The Buzz for 30th December 2013
The Ministry of Magic went live this week as a dedicated Muggle fan launched their impressive contribution to the online Harry Potter community, the popular series of books written by JK Rowling. Andy Brown scores all the Awesome Points for modelling the website on a Gov.UK and including news articles based on events from the books. These hilariously included an article on an escaped dragon, the temporary closure of the Floo Network and the promotion of the new Minister for the Department of International Magical Cooperation. It seems Andy Brown couldn’t resist the urge to include himself as the Head of the Department for the Use of Muggle Technologies. Questions of whether he had to duel the previous Head for the position remain unanswered. Also remaining unanswered, whether we can give this guy a medal for reviving some much needed Harry Potter nostalgia in us.
Andy Brown, according to his own bio is a self-taught coder who is on the run from the Ministry of Magic, but whose house is under a Fidelius charm. Most of the links lead to an error warning suggesting a Confundus charm has been placed, but it’s still a very impressive ode to the Harry Potter world. We reached out to Andy to confirm where he was a giant Harry Potter nerd, he didn’t immediately reply. We feel, though, that it’s safe to verify at this point.
The professional and inspiring look of the website may have something to do with the fact that Andy Brown worked as a member of the Entrepreneur First program for The Government Digital Services, a UK government website aimed at informing the public about their government and providing digital services. Although, in our opinion, The Ministry of Magic wins hands down because if you don’t have an article informing the public of a loose dragon then you’re just not winning at life. Check out the website for more details.
In other Harry Potter news, there’s a new movie box set being released in February 2014 for $174.99 (after Amazon discount). This is a welcome reprieve to fans after the hefty price tag of $500 for the Wizard’s Boxset.
According to Hypable: “Hogwarts Collection includes 37 hours of special features on 31 discs. The eight part “Creating the World of Harry Potter” documentary series – first seen on the Ultimate Editions – is one of the features.”
I could list everything else it has in it but I’m too busy throwing money at my computer screen and hoping it appears right now. This could count as a late Christmas present, right?
With a fan base like this, plus regular release of material, it may seem that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is an indefatigable hit. A recently released study, however, suggests otherwise. And, yes, we did resist the urge to flip all the tables while reading this. The study was conducted by Public Lending Right, a group of people obviously bent on destroying our reality whilst monitoring public borrowing.
“The study involves a comparison of the ten most borrowed children’s books and the ten most borrowed children’s authors each year, as far back as records began, in 1984/85,” writes Jasper Kopping at The Telegraph. Reports of whether he and Jim Parker, head of PLR, are Dark Wizards working for Death Eaters have not been confirmed.
J.K. Rowling’s books dropped off the most borrowed children’s list last year, and borrowing of her books has declined rather like the work of authors before her such as Judy Blume and Enid Blyton. However, the question has to be asked as to whether online fan communities and the millennial obsession with childhood nostalgia will stave off Rowling’s decline. After all, unlike fans of Blyton and Enid, Harry Potter geeks can hang out at places like Pottermore or read any of the thousands of fan fictions available on the net. Never fear, Steph and I will work tirelessly to keep the Wizarding World alive in the minds and hearts of children for years to come!
Other news this week in the Young Adultlandia is startling more saddening. Young Adult author Ned Vizzini, 32, of novels It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Teen Angst? Naaah… and Be More Chill, died by suicide on the 19th December in New York city. Vizzini’s books, which largely dealt with teenage depression and suicide, were an inspiration and source of encouragement for teens and adults dealing with those issues. There was an outpouring of sadness on twitter from many prominent authors, publishing folk and fans. HarperCollins Publishers posted a memoriam in the New York Times this week calling him a “Fearless author and beloved Friend.”
Agent Pam Van Hylckama for Forward Literary wrote in her blog post, “My heart is heavy today. This is a loss for literature. The loss of a fantastic wordsmith. And the loss of a very good friend.”
Devastated to hear that Ned Vizzini has passed away. He was a tremendous writer and an inspiration. He was also the first boy I ever kissed.
— Robyn Schneider (@robynschneider) December 20, 2013
His book, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, was adapted in 2010 into a movie starring Zach Galifianakis and Keir Gilchrist.
For anyone reading this story, who is struggling with depression, here is a list of crisis and hotlines where you can talk to someone.
Now filed under stories of issues Steph and I plan to falcon punch, is a warning from the National Coalition Against Censorship that book banning is significantly on the rise in the United States.
