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Friday Finds: June 22, 2018

tltbutton3This Week at TLT

As I Try Desperately to Get Home Again, Not All Children Can. Here’s why it matters.

New and forthcoming YA and MG to know about

On World Refugee Day 2018, #ReadForChange with Alan Gratz’ Refugee

Book Review: Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye

YA Nonfiction Roundup by Michelle Biwer

MakerSpace: Rhonna Designs Photo and Collage App Review

Around the Web

Educators Keep Battling, Supporting Each Other After Spring #RedforEd Uprising

For Megan Whalen Turner fans

Bestselling author Grimes to receive Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award July 12

8 Book Anthologies Featuring Underrepresented Voices Coming Out In 2018

19 of Our Most Anticipated YA Debuts of 2018: July to December

Five Things That High School Girls Worry About Most

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” Starring Lana Condor Trailer Released by Netflix

As I Try Desperately to Get Home Again, Not All Children Can. Here’s why it matters.

The news is full of horrific stories of young children being taken away from their families for the sin of wanting to come to a new country to flee the extreme poverty, violence, and whatever else it is that one flees from. There are pictures of babies crying, audio of children wailing and crying out for their moms and dads. We sold them the promise of the American Dream and then when they come seeking asylum and hoping for a better life for their babies, we ripped apart families and put children in cages.

As someone who works with youth, I know and understand the importance of feeling safe and secure in the development of a child; I understand the importance of being talked to, being read to, of making healthy attachments. I understand the long term effects of childhood trauma. These children are suffering trauma compounded by trauma compounded by trauma. The lifelong impacts of this will be devastating for us all.

KidLit Says No Kids in Cages

Families_3_twitter

At the same time, I am dealing with my own family emergency. My Dad is not okay and I am thousands of miles away from him. After a lot of tears and anguish and wrestling with fears and doubts and uncertainty, I whipped out my credit card and booked super expensive tickets that I can’t afford to go out and see my Dad. We leave tomorrow.

Here’s the deal, I have no idea how I will ever pay down the balance on my credit card. I don’t know if my Dad will recover or if he will pass away. I am begging God, the universe and everyone in between to please provide a miracle and if not, to let the girls and I see him one more time to let him know that we love him. Suddenly I am a child again crying at night for her Daddy.

I am a 45 year old woman who is trying desperately to get home to see her father. Many of these children will never have that choice, we took it away from them. And yes, I mean we. This is us. We elect our politicians, we hold them accountable, we are collectively responsible to one another because no man is an island and that’s how society works. We’re in this together.

The woman sitting beside my Dad throughout all of this is my stepmother. She is a pretty remarkable woman and I think often of how much she loves my Dad, how much she loves my children, and the anguish she is going through as she sits vigil beside my father’s bed. She is only able to do so because just a couple generations past, someone in her family immigrated to this country from Mexico.

My parents divorced when I was in the 4th grade, I was around 9 or 10. It was a horrific thing to go through. Nobody handled it very well and there was a lot of heartache through the years. Parents fought, moved, and moved again. Relationships were broken and over time, slowly and painfully, they were reborn. The four years I was in high school, I did not speak to my father. There were legitimate reasons for that and they were the right decision for me at that time. Then over time, people change, healing happens, and new relationships are born. I know every day that I am lucky for the healing that happened between my father and I, for the relationship that we were able to cobble together despite all the hurt and heartache. During the last 15 years, as I parent my own children, I saw him become a man who took genuine care of this new family that he had made for himself. He has been a good grandfather to my daughters. For the first time in my life, I had a home to go back home to with memories and traditions and that sense of an anchor that makes it easier to navigate this world. I love going to my father’s house and sharing childhood memories with my children, taking them to the places that I used to love to go, and watching them return to the same home over and over again and making that connection stronger. I have loved, finally, having a place to go home to.

There shouldn’t be a lot of parallels to what’s happening in the news and what is happening in my own life, but I can’t stop thinking about the two and perhaps it is the nature of the human mind to draw connections where perhaps there shouldn’t be. I come from a broken family and my heart aches to see these families being broken. I know that they are not broken in the same ways, but I know that broken families are destructive forces that leave lifelong scars. I know that I have privilege that allows me to remake a relationship, to keep in contact, to jump on a plane to try to see my father.

These children have none of those things. They are being torn from their families and they often don’t even have the language skills necessary to advocate for themselves, to ask the questions that are burning in their hearts. They are in a new place with no family or friends to turn to for emotional support or stability. I can not imagine the fear and uncertainty. The terror.

Sheer terror and anguish.

Yesterday, Donald Trump declared that he was ending this policy, but by all accounts there is no plan in place to reunite those children already ripped from their parents arms. Some of those parents may already have been deported. Some of those children may grow up never knowing where their parents are or how to get into contact with them. Some of those children may never get the chance to say goodbye to their Dad.

Trump’s Executive Order On Family Separation: What It Does And Does Not Do – NPR

I am a 45-year-0ld white woman, steeped in privilege, who just wants to sit beside her Dad’s bedside and have the chance to say goodbye if that is what this moment calls for. I desperately want this moment to be something else, of course. But in my own personal anguish and desperation and pleading with the universe, I can’t help thinking of those kids. I’m a 45-year-old woman who just wants her Daddy, I can’t imagine what it must be like for these kids.

One of the hardest moments I have ever had working in the library occurred at the Reference desk. A woman came up to me with a name of her birth mother that she was trying to track down. This was after Hurricane Katrina and she knew that the woman lived in New Orleans. I did a little searching and unfortunately found her in the Social Security Death Index, she had died soon after Katrina. I looked up at this woman who was probably the age that I am now and delivered the news. The woman stood before me and openly wept as I told her I was so very sorry. “At least I know what happened to her,” she said. “Thank you.”

