About a month ago I recorded some booktalks for My Fair County. And they sucked.
I think I’m pretty good at this booktalking thing, but when it hit me that I couldn’t walk around and talk to an audience, I realized I was totally screwed. But the show must go on, so they say. I did my best, even after a terrible thunderstorm delayed the taping and made me worry about my kids getting home from school and then lighting had to be adjusted and I wasn’t holding the books up the right way and I didn’t have notes because I never have notes and I was talking so slowly it was an awful experience. My guess, from the parts that I saw, is that the booktalks aren’t humiliating per se, but they look like something any boring librarian would do. And. I’m. Not. Boring. Goofy, chaotic, untidy, moody, even shrill at times, but not boring.
So next week I’ve got another go at it and I’m asking for your suggestions. I don’t need just titles. I need a one- or two-sentence hook, because a lot of my best hooks require an audience. For instance, I toss a penny, dime, and nickel into the room to introduce Money Hungry. I let someone explain the exceedingly gross way a mummy is prepared before introducing Mummies: the Newest, Coolest, and Creepiest from Around the World. I live off the gasp that goes through the seventh graders when I introduce Uglies by saying, “Everyone under the age of 16 is ugly,” and then pause before mentioning it as the premise of the book. (Okay, that one might work on camera.)
What I need are middle-grade or young adult books newish, but not more recent than early spring 2008. I’ll need to have read it, of course, and have liked it. It needs to be pretty clean no Nick & Norah. You suggest a good hook to get the talk going, and I’ll fill in the rest. It can be your own book, a friend’s book, or simply a favorite book. The reward? You may see it on YouTube. And hopefully it won’t suck.