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Book Review: The Time Museum by Matthew Loux, a guest post by Callum (age 10)

If you follow me on Twitter (@CiteSomething), then you’re familiar with my extremely entertaining 10-year-old son, Callum. He’s a big fan of graphic novels and recently has started pulling books out of my TBR pile. It’s fun to get book mail and have so much of it either appeal now to him or know it will soon. He’s excited to write his first review post for TLT. I suspect we’ll see more from him in the future. He’s already been on the cover of a magazine and on an episode of The Longest Shortest Time (episode 50, “Mom, It’s Time We Had The Talk”). He loves when people react to stuff I tweet about him. He says it all adds to his “fame.” Have I mentioned he’s super entertaining and loves attention? Anyway, here’s his review.

Publisher’s description

time-museumThe internship program at the Time Museum is a little unusual. For one thing, kids as young as twelve get to apply for these prestigious summer jobs. And as for the applicant pool . . . well, these kids come from all over history.

When Delia finds herself working at the Time Museum, the last thing she expects is to be sent on time-traveling adventures with an unlikely gang of kids from across the eons. From a cave-boy to a girl from the distant future, Delia’s team represents nearly all of human history! They’re going to need all their skills for the challenge they’ve got in store . . . defending the Time Museum itself!

 

 

Callum’s thoughts

Plot:

There’s this girl named Delia and she starts out at school pretty much. It’s the last day of school. They go to her uncle’s house and her parents say they’re going to go to the store or something like that. They go to take her brother to a pool. She’s busy being a nerd and looking at moss and mold and sees an extinct bird. She chases it and catches it. Then she sees a gate in front of her. It says it’s a time museum. She says gates are made for being opened, right? Delia holds the bird and goes in there. There’s like aliens and weird slug-humans and stuff. When she walks into the building, she sees her parents there. She says, “What are you guys doing here?” They’re like, oh, she finally found it! Found what? They say, we’ve been hiding this from you for a while. It was hard to hide! Delia wonders where her brother is. He’s at the gift shop. She goes in to search for him and finds that her uncle owns the museum.

 

Her uncle and her talk for a while about how he hid it and he tells her about all sorts of stuff about the museum. He makes her come with him. There’s another girl they meet. She’s from the way way future from Tokyo. Her name is Michiko. They become close friends even though they’ll have to be rivals in something fancy for the museum. The next day Delia goes to get a thing done on her so she can speak pretty much any language. They have to travel through time to finish these trials to complete this task thing.

 

First they go to the Cretaceous period and meet a creepy man, called The Grey Earl, who gives them a stone and says it’s a good luck charm. She walks away to save friends from dinosaurs and after the trial they get in trouble for being off task and nearly getting eaten by three T-Rexes. They do some more trials. They go to London for the final trial. That stone that guy gave her starts to glow and there’s a huge split in the sky—stuff is being sucked up in the sky. They all take cover. She goes through the portal in the sky then she sees that guy in there, The Grey Earl. They have a conversation and he asks how she got there. She shows him the stone that he gave her. She leaves the portal and runs to friends and the portal stops.

 

The ending is she’s off with her friends and telling them about the museum. Her fancy watch starts to glow. Delia runs around the corner and a friend follows her, but she’s just gone. Delia teleports into the museum. She crashes into a portrait that is half covered. She sees that The Grey Earl is one of the founders of museum. The back says there will be a book two.

 

Other things:

I liked the cool electronics that they used.
I liked that they travel through time to other periods and places.
The art was really good.
The story was kind of fast-paced and kept my attention.
It’s cool that it’s a girl main character.

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781596438491

Publisher: First Second

Publication date: 02/21/2017

Series: Time Museum Series, #1

Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas + Giveaway

Publisher’s description

hate-uInspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty. Soon to be a major motion picture from Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions.

