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Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Middle Grade Monday – Greenglass House by Kate Milford

61oAigRWnBL“Listen.” Each of the mysterious guests at Greenglass House is called upon to tell a story and this is the traditional formula for the start. All of the guests have a secret – a reason for being at the house. All have a different reason, but all of the reasons have something to do with the house. But even more mysterious than each one’s secret is the fact that they all show up in the week before Christmas…during a snow storm.

Traditionally a very slow week in his family’s business, adopted son and only child Milo is looking forward to some quiet time alone with his parents in their rambling five story home at the top of a cliff overlooking a smugglers’ cove. In fact, smuggling is a large part of the local economy and Greenglass House was built by one of the most notorious smugglers, Doc Holystone. After his death, the house was sold to Milo’s grandparents. But one by one, more and more guest show up to stay. Milo’s parents, the Pines, even call in their usual cook for reinforcements.

When guests’ personal items go missing, Milo and his new friend Meddy devise a plan to figure out exactly what is going on, and why each of the guests has come to stay. They begin by making themselves some role playing characters to go along with Meddy’s favorite game, which just happens to be the game Milo’s father played when he was younger.

This is a quiet, well developed, multifaceted mystery that is sure to appeal to a large swath of middle grade readers. Milo, along with solving the mystery, is dealing with some very personal issues about his adoption, which are complicated by the fact that he and his parents are of different ethnicities. He also seems to have always been very close with his parents, helping them out with the family business, and perhaps not engaging in many close peer relationships. This comes out in his interactions with Meddy, and we see him struggle to let go of some of his more particular ways. Every different thread of this story, from Milo’s relationships, to the guests’ ulterior motives, to the role playing game, to the stories being told each evening, to the fantastically rich history of Greenglass House itself, is completely engaging. And the climax of the story – Oh. My. Word. I have no problem understanding why this novel won the Edgar Award for Juvenile Literature.

What is surprising to me is how little I’ve heard about it. If I’m remembering correctly, I believe I heard about it from John Scalzi, of all people (or, it could have been Chuck Wendig.) I just remember it wasn’t from someone I normally depend on for Middle Grade recommendations. I purchased a copy of it at my local book store’s semi-annual sale, because nothing else I wanted to buy was available yet – but oh, how glad I am that I did. If you collect for middle grade readers, I highly recommend purchasing multiple copies.

Sunday Reflections: We Have Always Been Makers

sundayreflectionsOn Monday July 6th I will host my first “Maker” program at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. And the truth is it is different and revolutionary from all the other programs that I have ever hosted at a library in exactly no way.

You see, librarians have always been makers and our libraries have always been Maker Spaces.

I am currently working at the first library that I ever worked at. I was hired there as a paraprofessional to work with teens. I built collections, I booktalked books, and I did programming. The things that I do now, 22 years later, as a YA librarian are not a lot different then the things I did then as a YA paraprofessional, I just know more now and do them better.

Sometimes we use different tools, like ebooks and 3D printers, but the goals and objectives are still the same, I’m empowering teens and helping them to learn, to create, and to engage in meaningful self exploration and self expression.

It’s been almost 15 years since I taught my first Pimp Your Blog program. Today we would call that a MakerSpace event if we were going to use the currently popular jargon. And if I were going to host that event today it would indeed be a Maker program. It was a maker program back then, as well, we just didn’t know to call it that. Because, you see, the heart of what we do as librarians hasn’t changed, just the tools and language surrounding it. We have always been makers and we have always equipped our local communities to be makers.

Repairing your own vehicle, setting up a home computer network, learning to code, learning to sew . . . those tools and more have always been at our libraries. And from crafts at storytimes to the most basic of teen and adult programs, we have always engaged our patrons in the most basic of maker programs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to the maker language and label. I think the terms are empowering. There is something fulfilling about the idea that at the end of the day we have made something. And that idea that we get to be a maker, it sounds so achieved and accomplished. Although part of this I fear is that the idea of crafting has been associated with feminine things and coming from the art community there is equally some bias against art, artists, and artistic pursuits. The starving artist is an unfortunate trope that probably makes some want to shun that label as well.

But to be a maker . . .

And yes, I know that in theory making involves more science and technology, more tech tools. But I also know that we would have done these types of programs regardless of the new terminology because we are a living and responsive profession and we see the need so we meet it. That’s the way of librarianship. That’s why I was teaching teens to blog and do basic html almost 15 years ago.

And whatever label we choose to put on our resources and programs, there’s no denying that the growing need to incorporate technology into our library spaces is challenging largely because it all comes with a much higher price tag in a time when budgets seem to be declining. Libraries aren’t dying as many people seem to think, in many ways the need for libraries have never been greater, but many of us our struggling to meet the growing technology needs of our local communities in the face of dwindling incomes and staff and hours.

I recently visited the Maker Space at the Cincinnati public library and it was glorious. I’m not going to lie, I turned green with envy. But I also had that a-ha! moment when I thought of course libraries should have Maker Spaces. Just as libraries should have Internet computers labs and e-book collections. It’s not a new goal or mission, it’s just providing new tools to help fulfill our longstanding goals and mission to our local community.

We have always been makers. Libraries have always been maker spaces. The tools change, but the core of who we are and what we do is the same. We are educators, enablers, equippers. We are a space to try new things, learn new things, and do new things. We are open doors and new opportunities. We are makers. We always have been. We always will be. Even when the terminology changes.

