Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where are the Gay Parents in YA: Lola and the Boy Next Door

The blurb, from Goodreads:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.


This might just be the perfect book. 

I loved LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR. I finished it in one sitting. I think I might have even loved it a little bit more than it's companion book ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS (which I also loved). Here's my review of that from June 2011.

So, what did I love about Lola? Well, I'm a child of the 80's and she reminded me forcibly of Molly Ringwald's character in PRETTY IN PINK. And this time, the character ends up with her best friend, not the wildly inappropriate guy. Which I love! Not that the storyline is at all the same, but the characters share some characteristics. Lola makes her own clothes, and she has a very eclectic style. Cricket (the boy next door) is quirky, nerdy, hot, and brilliant, all at the same time.

I loved her gay dads. They were quirky, and lovable. They were not stereotypes and they weren't pushovers. She respected them, and disobeyed them, and loved them. It wasn't weird or troublesome and the book didn't dwell on any "issue" with Lola's dads. They just were her dads.To me, that's key. They were just her dads. End of story.

If you love contemporary YA (or even if you don't) read this book. It's perfect.

(disclosure--I rehashed some of this review from a previous blog post, as I'd already read this book. But, as I say, it was so good, it was worth another look and I really wanted to pass the recommendation along.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

King of the Screwups--Guest Post by Jonathon Arnston

Thanks to my friend and co host Jonathon Arnston (@JonathonArntson) for his guest post today!

Here's Jon:


When choosing the book to read for our second series run, I made my selection more out of convenience than out of interest. I visited Lee Wind's blog and used his list created to highlight books with gay parents/caretakers. I went down the list and plugged titles into the search field at the website of my public library. Sadly, very few books came up, and the ones that did are old looking. We all know those books are probably of quality, but they are from twelve years ago and more - most kids are not interesting in those.

In the end, I chose King of the Screwups, by K.L. Going. Here is the Goodreads description of the novel:

Liam Geller is Mr. Popularity. Everybody loves him. He excels at sports; he knows exactly what clothes to wear; he always ends up with the most beautiful girls in school. But he's got an uncanny ability to screw up in the very ways that tick off his father the most.
When Liam [is] finally kicked out of the house, his father's brother takes him in. What could a teenage chick magnet possibly have in common with his gay, glam rocker, DJ uncle who lives in a trailer in upstate New York? A lot more than you'd think. And when Liam attempts to make himself over as a nerd in a desperate attempt to impress his father, it's his "aunt" Pete and the guys in his band who convince Liam there's much more to him than his father will ever see.
When Liam first heads to his Uncle's trailer, he focuses on how poorly decorated and kept his uncle's house and town are. Liam notices the things that set his cross-dressing uncle apart from the average man. But, since Liam has been travelling the world with his retired, supermodel mother, he has already encountered men and women of all walks of life. Liam's observations of his gay uncle (and his band of friends) are subtle. He makes mention when his uncle kisses his boyfriend, who ends up being Liam's English teacher. Liam's mentions are not judgmental and they show how one can be curious without being rude or assuming.

Liam stands up for gay people throughout the novel. He gets kicked off the bus by the man who used to bully Liam's uncle's boyfriend in elementary school. Liam also stands up for those who are not popular, but he does this in a round-a-bout way. He creates a plot to become unpopular, which will help him to succeed just like his dad. As his scheme unfolds, he finds himself digging many, deep holes. As he starts to fall into all of them, he begins to realize he is loved. Going does this in a non-sappy and subtle way. As Liam starts to feel loved, he begins to be himself again.

As Liam fails to impress his father, which is his ticket back home, he abandons his plan to become a nerd. He figures he'll just quite school and join the army. It may sound trite, but Going sets up the close of the story with a lot of tension and emotion. I found my heart broken as Liam realized what he'd thought was his family never really was. But, I found a patch for my heart as Liam began to realize family is not defined by the dictionary.

Hundreds of miles from his New York mansion, Liam finds a huge family within the friends and neighbors he made in the five weeks away from home.

King of the Screwups is a great novel. I am thankful I came across it, even if it was not through the most-desirable process. I hope my public library will expand its collection of gay parents in YA, but I will mention this book to my librarians and give it a recommendation. King of the Screwups is a wonderful addition to any personal library, and creates an opportunity for many family and/or classroom discussions.

I hope you'll pick up King of the Screwups soon!
Thanks Jon for your post today! Great review!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Where are the Gay Parents in YA Literature

Welcome to the second annual Where are the Gay Parents in Children’s Literature. This year, we’re focusing specifically on YA. My co-host, Jonathon Arnston will be guest blogging here at my blog tomorrow (Wednesday, May 30).