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

hate u

 

If you routinely read my book reviews here, you might be thinking, dang, does she just LOOOOOVE every single book or what? Yes and no. Yes, I generally really like every book I review here. No, I don’t love all books. I’m in the fortunate position to get a ton of books sent to me to consider reviewing for TLT. I am under no obligation to review any title (as opposed to, say, reviewing for SLJ, where I review whatever I’m sent and may not end up liking the book). If I start something and it’s not for me, I ditch it. Unless I really have something to say about a book that I don’t like, I’m not going to waste my time reading it or reviewing it. Because why.

 

All that’s to say, here comes another gushing review.

 

This book is so important. It’s also so good, but it’s SO IMPORTANT. And I’d say it’s timely, but violence against black people—specifically police violence against black people—is not a new thing. So the story feels very “ripped from the headlines,” but the damn headlines never change. The names of black people murdered by police officers pile up and you know that list is only going to get longer. So yeah, this book feels very of right now—but “right now” is actually a pretty long period of time. It’s things like the mentions of Twitter, of increased media attention on protests and victims’ stories, Tumblr, and other very contemporary things that make it feel like it’s happening RIGHT NOW, right this very second. Again, chalk that up to the fact that the date might change, but the story never does. Plenty of 90s references (thanks to Chris and Starr’s love of Fresh Prince and her parents’ interests and influence) help add to the feel of being timely and timeless all at once. This book will age well, and I write that while heaving a big sigh, because, again, in real life, the damn story never changes.

 

You can read the summary up there if you need to see the gist of the story, but I’m guessing you’ve already read or heard about it elsewhere. This book is all over the place, and rightfully so. I am rarely speechless, but this book left me just wrung out. Thomas puts you right there with Starr and does not hold back. The characters absolutely leap off the page, pulling the reader right in to every single person’s piece of the story. There is not a character who doesn’t feel well-developed and vital to this novel. Thomas gives readers a LOT to think about as we follow Starr’s story. What does it mean for Starr to live in Garden Heights, a predominately black neighborhood marked by drugs and gangs, but go to school at nearly all-white Williamson Prep? How does she code switch as she bounces between her two worlds and who does she show her actual self to? What does it mean for her that her boyfriend is white? How does casual racism play a role in her school life? Why would her family choose to stay in Garden Heights so long when they are financially able to leave if they wanted to? Why would someone sell drugs? Or join a gang? How do you leave that life? And on and on. There is so much to consider, so much that makes this more than just some simple look at the fallout from the death of a black boy at the hands of a white cop. 

 

There’s so much more I could tell you about–Starr’s wonderful and supportive family, the complex interactions between gang members (and ex-gang members), the way you will be cheering out loud when Starr finally finds her voice and begins to speak out about what happened–but the bottom line of all of it is this: This book is profound. It is important. It manages to be funny and devastating at the same time. This intense look at systemic racism, police violence/accountability, and the lives of people affected by both needs to be read by everyone. EVERYONE. It’s only February, but I’d go so far as to say that this is probably the most important book of 2017. 

 

Because we at TLT find this book to be so important and want to help it reach more readers, we are giving away five copies when it comes out. Head on over to the Rafflecopter to enter. Contest ends Friday, February 24. Five winners. US ONLY. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9780062498533

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 02/28/2017

Book Review: The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Publisher’s description

educationPretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.

Things/People Margot Hates:
Mami, for destroying her social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
The supermarket
Everyone else

After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.

With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…

Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

Puerto Rican Margot, who can’t escape her childhood nickname of Princesa, is not thrilled to be spending the summer working at her family’s supermarket in the South Bronx. She had hoped to spend the summer in the Hamptons with her prep school classmates, popular Serena and Camille. That plan fell apart when her parents discovered she stole their credit card and charged a bunch of clothes. Margot, a social climber who’s more than just a little arrogant when we meet her, can’t believe Papi expects her to do actual work while at the supermarket. While there, she meets Moises Tirado, a young community activist who helms a table outside of the store working on getting signatures for a petition to stop a housing complex from being torn down and replaced by high-end condos. Though Margot is drawn to Moises, she looks down on him. Her snooty school friends would never approve. Margot isn’t interested in learning about gentrification or any of the other social justice issues Moises is into. She’s appalled by where he lives. He’s working on his GED. Margot’s family is relatively well off (they are “rich adjacent”) and she’s seen as “the great brown hope” for her family, the one who will become a doctor or a lawyer. Her mother warns her that people are judged by the company they keep, but she can’t help but continue to be interested in Moises.

