National Young Readers Week

National Young Readers Day

Hello lovely readers!!

As some of you may know Monday was National Young Readers Day and this whole week is National Young Readers week, which is an annual event started in1989 by the The Book-It Program and the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress.  The focus of these events is to support youngsters that are already reading to continue, to  encourage those who have not experienced the magic that stories bring, and to build awareness around the importance of childhood literacy.

casper mattress

In light of this celebration we were asked by the awesome folks over at the Casper mattress makers to talk about the role of bedtime stories played and what some of our favorites. (before I go to far, I just want to say that you can call Casper and get a bedtime story read to you… no kidding)

It kinda goes without saying that literature and reading are huge parts of our lives, but for all three of us, having our noses in books goes way back.  We three were blessed to have mommies that were more than happy to satisfy our wondering minds and feed our imaginations.  Of course fairy tales were a staple, among our favorites are Cinderella (especially the folk-y versions) and Sleeping Beauty, and of course Peter Pan!  JB has a very Disney fan filled family so she got lots of Mickey Mouse!

A staple of bedtime was Little Golden Books. Every time is see that shiny gold spine I get reminiscent… Used to you could only find them at garage sales or Goodwill but now World Market carries them!  I think B&N as well!  I remember one in particular, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, was really cute.  Part humorous bedtime (or anytime!) story, part fable.little golden saggy baggy elephantSpeaking of fables, I love, and will read to my children, folk tales and fables from other cultures.  I have a few old books of different international children’s tales and I love reading them even now.  From this point I wan to squee a little bit about this film I just saw…  Ah! It’s beautiful!  Ok, it’s called Song of the Sea and it is basically a beautifully illustrated book come to life. The story is about a little girl who learns she is a selkie (a Scottish/Irish lore creature that is a girl on land and, when wearing her seal coat, transforms into a seal when in the sea) and is seeking her mother and there’s magic and happiness… and i don’t want to say too much but it’s beautiful…

A partner of National Young Readers Week is One More Story.  OMS brings new and old children’s books to life with full-out narration, with voices and sound effects and musically scored and everything!  They are available for device access and feature read-a-long and click-to-hear word identification options.  They are offering a free book a day until Friday!

Well that’s it for today!!   I hope you are having a fabulous week wherever you are!
If this made you think of any favorite books from your childhood we’d love to hear about them!
National young readers week

The lovely graphic up top was borrowed from fellow book blogger Erin over at The Hardcover Lover who also posted about her childhood reading!

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Catching up with the Girls

Happy Fall you guys!!!

Only two months left until next year! canyoubelieveit?!?   Then begins a whole new year of new and wonderful things, all the new books and festivals and events and new people and old friends and great adventures!  But this year isn’t over yet and we’ve already begun to have new adventures and do all sorts of grown-up things!

JB is getting into the groove at her new job (not to mention being the cutest fur-mommie ever!)

Jules just finished her first week of her first class of her Masters program and her second week of a new job!

To add to the madness Jules has also decided to finish the Hunger Games series!

Rachel is hard at work being the youth activities coordinator at her library.  For Halloween she threw really awesome event for all the lovely patrons, readers, kids, and families.

Unfortunately these things are super time drains,

*but we haven’t forgotten about you love readers!*

we still love y’all 🙂

We promise that along with the new friends and great adventures, the new year will bring a refreshed Girls in Plaid.  On that note if you have any ideas you want us to blog about, or cool activities, or authors, or challenges for us, just let us know!  Comment her or tweet us on the Twitter or find us on the Instagram!

Hope everyone had a wonderful (and safe) Halloween!  We would love to see yalls costumes and candy hauls! Tag us in your Insta pics!  We had tons of fun dressing up to get in on the fun and help Rae out with the library bash.  Dressed as a gypsy, I painted faces, which is super fun, but harder than it sounds when said face keeps wiggling and suddenly you have to make that dragon’s wings be somewhere you didn’t intend for them to be, or convince them that all the cool spiders have a random leg with extra joints…  JB was part of the really fantastic haunted maze that Rae set up.  She was a Weeping Angel from the Dr Who series. She did a great job of being super creepy, even though i totally knew it was her!  Honestly, I haven’t done a haunted anything in years and I went through with our friend Paige and a mom and her son (who was maybe 8).  Nobody wanted to go first, so we elected him because he had a sword… Regardless we were in for surprises and screams.  At least now I know I can survive an elevated heart rate… O.o   But getting to be around kids having fun is so cool.

the gypsy, the weeping angel, and the princess (with a Pascal)

the gypsy, the weeping angel, and the princess (with a Pascal)

our very own weeping angel!

our very own weeping angel!

