YA Classics – Modern Editions: The Hunger Games

Like I previously mentioned, the 1980s and 1990s were full of YA literature with *le grit* that showed how intense the real world could be. The majority of these themes and plots revolve around issues of reality like drugs or abuse. Despite these trends, there was an unspoken rule about avoiding gratuitous violence. It is even included in teen-centered shows.

 

The Hunger Games was one of the books that helped to shift this rule though. It showed that some hardcore violence (Rue, anyone?) was actually an interesting way to increase shock value, intrigue readers, and really explore previously taboo topics in YA literature. Some people (who have no idea what they are talking about) say that The Hunger Games is just a remake of Battle Royale. Anyone who even has a working knowledge of history and literature knows that is complete bullcrap. The Most Dangerous Game was written in 1924 for goodness sake. There have been countless incidents of bringing in slaves/enemies into a single arena to fight to the death for entertainment in world history. The Romans were especially fond of this arrangement. Therefore, anyone saying that The Hunger Games is just a knock-off of Battle Royale should claim that the original story is simply a knock-off of history.

 

Sorry for the rant…it bugs me.

 

Yet, it is the combination of writing style, narrative (especially from a girl’s perspective), and continuing books of rebellion that make these three books amazing young adult classics. It helped to show that teen boys could even get into YA fiction despite the fact that the main character is a girl as long as the story was awesome enough. Therefore, anyone in their right mind should be able to see that these books are super amazing YA modern classics.

hungergames1-3

 

Bring It to Life (BITL)!

Make your own mockingjay pin out of polymer clay!

 

The following graphic from Art Seats sums up the process with great follow-along pictures so that making the pin is easy even without artistic talent.

how-to-make-mocking-jay-pin-with-polymer-clay

 

YA Classics – Modern Editions: Twilight Saga (Read THEN Judge!)

Ok. Ok. Ok. I know that just by reading the title of the post many people will avoid it.

HOWEVER…I have to do this post because I feel it needs to be said. It has become so common to grind the Twilight Saga into the ground, but the books ARE young adult classics. They helped to change the YA lit game just like Harry Potter, and that contribution needs to be recognized.

Here are the reasons why these books need to be respected for the classics they are:

  • They showed YA lit was here to stay

Twilight emerged around the same time that Harry Potter was winding down. Some critics of YA literature felt that once Harry Potter was gone then the entire genre would start to stagnate then collapse. The phenomenon associated with Twilight showed just how wrong they were. Harry Potter created millions of eager YA fans and without Harry Potter they simply wanted something new to grab onto. Twilight was the answer for many of these readers.

  • They allowed for YA paranormal romance to become their own genre

Before Twilight, most of YA romance was focused on simple flirtations or people who already had a boyfriend or girlfriend with preassigned traits. The widespread popularity of Twilight showed that teen romance could be just as in-depth as adult romance. It also helped to present the idea of romance being “more” than the real world. Such romance can present the idea of a romance to which readers can relate with real-life desires of love yet distant enough to allow for more excitement in a parallel underworld of sorts. Tons of authors took up the cause to supply paranormal romance to these now eager fans. In fact, many adult paranormal romance authors (like my personal romance goddess Sherrilyn Kenyon) embraced this shift and broke into the YA market.

  • They brought the entire concept of romance books out of the closet

It was common for women to keep their romance in a secret place for quite a long time. I knew many who kept it in the closet or in plastic containers under the bed. They would prefer to do this than put them on the bookshelf. Romance was for silly women. Yet, Twilight showed romance could be more than a dirty secret you keep hidden behind a collectible World of Warcraft murloc action figure (true story). It’s widespread popularity resulted in many people reading these books in public without shame. This surge in YA romance caused a ripple effect through the adult romance books, making them more popular as well. I mean Fifty Shades of Grey is a friggin erotica novel (not just simple romance), and it was on the national best seller list. Twilight helped many romance readers to not be ashamed of their love of love and their sexy-based reading habits.

