Archive | April 2013

Verse Novels for Boys and Giveaway Winner!

RunNix Minus OneEarlier this month I posted a bit about four recent/upcoming verse novels with great boy appeal covers. I  included a little poll on which cover was the favorite and am thrilled to report that Tim Sinclair’s RUN was the clear winner. Go Tim!

I also promised to giveaway a copy of NIX MINUS ONE by Jill McLean. The winner of that giveaway is: Joli! Get in touch with your postal address Joli and NIX MINUS ONE will be wining its way to you in no time.

Finally, in the interests of further male readership of verse novels, I have begun to compile a list on Goodreads. Go and check it out, vote, comment and share!


April Verse Novels News and Reviews – Week 3

So much happening in verse this month with National Poetry Month. Here are some highlights:

Here’s a reading list brochure on Teen Novels in Verse for use in libraries. What can I say? Libraries+Verse Novels=♥

BLUE BIRDS, a new verse novel by Caroline Starr Rose has sold to GP Putnam!

Steven Herrick’s POOKIE ALEERA IS NOT MY BOYFRIEND has been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year.

Lisa Schroeder says Happy National Poetry Month

Sarah Tregay talks about her verse novel writing process

Clear Eyes Full Shelves talks Verse Novels in their latest podcast

Here’s a Hornbook guide to novels in verse.

Alexa Loves Books reviews ODETTE’S SECRETS by Maryanne McDonald

Books for Your Kids reviews GONE FISHING by Tamera Will Wissinger

Maree’s Musings reviews WAITING by Carol Lynch Williams

Verse Day #16: Why Write A Novel In Verse?

Gone FishingThese week welcomes Tamera Will Wissinger, the author of GONE FISHING to guest post about reasons to write in verse.

Since GONE FISHING: A Novel In Verse arrived last month, I’ve been greeted with a wonderful flurry of interest in the book. Thankfully, readers are intrigued by the story and how it’s told. One of the questions I’ve heard a number of times is this: “Why write a verse novel instead of regular prose?” My initial answer has been simply: “Poetry is the way the story came out.” And while that’s true – my story did arrive one poem at a time – I’ve started to think about this question more deeply and I decided that it deserves a more thorough response.

Here are four of the best reasons that I can think of to write stories in verse for children and young adults (more than one may apply to any given poetry novel):

My Book of Life by Angel

For Young Adults

The subject matter is shocking or extremely demanding and the economy of a poetry text may make the story more palatable. In My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt, Angel as MC is in a horrible situation. Mainly using free verse, Leavitt doesn’t gloss over the circumstances with verse, but allows us to absorb what’s happening without being hit over the head.

For Middle Grade/Intermediate/Young Adults

May B.The subject matter has taxing aspects, and a story element may lend itself to the techniques and structure choices that a poetry novel requires. In May B. by Caroline Star Rose, May is thrust into an extremely bleak situation. It is winter, she is snowed in and on her own. The first person verse novel format – with spare, crisp free verse – echoes May’s meager surroundings and the isolation that she feels.

Shakespeare Bats Cleanup (Shakespeare Bats Cleanup, #1)For Middle Grade/Intermediate/Young Adults

The subject matter may or may not be difficult, but it is directly related to poetry or writing (the main character may be journaling), so the verse novel format draws attention to poetry writing and/or reading. In Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge, Kevin (aka Shakespeare) starts out with an illness that sidelines him from playing baseball so he begins to journal in poems.

For Younger Readers/Middle Grade

Emma Dilemma: Big Sister PoemsFor the youngest readers, regardless of the degree of subject difficulty for the child’s age, stories in poetry offer an inviting way to engage children in the story and in the poetry itself. In Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems by Kristine O’Connell George, big sister Jess narrates the off and on conflict she has with little sister Emma through a variety of short poems that leave room for illustrations. (FYI: this is where I feel that GONE FISHING fits in.)

Could these stories have been told another way? Yes, certainly they could have been. The real question is: If these stories had been told any other way, would they resonate in the same way with readers? We’ll never really know, but it’s intriguing to think about.

There are quite possibly other really good reasons to write a novel in verse for children and young adults – what have I overlooked?