Friday Finds – June 26, 2015

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: I Have No Words

The big dress code round up post

Middle Grade Monday – Loot by Jude Watson and the Heist Genre

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ This Summer

The Title’s the Thing: A guest post on GODLESS by Pete Hautman for #FSYALit (guest post by Lourdes Keochgerien)

#SVYALit: Male Survivors Google Hangout with authors Eric Devine, Barry Lyga and Carl Deuker

Maker Bookshelf, the next step in our Maker journey at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County

Book Review: THIS BOOK IS GAY by James Dawson

Book Review Blast: EVEN WHEN YOU LIE TO ME, DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE, THE WALLS AROUND US and DELICATE MONSTERS

Around the Web

College of Charleston board renames a scholarship for slain librarian Cynthia Hurd.

Amazon makes it clear how deeply they misunderstand the point of a well edited manuscript…

Fantastic Lego creations based on novels

Epic Reads is posting Winter 2016 Cover Reveals

Big Box stores are more than just an eyesore for cities.

From NPR, teen brains and risky behavior.

Gayle Forman is writing an adult novel.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

YA Movie News – Looking for Alaska

Book Review Blast: EVEN WHEN YOU LIE TO ME, DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE, THE WALLS AROUND US and DELICATE MONSTERS

Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott

evenwhenyoulietomePublisher’s Book Description: Fans of John Green’s Looking for Alaska as well as Lauren Oliver and Sarah Dessen will embrace this provocative debut novel, an exploration of taboo love set against the backdrop of a suburban high school.

Charlie, a senior, isn’t looking forward to her last year of high school. Another year of living in the shadow of her best friend, Lila. Another year of hiding behind the covers of her favorite novels. Another year of navigating her tense relationship with her perfectionist mom.

But everything changes when she meets her new English teacher. Mr. Drummond is smart. Irreverent. Funny. Hot. Everyone loves him. And Charlie thinks he’s the only one who gets her.

She also thinks she might not be the only one with a crush.

In this stunning debut, Jessica Alcott explores relationships-and their boundaries-in a way that is both searingly honest and sympathetic. (Published June 2015 by Crown)

Karen’s Thoughts: This debut novel will resonate with readers who are struggling to find themselves in what seems like a sea of rejection. Charlie’s mother rejects her, telling her she loves her but following it up with those “buts . . . ” In fact, this novel combined with Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu perfectly captures how we as parents can break our kids in profound ways, even when we think we are loving them. It’s a reminder that sometimes a parent “doing their best” isn’t always good enough because some parents, their best is still incredibly toxic and damaging. At its core, however, Even When You Lie to me is a book about boundaries, and everyone is crossing them. With well developed characters, uncomfortable but realistically tense situations, and a few broken taboos and Even When You Lie to Me explores the concepts of rejection and longing and trying to find yourself in very authentic ways. I appreciated that Alcott took on the topic of student-teacher relationships in a way that made it clear that at the end of the day the adults are ultimately responsible for setting and maintaining boundaries.

Denton Little’s Deathdate (Denton Little #1) by Lance Rubin

denton littles deathdatePublisher’s Book Description: Fans of John Green and Matthew Quick: Get ready to die laughing.

Denton Little’s Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day they will die. For 17-year-old Denton Little, that’s tomorrow, the day of his senior prom.

Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle (as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend’s hostile sister. Though he’s not totally sure. See: first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton’s long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters…. Suddenly Denton’s life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.

Debut author Lance Rubin takes us on a fast, furious, and outrageously funny ride through the last hours of a teenager’s life as he searches for love, meaning, answers, and (just maybe) a way to live on. (Published April 2015 by Knopf)

Karen’s Thoughts: This book was interesting and fun. It reminded me of the fantastic 80s movie Adventures in Babysitting in that a lot of absurd adventures take place over the course of a short period of time. It just happens that this period of time involves Denton Little trying to get to his funeral alive. You see in the future, they can tell you the day of your death and you are invited to attend your funeral before you actually die to spend one last day with loved ones. But fate, it seems, wants to make sure Denton does indeed die. And then there are some interesting twists where Denton learns that everything he thought he understood about this world he lives in and his family are maybe not completely true, setting us up for a sequel that I will definitely be reading because the concept is fascinating and the writing is good.

For another fun read that reminds me of Adventures in Babysitting check out A BAD DAY FOR VOODOO by Jeff Strand.

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

thewallsaroundusPublisher’s Book Description: On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement.

On the inside, within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom.

Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries…

What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?

In prose that sings from line to line, Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other. (Published March 2015 by Algonquin)

Karen’s Thoughts: Dark, alluring, fascinating, and deep, you won’t want to miss this book. Sum writes a haunting and poignant tale that will haunt readers for a long time afterwards.

Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Khuen

delicatemonstersPublisher’s Book Description: From the Morris-Award winning author of Charm & Strange, comes a twisted and haunting tale about three teens uncovering dark secrets and even darker truths about themselves.

When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs. (Published June 2015 by St. Martin’s Griffin)

Karen’s Thoughts: Khuen is the modern master of dark YA psychological thrillers. Perfectly paced and mesmerizing, Khuen doesn’t pull any of her punches and the twists are dark and twisty in all the perfectly menacing ways that make you want to look away but keep you glued to the page and keep you up all night wanting to finish. I saw the other day that Christa Desir tweeted about this book saying, “It’s everything I want in a YA novel.”

Book Review: THIS BOOK IS GAY by James Dawson

this book is gayI always love when a book has a cover or title that just screams PICK ME UP OFF THE SHELF! While we all know better than to (just) judge a book by its cover, a recent conversation with my teenage friends in YA book club was a good reminder that when browsing packed bookstore or library shelves, a lot of us judge books by covers because we have to—how else do you know where to start picking things up and browsing them? James Dawson’s THIS BOOK IS GAY will leap off the shelf at readers.

