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What’s new in LGBTQIA+ YA August 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacrifice all you have to survive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.

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

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

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

What if their last shift was an adventure?

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Silhouette Framed Art

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

DIY Silhouettes Frames

Supplies:

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

Step 1: Make Your Silhouette

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

These various items were made using the GIMP silhouette tutorial above

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

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

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

Step 2: Frame Your Silhouette

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Rebecca Stern

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

About BRAVE THE PAGE

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

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

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


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

Tabletop Game Review: Throw Throw Burrito

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cover too many topics

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

Attempt to be an expert in what they’re reading

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

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

Expect that only teens will show up

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

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

Talk the whole time

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

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

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

Think that the participants like one another

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

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

Come with expectations

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

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

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

Think that you know why they are there

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

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

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

“I detest my English teacher because . . .”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lemons by Melissa Savage

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

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

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

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

Emmy in the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido

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

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

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

Emily Out of Focus by Miriam Spitzer Franklin

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

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

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

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

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

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

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

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

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

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

Wish by Barbara O’Connor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay away from my woods.

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

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

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

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

Book Review: Contagion by Erin Bowman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher’s Book Description

It got in us

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

Most are dead.

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

Don’t set foot here again.

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

Coming Soon: YA Lit on the Small and Big Screen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Books Alert: Featuring a middle grade #MeToo, an LGBTQ guide, a haunted house, a memoir about living with Treacher Collins syndrome, and more

There are a lot of great things about working in an elementary library and thus having the summer off, but by far one of my favorite things is being home and able to IMMEDIATELY grab and rip open book mail when it arrives. During the school year, I’ll get alerts on my phone that a package was delivered and desperately want to text my dogs, asking if they could please go carefully open it and report back.

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 Echo Park Castaways by M. G. Hennessey (ISBN-13: 9780062427694 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/02/2019)

From the author of The Other Boy comes a poignant and heartfelt novel that explores what it means to be a family. Perfect for fans of Counting by 7s.

Nevaeh, Vic, and Mara are veterans of the Los Angeles foster care system. For over a year they’ve been staying with Mrs. K in Echo Park. Vic spends most of his time living in a dream world, Mara barely speaks, and Nevaeh is forced to act as a back-up parent. Though their situation isn’t ideal, it’s still their best home yet.

Then Child Protective Services places Quentin in the house, and everything is turned upside down. Nevaeh really can’t handle watching over anyone else, especially a boy on the autism spectrum. Meanwhile, Quentin is having trouble adjusting and attempts to run away.

So when Vic realizes Quentin just wants to see his mom again, he plans an “epic quest” to reunite them. It could result in the foster siblings getting sent to different group homes. But isn’t family always worth the risk?

Stealing Home by Becky Wallace (ISBN-13: 9781624147647 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 07/09/2019)

Fight for your dreams, even if it means breaking a few rules.

“A wonderful baseball story.” – Miranda Kenneally, author of Catching Jordan

“This one’s sure to be a home run with readers!” – Katy Upperman, author of Kissing Max Holden

“A strong female protagonist and a swoon-worthy romance, all woven together with wit and charm.” – Cheyanne Young, author of The Last Wish of Sasha Cade

Ryan Russell has life perfectly planned. She’s going to take over her family’s team, the Buckley Beavers, and become one of the only female General Managers in minor league baseball.

Then Sawyer Campbell shows up, and Ryan’s carefully laid plans are thrown a major curveball. Sawyer is far more charming than the arrogant jocks she usually manages, though fraternizing is against every rule in the Beaver’s handbook.

But after figuring out the desperate state of the team’s finances, Ryan will have to take risks in order to save her future. She teams up with Sawyer, using his star power to draw in sponsors. But the more time she spends with him, the harder it becomes to play by the rules. Is his partnership the key to saving the Beavers, or a distraction she can’t afford?

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars Series #1) by Elizabeth Lim (ISBN-13: 9780525646990 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 07/09/2019 Series: Blood of Stars Series #1)

“Looking for your next big YA fantasy series? We’ve got our eye on this stylist blockbuster.” —Entertainment Weekly

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.


Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.


And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.


Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

Dreamland (YA edition): The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones (ISBN-13: 9781547601318 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 07/16/2019)

As an adult book, Sam Quinones’s Dreamland took the world by storm, winning the NBCC Award for General Nonfiction and hitting at least a dozen Best Book of the Year lists. Now, adapted for the first time for a young adult audience, this compelling reporting explains the roots of the current opiate crisis.

In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America. How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland. Quinones explains how the rise of the prescription drug OxyContin, a miraculous and extremely addictive painkiller pushed by pharmaceutical companies, paralleled the massive influx of black tar heroin—cheap, potent, and originating from one small county on Mexico’s west coast, independent of any drug cartel.

Introducing a memorable cast of characters—pharmaceutical pioneers, young Mexican entrepreneurs, narcotics investigators, survivors, teens, and parents—Dreamland is a revelatory account of the massive threat facing America and its heartland.

Stage Dreams by Melanie Gillman (ISBN-13: 9781541572843 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 09/03/2019)

In this rollicking queer western adventure, acclaimed cartoonist Melanie Gillman (Stonewall Award Honor Book As the Crow Flies) puts readers in the saddle alongside Flor and Grace, a Latinx outlaw and a trans runaway, as they team up to thwart a Confederate plot in the New Mexico Territory. When Flor—also known as the notorious Ghost Hawk—robs the stagecoach that Grace has used to escape her Georgia home, the first thing on her mind is ransom. But when the two get to talking about Flor’s plan to crash a Confederate gala and steal some crucial documents, Grace convinces Flor to let her join the heist.

