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The Collectors: Stories

Edited by A.S. King
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Winner of the 2024 Michael L. Printz Award
A National Bestseller


From Michael L. Printz Award winner A.S. King and an all-star team of contributors including Anna-Marie McLemore and Jason Reynolds, an anthology of stories about remarkable people and their strange and surprising collections.

From David Levithan’s story about a non-binary kid collecting pieces of other people’s collections to Jenny Torres Sanchez's tale of a girl gathering types of fire while trying not to get burned to G. Neri's piece about 1970's skaters seeking opportunities to go vertical—anything can be collected and in the hands of these award-winning and bestselling authors, any collection can tell a story. Nine of the best YA novelists working today have written fiction based on a prompt from Printz-winner A.S. King (who also contributes a story) and the result is itself an extraordinary collection.

M. T. Anderson, e. E. Charlton-Trujillo, A.S. King, David Levithan, Cory McCarthy, Anna-Marie McLemore, G. Neri, Jason Reynolds, Randy Ribay, and Jenny Torres Sanchez have each penned a surprising and provocative tale.

(Cover art may vary.)
© Erin Thompson
M. T. Anderson has written a wide variety of titles, including works of fantasy and satire for a range of ages. Anderson grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts. He was educated in English literature at Harvard University and Cambridge University, and went on to receive his MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University.

M. T. Anderson is the author of a number of celebrated books including the Thrilling Tales series, as well as The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1, The Pox Party, which won the National Book Award and a Printz Honor, and The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves, which also won a Printz Honor. Feed was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the L.A. Times Book Award for YA fiction in 2003 and was a finalist for the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award.

M. T. Anderson currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts. View titles by M. T. Anderson
© Gia Gordon
A native South Texan, e. E. Charlton-Trujillo earned a degree in English from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and an MFA in film from Ohio University. View titles by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo
© A.S. King
Hailed by the New York Times as “one of the best YA writers working today,” A.S. King is the author of over a dozen books for young readers. She is the only two-time winner of the Michael L. Printz Award. She is the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She is the recipient of both the Margaret A. Edwards Award and the ALAN Award for her lifetime contributions to young adult literature. King lives with her family in Pennsylvania, where she returned after living on a farm and teaching adult literacy in Ireland for more than a decade. View titles by A.S. King
© Beth Levithan
When not writing during spare hours on weekends, David Levithan is editorial director at Scholastic and the founding editor of the PUSH imprint, which is devoted to finding new voices and new authors in teen literature. His acclaimed novels Boy Meets Boy and The Realm of Possibility started as stories he wrote for his friends for Valentine's Day (something he's done for the past 22 years and counting) that turned themselves into teen novels. He's often asked if the book is a work of fantasy or a work of reality, and the answer is right down the middle—it's about where we're going, and where we should be. View titles by David Levithan
© Cory McCarthy
Cory McCarthy (he/they) is the award-winning author of numerous bestselling and award winning books for young readers, including Hope Is an Arrow, about fellow Arab American Kahlil Gibran, and Man o' War, a Stonewall Honor Book. He also contributed to the Michael L. Printz Award winning anthology The Collectors: Stories. Cory studied poetry and screenwriting before falling in love with writing for young adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he now teaches. View titles by Cory McCarthy
Anna-Marie McLemore (they/them) is a queer nonbinary Mexican American author of nine award-winning magical realism and fairy tale novels for young adults: National Book Award longlist, Stonewall, New York Times Editor's Choice, among others. The Influencers is their adult debut. View titles by Anna-Marie McLemore
G. Neri writes street lit, “provocative, edgy stories for reluctant readers,” he says, “especially urban boys, in hopes that these kinds of compelling tales will open minds to reading.” Neri’s books deal with subjects that may make some adults uncomfortable – gangs, drugs, teen violence, and sex – but are issues teens face every day. “I try to show these topics honestly,” says Neri. “So when young people encounter these situations in real life, they might have some knowledge to help them navigate the rough roads ahead. Teens are young adults and need to be treated as such, with honesty and directness.”

