Friday, May 7, 2010

Don't Let the Cat Wander . . .

Popular YA author Lauren Myracle made a return visit to Paideia this past Tuesday, visiting two of our Junior High homebase classes. Lauren spoke to large groups of upper elementary girls last fall, when she talked about her path toward becoming an author and the experiences she has had with writing realistic books about girls, relationships and the sometimes embarrassing parts of growing up. She was a tremendous hit.

Recently Lauren found out that in 2009, her TTYL novels were America's #1 most challenged books for young people. In the library world, that's quite an honor!! With this on her mind, Lauren's junior high talks focused more specifically on controversy and challenges to her books, usually by well-meaning parents anxious to protect their daughters from the hard parts of adolescence. She read e-mails she's received, some outraged (and outrageous), and some thoughtful and open to conversation. Lauren also talked the place that reading has in risk-taking and experimentation while growing up and figuring things out. Synchronistically enough, two days later the guest speaker at High School faculty meeting echoed some of the same ideas. Risk-taking is inseparable from growing up; isn't it much safer to experience a huge mistake in the pages of a story, than by doing it in real life?

Lauren was in Atlanta on a national tour to celebrate that same day's release of her newest novel, Thirteen Plus One, the fourth in the Winnie series featuring best friends in Atlanta. She read a hilarious excerpt from the book to both classes, enjoyed by both boys and girls. In Martha and Greg's class we got a little lagniappe (as my mother used to say) -- fellow author and tour mate Sarah Mlynowski arrived fresh off the plane from New York. She treated us to an excerpt from her most recent novel, Gimme a Call, and also surveyed the class for what advice they, as junior high students, would like to give their elementary-aged selves.

One student advised himself not to drop an orange from the 72nd floor (they got thrown out of the hotel). Another suggested not flushing an orange down the toilet. The prize (a Hershey Kiss) went to Helen, who would like to be able to tell her younger self not to let the cat wander around the menorah on the last night of Hannukah. Poor kitty caught fire!

Lauren and Sarah's new books will be in the library as soon as this week's order arrives, just in time for summer checkouts. Thank you, ladies, for a great morning of books and fun.

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