Anyway we love you guys

GG4: Mad For Plaid!!

Mad About Plaid

Of all the wonderful things in the world, like shoes and cakes and blankets and chairs and skirts and stationary, when you make them plaid they just get a little more awesome!

Harkening back to the heritage tartans of Scotland, brought into fresh interpretations

How about nestling into a comfy plaid chair with a good book and a hot cuppa tea?!?   Did that book suddenly inspire you?  Better jot it down quick!  How ‘bout in a plaid notebook?

And aren’t these invitations adorable?

And a party always calls for some cupcakes, these cupcake liners are plaid-perfect!

You could one of those fabulous parties in one of these plaid-featuring outfits!!

Of course I always love some vintage, check out this marvelous vintage skirt by blogger Rachel-Marie Iwanyszyn.

You know the perfect shoes can make or break an outfit, how delightful are these stilettos?!?

And we can’t forget the guys!  Check out these snazzy ties from Forage Haberdashery.

Well, we hope your day was super fabulous!!

Happy Plaiding!

Gallagher Girl 4: Spy/Assassin/Thief

Gallagher Girl readathon logo hosted by thegirlsinplaidskirts.com

 

Our next game is to label each of the following characters for which role they would most likely fulfill!

1) Choose only ONE of following roles for each of the following characters: Spy, Assassin, or Thief.

Simple, huh? READY, SET, GO!

We’ll start with some classic characters:

1) Anne Shirley

Anne

 

 

 

2) Gilbert Blythe

 

gil

 

3) Elizabeth Bennett

elizabeth-bennett

4) Mr. Darcy

darcy

 

Now some YA characters:

5)America Singer

america

 

6) Maxon Schreave

maxon

 

It’s Disney Time!

7) Rapunzel

"TANGLED" Rapunzel ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“TANGLED”
Rapunzel
©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

8) Anna

Anna_Frozen

9) Elsa

LEC705431

 

 

And the Challenge…remember you can only choose one label!

10) Sherlock

sherlock_holmes

 

 

Week 4: Only The Good Spy Young

Gallagher Girl readathon logo hosted by thegirlsinplaidskirts.com

I can’t believe it’s already the fourth week!  Eep!

If you are just joining us, we Girls in Plaid are hosting a Gallagher Girls Series readathon and we’d love for you to be a part!  Even if you haven’t read the series, this is a great time to get into it!   Well, start at the beginning, of course!  Wouldn’t want you to miss the first three amazing books!

This week is Only The Good Spy Young

Keep your eyes open for more posts coming up!

Only The Good Spy Young - Ally Carter

Question of the week:

If you could pick the school colors what would they be?

And what would the uniforms be?

Gallagher Girl Readathon Schedule hosted by thegirlsinplaidskirts.com

Gallagher Girl 3: Shelfie Profiling

Gallagher Girl readathon logo hosted by thegirlsinplaidskirts.com

Gallagher Girls are trained on profiling and gathering information. We see this as they go through a person’s trash to gather their information. I’ve thought how it would be fun to profile someone based of the their bookshelves. Could it be done? I figured you could help me out.

Put on your sleuthing hats and let’s go!

1.

book shelf 4

2.

bookshelf3

3.

shelf 1

4.

book shef 2

 

 

Okay, tell us about the owners of these bookshelves! Ready. Set. GO!

Oh fathers, where art thou?

whos_your_daddy darth vader

(This doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the article, but… Star Wars!)

MC = main character

Direct quotes are credited in-text.

