Teen Librarian Toolbox
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#ReadForChange: Reading into Hurricane Season with Joanne O’Sullivan’s Between Two Skies

ReadForChange copyTeen Librarian Toolbox is excited to be partnering with Marie Marquardt for her #ReadForChange project. Hop on over to this post to learn more about the initiative. Today, she and Joanne O’Sullivan join us for a conversation about Hurricane Katrina, climate change, taking action, and O’Sullivan’s 2017 book  Between Two Skies

 

 

Before Hurricane Katrina, I always felt like I could come back home. And home was a real place, and also it had this mythical weight for me. Because of the way that Hurricane Katrina ripped everything away, it cast that idea in doubt.

Jesmyn Ward, author

 

Leaving Home, Leaving the Lost Bayou

joanne-osullivan-Between-Two-SkiesAs we near the one-year anniversary of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, we still occasionally see news headlines about the slow pace of recovery, particularly in Puerto Rico. We are reminded that many communities still need our support, and many of us heed the call by donating to great programs like the Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS or traveling to support recovering communities.

 

But, unless we are among those directly affected, we have a hard time grasping the profound upheaval that hurricanes cause in the lives of so many. We don’t think much about the slow process of building new lives, new communities – especially for those who no longer have a place to call home.  I adore Joanne O’Sullivan’s 2017 historical YA novel, Between Two Skies, because it brings us intimately into the story of one family that lost everything it knew as home, and then struggled to build a new life together.

 

As Hurricane Katrina’s waters rose to cover her family’s coastal Louisiana fishing village, Evangeline (a “white, mostly” girl, with deep roots in the Bayou) watched from a south-Georgia hotel room, where she expected to wait for a few days, until the storm passed. Needless to say, the storm did pass, but the waters didn’t recede. With her town of Bayou Perdu submerged underwater, Evangeline and her family soon found themselves living as “hurricane refugees” in landlocked Atlanta, trying to adjust to a new school and new home, where the calls of birds on the Bayou have been replaced with the whoosh of cars on the interstate.

 

Evangeline is a wonderful protagonist. She is impossible not to love from the first moment we meet her, days before Katrina hits. Evangeline is “about to make history” for wearing jeans, white rubber boots, and not “an ounce of hairspray or a drop of makeup” as she prepares to be crowned Bayou Perdu’s 2005 Shrimp Queen.

 

hurricane-katrina-ir-clouds-from-goes-on-29-aug-2005-869While developing a beautiful sense of place and a wonderful, memorable cast of characters, Between Two Skies also dives deep into the disorientation of exile. Through Evangeline, readers experience the anxiety of separation, the loss of close friendships, and the profound longing for those smells, tastes, rhythms and sounds of home. The story also explores so many subtle new things that come in the wake of loss: a new gender dynamic in the family, as her mother sets off to office work while her dad struggles to find meaningful employment; a new awareness of social class, as her older sister, a prom-queen-bound cheerleader in Bayou Perdu, comes to terms with her much lower status in their wealthy suburban Atlanta school; and, for Evangeline, a beautiful aching new love. She finds this love with Tru, A Vietnamese-American boy who also spends time in Atlanta as an exile from the storm.

 

For fans of poetry, there’s an added bonus: the story in some ways parallels that of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem entitled Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie. Evangeline’s story in Between Two Skies echoes the heartache, searching, and exile of the poem, while also building a gentle, often innocent, and ultimately hopeful story.

 

“I wrote Between Two Skies to bear witness”: A Conversation with Joanne O’Sullivan

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

 

JOANNE: I spent a lot of time after Hurricane Katrina reading narratives from people both in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast and their stories resonated deeply with me in part because of my own experiences in that part of the world. Although Hurricane Katrina took place in 2005, it was in 2010 after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the coast of Louisiana that made me turn my attention to the long-term impacts of both climate change and environmental justice in natural and man-made disasters.

 

The same people who had been displaced and lost their livelihoods during Katrina were once again hit with a devastating blow. A way of life based on deep reverence for nature and community is coming to an end and in a way, I wrote BETWEEN TWO SKIES to bear witness to it.

 

Coastal communities are the canary in the coalmine for the effects of climate change and rising sea level. People who already live on the margins are often pushed into poverty as a result of natural disasters. While recovering from the many losses that can come with a natural disaster is difficult for everyone, it’s much more difficult for those who don’t have the resources to bounce back.

 

In the days and weeks following a disaster, there’s a lot of attention. But it quickly fades. My story looks at what happens next. Sadly, there are a lot of parallels between what happened after Katrina and what’s currently happening in Puerto Rico and coastal Texas after last fall’s disasters.

 

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

 

JOANNE: I volunteer for educational, environmental and other causes in my community. I support the work of organizations that are doing good work by helping them raise awareness and giving my time and money. I write and call my elected officials at all levels to urge them to put people before politics. And I vote, every time.

 

Our family is focused on lowering our consumption, not just of energy, but also of consumer goods. It may sound basic, but we don’t eat meat at home. The amount of energy that goes into producing meat (and the waste produced from it) is really staggering. If everyone cut back just a little, the impact on the environment would be significant.

 

MARIE: What’s your message for readers wanting to take action on climate change?

 

JOANNE: If you feel passionately about an issue, engage with it in real life, not just online: you’ll meet other people who are doing important work and you’ll demonstrate your commitment. It may sound simple, but showing up is one of the most valuable things you can do. It’s easier than ever to find opportunities to volunteer: places like Idealist and Meetup.com post notices of volunteer opportunities.

 

Take your showing up to the next level: protest, demonstrate, and go to your local city council meetings or state legislature. Organize at your own school. Don’t wait for leadership to present itself: take the lead yourself.

 

Ready to Learn More? Read On!

In our interview, Joann told me about Terrestrial, a great podcast for “staying informed on environmental issues.”  She also recommended two podcasts that we featured in our April issue, when we interviewed Jodi Lynn Anderson (I’ve already listened to a few episodes of these, and I’ll tell you they keep coming up for a reason! They’re that good.):

 

No Place Like HomeThis is a great, conversational podcast covering different angles of climate change and culture, and offering examples of people taking positive, achievable steps to create a better future.

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Warm RegardsThis one has some fascinating stuff untangling how climate change has become so political.

