I have been searching for the "perfect" challenge for months now, and I think I finally found it -- the Shelf Discovery Challenge! I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to host my first challenge, and I think it's just a perfect fit for me and my blog.
As a mother of a middle grade daughter, a member of a mother-daughter book club, and a lover of middle-grade and young adult fiction, I was just thrilled when I "discovered" a new book by Lizzie Skurnick called SHELF DISCOVERY: THE TEEN CLASSICS WE NEVER STOPPED READING. If you haven't seen this book yet, then you are definitely missing out because it's a wonderful read. SHELF DISCOVERY is a book that takes me back to my childhood because it features many of the books that I loved as a young girl -- you know, those books and authors that defined our youth such Judy Blume, Laura Ingalls Wilder, etc.
SHELF DISCOVERY is a "reading memoir" which features over 70 MG and YA classics with Ms. Skurnick's unique impressions. There are also essays about these classics written by current women writers including Meg Cabot, Laura Lippman, Cecily von Ziegesar, and Jennifer Weiner.
From Publishers Weekly:
Launched from her regular feature column Fines Lines for Jezebel.com, this spastically composed, frequently hilarious omnibus of meditations on favorite YA novels dwells mostly among the old-school titles from the late '60s to the early '80s much beloved by now grown-up ladies. This was the era, notes the bibliomaniacal Skurnick in her brief introduction, when books for young girls moved from being wholesome and entertaining (e.g., The Secret Garden and the Nancy Drew series) to dealing with real-life, painful issues affecting adolescence as depicted by Beverly Cleary, Lois Duncan, Judy Blume, Madeleine L'Engle and Norma Klein. Skurnick groups her eruptive essays around themes, for example, books that feature a particularly memorable, fun or challenging narrator (e.g., Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy); girls on the verge, such as Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret or danger girls such as Duncan's Daughters of Eve; novels that deal with dying protagonists and other tragedies like child abuse (Willo Davis Roberts's Don't Hurt Laurie!); and, unavoidably, heroines gifted with a paranormal penchant, among other categories. Skurnick is particularly effective at spotlighting an undervalued classic (e.g., Joan Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase) and offers titles featuring troubled boys as well. Her suggestions will prove superhelpful (not to mention wildly entertaining) for educators, librarians and parents.
As I read this book, I fondly remembered many of the books that I read years ago -- often times, over and over again -- such as FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER, BLUBBER, THE WESTING GAME, THE GROUNDING OF GROUP SIX, and LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE to name just a few. I also realized that there were a lot of books that I missed out on and would love to read now -- like a WRINKLE IN TIME. There are just so many wonderful classics for teens that are featured in the pages of this book -- I hardly know where to start!
So, that's why I think the Shelf Discovery Challenge will be so fun! By participating in this challenge, you can revisit some of your childhood favorites while also having the chance to read some of these classics for the very first time. And even if you've read some of these books over and over again as a young girl (like me), I think that by re-reading them now we will appreciate them for entirely different reasons.
The Shelf Discovery Challenge will run for six months (November 1, 2009 - April 30, 2010). To join me in this challenge, all you need to do is grab a copy of SHELF DISCOVERY and pick out what six books you want to read (of course, you can read more than six!) Then, after you read a book, just write a "book report" to share your thoughts with others!
Grab the challenge button at the top of this page and write a post detailing what six Shelf Discovery books you are going to read within the next six months (you always have the option to change your original list -- I'm flexible like that!) If you don't already have the book, you can browse the table of contents here. Once you have posted your Shelf Discovery challenge post, come back to this post and click on Mr. Linky. Please leave your name and link directly to your introductory post (not just to your blog’s home page.) If you don’t have a blog, no worries -- you can just leave a comment on this post telling me you want to participate.
On November 1st, 2009 I will place a Shelf Discovery Challenge button in the upper right hand corner of my blog. When you click on this button, you will see a post where all the participants are listed as well as the links to your Shelf Discovery updates and "book reports." So, every time you have a post relating to the Shelf Discovery Challenge (with the exception of your first sign-up post) you should leave a comment there with a link to your post.
Spread the word:
Besides your initial challenge post, I'm also asking for your help on spreading the word via Twitter. My Twitter ID is @bookingmama and I will be using the hashtag #shelfdiscovery to discuss the challenge and books that we are reading. Please make sure to follow me on Twitter for updates and additional information.
Depending on the interest in this challenge, I am also interested in having some Mini-Challenges as part of the Shelf Discovery Challenge! Right now I have a few ideas like a Judy Blume Mini-Challenge, a What Book is Missing? Challenge, and BlogTalk Radio Show/Shelf Discovery Challenge (this one will make more sense if you listen to the BTR Library Love Fest show with Lizzie Skurnick and Nancy Pearl.) Please let me know if the comment section if you are interesting in hosting a mini-challenge -- either one I mentioned above or an entirely new one!)
And, since everyone loves prizes.....
I have 10 copies of SHELF DISCOVERY courtesy of Avon Book, Harper Collins to giveaway! To be eligible to win, all you have to do is sign up for the Shelf Discovery Challenge and leave a comment with a valid email address! I will select (and notify) the winners on November 1st!
There will be other prizes given away during the challenge period! I'm not entirely sure what they are yet, but I'm working on it!