The Truth Is by NoNieqa Ramos (ISBN-13: 9781541528772 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 09/03/2019)

A powerful exploration of love, identity, and self-worth through the eyes of a fierce, questioning Puerto Rican teen.

Fifteen-year-old Verdad doesn’t think she has time for love. She’s still struggling to process the recent death of her best friend, Blanca; dealing with the high expectations of her hardworking Puerto Rican mother and the absence of her remarried father; and keeping everyone at a distance. But when she meets Danny, a new guy at school—who happens to be trans—all bets are off. Verdad suddenly has to deal with her mother’s disapproval of her relationship with Danny as well as her own prejudices and questions about her identity, and Danny himself, who is comfortable in his skin but keeping plenty of other secrets.


The Prom: A Novel Based on the Hit Broadway Musical by Saundra Mitchell, Bob Martin, Chad Beguelin, Matthew Sklar (ISBN-13: 9781984837523 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/10/2019)

An honest, laugh-out-loud, feel-good novel inspired by the hit Broadway musical The Prom—a New York Times Critic’s Pick!

Seventeen-year-old Emma Nolan wants only one thing before she graduates: to dance with her girlfriend at the senior prom. But in her small town of Edgewater, Indiana, that’s like asking for the moon. 

Alyssa Greene is her high school’s “it” girl: popular, head of the student council, and daughter of the PTA president. She also has a secret. She’s been dating Emma for the last year and a half. 

When word gets out that Emma plans to bring a girl as her date, it stirs a community-wide uproar that spirals out of control. Now, the PTA, led by Alyssa’s mother, is threatening to cancel the prom altogether.

Enter Barry Glickman and Dee Dee Allen, two Broadway stars who decide to take up the cause and get a little publicity along the way. But when they arrive in Indiana to fight on Emma’s behalf, their good intentions go quickly south. 

Between Emma facing the fray head-on, Alyssa wavering about coming out, and Barry and Dee Dee basking in all the attention, it’s the perfect prom storm. Only when this unlikely group comes together do they realize that love is always worth fighting for.

Shatter City (Impostors Series #2) by Scott Westerfeld (ISBN-13: 9781338150414 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 09/17/2019)

The sequel to the New York Times bestselling Impostors!

When the world sees Frey, they think they see her twin sister Rafi. Frey was raised to be Rafi’s double, and now she’s taken on the role . . . without anyone else knowing. 

Her goal? To destroy the forces that created her.

But with the world watching and a rebellion rising, Frey is forced into a detour. Suddenly she is stranded on her own in Paz, a city where many of the citizens attempt to regulate their emotions through an interface on their arms. Paz is an easy place to get lost . . . and also an easy place to lose yourself. 

As the city comes under a catastrophic attack, Frey must leave the shadows and enter the chaos of warfare – because there is no other way for her to find her missing sister and have her revenge against her murderous father.

One Person, No Vote (YA edition): How Not All Voters Are Treated Equally by Carol Anderson, Tonya Bolden (ISBN-13: 9781547601073 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 09/17/2019)

In her New York Times bestseller White Rage, Carol Anderson laid bare an insidious history of policies that have systematically impeded black progress in America, from 1865 to our combustible present. With One Person, No Vote, she chronicles a related history: the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Known as the Shelby ruling, this decision effectively allowed districts with a demonstrated history of racial discrimination to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice.

Focusing on the aftermath of Shelby, Anderson follows the astonishing story of government-dictated racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws. In gripping, enlightening detail she explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans as the nation gears up for the 2018 midterm elections.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (ISBN-13: 9780593108178 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/17/2019)

A gutsy, queer coming-of-age story perfect for fans of Nina LaCour, Rainbow Rowell, and Elizabeth Acevedo.

Juliet Milagros Palante is a self-proclaimed closeted Puerto Rican baby dyke from the Bronx.

Only, she’s not so closeted anymore. Not after coming out to her family the night before flying to Portland, Oregon to intern with her favorite feminist writer–what’s sure to be a life changing experience. And when Juliet’s coming out crashes and burns, she’s not sure her mom will ever speak to her again.

But Juliet has a plan–sort of. Her internship with legendary author Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff is sure to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. Except Harlowe’s white. And not from the Bronx. And she definitely doesn’t have all the answers . . . 

In a summer bursting with queer brown dance parties, a sexy fling with a motorcycling librarian, and intense explorations of race and identity, Juliet learns what it means to come out–to the world, to her family, to herself.

Bid My Soul Farewell by Beth Revis (ISBN-13: 9781595147196 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/24/2019)

The stunning finale of the epic fantasy duology from New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis. Alchemy student turned necromancer Nedra Brysstain has made a life-changing decision to embrace the darkness—but can the boy who loves her bring her back to the light before she pays the ultimate price?

Lunar Island is trying to heal. The necromantic plague that ravaged the land has been eradicated, and Emperor Auguste, the young and charming leader of the Allyrian Empire, has a plan: rid the island of necromancy once and for all. Though Greggori “Grey” Astor wants what’s best for his people, he knows that allying himself with Auguste threatens the one person he loves most: necromancer Nedra Brysstain. Feeling like he already failed to save Nedra once, Grey becomes determined to help the Emperor rebuild Lunar Island while still keeping Nedra safe from harm. 