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And here’s one more excellent recommendation from Joanne: “The Vanishing Island, a short (9 minute) documentary by Emmanuel Vaughn-Lee is a really powerful look at how climate change threatens vulnerable communities. I would encourage anyone with an interest in climate change to watch it to understand the real on-the-ground affects being felt in Southern Louisiana.”

 

 

Ready to take action? “Take your showing up to the next level!”

Here are a few of Joanne’s recommendations for action:

Earth Guardians is a great organization for young people who want to engage on environmental issues and climate change. There are Earth Guardian ‘crews’ all over the US and the world (or you can start one in your area).

earthguardians

350.org is a global group working on climate justice. You can check the website for a group near you and also start your own group. 350 holds frequent ‘actions’ on climate issues

 

Youth Build gives low-income young people construction skills and involves them in building affordable housing and other community assets, such as community centers and schools.

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I encourage young people in the US to consider joining Americorps or Americorps VISTA for a year of service. There are so many projects available and it’s a great way to really have an impact in a community.

 

“Don’t Wait… Take the Lead Yourself.”

I’m especially grateful to Joanne for reminding me, in our interview, of the importance of engaging in real life. There is much great awareness-building happening in online communities, but getting on the ground and being face-to-face with the issues and those who are affected by them still remains, in my opinion, the best way to build strong and vibrant communities, and to make lasting and significant change in the world.

 

Thank you, Joanne, for this reminder!

 

IMG_5256This Hurricane Season, #ReadForChange with Between Two Skies!

Can’t wait to get your hands on BETWEEN TWO SKIES? It just might be your lucky day!  Here’s a link to the giveaway. We’ll be announcing the winner on Twitter @MarieFMarquardt and Instagram marie_marquardt August 1!

 

 

 

 

Meet Marie Marquardt

Women’s March, January 21, 2017

Women’s March, January 21, 2017

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

 

Summer Reading Programs: The importance of staff training and the summer reading pep rally

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Summer reading programs are one of the biggest parts of most, if not all, youth services departments. In this, my 25th year as a YA Librarian, I have put together 25 SRPs and executed 24. I have only had one summer, when we were moving between states, where I did not spend my summer hosting a teen summer reading program. Summers are busy, stressful and time consuming times. Yearly srps take up a huge chunk of youth librarians time and resources.

Most Childrens/YA/YS librarians begin planning for the next year’s SRP as soon as the previous year’s SRP ends. I would like to propose that you include a summer reading pep rally as part of your yearly summer reading program planning. I call it a pep rally, but it’s really a staff training day where you train staff on the how, when, where, why and whatnot of your library’s summer reading program.

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Over the years I have found that one of the things staff hates the most is to appear uninformed when asked questions by the public. It’s one of the things that I hate the most. As YS librarians, it’s easy for us to forget that although the ins and out of SRP are common knowledge to us, staff may not feel fully informed and invested. But we need our front line staff to help promote SRP and be able to answer any questions that patrons may have. Thus, the SRP pep rally was born to help meet the dual need of creating staff buy in and making sure staff felt fully informed. It’s a fun way to keep staff informed, create buy in, and build team morale as we kick off what is arguable one of our busiest and most stressful times.

Tada: The Stupendously Amazing TEEN MAKERSPACE MANUAL

Here’s what we did:

  1. When creating your SRP budget, put a budget line in there for the srp staff training day. I recommend hosting a catered breakfast or lunch. Staff training always seems to go better with food.
  2. Pick a date a couple of weeks before your summer reading program launches and book your meeting rooms.
  3. Decorate your room on theme to help create excitement. You can use items that you purchased to decorate for the summer reading program. The more use you get out of your decorations, the better.
  4. Are you doing a skit or reader’s theater to promote SRP in the schools? You can use this very same intro in your SRP training day. Do something fun to break the ice and get everyone’s attention just like you would when doing school visits or at a program.
  5. Provide a basic FAQ sheet that staff can take with them and keep at their service desk with the basics. Go over these in your training and allow for any questions.
  6. Take a moment to discuss things like the summer slide and the value of srp to kids and the community. Help staff understand that this isn’t just busy work designed to stress staff out, but that it has concrete value that enhances the communities that we serve.
  7. Do you do crafts in your summer reading program? Maybe have a hands on craft or two available to help demonstrate what you’re doing and give the staff something fun to do. For example, one year I was doing Sharpie tie dye t-shirts with my teens and at our SRP staff training day I invited staff to bring a plain, white t-shirt and we did this craft as a hands on activity. Then, staff were allowed to wear their shirts on Fridays during the SRP.
  8. Thank everyone in advance for their help in promoting SRP and emphasize that they are a valuable part of summer reading success – because they are!

It’s true, having a staff srp training day creates more work, but it’s important work. An informed staff with good morale provides better customer service and works better together to meet the library’s goals. There is value in making sure staff is informed and cared for, even in our most busy times. Especially in our busiest times.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Showcase and Giveaway

IMG_3542Beyond the people I work with and the people this blog has led me to get to know, by far the best aspect of blogging for TLT is the constant influx of books. All of the books I get end up going back out the door in some fashion—to teen readers I know, to classroom libraries of friends, to my own school, my kid’s 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.

Today I’m sharing with you titles from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All annotations are from the publisher.

 

I’m also doing a giveaway for some of these. Enter via the Rafflecopter between June 17th and July 20th. One winner will get two books. U.S. only!

 

 

 

 

not even bonesNot Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer (ISBN-13: 9781328863546 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 09/04/2018)

Dexter  meets This Savage Song in this dark fantasy about a girl who sells magical body parts on the black market — until she’s betrayed.

Nita doesn’t murder supernatural beings and sell their body parts on the internet—her mother does that. Nita just dissects the bodies after they’ve been “acquired.” Until her mom brings home a live specimen and Nita decides she wants out; dissecting a scared teenage boy is a step too far. But when she decides to save her mother’s victim, she ends up sold in his place—because Nita herself isn’t exactly “human.” She has the ability to alter her biology, a talent that is priceless on the black market. Now on the other side of the bars, if she wants to escape, Nita must ask herself if she’s willing to become the worst kind of monster.

