Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Read Wild: Cli-fi, How Books Can Start Conversations and Inspire Action

According to a recent NPR/Ipsos poll, more than 80% of parents want climate change taught in schools.  And that statistic is pretty solid regardless of political affiliation, with 66% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats agreeing that climate change should be taught. Sounds great, right?  The problem is that the same poll also revealed that while teachers are very supportive of teaching climate change, more than half of those surveyed are not teaching it and almost 2/3rds said that’s because it’s outside of their subject area. 

What’s the answer to this conundrum?  Stories, of course! In 2015, Ed Maibach, director of George Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication, said at a White House meeting on climate change that “Numbers numb, stories sell. We don’t deal well with numbers — it tends to suspend our sense of emotion — but we respond very, very well to stories.”

Cli-fi, or climate fiction, has been around for ages, though the term entered popular use in the 21st century.  It’s defined as a fictional story that includes the effects of climate change.  These stories might explore things like natural disasters, global warming, water shortages, natural resource access, fossil fuels, loss of species, or anything else related to our changing planet. Adult fiction is full of cli-fi, including The Overstory, this year’s winner of the Pulitzer Prize.  Luckily, children’s and YA literature are also confronting climate change head-on through cli-fi.  Sharing cli-fi books with teens is a great way to engage students in one of the biggest issues of their (and our) lifetime. 

I’ve been using cli-fi books in one of the literature circle units I run in my 9th grade English class and they always inspire passionate conversations.  In addition, they often inspire students to get involved by writing letters to the editor, joining our school’s Roots & Shoots club, and even in pursuing sustainability majors in college. 

Reading a cli-fi book is one of the #readwild challenges I’m asking readers to engage in this year, so I’ve rounded up a few of my recent favorites below. 

Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman: Before reading Dry you need to understand that it is absolutely terrifying. Set in a very near-future, Dry is the story of a group of teens caught in the middle when California’s drought escalates from inconvenient to life and death. Quiet suburbs are suddenly warzones, neighbors are stealing from neighbors, and families have turned against each other. Neal and Jarrod Shusterman have crafted a terrifying story that made me have to stop reading at points.  This is great to pair with news articles about Flint and the drought history in California.

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline: Dimaline’s book is set in a near future after the world has been ravaged by climate change.  Climate change has led to people losing the ability to dream, so people are descending into madness.  However, North America’s Indigenous people can still dream.  Unfortunately,  their bone marrow holds the cure for the rest of the world. With terrifying parallels to how Indigenous people were and are treated, The Marrow Thieves has been very popular with my teen readers.  It pairs well with history classes and current events.

The Beast of Cretacea by Todd Strasser: Part Moby Dick and part cli-fi, The Beast of Cretacea is the story of a group ofteens sent to other planets to harvest resources and bring them back to Earth. Earth has been completely ravaged, so Ishmael is one of the teens sent into space.  However, he isn’t just there to enjoy the clean air and cool weather; Ishmael risks his life to help his foster parents escape from the crumbling planet Earth. Pair it with Moby Dick to talk about environmental justice

These are just a few of the YA cli-fi books out there.  Check out this great list Natalie Korsavidis posted on TeenLibrarianToolbox in 2017 for even more ideas. And don’t forget to share your progress on the #readwild reading challenge on social media!

Additional Resource:

Teaching Climate Change to Adolescents: Reading, Writing, and Making a Difference (published by the National Council of Teachers of English) is a fantastic resource for those looking for more ways to talk about climate change outside of science class. 

Meet Sarah Mulhern Gross

I am a National Board Certified teacher who teaches ninth-grade and twelfth-grade English at High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey. I am a contributor to the New York Times Learning Network and my writing has appeared in Scientific American, Edutopia, ASCD, and The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet.  In 2017 I completed my Master’s degree in teaching biology with Project Dragonfly at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with a focus on defeating nature-deficit disorder in adolescents through interdisciplinary work.
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Book Review: Love and Other Curses by Michael Thomas Ford

When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, which originally appeared in an issue of School Library Journal

love and otherLove & Other Curses by Michael Thomas Ford (ISBN-13: 9780062791207 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 04/09/2019)

Gr 9 Up—Sam Weyward, a gay teen in rural New York, knows that if he falls in love before his fast-approaching 17th birthday, the generations-long family curse will kill his love interest. Living with his magic-practicing grandma, great-grandma, and great-great-grandma (the Grands) and his 1980s metal–loving father, he can never forget about the curse. But he finds distraction with drag queens at the gay bar Shangri-La, the family ice cream stand, mysterious phone calls, and Tom Swift, a trans boy staying at the lake this summer. As his friendship with Tom, who is straight, grows more complicated, Sam wonders if the curse can be broken. While there is a lot to enjoy about this book, like the vivid setting and appealing premise, the unhealthy relationship between Sam and Tom, and the often-unchecked transphobia make this a troubling, offensive, and potentially harmful story. Tom is repeatedly deadnamed, misgendered, and outed (with Sam, among others, committing these offenses). The fixation on Tom’s body and transition feel voyeuristic and turn him into a one-dimensional character just used for Sam’s own development. Sam and the rest of the cast get to be vibrant and complex, with Sam supported and loved both by his biological family and his chosen family of drag queens who are helping him find his drag identity. Tom is miserable, angry, rejected, lacking support, and ultimately forced to present as female—a painful trajectory without much hope. VERDICT Though this novel is funny and highly readable, the tragic trans narrative makes it one to skip.

Read Wild: Hosting a Bob Ross Painting Party

Bob Ross is having quite the renaissance in popularity, especially among teens, in part because of Netflix. If you didn’t know, you can watch Bob Ross paint a lot of happy trees on Netflix and many teens find it to be a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. It’s also fun to host a Bob Ross painting party.

Today’s program is being brought to you by Karen . . . and the Girl Scouts. Thing 2 is a Girl Scout and they also do a lot of programming that would work well in a public or school library setting, especially if you are already doing programming and have a good space for it. I’m putting this under our Read Wild heading because Bob Ross was famous for painting a variety of landscapes, including forest, trees, sunsets, and seaside retreats. If you have the outdoor space available, I recommend taking the painting outside so teens are painting nature while being in nature and breathing in some fresh air. This is a fun and creative way to get teens thinking about and connecting with nature.

