All tagged Verse Week 2014

Using Verse for “Adult” Content, by Gabrielle Prendergast (Guest Post)

Anyone who writes in verse gets used to answering this question: “Why do you write in verse?” There are a lot of reasons of course, but one that I often talk about concerns the depiction of edgier material in books aimed at young readers.

Like it or not, our kids take drugs, self-harm, think about suicide, get abused, suffer from mental illness, are victims and perpetrators of violence, and lose friends. All of these dark topics are suitable for young readers, but may need to be presented in subtler ways than in adult literature. Verse is a way of achieving that. Its reliance on metaphor, sparse language, and contained form allow these issues to be explored without overwhelming the readers with heaviness.

Take sex for example. Not a dark theme (it’s fun and healthy!) but one that frequently raises eyebrows in relation to books for young readers. But again, like it or not, young people, teenagers, even pre-teens have sex drives and sex lives. Many YA books have a “fade to black” policy when it comes to sex. Characters might have sex, but rarely are the scenes depicted in any detail.

Verse Novel Throwback Thursday: Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff, by Racquel of The Book Barbies (Guest Post)

You ever laughed so hard
nobody in the world could hurt you for a minute,
no matter what they tried to do to you?

Make Lemonade by Virgina Euwer Wolff is an oldie (a 1993 release) but certainly a goodie novel. I read it during the 7th grade when I was learning English and I had zero idea what a verse novel is.  At the time, I figured I either stumbled upon 1) a novel that’s meant for my basic and simple reading level or 2) a poetry book. Seven years and definition of a verse novel later, I’ve now learned what a verse novel and read other verse novels but Make Lemonade remains special.

Viginia Euwer Wolff's groundbreaking novel, written in free verse, tells the story of fourteen-year-old LaVaughn, who is determined to go to college--she just needs the money to get there.

When she answers a babysitting ad, LaVaughn meets Jolly, a seventeen-year-old single mother with two kids by different fathers. As she helps Jolly make lemonade out of the lemons her life has given her, LaVaughn learns some lessons outside the classroom.

Accidental Inspiration (Or What Happened When a Wrench Landed in My Verse Novel), by Sarah Tregay

My next book, Fan Art, will hit shelves on June 17th. Like Love and Leftovers, it is a contemporary young adult romance, and unlike Love and Leftovers, it is written in prose.

Fan Art didn’t start off that way. It began as a short story in verse, and later turned into a proposal for a novel. But the day after my editor said, “Yes, we’d be interested,” I received a second phone call. In order to reach more readers, Fan Art was not to be a novel in verse. I understood. A LGBT love story and a verse novel was narrowing the market too much.

diVERSEity: Verse Novels with People of Color as Main Characters, by Skila Brown (Guest Post)

As we celebrate verse novels all this week, let’s take a moment to highlight those stories that feature a person of color as the main character. This is not a complete list, but a list of some of the best.

If you have favorites not listed below, tell us about them in the comments! 

The Good Braider by Terry Farish

Viola leaves war-torn Sudan for a new life in the United States. Such a great story of strength and loss of innocence. Beautiful cover! Beautiful writing!


Recommendation Tuesday: Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Recommendation Tuesday started as a joke and is now an official thing. If you've got a book to recommend on this or any Tuesday, tweet me at @FullShelves and I'll help spread the word.

This week's Recommendation Tuesday is part of our Verse Novel Week celebration! View all of the past recommendations over here. 

And the pomegranates,
like memories, are bittersweet
as we huddle together,
remembering just how good
life used to be.

— Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

When I get ready to put together Verse Novel Week each year, I always try to (rather foolishly) get caught up on verse novels I've missed and check out as many as I can find from the library. This year, my pile reached fairly ridiculous proportions, but at the top was Guadalupe Garcia McCall's Under the Mesquite, which came highly recommended by Nafiza, who has excellent taste. 

Under the Mesquite is one of those books that will just suck you into its words and rhythm, and the verse format adds so much to that feeling as Garcia McCall weaves together Mexican American immigrant Lupita's story of family, loss and hope. 

Review: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, Guest Post by Allie of In Bed with Books

Kwame Alexander's newest novel, THE CROSSOVER, is a verse tour de force. It's told through poems by the main character, Josh Bell a.k.a. Filthy McNasty. He and his twin brother Jordan (JB) are talented basketball players, but jealousy threatens to split them apart when JB gets a girlfriend.

I love how many levels of story are woven into this novel. 

THE CROSSOVER is the kind of book I never would've picked up when I was younger because I didn't like sports. There is the sports story promised by the cover, all leading up to a big championship game, but it is far from the only plotline. Nor is it the most important plotline. That's reserved for all the family stuff.


Podcast #22: Celebrating Verse Novels (& Friday Night Lights) with Author Lisa Schroeder

We are thrilled that our annual Verse Novel Week podcast features none-other than one of our very favorite authors, Lisa Schroeder.

Not only do we chat extensively about writing in verse and some of our favorite elements of verse novels, but because Lisa is as big of Friday Night Lights fan as I am (true story: I found out about Lisa's books because she wrote an awesome post about FNL that the entire world sent me), we chat about that show a bit as well. As one does... 

Lisa Schroeder is the author of six teen novels (four of which are fully in verse, one that's half verse and another that includes poetry as an important storytelling device) including THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU; I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME and CHASING BROOKLYN; and the Oregon Book Award finalist THE DAY BEFORE. 

Kicking Off 3rd Annual Verse Novel Week!

It would be impossible to be more excited about kicking off a third celebration of verse novels on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves. We conceived of this project in our first year as a way to shine a light on a format we loved, but I am certain that we never thought that it would grow and become our one big tradition here on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves.

To folks who aren't verse novel enthusiasts, it may seem strange that we devote so much page space, as well as time and effort, to spreading the word about a specific format of novel. And, I guess, it kind of is weird. 

Verse novels are often the red-headed stepchildren of book formats. If you peruse the Goodreads reviews for verse novels, they're peppered with complaints about the very existence of the format, and many readers seem to expect verse novels to prove themselves at a higher level than those written in prose. 

3rd Annual Verse Novel Week!

It's hard to believe, but we're getting ready for our 3rd Annual Verse Novel Week! This year's week of celebrating all of the awesomeness of our beloved verse novels will once again take place in the last week in April, starting on April 28th.

We've already got an extra-special podcast episode planned with an extra-special Guest of Awesome and we're spotlighting some wonderful verse novels from a number of genres. As we did last year, we're opening up Verse Novel Week for guest contributions. 

So, if you'd like to write about your favorite verse novel, sign up to read a verse novel for the first time or if you're a verse novelist, fill out the form below and we'll be in touch to coordinate!