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, January 29th, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Lies and Consequences

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Mind-Rain

Lies and Consequences

by Delia Sherman

This tape consists of selections from Professor Hayde’s lectures for Lies and Consequences: Propaganda in the Prettytime (Room 46, Level 16). Weeks skipped consisted of class discussions, role-playing exercises, and field trips to the Rusty Museum. Professor Hayde had eighteen students: six ordinary pretties, eight with extreme skin and body surgery, and four naturals who opted to keep their original, unmodified appearance.

Week 1: Carrots and Sticks

Welcome to Lies and Consequences: Propaganda in the Prettytime. If you’re signed up for Professor Tich’s Aesthetics and Body Modifications, it’s two levels down in Room 46, Level 14, and you’d better move fast, because Tich takes a very pre-Rusty attitude toward lateness.

You’ve all been learning world history since you were littlies. And you’re probably here because you’re really curious about what there is to say about the Pre-Rusties and the Rusties and the Pretty-time that you haven’t heard a zillion times before. You …

Available Until Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

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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, January 22nd, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Hunger Game Theory

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The Girl Who Was on Fire - Booster Pack

Hunger Game Theory

by Diana Peterfreund

The titular Hunger Games in Suzanne Collins’ series is neither about a game, nor about hunger (indeed, as we see in Catching Fire, the fact that District 12 won the Games in no way guaranteed them the supposed bountiful prize). It’s about political control by a despotic government over its downtrodden (and even its not-downtrodden) subjects.

And it’s all about game theory.

The first thing to keep in mind about game theory is that it’s not necessarily about games. If it were, you’d pretty much only have Scrabble champs and sabermetricians studying it. Instead, it’s a massive field populated by brilliant (even Nobel Prize—winning) economists, psychologists, mathematicians, evolutionary biologists, and politicians. Game theory is a mathematical approach to the study of decision-making. It’s about strategy, about how people are programmed to respond in various social situations, and about the forces that can predict the ways in which living things, companies, communities, and …

Available Until Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Dionysus: Who Let Him Run a Summer Camp?

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Demigods and Monsters

Dionysus: Who Let Him Run a Summer Camp?

by Ellen Steiber

Could there be a more bizarre choice for director of Camp Half-Blood than Dionysus?

Rick Riordan has a gift for playing with the Greek myths. He delights in taking the gods and their stories and giving them just enough of a twist to make them completely believable in our world while still retaining the essence of the ancient beliefs. His Dionysus, more safely referred to as Mr. D (names are, after all, powerfulthings), takes the image of the Greek god of wine and revelry and twists it into a believable contemporary portrait: If you spent most of your time drinking and partying like Mr. D, there’s a good chance that by the time you reached middle age, you too would be overweight, badly dressed, and not care a fig about anything except when you could get your next drink. You certainly wouldn’t be thrilled by having a bunch of “brats” foisted …

Available Until Monday, January 13th, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: As Time Goes By

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A New Dawn

As Time Goes By

by K. A. Nuzum

As New Moon opens on the morning of her eighteenth birthday, Bella is dreaming of her grandmother–her dear, old, wrinkled grandmother. Edward–beautiful, youthful Edward–saunters into the scene, and Bella is faced with having to tell her grandmother she loves a vampire–and she thinks that’s the disturbing part of the dream. But suddenly, Bella realizes:

There was no Gran.
That was me. Me in a mirror. Me–ancient,
creased, and withered.
Edward stood beside me, casting no reflection,
excruciatingly lovely and forever seventeen.

Tick Tock

Forever seventeen. Two simple words, and yet they provide three books’ worth of heartache for Bella and Edward. By the end of Breaking Dawn we know that everything turns out swell for the two (now three, counting Renesmee), but while Bella is still human, growing up and growing old are major concerns for her. After all, as New Moon opens, year eighteen is …

Available Until Thursday, January 9th, 2020

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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 Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: The Otherworld Is Greek to Me

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Nyx in the House of Night

The Otherworld Is Greek to Me

by Trinity Faegen

From character names to story elements, P.C. and Kristin Casts’ House of Night series is a treasure trove of allusions to Greek mythology. Nyx’s origins are in Greek myth–she appears in Hesiod’s Theogony, Homer’s Illiad, and other ancient Greek texts. Aphrodite takes her name from the Greek goddess. But the references to Greek myth that fascinate me most are those related to Nyx’s Otherworld. The Casts have taken the ancient Greek’s Underworld and added their own imaginative twist, creating a colorful, intriguing new answer to the eternal question, “Where do we go after we die?” Just like the Underworld in Greek mythology, selective visits to the Otherworld by the living are allowed. Also just like the Underworld, some visitors can never leave. And while the two aren’t identical, there are enough similarities that it’s interesting to compare and contrast.

The uncertainty of the afterlife is universal, a …

Available Until Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: The Importance of Being Between

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Flirtin' with the Monster

The Importance of Being Between

by Micol Ostow

In-Between Places

If you’ve ever had any occasion to visit my official author website, you might know that it describes me as “half Puerto Rican, half Jewish, half student, half writer, half chocolate, half peanut butter.” I’m here to tell you that it’s all true, every last word. I am a mutt, through and through. And darn proud of it.

Full disclosure, though: I haven’t always been as comfortable with my mixed-breed status as I am these days. Anyone grappling with a diverse ethnic or cultural background (which, I would venture to say, is most of us) knows from the experience of constantly wanting to check the “other” box on the questionnaire of Life, probably all too well. As if it were that simple, defining ourselves by the things we are not (in my case: patient, blonde, and mathematically inclined, just for starters). As if the very act of labeling ourselves–carefully, definitively, …

Available Until Wednesday, January 1st, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Misunderstood

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Nyx in the House of Night

Misunderstood

by Kristin Cast

Zoey Redbird takes a lot of crap for having multiple boyfriends. I’m sure, if she were sitting here next to me, she would be pretty upset about being called a slut, a tramp, a whore, and all of the other negative nouns that are thrown at her. I get tons of messages on Facebook from people who make hurtful comments, and I know that our administrative assistant Camden Clark, who keeps up with our House of Night Facebook, MySpace, and email, constantly has to stand up for Zoey. (I do want to point out that, in earlier novels, the guys in Zoey’s life should have definitely known about each other. The whole not-being-honest thing doesn’t ever go over very well.) My mom and I are often asked when we will make her choose just one guy to be with forever and ever and ever and ever. I can tell you that won’t be happening anytime soon. She’s a teenager and …

Available Until Wednesday, December 25th, 2019

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