Jilly cannot believe her parents keep showing up at all of her orientation events. (Except, yes, she can totally believe that.) Isaac wants to be known as someone other than the kid who does magic and has an emotional support bunny. Lilly is stuck working at the college bookstore during orientation (but maybe new friends are closer than they appear). Hira, meanwhile, just wants to retire from ghost hunting once and for all, but a spirit in the library’s romance section has other ideas. For their sophomore effort, the contributing editors behind the critically acclaimed Battle of the Bands admit us to opening day at a fictional college,
Jilly cannot believe her parents keep showing up at all of her orientation events. (Except, yes, she can totally believe that.) Isaac wants to be known as someone other than the kid who does magic and has an emotional support bunny. Lilly is stuck working at the college bookstore during orientation (but maybe new friends are closer than they appear). Hira, meanwhile, just wants to retire from ghost hunting once and for all, but a spirit in the library’s romance section has other ideas. For their sophomore effort, the contributing editors behind the critically acclaimed Battle of the Bands admit us to opening day at a fictional college, with a collection that makes an ideal high school graduation gift or “summer-before” read. This colorful array of stories spans genres and moods—from humorous to heartfelt to ghostly—tackling with sensitivity, humor, and warmth what it feels like to take those first shaky steps into adulthood.
With stories by:
Adi Alsaid * Anna Birch * Bryan Bliss * Gloria Chao * Jennifer Chen * Olivia A. Cole * Dana L. Davis * Kristina Forest * Lauren Gibaldi * Kathleen Glasgow * Sam Maggs * Farah Naz Rishi * Lance Rubin * Aminah Mae Safi * Eric Smith * Phil Stamper
Sixteen acclaimed authors—including a National Book Award nominee, a New York Times best-selling novelist, and a beloved actress—join forces for a cross-genre YA anthology of linked short stories about the first days of college.
- Candlewick Press
- April 2023
- 336 Pages
“Charming. . . The stories explore the push and pull of moving into a new, more independent life stage with humor and compassion, and they portray a wide range of experiences and identities.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
“The stories are cleverly interlinked, with characters making cameos in other stories or experiencing different sides of the same events. . . A strong short story collection focusing on a life-changing transition.” —Kirkus Reviews
“All the stories evoke the humor and/or the raw emotions that totally new environments can bring out in people. The stories are written by a diverse collection of authors and the stories reflect this, representing different groups with voices of authenticity.” —School Library Connection
1. All of the kids in this book are about to embark on a new and significant part of their lives. Have you ever made a big change like that: moving or starting a new school where you didn’t know anyone? How did you feel about that? Was it exciting, terrifying, or just different?
2. Many of these students consider themselves outsiders, whether it is because of their ethnicity, their hobbies, their health, or their looks. Have you ever felt like an outsider? Why? How have you handled it?
3. Several of these short stories end with a budding romance at the end of the first day. Is this realistic? Do you think the romances will last?
4. Most of the students visit the Club Fair where all of the college clubs and activities are featured. There is a wide variety from which to choose: Animation, Student Government Association, a ghost hunting club, and a circus club among others. Which would interest you? Is there a subject not represented that you would particularly like?
5. Picture yourself at the first day of college orientation. Would you be calling to your roommate and other dormmates to follow you to the activities, would you just follow along, or would you be hanging back, not sure you wanted to go? Do you think that the way you begin the year would have to be the way you continued it?
6. If your parents presented you with Mickey or Minnie Mouse sheets on the first day of college, the way that Jilly’s did in “Oyster,” (page 40), how would you react?
7. Some of the characters here are very concerned about not being able to have their favorite foods from home. Are there foods you would miss if you didn’t have access to them?
8. Since this is a book of stories about the first day of college, you may have been surprised to discover that one of the stories, “In Which a Side Character Accepts a Quest,” (page 77), is about a girl who has chosen not to go to college. What did you think about her decision? Did you expect her to change her mind by the end of the story?
9. In “Holding Hibiscus” (page 118) Mella has to answer a question to be allowed into the club called QuEEn (The Queer Ecesis Entomophily Committee). The question is: “How do you feel about leaf blowers” (page 124)? What do you think of that question as a way to tell if a person would be a good fit for the club? How do YOU feel about leaf blowers?
10. Clubs or sport teams can be the most important things about your school years. The fellow members are your friends, your social life, and may determine your personality. In “About-face,”(page 159, for example, Dane slides quickly into the band group where he feels normal and comfortable, but he also wants to try being someone else. How do you balance comfort and taking a risk in your life?
11. The stories “I’m Ric Clingerman” (page 198) and “Mighty” (page 217) may have changed your mind about what kind of life child/teenage movie or TV stars lead. Were you surprised about any of Ric’s or Ash’s feelings about their acting careers?
12. Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever seen one? What would you do if you did see one? `In “Ghost Hunting for the Intrepid First Year“(page 239), we meet Hira, who, after being a ghost hunter for years, is now retired. Did you believe she really met a ghost in the library? What did the day with Shelley, the ghost, do for her?
13. Ren finds her assigned dorm, Balmoral Hall, to be a real Balmoral Hell for her (“Balmoral Hell,” page 262). What was going on here? Do you think she will return to campus?
14. Bull has mixed feelings about playing football in college in “They Call Me Bull,” (page 274). What would you do if you were in his place?
15. Is there any particular student in these stories whom you would worry might not have a successful year? Why? Who would do really well? Why?
- Even though each of these stories is about a different person and written by a different author, some of the stories mention characters from other stories. How do you think the authors managed that?
When we went away to college, Blink-182 had a hit single about it. You could google to find out what year that song was on the radio, but you really don’t have to. The point is, we’re old enough to be the professors now.
In our first anthology, Battle of the Bands, we rustled up a bundle of writer friends to pen a collection that focused on what happens off the stage as much as what happens on it. The book wasn’t only about music. It was also about what inspires it in the first place, and where it can eventually lead you.
In a lot of ways, First-Year Orientation tries to do the same but with the first days of college.
College is a big transition. There are new friends to be made, new places to explore. Complicated discussions with anxious family to be had. It’s a time to discover new things about yourself and the world around you.
Who will you be as you enter this new world, and how will you walk through it afterward?
We always thought the first days of college should feel a little magical. Maybe a little scary. Perhaps a little romantic. And as you’ll see in these stories, at this odd small college, there’s a little bit of each to be found all over the campus.
We’d like to welcome you to first-year orientation at Rolland College. Maybe sign up for a club or try a new activity. Don’t miss out on the big campus concert! And while you’re at it, visit the bookstore, check out the scavenger hunt, or figure out what the deal is with the rumored campus ghost.
It’s a little magical here. As it should be.
Lauren Gibaldi and Eric Smith