Volume 21, Number 3
Spring 1994

The Membership Connection

Kay Bushman, Editor
Ottawa High School, Ottawa, Kansas

News from ALAN

The annual ALAN breakfast will be held on Saturday, November 19, during the NCTE fall convention in Orlando, Florida. The ALAN award for outstanding contributions to the field of young adult literature will be presented, and new officers will be announced. After breakfast Ouida Sebestyen , author of Words by Heart , Far from Home , The Girl in the Box , and others, will speak. Ticket information for the breakfast will be announced in a mailing to ALAN members as well as in the convention program that will be out in August.

The 1994 ALAN Workshop will be held November 16 and 17 in Orlando and will include presentations from Stephen Dunning , Gary Paulsen , Will Hobbs , Robert Cormier , Caroline Cooney , and many other authors.

Application deadline for research grants sponsored by the ALAN Foundation for Research for Young Adult Literature will be September 15, 1994. These grants for amounts up to $1,000 are funded by royalties from the short story books edited by Don Gallo, by publishers of YA books, and by a portion of ALAN dues.Application materials are available from Ted Hipple, 301 Claxton Hall,University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-3400 , and must be submitted by September 15, 1994.

A Report from the 1993 ALAN Workshop

The following summaries represent some of the author sessions at the 1993 ALAN Workshop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

* Fantasy Worlds, Future Worlds, Frightening Worlds

This fascinating panel consisted of Jerry Spinelli , Monica Hughes , and Patricia Windsor . Jerry Spinelli, who titled his talk" From Fried Chicken to Fiction," spoke about finding the unusual within the context of the ordinary, the pockets of strange in the familiar. He did this in Maniac Magee when he created a world indistinguishable from myth and legend with Jeffrey Magee as the legendary hero.

Monica Hughes spoke on "Dystopias: But with the Light at the End of the Tunnel." Although Hughes writes about dystopic worlds where good technology has gone awry due to human ignorance, worlds that may require starting over rather than just patching up, she likes to end her stories with a challenge that engenders hope in the reader. She stresses that YA novels must be entertaining, not didactic.

Speaking about "Slashers and Sleuths," Patricia Windsor takes her stories beyond splatter punk with its overabundance of grossness. Even though she writes about horrible situations, like the murders of a serial killer, she goes beyond the horror to focus on friends who help each other when the world becomes frightening.

-- Elizabeth Poe

Radford University, Virginia

* A Thousand Glittering Windows: The Poetry of Our Lives

Naomi Shihab Nye , internationally acclaimed poet, delighted the ALAN audience by reading poetry by young adults and adults from around the world. The poems came from her collection published in 1993, This Same Sky . Nye said, "I think of This Same Sky as a giant dinner party, a feast of rich voices circling the table, the globe. You are invited." Rich voices, indeed. Nye enthralled us with selections from among the 129 poems from 68 countries. She shared the interesting experience of getting them translated, and to those who suggest, "How much is lost in translation," Nye's response is, "But how much is gained!"

At 14, Nye moved with her family from St. Louis, where her mother had grown up, to live in Jerusalem among her father's family. Settling in San Antonio, Texas, Nye, for the past 18 years, has been a visiting writer in schools of Texas, Maine, Wyoming, Oregon, Hawaii, and others. She says she has "naturally collected" poems from so many people, so many places, and keeps her poems in picnic baskets, bags, and boxes.

* Nonfiction: Voices Past and Present

Three authors of nonfiction shared their insights about research and writing. Newbery winner Russell Freedman discussed what he does to make people such as Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt come alive for teen readers. He reminded the audience that history is really story and showed how he used storytelling devices to breathe new life into characters and history. For Freedman, the developing of sharp senses, the piling up of significant details, the use of actual quotations, and the inclusion of anecdotes about the main character are the ingredients he sees as essential for writing biography for young adults.

Susan Kuklin , an author of a very different kind of nonfiction, used her book Speaking Out: Teenagers Take on Race, Sex, and Identity as the basis for describing her approach to writing. Kuklin's ethnographic technique involved spending months in a school gaining the trust of students and faculty, taking copious notes, and conducting scores of interviews. Kuklin sees her craft as aking the transcribed tapes and notes and making connections from incident to incident and providing an overall structure to her book. Always aware of the importance of not exploiting the people who share their lives with her, Kuklin checks their words with them to make sure she has been accurate, for she believes the book is in many ways their book with Kuklin functioning as the conduit.

