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Book Review: Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Publisher’s description

love hateIn this unforgettable debut novel, an Indian-American Muslim teen copes with Islamophobia, cultural divides among peers and parents, and a reality she can neither explain nor escape. 

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

I burned through this important and immensely readable book in one sitting. In fact, I got so engrossed and read it so quickly that I was actually pretty shocked when, at one point, I set it down to go get something to drink and realized I was nearly done!

Maya, who is Indian American and Muslim, is rarely without her camera. She loves watching life unfold through her camera lens and dreams of going to NYU to film school. That’s actually a very attainable dream for her, as she’s been accepted there, but her parents have made it clear that filmmaking is a nice hobby, but she needs to stay close to home and attend the University of Chicago, maybe became a doctor or lawyer. They also would love to get her set up with a suitable Indian boy, but Maya isn’t interested in being set up—she’s interested in Phil, school quarterback and homecoming king, a boy who has always been friendly to Maya, but never seemed within reach. Until now.

In between chapters, we see another story unfolding, one of a young man who is about to commit a heinous act of terrorism in Illinois, killing more than a hundred people. Though initially reported as being carried out by a young Egyptian Muslim, the perpetrator is actually a white man with ties to white supremacy organizations. This act, and its incorrect reporting, stirs up some never-far-from-the-surface Islamophobia in one of Maya’s classmates, putting her safety and that of her family at risk. Shaken, her parents want to keep her close by them and safe, but Maya still dreams of leaving home and living in New York. She’s conflicted over how to live the life she wants and how to be a good daughter at the same time. Over the course of the story, she learns how to assert herself and pick her own path, even if its one that will come with some heartache. A searing look at racism and Islamophobia mixed with an excellent romance. Authentic, powerful, and important. 

 

ISBN-13: 9781616958473
Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/16/2018

New and forthcoming YA and MG to know about

Books, books, and more books! My neighbors probably wonder what exactly goes on over here at the house where UPS of FedEx stops nearly every day. The following are the books that have arrived here in the past few weeks. I will be reviewing many of them in the upcoming months on TLT. See something you’ve already read and need to make sure I don’t skip? Or something you’re super excited to read when it comes out? Let me know with a comment here or on Twitter, where I’m @CiteSomething.

All descriptions from the publishers.

 

before iBefore I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp (ISBN-13: 9781492642282 Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire Publication date: 01/02/2018)

Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she’s a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…

 

 

someone to loveSomeone to Love by Melissa de la Cruz (ISBN-13: 9780373212361 Publisher: Harlequin Publication date: 01/02/2018)

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Alex & ElizaThe Witches of East End, and the Descendants series comes a powerful and moving novel about learning to love yourself.

Olivia “Liv” Blakely knows how important it is to look good. Her father is running for governor and Liv is thrust into the bright media spotlight. She has an image to uphold—to her maybe boyfriend, to her new friends and to the public, who love to find fault on social media.

Liv’s sunny, charming facade hides an inner voice that will settle for nothing less than perfection. No matter who she has to give up, or what she has to lose, to achieve it. But as the high price of perfection takes a toll, Liv realizes that the love she feels for herself is more important than all the ‘likes’ in the world.

In her most powerfully moving novel to date, #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz explores anxiety, fear of judgement, and the most important thing of all: learning to love yourself.

 

 

marleyMarley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! by Marley Dias (ISBN-13: 9781338136890 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 01/30/2018)

In this accessible guide with an introduction by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay, Marley Dias explores activism, social justice, volunteerism, equity and inclusion, and using social media for good. Drawing from her experience, Marley shows kids how they can galvanize their strengths to make positive changes in their communities, while getting support from parents, teachers, and friends to turn dreams into reality. Focusing on the importance of literacy and diversity, Marley offers suggestions on book selection, and delivers hands-on strategies for becoming a lifelong reader.

 

 

 

is this guyIs This Guy For Real?: The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman by Box Brown (ISBN-13: 9781626723160 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 02/06/2018)

Comedian and performer Andy Kaufman’s resume was impressive—a popular role on the beloved sitcom Taxi, a high-profile stand-up career, and a surprisingly successful stint in professional wrestling. Although he was by all accounts a sensitive and thoughtful person, he’s ironically best remembered for his various contemptible personas, which were so committed and so convincing that all but his closest family and friends were completely taken in.

Why would someone so gentle-natured and sensitive build an entire career seeking the hatred of his audience? What drives a performer to solicit that reaction? With the same nuance and sympathy with which he approached Andre the Giant in his 2014 biography, graphic novelist Box Brown takes on the complex and often hilarious life of Andy Kaufman.

 

 

last toThe Last to Let Go by Amber Smith (ISBN-13: 9781481480734 Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books Publication date: 02/06/2018)

A twisted tragedy leaves Brooke and her siblings on their own in this provocative new novel from the New York Timesbestselling author of The Way I Used To Be.

How do you let go of something you’ve never had?

Junior year for Brooke Winters is supposed to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can finally leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind.

But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when her mother is arrested for killing Brooke’s abusive father. No one really knows what happened that day, if it was premeditated or self-defense, whether it was right or wrong. And now Brooke and her siblings are on their own.

In a year of firsts—the first year without parents, first love, first heartbreak, and her first taste of freedom—Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go.

 

 

princeThe Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (ISBN-13: 9781626723634 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 02/13/2018)

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride—or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia—the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances—one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmakerwill steal your heart.

 

 

ps i missP.S. I Miss You by Jen Petro-Roy (ISBN-13: 9781250123480 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 03/06/2018)

Evie is heartbroken when her strict Catholic parents send her pregnant sister, Cilla, away to stay with a distant great-aunt. All Evie wants is for her older sister to come back. Forbidden from speaking to Cilla, Evie secretly sends her letters.

Evie writes about her family, torn apart and hurting. She writes about her life, empty without Cilla. And she writes about the new girl in school, June, who becomes her friend, and then maybe more than a friend.

Evie could really use some advice from Cilla. But Cilla isn’t writing back, and it’s time for Evie to take matters into her own hands.

P.S. I Miss You by Jen Petro-Roy is a heartfelt middle grade novel dealing with faith, identity, and finding your way in difficult times.

 

 

after the lastAfter the Shot Drops by Randy Ribay (ISBN-13: 9781328702272 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 03/06/2018)

A powerful novel about friendship, basketball, and one teen’s mission to create a better life for his family in the tradition of Jason Reynolds, Matt de la Pena, and Walter Dean Myers.     
Bunny and Nasir have been best friends forever, but when Bunny accepts an athletic scholarship across town, Nasir feels betrayed. While Bunny tries to fit in with his new, privileged peers, Nasir spends more time with his cousin, Wallace, who is being evicted. Nasir can’t help but wonder why the neighborhood is falling over itself to help Bunny when Wallace is in trouble.

When Wallace makes a bet against Bunny, Nasir is faced with an impossible decision—maybe a dangerous one.

Told from alternating perspectives, After the Shot Drops is a heart-pounding story about the responsibilities of great talent and the importance of compassion.