Supplies Needed:

  • A painting surface, like a tile mentioned by Cindy earlier today or a canvas
  • A variety of paints (Bob Ross uses oil paints, but you can use acrylics)
  • Paint brushes
  • Paper plates (this will be your palette)
  • Paper towels
  • Water and something to keep it in for cleaning brushes
  • If you need to protect your painting surfaces, you’ll want to get newspaper or tablecloths

Before you start painting, you may want to prime your canvas by giving it a layer of white paint. If you want to speed up the process, you can prep canvases the day before your painting party. If you are using tiles, you don’t need to do any prep work.

Set up is pretty easy, just distribute brushes, paints, paper plates and water containers to each participant. If you are inside and have public performance rights, you can play Bob Ross in the background. The big thing here is to just let teens paint nature scenes and step back and let them be creative and expressive.

You’ll want to give a brief introduction to teens about Bob Ross. If you want to go with video there are several choices on YouTube or you can just read a brief introduction via someplace like Wikipedia (I know, I’m sorry, but it’s a quick resource). You could also print off examples of his work to have around the room or put together a slideshow which you project onto a blank wall or share via your in-house screens.

There are several online write ups of Bob Ross painting parties. It turns out, it’s a pretty popular party theme. You can find a few good ones here, here and here. Bonus points if you find and wear a Bob Ross wig.

When we went to the Girl Scout party, The Teen was just there by default. However, she had such a good time that she went home and painted a few more canvases. It was an obvious hit and I highly recommend it.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Tile Art

I love doing drafts with tiles. They are super cheap and it is easy to do many projects with them. I get my tiles from Home Depot, Menard’s or Lowes. I purchase the white ceramic tiles. The size depends on the price and type of tile available. I will discuss two of my favorite tile crafts below.

Book Mod Podge Tiles

Supplies

  • Tiles
  • Book cover images
  • Mod Podge
  • Brushes

Steps

  1. Print out and cut book images. If you have old School Library Journal issues that you were going to recycle, they would be perfect for this craft.
  2. Position the images on the tile to see how it will look. You can do one big book cover or many smaller book covers. I love doing many book covers.
  3. Place a layer of Mod Podge under the image and then place another layer on top. Next glue all of the book images at once with another layer of Mod Podge. Then you will want to put a few layers of Mod Podge on top of the whole tile. Be very careful when explaining this step to the teens they will want to us  too much Mod Podge. Gentle layering works best for this project.

Thoughts: I love this craft for Teen Read Week. It is a simple craft and teens can celebrate their favorite books. They can make lovely coasters or a work of art.

Nail Polish Tiles

Supplies

  • Tiles
  • Nail Polish (avoid glitter nail polish)
  • Water
  • Aluminum Half Size Deep Foil Pan
  • Stick

Steps

  1. Pour a layer of water into the foil pan.
  2. Put nail polish in the water. Pour it in gently. Try to swirl it when you put it in the water. Use multiple colors.
  3. Put the tile in the water, but do not submerge it. It should be just deep enough so it hits the nail polish layer that is floating on the top. Pull the tile out quickly and let it dry.
  4. Use your stick to get rid of the extra nail polish in the water so you can keep your pan nice and clean
  5. You can add a little more nail polish by hand if you missed a spot on the tile.

Thoughts: This is a really pretty craft and also super cheap. I did learn, however, that glitter nail polish does not work well on this craft.

Cindy Shutts, MLIS

cindy

Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching FIre, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.

Read Wild: Award Winning Books About Nature and Why We Need Them

It’s the day after Earth Day, and day 2 of our week focusing on Read Wild, an initiative that we are beginning here at TLT to connect tweens and teens with nature. Today our guest blogger, Sarah Mulhern Gross, shares some of her experiences and inspiration and talks about some award winning books that connect tweens and teen to nature.

About ten years ago I chaperoned a field trip to a local nature center.  My 6th graders were, as expected, excited to be missing a day of school.  When we arrived, though, that changed. “Ew, there’s mud everywhere!” they exclaimed from the steps of the bus.  The short interpretative hike we went on focused on common plants and birds in our area, but my middle schoolers were too uncomfortable (the mud, the wind, the bugs, the creepy birds!)  to pay much attention.  I hoped it was just that group of students, but today I teach high school and I’m amazed at the number of students who don’t spend any time outside and can’t recognize common species in our area.  These experiences inspired me, an English teacher, to get my Master’s degree in teaching biology through Miami University and Project Dragonfly’s AIP program.  During my 2.5 years in the program, I focused on nature-deficit disorder and ways to help combat it in teens.

Packed schedules after school, rigorous homework, and extracurricular activities too often keep kids inside, bound to their computers and cellphones, rarely giving them the time to be outside. According to a 2014 survey, “82% of U.S. parents view spending time in nature as “very important” to their children’s development – second only to reading as a priority. Then there’s the fact that many people assume that “nature”=wilderness.  You don’t need to live in a rural area miles from your nearest neighbor to experience nature!  Plants, animals, weather, and almost everything else we consider “nature” can be found in urban, suburban, and rural areas. The good news is that we can use books to help kids connect with nature both right outside their window and in far away places.

There are so many incredible books published each year that highlight the environment and can inspire readers to take action. I’ve found that there is a belief among many educators that the environment is the bastion of science teachers.  However, if we want to create conservationists in the next generation, we must move environmental literacy out of science class and into the rest of our children’s lives: content area classes including English, the library, and the home.

Luckily, there are two major awards for environmental writing given each year and they each honor books for young people.  This week both awards announced this year’s winners and I’m thrilled to share them here.

The Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award honors the best in nature writing in adult nonfiction and children’s literature. The award has been given since 1991 (full list of winners here). The 2018 award was given to Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean: Remembering Chinese Scientist Pu Zhelong’s Work for Sustainable Farming written by Sigrid Schmalzer and illustrated by Melanie Linden. An incredible picture book about using biological controls instead of pesticides, Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean can be used with any age group.  It would be great to pair with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring with older students.

The awards committee also honored the following books:

  • Honorable Mention
    • Back from the Brink: Saving Animals from Extinction, Nancy F. Castaldo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
    • The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science, Joyce Sidman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Notable
    • Ellie’s Strand: Exploring the Edge of the Pacific, M. L. Herring and Judith L. Li (Oregon State University Press)
    • How to be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals, Sy Montgomery (author) and Rebecca Green (illustrator) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Recommended
    • Errol’s Garden, Gillian Hibbs. (Children’s Play International)
    • Hush Hush, Forest, Mary Casanova (author) and Nick Wroblewski (woodcuts) (University of Minnesota Press)
    • Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story, Lindsey McDivitt (author) and Eileen Ryan Ewen (illustrator) (Sleeping Bear Press)
  • Robert Bateman: The Boy Who Painted Nature, Margriet Ruurs (author) and Robert Bateman (artist) (Orca Book Publishers)
  • Trash Vortex: How Plastic Pollution is Choking the World’s Oceans, Danielle Smith-Llera. (Compass Point Books)

The Green Earth Book Award also announced its winning titles this week.  It is the nation’s first environmental stewardship book award for children’s and young adult books and publishes a long list each year before announcing the winners.  What I love about this award is that it focuses solely on environmental writing for young people.  They award books in five categories: picture book, children’s fiction, young adult fiction, children’s nonfiction, and young adult nonfiction. A list of all winners since 2005 can be found here.