How many of these children will never get the chance to know.

I’m not here to debate immigration policy or politics with you. I am here as a lifelong advocate for youth to remind us all that we must do everything we can to minimize the harm that we do to children in every aspect of life because it has lifelong consequences for youth and for our future. Do the research, we will spend millions trying to undo the lifelong damage that is being caused right now as our politicians try and use innocent children as pawns.

Important Resources:

Brain Development • ZERO TO THREE

Childhood Trauma : Long-Term Effects and Symptoms

Immigrant Children Separated From Parents At The Border: NPR

How To Help Parents And Kids Separated At The Border – Refinery29

New and forthcoming YA and MG to know about

tltbutton7Books, books, and more books! My neighbors probably wonder what exactly goes on over here at the house where UPS of FedEx stops nearly every day. All of the books I get end up going back out the door in some fashion—to teen readers I know, to classroom libraries of friends, to my own school, or in giveaways. I can’t read/review every book I get, but it’s fun to be able to sift through boxes and see what grabs my attention, and to see what books will find loving new homes with the right reader. The following are the books that have arrived here in the past few weeks. I will be reviewing many of them in the upcoming months on TLT. See something you’ve already read and need to make sure I don’t skip? Or something you’re super excited to read when it comes out? Let me know with a comment here or on Twitter, where I’m @CiteSomething. All descriptions from the publishers.

 

 

speakSpeak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, Emily Carroll (ISBN-13: 9780374300289 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 02/06/2018)

The critically acclaimed, award-winning, modern classic Speak is now a stunning graphic novel.

“Speak up for yourself—we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless—an outcast—because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. Through her work on an art project, she is finally able to face what really happened that night: She was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. With powerful illustrations by Emily Carroll, Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak: The Graphic Novel comes alive for new audiences and fans of the classic novel.

 

 

sky in the deepSky in the Deep by Adrienne Young (ISBN-13: 9781250168450 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 04/24/2018)

A 2018 Most Anticipated Young Adult book that is part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.

OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

 

 

all summer longAll Summer Long by Hope Larson (ISBN-13: 9780374310714 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 05/01/2018)

A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel about summer and friendships, written and illustrated by the Eisner Award–winning and New York Times–bestselling Hope Larson.

Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he’s off to soccer camp for a month, and he’s been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it’s up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own. At first it’s a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin’s older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he’s acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.

 

 

 

light filters inLight Filters In: Poems by Caroline Kaufman, Yelena Bryksenkova (ISBN-13: 9780062844682 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/22/2018)

In the vein of poetry collections like Milk and Honey and Adultolescence, this compilation of short, powerful poems from teen Instagram sensation @poeticpoison perfectly captures the human experience. 

In Light Filters In, Caroline Kaufman—known as @poeticpoison—does what she does best: reflects our own experiences back at us and makes us feel less alone, one exquisite and insightful piece at a time. She writes about giving up too much of yourself to someone else, not fitting in, endlessly Googling “how to be happy,” and ultimately figuring out who you are.

This hardcover collection features completely new material plus some fan favorites from Caroline’s account. Filled with haunting, spare pieces of original art, Light Filters In will thrill existing fans and newcomers alike.

it’s okay if some things

are always out of reach.

if you could carry all the stars

in the palm of your hand,

they wouldn’t be

half as breathtaking

 

 

confusionConfusion Is Nothing New by Paul Acampora (ISBN-13: 9781338209990 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 05/29/2018)

Ellie Magari just learned that her mother is dead. Perhaps that would be sad if Ellie had ever met the woman. Exactly who was Ellie’s mom? Does it even matter that she’s gone? Perhaps a dead mom can still help Ellie figure out what it means to be a girl in the world today. Either way, Ellie wouldn’t mind a role model beyond her master chef Dad.

Fueled by the bighearted sounds of ’80s rock and roll, plus large doses of Cyndi Lauper’s girl-power joy, Confusion Is Nothing New is about friendship, family mysteries, and the perfect pizza. It’s also about fathers and daughters and girls who understand that it’s good to make things, but breaking things is okay too.

In fact, sometimes breaking things is required.

 

 

breakoutBreakout by Kate Messner (ISBN-13: 9781681195360 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek—two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town’s maximum security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, and fear brings out the worst in some people Nora has known her whole life. Even if the inmates are caught, she worries that home might never feel the same.

Told in letters, poems, text messages, news stories, and comics—a series of documents Nora collects for the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project—Breakout is a thrilling story that will leave readers thinking about who’s really welcome in the places we call home.

 

 

bring me their heartsBring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf (ISBN-13: 9781640631465 Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Zera is a Heartless—the immortal, unaging soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.

Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum: if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy Zera’s heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him—every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him—until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.

So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.

Winner takes the loser’s heart.

Literally.

 

 

heart of thornsHeart of Thorns by Bree Barton (ISBN-13: 9780062447685 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/31/2018)

Inventive and heart-racing, this fierce feminist teen fantasy from debut author Bree Barton explores a dark kingdom in which only women can possess magic—and every woman is suspected of having it.

Fans of Leigh Bardugo and Laini Taylor won’t want to miss this gorgeously written, bold novel, the first in the Heart of Thorns trilogy.

In the ancient river kingdom, where touch is a battlefield and bodies the instruments of war, Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood. The same women who killed her mother without a single scratch.

But when Mia’s father announces an alliance with the royal family, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Determined to forge her own path forward, Mia plots a daring escape, but could never predict the greatest betrayal of all: her own body. Mia possesses the very magic she has sworn to destroy.