Warning: This post is a little longer and more “thinking intensive” than our usual 🙂

In light of recent Father’s Day we wanted to spotlight father characters.  However, after a little thought, we realized that there are very few books that highlight the father figure.  It seems all too common that the parents, although they play an important part in the character’s history and development, don’t usually play a large role in the “meat” of the story, or get much “page time”.  Not to mention they usually get a bad rap.  Being the curious mind that I am, I wanted to know more; Why do parents get so left out? Where are the awesome parents? Why do they get stereotyped? How important are the roles of the parents? Now, I am no scholar but I do have some thoughts.  So I did some searching, article reading, mental reviewing of books I’ve read, and discussing with other readers.  The articles I am pulling from are all well written and well sourced. After I read them I almost felt like not writing this, just quoting them and pointing over there and saying “Hey! Go read these!”  But then I thought, “No, I should do this.  I could use the practice in constructing my thoughts and building a cohesive puddle of ideas…” So here I go! 🙂

The focus of YA books are, of course, the young characters (the ones the intended readers can relate to) and their journey to manhood, true love, a better place, self-finding, or what have you.  This is the opportunity for the MC to learn great things. Unfortunately, achieving this seems to require putting the parents, and for the most part adults in general, in the back seat, in a bad light, or even fully out of the picture.  This issue is as old as the YA genre itself, which may be older than you think.

Novels for the young folks started becoming a “thing” in the mid 60s and into the 70’s. This coincides with the emergence of the famous/infamous “hippie” movement, which encouraged the independence of youth and the idea of rejecting expectations and creating your own identity and future.  Never mind that it turned into a giant bandwagon of lost, broke, hapless, non-individual individuals seeing life through rose-colored glasses, both literal and metaphorical.  From this era we get the still-popular The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, as well as Robert Lipsyte’s Contender.  These first books stemmed from classic narratives of the orphan triumphant, as seen in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) and countless fairytales, but with a new flavor of raw survival. The MC is not tied to a past, and is responsible for, and answers to, no one but himself.  Conflict lies not with adults and not really with the status quo, but rather with his peers, the other teens. (Just)

Following the conquering orphan came the sub-genre of “problem novels”.  In the late 70s, early 80s the inept, falling apart, greatly flawed, and irresponsible parents had their YA debut.   Similar to the way that the recent sub-genre of “sick lit” deals with the journey and challenges related to illness, in problem novels the “dramatic conflict occurs not in a vacant lot but in the home, around the dining table”, such as divorce, abuse, and neglect(Just). Mothers often take the fall for home issues, especially leaving, as the females can be pinned with the “emotionally unstable” tag.  Contributing to the stigma is the black cloud of “the evil stepmother” from tales of old.  However, fathers also have been colored a very dark shade of sad.  Tucked into many a page is a father bleary-eyed and hung over, stumbling and yelling and drunk, cold and oppressive, out of sight and out of touch, or simply missing in action.

Julie Just makes a great comparison in her article for The New York Times.

“However toned down, the hapless fictional parents of today aren’t necessarily more believable than the slightly scary figures of the classic problem novel. What they are is less consequential. In the transition from Ma in “A Place Apart” (Paula Fox, 1980) to the father in “Once Was Lost”(Sara Zarr, 2011), deferring to his exasperated 15-year-old daughter in the supermarket aisle, there’s a loss of stature and a lowering of stakes. Ma, a widow, is openly grieving and visibly poorer after the sale of the family home; she’s emotionally unreachable at times and unapologetic about it. By contrast, the father in “Once Was Lost” becomes somehow peripheral, his problems more muted and less interesting than his teenage daughter’s.”

Having a bit of history of parents if YA helps put some things into perspective, but it doesn’t really answer the question of why?  The easy answer: Parents are plot tools.  To have a good story every character must earn their page presence, be it by comic relief, confidant to the MC, foil to the protaganist…   So very often parents get pinned with the job of setting up the MC for a great story, and then are quietly tucked away until needed to bump the story along.  (Obviously, and thankfully!, there are exceptions.)

Parents, real and fictional, are a springboard for their children, who, in YA books, are the focus, and in the real world, are the MCs of their own story. There are two sides to this coin, parents helping the MC to achieve great things by supporting them and rallying behind them, and inversely, giving them a lower starting point and a harder journey by being abusive, absent, or even the active antagonist.  Undeniably, main characters with a troubled or complicated past offer opportunity for a highly interesting journey for the reader.  On the flipside, well constructed, positive parental figures, that don’t even have to be active in the story, can also shape great MCs who might still face great challenges and undergo trials and need to deal with big things and little things and make a great story!

Lorraine Franqui for Girls in Capes addresses the issue of YA fathers, specifically, becoming plot devices who typically fall into one of three categories: fallen hero, absentee enabler, and manipulative villain.  Example after example shows the father’s anger, or fears, or regrets, or absence, or death, setting the protagonist on their journey to whatever fueled by contempt, respect, or revenge.  While this isn’t totally a bad thing, it isn’t great either.  The father is bumped from his job of being an active and involved parent with a mature voice, to a building block of the back story, the whys and wherefores of the MC.