This year’s winners were announced on Earth Day and what a fantastic list it is!

  • Picture book: The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs: The Story of Ken Nedimyer and the Coral Restoration Foundation, by Kate Messner, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe (Chronicle Books)
  • Children’s fiction:  The Flooded Earth, by Mardi McConnochie (Pajama Press)
  • Children’s nonfiction: Trash Revolution: Breaking the Waste Cycle, by Erica Fyvie, illustrated by Bill Slavin (Kids Can Press)
  • Young adult fiction: Dry, by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman, illustrated by Jay Shaw (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Honors and recommended reading can be found here

Today I make sure my high school students get outside as often as possible.  I often collaborate with my biology colleague on field study lessons that combine nature reading and writing with his biology lessons.  We’ve also designed our summer reading around nature; our students all read The Forest Unseen by Dr. David Haskell before the year starts and we use the essays in the book to inspire field studies all year long.  The award-winning books listed here can all be used in similar ways. 

Meet Sarah Mulhern Gross

I am a National Board Certified teacher who teaches ninth-grade and twelfth-grade English at High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey. I am a contributor to the New York Times Learning Network and my writing has appeared in Scientific American, Edutopia, ASCD, and The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet.  In 2017 I completed my Master’s degree in teaching biology with Project Dragonfly at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with a focus on defeating nature-deficit disorder in adolescents through interdisciplinary work.

New books alert: A nonbinary teen, sisters having an epic day, a reimagining of The Little Mermaid, and so much more!

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Books, books, and more books! All of the books I get end up going back out the door in some fashion—to teen readers I know, to classroom libraries of friends, to my own school, or in giveaways. I can’t read/review every book I get, but it’s fun to be able to sift through boxes and see what grabs my attention, and to see what books will find loving new homes with the right reader. 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.

The Sound of Drowning by Katherine Fleet (ISBN-13: 9781624147111 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 04/09/2019)

Meredith Hall has a secret. Every night she takes the ferry to meet Ben, her best friend and first love. Though their relationship must remain a secret, they’ve been given a second chance, and Mer’s determined to make it work. She lost Ben once before and discovered the awful reality: she doesn’t know how to be happy without him…

Until Wyatt washes ashore—a brash new guy with a Texas twang and a personality bigger than his home state. He makes her feel reckless, excited, and alive in ways that cut through her perpetual gloom. The deeper they delve into each other’s pasts, the more Wyatt’s charms become impossible to ignore.

But a storm is brewing in the Outer Banks. When it hits, Mer finds her heart tearing in half and her carefully constructed reality slipping back into the surf. As she discovers that even the most deeply buried secrets have a way of surfacing, she’ll have to learn that nothing is forever—especially second chances.

If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley, Austin Siegemund-Broka (ISBN-13: 9780451481092 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 04/23/2019)

Mean Girls meets The Taming of the Shrew in this romantic follow-up to Always Never Yours

Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: b*tch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school—she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her brutal honesty. But when she slips up in front of her crush, Andrew, any affection he may have had for her quickly fades. To win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Shakespeare’s infamous shrew, Katherine. If she makes amends with everyone she’s ever wronged, Andrew will have to take notice. Thus, Cameron begins her apology tour with Brendan, the guy whose social life she single-handedly destroyed. At first, Brendan isn’t so quick to forgive, but slowly he warms to her when they connect over a computer game he’s developing. To Cameron’s amazement, she actually enjoys hanging out with Brendan; he appreciates her honesty in a way Andrew never did, and she’s left wondering: maybe you shouldn’t have to compromise who you are for the kind of love you deserve.

i wish you allI Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver (ISBN-13: 9781338306125 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 05/14/2019)

It’s just three words: I am nonbinary. But that’s all it takes to change everything.

When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.

the voice in my headThe Voice in My Head by Dana L. Davis (ISBN-13: 9781335008497 Publisher: Inkyard Press Publication date: 05/28/2019)

She can feel sorry for herself.

Or she can listen…to the voice in her head.

For Indigo Phillips, life has always been about basking in the shadow of her identical twin, Violet—the perfectly dressed, gentle, popular sister. The only problem the girls had in their lives was the occasional chaos that came with being part of the Phillips family brood. But when Violet becomes terminally ill and plans to die on her own terms via medically assisted death, Indigo spirals into desperation in her efforts to cope. That’s when she begins to hear a mysterious voice—a voice claiming to be God. The Voice insists that if she takes Violet to a remote rock formation in the Arizona desert, her sister will live.

Incredibly, Violet agrees to go—if their dysfunctional family tags along for the ride. With all nine members stuffed into a wonky old paratransit bus, including their controlling older sister and distant mother, Indigo must find a way to face insecurities she’s spent a lifetime masking and step up to lead the trip. As she deals with outrageous mishaps, strange lodgings and even stranger folks along the way, Indigo will figure out how to come to terms with her sister, her family…and the voice in her head.

technically youTechnically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson (ISBN-13: 9781338335460 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 06/25/2019)

A hilarious, snarky, and utterly addicting #ownvoices debut that explores friendship, sexual orientation, mental health, and falling in love (even if things might be falling apart around you).

When a guy named Martin Nathaniel Munroe II texts you, it should be obvious who you’re talking to. Except there’s two of them (it’s a long story), and Haley thinks she’s talking to the one she doesn’t hate.

A question about a class project rapidly evolves into an all-consuming conversation. Haley finds that Martin is actually willing to listen to her weird facts and unusual obsessions, and Martin feels like Haley is the first person to really see who he is. Haley and Martin might be too awkward to hang out in real life, but over text, they’re becoming addicted to each other.

There’s just one problem: Haley doesn’t know who Martin is. And Martin doesn’t know that Haley doesn’t know. But they better figure it out fast before their meet-cute becomes an epic meet-disaster . . .

past perfectPast Perfect Life by Elizabeth Eulberg (ISBN-13: 9781547600922 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 07/09/2019)

An exciting new direction for acclaimed author Elizabeth Eulberg, Past Perfect Life is a tense and tender read about secrets and lies, reality and identity, and the ways we put ourselves back together when everything is broken.