COVER LOVE: Ellen Hopkins’s Crank Trilogy Gets a Makeover

I’m kind of excited about this. Ellen Hopkins’s covers are so iconic, especially the Crank Trilogy. Check them out:

Crank (Crank, #1)Glass (Crank, #2)Fallout (Crank, #3)

I mean, stunning, right? But today I discovered the trilogy is being re-launched with new covers, and in a trim paperback edition:

new ellen hopkins covers

In the past I’ve been disappointed by cover redesigns. Recently there have been a couple that I felt were vastly inferior to the original. But this cover rethink really works for me. I love how they’ve kept the same color scheme. I like the taglines. And of course it’s entirely appropriate that Ellen Hopkins join the ranks of authors whose names are at least as big as their titles. I think this redesign maintains the character of the originals while updating them and making them feel very current and modern. Initially I was a little shocked at this new look, but the more I study it, the more it works for me. This is everything a cover redesign should be.

The new look trilogy comes out this August.

This entry was posted on April 10, 2013. 1 Comment

April Verse Novels News and Reviews: Week 1

Let’s start this week’s round up with this fabulous new display down in Teen at the Kalamazoo Public Library: verse novels for National Poetry Month! ( thanks @kpl_teen @KzooLibrary). I’d love to see a display like this in every library!

Can I tell you how happy this makes me? This makes me VERY happy.

Also, I found this great educator’s guide to verse novels from Random House. It’s great to see the buzz for verse novels in the classroom growing.

Here’s a report from a schmooze with Sonya Sones.

Some reviews:

THE SUNLIT ZONE by Lisa Jacobson is gathering quite a lot of buzz since its Stella Prize short-listing. Here’s a review on Play Eat Learn Live

LIKE BUG JUICE ON A BURGER by Julie Sternberg is reviewed on Books4YourKids

Like Bug Juice on a Burger

ODETTES’S SECRETS by Maryanne McDonald is reviewed on The Pirate Tree


Tim Sinclair’s RUN is reviewed by Scoop Review of Books

This entry was posted on April 8, 2013. 1 Comment

VerseDay #14: Verse Novels, Boys and Blueish Covers PLUS Giveaway!

The books below have several things in common. One, they’re all recent or upcoming novels in verse. Two they all feature male teen protagonists. Three they all have blue covers. Four, their covers are awesome.

UnlockedNix Minus OneFreakboyRun

In a YA market saturated with samey covers featuring Photoshopped stock art of vapid faced girls in fluffy gowns, these all demonstrate everything that is right with book design. They are bold, they each are built on a simple premise, suggesting something of the stories therein without didactically trying to telegraph the whole plot. Each of them does something interesting with the  title treatment too. The title is even RAISED on NIX MINUS ONE. So cool.

While verse novels are growing in popularity, it’s sometimes still challenging to find an audience. Cover design is a key part of making verse novels stand out while being accessible to the widest range of readers. The publishers of verse novels simply can’t afford to dial in a cookie cutter cover that’s easily confused with fifteen other books. The above publishers knocked it out of the park.

Not long ago I did a little poll about middle grade verse novel covers. I thought it would be fun to do this again. Vote below and let’s pick a favorite! Comment to explain your choice and I will enter you into a draw to win a copy of NIX MINUS ONE.

This entry was posted on April 4, 2013. 7 Comments

March Verse Novel News and Reviews – Weeks 3 & 4

Sorry, deadline hell. Here is a quick round-up of what’s been happening in the verse novel world for the past couple of weeks:

The Canadian Library Association Awards nominees include MY BOOK OF LIFE BY ANGEL by Martine Leavitt

The Stella Prize shortlist includes THE SUNLIT ZONE by Lisa Jacobson

Books in ThMiddle has a 7th Grade guest blogger on FORGET MY NOT by Carolee Dean

AXON interviews Stephen Herrick, Helen Frost and Ron Koertge

Born Bookish reviews THE WILD BOOK by Margarita Engle

Winnipeg Free Press reviews NIX MINUS ONE by Jill McLean

PinKindle reviews BECAUSE I AM FURNITURE by Thalia Chaltas

Vamos A Leer talks about using verse novels in class and is giving away UNDER THE MESQUITE by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Read Me tells us why bother with YA verse novels.

Through the Looking Glass reviews THE LANGUAGE INSIDE by Holly Thompson

This entry was posted on April 1, 2013. 1 Comment