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Friday Finds: August 23, 2019

This Week at TLT

The Great A. S. King Book Giveaway in Honor of The Teen’s Birthday

What’s new in LGBTQIA+ YA August 2019

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Silhouette Framed Art

NaNoWriMo Helps Kids Jump into Writing with ‘Brave the Page,’ a guest post by Rebecca Stern

Tabletop Game Review: Throw Throw Burrito

What Not to Do at a Teen Writing Workshop a guest post by Heather Cumiskey

Around the Web

When You Can’t Afford School Lunch, the Toll Is More Than Just Physical

Native Stories: Books for tweens and teens by and about Indigenous peoples

YA Fantasy Novel ‘Bloodleaf’ Getting Television Treatment By Cavalry Media

LGBTQ books are being censored in middle schools. Authors are speaking out.

Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi Are Teaming Up to Help Young People Navigate Racism

The Great A. S. King Book Giveaway in Honor of The Teen’s Birthday

Seventeen years ago today I gave birth to my first child and it was one of the greatest moments of my life. At the time, I had already been a teen librarian for about 10 years and I wondered what it would be like to one day have a teen who could and be a part of my teen program and I’m not going to lie – it’s been pretty awesome!! I love this kid. She’s smart, compassionate and SHE LOVES READING! It’s been a great joy to get to read, share and talk about books with her. In case you couldn’t tell, I freakin’ adore this kid. It’s a genuine honor to get to be her mom.

Earlier this year she decided that author A. S. King was her favorite living author and she went through and read the entire works of A. S. King. You can read all about that here, including what she thinks of each book. I got to take this journey with her and it was a year full of remarkable moments and great conversations for us surrounding one author and one of our favorite things that we share – books! This reading journey has meant so much to me and I will treasure it always.

Still Life with Tornado is one of her favorite A. S. King books

Edgar Allan Poe is her favorite dead author for those of you wondering. She was pretty excited when they read a Poe short story last year and when the English teacher asked if anyone had ever read Poe she got to reply that she had read his entire works.

The Teen at age 13 with her metal Edgar Allan Poe lunchbox

So today in celebration of my kid I’m going to be giving away a complete set of A. S. King paperbacks and a pre-order of her upcoming middle grade book The Year We Fell From Space, which comes out in October. Please note, the paperback of Dig doesn’t come out until April of next year but I’m going to pre-order it as part of the giveaway. Read below for more information. If you are selected as a winner, I will contact you to ask for your mailing address and order the books online and have them mailed directly to you via Amazon. This giveaway is open to U. S. residents only please and one winner will be selected randomly by Rafflecopter. I checked on Amazon and it looks like paperback copies are available as mentioned below.

What’s included in this giveaway? Paperback copies of the following books:

A pre-order of the hardback of The Year We Fell from Space, which comes out in October of 2019

A pre-order of the paperback of Dig, which comes out in April 2020 (the hardback copy is available now if you want to purchase one for yourself)

That is 10 paperback books by author A. S. King and one hardback book, giving one lucky winner an almost complete collection of A. S. King books.

To enter, do the Rafflecopter thingy below by midnight tonight (8/23/2019) and celebrate The Teen and her love for books with me.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

P. S. – I got her consent to do this beforehand because consent is important.

What’s new in LGBTQIA+ YA August 2019

It’s time for another roundup for new and forthcoming YA (and sometimes not YA) books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.  The titles I’m including here have LGBTQIA+ main characters as well as secondary characters (in some cases parents), as well as anthologies that include LGBTQIA+ stories. Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers August 2019 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (June and July 2019) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2018 master list. I’m working on the 2019 list. I’m happy to send you any list if you’re interested. Tweet at me or email me to request the list. I’m amanda DOT macgregor AT gmail DOT com.

Looking for more information on LGBTQIA+ books or issues? Check out the hashtag here on TLT and go visit YA Pride and LGBTQ Reads, two phenomenal resources. 

Swipe Right for Murder by Derek Milman (ISBN-13: 9780316451062 Publisher: Little, Brown and Company Publication date: 08/06/2019)

An epic case of mistaken identity puts a teen looking for a hookup on the run from both the FBI and a murderous cult in this compulsively readable thriller.

Finding himself alone in a posh New York City hotel room for the night, Aidan does what any red-blooded seventeen-year-old would do–tries to hook up with someone new. But that lapse in judgement leads him to a room with a dead guy and a mysterious flash drive…two things that spark an epic case of mistaken identity that puts Aidan on the run–from the authorities, his friends, his family, the people who are out to kill him–and especially from his own troubled past.

Inspired by a Hitchcock classic, this whirlwind mistaken-identity caper has razor-sharp humor, devastating emotional stakes, and a thrilling storyline with an explosive conclusion to make this the most compelling YA novel of the year.