Small-town Wisconsin high school senior Allison Smith loves her life the way it is—spending quality time with her widowed father and her tight-knit circle of friends, including best friend Marian and maybe-more-than-friends Neil. Sure she is stressed out about college applications . . . who wouldn’t be? In a few short months, everything’s going to change, big time.

But when Ally files her applications, they send up a red flag . . . because she’s not Allison Smith. And Ally’s—make that Amanda‘s—ordinary life is suddenly blown apart. Was everything before a lie? Who will she be after? And what will she do as now comes crashing down around her?

Perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, this is the story of one teen’s search for herself amid the confusion of a shattered past and a future far from all she planned.

maybe thisMaybe This Time by Kasie West (ISBN-13: 9781338210088 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 07/09/2019)

Beloved author Kasie West brings her signature witty banter and rom-com fun to a bold, fresh format. Think Four Weddings and a Funeral for YA.

One year. Nine events. Nine chances to . . . fall in love?

Weddings. Funerals. Barbecues. New Year’s Eve parties. Name the occasion, and Sophie Evans will be there. Well, she has to be there. Sophie works for the local florist, so she can be found at every big event in her small hometown, arranging bouquets and managing family dramas.

Enter Andrew Hart. The son of the fancy new chef in town, Andrew is suddenly required to attend all the same events as Sophie. Entitled, arrogant, preppy Andrew. Sophie just wants to get her job done and finish up her sketches so she can apply to design school. But every time she turns around, there is Andrew, getting in her way and making her life more complicated. Until one day she wonders if maybe complicated isn’t so bad after all . . .

Told over the course of one year and following Sophie from event to event, this delightful novel from master of romantic comedy Kasie West shows how love can blossom in unexpected places.

surface breaksThe Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill (ISBN-13: 9781338332605 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 07/30/2019)

A dark and beautiful reimagining of The Little Mermaid.

Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice? Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans in the UK. A book with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries: storytelling at its most spellbinding.

friendship lieThe Friendship Lie by Rebecca Donnelly, Ramona Kaulitzki (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781684460618 Publisher: Capstone Press Publication date: 08/01/2019)

Cora Davis’s life is garbage. Literally. Her professor parents study what happens to trash after it gets thrown away, and Cora knows exactly how it feels—to be thrown away. Between her mom and dad separating and a fallout with her best friend, fifth grade for Cora has been a year of feeling like being tossed into the dumpster. But Cora has learned a couple of things from her parents’ trash-tracking studies: Things don’t always go where they’re supposed to, and sometimes the things you thought you got rid of come back. And occasionally, one person’s trash is another’s treasure, which Cora and Sybella learn when they come across a diary detailing best-friendship problems. Told in two intertwining points of view, comes a warm, wry story of friendship, growing up, and being true to yourself. Written by Rebecca Donnelly, author of How to Stage a Catastrophe (an Indies Introduce and Indie Next List honoree), The Friendship Lie will speak to any reader who has struggled with what to hold on to and what to throw away.

The Last Hope by Krista Ritchie, Becca Ritchie (ISBN-13: 9781250128737 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 08/13/2019)

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

Sacrifice all you have to survive.

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

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

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

we speakWe Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund (ISBN-13: 9780525518006 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/03/2019)

A powerful and haunting debut novel about friendship, acceptance, and learning to let go as the balance between the living and the dead is upended, perfect for fans of We Were Liars.

It’s been more than 50 years since a tornado tore through a drive-in movie theater in tiny Mercer, Illinois, leaving dozens of teens — a whole generation of Mercerites — dead in its wake. So when another tornado touches down in the exact same spot on the anniversary of this small-town tragedy, the town is shaken. For Brenna Ortiz, Joshua Calloway, and Callie Keller, the apprehension is more than just a feeling. Though they seem to share nothing more than a struggle to belong, the teens’ paths continue to intersect, bringing them together when they least expect it, and perhaps, when they need it most. Both the living and the dead have secrets and unresolved problems, but they may be able to find peace and move forward–if only they work together.

A beautifully told, haunting yet hopeful novel about pushing past the pain, facing the world, and finding yourself.

she's the worstShe’s the Worst by Lauren Spieller (ISBN-13: 9781534436589 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 09/03/2019)

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off meets 10 Things I Hate About You in this fun, contemporary novel about two sisters who have twenty-four hours to fulfill a pact and overcome the secret that threatens to tear them apart.

Sisters April and Jenn haven’t been close in years. Jenn’s too busy with school, the family antique shop, and her boyfriend, and April would rather play soccer and hang out with the boy next door.

But when April notices her older sister is sad about staying home for college, she decides to do something about it. The girls set off to revive a pact they made as kids: spend an epic day exploring the greatest hits of their childhood and all that Los Angeles has to offer.

Then April learns that Jenn has been keeping a secret that could rip their family—and their feuding parents—apart. With only one day to set things right, the sisters must decide if their relationship is worth saving, or if the truth will tear them apart for good.

color ofThe Color of the Sun by David Almond (ISBN-13: 9781536207859 Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication date: 09/10/2019)

Award-winning author David Almond pens the dreamlike tale of a boy rediscovering joy and beauty within and around him, even amid sorrow.

One hot summer morning, only weeks after his father’s death, Davie steps out his front door into the familiar streets of the Tyneside town that has always been his home. But this seemingly ordinary day takes on an air of mystery and tragedy as the residents learn that a boy has been killed. Despite the threat of a murderer on the loose, Davie turns away from the gossip and sets off toward the sunlit hill above town, where the real and imaginary worlds begin to blur around him. As he winds his way up the hillside, Davie sees things that seem impossible but feel utterly right, that renew his wonder and instill him with hope. Full of the intense excitement of growing up, David Almond’s tale leaves both the reader and Davie astonished at the world and eager to explore it.

starlightThe Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones (ISBN-13: 9781536202649 Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication date: 09/10/2019)

Fast-paced, evocative, and intensely suspenseful, Tim Wynne-Jones’s latest psychological thriller finds a teenager setting his wits against the frigid wilderness and a menacing crew of escapees.