 

In David Levithan’s introduction, he calls it a handy guidebook. The book is filled with Dawson’s stories, facts, charts, illustrations, and stories of more than 300 LGBT* (his acronym) people. In July 2013, Dawson conducted a national survey on the issues covered here. This is where the quotes, some statistics, and in-depth interviews came from. Dawson says to think of this book as an instruction manual. He notes that everyone has their own individual experiences, identities, and opinions.

 

Dawson covers a lot of ground in his book. He writes about sexual thoughts and feelings, wondering about sexuality, labels and how they can change, history, slang, scientific theories, biological differences, stereotypes, subcultures, fear, heteronormative values, institutional homophobia and transphobia, paranoia, the history of HIV/AIDS, bullying, discrimination, dating violence, sexual abuse, bullying, depression, and suicide. WHEW, right? He goes on to look at homophobia around the world, what we can do about it, various views from various religions, coming out, where to meet other LGBT* folks, sex, STIs, relationships, promiscuity, monogamy, marriage, babies, and so much more. The book ends with an A-Z of “gay saints,” has a chapter for guidance for parents and caregivers of LGBT* youth, a cheat sheet of “weird” terms, and helplines and other resources.

 

In many ways, this is a great resource. The conversational tone and whimsical illustrations make it easily accessible and easy to flip through. It’s both serious and funny, covers a ton of topics, and is a great starting point for anyone looking to know more about being gay or coming out. STARTING POINT is a good word to laser in on. With Dawson writing as a gay cis male, much of the book skews this way. Dawson says he used the acronym LGBT* “to represent the full and infinite spectrum of sexual and gender identities.” But most these identities get little to no coverage throughout the book. The book is exactly what the title tells us, GAY. While I had some issues with the things that got ignored or glossed over (and a few times bristled at terms used or explanations), this book is generally a fine starting point. If we view this as a basic introduction to LGBT* issues and experiences, it (usually) works. Its frank discussions and personal stories are extremely useful, especially if you think of a teen reader coming across this book when he/she/they might most need it. I wish this book were one of a series, with other titles being things like THIS BOOK IS ASEXUAL, THIS BOOK IS NON-BINARY, THIS BOOK IS PANSEXUAL, THIS BOOK IS INTERSECTIONAL (I could keep going, but you get my point). The main message of this book—be you and be proud—is an important one and one that teenagers especially can never hear enough times. For gay cis boys, this is a pretty great resource. For everyone else, start here, but seek out more nuanced and inclusive materials as your next step.

 

REVIEW COPY COURTESY OF THE PUBLISHER

ISBN-13: 9781492617822

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Publication date: 6/16/2015

Maker Bookshelf, the next step in our Maker journey at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County

A few weeks ago, I announced that we were organizing a Maker Collection of materials that we will circulate at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. It is one of three things we are doing to better incorporate the Maker movement into our library.

makerspaceThis is the process we went through to establish the collection.

1. Collection Codes and Definitions

Before we began, we had to figure out the technical aspects of starting a new collection. This meant discussing things like collection codes, spine labels, circulation periods, etc. We use Polaris and it was pretty easy for our Tech Services staff to put together the necessary collection codes for us. We decided to label them MS for MakerSpace and TS created special spine labels for them. This first step was actually the easiest part of the entire process.

makerspace1

2. Evaluating the Current Collection

Next we began actually trying to build the collection. The first thing we did was to go through all the items we actually had on the shelves and decide if we wanted to keep them where they were or re-catalog them and move them to the MS collection. We discovered we had quite a few titles on hand that we felt could easily fit into this collection and we pulled them. As I type this TS in the process of re-cataloging them for us (thank you TS!)

makercollection1

3. Researching New Items

The next part of the process involved research, but since we are librarians we’re actually pretty good at this. We began with the recent SLJ Maker Shelf list and went from there. Another great resource are the books published by Make which you can find at Make Zine. I then created a very extensive wishlist of books using Amazon. It ended up being rather large. I printed off a copy of the list for multiple people and then the head of Children’s and I sat down and went through the list title by title to evaluate them. One of the first things we looked at was, of course, publication date. Beyond that we wanted to make sure we had a variety of topics covered. The topics we are looking to include in our Maker collection include: Coding, Electronics, Robotics, Engineering, Digital Photography, Movie Making, Making, Tinkering, etc.

makercollection2

4. Discussing Goals and Definitions, Again

We had a rather lengthy discussion about the crafting section and decided that due to it’s size, we would leave it for the time being where it was because the shelf space that we have for the Maker collection would not accommodate the number of titles we currently have in the J nonfiction collection that deal with arts and crafts. I personally am a big proponent of arts and crafts and feel like this is a valid part of the maker movement, but in the end we had to select some specific, targeted goals and boundaries because of the space we had available to us.

5. Building the New Collection

In the end, we ordered a pretty decent number of titles for this new collection (which I have conveniently shared with you below thanks in no small part to the kind generosity of TLTer Robin Willis – thank you Robin!).

Note: The list below includes items that we ordered for the Maker collection and items that we ordered to put into our Circulating Maker Kits (CMKs).

As you can tell, this is a work in progress. And if you ask me, it’s an exciting and very fulfilling work in progress. A lot of people have worked hard to try and make all this happen and it has been fun, informative, and very professionally fulfilling. I believe we are doing good things for our local community, and that basically rocks.

