Welcome to my blog. I often think I was born with a book in my hand. I have always enjoyed reading, but more importantly, talking about books. This blog is partially about reviews, but is really a forum to talk about what I'm reading, and express all of the thoughts and feelings that there simply isn't room for in a professional review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your favourite books as you follow my reading journey.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Children's Choice Book Awards- When kids have the final say.

Today was the final day of the official closing ceremonies for the Ontario Forest of Reading Program at Harbourfront, and as always, it was a day full-of excitement, and surprises. When the nominees are first announced in each category, we supposed "experts" make our predictions as to which books will win, and most of the time, we're completely wrong!

This year, I was off on most counts, and I'm delighted! Children's choice awards are the truest reflection of a book's success with its intended audience. In my years of bookselling, I've learned that adults very seldom read a children's books with an eye purely towards enjoyment. They are looking for a teachable moment, a moral lesson, literary quality, etc...

Children on the other hand are primarily interested in one thing- did they enjoy it. A highly recognizable name or a visually appealing cover, or the genre might draw the kids to pick it up, but in the end, the kids know what excites them, and the votes reflect their choices, not ours.

So congratulations to all of the Forest winners, and to all of the winners and nominees, thank you for writing books that get kids excited about books.

For a full list of winners, visit the OLA website at http://www.accessola.com/

Meeting Meg Cabot

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting bestselling teen author Meg Cabot at a lunch hosted by Scholastic Canada, celebrating her new book Abandon. Firstly, I have to say, she is wonderful. She is outgoing, bubbly, funny and really charming. She really took the time to speak to each of us individually, which I appreciated, but her talk was a lot of fun too. A true writer, she asked me if I write, and encouraged me to pursue getting it published. She told me that she looks at writing like planning a trip- you should know your destination, but you don't necessarily have to plan every stop along the way. Very sage advice- now if only I can figure out what my destination is, maybe I'll eventually get something finished.

Now on to her book! I had already finished the book by the time I arrived at lunch, but hearing her speak about it was really enriching. I love having these little personalized tidbits about the author to reference when I booktalk. It's just something extra that really connects people to the author, and increases interest in the book.

The story of Abandon loosely ties in with the myth of Hades and Persephone, but is re-imagined for a teenage audience. When the story begins, Pierce and her mother have moved back to her mother's home town on an island in Florida, hoping to make a fresh start. Pierce has recently come back to life after an accident, escaping from the underworld by throwing a cup of tea in her "captor's" face. With her, she brought back a rare and beautiful necklace, that seems to cause harm to anyone who comes in contact with it. She also has one other little problem. John Hayden, the dark, brooding young ruler of the underworld wants her back, and will go to great lengths to get her.

I really enjoyed this. I love Greek Mythology, and I love stories that are centred around a myth. If you know anything about the author, you'll recognize a lot of her in Pierce. Pierce is a bit of an outsider. She doesn't really know where she belongs, she's been labeled by her school, and since nobody believes her anyway about what she experienced while she was dead, she carries that around with her too. Not a lot of things have gone right for her since she came back, and she's a pretty sympathetic character. She's smart, but not academically gifted, and she's extremely caring.

Hayden's character isn't quite as well developed, but he does pair up nicely with Pierce. He's brooding, but who wouldn't be if you were an 18-year-old underlord? He's got some heavy burdens himself, and Pierce attracts him and infuriates him. The characters do have chemistry, and the author really does a good job of creating romantic tension and teasing readers.

Interestingly, when she talked about the title, it came from a completely different place than where I thought. If you read it, I'd be interested to see what your take is on how the title relates to the book. And good news for fans- This is the first book in a planned trilogy, so there is definitely more to be said about these characters.