Back at the quarantine hospital, Nedra’s army of revenants are growing increasingly inhuman by the day. Wracked with guilt for imprisoning their souls, Nedra vows to discover a way to free the dead while still keeping her sister by her side. 

But still reeling from the trauma of the plague, the people of Lunar Island are looking for someone to blame, and Grey can only protect Nedra for so long. And when Nedra and Grey are thrust into a battle with an even more terrifying adversary, Nedra will be pushed to the darkest depths of her necromantic powers. But can Grey let her go that far?

The Crossover (Graphic Novel) by Kwame Alexander, Dawud Anyabwile (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781328575494 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 09/24/2019)

Kwame Alexander’s NYT Bestseller and Newbery Medal winning The Crossover is vividly brought to life as a graphic novel with stunning illustrations by star talent Dawud Anyabwile. 

New York Timesbestseller · Newbery Medal Winner · Coretta Scott King Honor Award · 2015 YALSA 2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults · 2015 YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers · Publishers Weekly Best Book · School Library Journal Best Book · Kirkus Best Book

“A beautifully measured novel of life and line.”The New York Times Book Review

The Crossover is now a graphic novel!

“With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . . The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. ’Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” raps twelve-year-old Josh Bell. Thanks to their dad, he and his twin brother, Jordan, are kings on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood—he’s got mad beats, too, which help him find his rhythm when it’s all on the line.

See the Bell family in a whole new light through Dawud Anyabwile’s dynamic illustrations as the brothers’ winning season unfolds, and the world as they know it begins to change.

Fake by Donna Cooner (ISBN-13: 9781338239492 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 10/01/2019)

From acclaimed author Donna Cooner comes this gripping and timely story about identity, revenge, and the lies — and truths — we tell online. 

Maisie Fernandez is fed up. Fed up with the bullies who taunt her about her size and her looks. Fed up with being the butt of everyone’s jokes.

So, one night, Maisie goes online and creates a fake profile. “Sienna” is beautiful, skinny, and confident — and soon she’s messaging the most popular kids in Maisie’s school. Maisie doesn’t care about being friends with them. She wants to use Sienna to take them down.

But as Maisie’s web of deception grows, she’s in danger of being exposed. And what will happen when the actual Sienna — the girl whose photos Maisie has been using — shows up in real life?

Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee (ISBN-13: 9781534432376 Publisher: Aladdin Publication date: 10/01/2019)

Barbara Dee explores the subject of #MeToo for the middle grade audience in this heart-wrenching—and ultimately uplifting—novel about experiencing harassment and unwanted attention from classmates. 

For seventh-grader Mila, it starts with some boys giving her an unwanted hug on the school blacktop. A few days later, at recess, one of the boys (and fellow trumpet player) Callum tells Mila it’s his birthday, and asks her for a “birthday hug.” He’s just being friendly, isn’t he? And how can she say no? But Callum’s hug lasts a few seconds too long, and feels…weird. According to her friend, Zara, Mila is being immature and overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like?

But the boys don’t leave Mila alone. On the bus. In the halls. During band practice—the one place Mila could always escape.

It doesn’t feel like flirting—so what is it? Thanks to a chance meeting, Mila begins to find solace in a new place: karate class. Slowly, with the help of a fellow classmate, Mila learns how to stand her ground and how to respect others—and herself.

From the author of Everything I Know About YouHalfway Normal, and Star-Crossed comes this timely story of a middle school girl standing up and finding her voice.

Queer, 2nd Edition: The Ultimate LGBTQ Guide for Teens by Kathy Belge, Marke Bieschke (ISBN-13: 9781942186489 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 10/01/2019)

Honest and engaging, Queer takes LGBT teens on an awesome and enlightening journey through the sometimes scary, sometimes silly, and always fabulous world of queer life. With advice on coming out, navigating a queer social life, dealing with queerphobia, and having safe sex, Queer is a must-have for all teens who think they might be queer—or know someone who is.

Her Own Two Feet: A Rwandan Girl’s Brave Fight to Walk (Scholastic Focus) by Meredith Davis, Rebeka Uwitonze (ISBN-13: 9781338356373 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 10/01/2019)

Through her eyes, the moving story of a young Rwandan girl born with clubfeet and the risk she takes for the chance to walk on the bottoms of her feet for the first time.

Rebeka Uwitonze was born in Rwanda with curled and twisted feet, which meant she had to crawl or be carried to get around. At nine years old, she gets an offer that could change her life. A doctor in the US might be able to turn her feet. But it means leaving her own family behind and going to America on her own.

Her Own Two Feet tells Rebeka’s inspiring story through her eyes, with the help of one of her hosts. She travels from Rwanda to Austin, Texas, to join the Davis family, despite knowing almost no English. In the face of dozens of hospital visits and painful surgeries, Rebeka’s incredible bravery and joyful spirit carry her to the opportunity of a lifetime. A stunning debut about hope, perseverance, and what becomes possible when you take a risk.


Creep by Eireann Corrigan (ISBN-13: 9781338095081 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 10/01/2019)

The haunting tale of a family that moves into a new house and finds that someone — or something — does NOT want them there.