 

 

not if iNot If I Save You First by Ally Carter (ISBN-13: 9781338134148 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/27/2018)

Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president’s son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie’s dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

No phone.
No Internet.
And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it’s okay. After all, she’s the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.

Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.

 

 

frat girlFrat Girl by Kiley Roache (ISBN-13: 9780373212347 Publisher: Harlequin Publication date: 03/27/2018)

Sometimes the F-word can have more than one meaning…

For Cassandra Davis, the F-word is fraternity—specifically Delta Tau Chi, a house on probation and on the verge of being banned from campus. Accused of offensive, sexist behavior, they have one year to clean up their act. For them, the F-word is feminist—the type of girl who hates them to the core and is determined to make them lose their home.

With one shot at a scholarship to attend the university of her dreams, Cassie pitches a research project—to pledge Delta Tau Chi and provide proof of the misogynistic behavior for which they are on probation. After all, they’re frat boys. She knows exactly what to expect once she gets there. Exposing them should be a piece of cake.

But the boys of Delta Tau Chi have their own agenda, and fellow pledge Jordan Louis is certainly more than the tank-top-wearing “bro” she expected to find. With her heart and her future tangled in a web of her own making, Cassie is forced to realize that the F-word might not be as simple as she thought after all.

 

 

emergencyEmergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi (ISBN-13: 9781534408968 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 03/27/2018)

From debut author Mary H.K. Choi comes a compulsively readable novel that shows young love in all its awkward glory—perfect for fans of Eleanor & Park and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

how you ruinedHow You Ruined My Life by Jeff Strand (ISBN-13: 9781492662020 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 04/01/2018)
Rod and his cousin take family rivalry to a new level in this rollicking comedy from Jeff StrandRod’s life is pretty awesome. He plays in a punk rock band that’s starting to score gigs and has a great girlfriend. Then he learns that his rich cousin, Blake, will be staying with him for three months—moving into his room, moving in on his girlfriend and band, and basically ruining his life! Prankster Blake has his own ideas on how Rod should live, but his efforts to get Rod girls and bring people to the band’s shows are the opposite of helpful. Between Blake’s ridiculous pranks and Rod’s increasing paranoia, this semester might be the cousins’ most memorable yet. That is, if their hijinks don’t kill them first.

 

 

for everyFor Every One by Jason Reynolds (ISBN-13: 9781481486248 Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books Publication date: 04/10/2018)

Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds’s rallying cry to the dreamers of the world.

For Every One is just that: for every one. For every one person. For every one dream. But especially for every one kid. The kids who dream of being better than they are. Kids who dream of doing more than they almost dare to dream. Kids who are like Jason Reynolds, a self-professed dreamer. Jason does not claim to know how to make dreams come true; he has, in fact, been fighting on the front line of his own battle to make his own dreams a reality. He expected to make it when he was sixteen. Then eighteen. Then twenty-five. Now, some of those expectations have been realized. But others, the most important ones, lay ahead, and a lot of them involve kids, how to inspire them. All the kids who are scared to dream, or don’t know how to dream, or don’t dare to dream because they’ve NEVER seen a dream come true. Jason wants kids to know that dreams take time. They involve countless struggles. But no matter how many times a dreamer gets beat down, the drive and the passion and the hope never fully extinguish—because just having the dream is the start you need, or you won’t get anywhere anyway, and that is when you have to take a leap of faith.

A pitch perfect graduation, baby, or love my kid gift.

 

one day a dotOne Day a Dot by Ian Lendler, Braden Lamb, Shelli Paroline (ISBN-13: 9781626722446 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 04/17/2018)

One Day a Dot explores the age-old question: Where did we come from? Where did everything come from?

Starting with one tiny dot and continuing through the Big Bang to the rise of human societies, the story of our universe is told in simple and vivid terms. But the biggest question of all cannot be answered: Where did that one dot come from?

One Day a Dot is a beautiful and vibrant picture book that uses the visual motif of circles as to guide young readers through the stages of life on Earth.

 

 

 

fly awayWe’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss (ISBN-13: 9780062494276 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/08/2018)

Uniquely told through letters from death row and third-person narrative, Bryan Bliss’s hard-hitting third novel expertly unravels the string of events that landed a teenager in jail. Luke feels like he’s been looking after Toby his entire life. He patches Toby up when Toby’s father, a drunk and a petty criminal, beats on him, he gives him a place to stay, and he diffuses the situation at school when wise-cracking Toby inevitably gets into fights. Someday, Luke and Toby will leave this small town, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, and never look back.

But during their senior year, they begin to drift apart. Luke is dealing with his unreliable mother and her new boyfriend. And Toby unwittingly begins to get drawn into his father’s world, and falls for an older woman. All their long-held dreams seem to be unraveling. Tense and emotional, this heartbreaking novel explores family, abuse, sex, love, friendship, and the lengths a person will go to protect the people they love. For fans of NPR’s Serial podcast, Jason Reynolds, and Matt de la Peña.

 

 

crimson ashCrimson Ash by Haley Sulich (ISBN-13: 9781948115001 Publisher: Write Plan Publication date: 05/10/2018)

You may live as a soldier or face death. Choose wisely.

Solanine Lucille wants her little sister back. Eight years ago, the government kidnapped her sister Ember, stole her memories, and transformed her into a soldier. But Solanine refuses to give up. Now that she and her fiancé have located the leader of a rebel group, she believes she can finally bring Ember home. But then the soldiers raid the rebels, killing her fiancé and leaving Solanine alone with her demons and all the weapons needed for revenge.

After raiding a rebel camp, sixteen-year-old Ember doesn’t understand why killing some boy bothers her. She’s a soldier—she has killed hundreds of people without remorse. But after she fails a mission, the rebels hold her hostage and restore her memories. Ember recognizes her sister among the rebels and realizes the boy she killed was Solanine’s fiancé.

Ember knows she can’t hide the truth forever, but Solanine has secrets too.

As their worlds clash, the two sisters must decide if their relationship is worth fighting for. And one wrong move could destroy everything—and everyone—in their path.

 

 

four letterFour-Letter Word by Christa Desir (ISBN-13: 9781481497374 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 05/15/2018)

Eight friends. One game. A dozen regrets. And a night that will ruin them all, in this high stakes gripping story of manipulation and innocence lost, from the author of Bleed Like Me.

Chloe Sanders has wasted the better part of her junior year watching her best friend Eve turn away from her for the more interesting and popular Holly Reed. Living with her grandparents because her parents are currently serving as overseas volunteers, Chloe spends her days crushing on a dark-haired guy named Mateo, being mostly ignored by Eve and Holly, and wishing the cornfields of Iowa didn’t feel so incredibly lonely.

But shortly after spring break, a new girl transfers to her high school—Chloe Donnelly. This Chloe is bold and arty and instantly placed on a pedestal by Eve and Holly. Now suddenly everyone is referring to Chloe Sanders as “Other Chloe” and her social status plummets even more.

Until Chloe Donnelly introduces all her friends to a dangerous game: a girls vs. guys challenge that only has one rule—obtain information by any means necessary. All the warning bells are going off in Other Chloe’s head about the game, but she’s not about to commit social suicide by saying no to playing.