 

But an “inappropriate” crush and a summer stuck working at a grocery store turn out to be the least of Margot’s worries as a whole bunch of family secrets, stress, and denial finally come to the surface and demand to be dealt with. She’s forced to really reckon with the feeling that she just doesn’t fit in anywhere and start to sort out who it is she wants to be. While many of the secondary characters are rather undeveloped, Margot is complicated and flawed. She makes mistakes and is often insufferably self-absorbed. I wish rather than seeing so many subplots, there would’ve been less going on, but had more pieces explored more in-depth (like her friendships, especially with her former best friend, or more about Moises’s activism and past). The vivid setting and many issues make this a fast read about family, identity, and culture that will appeal to many, including reluctant readers. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9781481472111

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Publication date: 02/21/2017

Middle School Monday: Short Stories + Book Covers = Creativity

MSM1

I love short stories. I love them as a reader* and I’m excited at their potential for us as librarians. Short stories give us an accessible way into ELA classrooms with a bite-sized unit that we can connect to the curriculum by exploring figurative language, plot devices, or vocabulary. Using excellent short story collections like Flying Lessons (Oh, 2017) or Open Mic (Perkins, 2013) are a double—and necessary—win as we can introduce #ownvoices authors into the classroom…and the literary canon.

From Open Mic, I’ve been reading Under Berlin by G. Neri with both 7th and 8th grade classes. Under Berlin is a warm, engaging short story in verse that underscores issues of prejudice in a humorous and unexpected way.

It takes us only one class lesson to read [with some background discussion on the city of Berlin]. During the next class, we move to designing book covers.

Bor-ing, you may be thinking. Perhaps you’ve been including the option of creating book covers as a culminating project choice on your novels for years.

I’m standing by this lesson! Here’s why—and why I was excited about how this lesson worked.

  1. Individual short stories typically HAVE NO cover, so there is a completely blank slate. Students have no preconceived version of what the cover for a short story should look like.
  2. We began by looking at a sampling of covers from books I brought to the classroom. What did they have in common? What was the book ‘selling’? Which covers were the most successful? Why were some author names SO BIG? We talked about images. Fonts. Colors.
  3. To create our covers, we used Google Drawings, which I think sells itself short with its own name. I told my students to think of it as Google Design instead. After a lightning quick tutorial [The best way to learn a digital tool? Play with it yourself.], each student got to work. I mean, play.
  4. The finished covers were fascinating. Besides an obvious affinity for the Permanent Marker font and atmospheric subway photos, the covers were structurally different. Most focused on the setting, but I loved how several students were intent on finding a family or female teen [the narrator] to include on the cover that was reflective.
  5. My favorite part? The students who I felt had the strongest covers were not students who usually were receiving top grades in ELA. While I displayed all the covers, I separated the strongest covers under a Bestseller List tag.

UB_list

We need to continually provide alternate access points for students to connect with literature and language besides simply writing about it afterwards [or annotatingshudder]. Hopefully, this mini-project worked in this way. In fact, every time I do a short story with students, I think I will include this activity, at the very least as an option for a culminating mini-project. The options for digital tools are vast. [Canva would be an exciting choice.]

*I grew up despising short stories. They were so depressing! Recent collections have changed my views on the format. Please don’t only use the short stories we were taught in school. [Another, bigger shudder.] Go get a class set of the wonderful Flying Lessons instead!

I’m Julie Stivers at @BespokeLib—have a great week!

Friday Finds: February 17, 2017

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: Muslim Voices

Middle School Monday: Spy on History Blog Tour and Giveaway

Book Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Dr. Bully, a guest post by M.G. Hennessey

Everything, Everything Movie Trailer is Here!

