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18

Jul

Casting Call: Brenton Thwaites cast as Jonas in The Giver

Playing an aged-up version of the character from Lois Lowry’s novel, Brenton Thwaites will portray the main character Jonas in the upcoming movie adaptation by Jeff Bridges.

Breton Thwaites

26

Dec

Extra! Extra!: Movie adaptation of The Giver finally “on the road”

“For the past 15 years, fans have circulated rumors about a film adaptation of Lois Lowry‘s The Giver. In an interview with studio 360, Lowry confirmed that the movie “is finally on the road.”

Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges has been an advocate for this project for many years. He will play the title character. At the moment, studio executives are auditioning young actors for the lead role of Jonas.”

From GalleyCat

05

Jun

Match Up: review of The Giver

★★☆☆☆

The Giver is one of those classics that I think every kid in the US reads when they are in middle school or late elementary school. Somehow I was one of the ones that never read it. I actually didn’t read any of Lois Lowry’s books until last year when I read Gathering Blue. I really enjoyed the book, right up until the ending. And by ending I mean where the words ended, not where there was any kind of sense of satisfaction or resolution.I learned after reading Gathering Blue that this non-ending trait is one common to all of Lois’s books, which made me hesitant to read anything else she’d written. But finally I gave in and read The Giver.

First off, I want to acknowledge that this book was first published in 1993, and because of this you can’t necessarily hold it to the same standards as current YA. But at the same time you can hold it to the same standards, especially when its a book that is being called a “classic.” In either case, there are certain elements of this book that are very characteristic of the 90s in children’s publishing and writing, and I do have to account for that in my review.

I did love the world building in this book. It really is the first dystopia for young adults to broach all the topics and issues that the current dystopias are handling: climate destruction, behavioral control, control of reproduction, loss of humanity, etc. This world focuses around a marginalized community where everything is controlled to be the “same” and “safe.” Jonas, the protagonist, is just reaching age 12 when you are assigned your vocation or career. And he learns that instead of a regular job, he is to apprentice with the Receiver of Memories. Basically the Receiver is the person who holds all the memories of the world before—the good and the bad—so that society will not completely forget what happened before the Community was founded. And of course learning all of these memories leads to great changes in Jonas, and eventually a decision to flee the Community. The most fascinating part of this world is that the people in it do not see colors; colors are something that Jonas learns to see. Colors are also closely tied into intense emotions, which Jonas learns to experience and differentiate from the simpler emotions that his friends and family experience. This theme of repression of the human spirit—through the removal of memories, both individual and universal—is very powerful and provocative and makes for a good backdrop to this story.

What I didn’t like about this book was just about everything else. I even had problems with the world building. Mostly because there is absolutely no backup for the science. There is no explanation at all for how people are made to not see colors, even though the main character and society are quite adept at science and technology. The society is also healthy and fed without them having any concept of animals. Or rain. Or sunshine. Jonas doesn’t even understand what a hill is. While it is interesting to see him learn about these things by receiving memories of them, I didn’t find it believable that the world so be so completely altered as to remove things such as hills.

Jonas himself, while an interesting character, was not a really engaging character, and it was hard to feel much connection to him at all. Part of this comes from the fact that his society has trained him to be sort of bland and empty, and yes later on he does experience intense emotions and moments of trauma and realization, but you don’t get to spend enough time with him for these scenes to really resonate. Jonas is like a puppet, walking through the story so that Lowry has a reason to tell us about this world. The fact that the book is told in third person, and a rather removed perspective, makes it even harder to connect with Jonas.

Most importantly, there were no stakes—no real consequences—and there was no resolution. These are almost crimes in my opinion; and while they are things that can be forgiven by the fact that this book was written in the 90s, I don’t want to let Lowry off the hook. If you want to write a dystopia and really convey a powerful theme to your readers, then there have to be stakes. Life and death. We need to feel the peril that the hero is in because of their new-gained knowledge. We need to feel the turmoil as they are forced to leave their old life and persona behind to embrace their new enlightenment. And there needs to be dire consequences if anyone finds out how much the hero has learned and changed. None of this happens for Jonas: in fact, his society condones everything that he learns, and before he accepts his position he learns that he will not be allowed to be “released,” which basically means that they won’t kill him no matter what he does. So when Jonas flees at the end, it didn’t feel dramatic or frightening.