Olivia is curious about the people moving into 16 Olcott Place. The last family there moved out in the dead of night, and the new family, the Donahues, has no idea why. Olivia becomes fast friends with Janie Donahue . . . so she’s there at the house when the first of the letters arrives:

—I am the Sentry of Glennon Heights. Long ago I claimed 16 Olcott Place as levy for my guardianship. The walls will not tolerate your trespass. The ceilings will bleed and the windows will shatter. If you do not cease your intrusion, the rooms will soon smell of corpses.—

Who is the Sentry? And why does the Sentry want the Donahues out of the house badly enough to kill? As Olivia and Janie explore the house, they find a number of sinister secrets . . . and as they explore their town, they find a hidden history that the Sentry wants to remain hidden forever. 

You can lock the doors. You can close the windows. But you can’t keep the Sentry out. . . .

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

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

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

By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery (ISBN-13: 9781624147999 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 10/08/2019)

Heart-wrenchingly honest, fans of Brandy Colbert and Nicola Yoon will anticiapte this poignant reflection on what it means to choose yourself.

On the day Torrey moves and officially becomes a college freshman, he gets a call that might force him to drop out before he’s even made it through orientation: the bank is foreclosing on the bee farm his Uncle Miles left him.

Torrey’s worked hard to become the first member of his family to go to college, but while the neighborhood held him back emotionally, Uncle Miles encouraged him to reach his full potential. For years, it was just the two of them tending the farm. So Torrey can’t let someone erase his uncle’s legacy without a fight.

He tries balancing his old life in L.A. with his new classes, new friends, and (sort of) new boyfriend in San Francisco, but as the farm heads for auction, the pressure of juggling everything threatens to tear him apart. Can he make a choice between his family and his future without sacrificing a part of himself?

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor (ISBN-13: 9781338312270 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 10/15/2019)

The Lunar Chronicles meets Rook in this queer #OwnVoices science-fantasy novel, perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer and Sharon Cameron.

A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher’s chest: an illegal clockwork heart. Anna works cog by cog — donning the moniker Technician — to supply black market medical technology to the sick and injured, against the Commissioner’s tyrannical laws.

Nathaniel Fremont, the Commissioner’s son, has never had to fear the law. Determined to earn his father’s respect, Nathaniel sets out to capture the Technician. But the more he learns about the outlaw, the more he questions whether his father’s elusive affection is worth chasing at all.

Their game of cat and mouse takes an abrupt turn when Eliza, a skilled assassin and spy, arrives. Her mission is to learn the Commissioner’s secrets at any cost — even if it means betraying her own heart.

When these uneasy allies discover the most dangerous secret of all, they must work together despite their differences and put an end to a deadly epidemic — before the Commissioner ends them first.

The Rubicus Prophecy: Witches of Orkney, Book Two by Alane Adams (ISBN-13: 9781943006984 Publisher: SparkPress Publication date: 10/15/2019)

Abigail has just started her second year at the Tarkana Witch Academy and is already up to her ears studying for Horrid Hexes and Awful Alchemy! Worse, Endera’s malevolent spellbook has its hooks in her, whispering in her ear to use its dark magic. Meanwhile, the entire school is talking about the Rubicus Prophecy; a sign has arrived that the chosen witchling is among them, the one who will one day break Odin’s curse over them. When an Orkadian warship arrives carrying troubling news, Abigail and her friend Hugo are swept into a new mystery after a young boy from the ship, Robert Barconian, asks for their help retrieving a missing item.

Along with the former glitch-witch, Calla, the four friends end up deep in the catacombs beneath the Tarkana Fortress—a place where the draugar , the living dead, wander about. Abigail discovers there is more to the Rubicus Prophecy than anyone ever imagined. Can she stop it in time before she and her friends are destroyed? 

Filled with magical spells, spine-tingling ghosts, and visits from the Norse gods, The Rubicus Prophecy pits Abigail against a sinister power greater than anything she has ever imagined.

Refraction by Naomi Hughes (ISBN-13: 9781624148903 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 11/05/2019)

After an attack on earth, all reflective surfaces become weapons to release monsters, causing a planet-wide ban on mirrors. Despite the danger, the demand rises, and 17-year-old Marty Callahan becomes a distributor in an illegal mirror trade—until he’s caught by the mayor’s son, whose slate is far from clean. Both of them are exiled for their crimes to one of the many abandoned cities overrun by fog. But they soon realize their thoughts influence their surroundings and their deepest fears begin to manifest.

With fast pacing and riveting characters, this is a book that you’ll finish in one sitting.

The Princess Who Flew with Dragons by Stephanie Burgis (ISBN-13: 9781547602070 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 11/05/2019)

Perfect for fans of Shannon Hale, this girl-powered fantasy follows a smart young princess determined to save her kingdom.

Princess Sofia of Drachenheim is sick of being used for her older sister’s political gains. At twelve years old, she’s already been a hostage to invading dragons and promised to marry a wicked fairy. Now she’s being sent to far-off Villene to play the part of a charming, diplomatic princess. Her only comfort lies in writing letters to her pen pal and best friend—Jasper, a young dragon she’s never even met.

But when an accident leads to her exile from Villene, Sofia is free to wander as she pleases for the first time in her life. And when Jasper’s magical sister Aventurine turns him into a human boy, Sofia thinks life can’t get any better. Until . . . the legendary ice giants of the north attack, trying to reclaim the territory that was theirs centuries ago. With the dragons and royals frozen in ice, can Sofia and Jasper save their families and kingdom?

With another strong heroine and plenty of action, this is an enchanting and strong-hearted fantasy set in the same world as The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart and The Girl with the Dragon Heart.