A storyteller, filmmaker, artist, and digital media producer, Neri’s taught animation and storytelling to inner city teens in Los Angeles with the ground-breaking group Animaction, which has produced thousands of student-made films dealing with issues like teen violence, gangs, and drugs. He co-directed the documentary Fa’a Samoa which followed a 15-year-old Samoan gangbanger through the mean streets of Los Angeles and was head of production in two successful new media companies whose clients ranged from Disney, Mercedes, and Motorola to Microsoft, Reebok, and General Motors. G. Neri was also one of the founding members of the Truth teen anti-smoking campaign. The author of Surf Mules (Putnam, June 2009), Chess Rumble and the upcoming graphic novel Yummy (due out Fall 2009) currently lives off the Gulf Coast of Florida with his wife and daughter. He spends most of his time in his studio, but also likes to troll the rivers by his house looking for alligators.

View titles by G. Neri
© Author photo by Leopoldo Macaya
Randy Ribay is a Filipino American author of young adult fiction. His novel Patron Saints of Nothing was a finalist for the National Book Award and the LA Times Book Prize. Randy was also a contributor to the Printz Award–winning anthology The Collectors, edited by A. S. King. His other works include An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes, After the Shot Drops, and Chronicles of the Avatar: The Reckoning of Roku. Born in the Philippines and raised in the Midwest, Randy currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, son, and cat-like dog. View titles by Randy Ribay
Jenny Torres Sanchez (www.jennytorressanchez.com) is a full-time writer and former English teacher. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, but has lived on the border of two worlds her whole life. She is the author of We Are Not From HereThe Fall of InnocenceBecause of the SunDeath, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia; and The Downside of Being Charlie. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband and children. Follow her on Twitter @jetchez and on Instagram @jennytsanchez. View titles by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Introduction

Here is an incomplete list of things one can collect: crystals, lies, math tests, kittens, scraps of paper with things written on them, books, antiques, enemies, punctuation, friends, rumors, cars, feelings, baseballs, stepmothers, trophies, knowledge, joys, earbuds, anger, office supplies, judgments, conquests, opinions, insults, prophecies, dryer lint.

Collections are everywhere in human culture. Humans collect a lot of things. But why? Why do we collect things? I woke up from a dream with this question one day in 2021, and it followed me around until I did something with it. I started with research, but then I had to trust my gut.

There is science here—­a psychology of collecting that has been studied by industry and academia through the lenses of economics and marketing to anthropology to neuropsychology and social psychology. Science tells us that collecting is ubiquitous, usually harmless, and normal, not to mention profitable. It tells us that a majority of children are collectors, as well as about 40 percent of adults, and it draws lines between healthy collecting and hoarding and other concerning behaviors. When asked, Why do we collect things? the data give us many answers depending on what’s being collected, how it’s being collected and shared, and in what culture the collecting is taking place. It’s all very logical and tidy. But it doesn’t feel true. While science is awesome, it lacks the nuance of artistic meaning, and that’s part of why I think people collect things. I believe we collect what makes us feel good or what we’re attracted to.

Collections are beautiful to their collectors. Even the most disgusting collection is a glimpse of magic to the right person. Same as the most boring collection can excite. Essentially, every collection is extraordinary and impossible to duplicate, because even if I have the same exact baseball cards as you do, mine hold a meaning for me that’s different from yours. That individual meaning highlights the creative component—­which tells me that collections are art, and the act of collection, artistry. Emotion trumps logic here. If you collect buttons/thimbles/rocks and you don’t logically know why, I can tell you. You collect those buttons/thimbles/rocks because you’re an artist and they somehow give life an extra layer of meaning for you. They make you happy.

