Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Reflections: Why I Care About Kate Middleton's Pregnancy, reflections on HG

I tried to hide from the news that Kate Middleton was pregnant. I tried to hide from all of the press. Sometimes I want to put my head in the sand and pretend that Hypermesis Gravidarum, a severe pregnancy illness, does not exist, or that I am somehow so far removed from it now that it can no longer haunt me.

But haunt me it does.

This week I got sick. So I took to my bed and missed a couple more days of my kids lives. I have missed far too many.

When she was 6, I had to have a friend take The Tween trick or treating. I lay in bed, devastated that I was losing yet another memory, another moment of her life as I tried to bring her baby sister into this world.

You see, because of Hyperemesis Gravidarum I had already missed almost 2 years of the Tween's life. I spent them in the bathroom, vomiting, on the stairs, passing out, in the hospital, being fed by an IV, and in my bed, trying not to lose another baby. I had already lost one - and almost my life - and that was a devastating experience. And this pregnancy, Thing 2's pregnancy, was in jeopardy from the get go.

Early in the pregnancy, I began bleeding. At the end of my second pregnancy, the one where my baby died and I almost did, I had finally found out the name for what was happening to me: Hypermesis Gravidarum, or HG. Quite literally, HG means excessive vomiting of pregnancy. Not much is known about it, except that it is genetic and possibly auto-immune. And unlike regular morning sickness, HG can be deadly. So with this new pregnancy, we were prepared. Or, at least, we thought we were. We had a new doctor. We had an aggressive plan. We had hope. But then one day, some bright spots of red came to dash those hopes.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Finds - September 19, 2014

This Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: That time I had to explain to The Tween why a kid at her school was beaten to death by a parent, reflections on violence

Book Review: Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Middle Grade Monday: Let's Talk About Sex

Book Reviews: Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill and Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews

Take 5: Doing Time, by Robin

Hello Kitty Craft Books

Self Directed and Free Range Programming

Blog Tour and Giveaway - Firebug by Lish McBride

Around the Web

Author Beth Kephart talks about honest, relevant fiction. 

Is adolescence getting longer?

Want an illustration of the vast and ever-growing yawning chasm between GDP and median income? Here you go.

Alert! New A.S. King novel on the horizon! This is not a drill! You will also see in this rights report that #SVYALit Project awesomesauce and YA author extraordinaire Christa Desir has also sold her next novel, Twelve.

And finally, the 2014 Cybils judges have been announced and our own Karen Jensen will be judging in the first rounds of the YA Speculative Fiction category.

TPiB: Self Directed and Free Range Program Ideas

Not all teen programming has to be a come to the library at this time and place and do this activity type of an event. Sometimes, we can put together programming where teens participate in their own time. Many libraries call this "passive programming", but thanks to the brilliance of someone at a webinar I once attended (and I'm sorry I don't know who you are), I have transitioned from calling them passive programs to "self-directed programs." And my co-author and co-blogger Heather Booth refers to them at times as Free Range Programs. (See The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services pages 84-85). The benefit is that these types of programs can last for a longer period of time, and without the strict time constraints you can sometimes get not only more, but different participation because it makes it easier for your over-scheduled teens to participate since they can do so in a bigger time window.

So here are some Self Directed and Free Range Program Ideas

1. #3wordbooktalk

The #3wordbooktalk is easy, fun, and it allows you to tap into social media. I came up with this idea at a teen book festival after Victoria Scott described her books using only 3 words. It's such a challenge, but a fun one. You can find out more about this here and here. We're actually getting ready to do this as our Teen Read Week activity and I'm super excited.

2. 6 Second Booktalk

A Vine video is exactly 6 seconds. Can you record a 6 second booktalk? As an example, here's Megan Bannen sharing a 6 second booktalk for We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (be warned, there be spoilers!) :

Using Vine to do a 6 second booktalk gets teens thinking creativity, using tech, and, again, it taps into current social media trends.

3. Scratch Off Tickets

My co-worker found this fun idea and we are using it to hand out prizes for Teen Read Week. It's like creating a lottery ticket, but instead of money we are taking an inventory of all our left over prizes from previous events and teens will get what they get in this really fun way.

4. Book Jar

Don't know what book to read next? Stick your hand in the book jar and see what title is recommended by the luck of the draw. Heather has mentioned this one before, but it's a fun one. Rincey Reads has a DIY tutorial on YouTube.

