YA in Portland

Here’s an interesting little interview about using the library as kind of a MakerSpace/ArtSpace for teens in Portland (Maine).

I love that the things Justin Hoenke (the librarian) is doing are participatory creative type deals. Not just video game competitions, but video game writing workshops. It’s good stuff. Go read his blog if you aren’t already (and the Library as Incubator Project blog in general is a pretty good read, too).

Recommended Reads

Several students asked for titles and authors after class on Friday, so here are a few of the books I recommended:

  • Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci. Contains short stories from YA favorites including John Green, Libba Bray, Scott Westerfeld, and M. T. Anderson. Satisfy your inner geek!
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Katsa has been graced with a rare and deadly skill. What’s a girl to do? Kick butt, of course! Has a sequel in print and another coming out in May.
  • Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud. A stand-alone tale unlike his Bartimaeus series, but equally well told. Short, lazy Halli Sveinsson goes on a hero quest to make up for a prank gone wrong, but he gets far more than he bargained for.
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. The quiet proprietor of a country tavern reveals himself as the legendary hero and scoundrel Kvothe. Still working on it, but I’ve been sucked in.

p.s. Get a deal on YA fiction from a local retailer — Kidsbooks is having their annual clearance sale starting this Thursday, January 19th. 20% off everything in the store and online. w00t!!

YA dystopias and politics

I just spotted a couple of articles about the political modelling going on in YA dystopias: What Occupy can Learn from the Hunger Games and a comment on that article that asks Are YA dystopias secretly conservative? Reading them in that order is probably your better bet.

It seems like there’s some connection there in wondering about the ramifications of political messages for these impressionable readers, and discounting their agency. Rosenberg says the message of opting out is “worrying, given the age of the target audience” which isn’t a full on “These kids today’ll believe anything,” but I was sensitive to it after this week’s readings.

Also, this review of Z for Zachariah had a bit calling a character’s decision “very pacifistic, almost dangerously so” which struck me as interesting for its use of non-politically correct ideas.

Anyway, what do you think? I’d be interested to hear more stories about large scale political reform for YA, myself.