Now, as she untangles the secrets of her past, Mia must learn to trust her heart…even if it kills her.

 

 

 

girls resistGirls Resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution by Kaelyn Rich (ISBN-13: 9781683690597 Publisher: Quirk Publishing Publication date: 08/07/2018)
An activism handbook for teen girls ready to fight for change, social justice, and equality.

Take on the world and make some serious change with this handbook to everything activism, social justice, and resistance. With in-depth guides to everything from picking a cause, planning a protest, and raising money to running dispute-free meetings, promoting awareness on social media, and being an effective ally, Girls Resist! will show you how to go from “mad as heck about the way the world is going” to “effective leader who gets stuff done.” Veteran feminist organizer KaeLyn Rich shares tons of expertise that’ll inspire you as much as it teaches you the ropes. Plus, quotes and tips from fellow teen girl activists show how they stood up for change in their communities. Grab this handbook to crush inequality, start a revolution, and resist!

 

pridePride by Ibi Zoboi (ISBN-13: 9780062564047 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/18/2018)

Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.

 

 

what they dontWhat They Don’t Know by Nicole Maggi (ISBN-13: 9781492672654 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 10/02/2018)

Three secrets. One decision. A friendship that will change everything.

Find your own truth in this important, timely novel about reproductive rights.

Mellie has always been the reliable friend, the good student, the doting daughter. But when an unspeakable act leads her to withdraw from everyone she loves, she is faced with a life-altering choice—a choice she must face alone.

Lise stands up—and speaks out—for what she believes in. And when she notices Mellie acting strangely, she gets caught up in trying to save her…all while trying to protect her own secret. One that might be the key to helping Mellie.

Told through their journal entries, this powerful, emotional novel chronicles Mellie’s struggle to decide what is right for her and the unbreakable bond formed by the girls on their journey.

 

 

chaosThe Chaos of Now by Erin Jade Lange (ISBN-13: 9781619635029 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 10/02/2018)

From the author of Butter comes an emotional coming-of-age novel about teen coder who gets roped into a dangerous hack, perfect for fans of John Corey Whaley and Adam Silvera.

Eli is coasting through high school, spending most of his time writing code. Each day is as boring as the next—until he receives a cryptic message in binary code, leading him to Seth and Mouse. They’re seeking a third member for a prestigious hacking competition, after their teammate and friend Jordan committed suicide last year. Intrigued by the challenge, Eli agrees.

But soon it becomes clear that Seth and Mouse are after more than winning a competition—they’re seeking revenge for the abuse that caused Jordan’s suicide. Eli is in way over his head, but he’s also hiding a dangerous secret that could lead to even more trouble if he isn’t careful. In a story about the shift of power from those who rule at school to those who rule online, the difference between bully and victim is blurred and Eli—whose coding skilled have taught him to make order out of chaos—will find the real world is much harder to control.

 

 

grim loveliesGrim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd (ISBN-13: 9781328809186 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 10/02/2018)

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd, Grim Lovelies is an epic and glittering YA fantasy. Prepare to be spellbound by the world of Grim Lovelies, where secrets have been long buried, friends can become enemies, and everything—especially humanity—comes at a price.

 

 

teen trailblazersTeen Trailblazers: 30 Fearless Girls Who Changed the World Before They Were 20 by Jennifer Calvert, Vesna Asanovic (ISBN-13: 9781250200204 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 10/02/2018)

True stories of young women who made a big difference! From authors to activists, painters to politicians, inventors to icons, these inspiring teenagers are proof that girls can change the world.

Joan of Arc. Anne Frank. Cleopatra. Pocahontas. Mary Shelley. Many of these heroines are well-known. But have you heard of Sybil Ludington, a 16-year-old daughter of an American colonel who rode twice as far as the far better-remembered Paul Revere to warn the militia that the British army was invading?

This fascinating book features 30 young women who accomplished remarkable things before their twentieth birthdays. Visually compelling with original illustrations, this book will inspire the next generation of strong, fearless women.

 

 

what if its usWhat If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera (ISBN-13: 9780062795250 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 10/09/2018)

Critically acclaimed and bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera combine their talents in this smart, funny, heartfelt collaboration about two very different boys who can’t decide if the universe is pushing them together—or pulling them apart.

ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

What if it’s us?

 

 

epicThis Is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender (ISBN-13: 9780062820228 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 10/30/2018)

A fresh, charming rom-com perfect for fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Boy Meets Boy about Nathan Bird, who has sworn off happy endings but is sorely tested when his former best friend, Ollie, moves back to town.

Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings. Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.

Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend.

After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?

 

 

wren huntThe Wren Hunt by Mary Watson (ISBN-13: 9781681198590 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 11/06/2018)

Thrilling, atmospheric, and filled with ancient magic, this lyrically written YA debut is perfect for readers of The Raven Cycle and Wink Poppy Midnight.

Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated Irish village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she or her grandfather can do to stop it. Once Wren’s people, the Augurs, controlled an ancient, powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying the Augurs for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment as an intern amidst those who want her dead. But as the web of lies, deceit, and betrayal thickens around her, she finds herself hurtling towards a truth that threatens to consume her and reveal who she really is. Not only has she come to the attention of powerful Judge Cassa Harkness, but she is also falling dangerously in love with the one person she shouldn’t. . .

This captivating fantasy from an award-winning author is equal parts thrilling and romantic, perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater.