TPiB: 3 cheap and easy after school programs

#SJYALit Hello, I’m Your Social Justice Librarian, a guest post by Perlita Payne

Book Review: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Around the Web

12-Year-Old Marley Dias Signs Book Deal To Write Kids Activism Guide

21 YA Books For Black History Month

Young Adult Author Nina LaCour on Why You Shouldn’t Talk Down to Your Readers

Philip Pullman to Release First Volume in New ‘Book of Dust’ Trilogy

The 2016 Cybils Winners!

 

 

Books for Trying Times: A Resource List compiled by members of KidLit Resists!

aram kim

Art by Aram Kim Available for use here http://ow.ly/d/5Q4v

Today’s list of resources is brought to you by the members of KidLit Resists! We’re a Facebook group for members of the KidLit community (authors, illustrators, editors, youth librarians, booksellers, and others who create and support picture books, MG books, and YA books) who wish to organize against the current administration’s agenda and support those communities targeted by the administration.

 

If you have other resources to suggest, please put them in the comments or tag me on Twitter, where I’m @CiteSomething.

 

 

 

KidLit Resource List – Books for Trying Times
Compiled by members of the KidLit Resists! Facebook page

 

Lists of recommended books

 

Jane Addams Peace Award books (1953 – present) “The Jane Addams Children’s Book Award annually recognizes children’s books of literary and aesthetic excellence that effectively engage children in thinking about peace, social justice, global community, and equity for all people.”

 

35 Picture Books for Young Activists (from All The Wonders)

 

BOOK LIST: PICTURE BOOKS ABOUT MUSLIM OR MIDDLE EASTERN CHARACTERS (from Lee & Low Books)

 

8 Empowering Middle Grade Novels for Kids Interested in Social Justice (from Barnes & Noble)

 

KitaabWorld: South Asian and diverse children’s books

 

The Brown Bookshelf: United in Story

 

AMELIA BLOOMER PROJECT: RECOMMENDED FEMINIST LITERATURE FOR BIRTH THROUGH 18

 

Refugee picture books (on Pinterest)

 

20 BOOKS ABOUT REFUGEE & IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCES (from All The Wonders)

 

EMPATHY: STEAD’S COMMON THREAD (from All The Wonders)

 

STORIES ABOUT REFUGEES: A YA READING LIST (from Stacked)

 

Activist biographies (YA)

 

TEN YOUNG ADULT BOOKS THAT REFLECT THE US IMMIGRATION EXPERIENCE (from Nerdy Book Club)

 

Books That Respect Kids with Unique Abilities (from All The Wonders)

 

Girl-empowering Books (from A Mighty Girl)

 

We Need Diverse Books

 

Penny Candy Books: A Mission Becomes a Moral Directive (from Publishers Weekly)

 

Teaching Tolerance – a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center

 

30 Of The Best Books To Teach Children Empathy (from TeachThought)

 

19 books to help children find hope and strength in stressful times: A librarian’s list (from The Washington Post)

 

13 Books to Teach Children About Protesting and Activism (from GeekMom)

 

Books inspiring activism and tolerance

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land by John Coy, photos by Wing Young Huie

March (trilogy) by John Lewis (Author), Andrew Aydin (Author), Nate Powell (Artist)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: I dissent by Debbie Levy

The Seeds of America Trilogy by Laurie Halse Anderson

Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton

This Side of Home by Renee Watson

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

What Does It Mean To Be Kind? by Rana DiOrio

The Hunt (coming in 2/17) by Margaux Othats

A Gift From Greensboro by Quraysh Ali Lansana, illustrated by Skip Hill

Ambassador by William Alexander

Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi, illustrations by Yutaka Houlette

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle

 

Recommendations for preschool storytime

A Chair For My Mother and sequels by Vera B. Williams

More, More, More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams

A is for Activist and Counting on Community by Innosanto Nagara

The Bus for Us by Suzanne Bloom

Whoever You Are by Mem Fox

Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Staub

Jacqueline Woodson’s picture books

Kadir Nelson’s picture books

SPPL

 

