Caucus Race-Dodo-3.3

The Caucus Race
Martha Scott, editor

"Teen Literature Websites: A Perambulation"

by The Dodo (a.k.a. Martha Scott)

Hello and welcome to the Caucus Race. Today's online tour looks at websites relating to teen literature. Being more of a children's than a teen's specialist, I approached this subject cautiously. Was there enough material on the web to justify an entire column? After several hours of felicitous web browsing, I discovered that there's more than enough! Let's look at some highlights.

We'll start with YALSA, The Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association. Here we have information about YALSA itself, plus its annotated yearly lists of best books for young adults: the Best Books, Quick Picks, and Popular Paperbacks lists. Read about the Alex Awards which honour the top ten adult books suitable for young adults published during a given year. YALSA's Teen Hoopla site is aimed at teens themselves, rather than librarians and others who work with them. There are links to many sites likely to interest young people, some book-related, some not. Teens can submit their own book reviews and read others' reviews.

The Canadian Library Association website offers information on its Young Adult Book Award. Read the full text of Gayle Friesen's heartfelt and humorous acceptance speech for Janey's Girl, this year's award-winner. Incidentally, the CLA's 1998 Book of the Year for Children winner, Stephen Fair by Tim Wynne-Jones, is suitable for both older children and teens. Tim Wynne-Jones' acceptance speech, which describes the genesis of his book, is also posted on the CLA homepage.

On to more booklists. (The Dodo loves lists.) Jennifer Hubert, YA Librarian at Queen's Borough Public Library in New York City, has put together the aptly named "Reading Rants: Out of the Ordinary Teen Booklists". Topics include "Stoned: Druggie Fiction for the Teenaged Masses", "The Closet Club: Gay Fiction for Teens" , and "Deadheads and Mosh-pits: Books about being in a band". Similarly, reviewer Cathy Young's "Favorite Teenage Angst Books " features books on "Sex and Love", "Mixed-up Families", "Creativity" and "Trouble." On the New York Public Library's Teen Link site we find selections from NYPL's 1999 Books For the Teen Age, plus thematic lists such as "Risky Times: Books about AIDS for Teenagers", "Proud Pages: Books for Gay and Lesbian Pride Month", and "Looking Back, Looking Forward: Books for Black History Month ".

The Saskatoon Public Library's site, "How Novel!: Canadian Young Adult Literature", indexes and provides short author biographies for approximately 500 Canadian young adult novels published between 1985 and 1996. The Young Adult Librarian's Help/Homepage of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System in New York presents a booklist on "Feminism in Literature for Young Adults", information on the Delacorte Press Contest for a First Young Adult Novel and numerous links to other sites relating to books for teens. Its Virtual YA Index offers links to public libraries across North America with young adult web pages. An amazing resource!

Another essential YA literature site is the ALAN Review. ALAN, the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents is a special interest group of the National Council of Teachers of English. The site contains the full text of its back issues, from 1994 to 1998. There are many fascinating articles here. Being a Donna Jo Napoli fan, I particularly enjoyed this author's "Fairy Tales, Myths and Religious Stories " in the Fall 1997 issue. Feel like testing your knowledge of YA literature? Take one of several terrific (and terrifically difficult) trivia quizzes: "So You Think You Know Young Adult Literature" (Spring 1997 and Spring 1996); "The Best of the Best Books" (Spring 1995); or "Prominent Women Authors" (Spring 1994). (I won't report my own scores for fear of embarrassment.)

On to the authors. I have been unable to find a comprehensive list of YA author links. (If you know of one, please email me!) Most lists of author links combine children's and teen's authors, perhaps naturally so, as there is a great deal of overlap. Yahoo has a short list of approximately thirty-one YA authors. Sharyn November, a children's book editor at Penguin Putnam, includes many teen authors on her lengthy list of author/illustrator links. A few notable Canadian YA author sites are the websites of Carol Matas, Diana Wieler and Karleen Bradford . Diana Wieler's website is particularly encouraging to young writers. Her series of mini-workshops present different writing concepts with tips and exercises. Budding writers can also take her one paragraph challenge by submitting a paragraph on a given topic. The topic changes monthly. Every month the author posts her three favourite paragraphs with comments. Karleen Bradford also has a Writer's Help page . Robin McKinley , John Marsden and Lois Duncan have interesting sites as well.

Are you tiring, dear reader? I beg your indulgence for two last sites. Kay Vandergrift, professor at the School of Communication, Information and Library Studies at Rutgers University provides a comprehensive resource for students of YA literature on her Young Adult Literature Page . Another intriguing site is Eliza T. Dresang's Radical Change page. The site serves as an introduction and an update to her book Radical Change: Books for Youth in a Digital Age (H.W. Wilson, 1999). Dresang's theory of Radical Change examines how digital information affects today's books for youth. She looks at non-linear formats, alternative points of view, use of graphics and other changes which reflect the influence of computers and television. (A mind-boggling concept for the fusty old Dodo, but what do I know, I'm extinct.)

Thus concludes our tour on an appropriately twenty-first century note. I hope you've enjoyed it. I wish you happy browsing and happy reading.

I remain,
Yours affectionately,

The Dodo

Martha Scott has been called many things including "Dodo". She lives in Toronto and works as a librarian at the Toronto Public Library's Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books.

Volume 3, Issue 3, The Looking Glass, 1999

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