Turns out the game is more complicated than Other Chloe thinks. Chloe Donnelly hates to lose. She’s got power over everyone—secrets she’s exploiting—and she likes to yank their strings. Only soft-spoken Mateo is sick of it, and when the game turns nasty, he chooses Other Chloe to help him expose everything Chloe Donnelly has done. But neither realize just how much the truth could cost them in the end.

 

memoryThe Memory of Forgotten Things by Kat Zhang (ISBN-13: 9781481478656 Publisher: Aladdin Publication date: 05/15/2018)

In the tradition of The Thing About Jellyfish and When You Reach Me, acclaimed author Kat Zhang offers a luminous and heartbreaking novel about a girl who is convinced that an upcoming solar eclipse will bring back her dead mother.

One of the happiest memories twelve-year-old Sophia Wallace has is of her tenth birthday. Her mother made her a cake that year—and not a cake from a boxed-mix, but from scratch. She remembers the way the frosting tasted, the way the pink sugar roses dissolved on her tongue.

This memory, and a scant few others like it, is all Sophia has of her mother, so she keeps them close. She keeps them secret, too. Because as paltry as these memories are, she shouldn’t have them at all.

The truth is, Sophia Wallace’s mother died when she was six years old. But that isn’t how she remembers it. Not always.

Sophia has never told anyone about her unusual memories—snapshots of a past that never happened. But everything changes when Sophia’s seventh grade English class gets an assignment to research solar eclipses. She becomes convinced that the upcoming solar eclipse will grant her the opportunity to make her alternate life come true, to enter a world where her mother never died.

With the help of two misfit boys, she must figure out a way to bring her mother back to her—before the opportunity is lost forever.

 

kissing gamesKissing Games: A Novel by Tara Eglington (ISBN-13: 9781250075260 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 06/05/2018)

After a perfect first kiss, Aurora’s second kiss lands her boyfriend in the hospital, and her matchmaking strategies start to backfire in this sequel to How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You.

For a girl who shares her name with a princess (aka Sleeping Beauty), Aurora Skye’s romantic life seems fathoms away from a fairy tale. Sure, she’s landed her prince charming, Hayden Paris. And she got her wish—one first kiss with all the knee-trembling, butterfly-inducing gloriousness she’d hoped for. But instead of happily ever after, their second kiss landed Hayden in the emergency room. If that’s not mortifying enough, the whole school is now referring to her as “Lethal Lips.”

When Aurora’s best friend decides to run for class president and offers up Aurora’s matchmaking service as one of her campaign initiatives, the kissing games begin. Aurora has to convince everyone that her program works—but that might be hard to do when it seems like her own love life might be falling apart.

Take 5: New YA Booklists You’ll Want to See (January 2018)

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2018 YA Diverse Books: http://www.epicreads.com/blog/2018-diverse-ya-books/

Notable Books for Teens about the Arab World: http://diversityinya.tumblr.com/post/90356654158/notable-novels-for-teens-about-the-arab-world

11 Books about the South Asian Diaspora: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/teen/brown-proud-11-books-south-asian-diaspora-read-right-now/

YA Books Hitting the Shelves January – March 2018: https://bookriot.com/2018/01/03/ya-books-hitting-shelves-january-march-2018/

Most Anticipated YA Debuts for 2018: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/teen/21-anticipated-debuts-2018/

A Collection of Tweets on the Discussion of YA Books Set in College/Post High School

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Over the past few days, there has been an ongoing discussion on Twitter about the need for YA books that highlight the post high school life and whether or not they should be marketed as YA. I tweeted a lot about it and have compiled those tweets below. I am also working on putting together a round table post from various perspectives to talk more about this issue.


A Discussion of YA Books Set in College



  1. @byobrooks This is where how we brand books get messy. Are adult YA readers (actual adults) or teen YA readers asking for YA books set in college? How do we define YA? Who is the target audience? And then, where do we put the 20 years olds, actual YAs btw


  2. @byobrooks Though the ship has long sailed, YA should have never been called YA. It should have been teen fiction. New Adult is a great place for college stories, but hasn't taken off in the ways that it looked like it might when it first cam into vogue.


  3. @dani_reviews @byobrooks From a library point of view. however, the problem is we have Pic Bks, J (MG), YA and then everything else is usually just fiction, though some libraries break them down by genre. So any contemp adult fic is just adult fic - ages 19-100+. Can be overwhelming. Thats were RA needed


  4. @byobrooks @dani_reviews I will say from a public library standpoint, we would have a hard time putting college set YA in a YA collection. We do get content complaints and it's easier to defend when set in MS or HS. Parents will read college as adult.


  5. @byobrooks @dani_reviews Now this is an interesting conversation because book stores are different than school and public libraries. Libs still get a lot of pushback about where things are shelves and how they are labelled/marketed in ways that stores don't.


  6. @byobrooks @dani_reviews I think this is also being driven by the dynamic of adult YA readers vs. teen YA readers. This dynamic is very challenging for libraries because of parental and community concerns.


  7. @byobrooks @dani_reviews I think it's a multi-faceted issue and should be discussed from all angles, for sure. I can only speak from a public library perspective.


  8. @byobrooks @dani_reviews Also, local community dynamics play a large part in all this as well. Larger, more progressive communities & their libraries will be able to adapt more quickly than smaller, rural ones. It can be challenging.


  9. @NerdyPam @byobrooks @cupcakeandy They definitely read ahead and are welcome to check out anything in the library. However, that's different then shelving and marketing adult books to teens as opposed to just having them available, when talking to concerned parents.


  10. @dancingofpens And I'm speaking from a public library stand point which is diff from a reader/writer/publisher/marketing/book store/school library perspective. It's all different.


  11. @byobrooks @dancingofpens Not just college either. What about getting first job, staying home but going to community college and working, etc. There's more than one route after HS and they should all be reflected. Focus on college reflect privilege in this discussion maybe?


  12. I do think true Young Adults, people just out of HS and in their early 20s, are underserved in so many ways in our world, including publishing and libraries.


  13. Problem 1: Who is Ya written for?
    Problem 2: Are adult readers of YA over influencing what's driving YA trends?
    Problem 3: How do we address the needs of teens? How do we address the needs of true young adults? In publishing? In libraries?
    1/?


  14. Problem 4: Recognizing that Public and school libraries very much deal with parental rights and expectations, how do we promote/shelve, etc books that technically are adult (MCs over 18 are adults) to a teen audience? How do we label,


  15. market, shelve, etc. these books to balance real life tension of parental concerns about teens reading adult content?


  16. Problem 5: Do teens sometimes read up? They always have and they always will. But just because a teen reads Stephen King doesn't make it a YA book.
    Problem 6: Are we letting adults readers of YA over influence the YA market?


  17. Problem 7: We use the wrong terminology for these age categories. YAs have never been young adults, legally or in development. They are teenagers. They deserve to be served, understood, & valued. We are the only industry that calls them young adults.