Book Review: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Publisher’s description

we-are-okayYou go through life thinking there’s so much you need. . . . Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

An intimate whisper that packs an indelible punch, We Are Okay is Nina LaCour at her finest. This gorgeously crafted and achingly honest portrayal of grief will leave you urgent to reach across any distance to reconnect with the people you love.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

I love Nina LaCour. When this book showed up in my mailbox, I was delighted. Because here’s the thing: I’m going to guess I haven’t been alone in having a really hard time concentrating on a book lately. I started and abandoned a whole bunch of books in January. I read this until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. Then the next morning, I read it while waiting for my doctor. For once, I wanted her to be running behind, because I was down to about twenty pages. I finished it later that same day, sobbing over my gummy candy and desperately hoping my kid would stay playing outside for a few more minutes so I could just keep on crying. It was exactly the book I needed to read at that moment in time. It’s a relatively quick read, and since it’s Nina LaCour, you know it’s going to be a deep and beautifully-written story. This is one of those books where I just don’t even want to say much of anything beyond OH MY GOD, GO READ THIS, IT’S STUNNING. I want the story to unfold for you like it did for me. I hadn’t so much as read the flap copy. I didn’t need to. It takes a while to figure out where the story might be going, and even once the pieces start to fall into place, it never feels predictable. This is, hands down, one of saddest books I have read in a very long time. But here’s how I mean that: you won’t cry all the way through. It’s not all doom and gloom. There is a lot of love and friendship to be found here. But Marin’s grief and loneliness will just destroy you.

 

And really, that’s all I’m telling you. The small summary up there of the plot gives you just enough of an outline to rope you in, but doesn’t reveal any of the really significant parts of the story. All you need to know is that this book will break your heart. But it won’t do it in a way that will leave you hopeless—I promise. A beautiful story of love, grief, and learning to heal. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780525425892

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group

Publication date: 02/14/2017

#SJYALit Hello, I’m Your Social Justice Librarian, a guest post by Perlita Payne

sjyalitI became the Social Justice Librarian at Alameda County Library in September. I had gotten my MLIS the year before while working for many years at a health center in an urban high school. After graduation, I was an hourly Reference Librarian at a couple of public library systems including the one that I now work for full-time. I have always worked to create safe and welcoming spaces for those at the intersections of marginalized communities be they young people, those who have been incarcerated or detained, people of color, immigrants, women, LGBTQ, and people with disabilities. I am also a proud member of these communities.

Alameda County is the seventh largest county in the State of California with 14 incorporated and unincorporated cities and a population of 1.5 million (“About”). At Social Justice Services (SJS), we provide library services and programs at the adult jails (Santa Rita and Glenn Dyer), Juvenile Justice Center (JJC), Camp Sweeney (minimum security residential program for young men), and three social services sites that are part of our Pop-Up Library Services for Everyone (PULSE) Program. At the adult jails, right now, we have bookcarts and/or bookshelves at each housing units that we replenish throughout the month. Inmates can also fill out request forms for books and magazines that they would like and we fulfill them as appropriate. We also have a family program called “Start With a Story” (SWAS) during visitations on the weekends. Our SWAS volunteers give brand new picture books to and do storytimes with the children waiting to visit their incarcerated parents and/or guardians. At juvenile hall and Camp Sweeney, we have a library at each of these sites with a Librarian on duty providing scheduled services every week. Similar to the adult jails, we also have bookshelves at each of the housing units that the Librarian replenishes. We also have a poetry writing program at Camp Sweeney run by library staff.  At each of our Pop-Up Library Services (PULSE) sites, we have a book vending machine that holds over 200 books at any given time and these are replenished by staff throughout the month. Our PULSE patrons suffer from chronic homelessness and for many reasons they find it challenging to get to a brick-and-mortar library and sign up for traditional library services, and so we bring the library to them via our book vending machines.

I am charged with creating programs and events for all of our sites. For the sake of TLT, I will just talk about my work with teens.

