Free Smart Pop YA Essay: A Very Dangerous Boy

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A New Dawn

A Very Dangerous Boy

by Susan Vaught

[NOTE: Please read entire essay before pressingon the hate-mail!]

I’m the world’s best predator, aren’t I? Everything about me invites you in–my voice, my face, even my smell.

–EDWARD CULLEN, TWILIGHT

Edward Cullen. Yes, I know, every fangirl in the Twilight universe just squealed at the mere mention of his name. And what’s not to love?

He’s powerful. He’s rich. He’s romantic. And, as he notes in the quote
above, he’s thoroughly enticing in every possible way.

He’s also a predator, just like he says.

For the first three books in the Twilight series, Edward Cullen is a dangerous, bloodthirsty predator at constant risk of murdering the girl he loves. In the fourth book, after he spends several days conspiring to kill his unborn child, he finally does take Bella’s life. More specifically, he rams a needle full of vampire venom into her heart, then uses his teeth to keep filling her with venom …

Available Until Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Prince to King

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Through the Wardrobe

Prince to King

by Elizabeth E. Wein

Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen.” That’s what Aslan tells the Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, as they take the four thrones at Cair Paravel in their first Narnian adventure, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. If you count pages, no king in C. S. Lewis’s Narnia books actually gets more airtime than Caspian X. He plays a starring role in two books, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but in fact he’s also king of Narnia throughout The Silver Chair.

From the day Caspian is forced to run away because his uncle Miraz wants to kill him, Caspian is called “king” by his tutor, the half-Dwarf Doctor Cornelius. The rest of the book describes how Caspian manages to win his kingdom back from Miraz. So why is the book called Prince Caspian instead of King Caspian?

I …

Available Until Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Eeny Meeny Miney Mo(m)

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Demigods and Monsters

Eeny Meeny Miney Mo(m)

by Jenny Han

The lives of half-bloods in Greek mythology usually end in blood and guts and fire–we’re talking vengeful gods, three-headed dogs, monsters, ancient curses. It’s all very dangerous and life threaten-y. If you were the child of a really powerful god like Percy is, you’d have to stay at Camp Half-Blood all year long, for fear of attracting monsters in the real world. You could never really go back home. Your life would be forever changed. If not over. If you’re lucky.

And yet . . . the thought of having that powerful blood surging through you, of having access to a whole other kind of magical world, one that defies reason and gravity, even–it might just be worth it. I know I for one would just love a taste of ambrosia and nectar. I’d jump at the chance to learn Ancient Greek, practice archery, take swordfighting lessons, play Capture the Flag …

Available Until Monday, August 14th, 2017

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: A View From the Bench

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Flirtin' with the Monster

A View From the Bench

by Judge John Tatro

I’ve been a judge for fourteen years and I’ve presided over both civil and criminal cases. Since I started, I have seen the number of methamphetamine-related criminal cases rise dramatically. In the beginning, I would see one or two cases a month. Now, there isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not dealing with at least one person, typically between eighteen and twenty-five years old, who is addicted to methamphetamine.

As a judge, I have attended many educational seminars dealing with methamphetamine and meth’s extremely addictive qualities. I have learned that meth is so powerful many young people become addicted the very first time they use. I have learned that meth causes damage in the user’s brain that is extremely difficult to repair, and affects the nervous system. People who use meth develop sores all over their bodies. It also causes their teeth to rot or turn black, and sometimes even fall out. Users lose dramatic amounts of weight and become extremely paranoid.

I also learned …

Available Until Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Unhomely Places

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Shadowhunters and Downworlders

Unhomely Places

by Kate Milford

There is the world you know, the world you have always known; and then you blink, and there is a place you never had any inkling of, and it spreads out across your eyescape. And then, most shockingly of all: There is the realization that these two places are one and the same. It turns out you never really knew the world around you at all. This is often the moment at which the adventure begins: Your street has gone feral and has carried your house and all of your neighbors’ homes to another part of your city; your child is a changeling; your wardrobe is a doorway to a pine forest where it is always winter but never Christmas. Or you witness something that could not have happened: a murder, perhaps, in which three kids your own age kill a fourth, none of whom anyone but you can see.