5. Book Speed Dating

Way back in 2012 Stephanie Wilkes shared her book speed dating program with us. You can revisit it here. And here's a look at the form she put together that you can use as a model to make your own. Have fun with it!

And now it's your turn! Share your favorite self-directed and free range programming ideas in the comments. I'm looking for my next fun program.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blog Tour and Giveaway - Firebug by Lish McBride

We are so pleased to be a stop on Lish McBride's Blog Tour for her upcoming novel Firebug! In case you missed it, you can read my review of it here. (OMG, you guys, dream. come. true.)

Firebug will be available next Tuesday, September 23! Lish joins us today to answer some very silly and somewhat personal questions that have been weighing heavily on my mind...

Congratulations on the new baby! Are there any books you got so sick of reading to your first baby that you're planning on hiding them before this one is old enough to ask for them?
Thanks! He’s certainly been a dramatic little guy so far!
As for reading material, no—we get rid of those books as soon as the baby turns around. And for the new ones we get, well, we’ll ask our ten year old to read those. You know, until he catches on. I did read Goodnight, Moon so many times I memorized it, though. It always makes me think of the Simpsons where they had Christopher Walken reading it. 

I love it when you post about the bookstore on Twitter! Describe the most interesting customer interaction you've had at the bookstore. Or, if you're not allowed to do that, what item is most frequently stolen from the bookstore?

We get a lot of great people in the bookstore. For those that haven’t been there, the idea behind Third Place Books is centered on one of Ray Oldenburg’s essays where he states that the first place is home, the second place is work, and the third place is community. So a large part of the bookstore is surrounded by this giant commons area where people can eat, knit, play board games, and meet up for language groups. A lot goes on there. The downside is…sometimes you see an odd side of people. I’ve seen some really weird stuff there. Really weird. Tales I probably shouldn’t tell. Let’s just say I’ve seen the cops a great deal for being in such a nice neighborhood and working in a bookstore. Personally, though, I’ve had ladies start randomly running their hands through my hair as I walk them to a section, and I had to stop wearing my name tag for a while because I got tired of people asking me if my name is short for “delicious.” (It’s not.)

I’ve seen topless guys shaving (and singing) in the men’s bathroom, there’s a lady who really likes our bear statue (she brings it presents) and I watched a guy OD once. That was sad. As for stuff getting stolen, I’m not sure we have a top item. Art books get stolen a lot, as does Graphica, which is one of my sections. Inventory is always off there.

Other than that, just normal bookstore stuff—like that time a customer wouldn’t believe me that the book she needed to get her daughter for school was in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section. She kept telling me, “No, no—it’s a classic. She needs it for school.” And I had to keep saying, “Yes, I know. It’s a popular book for High School English classes. Trust me, it’s a classic. You should read it when your daughter is finished with it. There are a lot of classics in that section.” After the third round of that, and her thinking that maybe she had the wrong book, she finally said, “Are you sure? And it’s in Science Fiction?” Then I just walked her back and handed her the book and cried a little inside.
The book was Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury.

Do you like to travel? You get to do an author event anywhere in the world - where do you choose to go?

I do! Not a huge fan of planes, but I like going to all different kinds of places. If I could chose, I’d like to go back to either Ireland or Scotland. Love those countries.

You discover you are a were creature - what do you become? (Bonus - as this were creature, what is your most powerful ability?)

I’d become Keanu Reeves, because I think he’s my spirit animal. No, not really. I mean, I love Keanu, but he’s not an animal. He’s a man. So…I don’t know. A raccoon? An otter? Something small that gets into stuff. Man Friend says I’m a lot like Stitch from Lilo and Stitch, because I communicate mostly through hissing and pointing, and I like to destroy things, but Stitch is a made up creature, so I probably can’t use that. 

My most powerful ability would be super rabies if I were a raccoon, or the ability to hold things in my tiny paws, which works for either. Also maybe to look so cute people would get distracted, and then I’d take their wallets.

You are haunted by the spirit of a historical figure. Who is it and why are they haunting you?

Probably Charles Dickens, because I always say I want to go back in time and punch him. And that’s not nice, so he’s demanding an apology. Touché, Dickens. I’m sorry I said I wanted to punch you. I need to learn to use my words instead of my fists.

What is your favorite breakfast food?