The Juvenile Justice Center (JJC) is a detention center for up to 358 minors. Camp Sweeney is a rehabilitative, minimum security, residential program for up to 50 young men 15-19 years old (“Probation”). With changes in sentencing laws and options other than detention (e.g., electronic monitoring), the number of teens have gone down at each of these sites.

At JJC, I meet monthly with the probation officer in charge of programs and our embedded Librarian to discuss programs and needs. We are very fortunate to be located in the San Francisco Bay Area, where there are many organizations and individuals who volunteer at JJC to carry out programs ranging from yoga to beats-making classes. There is a school at JJC and the teens attend classes during the week. The probation officer in charge of programs has access to the school calendar and I work closely with her to schedule the programs during the school day.

In December, she had requested a program during intersession. Using a vendor from the County Art Commission, I was able to bring a pop-up greeting card program to JJC. Although the date that the art vendor had available was after Christmas, the skills that the teens picked up can still be used to make other kinds of greeting cards throughout the year. Every performer and artists need to fill out a Visitor’s Request form that get processed by JJC. For the art vendor, I also needed to get her materials approved. She sent me a list of the items that she would like to bring. I also asked her to hold on to this same list and check it when the class ends to make sure she has all of them. If there’s anything missing, of course, there will be a search and that’s never anything we would want. For card making, we were allowed to bring kids scissors with rounded ends, colored pens, ink stamps, and a selection of shape punches. The vendor put in a last minute request to bring one pair of scissors with a pointed edge for her personal use only. I emailed the probation officer with fingers crossed and thankfully, this was approved.

Crafting was a big hit for the teens and also the officers assisting that day. Outside of shadowing Andrew, our embedded Librarian, while he made the rounds through the housing units, this was the first time I had been with the teens for an extended amount of time.  And you know what? Teens are teens wherever they might be. They came shuffling in looking uninterested, bored and left with finished pieces that I almost mistook for the art vendor’s samples. They crowded around the punches to make shapes like stars, horses, and crowns, all the while exclaiming how “tight” their pieces were going to be. For an hour and a half we were all in an art class and their creativity was limitless. I heard much laughter and banter among the teens. Of course, when class was over, we were back to reality: we had to count the materials to make sure what we had was exactly what we came in with. Everything counted out right and the teens left after we thanked them for participating. I heard from the probation officer that the teens were really proud of the cards they made and some of the officers who were there that day showed the teens in the housing units that didn’t get to attend how to make the cards. All of these were heartening to hear. And I have since booked the art vendor to come back for three more classes! We need more opportunities for art everywhere but especially at JJC.

In February, at JJC, we will be celebrating Black History Month by having Kirk Waller, a local storyteller, to perform to four housing units which can mean up to 80 teens attending. I also have scheduled Aya De Leon, a spoken word artist and Dr. Joseph Marshall, an author who’s been at the forefront of violence prevention conversations in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the Summer, we will be working with Dave Egger’s non-profit, Voice of Witness and 826 Valencia on a memoir writing workshop at all of our sites as a way to give space to and amplify marginalized voices. I am currently taking a MakerSpace workshop class and I have plans on creating a MakerSpace at JJC. I don’t know what our MakerSpace will look like yet but Andrew and I have been talking about teaching podcasting and starting a podcast with the teens. I’m also looking at bringing in Girls Who Code because they rock and why not? I have a lot cooking here at JJC and I’m so very excited about every bit of it.