Much …

Available Until Friday, August 4th, 2017

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Role Models

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Flirtin' with the Monster

Role Models

by Niki Burnham

I write books about teenagers, primarily for teenagers (though teen-savvy adults read them, too). Some of the books have stylized cartoon covers, tipping off the reader that what’s on the pages is comedy. Despite that, over the years I’ve received many letters from concerned parents, questioning whether or not my books are appropriately shelved. They cite the fact that some of the characters use foul language, that one character has a gay mother, or that one character smokes (ignoring the fact that she quits) in support of their argument that my writing is a “bad influence” on teen readers. I’m often taken to task for not living up to my “responsibility” as an author to provide teenagers with good role models.

While I understand their concerns, I believe that attempting to limit teens’ reading to “good role models” is the wrong way to go about educating teens about the world in which we all live.

When sitting down to craft a story, an author’s primary responsibility …

Available Until Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: More Than Just a Broken Line

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Flirtin' with the Monster

More Than Just a Broken Line

by Susan Hart Lindquist

These days, when talking about why a book “works” one can’t simply take into account the compelling story or the beauty of the writing. Today, part of what makes a book work is its ability to connect with an audience. To become a bestseller. To stay in print.

For some authors, this has turned the game of publishing into a psychological tug of war between the desire to remain true to one’s creative vision and the need to consider what it takes to publish and, in turn, connect with readers. Do I want to write “for me” or must I write “for them”? How can I choose? How can I do both? If I write “for them” will I be selling
out? 
It’s a conundrum to be sure, and I confess, at times

I’ve been torn by these questions. Perhaps that’s why I was skeptical when Ellen first told me about the young adult novel she was writing. “It’s about my daughter’s …

Available Until Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Cruithne Mythology and the House of Night

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Nyx in the House of Night

Cruithne Mythology and the House of Night

by P. C. Cast

First, let me explain why I use the term “Cruithne” and not “Celtic” when I speak of Scottish and Irish Clansfolk.

It may surprise readers to find out that the word most used to describe the culture and people of northwestern Europe, Celtic or Celt, is a modern word that only came into popular usage in the last century. The word comes from a Latin description of a small Spanish tribe that Roman scribes and historians used to create myths about a fictional race they called the Celts. These myths were so successful that, in today’s world, it’s now generally believed that the Celts were every bit as real as the Romans, when in truth a “Celtic race” only existed in fiction.

The Scots and Irish Gaelic culture we associate with the term today, though, is very real. It just has no connection to those original Roman myths. After the Second World War, with the movement of peoples around Europe, …

Available Until Friday, July 28th, 2017

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Edward, Heathcliff, and Our Other Secret Boyfriends

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A New Dawn

Edward, Heathcliff, and Our Other Secret Boyfriends

by Robin Brande

We all have our ideal, swoon-worthy romantic heroes: Aragorn in Lord of the Rings (sigh), Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack Shepherd on Lost, Justin Timberlake in “SexyBack”–whatever. But in her Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer has handed us the dreamiest of lovers, so beyond our regular fantasies we’re even willing to give up body heat in exchange for sleeping against the cold marble chest of that most perfect of formerly human men, Edward Cullen–giving hope at last to hundreds of men huddled in Antarctica with no sweeties to call their own. (Sorry, guys, but Edward means much more to us than chilly skin. Read on.)

In constructing her ideal mate, and giving him all the qualities a fifteen-year-old (okay, and older) girl needs in a romantic partner, Stephenie Meyer borrows some of the characteristics of other great lovers in literature. She drops hints throughout the series of who those …

Available Until Thursday, July 27th, 2017

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Immortality and Its Discontents

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Shadowhunters and Downworlders

Immortality and Its Discontents

by Kelly Link

Holly: When we sat down to talk about this essay, it happened to be in a room where Cassandra Clare was hard at work on her next book. We thought we would just have the conversation in front of her and see if she wanted to pitch in.

Kelly: It seemed appropriate, since this is often the way that the three of us work: Everyone doing their own writing, and stopping when necessary to discuss a plot point or read what someone else is working on and make suggestions.

So. Why do young adults (and for young adults, let’s go ahead and make it all readers) like books, like Cassandra Clare’s, about immortal beings like vampires and faeries?

Holly: Well, I remember as a teenager being constantly told that I was going to change. That every time I dyed my hair blue or declared my love for a particular band …

Available Until Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

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