Fugly by Claire Waller (ISBN-13: 9781541544994 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 11/05/2019)

A wrenchingly honest, thought-provoking exploration of a girl judged and dismissed by society who must break the cycle of shaming that traps her in her real life and comforts her in her online one.

In real life, eighteen-year-old Beth is overweight, shy, and geeky. She’s been bullied all her life, and her only refuge is food. Online, though, she’s a vicious troll who targets the beautiful, vain, oversharing It Girls of the internet. When she meets Tori, a fellow troll, she becomes her online girlfriend-slash-partner-in-crime.

But then Tori picks a target who’s a little too close to home for Beth. Unsettled, Beth decides to quit their online bullying partnership. The only problem is, Tori is not willing to let her go.

The Wickerlight by Mary Watson (ISBN-13: 9781547601943 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 11/26/2019)

In this lush, magical thriller for fans of the Raven Cycle and The Hazel Wood, one girl’s murder investigation leads her into an ancient magical war.

It’s been two months since Zara’s sister Laila was found lifeless on the village green of the small Irish town Kilshamble, not a mark on her. Vicious rumors circle that she died of an overdose or committed suicide—but an autopsy finds no evidence.

Zara believes somebody must know what happened, and she throws herself headfirst into an investigation. But retracing her sister’s footsteps takes her to David, a member of an ancient magical faction called the judges. The judges are in the midst of an ancient feud with another faction called the augurs, and Zara quickly finds herself embroiled in a dangerous, twisted game. And if she isn’t careful on the path she’s treading, she could end up with the same fate as Laila.

Riveting, atmospheric, and full of dangerous magic, this lyrical novel set in the world of The Wren Hunt is perfect for readers of Maggie Stiefvater and Melissa Albert.

Diamond & Dawn (Amber & Dusk Series #2) by Lyra Selene (ISBN-13: 9781338547597 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 12/03/2019)

Lyra Selene returns to the incandescent magic of Amber & Dusk in a second installment about the corrosions of even the most dazzling dreams, and the strength of hope amidst darkness.

Mirage, triumphant in her coup of the Amber Empire, returns to the palais prepared to take her place as empress. With the support of her friends and a tentative, blossoming romance with Sunder, Mirage is on the cusp of taking hold of everything she has ever wanted.

However, her place in the sun is not as sure as she expected, nor is it quite as bright as she imagined.

When the Empress Severine’s body was recovered from the battle, Mirage discovered she was not dead after all. Rather, Severine is in a coma, her every breath a threat to Mirage’s newfound power. Worse, a distant cousin, Gavin d’Ars, appears at court with the challenge of his blood claim. As Mirage uncovers more secrets from her family’s past, she proposes a series of ancient, grueling trials to determine the most deserving heir. But in Mirage’s fight to defend her vision for the empire, she begins to splinter all of her alliances. Will the battle for control leave anyone untainted?

The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord (ISBN-13: 9781681199382 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 01/07/2020)

Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions.

Flowers in the Gutter by K. R. Gaddy (ISBN-13: 9780525555414 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/07/2020)

Photo-illustrated nonfiction, the story of the Edelweiss Pirates, a group of working-class teens who not only survived but resisted the Nazis by whatever means they could, even when they knew it could cost them their lives.

Flowers in the Gutter is told from the points of view Gertrude, Fritz, and Jean, three young people from working-class neighborhoods in Cologne, beginning with their pre-school years at the dawn of the Third Reich in the 1930s. Gaddy shows how political activism was always a part of their lives and how they witnessed firsthand the toll it took on their parents–and how they still carried the torch for justice when it was their turn.


Once the war began, Gertrude, Fritz, and Jean and their friends survived and even resisted in one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany. Gaddy includes tense accounts of fights with Hitler Youth and the Gestapo, of disseminating anti-Nazi pamphlets, of helping POWs and forced laborers, and even of sabotaging Nazi factories.


Ultimately, the war ended tragically for several young Pirates, and Gaddy shows how postwar politics and prejudices led to these young men and women being branded criminals for decades after the war.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer (ISBN-13: 9781681195117 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 01/07/2020)

In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.

Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom. 
Grey may be the heir, but he doesn’t want anyone to know his secret. On the run since he destroyed Lilith, he has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

All the Days Past, All the Days to Come by Mildred D. Taylor (ISBN-13: 9780399257308 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/07/2020)

The saga of the Logan family–made famous in the Newbery Medal-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry–concludes in a long-awaited and deeply fulfilling story.

In her tenth book, Mildred Taylor completes her sweeping saga about the Logan family of Mississippi, which is also the story of the civil rights movement in America of the 20th century. Cassie Logan, first met in Song of the Trees and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, is a young woman now, searching for her place in the world, a journey that takes her from Toledo to California, to law school in Boston, and, ultimately, in the 60s, home to Mississippi to participate in voter registration. She is witness to the now-historic events of the century: the Great Migration north, the rise of the civil rights movement, preceded and precipitated by the racist society of America, and the often violent confrontations that brought about change. Rich, compelling storytelling is Ms. Taylor’s hallmark, and she fulfills expectations as she brings to a close the stirring family story that has absorbed her for over forty years. It is a story she was born to tell.


The Thief Knot: A Greenglass House Story by Kate Milford (ISBN-13: 9781328466891 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 01/14/2020)

Ghosts, a kidnapping, a crew of young detectives, and family secrets mix in this new standalone mystery set in the world of the bestselling Greenglass House, from a National Book Award nominee and Edgar Award-winning author. 