I collect weird ideas. I collect weird stories. I collect weird questions. I write them on sticky notes and display them on my walls. For a few months, there was a blue sticky note above my desk. Why do we collect things? Next to it was a note from a year earlier that read, Weird Short Story Collection. You know what came next. You’re holding it.

There is currency in weirdness that no one told me about when I was a young weird person. There is a freedom in it too. Once an artist can block out any suggestion to conform and let go of their own fear of failure, they have found a new place where dreams can come true. Additionally, when an artist allows themselves to get weird, they give permission to everyone else in the room to get weird with them.

This anthology of stories is the result of me asking nine of my favorite YA writers to write me a story about a collection and its collector, and asking them to toss out conventions, as there were no rules, there was no “normal,” and they could be as weird as they wanted. There is currency in weirdness, I said. Be defiantly creative, I said. What they’ve created here is a new, beautiful collection of curiosity and hurting and growing up and healing and loving and living.

As you begin your journey through their words, I want to extend the same invitation to you, reader, for living your life and dreaming your dreams. There are no rules. There is no normal. You can be as weird as you want. Be defiantly creative. Make art of your life, especially if you don’t consider yourself an artist—­collect all the little pieces of you and make your story. When you look back many years from now, you will see something extraordinary and impossible to duplicate. You will see you.

- A.S. King
  • WINNER | 2024
    Michael L. Printz Award Winner
Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award

★ "An eclectic, poignant, and introspective treasure trove."—Kirkus, starred review

★ "Masterfully collected and worth slowing down to absorb."—SLJ, starred review

★ "[H]ere is a collection notable for the uniform excellence of 10 of its stories, which come from such distinguished creators as M. T. Anderson, David Levithan, Anna-Marie McLemore, Jason Reynolds, and its inimitable editor, King herself…[Readers] will revel in this wonderfully genre-defying, offbeat book that is one of the most original of the year.”—Booklist, starred review

"King proclaims, in an introduction, that 'there is currency in weirdness'; by turns darkly cheeky and piercingly perceptive, this moody and existential grouping of stories lives up to the statement."—Publishers Weekly

About

Winner of the 2024 Michael L. Printz Award
A National Bestseller


From Michael L. Printz Award winner A.S. King and an all-star team of contributors including Anna-Marie McLemore and Jason Reynolds, an anthology of stories about remarkable people and their strange and surprising collections.

From David Levithan’s story about a non-binary kid collecting pieces of other people’s collections to Jenny Torres Sanchez's tale of a girl gathering types of fire while trying not to get burned to G. Neri's piece about 1970's skaters seeking opportunities to go vertical—anything can be collected and in the hands of these award-winning and bestselling authors, any collection can tell a story. Nine of the best YA novelists working today have written fiction based on a prompt from Printz-winner A.S. King (who also contributes a story) and the result is itself an extraordinary collection.

M. T. Anderson, e. E. Charlton-Trujillo, A.S. King, David Levithan, Cory McCarthy, Anna-Marie McLemore, G. Neri, Jason Reynolds, Randy Ribay, and Jenny Torres Sanchez have each penned a surprising and provocative tale.

(Cover art may vary.)

Author

© Erin Thompson
M. T. Anderson has written a wide variety of titles, including works of fantasy and satire for a range of ages. Anderson grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts. He was educated in English literature at Harvard University and Cambridge University, and went on to receive his MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University.

M. T. Anderson is the author of a number of celebrated books including the Thrilling Tales series, as well as The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1, The Pox Party, which won the National Book Award and a Printz Honor, and The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves, which also won a Printz Honor. Feed was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the L.A. Times Book Award for YA fiction in 2003 and was a finalist for the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award.

