YA Clicks June 2006
Books Online: Web Sites for Everything Book
REBECCA PURDY AND THE WEB SURFERS FROM CENTRAL RAPPAHANNOCK REGIONAL LIBRARY
Summer reading clubs are part of a long-standing library tradition. Recent research confirms what we’ve been touting for years; summer reading is a key factor to year-round learning. With that in mind, many of us will distribute booklists along with reading logs, bookmarks, and the various other paraphernalia that teens receive when they join our clubs. Yet tech-savvy teens might want to do some browsing on their own. The Web Surfers have some suggestions, but don’t forget about two wonderful sites reviewed in previous columns, No Flying, No Tights (http://www.noflyingnotights.com, reviewed February 2005) and Reading Rants (http://tln.lib.mi.us/~amutch/jen/index.html, reviewed February 2002). Offer expanded readers’ advisory by adding them and the links below to your library’s Web page.
THROUGH YA EYES
Author Yellow Pages: The Online Author Directory
The Book Report Network
4I 3R 5U M J S
The main purpose of Author Yellow Pages is to give readers an easily searchable directory of authors, their Web sites, and fans’ sites about them. The site is very user friendly; you can browse for an author alphabetically or by genre. Each author has his or her own little section for information. Sites under each author’s name are clearly divided between the official site, publisher sites, fan sites, and newsletters. Searching by genre is also very easily done; users can browse through more than thirty different genres or just go straight to a favorite genre. If you are looking for a certain type of book but don’t know any authors, this site is helpful. Overall it is simple and fun. The only improvement would be more information about the authors or lists of their books, which would give the user a quick reference for learning more.—Jessica Zeitz.
2I 2R 2U M J S
When I first saw this site, I was very excited, with visions of looking up all my favorite authors and then spending hours searching through their Web sites for little tidbits about them and their upcoming books. That soon faded into mild annoyance; you have to look for authors either by genre or alphabetically. It’s irksome to have to click the ‘D’ (when looking for Kate DiCamillo) and then look through the top index with the first four letters of the last name and figure out which one contains your author (it’s Dica). Imagine the frustration when you go through all that work and find out that your author isn’t listed! When I came to the spot where my author was supposed to be, more often then not, he wasn’t there. Why? When I read the disclaimer about not having all authors, I assumed it was for other people, surely not for me! The recommendation to e-mail your favorite author to suggest that she send in her Web site is especially funny. How could I do that if I came to this site to findmy author’s homepage? This directory does have a decent number of authors who are famous or well-known, but if you’re looking for someone who is not so famous, you’re pretty much out of luck. The site is helpful if you are looking up an author for school and want some easy links.—Laura Hernandez.
[Columnist’s Note: I was unable to click on the Web site links under each author’s name to go directly to the Web site. Instead I had to copy and paste the URL.]
Confessions of Georgia Nicolson
4I 4R 5U J S
I love this site. It is by far one of the best that I have seen for a book—or book series, in this case. It is perfect for anyone who wants a good laugh and is familiar with the Georgia Nicolson books by Louise Rennison, beginning with Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging (HarperCollins, 2000/VOYA June 2000). Just reading the style of writing makes you comfortable, as if you’re talking to your best friend. The carefree, laid-back quality of the site makes it one that I would frequent weekly (if not daily). It’s great to have a good laugh! 🙂 On the opening screen, you click on either the American flag or the British flag for different versions of the site. On the British version, the link leading to the meanings of the British slang is really neat. I absolutely love the “Confessions” section. The other part I really like is the Q & A session with the author. It’s great to see that the person behind the madness is just as mad herself in everyday life—and I mean that as the greatest compliment! I wish there was a bit more detail on the books themselves; there’s only a tiny blurb about each one. I would love it if all the covers—the old American ones and the British ones—could be put up. And maybe a few fun games such as catch Angus, or get your boy entrancers back from the mad kitten Gordy. Games could only improve an already great site. I’m a huge fan of these books and recommend them and the site to anyone who loves to have fun.—Courtney Buzzard.