Four months after his best friend, Dodge, disappeared near their families’ camp in a boat accident, Nate is still haunted by nightmares. He’d been planning to make the treacherous trek to the remote campsite with a friend — his first time in winter without his survival-savvy father, Burt. But when his friend gets grounded, Nate secretly decides to brave the trip solo in a journey that’s half pilgrimage, half desperate hope he will find his missing friend when no one else could. What he doesn’t expect to find is the door to the cabin flung open and the camp occupied by strangers: three men he’s horrified to realize have escaped from a maximum-security prison. Snowed in by a blizzard and with no cell signal, Nate is confronted with troubling memories of Dodge and a stunning family secret, and realizes that his survival now depends on his wits as much as his wilderness skills. As things spiral out of control, Nate finds himself dealing with questions even bigger than who gets to leave the camp alive.

Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan (ISBN-13: 9780310768777 Publisher: Blink Publication date: 09/10/2019)

From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.

Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger (ISBN-13: 9781250116246 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 09/24/2019)

Two teens meet after tragedy and learn about love, loss, and letting go

Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her.

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects.

Candace Ganger’s Six Goodbyes We Never Said is no love story. If you ask Naima, it’s not even a like story. But it is a story about love and fear and how sometimes you need a little help to be brave enough to say goodbye.

onaOna Judge Outwits the Washingtons: An Enslaved Woman Fights for Freedom by Gwendolyn Hooks, Simone Agoussoye (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781543512809 Publisher: Capstone Press Publication date: 10/01/2019)

Soon after American colonists had won independence from Great Britain, Ona Judge was fighting for her own freedom from one of America’s most famous founding fathers, George Washington. George and Martha Washington valued Ona as one of their most skilled and trustworthy slaves, but she would risk everything to achieve complete freedom. Born into slavery at Mount Vernon, Ona seized the opportunity to escape when she was brought to live in the President’s Mansion in Philadelphia. Ona fled to New Hampshire and started a new life. But the Washingtons wouldn’t give up easily. After her escape, Ona became the focus of a years-long manhunt, led by America’s first president. Gwendolyn Hooks’ vivid and detailed prose captures the danger, uncertainty, and persistence Ona Judge experienced during and after her heroic escape. The Capstone Interactive edition comes with simultaneous access for every student in your school and includes read aloud audio recorded by professional voice over artists.

i'm notI’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal, Kimberly Jones (ISBN-13: 9781492678892 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 10/01/2019)

From #OwnVoices debut author duo Gilly Segal and Kim Jones comes a page-turning and timely story about two teenage girls—one black, one white—who only have each other to get through the violent race riots enveloping their city over the course of one night 

Lena has killer style, an awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.

When both girls attend the Friday night football game, what neither expect is the game to turn into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together.

They aren’t friends. They hardly even understand each other’s points of views. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night.

what makes usWhat Makes Us by Rafi Mittlefehldt (ISBN-13: 9780763697501 Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication date: 10/15/2019)

A viral video reveals a teen’s dark family history, leaving him to reckon with his heritage, legacy, and identity in this fiery, conversation-starting novel.

Eran Sharon knows nothing of his father except that he left when Eran was a baby. Now a senior in high school and living with his protective but tight-lipped mother, Eran is a passionate young man deeply interested in social justice and equality. When he learns that the Houston police have launched a program to increase traffic stops, Eran organizes a peaceful protest. But a heated moment at the protest goes viral, and a reporter connects the Sharon family to a tragedy fifteen years earlier — and asks if Eran is anything like his father, a supposed terrorist. Soon enough, Eran is wondering the same thing, especially when the people he’s gone to school and temple with for years start to look at him differently. Timely, powerful, and full of nuance, Rafi Mittlefehldt’s sophomore novel confronts the prejudices, fears, and strengths of family and community, striking right to the heart of what makes us who we are.

Read Wild: Nature Deficit Disorder and its implications for teens

Today is Earth Day and we’re kicking it off here at TLT by introducing you to Sarah Mulhern Gross and her new regular feature, #ReadWild. We’re going to be having an ongoing discussion about connecting teens with nature, discussing issues like climate change, and sharing titles that help you do both. In this post, we’re also introducing you to our #ReadWild Reading Challenge and giving you some background information on Nature Deficit Disorder.

American students are stressed. Since 2013, teens have reported feeling more stress than adults, according to the American Psychological Association. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 3.1 million American teenagers (between 12 -17) had at least one major depressive episode in the last year. Constant access to technology, with its notifications and messages, often brings more stress.  A 2013 study conducted by Karla Klein Murdock of Washington and Lee University found that text messages and social media messaging left college students vulnerable to interpersonal stress, leading to sleep problems and lower levels of emotional well-being.  Yet our schools have added computers in every class, adopted “bring your own device” policies, and cut gym classes and recess in favor of trying to raise test scores. Most of my high school students tell me they spend little to no time outside on a daily basis.

Nature-deficit disorder is a term used to describe the loss that children and teens experience when they are not given opportunities to have direct contact with nature.  Journalist and author Richard Louv coined the term when researchers began to realize the impact that nature had on children’s health and ability to learn.  Students who do not spend time outdoors engaging in exploration and play often feel disconnected from nature and environmental issues as adults. Without that connection to nature there may be no conservationists in the future.

Being outside has important benefits for kids and teens.  According to the Children & Nature Network, increased time outside has public health benefits.  Time outside has been found to improve children’s sleep, boost performance in school and enhance creativity, and increase focus and engagement.   And the effects of nature are long-term: childhood nature exposure can help predict adult mental well-being.  When my own students spend time outside during field studies or on nature walks they report feeling less stressed.  Florence Williams’ book The Nature Fix highlights the fact that as few as 15 minutes in the woods has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. When nature exposure is increased to 45 minutes there is an increase in cognitive ability.

Research shows that formative experiences in nature during childhood and adolescence are the most important source of environmental appreciation later in life; adults who are active in conservation often cite childhood experiences with the natural world as one of their most critical inspirations. Yet our schools are designed in a manner that denies students the opportunity to observe the world around them. In a time when the environment is under attack from our own government officials, we need to make sure the next generation will value the world around them. 

How can we help kids and teens connect more with nature?  Through books, of course!

Over the course of the next year, I will be sharing books that can inspire readers to get outdoors.  In order to help you get more out of your reading experience (personally and professionally!), I’ve designed the #readwild reading challenge. I challenge you to build a wider repertoire of nature books and get outside more, too!  Beginning this week, I’ll share books and activities that you can do with the teens in your life.  Happy Earth Day and Happy Reading!

Share your favorite nature reads with us on social media using the hashtag #readwild!