 

 

this is whatThis Is What It Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow (ISBN-13: 9780062494238 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 11/06/2018)

This tender story of friendship, music, and ferocious love asks: what will you fight for, if not yourself? You Don’t Know Me But I Know You author Rebecca Barrow’s next book is perfect for fans of Katie Cotugno and Emery Lord.

Who cares that the prize for the Sun City Originals contest is fifteen grand? Not Dia, that’s for sure. Because Dia knows that without a band, she hasn’t got a shot at winning. Because ever since Hanna’s drinking took over her life, Dia and Jules haven’t been in it. And because ever since Hanna left—well, there hasn’t been a band.

It used to be the three of them, Dia, Jules, and Hanna, messing around and making music and planning for the future. But that was then, and this is now—and now means a baby, a failed relationship, a stint in rehab, all kinds of off beats that have interrupted the rhythm of their friendship.

But like the lyrics of a song you used to play on repeat, there’s no forgetting a best friend. And for Dia, Jules, and Hanna, this impossible challenge—to ignore the past, in order to jump start the future—will only become possible if they finally make peace with the girls they once were, and the girls they are finally letting themselves be.

 

 

resolutionsThe Resolutions by Mia Garcia (ISBN-13: 9780062656827 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 11/13/2018)

A heart-expanding novel about four Latinx teens who make New Year’s resolutions for one another—and the whirlwind of a year that follows. Fans of Erika L. Sánchez and Emery Lord will fall for this story of friendship, identity, and the struggle of finding yourself when all you want is to start over.

From hiking trips to four-person birthday parties to never-ending group texts, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora have always been inseparable. But now with senior year on the horizon, they’ve been growing apart. And so, as always, Jess makes a plan.

Reinstating their usual tradition of making resolutions together on New Year’s Eve, Jess adds a new twist: instead of making their own resolutions, the four friends assign them to one another—dares like kiss someone you know is wrong for you, find your calling outside your mom’s Puerto Rican restaurant, finally learn Spanish, and say yes to everything.

But as the year unfolds, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora each test the bonds that hold them together. And amid first loves, heartbreaks, and life-changing decisions, beginning again is never as simple as it seems.

 

 

 

our year of maybeOur Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon (ISBN-13: 9781481497763 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 01/15/2019)

From the author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone comes a stunning contemporary novel that examines the complicated aftermath of a kidney transplant between best friends.

Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.

But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie, too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.

Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one blurry, heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.

 

 

pay attentionPay Attention, Carter Jones Hardcover by Gary D. Schmidt (ISBN-13: 978-0544790858 Publisher: Clarion Books Publication date: 02/05/2019)

Bestselling author Gary D. Schmidt tells a coming-of-age story with the light touch of The Wednesday Wars, the heart of Okay for Now, and the unique presence of a wise and witty butler.

Carter Jones is astonished early one morning when he finds a real English butler, bowler hat and all, on the doorstep—one who stays to help the Jones family, which is a little bit broken.

In addition to figuring out middle school, Carter has to adjust to the unwelcome presence of this new know-it-all adult in his life and navigate the butler’s notions of decorum. And ultimately, when his burden of grief and anger from the past can no longer be ignored, Carter learns that a burden becomes lighter when it is shared.

Sparkling with humor, this insightful and compassionate story will resonate with readers who have confronted secrets of their own.

 

 

past and other thingsThe Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson (ISBN-13: 9781481498579 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 02/19/2019)

Six Feet Under meets Pushing Daisies in this quirky, heartfelt story about two teens who are granted extra time to resolve what was left unfinished after one of them suddenly dies. 

A good friend will bury your body, a best friend will dig you back up.

Dino doesn’t mind spending time with the dead. His parents own a funeral home, and death is literally the family business. He’s just not used to them talking back. Until Dino’s ex-best friend July dies suddenly—and then comes back to life. Except not exactly. Somehow July is not quite alive, and not quite dead.

As Dino and July attempt to figure out what’s happening, they must also confront why and how their friendship ended so badly, and what they have left to understand about themselves, each other, and all those grand mysteries of life.

Critically acclaimed author Shaun Hutchinson delivers another wholly unique novel blending the real and surreal while reminding all of us what it is to love someone through and around our faults.

 

On World Refugee Day 2018, #ReadForChange with Alan Gratz’ Refugee

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 Alan Gratz join us for a conversation about immigrants, refugees, taking action, and his middle grade novel, Refugee.

 

 

“No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”

Warsan Shire, “Home”

 

Three Children, Three Boats, Three Courageous Journeys to Find a New Home

 

refugeeToday, June 20, 2018, is World Refugee Day. I can think of no more timely, more meaningful, or more compelling book to recommend on this day than Alan Gratz’ Middle-Grade novel, Refugee.

 

The first time I met Alan, he gave me his card. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the tagline under his name: “Putting fictional kids in danger since 2006.” Alan certainly lives up to this promise in Refugee. The novel deftly weaves together the harrowing stories of three young teens who set off with their families in search of safety: Josef, fleeing Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel, escaping a crumbling Cuba in 1994, and Mahmoud, leaving war-torn Aleppo in 2015. Readers travel with brave young teenagers across oceans and seas, through ship wrecks, shark attacks, robberies and extortion. We also experience, with the story’s protagonists, moments of extraordinary beauty, as people reach out to help one-another through times of unthinkable distress.

 

As someone who works with immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers in the United States, I think perhaps the most compelling aspect of this story’s construction is how well it de-centers the contemporary narrative, depicting a global flow of real human beings who seek safety across space and through time. Joseph’s family journeys from Germany to Cuba, Isabel’s from Cuba to the United States, and Mahmoud’s from Syria to Germany. Their stories remind us that people from all regions of the world, of all ethnicities, religions, and social classes, find themselves in the impossible situation of having no alternative but to leave behind everything they know and seek safety among strangers.