2I 3R 3U J S
Georgia Nicolson fans, rejoice! Here is the Web site you’ve been waiting for—or have probably already found if you truly are a die-hard fan of the main character in Louise Rennison’s internationally best-selling young adult series. Even if you’re not an all-out fanatic—actually, even if you’ve never heard of Georgia Nicolson—this site still has enough entertaining commodities to be mildly amusing and maybe even get you hooked in the process. I particularly enjoyed reading a glossary for British terms. Several words and phrases made me laugh and consider adding them to my own vocabulary. The overall look of the site is very inviting, with simple yet enticing graphics, no advertisements, and an uncluttered feel. The words I would use to describe the layout are similar to how I would describe the books: Both don’t require much thinking to navigate, they are easily digestible examples of fluffy yet good-natured diversion, and they are fairly shallow. The British (“Billy Shakespeare Country”) section fares slightly better on this front. There you can vote in polls, find downloads, read character bios, and join the Ace Gang. Some fans might also like a monthly e-mail sent from Georgia, along with access to ecards and fan photo galleries. The British section is definitely the place to be. Surprisingly it made me want to go and check the books out from the library, even though I have already read them and didn’t care for them much the first time around. The American (or Hamburger-a-gogo land, as Georgia calls it) section of the site could conceivably be deleted altogether, as its purpose and appeal are negligible. Even on the British site there aren’t a terribly large number of things to read and do, and I explored the entire site in only about half an hour. But it’s not very realistic to expect much more from a site in this category. All in all, it’s worth a look if you have the time.—Kristine Hadeed.
Flamingnet: Advance Book Reviews
3I 3R 3U M J S
The main purpose of Flamingnet is to get information on preteen, teen, and young adult books. One of its best features is the book reviews. It is always difficult to find a book in the genre I like to read, but this site makes it a little easier. A summary tells the reader exactly what the book is about and how well other readers enjoyed it. I have read some of the books mentioned, and their recommendations seem fairly accurate. Ratings indicate a book’s age level, an estimated reading level, and a scale from 1 to 10 based on the reader’s enjoyment. Even though it is really a matter of opinion, it is helpful to get an idea of whether the reader will enjoy a book. The search feature is specific, making it easy to look up a certain book or genre of books. A quiz about the events of the Civil War and a word challenge get the reader thinking. Overall this Web site is well organized, easy to navigate, informative, and interesting. Its only problem is that it’s a little hard to determine when a book is being reviewed by an advanced book reviewer or a student reviewer.—Rebecca Zeitz.
4I 2R 3U M J S
Flamingnet provides a comprehensive, if dull database of young adult book reviews. Randomly choosing some of the books that I have read, I found all of them on the drop-down list of titles. Even To Kill a Mockingbird was on the list, nudging up the site’s respectability by a notch. Although the site carries an immense list of titles, its book reviews often amount to little more than watered-down comments written by fifteen-year-olds. Basically you get summaries, not real opinions; Amazon.comis a far better site for truly getting an idea of a book’s quality. As an example, let’s take one of the most renowned books of recent times, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Amazon.com users have written countless essays extolling the virtues of this installment. Flamingnet, which specializes in book reviews, provides brief comments. If there is any reason to visit this site, it’s the “Bulletin Board.” Like all forums, most of its topics are mundane and droll, but sometimes an author posts a thread on his or her own book, and actual discussions can pique one’s interest. Flamingnet also offers a directory of sites where you can donate books, but the links do little to enhance the site itself. It is rather easy to use, although on first impression, it sports many flashy colors but provides few rewards for those who explore beyond the main page. The first impression becomes the final impression, except for those who delight in message boards and might therefore find the site worthy of bookmarking.—Michael Konieczny.
5I 3R 5U M J S
Teenreads provides information on various books for teens, allowing them to see summaries of many types of books and upcoming releases. It also has author interviews along with news such as books that are becoming movies. It includes polls, contests, and links for more information. The book reviews are very helpful when you want to find a book to read. The wonderful Newsletter provides a complete list of the monthly features that will appear on the site.Well organized and easy to browse or to search, this site provides very helpful and interesting information on many aspects of reading, depending on your preferences.—Kimberly Zeitz.