The third nonfiction storyteller was artist/biographer Diane Stanley .Using slides from her research, travels, and own artwork, she told the audience about her new picture book biography of Cleopatra. To find her way to the real Cleopatra, Stanley had to get beyond the various stories and artistic renderings of this famous and misunderstood woman. Stanley's travel to Egypt helped her to get a feel for the real Cleopatra and her surroundings. With detailed research and beautiful paintings, many of which look like mosaics, the artist/author paints a picture of the real Cleopatra -- a woman, Stanley discovered, was brilliant, learned, ambitious, imaginative, and bold.

-- Richard F. Abrahamson

University of Houston

* Waiting to Listen

Michael Dorris , author of the acclaimed A Yellow Raft in Blue Water and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for best non-fiction in 1898 for The Broken Cord , talked first of himself as a reader. A book has to interest him and keep him awake; the tale has to be a hook, drawing him in. Well-written books, he believes, whether they are children's books or not, have to have characters who engage our interest and empathy; a plot that sets expectations and fulfills them; and a story that shows not only the best and worst of our common experiences but also inspires us.

Dorris then turned to describing himself as a writer. When he is writing, he works at disappearing into the voice of the book so that the author is invisible. He listens for authentic voices. Characters dictate to him "like a CEO" when they release their personalities. Writing a story "is like listening. There is only one plausible way for the characters to act. They chart their course." He believes an author is "an interactive audience for human beings released in motion."

-- Diana Mitchell

Sexton High School

Lansing, Michigan

News from NCTE

The National Council of Teachers of English announces the publication of the ninth edition of Your Reading: A Book list for Junior High and Middle School Students , listing nearly 600 titles of fiction and nonfiction for grades 5 through 9. The book is edited by former ALAN president C. Anne Webb , Buerkle Junior High School, St. Louis, Missouri, and is designed for use by students, teachers, librarians, and parents. Titles are grouped by subject matter under four main headings: Imagining, Learning, Exploring, and Understanding. This resource can be obtained through contacting NCTE, 1111W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096 .

News of Other Publications

Greenwood Press announces the publication of Adolescents At Risk: A Guide to Fiction and Nonfiction for Young Adults, Parents, and Professionals by Joan F. Kaywell . This is an annotated guide to recent young adult literature that is organized into specific problem areas: alienation and identity, disabilities, homosexuality, divorced and single parents, adopted and foster families, abuse, eating disorders, alcohol and drugs, poverty, dropouts and delinquency, teenage pregnancy, AIDS, death and dying, and stress and suicide. More than 900 recommended books published through 1992 are included. To order, call toll-free 1-800-225-5800.

News of Awards

The 1994 Newbery Award was given to Lois Lowry for The Giver . Newbery Honor books include Jane Conly 's Crazy Lady , Laurence Yep 's Dragon Gate , and Russell Freedman 's Eleanor Roosevelt .

The 1994 Coretta Scott King Award was given to Angela Johnson for Toning the Sweep .

The Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, presented the 1994 Margaret A. Edwards Award for life time achievement in writing books for young adults to Walter Dean Myers .

News of Conferences and Requests for Program Proposals

The Eighth Annual Young Adult Conference sponsored by the Department of Library Science of Sam Houston State University will be held November 5, 1994.It will feature Gary So to , Paul Janeczko , Carolyn Meyer , and Richard Abrahamson , as well as workshops and sessions on literature and services for young adults. For more information, contact Teri S. Lesesne, YAC Coordinator, P.O. Box 2236, Huntsville, TX 77341 , or call 409-294-1151.

The NCTE International Conference , co-sponsored by the International Federation for the teaching of English and in cooperation with the International Consortium and International Assembly of NCTE, will be titled "Reconstructing Language and Learning for the 21st Century: Connecting with Our Classrooms" and will take place July 7-9, 1995, at New York University. Featured speakers will include Peter Elbow , Janet Emig , Arthur Applebee , James Moffett , and authors from around the world. All teachers of English (Pre-K through University) throughout the world are invited to attend as well as present proposals. Proposals for workshops in a variety of areas, including "Literature and Cultural Pluralism for a Democratic Society, are requested. The deadline for proposals is October 1, 1994. Submissions and inquiries should be sent to 1995 International Conference, Attn: Linda Oldham, National Council of Teachers of English, 1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096.

News of Writing Competitions

Scripts may now be submitted to The Waldo M. and Grace C. Bonderman IUPUI 1995 Playwriting Competition for Young Audiences . Awards will be presented to the top ten finalists. Four cash awards of $1,000 each will be received by the top four playwrights. Winning plays will be given a week of development work prior to being showcased in polished readings at the National Youth Theatre Playwriting Symposium held in Indianapolis, March 30 - April 1,1995. All submissions must be accompanied by an official entry form and be sent by September 1, 1994. To receive detailed guidelines and an official entry form, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to W. Mark McCreary, Youth Theatre Playwriting Competition, 525 N. Blackford Street, Indianapolis, IN46202 .