Wednesday, April 27, 2022



Read any MG/YA novel. 

Watch, too, any film/serial adaptation of a MG/YA novel (theatrical release and/or streaming). Or, indeed, any film or show directed at younger audiences. For instance, watch Sabrina or Stranger Things or Eveything Sucks! or The Society. 

Post 250 words about it below.


Note: If you were habitually late with your blog comments, or were exceptionally quiet in class, it might be a good idea to do one or two posts for extra credit.

 Post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the combined reading and viewing linked or noted below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

One of my favorite talking animals is Phillip Pullman's polar bear, Iorek Byrnison. I remember being very struck by this moment when Lyra meets Iorek:

"Lyra's heart was thumping hard, because something in the bear's presence made her feel close to coldness, danger, brutal power, but a power controlled by intelligence; and not a human intelligence, nothing like a human, because of course bears had no daemons. This strange hulking presence gnawing at its meat was like nothing she had ever imagined, and she felt a profound admiration and pity for the lonely creature. He dropped the reindeer leg in the dirt and slumped on all fours to the gate. Then he reared up massively, ten feet or more high, as if to show how mighty he was, to remind them how useless the gate would be as a barrier, and he spoke to them from that height.

'Well? Who are you?'

The voice was so deep it seemed to shake the earth. The rank smell that came from his body was almost overpowering."

Andrew O'Hagan on Fiction's Talking Animals: "From Achilles' horse to Lassie, animals provide moral authority and sympathy in fiction, often giving voice to the silenced and oppressed."  Click heading to read the rest of the article.

Then click link below to read an excerpt from ONE of the following. (Or write about a talking animal book you've already read.)

 And, finally, click HERE, to watch Mark Wahlberg talk to farm animals.

#2: ADVENTURE TIME (Extra Credit)

Note: If you were habitually late with your blog comments, or were exceptionally quiet in class, it might be a good idea to do one or two posts for extra credit.

Post ONE reaction ( minimum 250 words) to the combined reading (and listening) linked. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

"Castles in the Air: The gorgeous existential funk of Adventure Time." By Emily Nussbaum 

 "An 'Adventure' For Kids And Maybe For Their Parents, Too: An NPR Interview w. Lev Grossman"

"An ode to Adventure Time, one of TV’s most ambitious — and, yes, most adventurous — shows."  By Dan Schindel

#1: HAYAO MIYAZAKI (Extra Credit)

Note: If you were habitually late with your blog comments, or were exceptionally quiet in class, it might be a good idea to do one or two posts for extra credit.

Post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the reading linked below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

"The Fantastic Worlds of Hayao Miyazaki." A new book by Tufts professor Susan Napier analyzes the Japanese anime director’s films—and his life. Click heading to read article. 

"Hayao Miyazaki and the Art of Being a Woman" by Gabrielle Bellot. The famed Japanese animator and director created heroines who defied feminine stereotypes and showed me how to be at home in my own skin. Click heading to read article.

"Hayao Miyazaki's 50 Favorite Children's Books." Click heading to review list. 

"The Animated Life." New Yorker staff writer Margaret Talbot discusses the animator Hayao Miyazaki’s films, his influences, and his temperament. Click heading to read interview

Friday, April 22, 2022


Writers often fall into tropes and abstract descriptions because they aren’t describing a particular event (either invented or observed). Over the course of the next couple weeks, observe and describe two distinct sunsets (or sunrises).Be specific. Use clear and practical language. Avoid metaphor/simile and/or baroque characterization. Post your descriptions here before our last class (April 29).

Tuesday, April 19, 2022


Students are to post one response (min 350 words) to the readings linked belowStudents are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

A New Way for Gay Characters in YA by Jenn DollScholastic Publisher and Editorial Director David Leviathan (the same Levithan behind Two Boys Kissing, Invisibility, and 2003's Boy Meets Boy) told me that the environment for gay characters in Y.A. literature has indeed changed remarkably in the past 10 years. "For so many years, so many characters have been defined by their sexuality—they're 'gay'; we don't have to give them any other characteristics," he says. "But gay characters and gay kids have lots of other things going on. No one is just this one thing." In these new books, being gay or bi or lesbian or transgendered is wrapped up in conversations of identity that often transcend sexuality, and ask what happens beyond acknowledgment, coming out, and even generalized acceptance of one's choices."

A Graphic Guide to LGBTQ YA Literature (from coming out stories to sci-fi adventures). These books aren’t necessarily right for every reader, and don’t constitute the best, or the only, LGBTQIA+ fiction for young adults available. But it is a good starting off point for those interested in exploring the way these identities are portrayed in YA fiction. Click HERE to visit the page.