 

In other words: these refugees could be you or me.

 

World-Refugee-Day-1 (1)Refugee is carefully-researched, historically accurate, and nothing short of brilliant, for many more reasons than I can explain here (you’ll just have to read it for yourselves!). Alan Gratz manages to weave together these three families’ stories in ways that unflinchingly portray the evil effects of de-humanizing entire communities, while also reminding us of the enormous capacity we humans have to endure suffering, to act out of love, and to do what is right and good. Be forewarned: If you are human (and I’m assuming you are), you will shed tears. Some will be tears of joy.

 

One of the themes that Refugee explores invisibility and visibility. Mahmoud, in particular, reflects often on his journey: “Mahmoud’s first instinct was to disappear below decks, to be invisible. Being invisible in Syria had kept him alive. But now Mahmoud began to wonder if being invisible in Europe might be the death of him and his family. If no one saw them, no one could help them. And maybe the world needed to see what was happening here.”

 

In honor of Mahmoud, Isabel, Josef and all the real people on whom their story is based, let us all open our eyes and see! And then let us take courageous action to build refuge together, in these tempestuous times.

 

“Changing the Hearts and Minds of my Readers”: A Conversation with Alan Gratz

 

Photo by Wes Stitt

Photo by Wes Stitt

MARIE: 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.

 

ALAN: The story of Refugee began with the MS St. Louis, a real ship that set sail from Nazi Germany in early 1939 with nine hundred and thirty-seven passengers on board, almost all of them Jewish refugees bound for Cuba.

I was still looking for a way into the story of the MS St. Louis for young readers when my wife and daughter and I took a family vacation to the Florida Keys in early 2015. One morning we got up to walk along the small patch of beach in front of our resort, and we ran right into a homemade boat someone had used to come to America. There was room on the wooden benches for thirteen people, and abandoned clothing and plastic water bottles still littered the floor. The back end had an old rusty engine that had been yanked out of a car or a tractor and was attached to a propeller shaft. There were plastic paint buckets to bail it out along the way, and the whole bottom of the boat and all the seams were covered with Great Stuff—that foam insulation that comes from a spray can. That and the painted plywood walls were all that kept the seawater out.

One day the boat wasn’t there, and the next day it was. Whoever had been aboard had arrived in the night while we were sleeping, just a few hundred yards away from our room. The day before, while my daughter had been swimming in the pool and my wife and I had been reading books in hammocks in the shade, whoever had been on board this boat had been steering north, avoiding oil tankers and sharks and the American Coast Guard in a desperate, dangerous attempt to find refuge in America.

That boat was a wake-up call for me. I knew that immigrants and refugees were trying to reach America every day, by land, air, and sea, through channels official and unofficial, but because I didn’t live at the front lines of that struggle I didn’t see it every day. And out of sight was definitely out of mind. I wanted to do something about that. That’s when I knew this was a book I had to write. I wanted to write a book about the MS St. Louis, but I wanted to write a book about Cuban refugees too.

And then, every day, doing their part to make sure none of us forgot, newspapers and news channels and the Internet were showing us devastating image after devastating image of the refugee crisis caused by the Syrian Civil War. The Syrian Civil War began in 2011, and is still going on. More than two million Syrians have been killed or injured, and seven plus years of war have left around eleven million Syrians—half their entire population—homeless. I wanted to write a book about the MS St. Louis, and I wanted to write a book about Cuban refugees, and now I wanted to write a book about the Syrian refugee crisis too.

And then I realized, I could write a book about all three. I would tell the story of Josef, a Jewish boy trying to escape Nazi Germany for Cuba with his family on board the MS St. Louis in 1939, of Isabel, a Cuban girl trying to escape communist Cuba with her family for America on board a raft in 1994, and of Mahmoud, a Syrian boy trying to escape the Syrian Civil War for Germany with his family in the present day.

My sincere hope for young readers who pick up Refugee is that it, like that homemade raft I stumbled across in Florida, makes the invisible visible again.

 

 

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

 

ALAN: My family and I sat down recently to talk about all the causes we wanted to support, and how much we could afford to give, and now we make regular contributions to a variety of social, environmental, and political groups. Beyond that, I figured that what I do best is write, so I would use my talents to help bring awareness to the issues and causes I support. And that’s been paying off. Kids across the country (and around the world!) are reading Refugee and advocating and working for change. Kids are working with their local refugee aid groups in their communities, they are raising money for UNICEF, they are calling their congresspeople and championing refugees. The book hasn’t even been out for a year yet, and the response from young readers has been amazing. I hope, in some small way, that I’m helping make the world one I want to live in by changing the hearts and minds of my readers!

 

 

MARIE: For readers who are moved to take action themselves, what’s your advice?

 

ALAN: Start local. Almost every community has a local refugee aid or resettlement organization, and they can use things larger world-wide organizations like UNICEF can’t–they need things kids can help collect, like socks, coats, blankets, and canned food. If they want to look more globally, organizations like UNICEF and Save the Children work on behalf of young refugees around the world, providing necessities and education. But the simplest thing kids can do is to become a friend to refugees. If there are any refugees at their schools, or in their churches or neighborhoods, just saying hello and getting to know them and being a friend is a tremendous thing to someone who has been displaced against their will and is starting all over again.

 

MARIE: Thanks so much, Alan. This theme of working in our local communities is one that I’ve heard from so many of our featured authors, from Jodi Lynn Anderson, talking about combating climate change, to Lilliam Rivera on gentrification. I love this idea of getting to know our neighbors and working with them to build a better world – from the ground up!