I feel that Franqui really puts a finger on the meat of the issue.

 “There are many types of fathers in the real world: great ones, mediocre ones and even bad ones. It’s not like there’s no variety in the representation of fathers in YA or that there’s a massive lack of really great ones, but the types are neatly defined categories and the representations aren’t always the most favorable. Not all fathers stay heroes in their children’s eyes, but YA should acknowledge fatherhood is a complex universe in itself and that parenting doesn’t come in a neatly defined and predetermined quantity of flavors. …[T]hey have a more central role in their teenaged children’s life than just inconvenient obstacles or occasional, highly limited motivators…”

The YA world isn’t just lacking good fathers, it’s lacking real fathers. Now, I know not all real fathers are good fathers, too many aren’t, but readers could benefit from seeing the MCs have relationships with their parents that is actually part of the story.  A relationship they can relate to their own lives.  Unfortunately, when you write ‘normal’ adults you toe the line of  “the dreaded territory of the boring adult concerns like paying bills, going to work, buying healthy groceries, getting enough exercise and do the laundry”, notes Lucy Silag from Book Country.  But is it possible to find a happy medium? Can someone write parents, married or single, who are sane, responsible, quirky, moody, people with decent fashion sense, but really bad jokes, that always get lost, are concerned with keeping a budget and scared of change, that are firm believers in ordering pizza on Fridays and encourage adventure and self-discovery, who are likable and relatable but can also enable the MC to face their challenges knowing they are not alone?

Some stories we read because all we want is to escape reality for a little while.  But some stories are read because we need the characters, and we need to see their struggles and how they survive, to see *that* they survive.  We read to see ourselves in these characters, and know that we can survive.

Do you have any books to recommend with great, or well written parents?

Want to share your thoughts?

From The New York Times, Sunday Book Review

The Parent Problem in Young Adult Lit

By Julie Just, July 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/books/review/Just-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

From the Book Country blog put out by Penguin Press

Young Adult Contemporary Guidepost #4: Parents in YA Fiction

By Lucy Silag, August 2013

http://blog.bookcountry.com/young-adult-contemporary-guidepost-4-adult-characters-in-ya-what-should-they-do/

From Girls in Capes blog

The Father Formula in Young Adult Literature

By  Lorraine Alcevedo Franqui, June 2013

http://girlsincapes.com/2013/06/14/ya-dads/

Review: The Princetta

Author: Ann-Laure BondouxThe Princetta

Age: Advanced MG and YA

Genre: Epic Adventure

Released: January 2004

Click here to read summary from Goodreads.

>> This book was later released as The Princess and the Captain (but this cover is way better)<<

These are the days of the dystopian tales, the “coming of age” stories, the contemporary first loves, and the uprising of the once-deads and the never-dies (zombies and vampires).  But there are other lovely things to be had!  Such as this incredible book!

I found The Princetta at the annual Friends of the Library book sale our local system has every year.  It’s held in the basement so it took some ‘down the dark stairwell, follow the tunnel’ navigating to get there but then I was welcomed into the glowing cavern of retiring books and loving new owners perusing around for some treasures to take home.  With great fervor I joined their ranks and soon had a stack of books to my chin.

When I first picked it up I was very excited by the cover, it practically screams adventure, right?!? and then I read the flap and I knew it was coming home with me.  Unfortunately the whole son-of-a-pirate thing didn’t mean there would be any actual piracy…  However, there was no shortage of equally, and possible more so, thrilling adventures!

This is, as far as I’m concerned, a great historical epic that can be enjoyed by guys and girls that is stocked full of all the requisite epic-ness ingredients…  loyal friends, hard times, mythical creatures, a little bit of love, tests of self-discovery in mystical places where you might not live and winged beasts come to carry you away, invisible people, fights with swords and horses, axes and pots ’n pans!  And let’s not forget the heartbreak, betrayal, and massive lava dog!

The world building in this tale is exceptional.  Bondoux doesn’t describe everything into exhaustive detail, rather gives you a visual window of the scene and evokes emotions that make it real, allowing your imagination to see things how you want to se them.