Of Ice and Shadows (Of Fire and Stars #2) by Audrey Coulthurst (ISBN-13: 9780062841223 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 08/13/2019)

The long-awaited sequel to the acclaimed YA fantasy Of Fire and Stars! Mare and Denna travel to a new and dangerous kingdom where Denna will be trained to tame her magic by a mysterious queen who is not all she seems. Perfect for fans of Malinda Lo and Kristin Cashore.

Princesses Denna and Mare are in love and together at last—only to face a new set of dangers.

Mare just wants to settle down with the girl she loves, which would be easier if Denna weren’t gifted with forbidden and volatile fire magic. Denna must learn to control her powers, which means traveling in secret to the kingdom of Zumorda, where she can seek training without fear of persecution. Determined to help, Mare has agreed to serve as an ambassador as a cover for their journey.

But just as Mare and Denna arrive in Zumorda, an attack on a border town in Mynaria changes everything. Mare’s diplomatic mission is now urgent: she must quickly broker an alliance with the queen of Zumorda to protect her homeland. However, the queen has no interest in allying with other kingdoms; it’s Denna’s untamed but powerful magic that catches her eye. The queen offers Denna a place among her elite trainees—an opportunity that would force her to choose between her magic and Mare.

As Denna’s powers grow stronger, Mare struggles to be the ambassador her kingdom needs. By making unconventional friends, her knowledge of Zumorda and its people grow, and so too do her suspicions about who is truly behind the attacks on Zumorda and her homeland.

As rising tensions and unexpected betrayals put Mare and Denna in jeopardy and dangerous enemies emerge on all sides, can they protect their love and save their kingdoms?

The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart by R. Zamora Linmark (ISBN-13: 9781101938218 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 08/13/2019)

Readers of Adam Silvera (They Both Die at the End) and Elizabeth Acevedo (The Poet X) will pull out the tissues for this tender, quirky story of one seventeen-year-old boy’s journey through first love and first heartbreak, guided by his personal hero, Oscar Wilde.

Words have always been more than enough for Ken Z, but when he meets Ran at the mall food court, everything changes. Beautiful, mysterious Ran opens the door to a number of firsts for Ken: first kiss, first love. But as quickly as he enters Ken’s life, Ran disappears, and Ken Z is left wondering: Why love at all, if this is where it leads?

Letting it end there would be tragic. So, with the help of his best friends, the comfort of his haikus and lists, and even strange, surreal appearances by his hero, Oscar Wilde, Ken will find that love is worth more than the price of heartbreak.

The Last Hope (The Raging Ones #2) by Krista Ritchie, Becca Ritchie (ISBN-13: 9781250128737 Publisher: St. Martin”s Publishing Group Publication date: 08/13/2019)

A stunning conclusion to the sci-fi romance duology by writing duo Krista & Becca Ritchie, The Last Hope is filled with twists and turns you’ll never see coming.

Sacrifice all you have to survive.

Imprisoned for weeks on an enemy starcraft, Franny, Court, and Mykal have sat with an unfathomable revelation. But as they fight to stay alive, escaping prison means trusting a young mysterious stranger. He knows everything about their lost histories, and when answers aren’t given freely, the bonded trio are forced to join a mission. One that will determine the fate of humanity.

Legend says, a baby—the first of her species—has the power to cloak and teleport planets. Tasked with retrieving the infant, Court fears the baby is just a myth, and if they fail, they’ll never find the truth about their origins.

As Court and Mykal grow closer, their linked bond becomes harder to hide, and dynamics change when Franny begins to fall for someone new. Vulnerable and with no choice, the hunt for the baby sends the trio on a dangerous path to Saltare-1: a water world where their enemies can’t die and survival comes at a high cost.

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert (ISBN-13: 9780316448567 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 08/20/2019)

Perfect for fans of Nina LaCour and Nicola Yoon comes a novel about first love and secrets from Stonewall Book Award winner Brandy Colbert.

Dove “Birdie” Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her: She quit playing her beloved soccer, she keeps her nose buried in textbooks, and she’s on track to finish high school at the top of her class. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past…whom she knows her parents will never approve of.

When her estranged aunt Carlene returns to Chicago and moves into the family’s apartment above their hair salon, Birdie notices the tension building at home. Carlene is sweet, friendly, and open-minded—she’s also spent decades in and out of treatment facilities for addiction. As Birdie becomes closer to both Booker and Carlene, she yearns to spread her wings. But when long-buried secrets rise to the surface, everything she’s known to be true is turned upside down.

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, Faith Erin Hicks (ISBN-13: 9781626721623 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 08/27/2019)

In Pumpkinheads, beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Rainbow Rowell and Eisner Award–winning artist Faith Erin Hicks have teamed up to create this tender and hilarious story about two irresistible teens discovering what it means to leave behind a place—and a person—with no regrets.

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.

Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.

But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .

What if their last shift was an adventure?

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Silhouette Framed Art

Today for Cindy Crushes Programming librarian Cindy Shutts walks us through a quick, easy craft that turns silhouettes into art.