 

 

“Out of sight… out of mind. I wanted to do something about that.”

 

Ready to learn more? First, be sure to read Alan’s very informative Author’s Note, at the end of Refugee. Then, dive into one of these four non-fiction books – all excellent, and all appropriate for young readers:

 

519PzgQWh-L._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees by Mary Beth Leatherdale is an illustrated book presenting five true stories of young people who survived the harrowing experience of setting off in boats in search of asylum.

 

How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana and Abigail Pesta is the memoir of a girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who survived a massacre, immigrated to the United States, and struggled to overcome her trauma through art and activism.

 

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ismael Beah offers a first-hand account of a young man’s recruitment as a child soldier, release, and eventual rehabilitation at a UNICEF center.

 

Outcasts United: An American Town, A Refugee Team, and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference

By Warren St. John is an excellent and engaging story of a refugee youth soccer team in a small southern town turned upside down by the process of refugee resettlement. (Note that there is a young adult version of the book).

 

And now, two documentaries:

 

Human Flow was shot over the course of one year in 23 countries. It shares stories of the more than 65 million people who have been forced from their homes since World War II

 

Fire at Sea explores life in Lampedusa, Italy, an island has become a landing spot for boats filled with refugees fleeing Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

download (1)

 

“The simplest thing: Become a friend to refugees.”

Ready to take action? Let’s follow Alan’s advice and start local!

 

There are many agencies that work officially to resettle refugees nationwide. Contacting one of the agencies working in your community is a good place to start. To find out who’s working in your area, check out this UNHCR website and then click on the link toward the bottom:

 

While these local resettlement agencies always can use supplies and material support, the best way to get involved is to build relationships and friendships.  Many local communities have innovative non-profits and community groups that foster this work.  Make sure to ask your local refugee resettlement agencies about these sorts of groups and opportunities in your area. Here are some examples in my community of metro-Atlanta:

 

Friends of Refugees

 

Global Village Project

 

Clarkston Community Center

 

Of course, if we start to open our eyes, as Alan Gratz is urging us to do, we will realize that refugees are our neighbors and our classmates. Refugees worship with us, shop in the same stores as us, and play sports on the same fields. The best thing we can do is make new friends. It’s that easy!

 

“A desperate, dangerous attempt to find refuge in America” A Call to Action NOW.

 

One final note, because this weighs so heavy on my heart…

 

Even though this book is entitled Refugee, all of the stories Alan tells are, technically, those of asylum seekers. (If you’d like to better understand the difference, listen to this recent NPR interview with a U.S. Asylum Officer). Asylum seekers with similar stories to those we read about in Refugee are in the news headlines these days for reasons that are simply unthinkable. Last month, the United States Department of Homeland Security instituted a new practice that routinely separates child asylum seekers from their parents and holds them in child detention centers. One, recently opened in El Paso, is quite literally a tent city.

 

Families_3_twitterWhile I don’t generally climb up on a soapbox in these newsletters, I’m gonna do it now. I believe there is a moral imperative for every single one of us to resist this action by the U.S. government.  It simply contradicts basic human decency, and it’s heartbreaking.

 

If you want to learn more about this and take action, follow #KeepFamiliesTogether and #FamiliesBelongTogether. You also can check out the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to stay informed about proposed legislation and actions in your community, and go to Families Belong Together (a movement sponsored by the National Domestic Workers Alliance) to sign a petition and find other actions.

 

Thank you.

 

#ReadForChange with Refugee!

 

If you can’t wait to get your hands on REFUGEE, here’s your chance!  Follow this link to the giveaway, which runs until the end of June. We’ll be announcing the winner on Twitter @MarieFMarquardt and Instagram marie_marquardt July 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.

Book Review: Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye

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 June 2018  School Library Journal.

 

super late★Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye (ISBN-13: 9781449489625 Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing Publication date: 05/01/2018)
Gr 8 Up—Cartoonist Kaye, who is transgender, reveals the many ups and downs of starting hormone replacement in this collection of strips from her webcomic Up and Out. In a “Before” section, she writes about her life before fully understanding her identity and transitioning, which helps ground the short, disconnected comics. The strips begin four months into Kaye’s decision to take hormones, and express her joy and excitement along with her impatience, frustration, dysphoria, and internalized transphobia. She describes moving home, changing her name, and coming out and explores self-image, reactions from others, misgendering, and more. Kaye shares many affirming experiences such as her parents using the right pronouns, her forays into trying out different clothes and makeup, and her reminders that she is valid no matter how she looks or is perceived, but never shies away from moments of frustration or self-loathing. The strips are like reading a diary—raw, honest, emotional, and not always uplifting. While Kaye’s feelings are complicated, she is ultimately hopeful. The simple line drawings add warmth and whimsy to the small snippets of text. Though Kaye focuses on her experiences as an adult, teens will relate to her reflections on identity and acceptance. VERDICT An important and accessible work, especially given that relatively few books tackle the process of transitioning.

YA Nonfiction Roundup by Michelle Biwer

deep dark blueBrazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu

Profiles of diverse, international female role models in comic strip format.

A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire Hartfield

A narrative account of the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 told from the perspectives of the major groups involved in escalating the conflict, recommended for readers who liked The Family Romanov.

How to Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation edited by Maureen Johnson

Short essays, poems, and interviews about how young people can make a change in the world by a diverse list of celebrities, writers, and podcasters.

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Rivalry, Adventure, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements (Young Readers Edition) by Sam Kean

History, science, and fun facts converge when author Sam Kean shares the surprisingly dramatic account of the creation of the Periodic Table of Elements.