I’ll be posting my own review of Stephanie Perkins’ Lola and the Boy Next Door on Thursday, May 31.

Check out our other participants, posting today:

Shoshana Flax at about Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy, particularly the first book, The Knife of Never Letting Go.

Alexandra Hudson at about Love Ya Bunches by Lauren Myracle.

Kelly Polark at about Pearl by Jo Knowles.

Stephanie Lawton at about her own work in progress.

Thanks to all of them for participating! Please check out their blogs and their reviews of these great titles.

If you’d like to check out our book list, click here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

From Goodreads:


It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry to this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.


Ok, I'll be honest. I'm not much of a traveler. As a Sagittarius, I've always read my horoscopes about what a natural traveler I am. It's why horoscopes don't hold much stock for me. 

IF I were a traveler, I'd be exactly like Bria. Which is why I love this book so much. She's trying soooo hard to be a backpacker. She wants it so bad. She wants to take risks. She wants to forgot the loser boyfriend back home. But she just can't break her true nature. She just can't be who she's not. 

In the end, it's the experience of traveling that changes her. She learns from it, and she doesn't have to be someone else.

Great book, great character arc, great ending. LOVED IT.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Prepping for NESCBWI 2013

As some of you might know, I'm the co director for the 2013 NESCBWI (New England Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Conference.

The Call for Proposals for the 2013 NESCBWI Conference, "Word-By-Word: The Art of Craft will go out June 1, 2012. So mark your calendars. With the call going out earlier, the deadline will also be sooner, August 27th, 2012!

Registration Table at the 2012 NESCBWI Conference

We will be looking for all levels of craft workshops, particularly those that are for advanced or master level writers. These Master level classes we are calling studios and will be 180 minutes.

So, please start thinking about what you would like to propose. Also, preferential consideration will go to presenters who have sent in two or more proposals.

Have questions? Let me know!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Central Massachusetts Meetup

This is the first post-NESCBWI meetup!

We'll be meeting at The Devens Grill ( in Devens, MA on May 29, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. It has a nice little bar and an outside patio if it's warm.

The owner was lovely and very excited about us coming!

As always, authors, illustrators, agents, editors, librarians, etc. are welcome! A chance to come together and chat about writing, reading, illustrating, and the children's writing industry.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It was nice yesterday in Massachusetts. But it's raining today. And it rained every day before yesterday for about a week. It's been raining or overcast for a long time. Not quite seven years, but the rain makes me feel blah after a day or two.

I know a lot of you have read Ray Bradbury's All Summer In A Day. But if you're not familiar with it - here's an excerpt. It's a fantastic story, written over 50 years ago. Google it and read it in it's entirety. It's only 2000 words. It's how I feel today. And I wish it was stopping.

The children pressed to each other like so many roses, so many weeds, intermixed, peering out for a look at the hidden sun.

It rained.

It had been raining for seven years; thousand upon thousands of days compounded and filled from one end to the other with rain, with the drum and gush of water, with the sweet crystal fall of showers and the concussion of storms so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands. A thousand forests had been crushed under the rain and grown up a thousand times to be crushed again. And this was the way life was forever on the planet Venus, and this was the schoolroom of the children of the rocket men and women who had come to a raining world to set up civilization and live out their lives.

“It’s stopping, it’s stopping!”

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Spy Like Me by Laura Pauling

In celebration of the official release of A Spy Like Me, Laura Pauling is hosting a three-week blog series: A Spies, Murder and Mystery Marathon. Woot! Woot!

Authors galore, guest posts and book giveaways almost every day!
Gemma Halliday, Cindy M. Hogan, Elizabeth Spann Craig,
Nova Ren Suma, Elisa Ludwig, and Anne R. Allen....Just to name a few!
And here's why she's celebrating!

Stripping your date down to his underwear has never been so dangerous.
After dodging bullets on a first date, Savvy must sneak, deceive and spy to save her family and friends and figure out if Malcolm is one of the bad guys before she completely falls for him.
Head on over to Laura’s blog for the start of the Spies, Murder and Mystery Marathon. You won’t want to miss this sizzling series as we head into summer. Stock up on some great thrilling reads! If you dare…

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Timeless (YA Anthology)

I am so excited and proud to announce that the short story I cowrote with my writing partner, Ansha Kotyk, has been selected to appear in the June 2012 anthology Timeless, coming out from Pugalicious Press.

The story is called Stella's Hero and is set in 1892 Boston between the garment district and Chinatown. We are in great company--see the announcement, here.

Thanks to the editors, Joyce Shor Johnson and Jennifer Carson, for believing in our piece.

Me and Ansha in summer 2011