Recommended Reading: 2017 National Book Award Nominees

by Rebecca Valley

In anticipation of the short-list announcement tomorrow, the staff here at Drizzle have compiled a list of our favorite and most-anticipated National Book Award nominees, announced by the National Book Foundation in mid-September.

You can check out the full list here. Winners will be announced in a ceremony on November 15th — which gives you plenty of time to start reading! Continue reading “Recommended Reading: 2017 National Book Award Nominees”

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Droplet: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

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Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking, 2011)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

I didn’t realize until I read Nnedi Okorafor’s young adult fantasy book Akata Witch that my experience reading fantasy didn’t just trend toward the western world – it existed solely inside that world. Continue reading “Droplet: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor”

“All writing is raveling and unraveling:” An Interview with Maryrose Wood

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We began our Droplet series on young adult literature with a review of the first book in Maryrose Wood’s series The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, so it felt appropriate that she kick-off our interview series as well. We caught up with Wood as she finished the draft of the sixth book in the Incorrigibles series (get a sneak preview of Eliza Wheeler’s cover for book 6 at the bottom of the interview!) to ask about her rambunctious cast of characters, the influence theatre has had on her writing, and the books that inspired her as a child. Continue reading ““All writing is raveling and unraveling:” An Interview with Maryrose Wood”

Droplet: Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

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Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press, 2016)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

On Tuesday, I called a friend of mine to tell him something that felt, in that moment, desperately important. “I am reading the perfect book,” I said. “There is just enough and nothing extra. Each line is critical. It is perfect.” The book, of course, was Raymie Nightingale. When I closed the cover this afternoon, after staring for a while at the last page, I was crying the way you cry at simple miracles. Kate DiCamillo called this book “the absolutely true story of [her] heart.” I understand. I texted my friend: “It is about childhood and grief and hopefulness. It reminds me of how I felt as a kid.” Continue reading “Droplet: Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo”

SNOW: Swedish Folk Tales, illustrated by John Bauer

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Swedish Folk Tales by Elsa Beskow, Anna Wahlenberg, et al., illustrated by John Bauer (Floris Books, 2004)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

When I sat down this weekend to write about John Bauer’s illustrated anthology Swedish Folk Tales, the weather did nothing but cooperate. Snow came down in fist-sized flakes, and we were covered in a thick, wet, white blanket in a matter of hours. Though not quite the dry, bitter cold of a Scandinavian winter, it felt appropriate to write about trolls and blonde maidens in shimmering gowns while the boughs of the evergreens grew heavy with snow. Continue reading “SNOW: Swedish Folk Tales, illustrated by John Bauer”

Recommended Reading: Diversity in YA

by Rebecca Valley

You may or may not know by now that I work during the day as a middle school librarian. Back in September, I challenged myself to read 20 young adult books before the end of 2016, and as of this morning, I completed my goal — with a comfortable two week cushion, I might add.

I work at a Title I school, and my students were one of the primary inspirations for our Droplet series on young adult and children’s literature. In my school district, about 30% of the students speak Spanish as their first language, and a huge percentage are first generation immigrants from Guatemala and Mexico. Continue reading “Recommended Reading: Diversity in YA”

Droplet: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

 

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The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #1: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood (Balzer and Bray, 2010)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

For more on our Droplet series on young adult and children’s literature, click here.

When I am lonely or sad, I often find solace in a strange little book called Horseradish, a collection of quotes gathered from Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. The quotes are parsed out by category – for example, “Family,” “Travel,” and “An Overall Feeling of Doom that One Cannot Ever Escape No Matter What One Does” – and because Daniel Handler authored them they each contain just the right balance of absurdity and poignancy, so that after skimming the book you don’t feel better about your circumstances, but you do feel like you aren’t the only sad and lonely person in the world. Continue reading “Droplet: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place”