The worst crime this book commits is not having a resolution. There are so many big things happening at the end: Jonas is leaving the Community and in doing so burdening all those he leaves behind with the memories that he gained from the Giver. But do we see the effects of the memories on the Community? No. Do we see the effect on Jonas of losing the memories to the Community? No. Do we even get to see where Jonas ends up at the end, whether he finds civilization where people see colors and feel true emotions? No. And no. All we see is Jonas trudging to the top of a hill and suddenly feeling hopeful. Then it ends. I felt completely betrayed by Lowry when I turned to the last page and realized that nothing was going to be resolved. And even though I knew this was a trademark of hers, I at least expected something more than what I got.

Overall The Giver definitely started a new trend for dystopias in children’s literature, but I certainly don’t think it should be held to the heights that it is. Lowry’s editor should have sat her down and said, “Look, we need to feel your character more, and this book needs a damn ending.” I certainly won’t be reading any of her other books.

24

May

10 YA Books that still haunt us

Do you have any haunting memories of reading these books (or are they still nagging at you today)? I know that my days reading Hatchet were some of the most frustrating of my life. Mostly because I was a twelve year old girl and I liked fantasy; I would have rather read the dictionary than Hatchet. The Golden Compass definitely still sticks with me, but in a good way. And I totally have nightmares sometimes about Lord of the Flies.

Hatchet, Gary Paulsen

In this novel, Brian’s plane crashes, leaving him alone in the wilderness with only his hatchet to rely on, staying alive on his wits and this one archaic tool. Okay, we learned some survival skills, but we can’t even bring hatchets on planes anymore. We can’t even bring Swiss army knives! We bought a Swiss army knife after reading this book and then realized it totally wouldn’t help in a plane crash situation! This book just reinforced our feeling that we would probably die if stranded in the wilderness for 54 days. Sigh.

Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls

Look, as far as we’re concerned, this book is not appropriate for children. Your humble author read it in the third grade, when the teachers realized I was bored stiff with the picture books they were prescribing to the rest of the class. I fell out of my chair crying. Spoiler alert, but at the end, the one dog dies, and then the other dog dies of sadness. That is just the worst thing I had ever heard. It still might be.

The Giver, Lois Lowry

The ending of this book has been plaguing us for oh, almost two decades now. The premise is startling enough — a world without color, emotion, or any free will — and we still think of the stern lesson in “language precision” Jonas received whenever we whine that we’re “starving,” but the ending is what keeps us up at night. The way we see it, there are only two possibilities: either Jonas finds the non-dystopian world of his dreams, filled with soft light and warm food, or it’s a death hallucination. Sadly, we sort of think it’s the latter.

Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson

It’s bad enough when animals die in books, but this was probably the first book we read where a kid — a kid our age — died too. Plus, Paterson took so much care to make her awesome before she killed her off. Lesson learned: stay away from rope swings at all costs. Especially if you’re an atheist.

Logan’s Run, William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson

Another book centered around a futuristic dystopian society, this one ageist to the point where they have it all set up so you happily go to your death as soon as you hit age 21 and the little shiny crystal in your hand turns black.  Needless to say, this book has only gotten more profound (well, sort of) as we’ve gotten older, but we remember being horrified by it even at a young age, examining our palms and eyeing our parents and teachers with mistrust whenever they asked us to go anywhere. We would not be summarily executed on our birthdays. No, sir.

Lizard Music, Daniel Pinkwater

Pinkwater is pretty much the weirdest, and your intrepid author’s father enjoyed pressing his books into her hands just to see what faces she’d make. In this one, Victor, home alone for two weeks, sees some giant lizards playing in a band on late-night TV. Turns out no one knows anything about them except the Chicken Man, who leads Victor on a absurd, hilarious, wild lizard chase to an invisible island. This had us both hooked on and terrified of television for years.

The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman

So let’s get this straight: there is a woman kidnapping children to do sick experiments on them — separating them from their souls, essentially — and then we find out it’s our heroine’s mom? That’s just not right. Also, we want our own personal daemons, stat. No, that teddy bear won’t do, Mom. What is this, more torture?