  18. The term YA is and always has been problematic for this very reason. Even book stores now call it teen fiction in their signage, as do I in my library. When I say YA to my not in the online book community readers, they draw a blank.


  19. Please note: I have no problem with adults reading YA. Everyone should read what they want. I just want us having these discussions to make sure that teens don't get pushed out of YA because they need it.


  20. Should there be books written about and marketed to early/young/new adults and things like college, moving out, etc? Yes, definitely, we need all kinds of stories for all kinds of ages. Do they need to be labeled and marketed as YA? Maybe not.


  21. Yes, middle school readers are often in limbo here as well. YA has gotten older (again I would argue due to adult Reader influence) and MG is often too young, so what about our middle schoolers?  https://twitter.com/marimancusi/status/954701521387769856 …


  22. Yes, this issue could probably be solved if we embraced New Adult as an age category and made it broader than just erotica.


  23. Interestingly enough, we now know that the brain doesn't start really developing into an "adult" brain until around ages 24 or 25 thanks to brain science. But there are legal and real world difference between a 16 year old and a 21 year old.


  24. I can tell you as a YA librarian that I have never gotten asked by a teen about YA set in college but I frequently get asked for younger/less mature YA titles. So there's that.


  25. Yes because simply "adult" is too broad a category. New adults want to read different types of stories then adults in their 30s and 40s then adults in their 60s etc. Adult isn't a stagnant development either and is way too broad. But we do it.  https://twitter.com/zachjpayne/status/954705756502151168 …


  26. Bottom Line: For a lot of libraries, if you put a book with an adult MC in a collection for and about teens, you will be on the nightly news and no library likes bad PR. The expectations for libraries are very different than a store/personal reader.


  27. Some publishers/authors/adult readers skew to the adult interests, because it broadens their audience which equals more $$$ Teens, parents, teachers & teen/ya librarians skew to the teen audience, because that is who they serve/are emotionally invested in https://t.co/Xc611tVxNY

    Some publishers/authors/adult readers skew to the adult interests, because it broadens their audience which equals more $$$

    Teens, parents, teachers & teen/ya librarians skew to the teen audience, because that is who they serve/are emotionally invested in pic.twitter.com/Xc611tVxNY



  28. Also, teen readers not heavily involved in the online book community tend to call it teen fiction. Most people go, "but they're not adults" when you call it YA. B&N has Teen Fiction shelves. Many libraries call it Teen. YA was never the right term.


  29. In an ideal library, you would have pic books flow to beginning readers flow to chap books flow to middle grade flows to twee fic flow to teen fic flow to true YA/NA flow to adult flow to later life fic. There are no ideal libs. We work w/what we have.


  30. @charlotteapaige I would not be able to and I would not be able to defend that choice. I buy them and put them in adult. Any patron can read them. But I can not market a book with an adult protagonist in my Teen/YA collection or define it as such.


  31. So from a librarian perspective, yes write and pub your post HS stories. Definitely. Just know that a lot of libraries will not be able to put/market a book with an adult protagonist as Teen/YA. It will often be shelved as adult. Teens will still read it.


  32. Libraries are diff than book stores and have a different accountability because they are tax supported public entities that have to answer to their patrons in ways that are different then a for profit business does. This disctinction matters in policies.

 

Sunday Reflections: That Delicate Balance Between Quality Patron Services and Employee Personal Boundaries

Please note: This post will share a bunch of stories of patron interactions in public libraries and no names or locations will be shared. Some of them are stories from friends, social media, and my own. None of them will reveal that communities in which they occurred to help protect all parties involved.

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The man sits at a public computer and when he sees the staff member that usually helps him isn’t around he yells out, “hey, where’s my woman?” You know that she hates how he refers to her as “my woman”, you also know that she is afraid to say anything to him because all it takes is one patron complaint. We live in fear of patron complaints, especially if they get to the board of directors. It’s hard to fully explain a bad patron interaction and in many libraries, the patron almost always wins. And sometimes, you have learned, what one staff member feels is a derogatory statement others feel the staff member should just accept as a compliment. This is part of the tension you see happening in public discussion about sexual harassment at work. Many women want to be able to go to work and not have their looks/sexuality/desirability/etc commented on. They just want to feel safe, supported by administration, and able to successfully do the job they love without being objectified.

She sits behind the reference desk, swollen, pregnant belly announcing to the world that she is expecting. But what the world doesn’t know is that this pregnancy follows a devastating loss and she is full of anxiety, doesn’t like to talk about her pregnancy with family, let alone strangers. So a man asks, “do you know if you are having a boy or a girl?” And she does, but she doesn’t want to engage. This is not a conversation she should be expected to have with a total stranger, so she tries to deflect and asks, “how can I help you?” Later that day, he calls to complain that she was impolite and wouldn’t engage in normal daily pleasantries.

A staff member walks through the library carrying a donut to their office, found in the staff lounge. Library staff lounges are famous for all kinds of goodies. But a patron sees this staff member with the donut and, noting their body size, comments that they shouldn’t be eating it. They are lectured about food and body and health. If the staff member tries to shut the conversation down or to simply just walk away, they risk a patron complaint.

Another patron walks in and asks if you’ve had your flu vaccine yet. It’s a personal question, what you choose to put into your body, and you never know where the topic of vaccines is going to go. So again, you try to deflect, but the patron is enraged when you try and suggest that this is a personal issue that you would prefer not to discuss. You hear them stop by the circulation on their way out and complain about how rude you are.

Another patron calls you sexy.

Another patron asks you if you are saved.

Another patron asks you if and where you go to church.

Another patron asks you if you have kids.

Another patron tries to talk politics with you.

Another patron wants to know what you think about transgender people using the restrooms.

Another patron asks you how you feel about Black Lives Matter.

Another patron asks you about the border wall.

Another patron asks if you think we should drug test welfare recipients.

Another patrons tells you that they think libraries shouldn’t have LGBTQ materials, that the library shouldn’t support the “gay agenda”, and that gay people are sinners who should be shot so they can just go ahead and go straight to hell because that’s where their headed anyway. They then ask you what you about “the gays”.

And each time the questions are asked, staff are faced with hard decisions. In some libraries, there are clear policies in place forbidding talking about personal politics or religion. But those policies won’t stop angry patrons, patron complaints, or the call into your manager’s office where you are forced to defend your right to help the public without making every moment of your interior life public; your right to have personal boundaries.

In many libraries, we become familiar with our patrons. For many patrons, they come almost daily to escape boredom and loneliness, just trying to find a friendly staff member to talk to. But this need is one of the trickiest parts of the library profession to balance. Sometimes, patrons reveal too much about their own personal lives, try to monopolize staff time and take them away from other patrons. Other times, they ask invasive questions and make judgmental statements. Working with the public is emotionally hard, fraught with not often discussed mine fields, and the customer is always right mentality that has permeated our society makes it difficult and terrifying to know when and how to draw and clearly articulate those personal boundaries.