 

 

the unwantedThe Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown (ISBN-13: 9781328810151 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 09/18/2018)

In the tradition of Don Brown’s critically acclaimed, full-color nonfiction graphic novels The Great American Dust Bowl and Sibert Honor winning Drowned CityThe Unwanted is an important, timely, and eye-opening exploration of the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, exposing the harsh realities of living in, and trying to escape, a war zone.

Starting in 2011, refugees flood out of war-torn Syria in Exodus-like proportions. The surprising flood of victims overwhelms neighboring countries, and chaos follows. Resentment in host nations heightens as disruption and the cost of aid grows. By 2017, many want to turn their backs on the victims. The refugees are the unwanted.
Don Brown depicts moments of both heartbreaking horror and hope in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis. Shining a light on the stories of the survivors, The Unwanted is a testament to the courage and resilience of the refugees and a call to action for all those who read.

 

 

vanderbeekersThe Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden by Karina Yan Glaser (ISBN-13: 9781328770028 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 09/25/2018)

Return to Harlem’s “wildly entertaining” family in this funny, heartwarming sequel. When catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbors, the Vanderbeeker children set out to build the best, most magical healing garden in Harlem—in spite of a locked fence, thistles and trash, and the conflicting plans of a wealthy real estate developer.

While Isa is off at sleepaway orchestra camp, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney are stuck at home in the brownstone with nothing to do but get on one another’s nerves. But when catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbor, their sleepy summer transforms in an instant as the Vanderbeeker children band together to do what they do best: make a plan. They will create the most magical healing garden in all of Harlem.

In this companion to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, experience the warmth of a family and their community as they work together to bring a little more beauty and kindness to the world, one thwarted plan at a time.

 

 

empressEmpress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean (ISBN-13: 9780544530942 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 11/06/2018)

In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy. Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit.  As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast. Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.

 

 

once a kingOnce a King by Erin Summerill (ISBN-13: 9781328949974 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 12/04/2018)

A young king searches for a way to save his kingdom in this romantic fantasy from Erin Summerill, who was called “absolutely marvelous” by New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas.

Aodren: A lonely, young king, searching for a way to dismantle his father’s dark legacy.
Lirra: A girl with the power to control the wind, torn between duty and following her dreams

For twenty years, Channelers—women with a magical ability—have been persecuted in Malam by those without magic. Now King Aodren wants to end the bloody divide and unite his kingdom. But decades of hatred can’t be overcome by issuing decrees, and rumors of a deadly Channeler-made substance are only fueling people’s fears. Lirra has every reason to distrust Aodren. Yet when he asks for help to discover the truth behind the rumors, she can’t say no. With Lirra by his side, Aodren sees a way forward for his people. But can he rewrite the mistakes of the past before his enemies destroy the world he’s working so hard to rebuild? Erin Summerill returns with a high-stakes fantasy full of romance, magic, and revenge perfect for fans of Susan Dennard and C. J. Redwine.

 

 

the me i meant to beThe Me I Meant to Be by Sophie Jordan (ISBN-13: 9781328977069 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 01/01/2019)

Girl  Code: Never date a friend’s ex.

Willa Evans has no intention of breaking the code. So what if she’s always secretly loved her next-door neighbor Zach? As her best friend’s boyfriend, he was always off-limits and it needs to stay that way, even though they just broke up. Even though every time she turns around he’s there, tempting her…

No keeping secrets from your bestie .

Flor Hidalgo has a lot on her plate: her breakup with Zach, her dad’s new dating life, and her struggling grades. So why can’t she stop thinking about her hot, know-it-all tutor? At least she’s got Willa, her constant in the chaos.

Breaking the code breaks friendships .

Two friends find themselves tempted by love that defies the rules in this steamy romance perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Simone Elkeles.

 

 

juniorJunior Ninja Champion: The Fastest Finish by Catherine Hapka (ISBN-13: 978-1328859013 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 01/15/2019)

The second book in this action-packed adventure series follows a team of young ninjas to the final round of the first-ever Junior Ninja competition—perfect for young ninjas and ninja fans everywhere!?

When tweens Izzy, Ty, Kevin, JJ, and Mackenzie heard there was going to be a kids’ version of the reality-TV obstacle competition National Ninja Champion, they all found themselves drawn to Fit Kidz Gym. They quickly formed a team—training together and helping one another overcome all kinds of obstacles as they tried out for a spot on Junior Ninja Champion. It’s surreal but exciting to watch themselves on TV . . . and the show is a huge hit! Now Izzy and JJ are headed to the finals in Hollywood, and the rest of the team is coming along to cheer them on. Ty is an alternate, hoping for his shot at glory. But when the show throws them a curve ball and announces a wildcard episode, it brings a new competitor to the Fit Kidz team and takes the competition up a notch. Who will lose their grip on victory, and who will climb their way to the top on the first season of Junior Ninja Champion?

 

 

big ideaThe Worst Mascot Ever (The Big Idea Gang) by James Preller (ISBN-13: 978-1328915115 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 01/29/2019)

Four friends put their heads together to convince their school to get a new mascot in The Big Idea Gang—an exciting new chapter book series on how to make your claim and back it up, by the author of Jigsaw Jones!

It’s armadillos vs. dragons!

Quick-thinking third-graders Lizzy, her twin, Connor, and their friends Kym and Deon have a big idea: their school desperately needs a new mascot, and they’ve got the perfect one in mind.Now have to figure out a way to convince their principal and rally the rest of the school behind them. Luckily, their teacher, Miss Zips (short for Zipsokowski—but who can say that?) is skilled in the art of persuasion. Armed with Miss Zips’s persuasive tips, the gang of four set out to make their claim, build a case for a new mascot, and convince Clay Elementary that Arnold the Armadillo has had his day.

 

 

buddyEverybody Needs a Buddy (The Big Idea Gang) by James Preller (ISBN-13: 978-1328973405 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 01/29/2019)

The Big Idea Gang is back at it in this exciting new chapter book series on how to make a claim and back it up, by the author of Jigsaw Jones!

It’s pirate ship vs. buddy bench!

