Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘YA-lit’

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YA We Love: Der Struwwelpeter

This summer some dear family friends gave us a few antique German children’s books for our son. They included a huge and heavy tome of Wilhelm Busch’s work for children – author of the savagely funny and come-uppance-heavy Max and Mortiz (look it up, it’s worth it) – and a curious little volume of (what do I call them?) morality tales for children called Der Struwwelpeter, which roughly translates from the German as “Shaggy Peter.” I’d seen a copy on my husband’s grandmother’s shelf, and even the cover illustration–fingernails like tentacles and ominous scissors–creeped me out a bit. Heinrich Hoffman […]


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YA We Love: Five Children and It

My desk totem is a hundred-year-old children’s book. As a child, I knew its magic was true—the characters were too sharp not to be real. “What on earth is it?” Jane said. “Shall we take it home?” The thing turned its long eyes to look at her, and said: “Does she always talk such nonsense, or is it only the rubbish on her head that makes her silly?” It looked scornfully at Jane’s hat as it spoke. Meet the Psammead, a creature with stem-like eyes, found by five siblings on a country escape from London’s grit. It grants wishes by […]


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YA We Love: Are You There God? It's me, Forrest.

Summers, my dad took his two weeks’ vacation from the bank and drove our family southeast through corn and tobacco fields to Emerald Isle, North Carolina. We stayed on the sound-side of the island, in a small cottage on stilts, and each morning we hauled our chairs, coolers, and my mom’s heavy beach bag through a vacant lot, spiked with sandspurs, to the ocean. While dad unfolded our chairs and cracked open his day’s first beer, mom rummaged through her bag and passed out library books she’d picked for the family. I remember entire vacations spent reading, moving only with […]


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YA We Love: The Truth About Forever

I could easily make the case that Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech changed my life forever. I read it some time in early middle school. It was the first book that made me want to be a writer. For the next decade, yes even through college, I reread Chaos — diary novel about one 13-year old girl’s exciting summer and her first crush — once a year. It was the first book to inspire the writer inside, but hardly the last. It was followed by a 28-book series about a group of teenagers living in a close-knit community off […]


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Spotlight on … YA

By October 1 all those start-of-the-school-year jitters have worn off (especially if, like me, you’ve no current connection to an academic calendar). In honor of the younger generation of readers, for the month of October FWR will highlight YA lit. Books for young people differ slightly from children’s literature, bridging the gap where Squirrel Nutkin leaves off and The Brothers Karamazov picks up. But, as every serious reader knows, good literature knows no age limit. A Wrinkle in Time still feels as magical as when my father read it aloud when I was eight. Along with our regular content, between […]


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"You can’t take an adult seriously when he’s debating you over why Twilight vampires are O.K. with sunlight."

What to make of Joel Stein? He’s a humor writer who (sometimes) makes serious points, and as a result, his readers sometimes miss the argument beneath the humor, or miss the humor on top of the argument. His latest essay, “Adults Should Read Adult Books,” in the New York Times, is causing quite a kerfuffle: I have no idea what “The Hunger Games” is like. Maybe there are complicated shades of good and evil in each character. Maybe there are Pynchonesque turns of phrase. Maybe it delves into issues of identity, self-justification and anomie that would make David Foster Wallace […]


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Bookish Gift Idea #19: The Chronicles of Harris Burdick

Did you encounter The Mysteries of Harris Burdick when you were a kid? If so, you probably remember Chris Van Allsburg’s eerie black-and-white illustrations and the evocative sentences—each the merest sliver of a story—that accompanied them. When I was in fifth grade, my teacher asked us to choose a picture and write a story to go along with it. I chose the one to the right, which was titled “Archie Smith, Boy Wonder” and bore the caption, “A tiny voice asked, ‘Is he the one?’” No, I’m not going to share the story. But the fact that I remember the […]


Essays |

Creative Defiance

What do the 2011 Japanese Tsunami, the Cuban Missile Crisis and one family’s personal heartbreak have in common? For Ellen Prentiss Campbell the answer lies in Pearl S. Buck’s 1948 young adult novel The Big Wave and the individual acts of creative defiance that help survivors not only carry on, but value life’s beauty more highly because they know it will not last.




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