reading-challenge-logo-participant-smallNow that we’ve all started selecting our to-read lists for YALSA’s Hub Challenge, I wanted to do a brief post about who of us will be participating in the challenge as well as what we’re all starting out with from the list.

So, without further ado, here are the participants for this year’s challenge, their initial starting points, and current comments.  I’ve also included commentary from the entire NFNT staff who chimed in with comments on titles read.


where-d-you-goTracking her reading: at Goodreads
Starting with: All of the Top Ten Great Graphic Novels, except for Stargazing Dog, since I don’t do animal books.  I’m also going to start Where’d You Go, Bernadette? from the Alex Awards, since I’ve heard it’s hilarious.

Comments so far:
I read

  • Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, which I love love loved
  • Daredevil, which was ok
  • The Silence of Our Friends was really impressive
  • A Flight of Angels was cool visually, story-wise a little flat for me
  • Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, which I found surprisingly compelling
  • My Friend Dahmer, which was all kinds of creepy and fascinating

I’m working on Where’d You Go Bernadette?, which is hilarious.

Jennifer W.: I though Silence of Our Friends was interesting, but do you think teens will actually read it? It seems more like something that was written for adults and then they said “well, it’s a graphic novel and there’s no sex, so it’s teen, right?”

Abby: I’d agree with that.  I thought it was interesting, but I don’t really see any of my teen patrons picking it up.

Jennifer W.: We ended up putting My Friend Dahmer in adult.

Robin: We have My Friend Dahmer in adult as well, and I’m curious to see (once I finally get to read it) if I’ll want to move it to teen.  I think ultimately it might work for more folks in adult.  Where do the rest of you shelve it?

Jennifer W.: I agree it’s more an OT/adult title and putting it in adult makes sense in my library – my teen area is generally younger. It did win an Alex, which is adult books of interest to teens. I just think it should be in the collection and not censored b/c it’s disturbing to some people.

Jenny: Ours are in adult.  I’ve avoided reading it just because I’m not up for the sad and icky yet.

Jennifer W. I can’t say I liked the art style, although it fit the story. It’s certainly not something I’d read for the entertainment value. I ended up reading it b/c of Cybils – normally I avoid memoirs like the plague.


DivinersAudioTracking her reading: at Goodreads
Starting with: The Diviners from the Amazing Audio list.  Soooooo creepy so far.

 Comments so far: I’m listening to The Diviners and a little more than half-way through.  January LaVoy is a great narrator and does a nice mix of New York accents.  I’ve mostly been listening on my drive to and from work, which means I’m hearing this when it’s light out… and I still find myself creeped out.  After the first murder happened, I had to go into a grocery store and calm down a little.  Grocery stores are apparently very normal, calming places for me.  I am suffering a little from the same problem I had during Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens… so many characters and each with something big going on.  I loved Beauty Queens, but it can be a little overwhelming and the same thing is happening with this book.  On a funny note, when I listen to an audio book, I tend to pick up certain words and phrases.  For this one, it’s the exclamation “Applesauce!”  I said it the other day in the kitchen when I dropped something.  My husband asked if I was making the babies dinner, to which I responded, “No, I was swearing.”


FlightofAngelsTracking her reading: here at NFNT
Starting with: I read Flight of Angels (depressing) the graphic novel.  Then Stargazing Dog (still fairly depressing) the graphic novel.  (Both from Top Ten Great Graphic Novels). Then I read Girlchild (super depressing) and thought I’d try Pure (OMG depressing) and put it down (these two are from the Alex Award.)

I’m just about ready to give up on this years challenge. Someone suggest something cheerful for me quick, please!


SeraphinaTracking her reading: at Goodreads
Starting with: Serephina (Morris Award), Friends with Boys, and Drama (Great Graphic Novels) as I am re-reading them all this week for classes. I am hoping to read all of the Great Graphic Novels and Printz entries and then will cherry pick the others as they are available in my library system.