The Important Emotional Labor of Librarians

There are certain entitlements that exist in our world. Men feel they are entitled to women’s minds and bodies in ways that they shouldn’t. Patrons feel that they are entitled to library staff in ways that they shouldn’t. Good customer service in public libraries shouldn’t and can’t involve asking staff engage in discussions about their personal lives or to accept inappropriate comments or conversations from the general public. But anyone who works in public libraries knows that this is tricky. Patrons have expectations in libraries that they don’t have in any other businesses. For example, patrons would never tell someone to call them at the bank, but they will tell someone to call them at the public library on the public library phone line. Because of the type of organization that a library is, it can be difficult for patrons to understand that there are still policies and procedures in place that everyone should be expected to follow. These policies and procedures should include protecting employees just as much as they care about protecting patrons.

Good patron service is not dependent on a patron knowing what staff members eat, about their health or medical decisions, about their family or family life. Good patron service is not dependent on accepting rude, belittling, or sexist comments from patrons. Good patron service is not dependent on library staff listening to patron stories about their sordid affairs, their deadbeat husbands who don’t pay child support, or about their neighbor’s nephew’s second cousin who just landed in jail – again – because of drugs.

Friendliness and approachability are not the same thing as we must be social workers and counselors and personal truth tellers. In truth, most staff members don’t have the training and knowledge they need to be those things and their attempts to do so can put the library itself in a capricious position. All it takes in one miss-step and the library can find itself in the midst of a very public PR nightmare. Respecting employees and developing and enforcing consistent policies, procedures, and expectations can, in fact, minimize patron dissatisfaction and complaints and help keep the library from those very PR nightmares we want to avoid.

Professional social pleasantries do not mean that a library employee has to discuss with patron what they did on their day off, their personal political opinions, or their thoughts on the state of the world. Sometimes, a polite no I’m sorry I don’t want to discuss that with you how can I help you IS in fact the right answer. Though we have all had patrons who have taken great offense at this. Sometimes the delivery doesn’t matter, there are many people who just don’t like to hear the word no.

But it’s a delicate balance trying to navigate these types of patron interactions, especially in smaller communities and library systems. The reality is, we are closer to some patrons than others. Employees and patrons are people with personalities and we click with some and not with others. And each employee has their own personal boundaries, which can be difficult for patrons who don’t understand why staff member A will discuss with them what they did over the weekend but staff member B just wants to have a polite, small chit chat conversation and help you find the book that you want. If you’re the staff member who doesn’t want to discuss their high risk pregnancy with a patron after another coworker just did, you are now the bitch who gets complained about. This is where it’s important for managers to do the work of standing up for employee rights and differences. Neither employee did anything wrong, the patron just didn’t like being denied the personal information that they sought and did not receive.

It’s also true that we don’t know what’s going on in a person’s personal life. I will reveal to you now that I am the person who had the pregnancy experience. Not all of the above experiences are about me, but that one is. I have been pregnant three times and have two living children. I was pregnant at the same time as some other co-workers. My last pregnancy was high risk, followed a loss, and was a nightmare for me. I did not talk about it, even to my family. So I certainly wasn’t comfortable talking about it with patrons. And when a patron asked me about my pregnancy and I refused to answer, they were angry and reported me. The complaint was simply that I was rude and thankfully, in that instance, I was able to fill in the details about what happened and what I had refused to discuss that had made that patron call me rude. I also happened to be on the Reference desk with another staff member who could corroborate my side of the situation, which is not always the case. Other library staff members may be perfectly willing to discuss their pregnancies with you, and that is certainly their right, but I couldn’t and I wouldn’t. I was just trying to make it through with my baby and I alive. It was one of the most difficult times of my life and it was not open to discussion with strangers or even regular patrons.

It’s true, we often to get to know our regular patrons in different ways. But just because a patron likes staff and likes being in the library, that doesn’t mean that they still don’t get to have personal boundaries about what they will and will not disclose, who they will disclose it to and when, and what type of abusive behavior they have to deal with.

Staff should never have to:

Deal with any type of sexist, racist, offensive or demeaning conversations

Discuss their personal health

Discuss their families

Discuss how they spend their time outside of work

Discuss how they think or vote

Discuss their personal spiritual choices

Be asked to accept violent or offensive comments and language

If a patron gets angry because a staff member refused to engage in these types of conversations, then the administration should back their staff members and remind patrons that staff are allowed to have personal boundaries.

So what does good customer service look like in a public library?

Staff should be friendly, polite and approachable.

Staff should answer any patron questions about successfully using the library and any of its resources or services to the best of their ability or refer them to someone else who can.

Staff should performs their duties as assigned to the best of their abilities with a positive attitude and take any concerns to the appropriate supervisor.

And what does library administration owe their employees?

Clear policies that outline their expectations and training on quality customer service.

A clear statement against patron harassment or abuse of any nature.

Their assurance that they understand, respect and value their employees rights to personal privacy.

An opportunity to discuss any patron complaints to make sure that a full investigation is done before any action steps are taken.

A formal process for and training on how to handle and report any patron incidents.

We’re having a lot of very public discussions these days about sexual harassment in the workplace, about racism and sexism in our culture, about human rights and more. I feel it’s important that we be having these conversations in public libraries as well. No two libraries are the same. Each community is different, the culture of the library is different, and the ways in which they train their staff to work with patrons is different. But one thing that should not be different is that we maintain and assert our employees rights to personal privacy, personal boundaries and personal safety in the workplace. The balance between good customer service and employee privacy and rights can be a difficult balance to maintain, which is why we should never stop having these conversations, never stop listening to staff, and never stop training.

#ReadForChange: Confronting Racial Injustice with Justyce in Nic Stone’s Dear Martin, a guest post by Marie Marquardt

ReadForChange copyTeen Librarian Toolbox is excited to be partnering with Marie Marquardt for her #ReadForChange project. Hop on over to this post to learn more about the initiative. Today, she and Nic Stone join us for a conversation about racial injustice and Stone’s phenomenal debut novel, Dear Martin

 

It’s so amazing to be living in this time of great change. It’s hard. It’s complicated. It’s not always pretty—I’m thinking about … protests going on because of Eric Garner and Ferguson and Treyvon Martin—the lists go on—but people are angry and done! —and with anger and done-ness comes change. So it may not always look the way we want it to look or sound the way we want it to sound but it’s change nevertheless. We have to be like water, ready to move with it. 

—Jacqueline Woodson (SLJ interview, January 2015)

 

“Ready to Move with It”

dear martinUnflinching. This is the word that comes to mind when I reflect on the experience of reading Dear Martin. Nic Stone weaves together a story that draws us in deep and refuses to let us turn away from the heartache, the confusion, the sorrow, and the violence – physical and emotional – of growing up black and male in the United States.

 

In Dear Martin, we follow Justyce McAllister – a kind, thoughtful, young black man – through his senior year as a scholarship student at an elite Atlanta prep school. We begin in the parking lot of a FarmFresh grocery store where Justyce, trying to come to the rescue of his wasted ex-girlfriend, is physically and verbally assaulted by a police officer. We see, through his experience, the dawning realization that, no matter how smart he is (incredibly smart), no matter how he dresses, no matter how he tries to stay out of trouble and be “more acceptable”, in his own words: “the world is full of people who will always see me as inferior.” His mom sums it up when she asks him, rhetorically, “It’s hard being a black man, ain’t it?”