Malinda Lo is the author of the young adult novels AshHuntressAdaptation, and InheritanceAsh was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, the Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and was a Kirkus Best Book for Children and Teens. She has been a three-time finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Malinda’s nonfiction has been published by The New York Times Book Review, NPR, The Huffington Post, The Toast, The Horn Book, and AfterEllen. Malinda is co-founder with Cindy Pon of Diversity in YA, a project that celebrates diversity in young adult books. Over the past several years she's written a lot about YA with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters or issues. Click here for the index of her LGBT posts. Read two.

62 LGBTQ+ YA Books to Read All Year Long (Epic Reads). Click to review list.

 "Read with Pride! 15 YA novels with LGBTQIA characters to check out" (Entertainment Weekly). Click to review list.

"100 Must-Read LGBTQIA YA Books" Click to review list.

LGBT YA Books of January-June 2022 (Reads Rainbow). Click to review list.
Pick one author/book highlighted in any of the above posts/articles/etc. and read an excerpt (excerpts can be had by Googling the book title and the word "excerpt," or finding the book on Amazon and clicking "Look Inside.")

Monday, March 21, 2022


Students are to post reactions (minimum 250 words) to the assigned reading/listening linked below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

Click HERE to read "The Apartheid of Children's Literature" by children's/YA author Christopher Meyers.

Click HERE to read "The Ongoing Problem of Race in YA."

Click HERE to read Daniel Jose Older's Buzzfeed essay: "Diversity Is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing." Click HERE to listen to an excerpt from Older's acclaimed YA novel, Shadowshaper.

Click HERE to read an excerpt from Tomi Adeyemi's acclaimed YA novel, Children of Blood and Bone. Read at least the first five pages of Chapter One (which starts on pg 11).

Click HERE to visit Rich in Color, a site dedicated to YA Books starring or written by BIPOC.

Click HERE TO review a list of  "The 50 Best Multicultural Young Adult Books of 2020."

Friday, March 4, 2022

MG vs YA

 Students are to post reactions (minimum 350 words) to the assigned reading linked below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Middle Grade: A Conversation w. Editor Molly O'Neill: "As you know, I have a marketing background, which means that whether or not I intend it, one of the first things my brain starts thinking about for a book is its readership: who is a book FOR? What kind of reader is it going to reach, and how? Maybe instead of asking “What is middle grade?” it’s easier to think about “Who is the middle grade reader, and what is he/she looking for in a book?” I think that a middle grade reader is often (and note, I’m speaking BROADLY, here) reading for one of two reasons: to understand, or to escape. Middle grade readers who read to understand look for stories that help them piece together the truths that seem to be opening up all around them, about the world and their place in it, and the connections between themselves and their family, their community, their friends, etc. Or they’re reading to understand about a different time/ place and what it was/would be like to be a kid then. Or they’re reading to just understand how stuff works, period—from the everyday mundane stuff to big concepts like justice and honesty and friendship and happiness and love. Click heading to read the rest of the interview.

 "A Definition of YA" by Brooklyn Arden: "So I've been thinking off and on about a practical definition of YA literature -- something I could look at to help me decide whether a manuscript is an adult novel or a middle-grade novel or, indeed, a YA. Such delineations don't matter to me as a reader -- a good book is a good book -- but they do matter to me as an editor and publisher, because I want every book I publish to find the audience that is right for it, and sometimes, despite a child or teenage protagonist, a manuscript is meant for an adult audience

An SFWA Introduction to Middle Grade & Young Adult: "For writers who are interested in writing middle grade or young adult fantasy or science fiction, the first step is puzzling out what exactly those categories mean. Science fiction and fantasy, after all, has a long tradition of featuring young protagonists — including such classics as Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings, and Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey — even if those novels weren’t originally published as middle grade or young adult books." Click heading to read the rest of the article.

"Middle Grade and YA: Where to Draw the Line?" by Judith Rosen: "Since Harry Potter first hit these shores in 1998, there’s been confusion over where best to shelve it: put it where most kids look for it, in middle grade (ages 8–12), or where the later, darker novels belong, in young adult (ages 12–up)? But J.K. Rowling’s books aren’t the only ones that fall into a gray area, especially as more kids aspire to “read up” because of popular films like Divergent and The Hunger Games. At the same time, adults have begun reading down, not just YA but also reaching for middle-grade books like Wonder and Out of My Mind, because they don’t want to miss out, either." Click heading to read the rest of the article.

Friday, February 11, 2022



Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the combined assigned viewing AND reading(s) linked below. Students need only post ONE comment addressing BOTH the viewing and the fictional excerpts. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

Neil Gaiman at the 2008 National Book Festival
Click link to watch the video.


What the (very bad swear word) is a children's book, anyway?" by Neil Gaiman. Click link to read essay.


The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman:"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately. The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet." Click heading to read the rest of the first chapter.


The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman: "I wore a black suit and a white shirt, a black tie and black shoes, all polished and shiny: clothes that normally would make me feel uncomfortable, as if I were in a stolen uniform, or pretending to be an adult. Today they gave me comfort, of a kind. I was wearing the right clothes for a hard day." Click heading to read the rest of the excerpt.