Fly Girls: The Daring American Women Pilots Who Helped Win WWII by P. O’Connell Pearson

Pearson honors the forgotten 1,100 female pilots who fought to fly and assist the US war effort during World War II by sharing their story.

Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isabel Quintero and illustrated by Zeke Peña

A graphic autobiography of Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide, known for capturing indigenous Mexican and Mexican-American communities on film.

Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi

Memoir of a Iranian-American teenager and her progress towards getting a green card and surviving the typically awkward American high school experience.

Chasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassin by James L. Swanson

Teens who loved Swanson’s previous title Chasing Lincoln’s Killer will appreciate his newest narrative nonfiction work which chronicles the moments leading up to Martin Luther King’s assassination.

Deep Dark Blue: A Memoir of Survival by Polo Tate

Memoir of an Air Force Academy student who survived sexual assault and harassment at the hands of her superiors and reckons with the consequences.

Resources for finding new YA Nonfiction:

ALA YALSA Nonfiction Award

ALA Amelia Bloomer Award Nominations/Winners

Scholastic Focus Imprint

Review Journals and End of Year “Best of” Lists

MakerSpace: Rhonna Designs Photo and Collage App Review

makerspacelogo1

Behold, I have found a new photo app! As I mentioned last week, a friend fell into a button maker group and they talk a lot about two things:

1) The Canon Selphy printer, which I reviewed last week and

2) The Rhonna Designs app, which a lot of people in the button making community use to design their buttons.

rhonna1For more information about Rhonna Designs, visit their homepage

Rhonna App information at the iTunes stores

Here’s a look at some photos created by the Rhonna Design app from the Rhonna Designs homepage.

rhonna2

And, since you know I love a good photo app, I decided to try it out. For you. I’m a giver.

As you can see, the Rhonna Designs app specializes in making Instagram ready pics and memes by layering photos, backgrounds, texts and graphics. There is a pretty steep learning curve for this app, but once I figured it out I was able to make some quick and easy graphics for this post in literally one minute.

The Basics

Technically, there are 3 Rhonna Design apps: Rhonna, RhonnaCollage and Rhonna Magic. You can buy one for $1.99 or buy all three in a bundle for $4.99. I made the mistake of buying just one and realized it is better to have all three. Each app in the package does a very specific thing and then you can open your photo in the next app to do that specific thing.

Let me try and clarify, it’s kind of confusing.

rhonna10

App descriptions screen cap from Rhonna Designs home page

Rhonna Designs has a collection of backgrounds which you can use or you can use your own photo. You can then add text or a variety of stickers. In this app you also have some filters, frames and a mask feature. If you buy only one of the apps, this is probably the one you want to buy.

Rhonna Collage allows you to make a collage, just like the name says. You can pick a layout or begin with a blank page and create your layout. I have tried a lot of collage apps and this one is probably my favorite in terms of how it lets you choose a background and layer pictures over the top of it.

Photo made using Rhonna Collage

Photo made using Rhonna Collage

Rhonna Designs Magic uses layers and allows you to use a variety of filters and effects to enhance your photo. For example, you can use Bokeh lighting, light leaks and blur effects. It also has a “candy” feature which allows you to color your photos. One of my favorite features in Instagram in the title shift, which allows you to blur edges and pull the focus on a specific part of a photo. Blur effects allows you to do that same thing here. Bokeh lighting allows you to add light flares allows you to play with the lighting on your photo. If you don’t like an effect, you can just go in and delete the layer.

Photo then opened in RD Magic and transformed using the candy function

Photo then opened in RD Magic and transformed using the candy function

This is a photo I transformed using something from all three of the apps:

rhonna7

And here is a photo I created using Rhonna Designs made into a button. The background is a background provided in the app, I then just layered stickers and texts using this years Teen Summer Reading theme.

rhonna6 rhonna4

I spend a lot of time using photo apps, and overall I liked this one. I still don’t think it does everything I would like one app to do and I kind of hate having to open it in another app to do some of the magic effects. I do, however, really like many aspects of the collage app. In fact, I like everything it does, I just wish it did them all in one place and for one lower price. And like many apps, there are additional in app purchases for things like more text fonts and sticker options, so it can get pricey if you let it.

I do have a digital media lab in our Teen MakerSpace which consists of a bank of iPads with pre-loaded apps, and I would definitely consider adding these. Though you can do a lot of these same things with a free Canva account, which has a lot more versatility when using a tablet. Though it works very quickly and pretty easily for a smart phone app. So if you’re using a smart phone, definitely check out this app. If you’re using a tablet or a PC, I also recommend researching Canva before making any purchasing decisions. It’s also important to note that although a basic Canva account is free, there can be some additional purchases in using that as well.

I would recommend this app, depending on what you want to use it for. If you are looking for quick, mobile and something to use on your smartphone, it definitely has a lot more options in one place, especially if you are primarily going to be making Instagram pics and memes. Many photo apps do one or a few specific things, and all together this app bundle does a lot of things in one place.

There is also a PC version of Rhonna Designs that you can use, which I have not tried.