Maker Collection Booklist:

Stopmotion Explosion: Animate Anything and Make Movies- Epic Films for $20 or Less  by Nate Eckerson

Brick Flicks: A Comprehensive Guide to Making Your Own Stop-Motion LEGO Movies by Sarah Herman

The Kids’ Guide to Digital Photography: How to Shoot, Save, Play with & Print Your Digital Photos by Jenni Bidner

The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers by Hatch, Mark

Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry: Make Bracelets, Rings, Belts & More with Rainbow Loom(R), Cra-Z-Loom(TM)​, or FunLoom(TM) by Colleen Dorsey

Robot Building for Teens by Behnam Salemi

Kids Inventing! A Handbook for Young Inventors by Susan Casey

Fundamentals of Robotics: Fun for parents and children (Robots For Children) (Volume 1) by Prof Charria

101 Mixed Media Techniques: Master the fundamental concepts of mixed media art by Cherril Doty, Suzette Rosenthal, Isaac Anderson

Drawing Comics Lab: 52 Exercises on Characters, Panels, Storytelling, Publishing & P​rofessional Practices (Lab Series) by Robyn Chapman

Creative Photography Lab: 52 Fun Exercises for Developing Self-Expressio​n with your Camera. Includes 6 Mixed-Media Projects (Lab Series) by Steve Sonheim, Carla Sonheim

Print & Stamp Lab: 52 Ideas for Handmade, Upcycled Print Tools (Lab Series) by Traci Bunkers

Collage Lab: Experiments, Investigations​, and Exploratory Projects (Lab Series) by Bee Shay

Art Lab for Little Kids: 52 Playful Projects for Preschoolers (Lab Series) by Susan Schwake, Rainer Schwake

Paint Lab: 52 Exercises inspired by Artists, Materials, Time, Place, and Method (Lab Series) by Deborah Forman

Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun (Lab Series) by Carla Sonheim

Art Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper, and Mixed Media-For Budding Artists of All Ages (Lab Series) by Susan Schwake, Rainer Schwake

The Loomatic’s Interactive Guide to the Rainbow Loom by Suzanne M. Peterson

Loom Band It: 60 Rubberband Projects for the Budding Loomineer by Kat Roberts, Tessa Sillars-Powell

Brick City: Global Icons to Make from LEGO (Brick…LEGO Series) by Warren Elsmore

The Art of LEGO Design: Creative Ways to Build Amazing Models by Jordan Schwartz

Brick Vehicles: Amazing Air, Land, and Sea Machines to Build from LEGO® by Warren Elsmore

The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 2: Spaceships, Pirates, Dragons & More​! by Megan H. Rothrock

The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide (Now in Color!) by Allan Bedford

The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 1: Cars, Castles, Dinosaurs & Mo​re! by Megan H. Rothrock

Make: The Makerspace Workbench: Tools, Technologies, and Techniques for Making by Adam Kemp

Zero to Maker: Learn (Just Enough) to Make (Just About) Anything by David Lang

Arduino for Beginners: Essential Skills Every Maker Needs by John Baichtal

The Best of Instructables Volume I: Do-It-Yourself Projects from the World’s Biggest Show & Tell (v. 1) by The editors at MAKE magazine and Instructables. com

Unscrewed: Salvage and Reuse Motors, Gears, Switches, and More from Your Old Electronics by Ed Sobey

Life Hacks: Any Procedure or Action That Solves a Problem, Simplifies a Task, Reduces Frustration, Etc. in One’s Everyday Life by Keith Bradford

The Big Book of Maker Skills (Popular Science): 200+ Tools & Techni​ques for Building Great Tech Projects by Chris Hackett

The Big Book of Maker Skills (Popular Science): Tools & Techni​ques for Building Great Tech Projects by Chris Hackett

The Big Book of Hacks: 264 Amazing DIY Tech Projects by Doug Cantor

62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer: (And Other Discarded Electronics) by Randy Sarafan

Boomerangs: How to Make and Throw Them by Bernard S. Mason

The Paper Boomerang Book: Build Them, Throw Them, and Get Them to Return Every Time (Science in Motion) by Mark Latno

Papertoy Monsters: 50 Cool Papertoys You Can Make Yourself! by Brian Castleforte, Netta Rabin, Robert James

Making Things Move DIY Mechanisms for Inventors, Hobbyists, and Artists by Dustyn Roberts

Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions: You Can Build Yourself (Build It Yourself) by Maxine Anderson

Karakuri: How to Make Mechanical Paper Models That Move by Keisuke Saka, Eri Hamaji

The Motorboat Book: Build & Launch 20 Jet Boats, Paddle-Wheeler​s, Electric Submarines & M​ore (Science in Motion) by Ed Sobey

The Art of Tinkering by Karen Wilkinson, Mike Petrich

LEGO Chain Reactions: Design and build amazing moving machines (Klutz S) by Pat Murphy and the Scientists of Klutz Labs

Kinetic Contraptions: Build a Hovercraft, Airboat, and More with a Hobby Motor by Curt Gabrielson

Make: More Electronics: Journey Deep Into the World of Logic Chips, Amplifiers, Sensors, and Randomicity by Charles Platt

Programming Arduino: Getting Started With Sketches by Monk Simon

Make: Getting Started with Adafruit FLORA: Making Wearables with an Arduino-Compat​ible Electronics Platform by Becky Stern, Tyler Cooper

Make: Wearable Electronics: Design, prototype, and wear your own interactive garments by Kate Hartman

JunkBots, Bugbots, and Bots on Wheels: Building Simple Robots With BEAM Technology by David Hrynkiw, Mark Tilden

Make an Arduino-Contro​lled Robot (Make: Projects) by Michael Margolis

Make a Raspberry Pi-Controlled Robot: Building a Rover with Python, Linux, Motors, and Sensors by Wolfram Donat