DIY Silhouettes Frames

Supplies:

  • Photo Frames
  • Glitter Glue, light colors
  • Background Paper: I used Handmade Modern Luxe Paper Pad that I got at Target. You could use scrapbook paper.
  • Silhouettes: I use the Silhouette Cameo Machine, but you could make them yourselves. For more information on creating silhouettes, please see Step 1.

Step 1: Make Your Silhouette

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through turning your own photo into a silhouette using the open source (which means free!) online GIMP program. Using this method you would print your silhouette off on regular printer paper and then cut it out by hand.

These various items were made using the GIMP silhouette tutorial above

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through using the Silhouette App on a smart device to create your silhouette. There are several photo apps that you can use to create silhouettes. Once you have created your silhouette using this method, you will print it out using your printer and then cut it out by hand. With this method you will need a way to print from a smart device to a printer.

These silhouettes were made using the Silhouette app. The one on the right is then blended with a space background using the Fused app. Because this graphic is from a different post it was made blue, but black silhouettes often make the most striking contrast.

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through creating a silhouette using the Silhouette Cameo machine. This method provides for better cutting lines as you are having the machine do the cutting for you. You can also find for free or purchase a variety of SVG silhouette graphics online if you don’t want to make the silhouette yourself. This is the method that I used. If you have access to a Silhouette Cameo, this is the quickest and easiest way to make a silhouette. You can even pre-make some popular silhouettes and have them already cut out and ready to use.

Step 2: Frame Your Silhouette

  • Open the picture frame and remove the back.
  • Take your scrapbook paper and trace the back of the frame on it. Make sure to trace it on the back of the paper. I cut it a tiny bit over the line. This will be your background.
  • Cut out the paper in the shape of the back of the frame.
  • Glue the silhouette image on the paper toward the middle.
  • Cover the paper and image with light colored glitter glue.
  • Please let it dry before moving on to the next step.
  • Glue the paper to the back of the frame.
  • After everything is dry, place the back of the frame back into the frame.

Final Thoughts: This was a relatively easy craft. Everyone loved it and wanted to do a second frame. I highly recommend it because it is easy and really attractive.

NaNoWriMo Helps Kids Jump into Writing with ‘Brave the Page,’ a guest post by Rebecca Stern

My belief in the transformational power of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) began well before I joined the organization’s staff; it started back in 2011 when I was an English Language Arts teacher. The school where I taught used project-based learning, so every August, I did what most teachers who have some curricular autonomy do: I spent days upon days wading through the sometimes lush but more-often-than-not dry pastures of the Internet in search of brilliant ideas that I could adapt into engaging and thoughtful writing projects for my fifth- and sixth-grade students.

I still remember the moment I came across NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program (YWP). It was an especially hot day, and sweat dripped down the side of my face as I stared at my computer. Every website was a mix of the same: grammar worksheets, personal narrative activities based on summer excursions, boring ideas for getting your students to nail a five-paragraph essay…

Anxiety crept into my stomach as the minutes ticked by and my teacher plan book remained blank, without a single lesson for the entire year. And then, just when I was about to give up for the day, I saw it: a creative writing program that challenged kids to write an entire novel in the month of November. My first thought was, “How did I not know about this before?” Followed immediately by, “This is definitely happening.”

That year, and for several subsequent years, our school’s librarian and I collaborated on a NaNoWriMo novel-writing project. Here’s what we noticed: our fifth- and sixth-grade students came into class eager to write—and excited to talk about their own characters and plots as well as their observations about books they’d read or were reading—and by the end of November, each of them had written more than they’d ever written before. In addition, our kids came out of the program with better time-management skills; stronger writing fluency; and more confidence in their writing abilities in all subject areas, not just in ELA. (These same results were reiterated to me years later by many other YWP educators when I was NaNoWriMo’s Director of Programs.)

Throughout the writing process, my students read each other’s novels and gave feedback. I was blown away by their thoughtful comments and desire to support their peers:

The Young Writers Program is easy to implement thanks to the plethora of free resources NaNoWriMo provides, including Common-core aligned lessons for educators; engaging workbooks that are printable or available as hard copies; motivating classroom kits that come with a progress chart, a creative writing poster, stickers, and buttons; and a robust website with a novel-writing space, virtual classrooms, inspirational pep talks written by well-known authors, and forums for teachers and teen writers.

To further support students and educators, I’m thrilled to announce the publication of a new NaNoWriMo book, Brave the Page (Viking Children’s Books), which is a NaNoWriMo primer for young writers. Partly a how-to guide on the nitty-gritty of writing, partly a collection of inspiration to set (and meet) ambitious goals, Brave the Page champions NaNoWriMo’s central mission that everyone‘s stories deserve to be told. The volume includes chapters on character, plot, setting, and the like; motivating essays from popular authors; advice on how to commit to your goals; a detailed plan for writing a novel or story in a month; and more! (Available for preorder now and in stores and online on August 27.)

As the Kirkus Reviews starred review put it: “a wonderful instruction guide for writers of any age.”