M. T. Anderson currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts. View titles by M. T. Anderson
© Gia Gordon
A native South Texan, e. E. Charlton-Trujillo earned a degree in English from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and an MFA in film from Ohio University. View titles by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo
© A.S. King
Hailed by the New York Times as “one of the best YA writers working today,” A.S. King is the author of over a dozen books for young readers. She is the only two-time winner of the Michael L. Printz Award. She is the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She is the recipient of both the Margaret A. Edwards Award and the ALAN Award for her lifetime contributions to young adult literature. King lives with her family in Pennsylvania, where she returned after living on a farm and teaching adult literacy in Ireland for more than a decade. View titles by A.S. King
© Beth Levithan
When not writing during spare hours on weekends, David Levithan is editorial director at Scholastic and the founding editor of the PUSH imprint, which is devoted to finding new voices and new authors in teen literature. His acclaimed novels Boy Meets Boy and The Realm of Possibility started as stories he wrote for his friends for Valentine's Day (something he's done for the past 22 years and counting) that turned themselves into teen novels. He's often asked if the book is a work of fantasy or a work of reality, and the answer is right down the middle—it's about where we're going, and where we should be. View titles by David Levithan
© Cory McCarthy
Cory McCarthy (he/they) is the award-winning author of numerous bestselling and award winning books for young readers, including Hope Is an Arrow, about fellow Arab American Kahlil Gibran, and Man o' War, a Stonewall Honor Book. He also contributed to the Michael L. Printz Award winning anthology The Collectors: Stories. Cory studied poetry and screenwriting before falling in love with writing for young adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he now teaches. View titles by Cory McCarthy
Anna-Marie McLemore (they/them) is a queer nonbinary Mexican American author of nine award-winning magical realism and fairy tale novels for young adults: National Book Award longlist, Stonewall, New York Times Editor's Choice, among others. The Influencers is their adult debut. View titles by Anna-Marie McLemore
G. Neri writes street lit, “provocative, edgy stories for reluctant readers,” he says, “especially urban boys, in hopes that these kinds of compelling tales will open minds to reading.” Neri’s books deal with subjects that may make some adults uncomfortable – gangs, drugs, teen violence, and sex – but are issues teens face every day. “I try to show these topics honestly,” says Neri. “So when young people encounter these situations in real life, they might have some knowledge to help them navigate the rough roads ahead. Teens are young adults and need to be treated as such, with honesty and directness.”

A storyteller, filmmaker, artist, and digital media producer, Neri’s taught animation and storytelling to inner city teens in Los Angeles with the ground-breaking group Animaction, which has produced thousands of student-made films dealing with issues like teen violence, gangs, and drugs. He co-directed the documentary Fa’a Samoa which followed a 15-year-old Samoan gangbanger through the mean streets of Los Angeles and was head of production in two successful new media companies whose clients ranged from Disney, Mercedes, and Motorola to Microsoft, Reebok, and General Motors. G. Neri was also one of the founding members of the Truth teen anti-smoking campaign. The author of Surf Mules (Putnam, June 2009), Chess Rumble and the upcoming graphic novel Yummy (due out Fall 2009) currently lives off the Gulf Coast of Florida with his wife and daughter. He spends most of his time in his studio, but also likes to troll the rivers by his house looking for alligators.

View titles by G. Neri
© Author photo by Leopoldo Macaya
Randy Ribay is a Filipino American author of young adult fiction. His novel Patron Saints of Nothing was a finalist for the National Book Award and the LA Times Book Prize. Randy was also a contributor to the Printz Award–winning anthology The Collectors, edited by A. S. King. His other works include An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes, After the Shot Drops, and Chronicles of the Avatar: The Reckoning of Roku. Born in the Philippines and raised in the Midwest, Randy currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, son, and cat-like dog. View titles by Randy Ribay
Jenny Torres Sanchez (www.jennytorressanchez.com) is a full-time writer and former English teacher. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, but has lived on the border of two worlds her whole life. She is the author of We Are Not From HereThe Fall of InnocenceBecause of the SunDeath, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia; and The Downside of Being Charlie. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband and children. Follow her on Twitter @jetchez and on Instagram @jennytsanchez. View titles by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Excerpt

Introduction

Here is an incomplete list of things one can collect: crystals, lies, math tests, kittens, scraps of paper with things written on them, books, antiques, enemies, punctuation, friends, rumors, cars, feelings, baseballs, stepmothers, trophies, knowledge, joys, earbuds, anger, office supplies, judgments, conquests, opinions, insults, prophecies, dryer lint.

