Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Confessions of a Teenage Leper

Confessions of a Teenage Leper_YA

Not your average sick lit, Confessions of a Teenage Leper is an insightful and sardonic tale of a cheerleader who finds her world turned upside down when a surprise diagnosis not only changes her plans, but how she sees the world. Read on to find out how author Ashley Litlte was inspired by a class project and a visit to a leper colony in British Columbia.

Q&A with Ashley Little

Little_AshleyWhere did the idea for this story come from?

While I was doing my undergraduate degree in creative writing, a prof assigned our class a historical fiction piece. We had to find something in British Columbia’s history that interested us and then research it using three different sources (microfiche, interviews, encyclopedias, maps, etc. i.e. not the Internet) and then write a short story about it. I found out about a place called D’Arcy Island; a leper colony on a tiny island off the southern tip of Vancouver Island, not far from where I was going to university, in Victoria; it ran from 1891-1924. I did my research and wrote a short story from the perspectives of four men and one woman who had lived there. The idea had always stayed with me because it was so haunting, and the people sent there lived in really poor conditions and were basically sent there to die, not get better.

So, about ten years later, I decided it was time to write a novel about D’Arcy Island; I went to the island and stayed three nights and visited the orchard they had kept and saw the foundations of the buildings that had housed them. I did about six months of research towards a historical fiction novel and then one night, Abby Furlowe started talking to me, and it turned into something completely different than I had planned. But instead of fighting it and trying to force myself back to the D’Arcy Island piece, I listened to Abby and went along with her on her journey, and I’m glad I did.

Why did you choose Hansen’s disease?
I think the disease provides a great metaphor for feeling like a freak, an outcast; a feeling a lot of young people struggle with in their teenage years.

Were you ever a cheerleader?
No. All the cheer details were from research. But I do have a great respect for cheerleaders now after finding out how athletic and demanding a sport cheer is.

Describe your book in six words.
Mean Girls meets The Elephant Man.

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Publishers Weekly Best Books 2018

PW Best Books 2018
Congratulations to Linda Bailey and Júlia Sardà, Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein is a Publishers Weekly Best Picture Book of 2018!

Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Júlia Sardà
Hardcover | 56 Pages
ISBN 9781770495593
Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein“This biographical depiction of Mary Shelley’s young life explores how writers create, synthesizing ideas from experiences and imagination. Throughout, Bailey emphasizes her strong spirit and penchant for daydreams as she traces how formative circumstances helped move Shelley to write: the early loss of her mother, a great thinker and advocate for women’s equality; meeting frequent visitors to her childhood home, including philosophers, artists, and scientists; living with a family of strangers in Scotland; running away with her stepsister, Claire, and poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, her eventual husband; and visiting Switzerland with Claire, Shelley, the poet Lord Byron, and doctor and writer John Polidori. Sarda’s distinctive angular illustrations are rife with thoughtful period detail and patterns in rich tones, evoking an appropriately maudlin mood while showcasing how Shelley’s life was a catalyst to art and creativity–and, perhaps, the birth of science fiction. Ages 5-8.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Kens

Kens_YA
Raziel Reid’s first novel When Everything Feels Like the Movies was a national sensation, selected as the first YA novel for CBC’s Canada Reads and winning the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Award for Young People’s Literature in 2014. But some critics took issue with the book’s language and representation of sexuality, National Post columnist Barbara Kay going so far as to describe it as a “values-void novel.” Now Raziel Reid is back with another savvy and at times shocking book. Kens is a sharply-drawn satire of consumer culture and the impact of social media on the lives of teens.

KensKens
By Raziel Reid

Ken Hilton rules Willows High with his carbon-copies, Ken Roberts and Ken Carson. It can be hard to tell the Kens apart. There are minor differences, but all Kens are created from the same mold, straight out of Satan’s doll factory. Soul sold separately.

Tommy Rawlins can’t help but compare himself to these shimmering images of perfection. He’s desperate to fit in, but in a school where the Kens are queens who are treated like Queens, Tommy is the uncool gay kid. A once-in-a-lifetime chance at becoming a Ken changes everything for Tommy, just as his eye is caught by the tall, dark, handsome new boy, Blaine. Has Blaine arrived in time to save him from the Kens?

Raziel Reid on Satire

Reid RazielWhat does Kens mean to you?
Kens is a satire about all the things that make me sad. All the things that make me scared. All the things we try (and fail) to protect each other from. I laughed at them. And I took away their power.

There aren’t a lot of YA satires in the world. Why did you choose to use this format?
Satire in literature is a device that serves to give us an electric shock from the page so that we don’t risk becoming apathetic or complacent. In the Trump era, satire is perhaps more essential — and at risk — than ever before. In a single tweet the President of the United States can decimate a comedian’s career. The Trump administration constantly undermines the first amendment and attacks the freedom of the press, creating a rippling wave of censorship as recently seen in the firing of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoonist Rob Rogers for his satirical depictions of Trump.

Satire highlights, blows up, twists, and exaggerates social and political ideas to make you heal them. To give satire a trigger warning is counter-intuitive. The whole point of satire is to trigger you. Hopefully with a bit of laughter and fun. Nothing heals faster.