It is rather difficult to attempt a full and proper review on this because both the book and story are just so big…it’s 430 pages long and with a tale that spans about a year.

The character collection is really swell.  There is a main cast, a really diverse group, and a secondary cast, who show up when needed and then killed or tucked away for later.   Leading the main cast are our two main characters, Malva, the Princetta, and Orpheus, the sea merchant/undercover pirate’s son.

The story is in two third person POVs, with the first part telling the independent tales of our two main characters (which we all know will converge, of course!).  There are very well constructed.  Rather than the uneven alternation, as one story gets more chapters than the other, I think I would have preferred getting her side all at once and then his, since they don’t have any interaction with each other and there aren’t any connections in their stories (aside from her leaving). Into the second part the alternating views are nice, they provides different interpretation of the same experiences and other characters, and allow us to “observe” the other main character when we aren’t in their head.

And I am happy to award this book a place on our list of Clean Reads!!!  It just goes to show you really can tell an incredible story without being vile or vulgar.

There are some disturbing images and instances of torture, but only described in passing.

Interested?  Find it here!

Content Advisory:

Language: 0 – NOTHING!!!

Sexual: .5 – She fall gently in love… awe

Other: .5 – General danger, but what’s an adventure without danger??

*Our reviews do contain affiliate links, meaning we could make a very small commission should you buy something using one of those links.

Summer Reading!!

FREEEEDOOOOOOOOOOM!!!

Do you guys even know that reference any more??  A cookie to the first person to correctly identify the source, *without googleing*Rainy Day Reading

Anyway, IT’S SUMMER!!!!  woooohoo!!  So far this season, it has been stupidly rainy… like every day.. the river has been out of it’s bank for days..  BUT everybody know that rainy weather is good reading weather!  So whether or not it’s a deluge where you are, summer is meant for settling down with a good book.  In order to fill the pressing question of “What do I read next?!?!”  I have compiled a list of happy, fresh, summer-themed books!

I would like to say I have not read these books, but I will!  I am in the process of collecting them from the various branches of our local library system 🙂  I chose these books based off of the story lines and the positive reviews from other readers, as well as the fluff factor.  I’m not usually a fluff-er but summer calls for a little light reading!

Have you read any of these already? Care to share your thoughts?

(Info snips are written by me, basically shortened versions of the blurbs.  Titles link to the GoodReads pages.)

Summer on the Short BusSummer on the Short Bus
by Bethany Crandell

Spoiled Cricket is forced to go to a camp for disabled teens, where she is surprised to find friends and maybe even a little love.

My Faire LadyMy Faire Lady

by Laura Wettersten
After having her heart broken, Rowena jumps feet first into a job as a face painter/wench at a Renaissance Fair and discovers that sometime you have to go back in time find your future.

Breakfast Served Anytime

Breakfast Served Anytime

by Sarah Combs
Gloria is heads to “geek camp” sad, but optimistic, and is swept in by a teachers mysteries, a curious roomate, and the obnoxious, yet unforgettable Mason who dresses like the Mad Hatter.
*Debut Novel*
 What if you had the best chance for revenge ever? That’s just Mackenzie’s case when her ex suddenly gets amnesia and is in love with her all over again, but Mack plans to capitalize on this and make him feel the pain of being the dumpee.
*fluff alert*

17 First Kisses

17 First Kisses

byRachael Allen
So many kisses later and Claire still struggles with the single life that comes with having a complicated past and an irresistible best friend. That is until Luke, who said best friend is also falling for, testing friendship, love, and the life you’ve always known.
 *Debut Novel*

Royally Lost

Royally Lost

by Angie Stanton
Becca is miserable trapped in her family vacation, until the mysterious, and of course handsome, Nikolai (who you probably guessed is a prince, but he’s also the runaway version), and adventure ensues, but in the end is the ever present question “What now?”
Summer of Yesterday

Summer of Yesterday

byGaby Triana
After a seizure changes her summer plans from camp with friends to camping with Dad, Haley is not happy, but a new seizure suddenly transports her into the past, to a very special time and place, that has some very special people.
The Prince of Venice Beach

The Prince of Venice Beach

by Blake Nelson
Runaway/beach bum Robert “Cali” knows everyone on the sands of Venice Beach, CA, making him the perfect guy to find another missing teen, but what if Reese doesn’t want to be found and will do anything to stay that way?
*guy’s POV!*