The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis

We probably don’t have to explain to you why these books were so scarring, but let’s put it this way: more than one of our friends has a story about how, when she finished the final book, she fell to the ground crying, wailing that she had to die, or she’d never get to Narnia. Sure, we don’t think that anymore (we get it, it’s a Christian allegory), but you can’t deny it’s a pretty messed up message to send to a kid.

Lord of the Flies, William Golding

Like everyone else (probably), this book had looking at our classmates with distrust when we read it in school. Ever since we’ve been plagued by the question — what would we do? Would our animal instincts take over? Would we hunt pigs? Would we hunt Piggy? We just don’t know, but this book terrified us.

White Fang, Jack London

New Girl’s Schmidt isn’t the only one whose life choices have been informed by the end of London’s classic. True, we’ve never personally “White Fanged” anyone, but we can’t say we’ve never thought about it. It’s kill or be killed, after all.

06

Apr

Jeff, not Jess (this isn’t Gilmore Girls)

So sorry about the typo the other day. It’s JEFF Bridges who might play the Giver in a movie adaptation of the book.

05

Apr

Jeff Bridges to play The Giver

Jeff Bridges and producer Nikki Silver are taking another stab at a big screen version of Lois Lowbry’s young adult novel, “The Giver,” Variety’s Marc Graser exclusively reports. The two came close to getting the film made in 2006, when Fox and Walden Media were interested in giving the film a greenlight. When the rights became available again, Bridges and Silver stepped up to reacquire them. “The Giver” follows a 12-year-old boy who lives in a futuristic utopian society where all memory of human history has been erased. His life is thrown into turmoil when he is designated to inherit the role of the Giver and bear his community’s vast range of human emotions, which brings him to realize that living a pain-free life comes at a high cost. Bridges was introduced to the book, which has sold more than 10 million copies, by his daughter who was reading it in high school. “I originally thought of the role of the Giver as a vehicle for my father, the late Lloyd Bridges, however, at 61-years-old I feel the time is right for me to do it,” Bridges said.

Jeff Bridges to play The Giver

Jeff Bridges to play The Giver

Jeff Bridges and producerNikki Silver are taking another stab at a big screen version of Lois Lowbry’s young adult novel, “The Giver,” Variety’s Marc Graser exclusively reports. The two came close to getting the film made in 2006, when Fox and Walden Media were interested in giving the film a greenlight. When the rights became available again, Bridges and Silver stepped up to reacquire them. “The Giver” follows a 12-year-old boy who lives in a futuristic utopian society where all memory of human history has been erased. His life is thrown into turmoil when he is designated to inherit the role of the Giver and bear his community’s vast range of human emotions, which brings him to realize that living a pain-free life comes at a high cost. Bridges was introduced to the book, which has sold more than 10 million copies, by his daughter who was reading it in high school. “I originally thought of the role of the Giver as a vehicle for my father, the late Lloyd Bridges, however, at 61-years-old I feel the time is right for me to do it,” Bridges said.

24

Mar

Ten Best Children's Authors


Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry, whose novels consistently blow us away, is one of only five authors who have been awarded the Newbery Medal twice — once for Number the Stars in 1990, and again for The Giverin 1993 (two more of her doubly awarded peers are also on our list!). Lowry does not shy away from disturbing or difficult topics — the Holocaust, dystopian futures, terminal illness — but instead addresses them head on with grace and captivating ability. Two decades later, we’re still arguing with our friends over whether Jonas dies or finds salvation at the end of The Giver. The question, like the book, still feels urgent, which is how we know she’s one of the best.

E.L. Konigsburg

Another two-time Newbery Medal winner, E.L. Konigsburg is also the only person to have won both a Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor (which is basically the award’s honorable mention) in the same year — for the first two books she ever wrote, no less: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth, both submitted at once to her no-doubt thrilled publisher. A full 29 years later, in 1997, she won the medal again for The View from Saturday, another classic. Her work effortlessly describes the interior lives of children trying to discover their own personalities, perhaps because she has based many of her characters on her own children and students, who were, she says, “softly comfortable on the outside and solidly uncomfortable on the inside.” Perhaps one of the reasons that her work is so enduring is that that quality never quite completely goes away.