Here’s an excerpt from Brave the Page on what to do if you start to hate your story idea after you’ve already begun writing:  

Week 1’s Motivation Station: Help! I hate my idea!

You know the idea for your story? The one that seemed so brilliant in Week 0? At some point during Week 1, that scintillating idea might begin to lose its luster. It might even fade into a seemingly terrible and stupid idea that will never, ever work.

Unfortunately, self-doubt is one of the most dangerous roads to travel when you’re writing a novel. If you continue down this road for too long, your writing—and your novel—will hit a wall and come to a complete halt.

Of course, starting over is an option. But if you allow yourself to start over now, there’s a good chance you’ll want to start over again tomorrow or in a week. And then guess what will happen? You’ll keep doubting your ideas and starting over, and then a month will go by and you’ll have a whole lot of beginnings but not one complete draft.

So if you find yourself questioning your idea, stop what you’re doing, take a deep breath, and exhale slowly. Then try the following strategies:

Give yourself permission. Give yourself permission to doubt your ideas. All writers, at one time or another, have doubted their ideas, so why shouldn’t you? Give yourself permission to write a “terrible” story (which is probably way better than you or your Inner Editor think it is). Give yourself per- mission to sit with the discomfort of doubting your ideas—a moment that often leads to a creative breakthrough—and then give yourself permission to get back to your writing. Look at this draft as a way to practice writing, rather than as a way to produce the perfect book. (And you never know, you may end up writing a great book in the process!)

Give your idea room to breathe. Instead of spend- ing time trying to make your idea better, put it in a safe place, walk away, and spend an hour or even a day doing something else. Do the moonwalk. Meet up with a friend. Practice hanging a spoon on your nose. And then go back to that safe place, grab your idea, and start writing.

Give your idea some new flair. Sometimes all it takes to make an idea interesting again is a little spice, a little more flavor. Give your protagonist a new problem to tackle. Or introduce a new charac- ter who’s full of self-doubt. Or move the story to a different location, like Mustafar or the Emerald City.

Here’s a helpful tip from a fellow NaNoWriMo writer:

If you start to hate your story idea, it probably has to do with an element of the story idea rather than the story idea itself. Maybe it has to do with one of your characters, or a particular occurrence that you had planned that isn’t working out.

Don’t be afraid to stop and think it through! —Ailun, age 16

The Young Writers Program changed the way I taught writing—and even inspired me to participate in National Novel Writing Month on my own (something every English teacher and librarian should do!). When I decided to leave the classroom, I knew exactly where I wanted to go: to NaNoWriMo, the organization that inspires people of all ages to achieve ambitious creative goals and believes everyone’s story matters.

Meet Rebecca Stern

Rebecca Stern has experienced NaNoWriMo from every angle: she had her students participate in the Young Writers Program when she was a teacher, did a victory dance in the 50K winner’s circle, served on the organization’s Associate Board, and then was Director of Programs. Prior to working for NaNoWriMo, Rebecca was a teacher for a decade and a Senior Digital Editor at Pearson Education. She also co-edited an anthology of essays for kids called Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Delectable Essays. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and son.

About BRAVE THE PAGE

The official NaNoWriMo handbook that inspires young people to tackle audacious goals and complete their creative projects.

Partly a how-to guide on the nitty-gritty of writing, partly a collection of inspiration to set (and meet) ambitious goals, Brave the Page is the go-to resource for middle-grade writers. Narrated in a fun, refreshingly kid-friendly voice, it champions NaNoWriMo’s central mission that everyone‘s stories deserve to be told. The volume includes chapters on character, plot, setting, and the like; motivating essays from popular authors; advice on how to commit to your goals; a detailed plan for writing a novel or story in a month; and more!

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes in the transformational power of creativity. They provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds–on and off the page. With its first event in 1999, the organization’s programs now include National Novel Writing Month in November, Camp NaNoWriMo, the Young Writers Program, Come Write In, and the “Now What?” Months.


ISBN-13: 9780451480293
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 08/27/2019

Tabletop Game Review: Throw Throw Burrito

Throw Throw Burrito is called a “dodgeball card game” and it’s made by the makers of Exploding Kittens, a super fun game that my teens enjoy playing. And it is exactly what it says it is: a card game with a bit of dodgeball thrown in. It’s like a library sanctioned food fight without real food. Here’s how it works.

Each player gets a small pile of cards, which is your hand. You will have two piles of cards, a personal discard pile on your right, which the player to your right will discard into. And your personal discard pile on your left, which the player on your left will draw from. You play around the table and you will pick up a card from the pile on your right, add it to your hand, and then discard to the pile on your left. You are trying to get matching card groups of three and it’s a quick playing game with everyone drawing and discarding at once. There are no turns here, you just go and keep going. You have to pay attention. When you get a group of 3 matching cards, you lay them down as if you were playing Goldfish or Rummy.

