Over this past weekend, we had the honor to attending the Annual American Library Association Conference in Chicago, Illinois. ALAAC17 was a get together of librarians from all over the country (and in some cases the world) to come together and celebrate libraries, literacy, books, and information sciences. This week we are going to share with you the things that we saw, the things we did, and the books that we got that we are the most excited for.
Serena’s Top 5 Books from ALAAC 2017
“Wishtree” by Katherine Applegate
As we all know, I am a massive fan of Applegate’s Animorphs series, and for a long time, that’s all I ever knew here as. It wasn’t until I was in library school and her Newbery Medal award winning book “The One and Only Ivan” was assigned as a reading requirement that she came back on my radar. It was pretty shocking to me, in a lot of ways. I mean, I always knew she was a great author, but the Animorphs books, rightly and not rightly, were not thought of as “high literature” for kids and teens. So it was thrilling to see her literary talents on display in a manner that couldn’t be poo-pooed away as just all that sci-fi nonsense. All of that said, once I knew she’d be at ALA, I gathered up my favorite Animrophs book and got in line. The book she was signing is her latest middle grade novel, “Wishtree,” a story told from the perspective of “Red” an ancient oak tree that has come to be known as the wishtree by those in its neighborhood. When a new family moves into the area, Red learns how important wishes are for those who aren’t always welcomed everywhere they go. Also…I got a picture with her and it was so exciting! I was at my all time most fangirling state ever.
“Thick as Thieves” by Megan Whalen Turner
I got to meet Megan Whalen Turner twice, not counting the third time when I got to listen to her present at a panel! It was all super exciting for me, a long-time fan of her “The Queen’s Thief” series. It’s been around 5 years since her last book came out, and there’s typically a rather lengthy period between the publication dates of her novels. To me, this just builds the anticipation. But I felt so bad for her! Both at the book signing and at the YA Coffee Klatch where I met her a second time, she was busy apologizing for the long wait for her book and I just wanted to hug her and be like “Stop apologizing! We’d all wait forever for your next book! They’re THAT good, and if it takes longer to write them to maintain the ridiculous level of quality to storytelling that you have, don’t apologize for it!” Her latest story features Kamet, who we met several books ago, and who is the personal slave to a Mede diplomat. Slave or not, Kamet sees a bright future of power and control coming his way, as he is soon to be given to the heir to the emperor. All of this goes out of the window when his master is murdered and he is blamed for it and must go on the run with an Attolian soldier, fleeing to the backwards kingdom of Attolia itself with its ridiculous thief-made-puppet-King, Gen. Expect a review for this one coming up soon, as I’ve already dived in!
“Jane, Unlimited” by Kristen Cashore
I’ve been a fan of Kristen Cashore since devouring “Graceling” many years ago. I then proceeded to read the next two novels in the series, and have been waiting for a new story from her since! It’s been a while since she’s written anything or appeared anywhere, so meeting here at ALA was very exciting. She also spoke on a panel I attended and had some interesting thoughts on what it means to write YA and whether young adult readers are really that different from adults. At the same panel, one women asked (rather inappropriately since the panel was a general session, not a meet and greet with the specific authors there….conference etiquette lesson!) whether the ARC version of “Jane, Unlimited” had the chapters in the right order (yes, ARCs are uncorrected but not THAT bad!), and Kristen said she wasn’t surprised to be asked. So, now I’m very curious about this book! From the description, it seems like a fairly straight forward story of a girl who is in mourning for the loss of her caretaker and Aunt who died several months ago, when she gets caught up in the glamours, and dangerous, lives of a wealthy family. Excited to read it and find out what’s what!
“Skythe” by Neal Shusterman
The story behind this one was of me walking past a super short line for a signed copy of this book, thinking to myself, “Man, I shouldn’t, I already have too many,” then meeting Neal Shusterman at the YA Coffee Klatch and hearing all about this book which sounded amazing and having all the regrets. I then went back to the booth and was lucky enough to snag a copy, but I missed out big time on that signature opportunity! Shusterman described the idea of this book as his desire to right about what the world would look like after we’ve solved many of the problems we struggle with today. Notably, we’ve cured ageing and it is possible to live forever. To deal with population control, scythes came into existence: an organization dedicated to randomly killing off people. The story follows Citra and Rowan who have been apprenticed to a scythe and are now facing the challenge of what it means to take on this role. Definitely sounds intriguing, so big points to Shusterman for a successful book talk that snagged my interest!
“Wonder Woman: Warbringer” by Leigh Bardugo
Take a guess as to what book on this list was the one that Kate teased up yesterday? Shocking no one, it is “Wonder Woman: Warbringer.” This book has been on my list ever since I heard about it and when I saw a massive crowd gathering around a booth at ALA, I wandered over and was not at all surprised to see that it was this book inciting the hysteria. I snuck my way in and was able to nab a copy for both me and Kate. I don’t think I need to go into much detail about why I’m excited for this book, cuz…obviously. It’s an added perk that this one is written by Leigh Bardugo. This book is the first of a foursome of DC heroes who are getting novel adaptations in a “DC Icons” run, and I have some feelings about the authors chosen to write the other books (notably “Catwoman”s author being Sarah J. Maas whose books have left me pretty frustrated in the past.) But Bardugo is a solid choice, and I’m excited to see what angle she takes for Diana’s tale.
And that’s it, folks! Our week of ALA-related posts has come to an end. Next week we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming with our July Highlights post and more book reviews! Have a happy Fourth of July weekend to all of our U.S. readers!