Collections are everywhere in human culture. Humans collect a lot of things. But why? Why do we collect things? I woke up from a dream with this question one day in 2021, and it followed me around until I did something with it. I started with research, but then I had to trust my gut.

There is science here—­a psychology of collecting that has been studied by industry and academia through the lenses of economics and marketing to anthropology to neuropsychology and social psychology. Science tells us that collecting is ubiquitous, usually harmless, and normal, not to mention profitable. It tells us that a majority of children are collectors, as well as about 40 percent of adults, and it draws lines between healthy collecting and hoarding and other concerning behaviors. When asked, Why do we collect things? the data give us many answers depending on what’s being collected, how it’s being collected and shared, and in what culture the collecting is taking place. It’s all very logical and tidy. But it doesn’t feel true. While science is awesome, it lacks the nuance of artistic meaning, and that’s part of why I think people collect things. I believe we collect what makes us feel good or what we’re attracted to.

Collections are beautiful to their collectors. Even the most disgusting collection is a glimpse of magic to the right person. Same as the most boring collection can excite. Essentially, every collection is extraordinary and impossible to duplicate, because even if I have the same exact baseball cards as you do, mine hold a meaning for me that’s different from yours. That individual meaning highlights the creative component—­which tells me that collections are art, and the act of collection, artistry. Emotion trumps logic here. If you collect buttons/thimbles/rocks and you don’t logically know why, I can tell you. You collect those buttons/thimbles/rocks because you’re an artist and they somehow give life an extra layer of meaning for you. They make you happy.

I collect weird ideas. I collect weird stories. I collect weird questions. I write them on sticky notes and display them on my walls. For a few months, there was a blue sticky note above my desk. Why do we collect things? Next to it was a note from a year earlier that read, Weird Short Story Collection. You know what came next. You’re holding it.

There is currency in weirdness that no one told me about when I was a young weird person. There is a freedom in it too. Once an artist can block out any suggestion to conform and let go of their own fear of failure, they have found a new place where dreams can come true. Additionally, when an artist allows themselves to get weird, they give permission to everyone else in the room to get weird with them.

This anthology of stories is the result of me asking nine of my favorite YA writers to write me a story about a collection and its collector, and asking them to toss out conventions, as there were no rules, there was no “normal,” and they could be as weird as they wanted. There is currency in weirdness, I said. Be defiantly creative, I said. What they’ve created here is a new, beautiful collection of curiosity and hurting and growing up and healing and loving and living.

As you begin your journey through their words, I want to extend the same invitation to you, reader, for living your life and dreaming your dreams. There are no rules. There is no normal. You can be as weird as you want. Be defiantly creative. Make art of your life, especially if you don’t consider yourself an artist—­collect all the little pieces of you and make your story. When you look back many years from now, you will see something extraordinary and impossible to duplicate. You will see you.

- A.S. King

Awards

  • WINNER | 2024
    Michael L. Printz Award Winner

Praise

Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award

★ "An eclectic, poignant, and introspective treasure trove."—Kirkus, starred review

★ "Masterfully collected and worth slowing down to absorb."—SLJ, starred review

★ "[H]ere is a collection notable for the uniform excellence of 10 of its stories, which come from such distinguished creators as M. T. Anderson, David Levithan, Anna-Marie McLemore, Jason Reynolds, and its inimitable editor, King herself…[Readers] will revel in this wonderfully genre-defying, offbeat book that is one of the most original of the year.”—Booklist, starred review

"King proclaims, in an introduction, that 'there is currency in weirdness'; by turns darkly cheeky and piercingly perceptive, this moody and existential grouping of stories lives up to the statement."—Publishers Weekly

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