Now for my freely admitting the bad and how I can actually excuse some of it:

  • The relationship between Bella and Edward is MESSED UP. He is a control freak. She is a whiny pants. However, their love and the length they will go for each other helps to show truth. Many critics of Wuthering Heights said similar things about Heathcliff and Catherine. Therefore, I am going to defend Bella and Edward with the same tidbit that is applied to Heathcliff and Catherine. It is their LOVE that redeems them. It is their love that makes two imperfect people seem better than they are. Honestly, that is far more real than the majority of love stories people like to tout as the “perfection” of love since most romance and couples are definitely not perfect.
  • Bella going comatose for multiple months in New Moon is extreme. Still, I’m going to explain why I think this incident is not what it seems. Most people feel that she went out of it because of her love for a boy. I completely disagree. Bella explains often during the later books that it is not about one boy or the other. It is ultimately about who she “should” be and who she actually is. With Edward she found her place in the world, finally fit into something, finally had friends with whom she could truly connect, and finally knew for certain what her future should be. When he left, she did not only lose him but also herself. How would you feel if you had grown up, gotten through the rough parts of early adult life, found your dream job, your dream mate, and friends you truly enjoy only to lose it all and be tossed back into the mundane world of high school where you have to fake most of your personality just to survive? I would be pretty messed up…probably not comatose for months but it is a book and some exaggeration is necessary.

There…I’ve said my piece. I hope you listened and hope you understand what I meant. If you disagree, I get it. Please feel free to comment on this post because I’d love to hear your beliefs.

twilight-books

 

Bring It to Life (BITL)!

Make Jacob’s dream-catcher for Bella! This piece is a great symbol from the book that can be an awesome decoration at home.

 

What You Need:

  • Small grapevine wreath
  • 4 yards of hemp or twine
  • 12 inch suede cord
  • Glass beads or charms
  • Monofilament
  • Scissors

Instructions:

  • Cut a 70 inch piece of the hemp or twine. Tie one end to the wreath. Then, start making half hitches all around the wreath, pulling string firmly between each loop.

half hitch

  • When you get to the middle you can tie on a large glass bead if desired. Trim the hemp or twine.
  • Cut a 15 inch piece of monofilament. Tie a large glass bead or charm to one end. String additional glass beads or charms on to the monofilament until you have a 5 inch beaded dangler to hang on your wreath. Make four more shorter danglers to add extra shine and style.
  • Tie all to the bottom of your wreath. Trim any left over hemp or twine. Cut a 12 inch piece of the suede cord. Make a loop on the top for hanging it anywhere you like!

dream catcher

 

YA Classics – Modern Editions: Harry Potter

Many feel that the term ‘classic’ is meant to be applied to older works. I’ve even meet several people who think that a classic work of literature with proper ‘literary merit’ has to be at least 50 years old. Obviously, being a lover of YA lit, I have argued with these people until I turned blue in the face. I tried to explain that just because something is old does not mean it is classic. There is plenty of crap literature in the stacks of libraries across the nation that are at least 50 years old. The opposite is true too. There is a great deal of amazing literature that is relatively brand new.

I feel that the majority of YA classics actually do fall into this category. YA lit was not taken seriously until the last decade or so, and it still faces opponents every day. At least publishers have recognized the buying power of teens and the wide appeal of good YA literature since many adults (ahem…me and plenty others) love an awesome story just as much as anyone. Yet, the source of this shift arguably came with one of the greatest books of all time that happened to be targeted toward juveniles and young adults.

HARRY POTTER!

Just those two words can inspire joy, passion, and extreme fandom. It was really the first book (beginning with Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone) to show great YA lit was possible, and it did fill a need. Before that time (and somewhat still today) people claimed that teens just didn’t want to read. Harry Potter proved them wrong. They wanted to read, but they didn’t find books that they were passionate about! The Harry Potter series helped an entire generation learn how amazing books could be if the genre was supported. It is a modern YA classic without a doubt.

harry-potter

Bring It to Life (BITL)!

Harry Potter crafts are some of the coolest and fun projects. They are very popular too. Many sites support these items. I simply couldn’t choose from them! Here is a link to my compiled Pinterest board of some of the best Harry Potter crafts, recipes, and several websites which have collected them.

YA Awesomesauce HP Crafts Pinterest Board

YA Classics – In-betweeners: The Face on the Milk Carton

Another popular theme in YA literature from the 1990s were some pretty heavy real life issues. I like to refer to it as *le grit* as it is extremely gritty in nature and can be a bit startling to someone who is not used to books with these themes or plot devices. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Clooney was first published in 1990 and has plenty of le grit. In fact, the first time I ever read the book in 7th grade I was scarred for weeks. Even thinking about it now kind of gives me the shivers.