More Digital Media/Photo App Reviews at TLT

How Did You Do That? Photo Apps Version – Teen Librarian Toolbox

Fused (with an assist from the Silhouette app) – Teen Librarian Toolbox

Aviary – Teen Librarian Toolbox

App Review: FotoRus

App Review: Candy Camera

App Review: Enlight

App Review: Prisma

App Review: A Beautiful Mess

Friday Finds: June 15, 2018

tltbutton3This Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: In Which The Teen Writes a Poem About Sexual Harassment

Book Review: Royals by Rachel Hawkins

Celebrating 7 Years of TLT: 7 Years, 7 Books Giveaway

Book Review: Tsu and the Outliers by Erik Johnson

MakerSpace Tech Review: Canon Selphy 1300 Printer

Celebrating Seven Years of TLT: A look back at favorite posts

Celebrating 7 Years of TLT: Why I Love TLT

Around the Web

Kids Need Books Everywhere

Teacher leaves $1 million to fund scholarship for students with learning disabilities

Libraries are Bridging the Summer Gap for Hungry Kids

 

Celebrating 7 Years of TLT: Why I Love TLT

7yearsThere are a lot of reasons I love writing for this blog. The first is the feeling of community I get from it, both from my fellow bloggers and from our readership. We are all really invested in serving the teens in our lives and connecting them with books, information, and our libraries. It’s helpful to know so many people out there care about these things. Also, on a side note, I finally got to meet Karen this year and it was really fun finally hanging out with someone in person with whom I already felt such a connection.

The second reason I love writing for the blog, though, is that it gives me a venue to share all of my favorite books and authors with a wide audience and hopefully turn some new readers on to what I consider to be the best (for me) of what is out there.

One author I love, Gail Carriger, has been mentioned frequently on the blog and I have reviewed two of the books in her YA Finishing School Series, Waistcoats & Weaponry and Manners & Mutiny. For our adult audience, I would also recommend her other series that take place in the same ‘Parasolverse.’

I wrote about another favorite, Libba Bray, for our YA A to Z series. She continues to be a rockstar YA author in my opinion, both for her novels and for her continual openness and support of the YA community. You can read some of my reviews of her books here and here.

Finally, one of my favorite moments for TLT was when we were invited to be a part of the blog tour for Lish McBride’s Firebug. Her answers to my interview questions remain in my memory both for their candor and their humor.

Celebrating Seven Years of TLT: A look back at favorite posts

tlttabgraphicThe older I get, the more I think the passage of time is the fastest, most puzzling thing ever. Where do the days go? Where do the years go? Multiple times a week, my husband will exclaim, “How is it 8:00 already?” and I will almost always follow that up with, “How are we in our FORTIES already?” So when Karen said we were coming up on the 7 year anniversary of Teen Librarian Toolbox, I thought, but didn’t I just write a post for the 6 year anniversary? I did… if you consider one year ago to be “just.” Given that in my brain the 9os were, at most, ten years ago, I may not be the best judge of the passage of time. Last year for this same anniversary post, I reflected a bit on why I love writing for TLT and what it means to me. This year, I’m going to share some of my favorite blog posts that I’ve written. I feel a little weird writing that sentence, but you know what, I am so grateful to have this platform to share books and ideas I’m passionate about. So, here we go!

 

 

svylaitprojectMy first blog post for TLT was in September 2014. It was called “Talking about sexual violence in young adult literature with a teen book club.”  I don’t think I need to expand upon that—you get what it’s about. Here’s a snippet from that post:

After the meeting, some of the members chose to send me further thoughts. One member shared with me that this was the first time she discussed sexual violence with a group. “I liked how comfortable I felt discussing what I had read with the group. In other situations, mentioning to someone that I had read a book about sexual violence usually ended with an odd look and an abrupt ending to any discussion I had hoped to spark.” She goes on to say that she valued the open discussion we had. “It’s what I wish I could have with a teacher, a friend, even a sibling without feeling weird for bringing it up.” She says she wishes we had had even more time to discuss our books and this topic because talking “about a topic that society seems to shy away from isn’t an opportunity I get often.”

 

SUPERNEWEST PURPLEI have loved working on larger projects we have done like the Mental Health in YA Lit project and the Sexual Violence in YA Lit project. It’s so great to see what comes from people who guest post for us and how we can expand conversations on these important topics. I particularly loved coordinating the posts in the Sexual Violence in LGBTQIA+ Young Adult Literature series. Those explored some ground I don’t think we’ve seen covered a whole lot yet. Those posts ran the first two weeks of August 2015.

 

 

MHYALitlogoofficfialThe Mental Health in YA Lit project has been especially important to me. I’ve loved seeing so many more books coming out that accurately and compassionately portray mental health. The work on the project and my continued focus on this subject has lead me to presenting on this topic at NerdCon, Teen Lit Con, and for the International Bipolar Foundation. It also lead to many great real-life discussions about books that address mental health, like this one with my former teen book club.  Here’s a bit from that post:

I asked if having more fictional characters facing mental health struggles helped actual teens. They all agreed that it normalizes these experiences and gives teens a peek at someone they might be able to relate to. They said that by seeing characters struggle in stories, they can see into other experiences, especially if they themselves don’t have this particular issue. They said that it helps them know how people suffer and it shows how they might be able to help or react. They said they often worry they’ll say the wrong thing to someone who is struggling and like to see examples of how to be supportive. “I like it when books teach me how to treat people,” one girl said. (Have I mentioned I heart my teens?)

 

 

GLSEN-NSCS-2015-Cover_0I also am grateful to have this platform to share the National School Climate Survey results about LGBTQ students’ experiences in school. The report is long, but I condense much of it to just the highlights to help remind educators what the school climate looks like for so many kids.

 

One of my main focuses over the years at TLT has been to write about as many LGBTQIA+ YA books as possible to help get these books the exposure they need and to aid in collection development. This tag will take you to those books and posts. 

 

 

 

I’ve had a blast writing book reviews, coordinating guest posts, taking part in blog tours, doing cover reveals, hosting giveaways, getting endless book mail, and meeting tons of people through connections with this blog. Here’s to many more years of TLT goodness!