Meet Sarah Mulhern Gross

I am a National Board Certified teacher who team-teaches an integrated humanities, science, and technology program to ninth grade students at High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey. I am a regular contributor to the New York Times Learning Network and my writing has appeared in Scientific American, Edutopia, ASCD, and The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet. I also help teach a middle school science enrichment program through the STARS Challenge program at Monmouth University and I serve as a board member for the curiousYoungwriters blog, which provides a platform for publishing student writing that describes a nontraditional animal model in biomed research.

TheReadingZone Blog

wilddelight blog– Focused on integrating science and English class

Friday Finds: April 19, 2019

TLA 2019 Roundup, Part 1

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA April 2019

Staff Development: When RA training and diversity training meet

Book Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Where do younger teen readers fit in?

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TLA 2019 Roundup, Part 1

This past week I attended the TLA (Texas Library Association)Annual Conference and I live tweeted a few of the sessions I went to so that I would have notes. You can follow the links below if you would like to read the recaps.

Session 1: Deconstructing the Myth of Girl Books and Boy Books

In one of my earliest sessions, I listened to a panel discuss the harm that we do when we classify books as girl books or boy books. This was one of the best conversations that I have heard and I feel it is an important topic. Thread:
https://twitter.com/TLT16/status/1117876555252813824

Okay I’m going to be tweeting The Myth of Girl Books and Boy Books for you from #txla19. @zieglerjennifer @pacylin and more are here to talk about how all books are simply books, they have no gender— Teen Librarian Toolbox (rocks!) (@TLT16) April 15, 2019

Session 2: How to Make a Diverse Kit Lit List

Another informative session I attended talked specifically about how to go about the process of building a diverse (or inclusive) kid lit list. You’ll want to click through this to see the handout provided by Chris Barton. Thread:
https://twitter.com/TLT16/status/1118246993451724800

For thos interested, I will now live tweet this session in How to Make a Diverse Kid Lit List at #TXLA19 pic.twitter.com/037mbND6Uh— Teen Librarian Toolbox (rocks!) (@TLT16) April 16, 2019

Session 3: Tackling Touch Topics in Middle Grade

Another informative panel I attended talked about tough topics in middle grade fiction. Many of our kids are indeed living lives that are considered “tough topics” and it’s important that we include their reality in their literature to help them process and give them hope. Thread:
https://twitter.com/TLT16/status/1118165876837167105

Okay today I’m going to be live tweeting the session in Tackling Tough Topics in Middle Grade. It starts in about 8 minutes. @TonyAbbottBooks @JoKnowles Aidan Salazar Kate Allen and Jen Wang are the panelists.— Teen Librarian Toolbox (rocks!) (@TLT16) April 16, 2019

Session 4: Investing in Reading Lives All Year Round

Having recently gotten my hands on a copy of Game Changer! by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp, I was very excited to get to hear them speak. The laid down a lot of truths and were both very inspiring. Thread:
https://twitter.com/TLT16/status/1118601105506750469

At this session now with @donalynbooks & @colbysharp and I will try and live tweet highlights but also I highly recommend reading their book Game Changer! pic.twitter.com/qF9XnLPoHK— Teen Librarian Toolbox (rocks!) (@TLT16) April 17, 2019


Session 5: Scholastic Lunch with A. S. King

You all may be aware that The Teen and I are huge fans of author A. S. King and her books, so I was honored to attend a Scholastic luncheon where I got to hear her speak. She spoke specifically about mental health issues and their impact on the lives of teens and highlighted that our kids are in crisis; it’s worse than we realize because so many of our kids are struggling with un-diagnosed mental health issues. I thought she said 17% but she corrected me online and it is 70%, 70% of mental health issues go un-diagnosed and untreated. Then author Kelly Barnhill pointed out that the crisis will grow exponentially because there is a shortage of qualified psychiatrists to help address the mental health crisis facing our youth.

.@AS_King: We can’t look at stuff straight on. So I like to put it in my fiction because I’m tricky.

Depression is a million different things. 17% of teens have an undiagnosed mental illness. 5-11 age group is being massively effected by mental illness.— Teen Librarian Toolbox (rocks!) (@TLT16) April 16, 2019

In addition to attending a lot of great, informative sessions, I also learned about a lot of upcoming books. I’ll try to put together a post of some of those in a part 2.

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA April 2019

It’s time for another roundup for new and forthcoming YA (and sometimes not YA) books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.  The titles I include in these lists have LGBTQIA+ main characters as well as secondary characters (in some cases parents), as well as anthologies that include LGBTQIA+ stories. Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers April 2019 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (March 2019) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2017 master list and one for 2018. I’m working on the 2019 list. I’m happy to send you any list if you’re interested. Tweet at me or email me to request the list. I’m amanda DOT macgregor AT gmail DOT com.

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

devouringThe Devouring Gray (Devouring Gray Series #1) by Christine Lynn Herman (ISBN-13: 9781368024969 Publisher: Disney Press Publication date: 04/02/2019)

After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn’t: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.

Justin Hawthorne’s bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray-a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family’s powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can’t let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.

Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn’t yet know.

The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families’ abilities… before the Gray devours them all.

where the heartWhere the Heart Is by Jo Knowles (ISBN-13: 9781536200034 Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication date: 04/02/2019)

If home is where the heart is, what would happen if you lost it? Compassion and humor infuse the story of a family caught in financial crisis and a girl struggling to form her own identity.

It’s the first day of summer and Rachel’s thirteenth birthday. She can’t wait to head to the lake with her best friend, Micah. But as summer unfolds, every day seems to get more complicated. Her “fun” new job taking care of the neighbors’ farm animals quickly becomes a challenge, whether she’s being pecked by chickens or having to dodge a charging pig at feeding time. At home, her parents are more worried about money than usual, and their arguments over bills intensify. Fortunately, Rachel can count on Micah to help her cope with all the stress. But Micah seems to want their relationship to go beyond friendship, and though Rachel almost wishes for that, too, she can’t force herself to feel “that way” about him. In fact, she isn’t sure she can feel that way about any boy — or what that means. With all the heart of her award-winning novel See You At Harry’s, Jo Knowles brings us the story of a girl who must discover where her heart is and what that means for her future.

princess fangirlThe Princess and the Fangirl (Once Upon a Con Series #2) by Ashley Poston (ISBN-13: 9781683690962 Publisher: Quirk Publishing Publication date: 04/02/2019)

The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

handThe Hand, the Eye and the Heart by Zoë Marriott (UK book ISBN-13: 9781406383546 Publisher: Walker Books Publication date: 04/04/2019)

From beloved fantasy writer Zoë Marriott comes an epic adventure about courage and gender identity set in a fairy-tale China.