Marzana and her best friend are bored. Even though they live in a notorious city where normal rules do not apply, nothing interesting ever happens to them. Nothing, that is, until Marzana’s parents are recruited to help solve an odd crime, and she realizes that this could be the excitement she’s been waiting for. She assembles a group of kid detectives with special skills—including the ghost of a ship captain’s daughter—and together, they explore hidden passageways, navigate architecture that changes overnight, and try to unravel the puzzle of who the kidnappers are—and where they’re hiding. But will they beat the deadline for a ransom that’s impossible to pay?

Legendary smugglers, suspicious teachers, and some scary bad guys are just a few of the adults the crew must circumvent while discovering hidden truths about their families and themselves in this smart, richly imagined tale.

Normal: One Kid’s Extraordinary Journey by Magdalena Newman, Nathaniel Newman, Neil Swaab (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781328631831 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 01/14/2020)

Praised by R.J. Palacio as “wondrous”—this moving memoir follows a teenage boy with TC syndrome and his exceptional family from diagnosis at birth to now.

“This touching memoir is a must-read for anyone who wants to know more about the real-world experiences of a child with craniofacial differences and his extraordinary family. It’s also more than that. It’s a story about the love between a mother and a son, a child and his family, and the breadth of friends, helpers, and doctors that step in when the unexpected happens. It’s a story that will make young readers reevaluate the word “normal”—not only as it applies to others, but to themselves. Any book that can do that is pretty wondrous, as far as I’m concerned.”  —R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder 

Normal. Who is to say what this word means? For Magda Newman, it was a goal. She wanted her son Nathaniel to be able to play on the playground, swim at the beach, enjoy the moments his friends took for granted. But Nathaniel’s severe Treacher Collins syndrome—a craniofacial condition—meant that other concerns came first. Could he eat without the aid of a gastrointestinal tube? Could he hear? Would he ever be able to breathe effortlessly? But Nathaniel looks at “normal” from a completely different perspective.

In this uplifting and humorous memoir that includes black-and-white comic illustrations, mother and son tell the story of his growing up—from facing sixty-seven surgeries before the age of fifteen, to making friends, moving across the country, and persevering through hardships. How they tackle extraordinary circumstances with love and resilience is a true testament to Magda and Nathaniel’s family, and to families everywhere who quietly but courageously persist.

Wardens of Eternity by Courtney Allison Moulton (ISBN-13: 9780310767183 Publisher: Blink Publication date: 01/21/2020)

Ziva Ellison has one memory of her parents, made the day they abandoned her on the streets of New York City when she was three years old. They left her with only a memory and a promise that she had a great and terrible destiny.

Fifteen years later, Ziva discovers that destiny includes powers that she doesn’t understand and can barely control. Her magic attracts vicious, otherworldly monsters, and eventually compatriots to help her fight them. Sayer and Nasira know the secrets Ziva doesn’t; that Ziva is descended from Egyptian royalty and in possession of ancient magic passed down from the time of the gods. They promise to teach Ziva to control her magic and to give her the family she’s always yearned for.

But trouble is brewing in the world around them; darkness is descending on Hitler’s Germany, threatening World War II. As the last heir of a revered Egyptian queen, Ziva is the only one with the power to prevent another costly global conflict. As Ziva navigates her newfound abilities and makes a connection with Anubis and other Egyptian gods, the Nazis are hunting for the ultimate weapon, and Ziva has caught their interest.

From Courtney Allison Moulton, author of the acclaimed Angelfire series, comes Wardens of Eternity, an action-packed page-turner that blends history, mythology, and magic, perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Kiersten White.

Layoverland by Gabby Noone (ISBN-13: 9781984836120 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/21/2020)

Two teens, one stuck atoning for her sins and one destined for heaven, fall in love in purgatory in this darkly hilarious and heartfelt rom-com, perfect for fans of The Good Place.

Beatrice Fox deserves to go straight to hell. 

At least, that’s what she believes. Her last day on Earth, she ruined the life of the person she loves most–her little sister, Emmy. So when Bea awakens from a fatal car accident to find herself on an airplane headed who knows where, she’s confused, to say the least. 

Once on the ground, Bea receives some truly harrowing news: she’s in purgatory. If she ever wants to catch a flight to heaven, she’ll have to help 5,000 souls figure out what’s keeping them from moving on.

But one of Bea’s first assignments is Caleb, the boy who caused her accident, and the last person Bea would ever want to send to the pearly gates. And as much as Bea would love to see Caleb suffer for dooming her to a seemingly endless future of eating bad airport food and listening to other people’s problems, she can’t help but notice that he’s kind of cute, and sort of sweet, and that maybe, despite her best efforts, she’s totally falling for him. Now, determined to make the most of her time in purgatory, Bea must decide what is truly worth dying for–romance or revenge.

How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian (ISBN-13: 9781616208493 Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers Publication date: 01/28/2020

One young woman’s journey to find her place in the world as the carefully separated strands of her life — family, money, school, and love — begin to overlap and tangle.  

All sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford wants is to feel like she really belongs somewhere. Her father, a marine, died in Iraq six years ago, and Izzy’s moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the help of her extended family in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. When Izzy’s hardworking mom moves their small family to Virginia, all her dreams start clicking into place. She likes her new school—even if Izzy is careful to keep her scholarship-student status hidden from her well-to-do classmates and her new athletic and popular boyfriend. And best of all: Izzy’s family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a brand-new house. Izzy is this close to the community and permanence she’s been searching for, until all the secret pieces of her life begin to collide.