 

But in the pages of Nic Stone’s novel, Justyce rolls like water…. Struggling to make sense of all that he experiences and wanting so much to do the right thing, Justyce writes a series of letters to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Here’s how he ends his first letter: “You faced worse shi—I mean stuff than sitting in handcuffs for a few hours, but you stuck to your guns… well, your lack thereof, actually. I wanna try to live like you. Do what you would do. See where it gets me.”

 

Justyce’s year of trying to live like “Martin” takes him, and us (the readers who root so hard for him) to places that are morally complicated and heartbreaking – places that challenge many of us to re-think what we thought we knew about the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and the racially-charged times we live in now.

 

Through the eyes of Justyce, Nic Stone helps readers see the many nuances of racial injustice, and what it must feel like to arrive at that moment of being, in the words of Jacqueline Woodson “angry and done”!  And, as Woodson reminds us, once our eyes are opened, “We have to be like water, ready to move with it.”

 

“Step One is Always Opening Your Eyes and Ears”: A Conversation with Nic Stone

StoneSmileMARIE: Tell us about the moment when you knew that this story had to be written, and that you needed to be the one to write it.

 

NIC: Dear Martin was a response to three things: the myriad shooting deaths of unarmed African American teenagers since 2012, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in response to these deaths, and the invocation of Dr. King in opposition to this movement—which didn’t sit right with me knowing what I knew about Dr. King and his M.O. So I decided to explore current events through the lens of his teachings to see what would happen. I have two little boys, so it’s really my ode to them and my way of figuring out how to approach the stuff I’ll eventually have to teach them about being black and male in America.

 

MARIE: What are some of the things you’re doing to create the world that you want your sons to live in?

 

NIC: In a word: writing. Books are hugely instrumental in shifting perspectives and opening minds, and it’s a huge honor and privilege to get to create them—and by default, influence minds—for a living.

 

MARIE: What’s your message for readers who want to take action, themselves?

 

NIC: Step one is always opening your eyes and ears. Getting a thumb on the pulse of what’s actually going on. Read. A lot. Write to process. Talk to people. Then, when it comes to the fight against systemic injustice, the next step is to find the people who are already doing the work. There are a lot of… legs to this issue—there’s police accountability, criminal justice reform, immigration reform, you name it—so figuring out where to focus one’s attention is important. Then use your gifts. Write if you write. Talk if you talk. Got a finance background? Use it.

 

“Read. A lot.” (And Listen!)

DearMartin GiveawayOkay, folks.  Time to follow Nic’s advice: Here’s a short list of non-fiction books that would be great companions to Dear Martin – they can help us “get a thumb on the pulse of what’s actually going on” and also inspire us to take action.

 

Black Lives Matter by Sue Bradford Edwards and Dutchess Harris – Written specifically for middle and high schoolers, the book explores the historical events and movements framing the tragic deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, and the contemporary resistance movements that have emerged in their wake.

 

Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case by Chris Crowe – A deep look into the 1955 murder of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till, the trial and acquittal of his white murderers, and the horrific event’s role in shaping the Civil Rights Movement.

 

March by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell – A three-volume graphic memoir of the extraordinary Congressman John Lewis (who I’m incredibly proud to say is my own representative in Georgia’s 5th District!). An inspiring reminder of teenagers’ crucial leadership in the Civil Rights Movement.

 

Some more challenging reads that are absolutely worth the effort:

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehesi Coates

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race edited by Jesmyn Ward

We had Sneakers, They had Guns: The Kids who fought for Civil Rights in Mississippi  by Tracy Sugarman

 

And, a podcast, for when you’re taking a break from that stack of fabulous books:

Pod Save the People hosted by DeRay Mckesson, an activist involved in shaping the Black Lives Matter movement. It features weekly conversations on culture, politics, and social justice that offer practical ideas for how each of us can make a difference.

 

The Next Step: “Find the People who are Already Doing the Work”

Ready to take action?  Here are a few recommendations straight from Nic Stone – movements and organizations already doing the important work of fighting for racial justice.

 

RJOY: Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth – works to interrupt cycles of violence and incarceration of kids of color – using a restorative model of justice to repair harm and heal communities.

 

Color of Change: designs campaigns to “end practices that unfairly hold Black people back” and “champions solutions that move us all forward.  Until Justice is real.”

 

Black Lives Matter: A movement for “healing justice” and “rigorous love”: “We affirm our humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”

 

Then use your gifts…

Nic Stone Book Launch (1)

In October, I had the pleasure of being at Nic’s book launch event for Dear Martin, where she put her own remarkable gifts to work. Nic chose a format that wasn’t typical, but it was the perfect way to send Justyce’s story into the world. We gathered at the Center for Civil and Human Rights, where, instead of talking about the book or reading from it, Nic asked a panel of three young black men questions about their own experience, their perceptions of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy, and what they want to see change in our society.

 

When asked what we can do to help create change, one of the panelists offered this simple advice: “Read a book. It gives you a different perspective on people.”

 

Let us go forth and #ReadForChange!

Hoping to go forth and read a free signed copy of Dear Martin? Head on over to the Rafflecopter link to enter the giveaway. US only! We’ll be announcing the winner on Twitter @MarieFMarquardt and Instagram marie_marquardt February 1!

 

Meet Marie Marquardt

Women’s March, January 21, 2017

Women’s March, January 21, 2017

Marie Marquardt is the author of three YA novels: The Radius of UsDream Things True, and Flight Season (available 2/20/18). A Scholar-in-Residence at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, Marie also has published several articles and co-authored two non-fiction books about Latin American immigration to the U.S. South. She is chair of El Refugio, a non-profit that serves detained immigrants and their families. She lives with her spouse, four kids, a dog and a bearded dragon in the book-lover’s mecca of Decatur, Georgia.

Friday Finds: January 19, 2018

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

So, You’ve Just Tweeted That Nobody Uses Public Libraries Anymore . . .

YA A to Z: Bullying by Michelle Biwer

Penguin Young Readers Showcase and Giveaway

Book Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

MakerSpace: DIY Metal Stamping (A metal stamping kit review)

Anger, inspiration, and the stories we tell, a guest post by Marieke Nijkamp

Post-It Note Reviews of Elementary and Middle Grade Books

Around the Web

Let’s Talk About Sensitivity Readers

Why We Shouldn’t Shield Children From Darkness

Brown and Proud: 11 Books from the South Asian Diaspora To Read Right Now

The 50 most anticipated books of 2018

14 Picture Books for Raising Kind Young Citizens

18 of the Most Buzzed-About Middle Grade Books of 2018

Vote to Nominate Finalists for the 2018 Teen Choice Book Award!

Post-It Note Reviews of Elementary and Middle Grade Books

My helpers.

My helpers.

Now that I work in an elementary library, I’m reading a lot more titles for younger readers. Rather than review all of them like I usually do, I’m stealing Karen’s Post-it note review idea and sharing the titles with you that way. It’s been super interesting to me to see what the students (grades K-5) check out. I’ve spent so long completely in the world of YA and am glad for an opportunity to work with younger readers and to read all of the great picture books, chapter books, and middle grade books I’ve missed out on!