Zhilan was assigned female at birth. Despite a gift for illusions, they know they are destined to live out their life within the confines of the women’s quarter. But when civil war sets the empire aflame, Zhilan is determined save their disabled father from the battlefield. By taking his place. Surviving brutal army training as a boy – Zhi – is only the first challenge. In the glittering court of the Land of Dragons, love and betrayal are two sides of the same smile, and soon the fate of a nation rests on Zhi’s shoulders. But to win, they must decide where their heart truly belongs…

red scrollThe Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare, Wesley Chu (ISBN-13: 9781481495080 Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books Publication date: 04/09/2019 Series: Eldest Curses Series #1)

From #1 New York Times bestseller Cassandra Clare and award-winner Wesley Chu comes the first book in a new series that follows High Warlock Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood as they tour the world after the Mortal War. The Red Scrolls of Magic is a Shadowhunters novel.

All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.

Now Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before the cult can cause any more damage. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their romantic getaway has been sidetracked, demons are now dogging their every step, and it is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec will have to trust each other more than ever—even if it means revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping.

love and otherLove & Other Curses by Michael Thomas Ford (ISBN-13: 9780062791207 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 04/09/2019)

“I’m pretty sure I’m the only guy in my school who can replace a faulty kick-down switch and also create the perfect smoky eye.”

The Weyward family has been haunted by a curse for generations—if a Weyward falls in love before their seventeenth birthday, the person they love dies.

Sam doesn’t plan to fall for anyone in the weeks before his birthday. He’ll spend his time working at the Eezy-Freeze with his dad; cooking up some midsummer magic with his grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother (the Grands); and experimenting with drag with the help of the queens at the Shangri-La, the local gay club.

But when a new guy comes to town, Sam finds himself in trouble when they strike up a friendship that might be way more than that.

As Sam’s birthday approaches and he still hasn’t quite fallen in love, the curse seems to get more powerful and less specific about who it targets.

A mysterious girl Sam talks to on the phone late at night and a woman he’s only seen in a dream might have the answers he’s been looking for—but time is running out to save the people he cares about.

the greatThe Great Nijinsky: God of Dance by Lynn Curlee (ISBN-13: 9781580898003 Publisher: Charlesbridge Publication date: 04/09/2019)

Dance prodigy, sex symbol, gay pioneer, cultural icon—Vaslav Nijinsky rose to fame as the star of the Ballets Russes in Paris before mental illness stole his career and the last thirty years of his life. A tragic story of a great genius, this compelling work of narrative nonfiction chronicles a life of obsessive artistry, celebrity, and notoriety.

With one grand leap off the stage at the 1909 premiere of the Ballets Russes’s inaugural season, Nijinsky became an overnight sensation and the century’s first superstar, in the days before moving pictures brought popular culture to the masses. Perhaps the greatest dancer of the twentieth century, Nijinsky captured audiences with his sheer animal magnetism and incredible skill.

He was also half of the most famous (and openly gay) couple of the Edwardian era: his relationship with Serge Diaghilev, artistic director and architect of the Ballets Russes, pushed boundaries in a time when homosexuality and bisexuality were rarely discussed. Nijinsky’s life was tumultuous—after marrying a female groupie he hardly knew, he was kicked out of the Ballets Russes and placed under house arrest during World War I. Unable to work as he once did, his mental health deteriorated, and he spent three decades in and out of institutions.

Biographical narrative is interspersed with spotlights on the ballets the dancer popularized: classic masterworks such as Afternoon of a FaunThe Firebird, and of course, the shockingly original Rite of Spring, which caused the audience to riot at its premiere. Illustrated with elegant, intimate portraits as well as archival art and photographs.

starworldStarworld by Audrey Coulthurst, Paula Garner (ISBN-13: 9780763697563 Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication date: 04/16/2019)

In a novel in two voices, a popular teen and an artistic loner forge an unlikely bond — and create an entire universe — via texts. But how long before the real world invades Starworld?

Sam Jones and Zoe Miller have one thing in common: they both want an escape from reality. Loner Sam flies under the radar at school and walks on eggshells at home to manage her mom’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, wondering how she can ever leave to pursue her dream of studying aerospace engineering. Popular, people-pleasing Zoe puts up walls so no one can see her true self: the girl who was abandoned as an infant, whose adoptive mother has cancer, and whose disabled brother is being sent away to live in a facility. When an unexpected encounter results in the girls’ exchanging phone numbers, they forge a connection through text messages that expands into a private universe they call Starworld. In Starworld, they find hilarious adventures, kindness and understanding, and the magic of being seen for who they really are. But when Sam’s feelings for Zoe turn into something more, will the universe they’ve built survive the inevitable explosion?

earth to charlieEarth to Charlie by Justin Olson (ISBN-13: 9781534419520 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 04/16/2019)

A high school outcast spends his life hoping to be abducted by aliens in this funny, quirky novel about finding your footing in a world that sometimes feels like Mars. 

Convinced his mother has been abducted by aliens, Charlie Dickens spends his nights with an eye out for UFOs, hoping to join her. After all, she said the aliens would come back for him. Charlie will admit that he doesn’t have many reasons to stick around; he doesn’t get along well with his father, he’s constantly bullied at school and at work, and the only friend he has is his 600-pound neighbor Geoffrey, and Geoffrey’s three-legged dog, Tickles.

Then Charlie meets popular, easy-going Seth, who shows him what real friendship is all about. For once, he finds himself looking around at the life he’s built, rather than looking up. But sooner than he expected, Charlie has to make a decision: should he stay or should he go?

meaning of birdsThe Meaning of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown (ISBN-13: 9780062824448 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 04/16/2019)

Not to be missed by fans of Nina LaCour and Becky Albertalli, this powerful novel—from the acclaimed author of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit—paints a poignant portrait of love in the past, grief in the now, and the healing power of art.

Before: Jess has always struggled with the fire inside her. But when she meets Vivi, everything changes. As they fall for each other, Vivi helps Jess deal with her anger and pain and encourages her to embrace her artistic talent. And suddenly Jess’s future is a blank canvas, filled with possibilities.

After: When Vivi unexpectedly dies, Jess’s perfect world is erased. As she spirals out of control, Jess pushes away everyone around her and throws out her plans for art school. Because art is Vivi and Vivi is gone forever. Right when Jess feels at her lowest, she makes a surprising friend who just might be able to show her a new way to channel her rage, passion, and creativity. But will Jess ever be able to forge a new path for herself without Vivi?