When third-graders Deon, Kym, Lizzy, and Connor formed the Big Idea Gang, their mission was simply to oust the old mascot in favor of something cooler. But sales from the new mascot paraphernalia have led to extra cash for the PTA, and you can bet this gang has big ideas about how to spend it. A playground pirate ship! An author visit! New basketball hoops! Luckily, their teacher, Miss Zips, is skilled in the art of persuasion. Armed with Miss Zips’s persuasive tips, the Big Idea Gang sets out to build a case for a new-and-improved Clay Elementary, and convince the rest of the school that their idea is the best.

 

 

from an ideaFrom an Idea to Disney: How Imagination Built a World of Magic by Lowey Bundy Sichol (ISBN-13: 978-1328453617 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 02/12/2019)

From an Idea to Disney is a behind-the-movie-screen look into the history, business, and brand of the world’s largest entertainment empire. With humorous black & white illustrations throughout, learn about the company behind the world’s favorite mouse, Mickey!

“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing—that it was all started by a mouse.” —Walt Disney

Today, the Walt Disney Company is the biggest entertainment company in the world with theme parks, TV shows, movie studios, merchandise, the most recognizable cartoon character in the world, Mickey Mouse. But a long time ago, brothers Walt and Roy Disney started out with just an idea. Find out more about Disney’s history, the business, and the brand in this illustrated nonfiction book!

  • Find out what Walt first intended to name his famous mouse. (Hint: It wasn’t Mickey!)
  • Discover behind-the-scenes magic of how Walt Disney World is run.
  • Explore the ways the Disney expanded its brand from a little mouse into media, merchandise, and more!

 

 

nikeFrom an Idea to Nike: How Marketing Made Nike a Global Success by Lowey Bundy Sichol (ISBN-13: 978-1328453631 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 02/12/2019)

From an Idea to Nike is a fully-illustrated look into how Nike stepped up its sneaker game to become the most popular athletic brand in the world. Humorous black & white illustrations throughout.

Ever wonder how Nike became the athletics empire it is today? From an Idea to Nike digs into the marketing campaigns and strategy that turned this running-shoe company into the outfitter for many athletes as well as the iconic American brand. With infographics and engaging visuals throughout, this behind-the-scenes look into the historical and business side of Nike will be an invaluable resource for kids interested in what makes this business run.

  • Find out where the name Nike came from and how the famous swoosh became the signature logo.
  • Learn about the company’s first marketing campaign with a star athlete. (Hint: It wasn’t Michael Jordan!)
  • Explore the ways Nike expanded marketing from running to basketball, soccer, golf, and beyond!

Book Review: The Pride Guide: A Guide to Sexual and Social Health for LGBTQ Youth by Jo Langford

When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, a starred review, which originally appeared in the July 2018  School Library Journal.

 

pride guideThe Pride Guide: A Guide to Sexual and Social Health for LGBTQ Youth by Jo Langford (ISBN-13: 9781538110768 Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Publication date: 06/01/2018)

Gr 9 Up—This frank, conversational, and often humorous look at sex, sexuality, gender, and expression is aimed at teens who identify as something other than heterosexual and cisgender. Langford, a bisexual therapist, sex educator, and parent, presents a wide range of information in short, if somewhat dense and visually unappealing, sections. Chapters tackle biology; puberty; body image (with a heavy emphasis on trans teens and dysphoria); intersex conditions; gender identities such as transgender, genderqueer, and agender; transitioning; dating and relationships; consent; and more. Sexual expressions and orientations covered include asexual, demisexual, gray-asexual, and bisexual, with conversations about erasure. A final chapter aimed at parents offers tips, a discussion of what not to do when one’s child comes out, and more. Sidebars go into more depth on other subjects (tucking and binding, the singular “they,” homophobia). Langford also discusses outdated terms and slurs. This inclusive, thorough resource respectfully presents information relevant to many queer teens and adults raising LGBTQIA+ kids. VERDICT Shelve this empowering guide where both parents and teens will find it.

Sunday Reflections: Can Public Libraries Be Open to Hate and Be a Welcoming Place? A look at the recent pronouncement from the Office of Intellectual Freedom

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.

Trigger Warning: This post discusses hate crimes and genocide.

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The day after the 2016 election, I walked into my Teen MakerSpace not sure what to expect. I personally had spent the entire night crying because as a woman who advocates regularly against sexual violence, I was gutted that our nation had just elected a self-professed sexual predator as its leader. To be honest, I’m never going to forgive any of us for that. Women, of course, were not the only group to be fearful of this election outcome as it was very clear that Donald Trump and his supporters were specifically advocating against the safety and civil rights of a variety of groups, including the LGBTQ population, people of color, the disabled, and Muslims.

So I walked into the space and there sat one of my LGBTQ teens and a handful of other teens. They started talking about the election results, as I knew they would. At one point, this teen looked the other group of teens right in the eyes and said, “Do you know what they want to do to me?” The GOP has been very vocal that they are anti-LGBTQ, and some members of the party even advocate for a process known as conversion therapy, which has been classified as torture by some human rights groups and is outlawed in several countries and in some states.

Library Meeting Rooms for All – Intellectual Freedom Blog

I have thought a lot about this girl and several of my other teens in the recent weeks as it was announced that the Office of Intellectual Freedom, a subdivision of the American Library Association, passed a resolution indicating that public libraries that have public meeting rooms must make those meeting rooms open and available to hate groups. I’m not sure what the impetus for this resolution was, but the specifically added the word “hate groups”, suggesting that hate groups are on equal footing as sports organizations and the local gardening club.

Since the 2016 election, there has been a documented increase in both hate speech and hate crimes against marginalized groups. We will all recall at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Heather Heyer was purposefully killed as she counter protested against a white supremacist group. Women wearing hijabs are having them forcibly removed on the street, Mexican men are being assaulted and told to return to their own country, and black people are having the police called on them regularly for merely existing in this world. And if you are a black person, you have a much higher chance of being killed by the police. There’s a lot of hate in our world right now and a lot of it is resulting in a violation of basic civil and human rights, and for marginalized people, it can be literally deadly.