So breakfast is sort of my nemesis, because I have several favorite foods, so every time we got out to eat, it becomes this showdown between waffles, French toast, and eggs Benedict. That being said, if the restaurant happens to have vegetarian biscuits and gravy (that does NOT involve mushroom gravy, as I am not a lover of fungus) then I usually order that. It’s hard to do a good vegetarian biscuits and gravy. My mom can do it, even though she must think it’s somewhat of an abomination. Because really, it should involve actual sausage, but she kindly indulges her weirdo vegetarian daughter. (My mom has always been quite supportive of my vegetarian ways.) One thing I miss about living in the south is the abundance of biscuits. They don’t eat them as much up in Seattle, and it’s just not right.

Enter here for a chance to win a free hardcover copy of Firebug: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get started before it comes out - download the first 5 chapters here

For the record, I would also like to punch Dickens.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hello Kitty Craft Books

You probably heard the news: Hello Kitty is not, in fact, a cat. My middle school heart is broken, my childhood now dramatically altered. I spent most of my middle school allowance on all those cute Hello Kitty thing-a-ma-jigs (technical term). It was an obsession. So I was super excited when I received two fun Hello Kitty books in the mail from Quirk Books (thank you!).

The Hello Kitty Baking Book: Recipes for Cookies, Cupcakes, Pies and More by Michele Chen Chock

"Do you know what a macaroon is?", The Tween is yelling at me from her bedroom. "What?", I inquire. She yells across the house again: "A macarons? It's a French thingie." (You can see where she gets her expansive vocabulary from.)

The book thief strikes again in my house. The Tween, seeing the Hello Kitty covers, had swiped the books off my table and she and a friend were looking through them in her room. One of the items in the cookbook is indeed a Hello Kitty French Macaron (page 18). There are also Hello Kitty ice cream sandwiches, cakes, cupcakes and a whole lot of yum. There is a brief introduction that discusses key ingredients and baking equipment, helpful for people like me who barely enter the kitchen. It turns out, unsalted butter is best for baking (I bet Robin knew this). There are two things I look for in a cookbook: 1) I want colored pictures of each and every recipe. 2) I want a detailed list of ingredients that's easy to find before I even start reading the recipe. And we have a winner because both of those things happen here. You have to buy a Hello Kitty cookie cutter for a couple of these recipes to work, but a brief Amazon search reveals that there are plenty to choose from and they are not overly expensive. There are also some templates that you need to photocopy and blow up to do a few of the recipes (and there are instructions for doing that).

Hello Kitty Crochet: Supercute Amigurumi Patterns for Sanrio Friends by Mei Li Lee

First things first: "In Japanese, Amigurumi refers to knitted or crocheted stuffed dolls." (page 5). This is a book that will help you make a ton of cute Hello Kitty and friends dolls. They are adorable. They are also way above my skill level it turns out. BUT, for those who can make these, best thing ever.

We begin with some front matter full of basic information, including a look at some of the common tools you'll need and an overview of some techniques you'll need to complete the projects. Then we have our instructions with full color pictures to show you what it is you're trying to make.

The Tween has now confiscated both of these books. Her and her friend are trying to learn to crochet because they want to make the Amigurumi dolls. This weekend we're making Hello Kitty French Macarons (The Tween is France obsessed). So these books are a win. The layout and design is perfect, the instructions seem easy to follow, and they have motivated us to try new things. Wish us luck!

As for Hello Kitty, apparently they are saying she is not literally a cat, but the cartoon personification of a cat. That's splitting hairs. It's not like my middle school self thought she was a literal cat, so I'm at peace with this news. All is right in the world once again. Go forth and craft.

Take 5: Doing Time, by Robin

Earlier this summer, on what may have been the most depressing car trip from North Carolina to Maryland ever, I managed to make it through the first 6 hours of the audiobook of Matt Taibi's The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. It addresses, in great detail, the vastly different ways the U.S. criminal justice system deals with white collar crime versus 'street' crime. The part of the book I listened to examined the institution, consequences, and outcomes of the quota system established in the NYPD with the way the U.S. courts dealt with the highly irregular sale of Lehman Brothers that contributed greatly to the economic collapse in 2008. To summarize with a popular quote from the book, 
Poverty goes up. Crime goes down. The prison population doubles.
Fraud by the rich wipes out 40 percent of the world’s wealth. The rich get massively richer. No one goes to jail.
I had to stop listening at a little less than half way through, both because I was at the end of my journey and because I was so full of impotent rage and despair that I was worried about my own mental health. Fun fact about me - all the books I love to read all year, the fun, quirky novels with a slightly off-kilter sense of humor, are necessary to bring me back from the non fiction books and documentaries I consume each summer break. I might have a problem.