A beautiful exploration of first love and first loss, this novel effortlessly weaves together past and present to tell a profound story about how you can become whole again when it seems like you’ve lost the most important part of yourself.

summer of a thousandSummer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway (ISBN-13: 9780062803467 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 04/16/2019)

A heartfelt contemporary middle grade novel about a girl who must try to save her aunt’s failing pie shop, perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish, Fish in a Tree—and The Great British Baking Show.

When Cady Bennett is sent to live with the aunt she didn’t even know she had in the quaint mountain town of Julian, she isn’t sure what to expect. Cady isn’t used to stability, after growing up homeless in San Diego with her dad.

Now she’s staying in her mother’s old room, exploring the countryside filled with apple orchards and pie shops, making friends, and working in Aunt Shell’s own pie shop—and soon, Cady starts to feel like she belongs.

Then she finds out that Aunt Shell’s shop is failing. Saving the business and protecting the first place she’s ever really felt safe will take everything she’s learned and the help of all her new friends. But are there some things even the perfect pie just can’t fix?

Summer of a Thousand Pies is a sweet and satisfying treat of a novel full of friendship, family, and, of course, pie.

how not to askHow Not to Ask a Boy to Prom by S. J. Goslee (ISBN-13: 9781626724013 Publisher: Roaring Brook Press Publication date: 04/23/2019)

Nolan Grant is sixteen, gay, and very, very single.

He’s never had a boyfriend, or even been kissed. It’s not like Penn Valley is exactly brimming with prospects. Nolan plans to ride out the rest of his junior year drawing narwhals, working at the greenhouse, and avoiding anything that involves an ounce of school spirit.

Unfortunately for him, his adoptive big sister has other ideas. Ideas that involve too-tight pants, a baggie full of purple glitter, and worst of all: a Junior-Senior prom ticket.

How (Not) to Ask a Boy to Prom is a modern gender-bent young adult rom com from S. J. Goslee.

you must not missYou Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno (ISBN-13: 9780316449779 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 04/23/2019)

One of Us Is Lying meets Carrie in this suspenseful story of friendship, family, and revenge.

Magpie Lewis started writing in her yellow notebook the day her family self-destructed. That was the night Eryn, Magpie’s sister, skipped town and left her to fend for herself. That was the night of Brandon Phipp’s party.

Now, Magpie is called a slut whenever she walks down the hallways of her high school, her former best friend won’t speak to her, and she spends her lunch period with a group of misfits who’ve all been socially exiled like she has. And so, feeling trapped and forgotten, Magpie retreats to her notebook, dreaming up a place called Near.

Near is perfect–somewhere where her father never cheated, her mother never drank, and Magpie’s own life never derailed so suddenly. She imagines Near so completely, so fully, that she writes it into existence, right in her own backyard. It’s a place where she can have anything she wants…even revenge.

You Must Not Miss is a twisted and suspenseful tale of magic, menace, and the monsters that live inside us all.

hot dog girlHot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan (ISBN-13: 9780525516255 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 04/30/2019)

A fresh and funny contemporary YA rom-com about teens working as costumed characters in a local amusement part.

Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:

* She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
* Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
* Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
* And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland—ever—unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

Jennifer Dugan’s sparkling debut coming-of-age queer romance stars a princess, a pirate, a hot dog, and a carousel operator who find love—and themselves—in unexpected people and unforgettable places.

king of foolsKing of Fools by Amanda Foody (ISBN-13: 9781335661340 Publisher: Inkyard Press Publication date: 04/30/2019 Series: The Shadow Game Series #2)

Indulge your vices in the City of Sin, where a sinister street war is brewing and fame is the deadliest killer of them all…

On the quest to find her missing mother, prim and proper Enne Salta became reluctant allies with Levi Glaisyer, the city’s most famous con man. Saving his life in the Shadow Game forced Enne to assume the identity of Séance, a mysterious underworld figure. Now, with the Chancellor of the Republic dead and bounties on both their heads, she and Levi must play a dangerous game of crime and politics…with the very fate of New Reynes at stake.

Thirsting for his freedom and the chance to build an empire, Levi enters an unlikely partnership with the estranged son of mafia donna Vianca Augustine. Meanwhile, Enne remains trapped by Vianca’s binding oath, playing the roles of both darling lady and cunning street lord, unsure which side of herself reflects the truth.

As Enne and Levi walk a path of unimaginable wealth and opportunity, new relationships and deadly secrets could quickly lead them into ruin. And when unforeseen players enter the game, they must each make an impossible choice: sacrifice everything they’ve earned in order to survive…

Or die as legends.

backstagers 3The Backstagers Vol. 3 by James Tynion IV, Sam Johns, Rian Sygh (Illustrator), Brittney Williams (Illustrator), Caitlin Rose Boyle (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781684153329 Publisher: BOOM! Box Publication date: 04/30/2019)

All the world’s a stage . . . but what happens behind the curtain is pure magic—literally!

The Backstagers are back in (stage) blacks, for a festive collection of Valentine’s Day and Halloween stories! Join Jory and the rest of the Backstagers as they wrestle with anti-Valentine crusades, totally creepy phantoms (NOT of the opera), and the everpresent magic of the backstage world in this romantically spooky third volume of the hit series.

Reuniting the Prism Award-winning team of writer James Tynion IV (Detective ComicsJustice League) and artist Rian Sygh, along with a variety of fan-favorite artists including Brittney Williams (Goldie Vance), Caitlin Rose Boyle (Jonesy), Katy Farina (Steven Universe), and more, these holiday tales will fill your heart with love, spooky spectres, and chocolate. Lots…and lots…of chocolate.

belly upBelly Up by Eva Darrows (ISBN-13: 9781335012357 Publisher: Inkyard Press Publication date: 04/30/2019)

There’s a first time for everything.

First time playing quarters.

First time spinning the bottle.

First totally hot consensual truck hookup with a superhot boy whose digits I forgot to get.

First time getting pregnant.

Surprised you with that one, didn’t I?

Surprised me, too. I’d planned to spend senior year with my bestie-slash-wifey, Devi Abrams, graduating at the top of my class and getting into an Ivy League college. Instead, Mom and I are moving in with my battle-ax of a grandmother and I’m about to start a new school and a whole new life.

Know what’s more fun than being the new girl for your senior year? Being the pregnant new girl. It isn’t awesome. There is one upside, though—a boy named Leaf Leon. He’s cute, an amazing cook and he’s flirting me up, hard-core. Too bad I’m knocked up with a stranger’s baby. I should probably mention that to him at some point.

But how?

It seems I’ve got a lot more firsts to go.