Robot Builder: The Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots by John Baichtal

Make: Basic Arduino Projects: 26 Experiments with Microcontrolle​rs and Electronics by Don Wilcher

The Best of Make: (Make 75 Projects from the pages of MAKE) by Mark Frauenfelder, Gareth Branwyn

Make: Electronics (Learning by Discovery) by Charles Platt

Make: Sensors: A Hands-On Primer for Monitoring the Real World with Arduino and Raspberry Pi by Tero Karvinen, Kimmo Karvinen, Ville Valtokari

Robot Builder’s Bonanza, 4th Edition by Gordon McComb

Make: The Maker’s Manual: A Practical Guide to the New Industrial Revolution by Paolo Aliverti, Andrea Maietta, Patrick Di Justo

Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation by AnnMarie Thomas

Make: Tinkering: Kids Learn by Making Stuff by Curt Gabrielson

Make: Getting Started with littleBits: Prototyping and Inventing with Modular Electronics by Ayah Bdeir, Matt Richardson

Making Simple Robots: Exploring Cutting-Edge Robotics with Everyday Stuff by Kathy Ceceri

Make: Getting Started with Sensors: Measure the World with Electronics, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi by Kimmo Karvinen, Tero Karvinen

Kodu for Kids: The Official Guide to Creating Your Own Video Games by James Floyd Kelly

Video Game Programming for Kids by Jonathan S. Harbour

Teach Your Kids to Code: A Parent-Friendl​y Guide to Python Programming by Bryson Payne

Super Scratch Programming Adventure! (Covers Version 2): Learn to Program by Making Cool Games by The LEAD Project

Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python, 2nd Edition by Al Sweigart

Java Programming for Kids: Learn Java Step By Step and Build Your Own Interactive Calculator for Fun! (Java for Beginners) by R. Chandler Thompson

Adventures in Minecraft by David Whale, Martin O’Hanlon

Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming by Jason R. Briggs

Learn to Program with Scratch: A Visual Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science, and Math by Majed Marji

Doc Fizzix Mousetrap Racers 14.20 9781565233591
Make 11.99 9781457186707
Rosie Revere Engineer 13.31 9781419708459
How to Make a Movie in 10 Easy Lessons 7.19 9781633220126
Python for Kids 20.97 9781593274078
Tricky Video 18.95 9781591746232
The Spinning Blackboard and Other Dynamic Experiments on Force and Motion 10.80 9780471115144
Tinkerlab 13.17 9781611800654
Squishy Circuits 8.53 9781631377952
Stomp Rockets Catapults and Kaleidoscopes 10.17 9781556527371
Video Game Programming for Kids 11.99 9781435461161
Cool Creations in 101 Pieces 11.77 9781627790178
Cool Creations in 35 Pieces 10.20 9780805096927
Cool Cars and Trucks 10.20 9780805087611
Totally Cool Creations 11.99 9781250031105
Filmmaking For Teens 11.37 9781932907049
The Paper Boomerang Book 7.77 9781569762820
Recycled Robots 19.59 9780761154662
The Racecar Book 8.97 9781613747148
The Flying Machine Book 8.97 9781613740866
The Robot Book 8.97 9781556524073
Javascript for Kids 20.97 9781593274085
HighTech DIY Projects With 3D Printing 11.16 9781477766767
Engineering the ABCs 11.35 9781933916514
Making a Circuit 4.79 9781432956790
Conductors and Insulators 20.41 9781432956738
Teach Your Kids to Code 17.97 9781593276140
Animation Studio 15.69 9780763667016
Amazing Rubber Band Cars 8.97 9781556527364
Python Basics 15.00 9781107658554
Hello World 23.99 9781617290923
3D Game Programming for Teens 33.24 9781598638431
Loom Magic Creatures 7.19 9781629147956
Loom Magic Charms 7.19 9781632202598
CSS for Babies 7.06 9780615555218
HTML for Babies 7.06 9780615487663
ABC of the Web 12.30 9780988472617
Web Design for Babies 20 7.84 9780988472600
Computer Coding 3.59 9781465426857

MakerSpace Notes:

My Original Mobile Makerspace
My Updated Mobile Makerspace
MakerSpace Tech Tools Comparison Chart
The Unboxing and Learning Curve
Exploring Circulating Maker Kits

#SVYALit: Male Survivors Google Hangout with authors Eric Devine, Barry Lyga and Carl Deuker

svyalitToday at Noon Eastern we will be hosting the #SVYALit Google Hangout/Panel Discussion on Male Survivors and Sexual Violence. The discussion will be moderated by author Eric Devine and will feature author Barry Lyga (Boy Toy) and Carl Deuker (Swagger). You can watch live or come back after 1 PM Eastern to watch the archived video.

On YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMJBJYxxDL8

On Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/events/cgrd90gobuds3mmj4ce5uuvutd4

The Title’s the Thing: A guest post on GODLESS by Pete Hautman for #FSYALit (guest post by Lourdes Keochgerien)

godlessI recently read this sentence in an article discussing Pete Hautman latest novel, Eden West. However, this was commenting on his National Book Award winning novel, Godless:

Although there isn’t much he’d change if he could write that book over, Hautman does say that he would probably change the name, admitting that even winning the National Book Award didn’t quell everyone’s concerns over the novel’s blasphemous title.

Since reading this, I haven’t been able to shake it off.

When I first picked up Hautman’s novel it was because of the title. Sure, I had heard it won some award or another, but as a teenager I didn’t really care, and it didn’t really register. I just wanted to read things I found interesting, and I found necessary.

