All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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A video interview with

Libba Bray

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Libba Bray is the award-winning author of best-selling books for young adults, including the Gemma Doyle trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing), Going Bovine, Beauty Queens, and The Diviners series.

Bray was born in Alabama and grew up in Corpus Christi and then Denton, Texas. She is the daughter of a minister and high school English teacher – and part of a family of storytellers. Three weeks after high school graduation, Bray had a serious car accident. She demolished her face and lost her left eye. Of that experience, she says

It took many years to put me back together again … and that’s when I discovered how powerful writing can be, because writing everything down kept me alive. Should you ever find yourself in a bad, hopeless place, please know that you can write your way out of something that feels completely unwinnable and into something better and, just possibly, into something wonderful.

After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, Bray moved to New York City and jumped into the world of publishing and advertising. She wrote a number of plays; three of them got produced. Her first book, A Great and Terrible Beauty, was published in 2003 and she has been writing YA books ever since. Bray makes her home in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, son, and two charming cats, Little Squeak and Cocoa.

Selected Books

from Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty

Age Level: 14-16

It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? This is Book 1 in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy.

Buy A Great and Terrible Beauty

Beauty Queens

Age Level: 14-16

Teen beauty queens. A desert island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to e-mail. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

Buy Beauty Queens

The Diviners

Age Level: 14-16

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City – and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult – also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.”

Buy The Diviners

Going Bovine

Age Level: 14-16

All sixteen-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Hope arrives in the form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure — if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of Gonzo, a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf, and a yard gnome who just might be the Viking god Balder, Cam sets off on a road trip through America into the heart of what matters most.

Buy Going Bovine

Lair of Dreams

Age Level: 14-16

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities. Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

Buy Lair of Dreams