“In November, the Kids’ Right to Read Project investigated three times the average number of incidents, adding to an overall rise in cases for the entire year, according to KRRP coordinator Acacia O’Connor,” from Shelf Awareness.
Their latest challenge has been to defend The Color Purple by Alice Walker, which a Brunswick County Commissioner described as trash despite its Pulitzer Prize winning status. Pat Sykes, who admitted that she neither had a child in the school concerned, nor had read the entire book, writes in her complaint:
“The immorality, the filth, the F word (editor’s note: Frank? Because if it’s Frank, that’s just rude. Frank is a fine word, a fine name… in its own way. Regardless, what do you have against Frank?), and N word. You need to be 21 to drink but we provide porn. (Editor’s note: Lady, we agree. 21 to drink is ridiculously old.)
In this day were (sic) we are being sued for using or saying the N word. Look at Paula Deen.”
Sorry, ObjecterMcShoutyPerson. You referenced Paula Deen in an argument. You lose this round. You can read her formal challenge at this link.
Pat Sykes and Marty Cooke, also a commissioner and married to a member of the Brunswick County school board, began a campaign.
“A review committee established by West Brunswick High School has already upheld the use of the book. Ms. Sykes appealed that decision to the commissioner, who also held the book should remain. Now the book will face a vote from the school board.”
Other such books challenged in schools are: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and John Green’s Looking for Alaska.
Ready for some Divergent-y goodness? A clip was released this week by Summit Entertainment to whet our appetite for ass-kickingness. This scene, people. This. Scene. To be honest, I wasn’t psyched for Divergent. I wasn’t even going to bother watching the trailer, but my faux-journalistic integrity was peeked by my need to provide you all with the facts.
All I can say, after watching that snippet, is that Valentines day can’t come quickly enough. Let’s just say that some clothing is removed and that Theo James is by no means hard on the eyes. It’s hard to infer much from a small snippet, but he and Shailene Woodley seem to have a fair amount of chemistry, even if she doesn’t look as hard and tough as I’d imagined Tris to be.
Divergent is a movie adaptation of the book, by the same name, written by Veronica Roth. You can see the clip for yourself here. You can also watch the trailer and talk about how much this movie looks both very exciting, and somewhat similar stylistically to The Hunger Games.
Tis’ the season for giving and Random House Children’s Books and First Book are doing just that. First Book is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing high quality books and resources to schools who serve low-income families, and this holiday season Random House Children’s Books is matching donations three times over. I don’t think we need to spell out how awesome this is, but there’s nothing we love to see more is books in kids’ hands. You can head on over to First Book to donate. The matching ends December 31st!
And while we are on the subject of Awesome Things, Jessica Shyba, the blogger behind Momma’s Gone City, has landed a book deal with Feiwel & Friends, proving Blogger Dreams do come true. After posting pictures of her adorable toddler, Beau, and equally adorable rescue puppy, Theo, Shyba gained an impressive following of over 230,000 Instagram followers. Excuse me as I fire up my own Instagram and have Kat pose with my pet ferret. Publishers, I hope you’re following for the cute! Still, I’m not sure what’s more cuter that Theo and Beau. Spoiler: Nothing.
GAH. THE CUTE.
NYT Young Adult Best Sellers
Young Adult Book Deals
Rated Based on our Excitement
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
The story follows 16-year-old, not-so-openly gay Simon Spier, whose sexual identity is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight after a private e-mail falls into the wrong hands; it’s billed as an updated You’ve Got Mail starring gay teenage boys with good grammar.
This one I need! It references not one, but TWO Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks movies. It’s giving me all kind of fluttery feelings of excitement.
The 8th Continent by Matt London
Despicable Me meets Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego? – follows a brother and sister who are working to turn the Great Pacific Garbage Patch into a utopic eighth continent where their family can start afresh and plants and animals can thrive. To do so, however, they must outwit bumbling bureaucrats and the villainous Condo Corp, who want to take the eighth continent for themselves in order to create New Miami.
This one is exciting all of Steph’s feels.
Steph: There better be minions.
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
A YA Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the story follows 16-year-old Aaron Soto’s growing up in the Bronx, just after the advent of a procedure that folds memories to soften the blow of traumatic experiences, of which Aaron has many.
Kat: I didn’t see the movie, but I am kind of intrigued.
That Monstrous Thing by Amanda Panitch
That Monstrous Thing is pitched as YA Gone Girl. It is about a girl who survived her twin brother’s murderous rampage only to discover that her dark secret survived as well.
Meh McMeheson. Hopefully it will be better than I’m imagining.
SOURCE: Publisher’s Weekly