I’ve been thinking about books that might be helpful for folks who do not work with patrons who are in detention. The truth is, many of our patrons may have been in detention when they were young or know someone who is or has been in detention. Their stories have been made invisible because of shame and the stigma of having been incarcerated or detained. When I accepted my position, I read Jimmy Santiago Baca’s autobiography “A Place to Stand”. Growing up, Baca was in and out of jail and spent 5 years in prison for drug charges. His accounting of life in prison as a young Latino is harrowing. I have noticed that many juvenile hall libraries carry this book because it is inspiring that during Baca’s time in prison, he was able to teach himself how to read and became the great poet that he is now. I also read Richard Ross’s “Girls in Justice” which is a photo book focused on young women in detention around the country (the County that I work for is featured in it). It is a sobering, heartbreaking book with pictures that are meant to be pored over slowly so as to be respectful of the teen in detention brave enough to be part of the project. I’ve also read “Pushed Out” by Monique Morris which is focused on the effects of the school to prison pipeline on African-American girls. This book goes well with Marc Lamont Hill’s “Nobody” which covers police shootings in Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movement. And I have to include Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between The World & Me” because the author wrote it with so much sincerity to his teenage son. It is a kind of manual on how to thrive as a Black Man in American in spite of racism and State violence. I also found books about queer and trans people in prison, one is by Dean Spade’s “Normal Life” and the other is “Captive Genders” edited by Eric Stanley. I found particularly powerful Wesley Ware’s article about the struggles of queer and trans youth in juvenile halls in Louisiana. It is such a great time for publishing right now and so many excellent books are coming out. These are just mere starting points.

IMG_1307References

“About Alameda County ” https://www.acgov.org/about/

“Probation Department” http://www.acgov.org/probation/ji.htm

“Social Justice Services” http://www.aclibrary.org/content/social-justice-services

TPiB: 3 cheap and easy after school programs

I’m always looking for small program ideas that don’t take a lot of planning time, are inexpensive, are flexible, and appeal widely. Here are three to try.

Sci-Fi Stitches – or – Embroidered notecards

You can be silly or serious with this one. I did both and both were fun. For the “sci-fi stitches” I printed a bunch of different old timey photos onto cardstock (check Pinterest, there are gobs of people who have boards full of quirky and interesting old black and white photos). For the embroidered notecards, I supplied some adult coloring sheets to use as templates.

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Supplies

  • embroidery floss
  • embroidery needles
  • small pieces of corrugated cardboard
  • cardstock
  • tape
  • thumbtacks
  1. Draw your pattern onto the cardstock
  2. Place the cardstock on top of the cardboard. Using the thumbtack, poke holes along the pattern. If you’re using a coloring sheet as a template, you can punch right through the sheet itself.
  3. Thread your needle and start stitching into the holes. Use the tape to secure the floss at the back of the card.

Zenstones, aka draw on rocks

Seriously, drawing on rocks sounded kind of boring, but if you call it zenstones… or maybe rock-dalas… or meditation nuggets…  suddenly it’s a THING!

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Supplies

  • bag of rocks
  • permanent markers (black for light colored rocks, silver for black rocks)

This one was stone simple [lol!]. I had a bag of rocks left over from a gardening craft and I borrowed a few of the silver sharpies from the Tech Processing department and that was it. The kids did this for close to an hour. It was kind of amazing. This would be an easy pick for self-directed programming and could dovetail nicely with a number of seasonal themes.

Emoji Spelling Bee

Hey look! It’s not a craft! I heard about the “First Ever Emoji Spelling Bee” that happened at last fall’s Emojicon (a celebration of all things emoji) and it seemed like an activity begging to be turned into a teen program.

emojis: snail, minus sign, shell

Supplies

  • a list of silly words and phrases
  • teen supplied phones OR a computer projected onto a shared screen that can access an Emoji Keyboard Online
  • a timer

Have the teens come up with the words and phrases to challenge each other or make a list ahead of time. For each turn, give a teen one word/phrase clue and set a timer. When the timer is up, they are done and the rest of the group gets to decide if the phrase is “spelled” correctly or not.

Everything, Everything Movie Trailer is Here!

The Teen and I love the book Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon! It’s one of the few books that she has re-read and it made us both swoon. We are not swooners. So we are excited that this amazing book is being made into a movie. Today Anthony Breznican shared the movie trailer over at Entertainment Weekly. Check it out!

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Read about and view the trailer here: http://ew.com/movies/2017/02/14/everything-everything-trailer/?xid=entertainment-weekly_socialflow_twitter

Publisher’s Book Description:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.