Hate groups are different in that they specifically organize around their, well, hate and their goal is to oppress if not outright eliminate the object of their hate. The Nazis didn’t just want to sit around and talk about how much they hated Jewish people, they were in the process of practicing outright genocide. Now, the Office of Intellectual Freedom is telling public libraries that we must open our meeting room doors and allow these groups to come in and use our spaces to make their plans for genocide while the very people they are targeting browse for books or attend storytimes with their children in another part of the library. This doesn’t seem like it is just a free speech issue, it seems like it is a health and safety issue. And what does it mean if one group of people want to use their free speech to violate the civil rights of another group of people? What does it mean if they are literally making plans for a genocide?

On the one hand, I do believe they are technically and legally correct. By definition, free speech demands that we must allow all people to speak, even if it is speech that we disagree with. On the other hand, this is far more than a free speech issue, as it is a staff and patron safety issue. Remember, hate groups don’t just sit around and discuss unpopular opinions, they are actively working towards oppressing and, in a lot of cases, outright doing harm to the targets of their wrath. I don’t want to be at work on a day like Charlottesville where the white supremacists are meeting at my library and they start attacking the gay teen walking into the library.

I have been doing a lot of research and reading on this subject in the past week as I wrestled with what this declaration means and how I can reconcile it with my personal and professional ethics. I found this document which discusses extremist groups and public libraries which was produced by the Anti-Defamation League. It suggests that libraries that have rooms don’t have to open those rooms to the public or that you can be strict in the rules regarding your meeting room spaces, as long as you are consistent in how you apply your rules. The OIF made a follow-up statement stating the same thing, public libraries don’t have to make their meeting rooms open to the public but if you do, you must be consistently open to the public, including being open to hate groups.

You can also find a lot of good discussion about this recent OIF proclamation by following the hashtag #NoHateALA on Twitter.

Several years ago I had the honor of working beside a distinguished librarian. She was knowledgeable, service oriented, kind, professional, and a powerhouse. It was a time of great transition in our system and as the administration made a lot of decisions that she could not agree with, she was lucky in that she was able to resign and walk away stating, “this isn’t what I became a librarian to do.” The direction that library was taking no longer coincided with her personal and professional ethics so she made the hard decision to walk away. I have thought about her, too, in all of this and wondered if push came to shove, if I was asked to do something that would make me complicit to something which I fundamentally disagree with, would I be able to walk away. I have a mortgage to pay and children to feed, but I think all of us have to wrestle with where the line is for us personally and when we may have to walk away from a job or choose to violate our own personal or professional ethics. (FTR, I am not here talking anything about the current library system in which I work and that I love, I’m just considering the larger professional discussion here.)

I am not here today with answers. As I mentioned, I’m not sure what is the legal response in this situation. I know that this does cause great concern for me in terms of staff and patron safety, and I feel we have an obligation to that as well. Then there is simply the matter of morality. I do not want to be complicit to oppressing or harming others. I do not want to look back one day and realize a genocide has occurred and find myself on the wrong side of history. I think about this a lot both professionally and personally. I do believe we are a critical moment in history here and when we come out of it, I want to be able to say I stood up for what I believed was right and have my children be proud to see that I fought the good fight against hatred and oppression. I want to stand before my personal God and have him say that I followed his one golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

What I do think needs to happen right now is that every public library should be talking to their boards and their legal counsel and training their staff. We need to have solid policies and procedures in place before we get the phone call from the local white nationalist group asking to use our spaces so that our staff knows what to say, who to refer to, etc. This is not the time to leave public services staff unaware and unprepared.

Friday Finds: July 13, 2018

tltbutton3This Week at TLT

For your summer 2018 TBR: Backlist YA you don’t want to miss

Things I Never Learned in Library School: Waiting for Reimbursement, aka Libraries Must Fund Their Programming

Collecting Comics: July 2018 edition by Ally Watkins

Book Review: The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell and friends

YA A to Z: O is for Outsider, a guest post by author Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Sunday Reflections: There is no one right way to be an American

Around the Web

Who’s ready for I read YA week?!

Some teachers have declared their right to resist NC legislators. How far will they go?

Here’s What’s Going On With Affirmative Action And School Admissions

YAs That Get it Right: Depression Edition

Policy allowing hate groups to meet at libraries comes under fire

 

For your summer 2018 TBR: Backlist YA you don’t want to miss

The amount of books that appear here cause me a fair amount of anxiety. And that’s not me whining about getting so many great books sent to me to consider reviewing for TLT; that’s me saying that my anxiety disorder can turn anything into something to worry about, even something seemingly good like towering stacks of books. I am constantly updating lists—what books came in, what I for sure will review, what I need to skim to see if I want to review it, etc. Plus I keep putting books on hold at the library, like I have time for them. Then I go to Edelweiss to request more. Then I decide to fall down a research hole as I write. I know I’m speaking to my people when I say that there are just SO MANY books and why can’t I read them all? WHY?

 

One of the lists I keep is recent books I’ve missed but for sure want to make time to read this summer. I tend to read in order of publication date and review about 6 weeks into the future, so if a book appears here after it’s been published, I might not get around to reading it. Sad but true. So, as I started to make a list of books, I began to think of what books I’d want to tell people they should go back and seek out if they somehow missed them when they first came out. I went back just to 2017 to make this list to keep it from growing totally out of control. I’m including a teeny excerpt from my review of the book and you can click on the title and author to go to the full review, should you want to learn more. You can also check out the installment of this list that I did in May 2017. If you’re looking to build your list, or make a display of great recentish books (from the past year or two) that definitely deserve to be discovered this summer, here is a good place to start. Have some favorites from the past few years that people should pick up this summer? Let us know! Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething

 

carefulThe Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu

Haydu has written a profound story examining grief, doubt, tradition, expectation, and identity. Haydu’s story brings up huge questions about sacrifice and protection, about truth and perception. We are asked to consider, right alongside Lorna and crew, if love if a decision. Lorna and her friends know grief and pain, but they are still young. They are still learning that loss and heartache are inherent in love. And they can’t protect themselves from that—not by chalking things up to a Curse, not by drinking certain teas, not by building cages around their hearts, not by anything. They don’t yet know that we are all Affected, that we are all Cursed. In their isolation, they don’t understand that everyone has lost loved ones, that everyone blames themselves. Thanks to the relentlessness of Angelika, the Devonairre Street girls feel like they are the only ones protecting themselves, denying themselves, and stumbling under the dizzying weight of grief and guilt. Lorna, Delilah, Charlotte, and Isla’s whole lives are filled with people making them feel Other because of this. They don’t yet understand these are the prices we pay for being alive, for being the survivors. Their search for this understanding, their stumbling for answers and finding new pain, is heartbreaking. This beautifully written story is not to be missed. A powerful and deeply profound exploration of love, tragedy, and life itself.