 

All descriptions from the publishers.

 

 

 

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Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan, Dana Wulfekotte (Illustrator)

Cilla Lee-Jenkins is 50% Chinese, 50% Caucasian, and 100% destined for literary greatness! In this middle grade novel, she shares stories about a new sibling, being biracial, and her destiny as a future author extraordinaire.

Priscilla “Cilla” Lee-Jenkins is on a tight deadline. Her baby sister is about to be born, and Cilla needs to become a bestselling author before her family forgets all about her. So she writes about what she knows best—herself! And Cilla has a lot to write about: How did she deal with being bald until the age of five? How did she overcome her struggles with reading? How do family traditions with Grandma and Granpa Jenkins differ from family traditions with her Chinese grandparents, Nai Nai and Ye Ye?

Written by Susan Tan and illustrated by Dana Wolfekotte, Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire is a novel bursting with love and humor, as told through a bright, irresistible biracial protagonist who will win your heart and make you laugh.

 

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Unidentified Suburban Object by Mike Jung

The next person who compares Chloe Cho with famous violinist Abigail Yang is going to HEAR it. Chloe has just about had it with people not knowing the difference between someone who’s Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. She’s had it with people thinking that everything she does well — getting good grades, winning first chair in the orchestra, et CETera — are because she’s ASIAN.

Of course, her own parents don’t want to have anything to DO with their Korean background. Any time Chloe asks them a question they change the subject. They seem perfectly happy to be the only Asian family in town. It’s only when Chloe’s with her best friend, Shelly, that she doesn’t feel like a total alien.

Then a new teacher comes to town: Ms. Lee. She’s Korean American, and for the first time Chloe has a person to talk to who seems to understand completely. For Ms. Lee’s class, Chloe finally gets to explore her family history. But what she unearths is light-years away from what she expected.

 

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Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly

Future rock star or friendless misfit? That’s no choice at all. In this acclaimed novel, twelve-year-old Apple grapples with being different; with friends and backstabbers; and with following her dreams. Publishers Weekly called Blackbird Fly “a true triumph,” and the Los Angeles Times Book Review said, “Apple soars like the eponymous blackbird of her favorite Beatles song.”

Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. She and her mother moved to Louisiana from the Philippines when she was little, and her mother still cooks Filipino foods and chastises Apple for becoming “too American.” When Apple’s friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show her how special she really is. Erin Entrada Kelly deftly brings Apple’s conflicted emotions to the page in her debut novel about family, friendship, popularity, and going your own way.

 

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One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes
In this collection of poetry, Nikki Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance — including voices like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and many more writers of importance and resonance from this era — by combining their work with her own original poetry. Using “The Golden Shovel” poetic method, Grimes has written a collection of poetry that is as gorgeous as it is thought-provoking.

This special book also includes original artwork in full-color from some of today’s most exciting African American illustrators, who have created pieces of art based on Nikki’s original poems. Featuring art by: Cozbi Cabrera, R. Gregory Christie, Pat Cummings, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, Nikki Grimes, E. B. Lewis, Frank Morrison, Christopher Myers, Brian Pinkney, Sean Qualls, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, Shadra Strickland, and Elizabeth Zunon.

A foreword, an introduction to the history of the Harlem Renaissance, author’s note, poet biographies, and index makes this not only a book to cherish, but a wonderful resource and reference as well.

 

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The Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff

Kids vs. parents! An epic treehouse sleepover! An awesome group of friends! An exciting new book from National Book Award finalist Lisa Graff.

Winnie’s last day of fourth grade ended with a pretty life-changing surprise. That was the day Winnie’s parents got divorced and decided that Winnie would live three days a week with each of them and spend Wednesdays by herself in a treehouse between their houses, to divide her time perfectly evenly. It was the day Winnie’s seed of frustration with her parents was planted, a seed that grew until it felt like it was as big as a tree itself.

By the end of fifth grade, Winnie decides that the only way to change things is to barricade herself in her treehouse until her parents come to their senses—and her friends decide to join. It’s kids vs. grown-ups, and no one wants to back down first. But with ten kids in one treehouse, all with their own demands, things get pretty complicated! Even if they are having the most epic slumber party ever.

In the newest novel by beloved National Book Award finalist Lisa Graff, kids turn the tables on their parents, and all the rules are tossed out the window. But does Winnie have what it takes to hold her ground and keep everyone happy?

This story, with a pitch-perfect middle grade voice and a zany yet poignant situation, is perfect for fans of Sharon Creech, Louis Sachar, and Jack Gantos.

 

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Wedgie & Gizmo by Suzanne Selfors, Barbara Fisinger (Illustrator)

Fans of Stick Dog and My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish will love Suzanne Selfors’s hilarious new illustrated series about the growing pains of blended families and the secret rivalry of pets.

“A delightfully fun read that will leave you in stitches!”—Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat

When a bouncy, barky dog and an evil genius guinea pig move into the same house, the laughs are nonstop! Wedgie is so excited, he can’t stop barking. He LOVES having new siblings and friends to protect. He LOVES guinea pigs like Gizmo! He also LOVES treats!

But Gizmo does not want to share his loyal human servant with a rump-sniffing beast! He does not want to live in a pink Barbie Playhouse. Or to be kissed and hugged by the girl human. Gizmo is an evil genius. He wants to take over the world and make all humans feel his wrath. But first he must destroy his archenemy, Wedgie, once and for all!

 

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Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier, Marc Lizano (Illustrator)

In this gentle, poetic young graphic novel, Dounia, a grandmother, tells her granddaughter the story even her son has never heard: how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris, she was hidden away from the Nazis by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep her alive when her parents had been taken to concentration camps.

Hidden ends on a tender note, with Dounia and her mother rediscovering each other as World War II ends . . . and a young girl in present-day France becoming closer to her grandmother, who can finally, after all those years, tell her story. With words by Loïc Dauvillier and art by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo, this picture book-style comic for young readers is a touching read.

 

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The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods

Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brenda Woods’ moving, uplifting story of a girl finally meeting the African American side of her family explores racism and how it feels to be biracial, and celebrates families of all kinds.

Violet is biracial, but she lives with her white mother and sister, attends a mostly white school in a white town, and sometimes feels like a brown leaf on a pile of snow. Now that she’s eleven, she feels it’s time to learn about her African American heritage, so she seeks out her paternal grandmother. When Violet is invited to spend two weeks with her new Bibi (Swahili for “grandmother”) and learns about her lost heritage, her confidence in herself grows and she discovers she’s not a shrinking Violet after all. From a Coretta Scott King Honor-winning author, this is a powerful story about a young girl finding her place in the world.

 

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Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah

“‘The lead role of Maria in The Sound of Music goes to …”
I could practically hear her say “Dara Palmer.” This was going to be my big break! But what really came out of my teacher’s mouth was “Ella Moss-Daniels.”
My heart went huuuuggggggghhhhht.