C.S. Lewis

Probably the most popular classic fantasy series in children’s literature, C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia has sold over 100 million copies and been published in 47 languages. The magical world of Narnia captivated children so intensely that one reader we know tells of crying uncontrollably at the end of the last book, desperate to be able to get to the fictional realm, certain that she believed enough. The now-obvious Christian allegory aside, these books are wonders of imagination that cement Lewis’s place among the best children’s lit authors of all time.

Philip Pullman

Speaking of C.S. Lewis — Philip Pullman is considered by some to be the “Anti-Lewis,” and His Dark Materials to be a direct rebuttal to The Chronicles of Narnia. We have found it in our hearts to love both (though we admit, we love Pullman best), and we think his books — captivating works of imagination filled with intelligent, passionate characters — are destined to go down in history as classics.

J.K. Rowling

Sure, it may be derivative, and it may not, as her detractors cry, be the most elevated of literature, but there’s no denying that J.K. Rowling has inspired millions of kids and adults alike with herHarry Potter series. Plus, we’re sorry, the stories, rife with wordplay and creative worldmaking, are just undeniably good — and they were especially wonderful for kids who got to grow up alongside Harry as his adventures got darker, weirder, and more dangerous, just like their own imaginations.

Lewis Carroll

Of course we couldn’t forget the author of what might be the most well-known work of children’s literature across the globe, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Obsessed with wordplay and weird to the bone, Carroll was an odd egg, but we wouldn’t have it any other way — his innovative brand of literary nonsense became a phenomenon that has inspired countless reinterpretations, and his 1865 novel (1865!) is still a modern-sounding, popular work today. Can’t beat that.

Madeleine L’Engle

We won’t list the many awards and lifetime achievement recognitions of the much-lauded Madeleine L’Engle here, and if you’re reading this list, you’ve probably read something by her and don’t need any extra encouragement from us, but suffice it to say that A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels are some of the best things to happen to children’s literature in the history of time. 50 years later, they’re still essential, inspiring, and completely strange. We love it.

Katherine Paterson

Paterson, author of classics like The Great Gilly Hopkins (which won the National Book Award),Bridge to Terabithia (which won the Newbery Medal), can also boast of winning the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award, sometimes called the “Nobel Prize for children’s literature.” The eighth most frequently challenged book of the nineties, Bridge to Terabithia is a difficult but essential part of the modern canon of children’s literature, and should not be missed.

Lloyd Alexander

The author of more than forty books (and one of the founders of kids magazine Cricket), Alexander is best known for his spectacular five book series The Chronicles of Prydain, whose final installment, The High King, won the Newbery Medal in 1969. Drawing on Welsh mythology, overflowing with wit and charm, these books were some of our favorites, and inspired countless other children as well. After all, what Assistant Pig-Keeper (or nerdy 10 year old, which is basically the equivalent) doesn’t wish to grow up to be a hero?

Judy Blume

Judy Blume, it seems, got us through just about everything. From Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret(which is probably technically a YA novel — Blume excels at both), she always manages to capture the trauma and joy and utter ridiculousness of being a kid like no one else.

03

Mar

COVER WATCH: Reached by Ally Condie
Check out the cover for Ally Condie’s third book in the Matched series. And the official title: Reached.
I love the motif used on these covers. The color scheme too is great, though this is certainly not the first series to use blue, green, and red (see Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater). For a dystopia series the simple imagery is great, and the idea of the sphere, first trapping, then breaking open, the shattered all together really strikes home with the series. Way to go design team!

COVER WATCH: Reached by Ally Condie

Check out the cover for Ally Condie’s third book in the Matched series. And the official title: Reached.

I love the motif used on these covers. The color scheme too is great, though this is certainly not the first series to use blue, green, and red (see Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater). For a dystopia series the simple imagery is great, and the idea of the sphere, first trapping, then breaking open, the shattered all together really strikes home with the series. Way to go design team!

The covers for this series have been breathtaking and eye-grabbing to say the least. With the central image of the girl inside a glass sphere varied both in color and action (first she’s trapped, then breaking free, and now emerging), the series’ covers have a sense of cohesion and progression.

The covers for this series have been breathtaking and eye-grabbing to say the least. With the central image of the girl inside a glass sphere varied both in color and action (first she’s trapped, then breaking free, and now emerging), the series’ covers have a sense of cohesion and progression.