 

 

alfonsoI Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, Stacey Robinson, and John Jennings

Alfonso is feeling pretty good about life. He loves playing his trumpet, acting, attending his arts high school, being a bike messenger, and flirting with Danetta. The best thing in his life, though, is that his father, who has been incarcerated Alfonso’s entire life, is being released, finally exonerated of a crime he did not commit. But while out shopping for a suit to wear to meet his father, Alfonso is shot and killed by a white off-duty cop. Once dead, Alfonso joins a group of ghosts on a train. These ghosts are the ancestors who are seeking justice and rest. Alfonso learns about their lives and the ways they were killed by police while also going to see scenes from his past as well as what he’s missing in the present. Alfonso is able to see how his parents are coping, to follow the white police officer who killed him, and to see how his name lives on in the media, the justice system, and the many large protests that spring up after his death. An Ancestors Wall at the end lists the names of victims of police violence. This look at the prison industrial complex, the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality, and the various systems of violence and oppression that have always existed in this country is devastating and important. 

 

 

closest ive comeThe Closest I’ve Come by Fred Aceves

Marcos is so achingly honest and vulnerable. He longs for connections—real, meaningful connections, where he can truly talk about his life. His loneliness is palpable. He makes mistakes but owns up to them and learns from them. Despite having every reason in the world not to, he allows himself to be real and open, tentatively at first, seeking so hard to find understanding and compassion, and to offer it to others. He’s loyal, smart, and brave enough to move beyond the expectations for him. It takes guts to make new friends, to be authentic (all while still trying to figure out just who you are), to try new things. It takes guts to go home day after day only to be greeted by abuse and neglect and indifference. It takes guts to tell your friend he’s making the wrong choice, to tell a girl you might be in love with her, to tell the police what’s been happening at home. Though the story is filled with violence and sadness, it is ultimately a hopeful story. Aceves shows how terribly painful life can be, but also how beautiful it can become through friendships, support, growth, and hope. A powerful look into the life of one kid trying to answer the question of “who am I?” in the midst of both bleak circumstances and increasingly deep friendships. 

 

 

calling my nameCalling My Name by Liara Tamani

This quiet book is beautifully written and features a very introspective main character who interrogates her thoughts on sex, faith, dating, her future, and more. When we first meet Taja she’s 11 (I think–often her age is not specified). We follow her through her senior year of high school. Spanning such a large number of years is a risky move in a YA book and initially readers may wonder why she is so young and when the story will jump to her older teen years. Though she may be on the younger side at the beginning of the story, she grapples with the same questions throughout her tween and teen years. Raised in a religious household in Houston, Taja understands that her parents decide what’s best for her and wonders when she will get to choose for herself. She thinks a lot about church, God, religion, expectations, double standards, guilt, commitments, and what it means to truly feel alive. Her feelings change and grow as she gets older and really works to figure out what it is she believes and wants from life. An overachiever with big dreams, Taja eventually has to decide if the future her boyfriend sees for them is one she can live with.

 

 

 

sparrowSparrow by Sarah Moon

14-year-old Brooklyn 8th grader Sparrow has debilitating social anxiety. She has always dealt with her fear and shyness by flying away—not literally, of course, but pretty close. She pictures herself off with the birds, away from everything on land that makes her uncomfortable. When she’s found on the school roof during one of her flying episodes, everyone assumes it’s a suicide attempt and won’t hear otherwise. Sparrow begins therapy with Dr. Katz. At first, she’s reluctant to open up, worried Dr. Katz will think she’s crazy. It doesn’t help that her mother isn’t thrilled that she’s in therapy and thinks of it as White Girl Stuff (Sparrow and her mother are black). But slowly, Sparrow begins to talk to Dr. Katz, admitting to herself and her mother how much good the therapy is doing. School is still hard for her, especially because her beloved favorite teacher, Mrs. Wexler, the librarian, died earlier in the year. Sparrow had spent every lunch since 5th grade in the library, finding solace in both the library and Mrs. Wexler. Everything since her death has been harder. But therapy is helping, as is her new (and intense) interest in music. Dr. Katz introduces her to older punk and indie music (think Pixies, Sonic Youth, Patti Smith), and Sparrow revels in the connective and redemptive power of music. Dr. Katz pushes Sparrow to learn how to deal with all of the things that make her want to fly away, but it’s really through a month-long girls’ rock music camp that Sparrow begins to find her voice and overcome her fears.

 

 

neighborhood girlsNeighborhood Girls by Jessie Ann Foley

This book is not an easy or uplifting read in any way. The bad things just keep on coming. Wendy is in a bad situation with her friends and makes a lot of bad choices while with them (or, maybe more accurately, makes no choices, just standing by, which is just as bad). The story is given great depth thanks to how fleshed out Wendy is and how much readers get to know her and see her internal struggle. Neighborhood Girls is a moving and at times frustrating look at faith, love, and forgiveness. Wendy spends a lot of time thinking about uncertain futures, painful pasts, and the terrible and sometimes wonderful present. A good choice for readers who like introspective main characters who spend too long making bad choices even when they know better. 

 

 

you don't knowYou Don’t Know Me but I Know You by Rebecca Barrow

While Audrey’s pregnancy and choice of what to do are at the heart of the story, this is also about families, more generally, and friendship, especially the ways little rifts can sneak in and suddenly turn into far larger distances than you thought you’d ever have with a friend. Rose, who is bisexual, has recently started dating Olivia, the new girl at school, but Audrey really knows nothing about what’s going on with them, thanks to the fact that she and Rose are barely speaking. Audrey ultimately makes the choice that feels right to her (in a situation where no choice feels “right”) surrounded by love, support, and options. A well-written, necessary, and honest, heartfelt look at making what feels like an impossible choice. 