Two burritos, which are basically squishees, are placed in the middle of the table. These are your “dodgeballs”. When you get 3 of a kind you place those out of your hand. If you get a brawl, duel or war card the dodgeball – or dodge burrito to be more precise – part comes into play.

For a burrito duel, you pick a player and have a good old fashioned back to back count to three dual Aaron Burr style, but with a squishee burrito. It’s all fun and games. No one gets hurt because it’s a squishee.

If you play a burrito brawl, the player to your left and right are now in a burrito brawl. Both players grab and throw, no formal duel is involved.

For a burrito war, everyone just grabs and throws. If you get hit, you grab a burrito x out of the pot. It’s basically like a strike. More info about this in a moment.

If you grab a burrito when it’s not your turn to grab a burrito or if you get hit with a burrito and lose a duel or brawl, you get a burrito bruise. It’s basically like a strike. Each strike is worth 1 point and you deduct these points from your total number of points at the end of the game to determine the winner.

If all of this sounds confusing, fear not because there are detailed game instructions here with a short video: https://www.throwthrowburrito.com/how-to-play

This is a fun game that I recommend for library programs. Be forewarned, there is a physical aspect of the game so you’ll want to have it in a separate space that allows for the burrito throwing and the raucous laughter that comes with playing.

What Not to Do at a Teen Writing Workshop a guest post by Heather Cumiskey

One of the unexpected rewards of becoming an author is being invited to talk to teens about writing. There’s nothing better than encouraging young people and adults to believe in their work and the story they are meant to tell. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way. For instance, try not to . . .

Cover too many topics

My first workshop was at a local bookstore chain. I was instructed to divide my talk into five topics: genre, plot, characters, tone and voice, and setting. I quickly discovered that it was a lot to pack into a workshop and keep participants engaged. Teens lead busy lives; they also log in a lot of hours at school. Your workshop shouldn’t feel like another day in English class. Today, when I plan a workshop, I discuss one or maybe two of those elements. I feel out the group and see what they are looking to accomplish in their writing and take it from there.

Attempt to be an expert in what they’re reading

As a fan of YA contemporary fiction, I knew that my repertoire was seriously lacking in other genres like Sci-Fi, fantasy, and dystopian. I thought that I needed to read as many YA books as I could to prepare for my workshops. Ridiculous, I know. It’s impossible to gauge what your groups’ taste in genres will be. They are usually all over the place, and that’s a good thing.

You don’t need to have read the same book to discuss the elements of writing. Instead, ask what they liked about the story, about the author’s choices, and what made the characters memorable. You’ll see their faces light up. What they admire in a story are usually elements they desire in their own writing. Now you have a path to go down.

Expect that only teens will show up

The group that showed up at my first workshop ranged from elementary to college age. Yes, college. Parents, some of them closet writers, also attended. Now what? Try pulling out the commonalities. Start by asking what kinds of writing they like to do and their favorite genres. Writing prompts are also a great way to unify the group and get them talking.

Once at a workshop, an elderly gentleman walked in midway because he thought a workshop about “Finding Your Voice” would improve his public speaking skills. I managed to pull him into the conversation. Turns out he wrote poetry on the side. Meet your writers wherever they are in that moment, on that particular day. No matter their age, they all want to make strides in their writing.

Talk the whole time

I used to script my earlier workshops because I was afraid of running out of things to say. I also spoke too quickly and didn’t pause to let information float a bit before jumping on the next idea. I was basically talking at them.

Workshops are a whole lot more interesting when you treat them like a conversation and not a lesson plan. Depending on the group, let the discussion flow naturally. Begin by asking what it is they want to get out of the workshop. Where are their heads at? Are they feeling stuck?

I encourage the feedback and I love it when the sidebars happen between writers. I’ve learned to be okay with the blank space and don’t try to fill it up. When I give them room to process, that’s when the questions come up and the conversation takes on a new direction.

Think that the participants like one another

Sometimes teens at a workshop simply don’t like one another. They can be unintentionally critical or afraid to give their opinion because the classmate they loathe from second period is now sitting next to them. If it’s a public setting, age disparity can also contribute to the quiet indifference.

Set the expectations early on, something like, “Every writer in this room shares the same frustrations and fears when it comes to putting themselves out there. This is a safe place to share work and ideas. So be kind. Be respectful. We’re all in this together.” Another tip is for feedback to begin with two positives followed by a negative and/or a suggestion. It’s much easier to receive constructive criticism in this way.

Come with expectations

When writers share their work, it can lead to emotionally charged moments. It stirs up feelings among peers that can either be uplifting (Wow, you feel that way too?) or down right crushing (Your story sounds like something I’ve read before). Ouch. 

Once at a high school workshop, a girl stood up and shouted, “I’m a fake, I don’t belong here!” I told her that I felt the same way and that we all feel like fakes to which the other teens in the room nodded. I emphasized that she did belong. She left anyway. 