I was raised with a Catholic upbringing, but not a very strict one. We would go to church from time to time, I attended Catholic school for a stint or two, and we would celebrate Christmas and Easter as days that were about more than just candy, presents, food, and time off from school. My mother taught me the Lord’s Prayer in Spanish and English, and when I went to Catholic school for the first time, I remember reciting the prayer in Spanish for one of the nuns. My mother always likes to say she was really impressed. I think the nun was just humoring me.

So, when I picked up Godless I was not really offended or upset. I was curious. (Mind you, this is my first reaction to everything. If there is ever an earthquake where I live, my first reaction will be, “I wonder what caused the tectonic plates to do this now?” Safety would be my last concern.) I wanted to understand why there was a random water tower on the cover, and why the book had such an enticing title.

I vividly remember devouring the book in a day, and marveling at how short it was. At the time, many YA books were of the longer variety, and I was so used to the heaviness and weight. The book felt so light in my hands and it felt wrong. But even though I finished it so quickly, I kept it for the entire month, and renewed it at my library for another couple of days. I couldn’t let it go.

The violence in the book and how each character interacted with and utilized their new found religion really kept me thinking. But that water tower. This has lingered in me for the longest time.

Whenever I felt pensive and wanted to be completely, fully, undeniably alone, I would go to a church. In the middle of the day. When there is no service and the lights were out and they hadn’t filled the basins with holy water yet. I would sit in the middle of the grandiose church and just suck in the silence. And the quiet. And the peace. I imagined this is what it would feel like to be in a water tower. You are fully alone, in a spacious place that usually serves as one thing, but you use it in a completely different way. You sit with yourself, which is harder than it sounds. And you just, be. I always wondered what would have happened if Jason just kept the Chutengodian religion to himself. Would it still be a religion if he was the only worshipper? I would like to think yes.

Now back to the title: Godless. Is there really no God in this story? Is there really anything less? I never thought there was, and still don’t. The book is not about being without a God at its core, the book is about how we allow our beliefs to overwhelm our humanity, our judgement, the potential of our true selves. Because even though Jason wasn’t fully sold on what Catholicism had to offer him, he still looked for something to replace it. He needed something to base his morality, his actions upon. Even if you are not religious, you have these guidelines you adhere to. They are in essence, your God.

The title fulfills the job of grabbing someone’s attention, and igniting conversation. It is the job of the reader to give it meaning and weight. The last thing I would change about this book is the title. It is the reason I plucked it from the library shelves. It is the reason I am talking about it more than ten years after it first came out. It is why the book instantly won my respect. A book would not be called Godless unless it had something important to say.

And what did it say to teenage Lourdes? It proclaimed: Question. Learn. Understand. And don’t be afraid of change.

And I learned all this because of a blasphemous title.

***

Thanks to Ally Watkins who wrote this great post about Hautman’s Eden West, which inspired this one.

Lourdes Keochgerien is the Editor-at-Large for YARN – The Young Adult Review Network. She has been devouring young adult literature since before it was a “thing” to popularly devour. She is slowly losing her hearing due to all the comedy podcasts she listens to, and hopes to one day figure out what this thing called life is. You can find her on Twitter.

Publisher’s Book Description:

“Why mess around with Catholicism when you can have your own customized religion?”

Fed up with his parents’ boring old religion, agnostic-going-on-atheist Jason Bock invents a new god — the town’s water tower. He recruits an unlikely group of worshippers: his snail-farming best friend, Shin, cute-as-a-button (whatever that means) Magda Price, and the violent and unpredictable Henry Stagg. As their religion grows, it takes on a life of its own. While Jason struggles to keep the faith pure, Shin obsesses over writing their bible, and the explosive Henry schemes to make the new faith even more exciting — and dangerous.

When the Chutengodians hold their first ceremony high atop the dome of the water tower, things quickly go from merely dangerous to terrifying and deadly. Jason soon realizes that inventing a religion is a lot easier than controlling it, but control it he must, before his creation destroys both his friends and himself.

For more on the #FSYALit (Faith and Spirituality in YA Literature), check out the discussion hub.

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ This Summer

Every other month I’ll be doing a roundup of new and forthcoming YA books (and sometimes some non-YA books) featuring LGBTQIA+ characters. I’ll try to include as many titles as possible. 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 June 2015 and July 2015 titles. All annotations here are via WorldCat or the publishers. My previous post, from April, can be found here.

 

June 2015

this book is gayThis Book is Gay by James Dawson (Sourcebooks, June 2, ISBN 9781492617839):

Lesbian. Bisexual. Queer. Transgender. Straight. Curious. This book is for everyone, regardless of gender or sexual preference. This book is for anyone who’s ever dared to wonder. This book is for YOU.

There’s a long-running joke that, after “coming out,” a lesbian, gay guy, bisexual, or trans person should receive a membership card and instruction manual. THIS IS THAT INSTRUCTION MANUAL. You’re welcome.

Inside you’ll find the answers to all the questions you ever wanted to ask: from sex to politics, hooking up to stereotypes, coming out and more. This candid, funny, and uncensored exploration of sexuality and what it’s like to grow up LGBT also includes real stories from people across the gender and sexual spectrums, not to mention hilarious illustrations.

You will be entertained. You will be informed. But most importantly, you will know that however you identify (or don’t) and whomever you love, you are exceptional. You matter. And so does this book.

 

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (Soho Press, Inc., June 2, ISBN 9781616955601): more happy

Read my review here and Karen’s review here

Part Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, part Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut confronts race, class, and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.

The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto—miracle cure-alls don’t tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. Aaron could never forget how he’s grown up poor, how his friends aren’t there for him, or how his father committed suicide in their one-bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it’s not enough.

Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn’t mind Aaron’s obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn’t mind talking about Aaron’s past. But Aaron’s newfound happiness isn’t welcome on his block. Since he can’t stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.

 

skyscrapingSkyscraping by Cordelia Jensen (Penguin Young Readers Group, June 2, ISBN 9780399167713):

A heartrending, bold novel in verse about family, identity, and forgiveness.

Mira is just beginning her senior year of high school when she discovers her father with his male lover. Her world–and everything she thought she knew about her family–is shattered instantly. Unable to comprehend the lies, betrayal, and secrets that–unbeknownst to Mira–have come to define and keep intact her family’s existence, Mira distances herself from her sister and closest friends as a means of coping. But her father’s sexual orientation isn’t all he’s kept hidden. A shocking health scare brings to light his battle with HIV. As Mira struggles to make sense of the many fractures in her family’s fabric and redefine her wavering sense of self, she must find a way to reconnect with her dad–while there is still time.

Told in raw, exposed free verse, Skyscraping reminds us that there is no one way to be a family.

 

Glittering Shadows by Jaclyn Dolamore (Dark Metropolis series, Disney-Hyperion, June 16, ISBN 9781423163312): glittering

The revolution is here.

Bodies line the streets of Urobrun; a great pyre burns in Republic Square. The rebels grow anxious behind closed doors while Marlis watches as the politicians search for answers-and excuses-inside the Chancellery.

Thea, Freddy, Nan, and Sigi are caught in the crossfire, taking refuge with a vibrant, young revolutionary and a mysterious healer from Irminau. As the battle lines are drawn, a greater threat casts a dark shadow over the land. Magic might be lost-forever.

This action-packed sequel to DARK METROPOLIS weaves political intrigue, haunting magic, and heartbreaking romance into an unforgettable narrative. Dolamore’s lyrical writing and masterfully crafted plot deliver a powerful conclusion.

 

rise and fallThe Rise and Fall of a Theater Geek by Seth Rudetsky (Random House Children’s Books, June 23, 9780449816721):

Broadway, New York. The shows, the neon lights . . . the cute chorus boys! It’s where Justin has always wanted to be—and now, with a winter internship for a famous actor, he finally has his chance to shine. If only he could ditch his kind, virtuous, upright, and—dare he say it?—uptight boyfriend, Spencer. But once the internship begins, Justin has more to worry about than a cramped single-guy-in-the-city style. Instead of having his moment in the spotlight, he’s a not-so-glorified errand boy. Plus, Spencer is hanging out with a celebra-hottie, Justin’s best friend Becky isn’t speaking to him, and his famous actor boss seems headed for flopdom. Justin’s tap-dancing as fast as he can, but all his wit and sass might not be enough to switch his time in New York from nightmare-terrible to dream-come-true terrific.

Seth Rudetsky’s second YA novel is endearingly human, laugh-out-loud funny, and for any kid who’s ever aspired to Broadway but can only sneak in through the stage door.

 

Summer Love: An LGBTQ Collection (edited by Annie Harper, Novelstream dba Interlude Press, June 23, ISBN 9781941530368): summer love

From my June 2015 SLJ review:

Gr 10 Up—This anthology of love stories is the perfect summer read—it’s fast, fun, and will leave readers smiling. The nine entries present characters that identify in a variety of ways. Stand-out stories include “Surface Tension” by Ella J. Ash. Logan is part of the swim staff at a summer arts camp and never imagines he could find love there—or while a teenager at all. Meeting outgoing Dave changes his mind. In “What the Heart Wants,” by Naomi Tajedler, Noam discovers her attraction to an art class model, Amber, and isn’t sure if that makes her a lesbian, bisexual, or just Amber-sexual. Meanwhile, her best friend begins dating an asexual boy. Other stories feature a revelation at a gay pride parade, a romance set at the beginning of World War II, a traveling fire-eater, a letter to a best friend, a transgender boy finding love on the Cape, an unexpected crush, and a broken-hearted girl seeking solace but instead finding just the company she needs. All of the stories have happy endings and most feature extremely supportive and loving families. In many cases, the main characters come out to someone at some point, but that’s not the focus of the stories. These are the first published stories for most of the authors in this collection, and it often shows. VERDICT The writing is somewhat unpolished, but the focus on LGBTQ teens finding love, hope, and happiness makes this a solid addition to all collections.

 

under lightsUnder the Lights: A Daylight Falls Novel by Dahlia Adler (Spencer Hill Press, June 30, ISBN 9781633920170):

Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents’ wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls…opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he’s trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he’s in the spotlight–on everyone’s terms but his own–Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents’ disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she’s painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van’s life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she’ll have to choose between the one thing she’s always loved…and the person she never imagined she could.

 

July 2015

You and Me and Him by Kris Dinnison (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 7, ISBN 9780544301122): you and me and him

“Do not ignore a call from me when you know I am feeling neurotic about a boy. That is Best Friend 101.” —Nash
Maggie and Nash are outsiders. She’s overweight. He’s out of the closet. The best of friends, they have seen each other through thick and thin, but when Tom moves to town at the start of the school year, they have something unexpected in common: feelings for the same guy. This warm, witty novel—with a clear, true voice and a clever soundtrack of musical references—sings a song of love and forgiveness.

 

 

 

 

paperweightPaperweight by Meg Haston (HarperCollins Publishers, July 7, ISBN 9780062335746):

In the vein of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls, this emotionally haunting and beautifully written young adult debut delves into the devastating impact of trauma and loss.

Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. In her body. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert. Life in the center is regimented and intrusive, a nightmare come true. Nurses and therapists watch Stevie at meal time, accompany her to the bathroom, and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid. Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn’t plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death—the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she, too, will end her life.

