Monthly Archives: September 2012

A Bit More on Adaptations

Mark,

First–my apologies for not checking my facts more carefully regarding the plot of Pride and Prejudice. I do definitely agree with you about where Keeping the Castle fits in your taxonomy. In fact, at the risk of putting my foot into it again, I could say that I think Keeping the Castle also owes something to Emma (I’m thinking here of Althea’s matchmaking tendencies). Continue reading

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A Taxonomy of Adaptations

Mom,

Well, this is a pretty huge topic, so I want to try to get it a little under control by creating a tenative taxonomy of ways of adapting source material:

1) The most basic way of adapting a classic story is what I’d call a remake.  The newer work is essentially trying to recapture the older story more or less beat-for-beat, with some twists, and often a modern (or more modern) seeting.  This happens most often in movies, but you do get it in books, and I think The Humming Room is a good example of this. Continue reading

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Not Based on a True Story

Mark,

I keep having the (unintentional) experience of reading two (or more) books within a few days of one another which then become linked in my mind in some way.

A recent example: I read Ellen Potter’s middle-grade novel, The Humming Room and Patrice Kindl’s YA novel, Keeping the Castle. Each of these novels is based on a classic work of literature: The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, in the first case, and Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, in the second. Continue reading

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Aronson and Sheinkin and the New Knowledge

Mom,

Wow – that is a lot to think about.  Let me start with some places where we really agree.  On the question of “speculation”: in the debate you referred to, I came firmly down on the side of Aronson (as did you), agreeing with him that “speculation” as he was using it didn’t mean random guesses, but educated theories, appropriately explained to the reader.  Unfortunately, I agree with you that, especially in the case of Hoover’s ancestry, Aronson seems to have fallen more on the side of guess work than theory.  In a work for children and teens, I don’t think it’s fair play to include the counter-argument to a possibly specious claim only in a footnote. Continue reading

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Nonfiction styles

Mark,

So a couple of weeks ago we talked about Steve Sheinkin’s book Bomb. And from the other reviews I’m reading, I think it’s pretty clear that we and a lot of other people see Bomb as an example of really terrific nonfiction writing for kids and teens. Sheinkin tells an important story, uses a combination of primary and secondary sources, peppers the text liberally with quotations from the participants, documents his sources fully, and wraps it all up in great writing that makes us care about the people and events and gives us something to think about (that last line!).

Then I read Marc Aronson’s new book, Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies. Important story: check. Combination of primary and secondary sources: check. Liberal quoting of participants: check. Documentation: check. Great writing: check. Gives us something to think about: check. Continue reading

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Graffiti Moon

Mom,

I’m so glad you liked Graffiti Moon.  I read it back at the end of 2011 to review for VOYA and was immediately optimistic for 2012 – and I was right, seeing that as good as Graffiti Moon is, it isn’t even really getting any awards attention, since there are so many great contenders.  Unfortunately, the fact that I read it so long ago means I don’t remember specifics, so I’m relying here on the notes from my review. Continue reading

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Urban Australian

Mark,

I haven’t read A Confusion of Princes yet (ack! too many books!), but since this is Australia week, let’s talk about a 2012 book by an Australian author that I hope is on the radar of ths year’s Printz Committee: Graffiti Moon, by Cath Crowley. I read this because you mentioned it to me, and I loved it.

This is a clear example of what I was referring to in my earlier post–a book by an Australian author that resonates completely with Americans, because, well, teenagers are teenagers, and these kids could be in any urban center. They are finishing high school, wondering about their futures, thinking about love and friendship and families and art. Continue reading

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Garth Nix

Mom,

Interesting comparison to California.  I quite like your idea about Australia being just-strange-enough to be intriguing, and I certainly agree that it’s a lot easier to be critical of realistic fiction that takes place in a setting and milieu that you know well.  So that’s a point in favor of Australia, and may explain some of the intrigue of I Am the Messenger, Jasper Jones, and others.  But you rightly point out that many of these authors write Speculative Fiction, so it remains a bit of a mystery.  Maybe even a statistical fluke, with such a small sample size.  I suppose if I wanted to get more scientific, I could go through the BBYA and BFYA lists to get a bigger sample.

But I’m not going to do that.  Instead, I’m going to talk about Garth Nix, who as you mentioned is Australian (and whose Lireal made BBYA Top Ten – another YALSA-decorated Aussie), but who writes Speculative Fiction.   Continue reading

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Margo Lanagan

Mom,

I know you’ve already read this post, but in the spirit of our Australia Week, I thought I should link to my post on The Hub on Margo Lanagan.  I mentioned last week that I was working on this post, examining all of Lanagan’s YA work.  I’ve written three of these Completist posts now, and this one was in some ways the most challenging (mostly because so much of her work hasn’t made it across the ocean), but it was also the most satisfying for me, because I felt like I really started to get my head around what makes Lanagan such an amazing author.

You have any other Australian authors you want to highlight before we leave off this topic?

– Mark

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Australians and Californians

Mark,

Thanks for your statistics. Here are some more:

Australia has a population of 22,732,214 (according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics). California’s 2010 Census population count was  37,253,956, and 2012 estimates are close to 37.8 million. So Australia has about 60% as many people as California.

By your calculations, Australians have either 28%  (10/35) or 16% (10/62) of Printz Awards and Honors, and 25.8% (8/31) of winning authors.

And what about Californians? Well, by my calculations, only 3 Printz-winning authors are full-fledged Californians (born, raised, still live here): Gene Yang, Elizabeth Partridge, and Daniel Handler (interestingly–all three are from the Bay Area). There are four others whose bios indicate that they have lived in California at various times in their lives, although none live here now (Stephanie Hemphill, Helen Frost, An Na (grew up in San Diego), and Garrett Freyman-Weyr). So Californians have won only 4.8% of the awards, despite superior population numbers. What’s up with that?

Continue reading

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