Category Archives: Book Events

Banned Books Week 2014

Hey, kids (and adults)!  It’s Banned Books Week this week.  And I’m really feeling it this year.  I just recently finished (and enjoyed) three frequently challenged books – Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain and Maus I & Maus II, by Art Spiegelman.

Book challenges have been really catching my attention for the last several months.  Recent book challenges are summarized nicely in this round-up at BookRiot, which points out that the bodies (most often school boards) determining whether a book will be removed often do not even read the challenged book.  It is very disturbing to me when the views of one (or of a small group) result in the banishment of a book.  It is even more disturbing that book challenges frequently target books about minorities: “Diversity is slim throughout all genres of books and across all age groups — except when it comes to book challenges.”

But that is what Banned Books Week is all about – celebrating and seeking to protect the right and the freedom to read.  For some interesting and depressing information, check out the ALA’s frequently challenged books lists.  The top ten list for 2013 included the following:

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
  2. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
    Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  9. Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
    Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  10. Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
    Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

Of these, I have read (and really enjoyed) four. What banned books have you read and liked?

Head over to the official Banned Books Week website to find out more about banned books and this week’s celebrations of the right to read.  (My personal favorite is the Lawrence Public Library‘s banned books trading cards.  View the editions here: 2014 | 2013 | 2012.)

Utah Book Month 2014 Wrap-Up & Insta-Utah Winner

Is it really the end of August already? That means that we have reached the end of the third annual Utah Book Month! We had a great time featuring Utah authors and bloggers all month long.

Our annual Utah Books party was last night. Check out my post about the bash over on the Utah Books blog.

I also put together both chronological and categorical lists, collecting all of the Utah Book Month 2014 posts for posterity.

And, finally, here is a list of the Utah Book Month posts that appeared here at The Bluestocking Society:
Welcome to Utah Book Month
Utah Books Deals
Utah Book Month Mini-Challenge: Insta-Utah
Top Ten Tuesday: Utah Books
Vintage Utah Book Month Spotlight: Utah Book Awards
Review: My Loving Vigil Keeping, by Carla Kelly
Utah Book Month: Book Blogger Spotlight, Book Club Edition
Utah Book Month: #UtahBooks Dedications
Utah Book Month Spotlight: Author Katharine Coles
Utah Book Month Versus: Edenbrooke vs. Blackmoore
Utah Book Month Spotlight: Beehive Book Awards

That’s a lot of celebrating! I’m already looking forward to next year.

But wait, there’s one more item of business! My Insta-Utah mini-challenge. We had quite a few people post pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #UtahBooks. Here are my top three favorites:

The pile of books at the release party for James Dashner’s The Rule of Thoughts taken by Suey of It’s All About Books.

Look at that pile of books! #utahbooks  @jamesdashner

This picture of Kami of Kami’s Library Thoughts, with her dog and a copy of Signed, Skye Harper by Carol Lynch Williams.

I don't like it when someone reads over my shoulder (or head), but I'll make an exception this time. Carol Lynch Williams is pretty good! #UtahBooks

This picture of Jenni of Jenni Elyse reading Paranoia on her Kindle during her lunch break.

Lunch break. #utahbooks

And the winner, randomly chosen from these three, is . . . Jenni Elyse! Congratulations, Jenni. I’ll be in touch about claiming your prize.

Thanks to everyone who played along with Utah Book Month!

Utah Book Month Spotlight: Beehive Book Awards

In doing some research for Utah Book Month, I rediscovered a Utah book award that I have not previously featured! Gasp.

The Beehive Book Awards are sponsored by the Children’s Literature Association of Utah. The awards have been around since 1980 and started with just an award for one children’s book. Since then, the categories have expanded to five: children’s book, children’s picture book, informational book, young adult book, and poetry book.

The Beehive Book Awards are unique in a couple of ways. First, the awards each year are open to books published within the last four years – not just the last year as required by many other awards. Second, the winners are voted on by Utah children. Authors and illustrators of every country and state are eligible for the awards. Interesting, no?

Here is the lengthy list of past winners, with Utah authors in blue:

1980 Children’s—Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary

1981 Children’s—Eddie’s Menagerie by Carolyn Haywood

1982 Children’s—Superfudge by Judy Blume

1983 Children’s—Chocolate Touch by Patrick Catling

1984 Children’s—Lost in the Devil’s Desert by Gloria Skurzynski

1985 Children’s—Stone Fox by John R. Gardiner

1986 Children’s—Me and the Weirdos by Jane Sutton

1987 Children’s—Skinnybones by Barbara Park

1988 Children’s—Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn
Informational—How Much is a Million? by David Schwartz

1989 Children’s—Trapped in Death Cave by Bill Wallace
Informational—Your Amazing Senses by Ron and Atie Van Der Meer

1990 Children’s—This Island Isn’t Big Enough for the Four of Us! by Gery Greer and Robert Ruddick
Informational—How to Make Pop-Ups by Joan Irvine