 

 

 

star crossedStar-Crossed by Barbara Dee

All of that would be plenty, but the 8th graders are also putting on a class play—and Gemma is Juliet to Mattie’s Romeo. Much of the action of the book takes place at play practices, where a nervous Mattie has to figure out how to interact with Gemma. She eventually takes some advice for the play and turns to her own Benvolio and Mercutio—her best friends Lucy and Tessa. While she knows she likes Gemma, she’s still not sure what it actually means for her (or if Gemma feels the same way), but surrounded by caring friends, family, and peers, she’s on her way to figuring it out in this much needed look at a middle schooler questioning her sexuality. The positive, accepting, supportive tone of the story makes this book a must-have for every middle school library. 

 

 

 

dreamlandDreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Narrative duties are split between contemporary teenager Rowan, a biracial girl (her dad is white, her mom is black) in Tulsa and William, a 17-year-old in Tulsa in 1921. William is also biracial–his dad his white and his mother is Osage Indian. The bulk of the story is really William’s, though Rowan and her friend James (who is also biracial–black and Native American–and asexual) do the investigating that starting putting pieces of the mystery together. Rowan has her own story line, too—it’s just not as big as William’s. James calls Rowan out for living in a bubble. James is into social justice and immigration reform and doesn’t let Rowan get away with statements like “things are better now.” He schools her about racism, power, and privilege, leading her to taking a summer job at a clinic in an impoverished area (that’s less dangerous than just forgotten, she notes) when her other internship falls through. Here, she befriends people she otherwise wouldn’t have known. And though they are set nearly 100 years apart, it’s no surprise that the racism that drives William’s story is also a strong force in Rowan’s story. An unexpected incident propels Rowan to action—and, surprisingly, begins to weave her story more tightly with William’s.

 

truthThe Truth of Right Now by Kara Lee Corthron

This intense story does not shy away from looking hard at racism, mental illness, the thing from Lily’s past that I’m not spoiling, and people making really horrible choices.Alternating viewpoints give the reader more of a peek into Dari and Lily’s minds and help keep the emotional tension high. This was one of those books where I read it as a nearly 40-year-old adult and just keep thinking about how *young* these characters are. They go through so much–things no one should have to go through at any age.  I have already flipped back a couple of times to read the very end, where Corthron gives the reader one last harsh truth. This isn’t always an easy read, but it’s absolutely an important one. Read this one and be ready to talk about racism, violence, sexual choices, and the many ways adults in this story screw up and damage the children in this book. 

Things I Never Learned in Library School: Waiting for Reimbursement, aka Libraries Must Fund Their Programming

thingsineverlearnedinlibraryschoolEarlier this week, a post about reimbursement came across my Twitter timeline proclaiming that reimbursement is not an equitable system (https://twitter.com/readitrealgood/status/1015776354074288128). Like many things that come up in my timeline, I hadn’t really thought about the inherent classism involved in reimbursement, even though I had lived with it myself in my professional career. The truth is, many people (most people) do not have the discretionary funds needed to spend their personal funds for work related expenses and wait to be reimbursed.

At one of the libraries that I worked at, and remember I’ve worked for four different library systems in two different states, we had to pay for all library programming out of pocket and wait to be reimbursed by the Friends of the Library, a process that could take more than a month depending on where in the month your purchase occurred. As a YA Librarian I was required to do YA programs, but the library had no budget line or mechanism for paying for these programs. It was all done via reimbursement from the Friends of the Library. The only exception to this was if you booked an author or a performer, which meant you must do so far enough in advance to get all the correct paperwork filled out to have a check made out directly to the performer. And if you do any teen programming, you will understand that a lot of teen programming involves things like having to purchase craft supplies and food.

At this library, the school was within walking distance to the middle school, which meant that we had the traditional problem of a large influx of energetic, hungry teens right after school and we had to find a way to meet their needs and maintain a safe, suitable environment for non-teen patrons who wanted to use the public library. Thus, our after school Teen CoffeeHouse was born. We opened up our meeting every Tuesday afternoon for teens wanting to play video games, do crafts and have snacks. Teens are very hungry after school. This program was one of my most successful programs ever, and in its height we would have near 100 teens on every Tuesday. This meant that every week I had to go to the local grocery store and use my own personal bank account to buy snacks for a library program and wait to be reimbursed. At the end of each month, depending on how many teens we had, I could have personally been waiting for anywhere from $200 to $300 in reimbursement.

This is the Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. I am proud to say it is very supported by our admin and they have great mechanisms in place for purchasing supplies. I'm thankful every day.

This is the Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. I am proud to say it is very supported by our admin and they have great mechanisms in place for purchasing supplies. I’m thankful every day.

At every previous system that I had worked in, programming was expected and a part of the annual budget. There were mechanisms in place for purchasing supplies for programs. Not all of the different ways were easy or convenient, but they didn’t rely on me having my own personal funds in my own personal bank account. I can not stress to you what an unfair and undue hardship this was, expecting me to use my personal funds in order for me to be successful at the requirements of my job. I was barely making it before, then I suddenly found myself pregnant and raising an infant. I was no longer making it paycheck to paycheck, there were zero funds to do things like by craft materials and food for a library program.

I had always thought that this library system’s process was an anomaly. I campaigned long and hard to change the system, because it was simply unsustainable. Eventually, it was in fact changed, and I was forever grateful. But I was surprised to learn when tweeting about this story how many libraries still expect their staff to pay for work related expenses, including programming, out of their own pockets and wait for reimbursement. Many people tweeted at me or DMed me to let me know that they too had to do this at one time or another, many more to say they were doing this presently, and they were barely making it. Only one person replied that they had to do this but they didn’t really mind because they got a bunch of extra bonus points on their personal credit card.

This is an injustice to library staff that must be halted. I was disheartened to learn how many of my peers were be asked to suffer this very real hardship from their employers.

If libraries want to have programming, then libraries must fund programming in their annual budgets. The money has to be there. I understand that libraries have complicated budgets and a variety of laws that regulate how, where and why money is spent and how that spending has to be recorded. Money in libraries is a difficult subject in the best of times, and these are not the best of financial times for libraries. But the truth is, the library has to have a way to do the things the library says it wants to do up front.