How to Build a Heart is the story of Izzy’s journey to find her place in the world and her discovery that the choices we make and the people we love ultimately define us and bring us home.

Diamond City: A Novel by Francesca Flores (ISBN-13: 9781250220448 Publisher: St. Martin”s Publishing Group Publication date: 01/28/2020)

Diamond City is an action-packed young adult fantasy by debut author Francesca Flores about a girl who perseveres through poverty, violence, and loss to achieve a future for herself. 

Welcome to Diamond City, where secret magic could save your life or get you killed.

Meet Aina Solís, whose wit is as sharp as her blade.

At twelve years old, Aina Solís was pulled off of the streets she slept on and trained to be one of the most feared assassins in Sumerand, a kingdom founded by immigrants and built by magic—and in recent years transformed by an industrial revolution. When Aina is given the most lucrative and dangerous job of her career—killing a wealthy industrialist named Kouta—she knows it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leave her impoverished roots in her past once-and-for-all: the payout is enough to free her from under her boss Kohl’s thumb. But when the job goes wrong and Kouta escapes, she is left without a penny to her name and in the crosshairs of Kohl, who is eager to show the world what happens to those that fail him.

With Kohl on her heels, Aina is running out of time to find Kouta and finish what she started. But the closer she gets to killing him, the more she begins to ask the questions assassins are never meant to ask: who wants Kouta dead? And why? In a city full of half-constructed subway tunnels, hidden magical dens, secret weapons markets, and wolf-sized spiders, Aina discovers a conspiracy that could rewrite her city’s history and—if it isn’t stopped—sink her country into a catastrophic war.

The Storm of Life by Amy Rose Capetta (ISBN-13: 9780451478474 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/28/2020)

The sumptuous and powerful conclusion to the gender-fluid duet begun by The Brilliant Death, hailed in a starred review by Kirkus as “a delicious and magical intrigue too tempting not to devour.”

By turns thrilling, witty, and heartbreaking, this dramatic conclusion to the Brilliant Death duet transports us to a Vinalia on the verge of transformation and radiates with the electric power of love. 

With her power over magic finally in hand, and her love for Cielo at last confessed, Teodora di Sangro should be on top of the world. But the country of Vinalia is in chaos as the dictator like Capo threatens to plunge them all into war and capture every strega in the land—including Teo and Cielo. 

Teo knows she can’t take down the Capo alone. She must convince a small band of streghe who have been hiding in plain sight to join her in the cause. But as she struggles to bring them together, she discovers a far deadlier enemy than the Capo has been hunting her all along. Now everyone—especially Cielo—is in danger. What lengths will Teo go to in order to unite her country and save the one she loves?

Foul Is Fair: A Novel by Hannah Capin (ISBN-13: 9781250239549 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 02/04/2020)

Elle, along with her friends Jenny, Mads, and Summer are the queens of their school. Untouchable, they have the kind of power that others only dream about. No party is closed to them, and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s birthday, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party, and her life changes.

The lacrosse boys went after the wrong girl.

Elle enrolls at St. Andrew’s Prep as Jade, with revenge on her mind: with the help of her coven, they’ll take down each boy, one by one. They’ll lose their power, and their lives, as the coven destroys the social structure of the school. Elle and her friends will make sure these boys can never go after a girl again, and they have a perfect way in: a boy named Macbeth, whose ambitions could turn deadly.

Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who’ve had enough. The boys better watch out, for something wicked this way comes.

Gloom Town by Ronald L. Smith (ISBN-13: 978-1328841612 Publisher: Clarion Books Publication date: 02/11/2020)

A delightfully creepy novel from a Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner imbued with magic and seafaring mythology. Lemony Snicket and Jessica Townsend meet Greenglass House, with a hint of Edward Gorey thrown in.

When twelve-year-old Rory applies for a job at a spooky old mansion in his gloomy seaside town, he finds the owner, Lord Foxglove, odd and unpleasant. But he and his mom need the money, so he takes the job anyway. Rory soon finds out that his new boss is not just strange, he’s not even human—and he’s trying to steal the townspeople’s shadows. Together, Rory and his friend Isabella set out to uncover exactly what Foxglove and his otherworldly accomplices are planning and devise a strategy to defeat them. But can two kids defeat a group of ancient evil beings who are determined to take over the world?

Another delightfully creepy tale from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award–winning author, Ronald L. Smith.

Kicky’s Post It Note Reviews: In which a Teen tells us what she thinks about Raven, Sweat Pea, Guts and more

The Teen has been read a lot this summer and she’s heart today to share her thoughts with some post it note reviews. She’s brief, concise and to the point. In other words, she’s the exact opposite of me. Because we also talk about the books we read, I sometimes expand on her reviews with some of our follow up conversations.

Publisher’s Book Description

When a tragic accident takes the life of 17-year-old Raven Roth’s foster mom—and Raven’s memory—she moves to New Orleans to recover and finish her senior year of high school.

Starting over isn’t easy. Raven remembers everyday stuff like how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can’t remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. And when impossible things start happening, Raven begins to think it might even be better not to know who she was before.