Similarly, I decided to celebrate my imminent return to school by viewing the last documentary in my Netflix summer queue, The House I Live In. It looks at the impact the U.S. 'War on Drugs' has had on our society as a whole, but most specifically on our marginalized and underrepresented people groups. It does a very good job of explaining how the 'War on Drugs' is similar in it's effects to many more famous historical efforts to remove 'distasteful' populations. 

One thing both of these had in common was their examination of the effects the criminal justice system in the United States has on the youth population, especially minority youth. It brought to mind several excellent YA books that we can share with our patrons to help them build empathy begin to think through these issues with compassion.

Walter Dean Myers' brilliant novel Monster is the seminal work on this topic. Told through alternating diary entries with a third person perspective screenplay, both written by the main character, Monster is the story of 15 year old Steve Harmon, on trial for his involvement in a robbery that resulted in murder. It is a must read for anyone who works with teens. 

Sadly, we lost Walter Dean Myers at the beginning of July. Although he has more than 100 books for young people to his credit, I know I am not alone in thinking it's not enough. He is gone too soon. I am thankful for the impact his books have had on the lives of the teens I serve.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Reviews: Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill and Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews

by Amanda MacGregor

(NOTE: I’m going to use the pronoun “she” when referring to Katie even pre-transition and “he” for Arin pre-transition as well.)

When Arin and Katie met, they felt an immediate connection. It wasn’t just that they each thought the other was cute (though they did), but it was more that they understood each other in a way that not many other people they knew could understand them. Katie, born Luke, and Arin, born Emerald, are both transgender, and they met at an Oklahoma support group for trans teens. Their memoirs tell their individual stories of growing up and transitioning, as well as their story as a couple.

In Rethinking Normal, Katie (who is 20 and a junior in college as of the publication date of this book) talks candidly about transitioning from Luke to Katie at age 15. She jumps ahead in time to the start of college, giving readers a little peak at the life she leads now. Katie characterizes herself as tough-minded and emotionally strong, both qualities that most certainly helped her along her journey. Katie, who felt from a very young age that she was in the wrong body, suffered years of depression, even attempting suicide at age 7. She says she felt uncomfortable with her body and judged. By 4th grade, Katie is certain that she is a girl and that she is attracted to boys. At 15, she began taking hormones, and four months before college, she underwent gender reassignment surgery. She recounts losing friends in high school (and being bullied to the point that she switched to an online school) when she transitioned and her fear of losing her new college friends. She doesn’t tell them she’s transgender, fearful of their reactions. But it’s hard to think that they won’t find out the truth given how public Katie’s life has been.

While a high school student, Katie worked hard to serve as an advocate for the trans community, giving speeches at high schools and camps. She received a prestigious award for her work and eventually drew the media’s attention, too, with multiple newspaper articles and television segments focusing on her life. Katie writes about her childhood, family life, and relationships with her parents (both of whom came from very dark pasts filled with abuse, neglect, death, and fear). Katie discusses the medical side of transitioning (detailing doctor appointments, hormone shots, and surgery), the legal side (like changing her name), her dating and sexual history, and the many emotions that come along with so many large issues.

Her relationship with Arin is the largest thread of the story, from their initial infatuation with each other, to the media coverage of their relationship, to their eventual break-up. Told in a conversational tone, Katie weaves many stories of hope and joy through her memoir, making it clear that the uncertainty and sadness she once felt doesn’t get to win out. The book ends with lists of resources that helped Katie, tips for talking to transgender people (outlining what may be offensive, how to make them feel understood/how to try to understand, and reminders to respect confidentiality and privacy).

In Arin’s memoir, Some Assembly Required, he shares that he began transitioning his sophomore year of high school. Arin, who went to private Christian elementary school, always felt different. He wore his boy cousins’ clothes, desperately wanted to be able to pee standing up, and felt isolated from the other kids. He felt a lot of discomfort with his body—a lot of insecurity, anxiety, and shame. He was bullied in school for being too masculine, enjoying motocross and outdoor activities. At 13, he began to date Darian, a girl who identified at bisexual. Arin (still going by Emerald then) felt his identity was more complex than just appearing to a girl dating another girl. He preferred to think of himself as gay rather than a lesbian, which implied that he was a girl liking another girl. He felt maybe he was a gay tomboy, a “tomgay,” he writes. It’s the discovery online of the term “transgender” that helps Arin begin to understand who he really is.

Arin experiences horrible bullying at school and eventually gets kicked out because homosexuality violated the honor code. His new school, however, is extremely supportive, as is his mother, once she has a little time to come to terms with this news about Arin. Arin is lucky in that he finds a lot of support from his family.

