Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Guest post & giveaway with author Sarah Tregay!

I have the great pleasure of welcoming Sarah Tregay on the blog today to talk about verse novels and why you should take the time to try one. (Which you should because you're missing out if you haven't!) But I'll leave it to Sarah to explain why you should give these types of books a try.

Novels in Verse?
As the ARCs of Love and Leftovers have made the rounds over the past few months, I’ve heard many comments like: “This was the first novel-in-verse I've ever read” and “I really wasn't sure about it at first because it was written in verse.” So I’d like to recommend that you give verse novels a try.

If you haven’t read one yet, let me assure you that today’s verse novels are nothing like the daunting epic poems that you probably read in English class. Today’s verse novels are more like fiction without the fat—you won’t be reading about the hero’s eyes or the best friend’s perfect figure for the next ten minutes. You will be reading the heart of the story, the heartbeat of the characters’ emotions, the pulse of the action. Today’s verse novels have made the New York Times bestseller list (Ellen Hopkins), won the Newbery (Karen Hesse), and just recently, the National Book Award (Thanhha Lai).

Verse novels cover many genres, most falling into middle grade and young adult fiction, although there are a growing number of adult titles. For contemporary YA, there’s sweet like Love and Leftovers, What My Mother Doesn’t Know, and The Secret of Me, and edgy like Ellen Hopkins, Carol Lynch Williams, and Thalia Chaltas. For historical fiction, look for titles by Jen Bryant, Margarita Engle, and Hellen Frost. Want to take a trip down under? Verse novels are popular in Australia, so look for Aussie authors Steven Herrick, Margaret Wild, and Sherryl Clark. And for younger readers, check out Love that Dog by Sharon Creech and Eileen Spinelli’s Where I Live.

Why verse and not prose?
Many verse novels are character-driven, and the choice to write in verse is often influenced by the characters themselves. For me, when I first imagined Marcie’s voice, it was in little bursts—she wasn’t a talker and didn’t go on and on about everything. Marcie also writes poems in her blue notebook, which plays a part in the plot.

For other characters, the verse format is a perfect fit, like Caroline Starr Rose’s May B. who has trouble with reading, and Katherine Applegate’s Kek in Home of the Brave who is just learning English. Still others have a love of poetry or are studying poetry in school. Becca in Terra Elan McVoy’s After the Kiss is one example, and Kevin in Ron Koertge’s Shakespeare books is another.

I hope you’ll pick up a verse novel on your next trip to the library or bookstore. For a list of titles, visit my website

Thank you Sarah for that informative guest post! I've actually read some of her recommendations (some of the first verse novels I read were by Sonya Sones) and I hope that if you haven't already, you'll try reading a verse novel. They're quite fun :)

Now onto the giveaway! One lucky reader will be winning a swag pack containing a bookmark with a guitar/pick charm and some postcards. This giveaway is US only (sorry international peeps!) and will end on January 3, 2012. The winner will be announced the following day. To enter, please click here. Good luck to everyone that enters! This giveaway is now closed.

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