More often though, teens are amazingly supportive of one another and are willing to take chances. Like the time a writer sang the most unforgettable, thought-provoking lyrics that we were all left with chills. It was thrilling.

Think that you know why they are there

Once the workshop is over, the real stuff tends to surface, like mini one-on-one confessions:

“My parents don’t know I’m here . . .”

“I’m currently being or have been bullied . . .”

“I detest my English teacher because . . .”

“I have a book in me, but . . . (insert a billion excuses)”

Often times, away from the group is where the real talking begins. Leave room for it. Be accessible afterward for them to tell you whatever is on their mind. It’s usually a lot. And I’m always grateful that they trust me to share it.

Heather Cumiskey is an award-winning writer and author. I Love You Like That is the second book in the poignant YA duology about addiction, peer pressure, and first love. Connect with her at HeatherCumiskey.com

Post-It Reviews: Elementary and middle grade summer reads part 2

Here are some quick reviews of a few of the books I’ve read and enjoyed over the past few months.

Post-It Note reviews are a great way to display books in your library or classroom, a way to let kids recommend their favorite titles without having to get up in front of everyone and do a book talk, and an easy way to offer a more personal recommendation than just the flap copy offers.

All summaries are from the publishers. Transcription of Post-it note review under the summary.

Lemons by Melissa Savage

The search for Bigfoot gets juicy in this funny and touching story that’s perfect for fans of Kate DiCamillo’s Flora & Ulysses and the movie Smallfoot!

Lemonade Liberty Witt’s mama always told her: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But Lem can’t possibly make lemonade out of her new life in Willow Creek, California—the Bigfoot Capital of the World—where she’s forced to live with a grandfather she’s never met after her mother passes away.

Then she meets eleven-year-old Tobin Sky, the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives Inc., who is the sole Bigfoot investigator for their small town. After he invites Lem to be his assistant for the summer, they set out on an epic adventure to capture a shot of the elusive beast on film. But along the way, Lem and Tobin end up discovering more than they ever could have imagined. And Lem realizes that maybe she can make lemonade out of her new life after all.

(POST-IT SAYS: Set in 1975, this is a surprisingly deep look at grief and loss–surprising because of the whimsical cover and Bigfoot angle. A lot of issues are packed into this story and all are skillfully, realistically, and empathetically handled. A great read. Ages 8-12)

Emmy in the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido

In this innovative middle grade novel, coding and music take center stage as new girl Emmy tries to find her place in a new school. Perfect for fans of GIRLS WHO CODE series and THE CROSSOVER.

In a new city, at a new school, twelve-year-old Emmy has never felt more out of tune. Things start to look up when she takes her first coding class, unexpectedly connecting with the material—and Abigail, a new friend—through a shared language: music. But when Emmy gets bad news about their computer teacher, and finds out Abigail isn’t being entirely honest about their friendship, she feels like her new life is screeching to a halt. Despite these obstacles, Emmy is determined to prove one thing: that, for the first time ever, she isn’t a wrong note, but a musician in the world’s most beautiful symphony.

(POST-IT SAYS: This will be a hit with a lot of readers: readers who like books in verse; readers who like coding (and verse written in Javascript–whoa!); readers who are exploring their interests; and readers who are navigating new schools/friendships/places. Super innovative format and good messages about being yourself. Ages 10-13)

Emily Out of Focus by Miriam Spitzer Franklin

Twelve-year-old Emily is flying with her parents to China to adopt and bring home a new baby sister. She’s excited but nervous to travel across the world and very aware that this trip will change her entire life. And the cracks are already starting to show the moment they reach the hotel—her parents are all about the new baby, and have no interest in exploring.

In the adoption trip group, Emily meets Katherine, a Chinese-American girl whose family has returned to China to adopt a second child. The girls eventually become friends and Katherine reveals a secret: she’s determined to find her birth mother, and she wants Emily’s help.

New country, new family, new responsibilities—it’s all a lot to handle, and Emily has never felt more alone.

From the author of Extraordinary and Call Me SunflowerEmily Out of Focus is a warm and winning exploration of the complexity of family, friendship, and identity that readers will love.

(POST-IT SAYS: Emily learns a lot about family, friendship, adoption, and herself as she explores Changsha. Readers will learn a lot about the adoption process, including Katherine’s feelings on adoption and (in an author’s note) Franklin’s own experience adopting a child from China. Ages 8-12)

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

From award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes comes a powerful novel set fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks. 

When her fifth-grade teacher hints that a series of lessons about home and community will culminate with one big answer about two tall towers once visible outside their classroom window, Dèja can’t help but feel confused. She sets off on a journey of discovery, with new friends Ben and Sabeen by her side. But just as she gets closer to answering big questions about who she is, what America means, and how communities can grow (and heal), she uncovers new questions, too. Like, why does Pop get so angry when she brings up anything about the towers? 

Award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes tells a powerful story about young people who weren’t alive to witness this defining moment in history, but begin to realize how much it colors their every day.