It’s really interesting to see both teens write about their relationship, to see each side of the story, especially concerning the publicity and their break-up. Like Katie, Arin wants to serve as an advocate for their community, but doesn’t love all of the attention. Arin astutely points out that he understands why the media likes them so much—they were safe. In his words, they were “white, telegenic, and heteronormative.” He wishes that their time in the spotlight was leading to a wider spectrum of trans people being represented.

Arin is also always careful to say that this is just his experience, that all trans people do/feel/believe/undergo different things. When he talks about the medical side of things, he points out that he’s oversimplifying things for the sake of readability. His memoir also ends with a brief guide on how to talk to your new trans friend as well as a list of resources.

I hope these books will find the wide audience they deserve. Katie’s book is a little more unpolished than Arin’s, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. Her tone is more casually conversational, which will quickly draw in readers. Arin’s tone is a little more reserved and his narrative doesn’t jump around in time quite as much as Katie’s. Both teens put it all on the page, writing honestly about every aspect of their young lives. Their stories include a lot of pain, but their focus on joy and hope point to much happier futures than their pasts have allowed them. These are highly recommended for all collections. While cisgender and transgender teenagers alike will gain a lot from these moving stories, they may prove invaluable finds for trans teens looking to see that they are not alone.

Publisher for both: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date for both: 9/30/2014
Review copies courtesy of Edelweiss

Monday, September 15, 2014

Middle Grade Monday: Let's Talk About Sex

Let's talk about what?! Yes, I said it. Sex.

Most middle grade students have heard of it - some have overheard conversations in hushed tones, some have watched explicit cable TV shows. I'm just saying there's a range. A REALLY big range.

For better or worse, I've spent most of my adult life helping my friends raise their children. Pretty early on, I realized I'm more comfortable and more able (both in terms of time and temperament) to answer the involved questions children often have. Where does the rain come from, Auntie Robin? Why is the sky blue and the grass green instead of the reverse? Where do all the birds go in the winter? Once you prove yourself willing to give detailed answers, you're on the hook forever.

Book Review: Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Last week, I mentioned Becca Fitzpatrick's BLACK ICE in my discussion of YA lit with scenes involving alcohol and sexual violence. As promised, today I will review the book as a whole. Hold on, this is going to be a bumpy ride.

Publisher's Description:

Sometimes danger is hard to see... until it’s too late.

Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there... and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.

But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

BLACK ICE is New York Times bestselling author Becca Fitzpatrick’s riveting romantic thriller set against the treacherous backdrop of the mountains of Wyoming. Falling in love should never be this dangerous…

Karen's Thoughts:

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Reflections: That time I had to explain to The Tween why a kid at her school was beaten to death by a parent, reflections on violence

The Tween was in the second grade when she came home and told me about a Kindergartner at her school that had died. His father, she said, beat him to death. She said she heard the older kids talking about it at school so I searched online to find out if it was true. Sadly, it was. As she asked me about this, asked how it could happen, I didn't have a lot of good answers. It was one of the hardest conversations I had to have with my daughter.

Three lives, all touched by abuse
When The Mr. and I first got married, like most young marrieds, we lived in an apartment. Sometimes at night I could hear what sounded like violence through the walls in the apartment next door. There was a young couple that lived there with two small children. After this happened a few times, one night, it was late and the sounds were scary, I called the police. I fretted over whether or not it was the right thing to do, I didn't want to make things worse for this woman that I did not know, and I wasn't 100% sure of what was going on, but I was young and scared for her and I couldn't in good conscience just ignore what I feared may be happening. Months later that family moved away and the apartment complex manager told me what that newly empty apartment looked like inside with holes in walls and doors ripped off hinges.

I have a friend who has adopted four children from foster care. At 18 months old one of the children had 22 broken bones. Another had 24.

Tish reveals secrets in a school journal
Violence has been in the news a lot this week. Violence against a partner. Violence against children.

So much violence.

Years ago, NPR ran a piece about how Americans are so squeamish about sex but so accepting of violence. Sex will get you an R rating, but movies with incredibly high body counts are often only PG-13.

We want to protect our children from sex, so much so that we often don't even give them the information they need to make healthy sexual decisions and to keep themselves safe.

But we start exposing them to violence at such a young age and with so little second thoughts, often pulling up chairs and handing out big bowls of popcorn with supersized sodas. Violence can flood our daily dose of family entertainment.