What authors inspired you during the writing of Kens?
My favorite satirists are considered adult fiction writers, although I read them in my teens. Writers like Bret Easton Ellis, George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, Chuck Palahniuk, and Evelyn Waugh. Young Adult satires are rare, but Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens inspired me as I wrote Kens for its hilarious commentary on unrealistic beauty standards and consumer culture.

Amazon.com’s Best Children’s Books of 2018: Ages 6 to 8

Amazon.com has chosen 19 best children’s books of 2018 for ages 6 to 8. We are so thrilled to share that we have 2 titles on this list! Congratulations to our authors and illustrators!

MegabatMegabat
By Anna Humphrey
Illustrated by Kass Reich
192 Pages | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735262577
“[Kass] Reich’s expressive black-and-white illustrations are filled with detail and texture, especially with Megabat’s delightful facial expressions, and help guide the story along. Great for readers who enjoy Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson books.” – Booklist

Peanut Butter and JellyPeanut Butter and Jelly
By Ben Clanton
64 Pages | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735262454
Narwhal and Jelly are back and Narwhal has a new obsession . . . peanut butter! He’s so obsessed he even wants to change his name to . . . that’s right . . . Peanut Butter! Ever-sensible Jelly isn’t so sure that’s the best idea, but is all for Narwhal trying new things (instead of just eating waffles all the time, no matter how delicious waffles are). In this third book, Narwhal and Jelly star in three new stories about trying new things, favorite foods and accepting who we are. Always funny and never didactic, this underwater duo charms again through their powerful combination of positive thinking, imagination and joyfulness.

 

Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2018

Kirkus Reviews has revealed their picks for the Best Children’s Books of 2018 and we’re thrilled that two of our titles made the list. Congratulations to our hardworking authors!

Best Picture Books of 2018

Petra
Marianna Coppo
Hardcover | 48 Pages | Ages 3-7
ISBN: 9780735262676

The humorous adventures of an irresistible little rock who finds herself in constantly changing circumstances, Petra is a picture book that celebrates the power of perspective and believing in yourself.

“Coppo accomplishes a lot with a little. Her illustrations—a mixture of tempera, pastels, and digital collage—are simple but emote mountains…. Lending itself to a range of readings, from perspective to an exploration of identity, this Italian import is a pleasingly intelligent book.” – Starred ReviewKirkus Reviews

Best Middle Grade Books of 2018

The Ghost Road
Charis Cotter
Hardcover | 368 Pages | Ages 9-12
ISBN: 9781101918890

Ghosts, a family curse, buried secrets — and two girls who have to figure it all out. A new book from an acclaimed author, for fans of Coraline, Doll Bones and The Night Gardener.

“Cotter’s complex and engrossing story is enhanced by its superbly presented isolated Newfoundland setting and a satisfying dose of ghosts. The theme—the power of words—creates both a fascinating conclusion and food for thought.” – Starred ReviewKirkus Reviews

NYPL’s Best Books of 2018

The New York Public Library released their 2018 Best Books for Kids list today and we’re so excited to have four titles on the list. Congratulations to our hardworking authors and illustrators!

Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes
Written by Wab Kinew
Illustrated by Joe Morse
Hardcover | 40 Pages | Ages 5-9
ISBN: 9780735262928

“Lavish illustrations and uplifting verse celebrate the diversity of indigenous peoples and their contributions to North American culture.” – NYPL

Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein
Written by Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Júlia Sardà
Hardcover | 56 Pages | Ages 5-8
ISBN: 9781770495593

“Moody and gothic illustrations bring to life the birth of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece.” – NYPL

Red Sky at Night
Written and illustrated by Elly MacKay
Hardcover | 40 Pages | Ages 3-7
ISBN: 9781101917831

“The origins of traditional sayings used to forecast the weather are accompanied by dreamy paper dioramas.” – NYPL

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
Jonathan Auxier
Hardcover | 368 Pages | Ages 8-12
ISBN: 9780735264359

“Nan Sparrow, a chimneysweep in Victorian London, befriends a mysterious magical creature in this fairy tale of monsters and great escapes.” – NYPL

 

Tundra Ghost Story Contest Winner

We are so happy to share the winning ghost story from our writing contest. But first, here’s what some of our judges had to say about it:

The writing was strong (descriptive and evocative), the tone was genuinely eerie, it “built” very nicely, and it had a crackerjack beginning and ending. I like that it’s the piano itself that seems to be the villain.

Dark Music was a very well-structured narrative packed a lot of chills into a concise story. I really got a sense of how alone Louise felt and the idea that the one thing that brought her comfort (the piano) was ultimately dangerous was satisfyingly creepy. Also that title was perfect!

And without further ado, here is the winning story:

Dark Music - page 1

Dark Music - page 2

Dark Music - page 3

Congratulations to Emilia! She will also receive a letter from author Linda Bailey, a copy of Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein and $50 worth of Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers books.

There were three other stories that we felt came very close — so we want to give a shout out to these aspiring writers and send them a copy of Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Júlia Sardà:

  • How Do You Know My Name? by Claire, age 11
  • Ghost of Screams by Angus and Grace, both age 9
  • The Shadow by Kaitlin, age 11