(POST-IT SAYS: This is a nominee for a Minnesota award voted on by kids, so I’m curious to get student feedback on this from actual kids born post-9/11. Provides a vivid look at the events of that day, but much is watered down/sweetened for the young audience. Ages 8-12)

Wish by Barbara O’Connor

A touching story about a girl and her dog, perfect for young animal lovers

Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets

Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.

From award-winning author Barbara O’Connor comes a middle-grade novel about a girl who, with the help of a true-blue friend, a big-hearted aunt and uncle, and the dog of her dreams, unexpectedly learns the true meaning of family in the least likely of places.

(POST-IT SAYS: Fantastic setting and well-developed, unforgettable characters make this heartfelt story stand out. Charlie is so complicated—angry, vulnerable, lonely, wishful—and her voice here shines. Really lovely. Ages 9-12)

Framed! (Framed! Series #1) by James Ponti

Get to know the only kid on the FBI Director’s speed dial and several international criminals’ most wanted lists all because of his Theory of All Small Things in this hilarious start to a brand-new middle grade mystery series.

So you’re only halfway through your homework and the Director of the FBI keeps texting you for help…What do you do? Save your grade? Or save the country?

If you’re Florian Bates, you figure out a way to do both.

Florian is twelve years old and has just moved to Washington. He’s learning his way around using TOAST, which stands for the Theory of All Small Things. It’s a technique he invented to solve life’s little mysteries such as: where to sit on the on the first day of school, or which Chinese restaurant has the best eggrolls.

But when he teaches it to his new friend Margaret, they uncover a mystery that isn’t little. In fact, it’s HUGE, and it involves the National Gallery, the FBI, and a notorious crime syndicate known as EEL.

Can Florian decipher the clues and finish his homework in time to help the FBI solve the case?

(POST-IT SAYS: Well, now I want to employ the TOAST technique. Fun, smart mystery that’s not at all easily solvable for readers. Can’t wait to read the others in this series. Ages 9-12)

Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children
by Kath Shackleton (Editor), Zane Whittingham (Illustrator), Ryan Jones (Designed by)
(ISBN-13: 9781492688938 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 10/01/2019)

Between 1933 and 1945, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party were responsible for the persecution of millions of Jews across Europe.

This extraordinary graphic novel tells the true stories of six Jewish children and young people who survived the Holocaust. From suffering the horrors of Auschwitz, to hiding from Nazi soldiers in war-torn Paris, to sheltering from the Blitz in England, each true story is a powerful testament to the survivors’ courage. These remarkable testimonials serve as a reminder never to allow such a tragedy to happen again.

(POST-IT SAYS: WOW. Beautiful presentation of awful stories. The format makes history accessible to those who may struggle with nonfiction. Back matter includes stories of the 6 children’s lives as adults, glossary, timeline, and resources. Ages 10+)

The End of the Wild by Nicole Helget (ISBN-13: 9780316245135 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 06/26/2018)

Now available in paperback, this timely coming of age novel takes on the controversial issues of fracking and environmental protection.

Stay away from my woods.

Eleven-year-old Fern doesn’t have the easiest life. Her stepfather is out of work, and she’s responsible for putting dinner on the table—not to mention keeping her wild younger brothers out of trouble. The woods near their home is her only refuge, where she finds food and plays with her neighbor’s dog. But when a fracking company rolls into town, her special grove could be ripped away, and no one else seems to care.

Her stepfather needs the money that a job with the frackers could bring to their family, and her wealthy grandfather likes the business it brings to their town. Even her best friend doesn’t understand what the land means to Fern. With no one on her side, how can she save the forest that has protected her for so long?

The acclaimed author of Wonder at the Edge of the World weaves a poignant story about life on the poverty line, the environment, friendship and family—and, most of all, finding your place in the world.

(POST-IT SAYS: A moving, thoughtful, and often very sad look at grief, rural poverty, family, and environmental issues. Even though this is a really bleak read, it’s full of love and, ultimately, hope. Ages 9-12)

Book Review: Contagion by Erin Bowman

This past weekend the entire Jensen family drove to Houston to take Thing 2, who is basically space obsessed, to the NASA Johnson Space Center. As we embarked on our trip I thought it would be fun to listen to an audio book that took place in space and Contagion by Erin Bowman was the perfect book for our family road trip.

After receiving a distress call, a corporate mining ship that just happens to be closest is sent to a distant planet. Upon arriving there they find that it looks like everyone is dead. When a sudden storm breaks out, everyone scrambles for cover and one sole survivor is found and the dead rise. That’s right – there are space zombies! And it is epic and awesome.

What follows is an intense scramble to get off the planet before being taken down or infected by a parasite that no one knows anything about and trying to keep the rest of the galaxy safe. At one point there is an intense chase scene that is amplified by the self destruct count down happening every minute. Surviving crew members are racing through a maze of shafts and tunnels being pursued by cosmically supercharged bad guys, some of whom used to be their friends and lovers, and they are racing against a literal countdown to self-destruction. It is a real edge of your seat thriller.