Paperweight follows Stevie’s journey as she struggles not only with this life-threatening eating disorder, but with the question of whether she can ever find absolution for the mistakes of her past…and whether she truly deserves to.

 

About a Girl by Sarah McCarry (St. Martin’s Press, July 14, ISBN 9781250068620): about a girl

From my June 2015 SLJ review:

★ 06/01/2015
Gr 10 Up—The conclusion to the “Metamorphoses” trilogy (St. Martin’s) follows Tally to a small town outside of Seattle where she seeks out her maybe-father to learn more about her past and her family. The place feels full of magic and people who intrigue her. Tally has a hard time thinking straight here, and her dreams are filled with vivid and terrifying images of blood. She falls for the mysterious Maddy, a girl who seems to hold the answers to her many questions. Based loosely on the story of Jason and the Argonauts, the protagonist’s journey reveals far more about her family than she could have imagined. Maddy keeps saying “no pasts,” but as Tally learns, the past is everywhere—the past is then and now. The stunning, densely packed story is full of as much intoxicating poetry as meticulous scientific explanations. Tally’s initial prim and rather academic narration becomes richer and more dreamlike as her story unfolds. This edgy, smart, and challenging title combines mythology, punk rock, science, a quest, feminism, art, dreams, and the power of stories and storytelling with unforgettable results. The well-developed cast of characters is racially and sexually diverse. The emphasis on the importance of female relationships—as family, as lovers, and as friends—is a welcome exploration of the many levels of intimacy. The book can be read as a stand-alone, but will certainly send new readers looking for the previous books in the series. VERDICT A highly recommended and breathtakingly read for sophisticated readers.

 

asher's outAsher’s Out by Elizabeth Wheeler (Bold Strokes Books, July 14, ISBN 9781626394117):

For his sixteenth birthday, Asher Price gets a date and a death threat. No one believes he’s in danger, but when Asher’s relationship with Garrett is revealed in his small Florida town, he’s certain he will be destroyed. Still haunted by guilt over his brother’s death and his mom’s breakdown, Asher can’t tell the truth. Instead, his best friend’s practical advice to deny everything wins out. When Asher’s mom announces they’re moving to Chicago, it seems like the perfect out, but how can he leave the only place that holds memories of his dead brother? Asher must choose between staying in a town where people know too much or escaping to a city where no one knows or cares, but either way, he can’t hide from himself. In the final book of this award-winning series, Asher exposes his greatest fears and finally develops a clear picture of his true self.

 

 

Middle Grade Monday – Loot by Jude Watson and the Heist Genre

middlegrademondayMarch McQuin has spent his life with his jewel thief father, Alfie. Moving from place to place in preparation for the next big heist, March knows more about lock picking and getaway plans than he does about fractions. In fact, now that he’s twelve, Alfie has included him in the plans. But when the latest heist goes wrong and Alfie falls from the roof of a tall building, March is left alone in the world. Or so he thinks. Soon he learns that he has a sister, Jules (Julia). In fact, not just a sister but a twin sister. They have been separated since the night their parents attempted a heist that went horribly wrong and caused the death of their mother.

Jules and March are found by the authorities and sent to a foster group home in the states. A pair of dishonest adults, Mandy Sue and Pete, run the group home as their own personal cash cow, skimming money from the funds that should be meeting the needs of the residents. Mandy Sue even forces the children to work in the organic garden (for which she received a grant) in order to send pictures to the grant agency, then sells the produce for cash. Everything about this group home is textbook horrible, except for Darius and Izzy. At first, March is sure his roommate Darius (very large for his age and prone to threats) is going to pound him to a pulp. Fortunately, Darius is initially interested in using March for his lock picking skills and quickly warms up to him.18938098

When Jules disappears from the group home and March recognizes a local jewel heist from a list of potential heists his father left him, Darius, Izzy, and March go in search of her. March is furious that she has betrayed him, even though they’ve known each other only a handful of days. When they catch up to her at the next heist on the list, they discover that she’s been coerced into helping their father’s former partner, Oscar. In a twist of events, they are offered an obscene amount of money to steal back the moonstones their parents and Oscar stole when the twins were just two years old in the ill fated heist that led to the death of their mother. Together with Darius and Izzy, the twins make plans to attempt the score of a lifetime.

While there are significant differences between this novel and the Heist Society series by author Ally Carter, they have two very important themes in common. Middle grade students are coming to terms with a number of realities that they were previously too young to understand – one of which being that parents are not perfect. In both Watson and Carter’s worlds, the main characters are forced to confront the mistakes of their parents and the undeniable impact these mistakes have made on their lives. Though they still love their families, their eyes have been opened to the flawed nature of their heroes, and they must choose whether to follow in their footsteps or forge a different path. The choice of whether to attempt to rectify the mistakes of the past, both your parent’s mistakes and the injustices of society (in Watson’s case the group home, in Carter’s case the Nazi looting of art works) is an important theme for middle grade students. heist-societyThe second theme they share is the concept of doing the wrong thing for the right reason. This is a significant issue in the middle grade student’s life. They are just beginning to realize that right and wrong are considerably more complex than they’ve been led to believe. Life and the choices it holds are no longer black and white, but a dizzying array of colors. Through both Watson and Carter’s worlds, readers are allowed the freedom to explore the concept of choosing to do what you’ve learned is wrong (in this case stealing) in order to serve a greater good. Novels with these themes allow middle grade students to explore some of these more disturbing or frightening themes in a safe environment, and help them think through the choices they will need to make and weigh the consequences of their actions.