4I 4R 4U M J S
This Web site is entirely devoted to teens and what they read. It includes author interviews, tips on how to start a book club, and other related articles. The main page is covered with all sorts of good things—you just want to click on everything and absorb it all. Its appealing, hip atmosphere makes teens feel instantly at home. What I really like is the underlying humor that the Teenreads.com staff places in all their notes to readers. The main page is very colorful, with lots of interesting things popping out at you, such as sweepstakes, author chats, and what is new in stores. This cool site supports teens in what they like to read, giving them a chance to learn more about their favorite authors and books. My favorite aspect is the “Coming Soon” page, with a sneak peek at what is being published in the upcoming months. I wish the site contained more author profiles and more interviews.—Laura Hernandez.
Young Adult (& Kid’s) Books Central
4I 3R 3U M J S
On my first visit to this site, I was drawn in by a green layout and nice design. It looks as if someone puts a lot of time into making the site look fantastic. It has professional reviews by adults but also many reviews done by kids/teens (so spelling and grammar are not always topnotch). The errors make this feature more entertaining, however, because you can see that reviews really are written by kids/teens. There are many reviews for many different books as well as study guides for all ages, homework help, interviews (so many interviews, you could never get tired), and author bios. Its giveaways are a good method of drawing visitors who will keep coming back. The only thing that bugs me about this Web site is that it features mostly books from 1940 to the present. I like old books more than newer ones—but that is not a problem for everyone. People like me would be drawn to other places for classics. This site makes books fun and gives kids and teens a chance to voice their opinions.—Brandon Habron.
5I 5R 5U M J S
A blurb on the main page of this Web site describes its purpose: “Do you like books? Love books? Are you entranced by authors? Do you want to write? Need homework help? You’ve come to the right place.” Exactly as the site proclaims, if you’re even vaguely interested in reading or writing, this site deserves a spot on your favorites list. From more than six thousand book reviews, most of which are written by teens; to handy drop-down indexes that list just about every author and young adult book imaginable; to press releases that fill you in on all the latest book and author happenings, this site has pretty much everything that a bookworm could hope for, including an online forum. It is easily navigated and not unnecessarily cluttered, despite its wealth of material. One feature that I’ll be putting to good use is the opportunity for users to earn free books. Yes, free books to be selected from a sizeable collection. All you have to do is either make fifty posts in the online forum or write fifteen book reviews. Then you will be eligible to select a book from the Prize Bucket and have it sent to you! (Hint: “Garbage” reviews don’t count and neither do blank ones.) A featured how-to section is also very informative, offering material on an expanse of topics that range from “How to Contact an Author” to “How to Better Search the Internet” to an article discussing how to deal with grief and terrorism.—Kristine Hadeed.
KUDOS FOR LIBRARY TEEN SITES
Just for Teens
Monroe County Public Library (Indiana)
Clear and concise, this site offers standard library Web page fare with several features that make it truly remarkable. “Cool stuff . . . at your library” provides everything you need to know about your library, using precise terminology instead of secret library terms so patrons can easily find what they need, i.e. “Home Delivery,” “Free PIN Numbers,” or “Graphic Novels.” The “About Teen Services” section lists the department’s goals and responsibilities and includes information about the staff, which apparently includes a rubber chicken! I only wish there was a picture! Another nice feature is a recurring graphic at the top of each page, a subtle way to make it clear when you are no longer on the library’s site. The “Teen’s Top Ten” section refers not to the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) booklist but instead to a series of links in sets of ten on a variety of topics from “Weird and Wonderful” to “E-zines.” “You asked for it . . .” is under construction, but promises information on the issues facing teens.
[Note on the Kudos section: If you think your site is worthy of consideration, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Web Surfers and I will surf submissions and choose one to showcase for each column.]
Rebecca Purdy is the Youth Services Manager at the Headquarters Library of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library system in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Web Surfers are a collection of teens willing to volunteer some of their time to see their names in print and help all of you young adult librarians find some good sites for your Web pages.