Then, libraries must have mechanisms in place for staff to make any purchasing that may be needed to be the resources for programming. That means that library staff members must be able to order or purchase supplies at the onset using library funds. It is not reasonable to expect staff to use personal funds to perform the daily duties of their job. Staff are paid for their work, they should not be expected to turn around and use their hard earned personal funds to do the work. We’ll save conversations about how most library staff are underpaid and underemployed for a future conversation.

Even a simple craft program needs funding.

Even a simple craft program needs funding.

If you are a library who is asking staff to do x, y or z and using that rubric to evaluate whether or not they are effective at their job, then you must provide the necessary tools for them to actually be effective at their job. Evaluate what your library’s goals are, whether or not the tools are in place for staff to be successful in meeting these goals, and make adjustments if necessary. If you are a library who demands library programming but doesn’t have a way to fund that programming up front, then you need to either stop doing library programming or put the mechanisms in place to fund those programs up front using library monies.

And if you are a library employee who does programming, this is another reminder of why it is very important that library staff never use their own money or time to do library programming. Administrators need to have a true account and understanding of how much staff time and how much library funding is necessary to do successful library programming. When we take work home and do it on our own time or purchase supplies and donate them because we want to do a program that is bigger than our budgets, administrators don’t understand the true cost, have unreasonable expectations, and don’t provide the staff and funding we need because they don’t understand the real level of need. It seems weird to say, but donating our time and money hurts our patrons, because they don’t get the community investment from the library that they really need, it hurts our admin, because they don’t have the full picture to successfully do their job of developing budgets and maintaining adequate staffing levels, and it hurts our successors because we are establishing unreasonable goals that they will be evaluated by.

I know that libraries everywhere are facing money shortages and other challenges, I’m right there in the trenches with you. But our answers to these challenges can not be unfair to our staff, unfair to our patrons, and they shouldn’t cause more problems than they solve. Even in challenging times, we have to establish best practices for our staff and our community.

Collecting Comics: July 2018 edition by Ally Watkins

collectingcomics

Check out these comics, out in July, that your teens and tweens will want!

collectingcomicsjuly1

Cottons: The Secret of the Wind by Jim Pascoe, illustrated by Heidi Arnhold (First Second, July 3). The first in an epic trilogy, volume 1 of Cottons follows the story of Bellebridge, a rabbit who seems ordinary, but who actually has magic powers and can turn ordinary objects into beautiful works of art. But there are those about who want to harness her powers and turn them into a weapon.

collectincomicsjuly3

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Volume 5: Fantastic Three by Brandon Montclare, illustrated by Natacha Bustos (July 10, Marvel). When the Silver Surfer comes to Earth with a warning about the future, Lunella Lafayette joins forces with The Human Torch and the Thing to make the Fantastic Three! Can they save the Earth? Collects issues #25-#30 of the comic book series.

ccjuly2

Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Volume 4 by Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by Oscar Bazaldua (Marvel, July 17). Sandman, Hobgoblin, the Spot, Electro and Bombshell have all united to make Spider-Man’s life a living hell. But it’s not just his life that’s on the chopping block–his friend Lana will be affected by this unholy alliance, too. How will they cope? Collects issues #224-240 of the comic book series.

collectingcomicsjuly2

Lumberjanes, Volume 9 by Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh, illustrated by Carolyn Nowak (BOOM! Box, July 24). The Yetis are kicked out of their treehouse by the Sasquatches and it’s up to the gang of Roanoke to win the treehouse back…in a roller derby bout!

ccjuly1

Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk (Graphix, July 31). Middle school is a lot harder than Danny expected. She’s dealing with a new school, cliques, and she feels totally lost. So when she inherits a magic sketchbook, she decides to draw something great: the perfect best friend. But this may not work out like Danny’s hoping.

collectingcomicsjuly3

Ms. Marvel, Volume 9: Teenage Wasteland by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Nico Leon (Marvel, July 31). Ms. Marvel is nowhere to be found! Where is she? Jersey City is still in need of heroes, and lots of them are stepping up to the plate, including the newest superhero, Red Dagger. But when an old foe comes back, can anyone stop him other than Ms. Marvel herself? Collects issues #25-#30 of the comic book series.

Book Review: The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell and friends

Publisher’s description

cardboard kingdomPerfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Awkward, and All’s Faire in Middle School, this graphic novel follows a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary cardboard into fantastical homemade costumes as they explore conflicts with friends, family, and their own identity.

Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters—and their own inner demons—on one last quest before school starts again.

In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be—imagine that!

The Cardboard Kingdom was created, organized, and drawn by Chad Sell with writing from ten other authors: Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Kris Moore, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Manuel Betancourt, Michael Cole, Cloud Jacobs, and Barbara Perez Marquez. The Cardboard Kingdom affirms the power of imagination and play during the most important years of adolescent identity-searching and emotional growth.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

I’m keeping track of what books I read for younger readers this summer and making a post-it note blog post about them, just like I post during the school year. But I loved this book so much that I wanted to single it out and make sure it gets seen so it can be added to all collections. There is a lot to like about this graphic novel. The vibrant, cheerful art is incredibly appealing, the large cast of characters all get their own little storylines and stand out as unique and memorable—not an easy task when looking at this many characters. I love the emphasis on creativity, imagination, and working together as well as the creative play that allows you to imagine yourself however you’d like to be—or to show the world how you really are. As the parent of a kid who still, at 12, loves nothing more than turning a cardboard box into the scene for some imagined battle, a kid who is generally outside in some kind of costume, I especially love it. The diversity of kids and home lives shown here is effortless, inclusive, and affirming. There’s a boy who lives with this grandmother while his mother is off somewhere else, and needs to learn to care for herself before he can go live with her again. There’s a young child, Jack, who loves the role of the sorceress because she is how he sees himself, how he’d like to be. His mother assures him that she’s okay with that, with him, and that he’s amazing. There’s Miguel who longs to be the romantic lead opposite a dashing prince. Seth’s parents are splitting up and he fears his father’s visits to their house. Some of the kids are the charismatic organizers while others hang back more and have to work a little harder to feel at ease with the group. This is a really excellent book with one of the most diverse groups of kids I’ve seen in a children’s book in a long time. A surefire hit with the graphic novel crowd. 

 

ISBN-13: 9781524719388
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Publication date: 06/05/2018