1991 Children’s—Matilda by Roald Dahl
Informational—Bill Peet: An Autobiography by Bill Peet
Young Adult—Other Side of Dark by Joan Lowery Nixon

1992 Children’s—There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom by Louis Sachar
Informational—Ant Colony by Heiderose Fischer-Nagel
Young Adult—Don’t Look Behind You by Lois Duncan

1993 Children’s—The Dead Man in Indian Creek by Mary Downing Hahn
Informational—Dolphin Adventure: A True Story by Wayne Grover
Young Adult—Sniper by Theodore Taylor

1994 Children’s—Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville
Informational—Steven Biesty’s Incredible Cross Sections by Richard Platt
Young Adult—The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

1995 Children’s—Ghosts of Mercy Manor by Betty Ren Wright
Informational—Sadako by Eleanor Coerr
Young Adult—Amazing Gracie by A. E. Cannon

1996 Children’s—Time for Andrew by Mary Downing Hahn
Picture—Two of Everything: A Chinese Folk Tale by Lily Toy Hong
Informational—Mummies and Their Mysteries by Charlotte Wilcox
Young Adult—Nothing to Fear by Jackie French Koller

1997 Children’s—Watchdog and the Coyotes by Bill Wallace
Picture—A Job for Wittilda by Caralyn Buehner
Informational—Never Take a Pig to Lunch: and Other Poems About the Fun of Eating by Nadine Bernard Westcott
Young Adult—In My Father’s House by Ann Rinaldi

1998 Children’s—Someone Was Watching by David Patneaude
Picture—Anansi and the Talking Melon by Eric A. Kimmel
Informational—It’s a Spoon, Not a Shovel by Caralyn Buehner
Young Adult—The Merlin Effect by T.A. Barron

1999 Children’s—Earthquake Terror by Peg Kehret
Picture—Watch Out! Big Bro’s Coming! by Jez Alborough
Informational—Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story by Ken Mochizuki
Young Adult—SOS Titanic by Eve Bunting

2000 Children’s—Frindle by Andrew Clements
Picture—A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
Informational—A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder by Walter Wick
Young Adult—Little Sister by Kara Dalkey

2001 Children’s—The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson
Picture—Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester
Informational—If You Hopped by a Frog by David Schwartz
Young Adult—A Long Way from Chicago: A Novel in Stories by Richard Peck

2002 Children’s—Midnight Magic by Avi
Picture—Sitting Ducks by Michael Bedard
Informational—The Snake Scientist by Sy Montgomery
Poetry—Insectlopedia by Douglas Florian
Young Adult—Downsiders by Neal Shusterman

2003 Children’s—The Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
Picture—Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
Informational—Tiger Math: Learning to Graph From a Baby Tiger by Ann Whitehead and Cindy Bickel
Poetry—Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs by Alan Katz
Young Adult—Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

2004 Children’s—Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech
Picture—Bertie Was a Watchdog by Rick Walton
Informational—Leonardo’s Horse by Jean Fritz
Poetry—The Moon & Riddles Diner and the Sunnyside Café by Nancy Willard
Young Adult—Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

2005 Children’s—The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Picture—Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin
Informational—How Angel Peterson Got His Name by Gary Paulsen
Poetry—Giant Children by Brod Bagert
Young Adult—Eragon by Christopher Paolini

2006 Children’s—Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
Picture—Some Dogs Do by Jex Alborough
Informational—Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
Poetry—Rolling in the Aisles: a Collection of Laugh-out-loud Poetry by Bruce Lansky
Young Adult—Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

2007 Children’s—Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Picture—Where’s the Dragon by Jason Hook
Informational—Life-Size Dinosaurs by David Bergen
Poetry—Hotel Deep: Light Verse from Dark Water by Kurt Cyrus
Young Adult—The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

2008 Children’s—The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
Picture—Mommy? By Maurice Sendak, Arthur Torinks and Matthew Reinhart
Informational—What If You Met a Pirate? by Jan Adkins
Poetry—Once I Ate a Pie by Patricia MacLachlan, Emily MacLachlan Charest
Young Adult—Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe

2009 Children’s—The Candy Shop Wars by Brandon Mull
Picture—If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen
Informational—The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hall Igguiden
Poetry—Dogku by Andrew Clements
Young Adult—Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

2010 Children’s—The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
Picture—When Dinosaurs Came With Everything by Elise Broach
Informational—How Big Is It?: A Big Book All About Bigness by Ben Hillman
Poetry—Oh, Theodore!: Guinea Pig Poems by Susan Katz
Young Adult—The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

2011 Children’s—Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Picture—Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Informational—Frogs by Nic Bishop
Poetry—The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry edited by Bill Martin Jr.
Young Adult—Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

2012 Children’s—Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Picture—Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton
Informational—Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s Chocolate Pilot by Michael O. Tunnell
Poetry—The Dancing Pancake by Eileen Spinelli
Young Adult—Dragonfly by Julia Golding

2013 Children’s—Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith
Picture—Press Here by Herve Tullet
Informational—Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy
Poetry—Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw
Young Adult—The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

2014 Children’s—Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Picture—The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett
Informational—Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
Poetry—Twosomes by Marilyn Singer
Young Adult—The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Whew! Pretty awesome list. Do I miss any Utah authors? What do you think about the Beehive Book Awards?