But as she grows closer to her new friends, her foster sister, Max, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she’s ready to face what’s buried in the past… and the darkness building inside her.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia and first-time graphic novel artist Gabriel Picolo comes this riveting tale of finding the strength to face who you are and learning to trust others—and yourself.

Post It Note Review

“Very quick read. Positive message throughout.”

I asked what the positive message was and The Teen said, “You know how Raven’s dad is a demon. Well she doesn’t want to grow up like her dad and the message is that you don’t have to follow in your parents footsteps, that you can be your own person.”

Publisher’s Book Description

A true story from Raina Telgemeier, the #1 New York 
Times
 bestselling, multiple Eisner Award-winning author of 
SmileSistersDrama, and Ghosts!

Raina wakes up one night with a terrible upset stomach. Her mom has one, too, so it’s probably just a bug. Raina eventually returns to school, where she’s dealing with the usual highs and lows: friends, not-friends, and classmates who think the school year is just one long gross-out session. It soon becomes clear that Raina’s tummy trouble isn’t going away… and it coincides with her worries about food, school, and changing friendships. What’s going on?

Raina Telgemeier once again brings us a thoughtful, charming, and funny true story about growing up and gathering the courage to face — and conquer — her fears.

Post It Note Review

“Shows anxiety very well and supportive family and friends.”

As The Teen herself has an anxiety disorder, it is high praise indeed that she felt that this was a good, honest depiction of anxiety. Thing 2 has also read this book and highly recommends it as well.

Publisher’s Book Description

Barbara Dee explores the subject of #MeToo for the middle grade audience in this heart-wrenching—and ultimately uplifting—novel about experiencing harassment and unwanted attention from classmates.

For seventh grader Mila, it starts with an unwanted hug on the school blacktop.

The next day, it’s another hug. A smirk. Comments. It all feels…weird. According to her friend Zara, Mila is being immature, overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like?

But it keeps happening, despite Mila’s protests. On the bus, in the halls. Even during band practice-the one time Mila could always escape to her “blue-sky” feeling. It seems like the boys are EVERYWHERE. And it doesn’t feel like flirting–so what is it?

Mila starts to gain confidence when she enrolls in karate class. But her friends still don’t understand why Mila is making such a big deal about the boys’ attention. When Mila is finally pushed too far, she realizes she can’t battle this on her own–and finds help in some unexpected places.

From the author of STAR-CROSSED, HALFWAY NORMAL and EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT YOU comes this timely story of a middle school girl standing up and finding her voice. 

Post It Note Review

“Extremely good & shows how much harassment affects everything.”

When The Teen moved into middle school in the 7th grade, her and her friends really began experiencing a lot of sexual harassment from the boys at school. There were catcalls, swatted behinds and more. When she read the description of this book she told me, “I know this is middle grade and a little young for me, but I really want to read it.” So she did. She said this was a very important and impactful book and she hopes that it is read far and wide.

Publisher’s Book Description

The first middle grade novel from Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ (now a popular Netflix film), is a funny, heartwarming story perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead, Ali Benjamin, and Holly Goldberg Sloan.

Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco wasn’t sure what to expect when her parents announced they were getting a divorce. She never could have imagined that they would have the “brilliant” idea of living in nearly identical houses on the same street. In the one house between them lives their eccentric neighbor Miss Flora Mae, the famed local advice columnist behind “Miss Flora Mae I?”

Dividing her time between two homes is not easy. And it doesn’t help that at school, Sweet Pea is now sitting right next to her ex–best friend, Kiera, a daily reminder of the friendship that once was. Things might be unbearable if Sweet Pea didn’t have Oscar—her new best friend—and her fifteen-pound cat, Cheese.

Then one day Flora leaves for a trip and asks Sweet Pea to forward her the letters for the column. And Sweet Pea happens to recognize the handwriting on one of the envelopes.

What she decides to do with that letter sets off a chain of events that will forever change the lives of Sweet Pea DiMarco, her family, and many of the readers of “Miss Flora Mae I?”

Post It Note Review

“Super cute and gives a strong message of hope.”

The Teen is a fan of author Julie Murphy so she was pretty happy to read this book. She especially liked how hopeful it was.

Publisher’s Book Description

For fans of Love, Simon and Eleanor and Park, a romantic and sweet novel about a transgender boy who falls in love for the first time—and how first love changes us all—from New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith.

Chris and Maia aren’t off to a great start.

A near-fatal car accident first brings them together, and their next encounters don’t fare much better. Chris’s good intentions backfire. Maia’s temper gets the best of her.

But they’re neighbors, at least for the summer, and despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.

The path forward isn’t easy. Chris has come out as transgender, but he’s still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia is grieving the loss of her older sister and trying to find her place in the world without her. Falling in love was the last thing on either of their minds.

But would it be so bad if it happened anyway? 

Post It Note Review

“I think this relationship was toxic and harmful but at least it’s LGBTQ+ affirming.”

This is one of several books lately where The Teen has come to me upset because she has felt that the relationship presented in the book is toxic and she just couldn’t route for or buy into the relationship. We talk a lot about toxic relationships vs. healthy relationships and I’m thankful every time that books help us have those conversations. She’s conflicted about this book because she was very happy with how LGBTQIA+ affirming it was but didn’t really like the relationship. All the professional reviews I read mention that both participants often are truthful with each other while holding things back and I think it was this aspect that she struggled with. You can read author Amber Smith’s post Out and Proud (On the Page and In Real Life): My Long and Not-Straight Journey to Self-Acceptance here.