The story follows a teenage girl named Janie who sees her own young face on the back of a milk carton one day at lunch. She even distinctly remembers the day the picture was taken and the itchy feeling of the dress. This rude awakening leads her to investigate both her parents and her own history. The idea is a truly shocking one. Many teens who cannot connect with their families might secretly wish to find their “real” family who they more closely resemble, but The Face on the Milk Carton shows that this standard teenage fantasy is not necessarily a dream come true.

The story itself is very intense and dramatic. There is more to it than the discovery of Janie’s roots though. She still is a mostly normal teen with teen desires and life, including friends and a boyfriend. This combination of standard YA literature aspects like the lives of many young adults with the very rough tale of a kidnap victim discovering the truth about her past makes this book a great YA classic. Despite the fact it does not get a great deal of attention in the classroom or even in modern bookstores, it definitely should be a standard read to understand the concept of le grit that formed the basis for many YA books before dystopia and fantasy genres became so popular.

The_Face_on_the_Milk_Carton

Bring It to Life (BITL)!

Kidnapping is a very real problem in the world today. It still hurts many families every year. The best way to honor this extraordinary YA classic to to help those who suffer from this massive social problem. There are several groups who organize volunteers to help find missing children or help the families cope with losing a child.

Polly Klaas Foundation

Help distribute posters of children missing in your community.

American Association for Lost Children (AAFLC)

Donate to help the organization or volunteer to help find missing children

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Donate personally, host a fundraiser, or join one of their campaigns

YA Classics – In-betweeners: Ella Enchanted

YA literature has some interesting idiosyncrasies. Most school assignments and “traditional” classics are quite old, having been written in the first half of the 1900s. Yet, YA lit didn’t really find its legs and grow to massive proportions until the past decade. This arrangement leaves many “in-betweeners,” basically books that are not old enough to be traditional classics but not new enough to be modern ones. I have long considered a large portion of these books from the 1980s and 1990s to be the unsung heroes of YA literature. They can be great books on their own and deserve a little bump in publicity.

Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted is one of her most popular books. It was written in 1997, just on the cusp of the YA boom. Many fairy tale re-tellings and twists were a beloved tradition in the 1990s and Ella Enchanted is considered to be one of the best. The story brings Cinderella to a whole new level and supports the idea of being independent and choosing your own fate despite the world and even part of yourself claiming that your destiny is already set. This primary theme resounds with many teens and many adults who love the flow and beauty found in YA literature.

The fact that the novel was written so close to the spread in the merits of YA led to it eventually becoming a movie. While YA Awesomesauce is not really a movie review site, I have to give my opinion on the film in case anyone decides to watch it due to this post. The movie as its own movie and story is actually pretty cute. It is a nice whimsical fairy tale with plenty of coming of age themes, an innocent love story, and magic. THAT BEING SAID…it is a terrible book-to-movie conversion. The heart of the book is about standing up for yourself and forging your own path. The movie seems to miss these points or hide them beneath silly but pleasant puns. If you really wish to watch the movie following the book, just think of it as its own movie and do not compare it to its literary namesake.

Ella

Bring It to Life (BITL)!

Make Ella’s necklace.

One of the most beautiful objects included in Ella Enchanted is the gnome-made necklace given to her by her mother Lady Eleanor. It is a long established family heirloom and acts as a link between Ella and her mother once Lady Eleanor dies. The necklace is not exactly described in detail though. The primary specific passage that details this necklace is “Threads of silver ended almost at my waist in a woven pattern of silver studded with tiny pearls.”

This openness in interpretation means that making your own Ella necklace is more a process of accessing your own imagination and skill set. The following is a general guideline that can help start the process and shows what I recommend for the craft.

What you will need:

  • Silver embroidery thread or a silver necklace chain
  • Pearls with holes big enough for the thread and the help of a needle or pearl charms for the chain

What to do:

Using silver embroidery thread will really help in creating the woven pattern that is described. A woven chain can be made with the creation of a simple braid that then will require a separate thread to weave the pearls into the braid at incremental patterns.

The chain options might be simpler for those who cannot weave or braid. Merely slide the pearls onto the chain and hold them into place with fitted silver pieces. Pearl charms that already have a small silver loop at the top could even be used at intervals along the chain to dangle off of it.

Here are a few design ideas to help you out!

pearl and silversilver and pearl

silver pearl necklaceSterling-silver-and-freshwater-pearl-necklace