Comments so far: I really enjoyed Seraphina (5 stars) and enjoyed both Drama and Friends with Boys (4 each). Awaiting a couple of titles that should be arriving this upcoming week at my local library.



monstrous beautyTracking her reading: here at NFNT
Starting with: In Darkness (Printz Award) plus The Diviners and Monstrous Beauty on audio (Amazing Audio).

A brief introduction: I’m what we’re calling Librarian Adjacent.  Which is to say my mother was a librarian, all of her friends were librarians, I grew up in a library, and currently more than 2/3 of my friends are librarians.  Anyway, I’ve been talked into doing the YALSA challenge this year – not that Robin had to work very had to persuade me.

Comments so far:

  • Monstrous Beauty (audio book)- great reader, appropriately creepy mermaids, still didn’t quite work for me.  I think I wasn’t quite in the right mood for it.
  • A Flight of Angels – Art work was gorgeous (unsurprisingly).  I liked the individual stories, but the actual framing device made no sense to me.
  • Drama – a little too cute for me, but I did enjoy it.  My major problem was that I kept getting the two brothers confused.  However, I liked the story it told and the age range that it was telling it for.
  • In Darkness – I was dubious when this won the Printz (mostly because I really really wanted Code Name Verity to win).  Having now read it, I’m not sure what I think.  The writing is beautiful, and there were sections of it that I really loved.  I liked learning more about the history of Haiti since I know almost nothing about it.  I didn’t love the framing device of the two connected lives, and I almost felt like trying to tell the two stories side-by-side meant that neither story got quite enough air time, they both felt a little incomplete somehow.  It was also an oddly hopeless book, nothing had changed, or if it had it was for the worse, which I suppose is not untrue to the situation in Haiti, but it left me with a very unfinished feeling like there should be another chapter.  I’m curious what other people thought of this book.
  • I’m also about 1 1/2 hours from the end of the audiobook of Diviners which I am loving (loving so so much, I don’t want it to end except I want to know what happens).  She is a fantastic reader, and I am really enjoying the story.  I read A Great & Terrible Beauty years ago and wasn’t particularly enthralled, and I tried to read Beauty Queens and just could not get into it, so I hadn’t been particularly curious about Diviners.  But I was so so wrong.  It’s fantastic.  How long do I have to wait for the sequel?
Editor’s Note: Petra is one of our old core group of reviewers in  years past, so we’re letting her join us for the YALSA challenge to one, add a non-librarian voice to the mix, and two, for old time’s sake.


DramaTracking her reading: at her library tumblr
Starting with: Drama, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man volume 1 (Great Graphic Novels) and Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am (Schneider Family Book Award)

Comments so far:  I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading both Drama and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (need to get the rest!).  See more comments on Drama over at Good Comics for Kids come Wednesday morning. 🙂  I agree with you, Abby, that Ultimate Comics Spider-Man is just great — I love Miles, and I’m very curious to see where they’ll take this storyline.  I was the reader who started reading Spider-Man comics with the original Ultimate line (starting in 2000), so I’ll always be partial to that universe, I think.

I’m also very much looking forward to starting Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am, as I’ve been curious about it since I bought it for the collection, and I’m glad to have the prompt to pick it up.  I just read the first chunk this morning, and am so far favorably impressed.



Tracking her reading: at Goodreads
Starting with: In Darkness (Printz Award)




TitanicVoicesFromTheDisasterTracking her reading: at Goodreads
Starting with: Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (Nonfiction Award)

  • Robin B.

    | She/Her Teen Librarian, Public Library of Brookline

    Editor in Chief

    Robin E. Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. She has chaired the American Library Association Great Graphic Novels for Teens Selection List Committee, the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee, and served on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She is currently the President of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table for ALA. She was a judge for the 2007 Eisner awards, helped judge the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards in 2011, and contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. She regularly gives lectures and workshops on graphic novels, manga, and anime at comics conventions including New York and San Diego Comic-Con and at the American Library Association’s conferences. Her guide, Understanding Manga and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), was nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award.

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