Dara Palmer longs for stardom-but when she isn’t cast in her middle school’s production of The Sound of Music, she get suspicious. It can’t be because she’s not the best. She was born to be a famous movie star. It must because she’s adopted from Cambodia and doesn’t look like a typical fraulein. (That’s German for girl.)

So irrepressible Dara comes up with a genius plan to shake up the school: write a play about her own life. Then she’ll have to be the star.

 

Anger, inspiration, and the stories we tell, a guest post by Marieke Nijkamp

before iBefore I Let Go tells the story of two girls in the arctic heart of Alaska. Two girls who were best friends, who were discovering who they could be, who were each other’s center of gravity. It tells of  grief and ice, of mystery and mental illness.

And it was, at least in part, born out of anger.

Anger is good writing fuel for me. Anger and questions. It’s where most of my story ideas start. Of course, for an idea to grow into a book, it needs far more than just a spark. It needs characters to carry it, a plot to move it forward, and beautiful Alaskan settings. Oh, how I love playing with winter.

But it started with a spark of anger.

The source of that anger? Inspiration porn. A specific instance… or ten or twenty.

If you don’t know what inspiration porn is, the late, great Stella Young defined it as such in her absolute spectacular Ted talk I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much: the act of objectifying disabled people for the benefit of nondisabled people.

It’s posters of disabled athletes with the slogan “The only disability is a bad attitude.” It’s describing disabled people as courageous simply for living. It’s quite literally describing us as inspirational.

I don’t know anyone with a disability—especially those of us who use assistive devices or are visibly disabled—who hasn’t at some point in their life had strangers come up to them to tell them how brave they are. I don’t know anyone with a disability who hasn’t at some point in their life had strangers come up to them to say, “I can’t imagine living like that, but you’re really inspiring to me.” Or, “I wasn’t feeling well today, but then I thought of you and how much worse you have it, and I pushed through.”

It happens countless times.

At the core of it is this strange idea that living with disability is either so remarkable or so terrible that the sheer act of existing is to be applauded. (And that we only exist for the benefit of nondisabled people.)

Now, on the surface, inspiration porn may seem relatively benign. Sure, it’s objectifying, but inspiration is a good thing, isn’t it?

Let’s set aside that objectifying and othering means not valuing us, means denying us accessibility, means hindering our quest toward equality.

Sometimes, it goes beyond even that. When there’s a very specific variation to the theme: when a disabled person’s death exists to inspire nondisabled people in life.

This particular version is often used specifically in the context of (romanticizing) mental illness and suicidal ideation, though there are also ample examples of it being used in broader disability representation.

And honestly, I’ve seen one too many portrayals of dead disabled characters whose death is turned into a teachable moment instead of a tragedy. Or, a flawed reminder to “make the most” out of life. And it always keeps the focus on nondisabled people.

That’s what sparked Before I Let Go. I wanted to write a book that examined and would be conversation with inspiration porn. Sure, it’s a murder mystery too. And a story of friendship and responsibility and how even the best intentions can be harmful. But Kyra’s death at the start of the book is unequivocally a tragedy.

She deserved so much more. And that’s where we start.

 

Meet Marieke Nijkamp

Credit: Karin Nijkamp

Credit: Karin Nijkamp

Marieke Nijkamp was born and raised in the Netherlands. A lifelong student of stories, language, and ideas, she spends as much time in fictional worlds as she does the real world. She loves to travel, roll dice, and daydream.

Marieke’s debut young adult novel, This Is Where It Ends, follows four teens during the fifty-four minutes of a school shooting. Her sophomore novel, Before I Let Goa haunting young adult murder mystery set during a cruel Alaskan winter, is out now.

For more information about Marieke, visit Twitter, TumblrInstagram, and her website.

MakerSpace: DIY Metal Stamping (A metal stamping kit review)

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Jewelry making has been pretty popular in our Teen MakerSpace, and I really wanted to give metal stamping a try. However, the individual components always seemed more expensive then something I wanted to spend just to try something out. Fortunately, I found a complete metal stamping kit at Target for only $24.99, and that seemed like a more reasonable price, so The Teen and I bought it and tried them out at home. Here’s what happened.

metalstamping5 metalstamping4Target STMT Kit, $24.99

The kit includes individual jewelry pieces to stamp, a small hammer, a block that you need for leverage and a complete set of alphabet letters. It also comes with a small pair of pliers and a few findings to turn your little metal pieces into jewelry. It’s a pretty good kit for getting started. We found additional pieces to stamp at Michael’s, where they also have larger letters. After trying out the little letters in this kit, I highly recommend the larger letters. These letters were very small and hard to read. We were not entirely happy with the final product, though I must admit that it took some time to learn how to hit hard enough to get a good imprint. Still, the letters are a really fine print.

Getting started, a work in progress

Getting started, a work in progress

What we created

What we created

The pieces themselves are fine for learning, particularly for making a small charm necklace or ear rings. However, you can’t really put more than initials on them. Again, it’s fine for trying it out, but you will definitely want to invest in better tools if you want to create a better product.

I will also be completely honest with you and share that The Teen was not into this at all. She found trying to line up the letters infinitely frustrating and tedious. It didn’t help that she was not impressed with the final product. Other teens, of course, will have different feelings about it.

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Impress Arts seems to be a major manufacturer of metal stamping supplies. A basic set of letter stamps at Michael’s costs around $20.00. The set I bought at Target was purchased for $25.00 and contained more than just the letter stamps. In addition to the stamp set you need a small hammer, a base to stamp on, and, of course, your additional supplies to create your jewelry including the metal you will be stamping, chains or cord, and clasps. You’ll also need some type of closure. Finals costs end up being more than I want to spend in our Teen MakerSpace.

Some Basic Info

Metal Stamping Projects DIY Projects Craft Ideas & How To’s

DIY Metal Stamping: 10 Steps (with Pictures) – Instructables

Make Your Own Hand-Stamped Necklace – A Beautiful Mess

67 best DIY Jewelry | Metal Stamping Tutorials and Inspiration images

Final Thoughts

In the end, I decided that metal stamping would be good for an individual program in our more isolated program room, but it is not a good fit for our centrally located Teen MakerSpace because it’s loud. It takes some hard hammering, which is both noisy and repetitive, to really create a good finished product. So if you have a more isolated MakerSpace where the noise wouldn’t annoy library patrons using the library, give it a try. But for us, we decided not to make it a regular component of our Teen MakerSpace because it didn’t fit our situation and it cost more than we wanted to spend for a TMS station.

So if you want to give metal stamping a try, this kit is a good starting point with clear limitations. If you are serious about metal stamping, spend the money to buy better tools and, most importantly, better (and bigger) letter stamps. Just keep in mind that it’s noisy. The final product is cool, but it’s not necessarily a best fit for public libraries.

Teen Summer Reading Planning 2018

If you are doing the Libraries Rock theme for your 2018 Teen Summer Reading Program, please note that metal stamping guitar pick jewelry looks fantastic. Here’s a link to just one example:

https://www.etsy.com/market/stamped_guitar_pick