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Utah Book Month Versus: Edenbrooke vs. Blackmoore

Versus is a feature in which two books face off. Anything goes in the judging, but only one can be the winner.

Welcome to today’s special Utah Book Month edition of Versus. Two books by Utah author Julianne Donaldson battle it out.

I have a history with both of these books. I initially read Edenbrooke in August 2012 and loved it so much I immediately reread almost all of it. I reviewed it here (and talked about how my book club got to Skype with Julianne Donaldson)! I got an advanced copy of Blackmoore in June 2013 and read it in one sitting. I reviewed it here. I recently obtained audio versions of both books via Audible and listened to them back-to-back for Utah Book Month. One just can’t help but compare them.

Let’s start with the similarities. These are both Regency romances that take place around the beginning of the 19th Century. They are both “proper romances,” which means that they are largely clean, with no explicit sex scenes or swearing or violence. They both feature heroines who are struggling with who they are and who they will become in the fairly limited world females faced at the time. And, of course, the titular estates both feature heavily in the books.

And now the differences. Blackmoore definitely has a brooding atmosphere about it, which is enhanced by Blackmoore’s proximity to both the ocean and the moores. I liked Kate as a heroine, though it was sometimes hard to not know her back story until the very end of the book. I liked Henry a lot too. Donaldson did a good job showing how it was not just the women during this time that had limited options. I loathed both of the mothers and Kate’s sisters. I was frustrated by the fact that Kate often references the need to be proper, particularly in light of her sister’s scandals, and Henry even sleeps at a different inn at one point to preserve Kate’s honor, but then they apparently think nothing of flitting about the estate alone every night. But the scene where everything is unleashed is quite intense and good. As for the audio performance, I liked this narrator a bit better.

Edenbrooke, to me, feels lighthearted, in a good way. I love Marianne as a heroine. She has a quick wit and a good heart. And the sparring with Phillip makes me almost giddy. (I laugh every time I just think about the barmaid song.) I love that you see their relationship develop, granted over a pretty short period of time, on shared interests. And the love letter scene? Whew! *fans face* I like that there was no real villain trying to keep the couple apart – it was all relatively reasonable misunderstandings and the social strictures that constrained frank and open exchanges. While I enjoyed the audio performance, the narrator was a bit breathy for my taste. Anyway, I can’t put in to words quite how much I love Edenbrooke. It has earned a place on my shelf both as one of my favorite books of all time and also as an excellent comfort book. For these reasons, it comes out ahead.

Winner: Edenbrooke

I know that not everyone would come down this way on the judging. Vote in the poll below (by the end of August 2014) and leave your reasoning for your decision in the comments. Thanks for playing!

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Utah Book Month Spotlight: Author Katharine Coles

Katharine Coles is a Utah author who has published two novels and several collections of poetry. Coles served as Utah’s poet laureate from 2006 to 2011. She currently teaches creative writing and poetry at the University of Utah.


Flight, poems, Red Hen Press, forthcoming 2016.
The Earth Is Not Flat, poems, Red Hen Press, March 2013.
Fault, poems, Red Hen Press, June 2008.
Fire Season, novel, Juniper Press, September 2005.
The Golden Years of the Fourth Dimension, poems, University of Nevada Press, August 2001.
A History of the Garden, poems, University of Nevada Press, 1997.
The Measurable World, novel, University of Nevada Press, 1995.
The One Right Touch, poems, Ahsahta Press, 1992.

Ms. Coles’s Poems on the Internet:

Elegy for a Dog Larger Than Life
From Space
From the Middle*
Kept in Mind
Tempo for a Winged Instrument
Here Be Monsters**

* My favorite of these
** From The Earth is Not Flat, which are poems inspired by her experiences in Antarctica. So far, my favorite from this collection, should you come upon a copy, is “Drake Passage,” which perfectly describes the experience of walking on a ship as “[s]tairs falling underfoot or scaling to meet us.”

More about Ms. Coles:

University of Utah Profile
Poetry Foundation Bio
VerseDaily Bio

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P.S. The Orem Library is hosting several poets in September as part of their Big Read. Katharine Coles will be hosting an evening of adventures in poetry on September 24. And Utah’s current poet laureate, Lance Larsen, will be reading on September 18.

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