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MTYT: December 2016

Examining Morally Complicated Young Adult Literature
By T. Gail Pritchard and Deborah Dimmett

morally complicated young adult literatureThe Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan

GAIL: This time last year, the young adult literature (YAL) world was all abuzz about an unfortunate choice of words by a debut author. Perhaps it was naivety on his part, perhaps it was the way his words were edited in an oft quoted article, perhaps it was a combination — but the result was the same, the YAL community did not like his description of past and current YA as lacking moral complexity. They posted, they blogged, they tweeted; and as a result, lists of morally complicated YAL appeared and sessions at conferences (e.g. YALC 2016, NCTE 2016) were well-attended. Through the discussion of some of the novels appearing on these lists and in conference sessions, we will explore definitions of morally complex YAL, the complicated journeys that occur, the likability of the characters, and the tough questions these novels force us to ask. Continue reading

When Wishes Go Awry

By T. Gail Pritchard, Ph.D., University of Arizona

What do you wish for — Love? Health? Happiness? Friendship? Sometimes the wishes are for yourself, your family, a specific person, or even the world. This week’s blog takes a look at wishes made and how those wishes go awry, from wanting a friend to make the basketball team to wanting to be liked. In each case, when the wishes go awry, the wisher is left wondering how to undo those wishes. In the process, we learn about each of the wishers — who they are, aspects of their character, and what they most value. Are they foolish? Are they greedy? Or do they just want to help better themselves and their family?

wishes go awry Continue reading

“The Wish List” Explores Do-overs in Life (and Death)

By T. Gail Pritchard, Ph.D., University of Arizona

I bet most of us have considered “do overs,” what we would re-do in our life if given a chance. Maybe we would change a conversation, an action (or lack thereof), or a decision. In The Wish List by Eoin Colfer, Lowrie McCall’s list consists of four things he wished he had done in his life. Furthermore, the fate of Meg Finn’s soul depends on her success in helping him complete his wish list. School Library Journal describes their journey as “both humorous and poignant, as Lowrie confronts his regrets and Meg strives to attain salvation.”

the wish list Continue reading

I Wish I May, I Wish I Might… Wishing in Michelle Harrison’s One Wish

By T. Gail Pritchard, Ph.D., University of Arizona

Think back to some of your earliest memories of wishing, perhaps when blowing out birthday candles, wishing upon a star — particularly a shooting star or the first star of the night, throwing a penny in a wishing well or fountain, getting the long end of the wishbone, blowing on a dandelion puff, or maybe writing a wish on a piece of paper and tying it to a tree or hiding it under a rock. Continue reading

Notes from a Small Island: The Unforgotten Coat

By T. Gail Pritchard, Ph.D., University of Arizona

In this final week of February, I’m continuing Melissa’s look at U.K. award-winning books, in particular the Costa Book Awards. Frank Cottrell Boyce’s The Unforgotten Coat began as an exclusive for The Reader Organisation for their 2011 book giveaway. With 50,000 copies distributed throughout the U.K. and the rest of the world, this brilliant 112 page novella was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards in 2011, was awarded the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 2012, received The Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 2013, was on the IBBY International Honour List in 2014, and was a starred review for both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.

unforgotten coat Continue reading

Notes from a Small Island: Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse

By T. Gail Pritchard, Ph.D., University of Arizona

goth girlThis week’s blog focuses on the 2013 Costa Children’s Book Award winner, Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, written and illustrated by the U.K.’s Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell. The Costa Book Awards honor authors in the U.K. and Ireland in five categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry, and Children’s Book. One unique aspect of the Costa is that it “places children’s books alongside adult books.” The 2015 Children’s Book Award winner, The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (reviewed by Melissa in this month’s blog) was also the 2015 Costa Book of the Year. Continue reading

Like Oil and Water: Unlikely Friendships

by Gail Pritchard, PhD, The University of Arizona



“Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend” (Bill Watterson).

If you Google “unlikely friendships,” you will find books, YouTube videos, and images of unusual animal friendships. These tend to be animals from different species and even those that would be considered natural enemies, like a bonded cat and bird. But what do we mean when we refer to people with unlikely friendships? Continue reading

Oh, My! Cyborgs!

by T. Gail Pritchard, PhD, The University of Arizona

CinderFootThis week, I want to share books about cyborgs and those that don’t quite fit the previous categories—they are hybrids involving technology. Where the two overlap involve the symbiosis of humans, machines, and technology. In the previously reviewed books, the main characters were either machines—robots and androids—or humans whose DNA had been modified in some way. This week’s reviews looks at novels that consider what happens when humans and technology merge Continue reading

Robots, Clones, and DNA—Oh, My!

by T. Gail Pritchard, The University of Arizona

DNA2Perhaps one of the more scientific/medical controversies of the last few decades involves genetic modification, whether it is through altering an organism’s own DNA, adding new DNA, or cloning. In the following novels, the characters find themselves facing personal and societal consequences, while readers are left questioning their own assumptions about boundaries, scientific research, medical application, and how they define being human. Continue reading