Byrt’s weekly blogosphere round-up (8/20)

It’s a Mockinjay themed roundup this week, from the YA fervor ricocheting around the blogosphere in anticipation of next Tuesday’s release, to a case of censorship, Districts-style.


1) NYTimes op-ed defending adults who read YA

While au fait literary types around town await the buzzed-about new novels from Jonathan Franzen and Nicole Krauss, other former English majors have spent the summer trying to get hold of “Mockingjay,” the third book in Suzanne Collins’s dystopian trilogy, so intensely under wraps that not even reviewers have been allowed a glimpse before its airtight Aug. 24 release. What fate will befall our heroine, Katniss Everdeen? My fellow book club members and I are desperate to know.

2) The Disney Hunger Games!

We all know our favorite Disney characters have some spunk. Ariel straight up betrays her father and makes a deal with a sea witch, Belle shoves Gaston in with the pigs, and Mulan pretends to be a boy and joins the army! But what would happen if we took them all and threw them into a dangerously animated arena?

3) Ilona Andrews hilariously responds to a request for a pretty boy vampire story

Traditional as in Bram Stoker traditional, or Anne Rice traditional, or Stephanie Meyer traditional? Ehhh…. Fine, this once just for you. Since there is a boy in there, I suppose I have to go with a YA theme.

4) Sarah Rees Brennan on why she writes YA

Here’s a thing about YA, and I freely admit this is not a revelation I had myself, but rather something that I think fabulous YA writer Holly Black said first (and then I stole it, and then Scott Westerfeld stole it. Or possibly I do fabulous YA writer Mr Westerfeld a wrong, and he said it first, and then I stole it, and then Holly Black stole it. We YA writers are a scurvy bunch. All I’m sure of is that, I AM A THIEF OF WORDS.) YA is about your first time. And not just that first time, though that’s often on the table as well.

5) YA author Y.S. Lee on Notorious Victorians

Today’s essay focuses on the Edinburgh Seven – women who, like Florence Nightingale, challenged social expectations to pursue careers in medicine. Yet these women took it several steps further.

6) Ellen Hopkins on why she was un-invited from a Texas teen lit fest

Once again, censorship opens its nasty mouth and takes a bite out of me. This time in Humble Texas, a suburb of Houston. Let me say first thing that I did two high school visits there a couple of years ago, and they went very well. The librarians were totally supportive and, in fact, took me to the amazing Houston Rodeo afterward. So when they asked me to take part in the Teen Lit Fest they help organize, I said sure. The event is scheduled for the last weekend in January, 2011. But I won’t be there after all. Apparently, a middle school librarian saw my name on the roster and decided my presence would somehow negatively affect her students. I’m not sure how that is possible. Maybe she thinks I sweat “edgy and dark.” (Are those things catching?) Anyway, she went to a couple of parents with her concerns. I’m guessing she knew the exact ones who would raise a stink, and they did. They went to the school board, and the superintendent, Guy Sconzo, decided to uninvite me.

7 ) Pete Hautman sounds off on Ellen’s dis-invite and withdraws from the Fest

In Ellen Hopkins’ case, she was invited to TLF, she accepted…and then, a few months later, the invitation was rescinded. Apparently, “several” parents were disturbed by the content of Ellen’s books, and objected to having her at the festival. They brought their concerns to the festival organizers, and one (one!) school librarian agreed with their concerns, and recommended to the school superintendent that Ellen be asked not to come. The superintendent went along with the one (one!) librarian’s recommendation. I believe that virtually every other librarian in the Humble ISD was embarrassed and furious over this decision…What is important is that a handful of people – the superintendent, the one (one!) librarian, and “several” (three? five?) parents – took it upon themselves to overrule the vast majority of teachers and librarians and students who had chosen one of the most popular YA authors in America to be their headliner. That is a form of censorship as damaging and inexcusable as setting fire to a library.

8 ) Meslissa  de la Cruz also withdraws in protest of censorship

Ellen asked me to boycott and there was never any question in my mind that it was the right thing to do. Why? I grew up in a country with a dictator. When I was in the third grade, our president/dictator decided that all Japanese anime was corrupting the Filipino youth. Until this happened, around 1980 or so, I very much enjoyed a steady stream of anime and robot cartoons from Japan. There was Mazinger-Z, Voltes-5, StarBlazers, and many more. I remember one with a crazy monkey (that was on Mondays) and then there was this weird cartoon where the main character, a ten year old pirate, could be a girl or a boy. (It wasn’t clear, but he/she was more than bisexual he/she was bi-gendered. It was part of the character’s magic. It was a very odd show and one of my favorites since I could not quite understand it.) The president made one decision, NO MORE JAPANESE CARTOONS and suddenly, I and millions of other kids could no longer watch our favorite shows. They were censored. In Manila when I was growing up, LOTS of books and movies were ROUTINELY censored. It was part of life.

9) Tera Lynn Childs also withdraws in protest of censorship

I really feel bad for the students in this situation. All they wanted was the chance to meet some great writers (trust me, Ellen Hopkins, Melissa de la Cruz, Pete Hautman, and Matt de la Pena are great writers) and maybe get some signed books. Instead, they’re missing out because a few adults think they know better.

10) Pete Hautman responds to the comments about his post on Ellen’s dis-invite

Wow, that’s a lot of comments! Thank you for your supportive words. And thank you also to those who took the time to post their dissents. Allow me to respond to a few.