As with any good science fiction, there is also a lot of relational, ethical and political drama. There is the mystery of who knows what, who is or isn’t infected, and what is the moral thing to do when it’s not just your life but potentially the entire galaxy at stake. The book ends with a few twists and turns and set up the next book, Immunity, which is already out and I am on hold for the audio book as we speak. We have to figure out another family trip so we can listen to the book together!

The book itself was good and I highly recommend it, but I also want to take a moment to praise the family book listening experience. This is the second or third time that the entire family has gotten so fully invested in a book that everyone was so into. They didn’t want to turn off the car and each time we got in the car, even to drive 5 minutes down the street to eat, they immediately clamored for me to turn the book back on. It’s not just a good book, it’s a well done audio book.

I will say because we listened to it as a family and you may want to listen to it with your family, there is a character who says the F word a lot. My youngest child is 10 and I just told her to not say that word and we kept listening and it was fine for us. There is also some violence and intense anticipation, for those who would want to know. Though to be fair I do believe I mentioned space zombies.

This was a great, thrilling and entertaining book. I highly recommend it.

Publisher’s Book Description

It got in us

After receiving an urgent SOS from a work detail on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is dispatched to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

Most are dead.

But when the crew arrives, they find an abandoned site, littered with rotten food, discarded weapons…and dead bodies.

Don’t set foot here again.

As they try to piece together who—or what—could have decimated an entire operation, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken

Coming Soon: YA Lit on the Small and Big Screen

Like many people, I watch a lot of Netflix. Too much? I mean, it’s possible. But it turns out, a lot of what I’m watching on Netflix came from a YA novel, which should surprise no one.

I first noticed this phenomenon when I saw a movie called iBoy on the streaming service. Isn’t that a YA novel, I thought? And the answer is yes. It’s a book written by Kevin Brooks which was originally published in 2010. I had no idea it had been made into a movie and yet here I was watching it. So today for you I share a round up of current and coming soon small and big screen productions that come from a YA novel. This is by no means a complete list so if you know of more please add them to the list in the comments.

Ranking all the YA novels you can currently watch on Netflix, including Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han https://thewhisp.mommyish.com/entertainment/ranking-netflix-original-ya-novel-adaptations/5/

Trinkets series on Netflix (https://deadline.com/2018/10/netflix-orders-trinkets-series-based-ya-novel-brianna-hildebrand-kiana-madeira-quintessa-swindell-leads-1202483312/)

The Wilds series on Amazon (https://variety.com/2019/tv/news/amazon-the-wilds-series-1203226989/)

Light as a Feather, which you can now see on Hulu, began on Wattpad but you can buy the books and add them to your YA collections now https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamrowe1/2018/10/13/how-light-as-a-feather-traveled-from-a-wattpad-novel-to-a-hulu-tv-show/#450619b95d8c

YA Novel The Stand In is the basis of the Netflix Rom-Com The Perfect Date (https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2019/03/12/1751964/0/en/YA-Novel-The-Stand-In-from-Carolrhoda-Lab-Becomes-the-Netflix-Film-The-Perfect-Date-Starring-Noah-Centineo.html)

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen coming soon to Netflix (https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/netflix-options-sarah-dessen-ya-novels-sets-along-ride-adaptation-1214672)

Tiny Pretty Things optioned by Netflix (https://deadline.com/2019/08/netflix-orders-tiny-pretty-things-ballet-drama-series-based-book-cast-1202662556/)

The Grishaverse/Shadow and Bone series by Leigh Bardugo (https://deadline.com/2019/01/netflix-orders-shadow-and-bone-series-leigh-bardugo-grishaverse-fantasy-novels-1202532783/)

Aurora Rising optioned https://deadline.com/2019/06/aurora-rising-ya-novel-adapted-television-mgm-tv-1202632339/

Panic by Lauren Oliver is coming to Amazon https://www.hypable.com/lauren-oliver-first-look-deal-amazon/

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is being made into a movie https://www.tor.com/2019/02/21/children-of-blood-and-bone-movie-adaptation-tomi-adeyemi/

Popsugar has a list of some current and upcoming productions https://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/YA-Novels-Becoming-Movies-34609728

Epic Reads also has a list of all the YA books being made into movies https://www.epicreads.com/blog/book-to-movie-adaptations-progress/

Cheat Sheet has a list of movies coming out in 2020 that are based on YA books https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/books-becoming-movies-2020.html/

Screen Rant has a list of movies in production and some possibilities https://screenrant.com/ya-adaptations-development-possibilities/

Also, if you’re interested, here’s a list of all the teen shows currently on Netflix that may be of interest to teens: https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/best-teen-shows-on-netflix

To keep up with this information, I use resources like those you see above and The Hollywood Reporter, Coming Soon.net, Hypable, io9.com, The AV Club, MovieInsider.com and the coming soon feature on IMDB.